Landscape Architecture

BSLA - Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture

Project by Shirin Adorbehi

Landscape Architects are concerned with the design, management, preservation, and use of the land.  The curriculum provides a foundation in all of these areas with a particular emphasis on design, along with the cultural and technical subjects that support it.  Coursework includes study of landscape design and planning processes, graphic communications, ecology, plants and planting design, construction methods and environmental history.  Instruction fosters the development of creative and problem-solving abilities, communication skills, technical knowledge, environmental awareness and professional attitudes.  In most courses, students develop design proposals or technical solutions for actual sites.

The Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA) is a general professional degree, nationally accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board and approved by the California Board of Landscape Architects as meeting part of the qualification requirements for licensure examination.

Strengths of BSLA Program

1. Location.

The surrounding landscape includes significant seacoast, mountain and desert environments. The southern California metropolitan region is one of the most complex and diverse urban regions in the world with a population of over sixteen million people. The location offers a challenging variety of ecological and social contexts for study by students and faculty. The proximity of several major libraries, museums, botanical gardens, recreation areas, and many executed works of landscape architecture is also an important asset for the program. 

2. Students.

The program benefits from an energetic, active, and diverse student body, which is a reflection of the university's mission as part of the California State University system, as well as the cultural diversity of the Los Angeles region. As the largest landscape architecture program in the country, our students benefit from a strong sense of community that will support them over the course of their careers.

3. Faculty.

The faculty, including full and part-time members, has a diverse range of interests, knowledge, experience and expertise. The faculty maintains vibrant scholarly and creative careers, involving notable book and article publications, participation in competitions, exhibitions, conferences, and professional practice. The California State University system places a clear emphasis on teaching through a student-centered approach; faculty members at Cal Poly reflect this emphasis in their availability to students as well as their awareness and concern for individual students' progress.

4. Community Service.

The program has a tradition of emphasizing community service projects as case studies for studio and other courses. In the tradition of Cal Poly's "Learn by doing" philosophy, students engage timely and current topics in studio, often by serving communities. Evidence of this can be seen in the ASLA student awards in community service that the department has received.

5. Opportunities to Study Abroad.

The Department's Italy program offers the opportunity for students to live and study abroad for one quarter, exposing them to other landscapes, cultures, and students from other design schools. This program is now 30 years old and is heavily subscribed by undergraduate and graduate students in the Department, as well as students from other landscape architecture programs in California. A faculty-led Spring trip to Japan and an Interdisciplinary Summer Study Broad Program in Japan run by faculty of Architecture and Landscape Architecture are offered regularly. In addition to the these programs, numerous international exchange programs in other parts of the world are available through the University's International Center and allow similar opportunities for Cal Poly students, while earning academic credit. The Department continues to support international travel (for individuals and our coordinated programs above) as a priority and is offering a number of student scholarships to support such travel.

6. Distinctive Curriculum Features.

In addition to study-abroad options, the program offers two distinct features that represent substantial strengths of the program. Extensive field study has been a vital component of the curriculum for years. These extensive field studies are complimented by a number of day trips within the Los Angeles region. 

7. Relation to Professional Community and Alumni.

Relationships with professionals and their organizations are strong, including the California State Board of Landscape Architects, the local chapter and national offices of the American Society of Landscape Architects. The close proximity of many design offices and government agencies allows students to have contact with the profession, in the form of office visits, guest lectures, internships, and employment. The Department maintains strong relationships with alumni through a variety of means, including part-time instructor positions, guest lectures, participation in formal University programs such as Professor for a Day and College-sponsored alumni receptions, as well as through the College's Partner Circle.


BSLA Student Learning Outcomes

Critical Thinking

  • Students will demonstrate critical thinking skills and creatively apply them to resolve ecological, social and spatial concerns.

Professional Responsibility

  • Students will show a sense of responsibility, integrity and ethical concern as related to ecological, social, and cultural issues related to the professional practice of landscape architecture.

Design Foundations

  • Students will demonstrate a strong understanding of design theory, history and methods of communication based on the principles of sustainability, regeneration, and ecosystematic design.

Natural Processes

  • Identify and interpret ecological patterns and processes at multiple scales and relate them to the develop design, planning and vegetative strategies to address ecological problems, including, preservation, restoration, regenerative design and sustainable use of resources.

Cultural Processes

  • Identify and interpret cultural and historical patterns and processes at multiple scales as needed for designing for a diverse society.

Multi-cultural Processes

  • Pursue challenging educational and service opportunities to the public within the diverse and evolving multicultural regional context of Southern California.

