Landscape Architecture

Master of Landscape Architecture

MLA I 2017 Cohort

The Department of Landscape Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona (CPPLA) welcomes graduate students from any academic discipline who wish to pursue careers in the public or private sector, designing sustainable landscapes, creating just and healthy communities, or managing conservation programs and land trusts. We have a 50+ year legacy of training graduate students in advanced eco-systemic design methods to establish strong, well-defined, and mutually life-sustaining and enhancing relationships between people and the land. Our departments motto is ‘Bravely Curious’, inspired by how we embrace expanding the practice of landscape architecture in pursuit of making the world a better place.

Our LAAB accredited Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) curriculum (see below) emphasizes collaborative learn-by-doing assignments at scales varying from small sites to large complex regions, with a focus on projects that engage the public, especially those from disadvantaged communities. Our studio culture embraces collaboration as a means of enable every student to excel based on their individual abilities, interests, and values. Our graduate studios are next to each other in the Boltz Courtyard of Building 2, the cultural heart of our BSLA and MLA programs.

Our MLA 1 General Standing 72-unit curriculum is crafted for students without a design background, providing the essential foundation of professional and advanced skills in three years.

For students with a prior Environmental Design degree, our 48-unit MLA 2 Advanced Standing track provides opportunities to develop deeper expertise and critical abilities in two years.

Culminating our 2- and 3-year MLA tracks is a year-long collaborative Master’s Project Studio (formerly known as the ‘606 Studio’) that works with a public agency or non-profit community/environmental organization providing pro bono design services. See MLA Curriculum below for additional information.

Study Abroad Programs: MLA students are welcome to participate in the fall Italy Study Abroad Program (15-units), our our new summer Paris Study Abroad Program (12-unit), or one of the electives featuring international travel over Spring Break. See:

We invite you to learn more about our program, faculty, curriculum, campus, and the admission process by downloading the 2023 MLA PROGRAM APPLICANT GUIDE and exploring our website.

We look forward to hearing from you at about specific questions not covered in the Applicant Guide, and/or to arrange a tour of our campus. In the subject line, please mention if you want to schedule a tour or have questions.

Program Ranking

In 2022, Cal Poly Pomona was ranked the #2nd best public college in the west by US News! More significantly to the CPP community and our mission, is that we are consistently at the top of the Social Mobility Index.

The Master of Landscape Architect (MLA) program was ranked 14th most-admired Landscape Architecture School nationwide in the 2019-2020 Design Intelligence Rankings, ranked in the most hired from landscape architecture schools two years in a row. Among Design Intelligence's 12 Key Focus areas, CPP’s MLA program is ranked 10th in Design Technologies, 9th in Engineering Fundamentals, 6th in Healthy Built Environments, and 7th in Sustainable Built Environments/Adaptive Design/Resilient Design.

Beyond these rankings, as part of the CSU system, our tuition is a fraction of what it costs to attend another MLA program in California. For details about our tuition and fees, please check out the university's website for tuition information.


Applications to the MLA program for the following Fall opens on October 1st each year, and there is a two-step process submitting both the A) CSU Apply Application by February 1st, and B) MLA Supplemental Application by March 1st.

For details about the admission process, please open the ADMISSIONS tab below.


To establish a connection with us at any time to receive program updates and announcements, or if you have any questions about the admission process, please drop us an email at


MLA Program Tracks

We offer two MLA program tracks:

  • General Standing: 72-unit/3-year (MLA I) – for applicants with undergraduate degrees in non-design disciplines. General Standing students complete a year-long series of foundational courses preparing you for the intermediate and advanced courses in the second and third years of the program.
  • Advanced Standing: 48-unit/2-year (MLA II) – for applicants with an accredited degrees in landscape architecture or other environmental design disciplines, joining the General Standing students in the second and third years of the program.

Applicants without a landscape architecture or architecture degree (so don’t qualify for the Advanced Standing track), but with landscape architecture related coursework may request getting specific General Standing courses waived to reduce the number units needed to complete the program. To request consideration for waiving specific course(s), please contact the graduate coordinator at

General Standing and Advanced Standing programs begin in Fall Semester.

Please indicate which track you are applying to in all correspondence and on the Supplemental Application. If you have questions about which program you qualify for, please email us at


We invite you to learn more about our program, the faculty, our award-winning Master’s Project Studio projects, and the admission process by downloading the MLA APPLICANT GUIDE and exploring our website.

To initiate the application process, please fill out the Department Record of Application for Graduate Admission to receive updates about our program and admissions events. This form also serves as the checklist for the MLA Supplemental Application.

MLA applicants must have a baccalaureate degree (or will complete their degree prior to starting the program), and have an overall undergraduate grade point average of at least 2.5. The MLA program recommends a GPA of 3.0 or better. International students must meet or exceed the CSU minimum English Proficiency test scores. GRE scores are not required.

Applicants from non-design academic disciplines are invited to apply for the 72-unit three-year long MLA General Standing (first professional degree) program. General standing courses may be satisfied by alternate means including waivers of selected courses based on previous academic and professional experience, or qualified units transferred from other academic programs upon the MLA Graduate Coordinator's approval. Waivers and transferred units are not guaranteed, and will be approved on a case-by-case.

Applicants holding an accredited degree in Landscape Architecture or a closely aligned environmental design discipline, are invited to apply to the 48-unit two-year Advanced Standing (Post-Professional) MLA graduate program. Applicants interested in Advanced Standing track should demonstrate their additional academic preparation and/or professional experience in their portfolio and transcript, in addition to meeting all the General Standing admission requirements. Admission to the Advanced standing program is not guaranteed, and based on an applicant's overall qualifications, experience, and available space. Contact the MLA Graduate Coordinator to be considered for the Advanced Standing.

All applicants are required to undergo transcript evaluation and portfolio review during the admission process. Unofficial transcripts can be used for this review process, but an official transcript must be submitted to the University's Admission Office before registering for MLA Courses.

Limited space in the MLA program may be available for transfer applicants currently enrolled in another accredited MLA program, or for students who wish to change majors from another graduate program at Cal Poly Pomona. Please contact the graduate coordinator ( for specifics about transferring or changing majors.

International Applicants

Known for our outstanding academic programs, Cal Poly Pomona offers an excellent education for international students who wish to pursue a graduate degree in the United States. International students who have a Bachelor degree in landscape architecture or architecture can apply to the 48-unit Advanced Standing program. Other applicants should apply to the General Standing Program. Applicants who attended a university where instruction was provided in a language other than English must submit TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo scores.

Prospective international applicants must contact CPP’s International Students and Scholars Office for information regarding visas, guidelines for maintaining academic progress, and procedures for internships and post-graduation work at

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

How To Apply & Deadlines

Application to the MLA program requires completing TWO separate steps:

  1. Cal State Apply online application needs to be completed by February 1st (applications open October 1st). Please visit Cal Poly Pomona's Office of Admission and review the Graduate Application Guide for detailed instructions about the CSU Apply process. You will submit the following information via CSU Apply:
    • Biodemographic and Economic Information
    • Transcript(s) and Academic History
    • Citizenship/residency status
    • Test Scores
    • Application Fee

For additional information on the Cal Poly Pomona/CSU admission requirements and deadlines, please refer to Masters Requirements. questions regarding the CSU Apply application procedures, please contact the Office of Admissions and Outreach (909) 869-3210.

You may see on Cal State Apply or the CPP Graduate Program Application website that the deadline to apply for Fall as early as December 15th. We do not follow that deadline. But we appreciate receiving applications early, wo encouraged you to do so.

Once you complete your CSU Apply application and your application fee is deposited, please inform the department by email

  1. MLA Supplemental ApplicationDeadline is March 1st for admissions consideration into the MLA 1 or MLA 2 program. See below for detailed instructions. Required materials include:
    1. Unofficial transcript(s)
    2. Test scores (English proficiency for international students)
    3. MLA Portfolio
    4. MLA Statement of Intent (600-words)
    5. MLA Scholarly Writing Sample (400-words)
    6. Two Letters of References [sent directly to the department by the references]

Review of all MLA applications begins on March 1st, and admission notifications will be sent out beginning in mid-April. Our review and decision process may be delayed if all the application materials are not received on time. Late applicants will be considered case-by-case if there is available space.

How to Submit your MLA Supplemental Application Package

Items in your Supplemental Application Package can be submitted to the Department by email, mail/parcel post, or a file transfer/cloud storage website. We ask that you please indicate how you will be submitting each item of your package using the MLA Supplemental Application form to help us track your application.

  • By Email your files as attachments to with "MLA Application - Current YEAR (e.g., 2023)" in the subject line. Please do not include application materials in the body of the email

Maximum file size (and the total size of all attachments) that we can receive via email is 25mb. For larger files, please use a file sharing/cloud storage website (see below).