Professional Development

  • Demonstrate teamwork and leadership skills in a variety of professional roles and contexts, including individual and team projects, as well as interdisciplinary collaboration and participatory settings.

Disciplinary Knowledge

  • Students will creatively apply theories, techniques, skills and tools used in landscape architecture, with explicit regards to ecological sustainability, resiliency, and the protection of public health, safety and welfare.

Digital Skills

  • Apply hands-on computer skills and information technologies in planning and design process and products.


  • Effectively express and deliver design ideas, information and solutions visually, verbally, and in writing to a variety of audiences.

Admission to the undergraduate program is possible either as a first-time freshman or as a transfer student from a recognized college. Undergraduate admissions are processed and managed by the University.

Recently, the University has been designated as an impacted campus, altering the admissions process by instituting required filing periods and giving priority to students based on their geographical proximity to campus. This has limited enrollment of students who would have previously been admitted to the University.

If you do decide you want to study landscape architecture, we encourage you to submit an application to the University as early as possible. Refer to the the Office of Admissions & Outreach for more information about applying either on paper or online.  

For specific information, and application instructions, please refer to the Office of Admissions & Enrollment Planning.

If you are admitted directly from high school, you will begin your study of landscape architecture with our sequence of courses in the first year design.  If you are admitted as a transfer student, we recommend that you apply for advanced standing per the gudielines in the transfer section below.

Freshman Applicants

Generally, admission of undergraduate students from high school to the university is determined by a formula that combines the high school grade point average and ACT (American College Test) or SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) score. In general, students in approximately the upper third of the high school graduating class are eligible for admission.

Freshman applicants must meet the minimum California State University eligibility requirements to be considered for admission. If you meet the minimum CSU requirements, Cal Poly Pomona will consider your application using supplemental criteria that may vary depending on the academic major you have chosen.

For additional information visit Cal Poly Pomona's Freshman Requirements and Deadlines page.

Transfer Applicants

Admission of transfer students from community colleges is based on college grade point averages and by a portfolio review of previous work. The Department is not involved in the selection or admission of incoming students, but does make decisions regarding requests for advanced standing. As of fall 2004 admissions, the University is only accepting upper division transfers.

Upper division transfers must complete 60 semester (90 quarter) units of transferable coursework, including 30 semester (45 quarter) units of courses equivalent to general education requirements, with a grade of “C” or better by the end of the spring semester to be considered for the next fall semester.

For additional information on Transfer Admissions, please refer to:  Office of Admissions - Transfer Application Checklist.


All transfer students may apply for advanced standing, placement into the 2nd-year of the BSLA program through a portfolio review.  Advanced standing is based upon curricular 

The portfolio review will be conducted after summer orientation and prior to the beginning of fall courses.  

Portfolio must be submitted to the department office in hard copy.

Any student that applied to Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona and chooses Landscape Architecture as a second choice may request their portfolio be sent to the LA department for review.  

Transfer portfolios should demonstrate: 

  • 2D design with an emphasis on design fundamentals;
  • 3D design with an emphasis on site design and/or space planning;
  • Hand Graphics/Drawing- plan, section, perspective, sketching fundamentals, etc.;
  • Digital Graphics including 3D modeling, Autocad and the Adobe Creative Suite; and
  • Basic understanding of fundamentals of digital photography
  • Short form design writing- concept statements, design narratives, etc.


For transfer students to be placed into the 2nd-year of our BSLA program, the following transfer coursework is required (actual courses [names, numbers] vary from institution to institution):

  • 6 Semester units of Design:
    • 2D design with an emphasis on design fundamentals;
    • 3D design with an emphasis on site design and/or space planning;
    • Landscape Architecture or landscape design course with an emphasis on design fundamentals;
    • Or design course as approved by LA department with portfolio support


  • 6 semester units of graphic/visual communication
    • Hand Graphics/Drawing- plan, section, perspective, sketching fundamentals, etc.;
    • Digital Graphics including 3D modeling, AutoCAD and the Adobe Creative Suite; and
    • Basic understanding of fundamentals of digital photography


  • 3 semester units of Environmental Design Theory and/or History
    • Can be from architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, etc.

International Applicants

Known for its outstanding academic programs, Cal Poly Pomona offers excellent education for international students who wish to pursue a degree in the United States.

Current and future International Students in Cal Poly academic programs must contact the International Center for information regarding visas, guidelines for maintaining academic progress, and procedures for internships and post graduation work.

For additional information on Incoming International Students and requirements, please refer to:
Apply as an International Student page.


For more information regarding admissions to the Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture, contact the Undegraduate Coordinator:

Kristopher Penrose
(909) 869-2673