  • By File sharing/cloud storage website (Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, other file sharing services), or digital portfolio publishing site (ISSUU, Portfolium) – by submitting the URL here or emailing the URL to

Make sure to set the file’s permissions so anybody with the link can view and download the files.

  • By Mail them (USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, or international mail) to:

Attn: MLA Admissions
Department of Landscape Architecture
3801 W. Temple Ave, Pomona
CA 91768 USA

If you ship any of your supplemental application package items to us, make sure it will be delivered before March 1st, and share the tracking number with us at or submit it here.

Letters of Reference should be submitted directly to the department by the letter writer by mailing to the address above, or via email to with a subject line including your name and ‘Letter of Reference’.

File Naming

For all digital files included in your Supplemental Package, please save each item as a separate PDF file, and use the following file naming format:



  • Name = last name-first name
  • Program = 'MLA1' for General Standing applicants, or 'MLA2' for Advanced Standing applicants
  • Item = identify the file content: CSUApplyApp, Portfolio, Statement, WritingSample, Transcript, et cetera.

Attention to the procedures and timely submission of all required materials will enhance your chances of acceptance to the program. Incomplete applications cannot be considered.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please review all information presented on the Department’s webpage with all tabs unfolded. You need to submit application packages to BOTH the University Admission Office (via CSU Apply) and the Department of Landscape Architecture. Missing any part of the application package will lead the significant delay of the application process. In addition to the following admission process on the webpage, you can download the application checklist for your own reference.

MLA Supplemental Application Instructions

The following supplemental materials must be received by the Department of Landscape Architecture by March 1st. Please use the MLA Supplemental Application Form to inform the department about how and when you submit each of the required items.

Prospective students are encouraged to submit their Supplemental Application package at least two weeks before March 1st, so we can verify receiving all required item prior to the start of our review. If you mail/ship your application package to the Department of Landscape Architecture, please use the tracking service to allow timely follow-up about missing items.

Review of incomplete applications will be delayed until all materials are received (including letters of reference).

  1. Unofficial Transcripts

The department needs (unofficial) copies of your transcripts from all colleges and universities you previously attended. You may attach them to an email, upload them to a cloud storage site and submit the URL via email or the Supplemental Form, or print and mail them to the department.

For international applicants with transcripts in other languages than English, certified English translations are required.

Prior to registering for courses, official copies of your final transcripts from EACH college and university attended must be sent directly to Cal Poly Pomona’s Office of Admissions and Outreach from the college and universities. Failure to submit your OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPTS (SEALED AND MAILED or SENT DIRECTLY VIA EMAIL) will delay your ability to enroll.

Final Official Transcripts should be submitted digitally. If your sending institution does not offer electronic transcripts, we recommend that applicants use the following service: National Student Clearinghouse or Credential Solutions. For PDF transcripts, please have them sent to Should these services not be available for your sending institution, please have them mail your transcript(s) to:

Cal Poly Pomona
Attn: Admissions & Enrollment Planning
3801 W. Temple Avenue
Pomona, CA 91768 USA

  1. English Proficiency Test Scores and/or GRE Score

International applicants with degrees from international colleges or university that are not taught in English need to provide copies of your English Proficiency Test results to the department.

Please have official results of your TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo test sent directly to the University (ETS Code: 4082). For admission to any graduate program at Cal Poly Pomona, you would need to have a minimum TOEFL score of 80, IELTS score of 6.5, and Duolingo score of 105.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are no longer required. Applicants who took the GRE sin the past five years are encouraged to submit their scores to the Department of Landscape Architecture. For more information, visit:

  1. MLA Application Portfolio

A portfolio (20 pages maximum) that showcases your creativity is required. Examples of portfolios are available by emailing

The PDF of your portfolio can be submitted via email, via a file sharing site (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, et cetera) or digital portfolio publishing site (ISSUU or other) with the URL submitted by email or the Supplemental Application, or by printing a copy and mailing it to us (address is above). Mailed portfolios will not be returned.

Portfolio Content

Your portfolio does not need to feature landscape design work or be landscape architecture related. We recognize that many candidates come from academic backgrounds with little to no art or design experience. Feel free to include work that you think provides evidence that you are a creative thinker and problem solver. For example, past students have submitted knitting patterns, dance routines, cake decorating, original recipes, musical scores or recording, and computer programs that illustrate their creative problem-solving abilities. Please provide a sufficient explanation about each project to assist so our faculty can interpret your process and the significance of your accomplishment.

Each project or type of project should have dedicated pages.

We strongly encourage you to include a sample of your writing (up to 10 pages) in the portfolio - this could be a few pages from a report, a chapter out of a thesis, article, etc.

A resume is recommended for Advanced Standing applicants, and is optional for General Standing applicants.

To include videography/animation, performing arts/music, or interact media work in your portfolio, please include frame grabs/still images + URL to view/hear the full work (don’t embed the file in the PDF as this will bloat the file size). Audio or video media files under 25mb can submitted via email separately from your PDF portfolio file. Media files larger than 25mb must be submitted by providing a URL to them on cloud sharing website via email or on the Supplemental Form.

For any group/collaborative project, or professional work completed as an employee, please be sure to specify the role you played in the project, and to identify the other team members.

All portfolios require a cover page with your name, contact information, address, phone number, email, and the program to which you are applying (MLA 1 or MLA 2).

Portfolio Formatting and Creation Instructions

Your portfolio should be submitted as single multi-page PDF file (or printed), with no more than 20 pages (8.5x11/letter-size or A4 size paper). Please don’t combine 2-page spreads into single 11x17 pages. PDF files are preferred.

To create your portfolio, there many apps that allow you to easily layout multiple pages with a combination of images and text, such as: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, MS Word, Google Docs, PowerPoint, or Keynote. It is essential that any software used allows saving the final version as a PDF. Any Windows, MacOS, and iOS app should be able to do this, either by ‘save as…’ in the file menu or in the print dialog window.

If you will not be printing your portfolio, you will generate a smaller file that displays better on a screen with images that are 8-bit RGB color mode or 8-bit gray scale (not CMYK or 12-bit color). Please optimize your image files so they have a final resolution of 100 to 200 pixels per inch using a photo editing application, by using the ‘compress images’ tool available in many apps, or in the ‘save as’ options. Higher resolution images will bloat the file size and are not recommended. For an image that is reproduced as 6” x 4” in the portfolio, the resolution should be at least 600x400 pixels and no more than 1200x800 pixels.

If you only can provide a hard copy printed version of portfolio, please mail it to the Department address above. Printed portfolios should be printed on both sides of the page (double-sided), and bound to be easily opened/accessed and easy to leaf through (use staples, spiral or comb bindings, or insert the pages into a folio/binder). No loose pages/sheets accepted. Printed portfolios WILL NOT BE RETURNED, so please do not spend lots of money on a fancy binder/cover.

See the file name format instructions above.

Portfolio Checklist (inspired by Professor Emeritus Lee-Anne Milburn)

  1. Selection/curation of projects
    1. Does the portfolio present a focused vision?
    2. Do the projects clearly illustrate your strengths and creative abilities?
    3. Does it show how you develop ideas and solve problems?
  2. Organization
    1. Are the projects presented chronologically (oldest to newest), or organized by theme, project type, or another logic?
    2. Do projects selected reflect your best and most recent work?
    3. For design projects, are you providing an overview of the final version, along with details, methodology/process, and context?
    4. Do the views/images/drawings of the work/projects make sense, and do subsequent views/pages expand upon and make clearer the previous pages?
    5. Is the significance of each project matched by the amount of space/pages dedicated to it?
  3. Reviewing the overall layout:
    1. Is there sufficient white space? Do the pages feel crowded?
    2. Are the borders clean and consistent?
    3. Is there a page organizing system that is consistently applied (without being boring)?
    4. Do you have to rotate the portfolio back and forth from landscape (horizontal) to portrait (vertical) to the extent that it is irritating?
    5. Is there a consistent graphic style expressed through organization, page layout, use of fonts, and color palette?
  4. Images/graphics
    1. Are the images/drawings presented sharply and clearly, with adequate contrast and resolution to see the details?
    2. Are the subjects in the photographs sharp and clear?
    3. If the images pixelated or otherwise of low quality, find a replacement or reduce the size of image on the page (aim for 100dpi or better for all photos/raster graphics).
    4. For high resolution original files, please reduce the resolution before placing them in the portfolio file so they reproduced in the portfolio at a resolution of 100dpi to 200dpi.
    5. Do any of the projects require being re-drawn or re-rendered?
  5. Text
    1. Is all text legible (big enough and with sufficient contrast)?
    2. Is there a consistent set of font sizes/styles used for the headers, captions, body text, et cetera?
    3. Have you checked the spelling and grammar?
    4. Is capitalization and punctuation consistent?
    5. Do the project statements/captions allow the reviewer to understand the material without having you there to explain it?
    6. Do you provide compelling outline the program, scope, concept and scale of the projects?
    7. Do you describe the location, project type, challenges, approach, and key innovations?
    8. For academic projects, do you identify the course number/name, instructor, and term/date?


  1. MLA Statement of Intent

Use this Statement of Intent for both the CSU Apply and MLA Supplemental Application. It should be a maximum of 600 words long. Suggested content for your statement includes:

  1. Relevant experience, interests or aptitudes that make you a great candidate for a career in landscape architecture? How did first discover landscape architecture and why do you want to become a landscape architect? Is there a specialization, type of project, or practice you want to pursue, what is it and why? Also make sure to highlight any interests or experiences that might otherwise be missed in your resume or package that inspired your interest in landscape architecture.
  2. Fit to the program - What experiences, interests, or aptitudes make you a good "fit" for Cal Poly Pomona's landscape architecture program? Please discuss your collaborative experience, approach to teamwork, emotional resilience/temperament, work ethics, and experiences working with diverse communities.
  3. Why do you want to enroll in our MLA program in particular? Why you want to study landscape architecture in Southern California. How did you first discover our program? If you were inspired by one of our faculty’s research or courses, who, what, and how you are inspired, and how you encountered their work. What do you think you can gain from our MLA program that is distinct from the other programs you are applying too?
  1. MLA Scholarly Writing Sample

To help us learn more about your values/interests, critical thinking, and writing ability, please write a short essay (400-word maximum) responding to following:

  1. What are the top three challenges facing our society today?
  2. Why do you consider these the most significant challenges?
  3. What can landscape architecture do to address these challenges?

Please support your rationale and perspective with at least 4 relevant bibliographic citations.

  1. Two Letters of Recommendation

Two letters of recommendation are required. For recent graduates:

  • At least one of your reference letters is from a faculty member at your most recently attended university or college program who can assess your academic strengths and weaknesses, critical thinking/design aptitude,
  • The other reference letter can be from professional mentor, a supervisor/boss, volunteer position, or other individuals familiar with your work, capabilities, interests, and problem-solving/creative aptitudes.

For applicants who graduated more than five years with their Bachelor's degree:

  • Both letters of recommendation can be from either academic or non-academic references who can assess your work, capabilities, interests, and problem-solving/creative aptitudes.

It is the applicant's responsibility to contact the references as early as possible to request they provide a letters of recommendation, and provide submission information about sending it directly to the Department of Landscape Architecture via email to or by mail.

Frequently Asked Questions

I do not have a design background. What should be in my portfolio?

Many applicants have not taken any design courses. In these cases, submit several samples of writing or other work that represent your critical and/or creative thinking skills. If you have taken graphics or design classes, or if you have done informal design related to landscape architecture, consider submitting examples of them. You can also submit other kinds of creative work, photography, arts, or crafts. The portfolio supplements your application, transcripts, statement of intent and letters of recommendation in representing your talents and potential to the graduate studies committee.

Is there a form that I can give to the people writing my letters of recommendation?

Yes, when you apply through CSU Apply, you can send the invitation link there to your referees. They will received a digital form to fill in their rating on you and recommendation letter. On part of the recommendation form, please have them consider addressing several general predictors of success in landscape architecture graduate studies. Among these predictors are: your capacity and interest in natural and social systems and multiple scales, ability to work in team environments and handle interpersonal conflicts, capacity for complexity and ambiguity, ability to complete projects, interest in resolving difficult issues, and your understanding of the time commitments involved in graduate work in landscape architecture.

Do I send my official transcripts directly to the department with my package?

No, please have your official transcripts sent directly to the Admissions office (see above). Unofficial copies should be provided with your CSU Apply application and to the department with your MLA Supplemental Package by the March 1st deadline for supplemental application materials.

Do I need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?

No. GRE is no longer required. But if you have taken one, please have official scores from the Graduate Record Examination General Test sent directly to so that they can be received by March 1st deadline for supplemental application materials.

Are there courses I should take that will prepare me for starting the program?

Prior to starting our program, you will benefit from a basic field ecology or plant ID course, introductory landscape or garden design course, graphic design basics, and  learning about the plant communities in Southern California. Experience in CAD, Adobe Software such as Illustrator, InDesign, PhotoShop, GIS, and hand drawing are also useful prior to beginning the program.

Are there readings that can prepare me for starting the program?

A reading list for incoming students will be provided in the MLA Program Handbook along the Fall schedule information. A general recommendation for all applicants is that they read, at a minimum, John T. Lyle’s Design for Human Ecosystems (1999. Island Press). This book gives a thorough introduction to many of the principles and practices of the graduate program.

I have taken courses at other institutions related to landscape architecture, can they count toward my graduate degree?

Please contact the graduate coordinator before you submit your application to request course waivers. Students can transfer a maximum of 9 semester units of upper division undergraduate, and higher courses that have not been used toward any degree to fulfill the requirement of the MLA degree. Only those courses that meet the requirement of the MLA program will be considered for credit transferring or course waivers. Any request to transfer units is pending for approval by the graduate coordinator.

Can I take courses while I wait to be accepted and have them count toward my requirements?

Some courses can serve as substitutes for required courses, such as a basic ecology course and introductory graphic courses. You should speak with the graduate coordinator about specific courses and your background. Keep in mind that a maximum of 9 semester units of upper level courses may be transferred into the graduate program from other universities. Only those courses that meet the requirement of the MLA program will be considered for credit transferring. Any request to transfer units is pending for approval by the graduate coordinator.

Student in enrolled in an accredited MLA program in the United States may apply to transfer into the two-year Advanced Standing MLA II program.

Can I begin the program during Spring semester?

Our courses are taught in sequence, so General Standing applicants (without design backgrounds) must begin our program in Fall semester only.

Applicants transferring from another accredited MLA program may request enrolling in Spring semester – please contact the graduate coordinator to find out if space is available. For consideration to begin in Spring, the complete application (CSU Apply + MLA Supplemental package) must be submitted by the December 15th.

Where do I find information about financial aid?

Cost and financial information can be found at index.shtml on the university webpage.

See also for information about scholarships previously won by Cal Poly Pomona students. In addition, the department offers a range of scholarships, including several that applicants can apply for.  Scholarship applications are due March 1st.


Student assistantships occasionally are offered by the department on a case by case basis. Tuition for in-state students is quite inexpensive and domestic students from outside of California are eligible for in-state residency after one year. See Cost, Scholarships, Awards, and Financial Aid Resources section for more details.

Can I be employed while in the program?

There are many landscape architecture job opportunities in the Los Angeles area and many students are employed while studying in the graduate program. Based on experience, it is recommended that students do not take jobs in their first year and take no more than 15 hours per week in their second and third year. The program’s courses are generally concentrated during three of the five working days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday), allowing students time to be engaged outside of class with studies and employment. The last six months of the program, when students are engaged in their cumulating experience, are quite intense and students usually reduce workloads during that time.

Where should I live while attending Cal Poly Pomona?

Many students live in nearby communities of Pomona, Claremont, La Verne, Pasadena, West Covina, and elsewhere. Commuting long distances is workable, but at times difficult and moving closer to campus should be considered. On-campus housing is also available through and through the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies During the pandemic, teaching will be offered online and thus you can live wherever you want as long as you have good internet connection.

Does the University offer housing option for married couples?

Unfortunately, the university does not offer housing for married couples. There are many options at affordable cost in neighborhoods around campus, such as Pomona, Claremont, La Verne, Diamond Bar, Rowland Height, Chino Hills etc.

Can I visit classes?

Please feel free to visit campus at any time. A map is on the campus website (http:// and our graduate studios are in Building 2, rooms 128, 129, and 130. Other classrooms are for the department are in building 3 and 7. The department website will announce special presentations and year-end juries as well. Mondays tend to be the best days to visit the program because classes for all three years of the graduate program meet on Mondays and you can see a good cross-section of the program. Class visit opportunities are along available online during the pandemic. Reach out to the graduate coordinator ( for more information.

Is there an optimal time to apply?

Yes. For both domestic and international students, endeavor to submit all required materials early in January so that transcripts may be analyzed by the admissions office prior to the deadline.

When will I know if I am accepted into the program?

After the March 1st deadline for submitting materials, packages will be reviewed and acceptance/waiting list letters sent out in early April. Notification of acceptance is expected from admitted applicants by April 15th and then invitations are extended to waiting list candidates to fill any available spaces.

Where do your alumni work following graduation?

CPP MLA graduates are exceptional candidates for a wide range of landscape architecture careers in both private design firms and public sectors. MLA graduates working in private and public sections are about half-half. Public sectors which hired our graduates include but not limited to federal, state, regional and local governments and agencies as well as environmental and social none-profit organizations. Private sectors which hired our graduates include but not limited to large interdisciplinary design and planning firms, environmental consulting groups, as well as small landscape design and construction firms. In addition, there is a good portion of our alumni run their own landscape design and landscaping business in Los Angeles region and beyond.

Do I have to write two different letters of Intent?

No. The statement of intent submitted with your online application at Cal State Apply may be the same statement of intent that you submit to the Landscape Architecture Department.

What is the University's policy on admission deferment?

We do not defer admission as it is both CSU and Campus Policy. Students who would like to attend in a future term, must reapply as returning applicant (see application procedure section for details) for the desired term of attendance.

When should I submit my transcript if I am still finishing my Bachelor Degree while applying for the MLA program?

You need to submit your transcript as soon as you receive your degree from your current university/college. Without the document submitted to the Office of Admission and Outreach, you will not be able to register and start your study in the program.

Is tuition waiver available for incoming students? How about graduate assistantship?

As part of the CSU system, Cal Poly Pomona offers one of the lowest tuitions in the nation and thus is very affordable (see Tuition section for more information). Tuition waiver is unfortunately not available in the CSU system for its tuition is relatively low compared to other universities. Graduate assistantship is available at case-by-case situation after the students have been in the program for at least one semester. In another word, assistantship is normally not available to incoming students.

To prepare students with comprehensive knowledge, advanced skills and rich practical experience to solve ecological, environmental and social issues of the 21st century through landscape design and planning, the MLA program is currently employing a curriculum that covers a wide variety of learning subjects pertinent to landscape architecture. The curriculum is a three-year sequence consisting of a 2-semesters preparatory year (required for students with non-design backgrounds) and two years of professional study of Landscape Architecture with an emphasis on human ecosystematic design and planning.

The M.L.A. curriculum at Cal Poly Pomona covers a wide variety of subjects relevant to

contemporary landscape architecture and meet the requirements of LAAB.

  • Landscape Architecture history, theory and criticism.
  • Natural, social, and cultural processes including principles of sustainability.
  • Environmental and public policy and regulation.
  • Design, planning and management at various scales from large regional landscape systems to human scale and applications including but not limited to pedestrian and vehicular circulation, grading, drainage, and stormwater management.
  • Site design and implementation: materials, methods, technologies, application.
  • Construction documentation and administration.
  • Written, verbal and visual communication and documentation.
  • Professional values, ethics, and practices.
  • Plant ecology and ecosystems.
  • Computer applications and advanced information technology.
  • Research methodologies, projects, thesis and degree.

Foundation: Human Eco-Systematic Landscape Design

Since 1972, the M.L.A. program at Cal Poly Pomona has built an expansive legacy of human eco-systematic landscape design as initiated by the late professor John T. Lyle (1934-1998) and contributed by generations of faculty and students. The human eco-systematic focus is featured with extensive research into the bio-physical and socio-cultural inventory of the landscape system and the interplay among them; in-depth analysis on the patterns, trends, and relations of highly relevant natural and social processes and other playing factors; considerate programming based on client, stakeholder, and community input collected via social surveys, public meetings, focused groups, and activities; rational systematic planning to create strong sustainability and connectivity; and creative site design solutions to construct vibrant, safe, and cultural friendly places. It serves as the major studio approach in projects ranging from watershed master planning, urban park plan design, open space and habitat management, greenways and trail system planning, stormwater infrastructure planning and design, multi-functional landscape systems, community landscape stewardship, brown and gray field revitalization, etc.

While its foundation on human eco-systematic landscape design continues, the program embraces new directions reflecting the ever-changing issues and needs of the landscape and human society that calls for new theories, principles and methods. These new directions in the curriculum include but not limited to:

  1. Climate change adaption design, which address knowledge on landscape mitigation strategies that if employed at mass scale, can help reduce GHG emissions (ASLA, 2016), adjust global and micro-climate, protect natural resources and wildlife habitats, promote local agriculture, and foster community resiliency against climate change;
  2. Participatory design and social practice, which seeks to create places that reflect and serve diverse cultural, racial and economic communities by involving users in the entire process of creating and improving their own landscape.
  3. Geodesign, which embraces and utilizes big data and the latest geospatial technologies to empower human capability in scientific rationalization to address complex and systematic landscape design challenges that are otherwise difficult to address; and
  4. Urban sustainable landscape design that brings in creative landscape strategies to sequester carbon, clean the air and water, increase energy efficiency, restore habitats, and create value through significant economic, social and, environmental benefits (ASLA, 2016).

Additionally, CPP’s John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies and the other graduate programs offered by the College of Environmental Design (ENV) and CPP provide a tremendous range of electives for our students.


One can download the Course Flow Chart, Curricula Sheet and Curricula Flow Chart for reference.

A minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA is required in all courses taken to earn as part of the MLA program in order to receive the degree. A "C" or better grade is required for students to receive credit toward the MLA program. Please refer to the University Catalog and Graduate Studies for more information. All MLA Coursework must be completed within 7 years of beginning the program.

Students admitted with General Standing need to complete all General Standing courses (15 units) + MLA Core Courses (36-units) + 9-units of MLA Electives + either Project or Thesis Track courses (12-units) = 72-units.

Advanced Standing students take the MLA Core Courses (36-units) + 9-units of Electives + either Project or Thesis Track Course (12-units) = 48-units.

Program and Student Learning Outcomes

Program Learning Outcomes (PLO)

  • PLO1 Graduates show critical knowledge of landscape architecture.
  • PLO2 Graduates can apply landscape architecture knowledge and techniques to solve complex environmental and social problems and challenges through landscape planning and design practice in multiple scales.
  • PLO3 Graduates can communicate and work effectively with integrity and ethics in individual and group settings.
  • PLO4 Graduates will advocate the value of sustainability, environmental conscience, land stewardship, and social justice in diverse and multicultural contexts.

Student Learning Outcomes (SLO)

  • SLO1 Critical Thinking - Demonstrate critical thinking skills and creatively apply them to resolve ecological, social, and spatial problems, while advancing current disciplinary concerns within the context of environmental design.
  • SLO2 Design Foundation - Demonstrate a strong understanding of design theory, history, and methods of communication-based on the principles of sustainability, regeneration, and ecosystemic design.
  • SLO3 Ecological Processes - Identify and interpret ecological patterns and processes at multiple scales and relate them to the development of design, planning, and vegetative strategies to address ecological problems, including, preservation, restoration, regenerative design, and sustainable use of resources.
  • SLO4 Cultural Processes - Identify and interpret cultural and historical patterns and processes at multiple scales as needed for designing for a diverse society.
  • SLO5 Disciplinary Knowledge - Creatively apply theories, techniques, skills, and tools necessary for landscape architecture, with explicit regards to ecological sustainability, resiliency, and the protection of public health, safety, and welfare.
  • SLO6 Digital Skills - Apply hands-on computer skills and information technologies in the planning and design process and products.
  • SLO7 Professional Responsibility - 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.
  • SLO8 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.
  • SLO9 Communication - Effectively express and deliver design ideas, information, and solutions visually, verbally, and in writing to a variety of audiences.
  • SLO10 Multi-Cultural Perspectives - Pursue challenging educational and service opportunities to the public within the diverse and evolving multicultural regional context of southern California.

SLO11 Research - Pursue scholarly or practical research with appropriately developed research questions, qualitative or quantitative methods, and documentation in the context of

MLA General Standing Track (15-units)

(Please refer to University Catalog for most updated information).

All MLA Core Courses are taught in sequence and are 3-units each. Seminars and lectures meet 3-hours, one day/week. Labs/Studios meet 3-hours/day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

LA 5111L Design I (Lab/Studio)

This course is an introduction to the discipline of landscape architecture and design foundations as a result of personal awareness. This course will specifically challenge students to understand the relationships of the body in space including the presence and reflection of the self and others in space. Multiple methods of personal and public recording and engagement will be utilized to reveal the latent potential and issues of space and site.

LA 5121L Design II (Lab/Studio)

This course is an introduction to the discipline of landscape architecture and design foundations as a result of a public awareness and public space. This course will specifically challenge students to understand the relationships of the public or a community to designed public space. Multiple methods of information collection, comparative study and measurement of capacity will be utilized to reveal the latent potential and issues of space and site beyond current conditions.

LA 5581 Graphic Communication

Introduction to visual communication for landscape architecture. Addresses the basic theory and intent of visual communication as applied to environmental design. Focuses on the exploration of what designers draw, why, and how, and the concepts of notation, observation, diagramming, measuring, and communicating. Uses problem-based learning to critically evaluate audience, tools, venue, and mechanics of visual communication. Integration of manual and digital tools.

LA 5771 Landscape Awareness and Assessment

Focuses on the development of awareness and skills related to reading the landscape around us: what is under, on and above the ground, and its implications for design. Introduction to methods of landscape documentation, inventory, analysis and assessment, including traditional site inventory and analysis, McHargian analysis, SWOT analysis, natural resources inventories, phenomenological approaches, behavioral observation, natural areas inventories, environmental impact analysis, archival research, still and motion picture photography as documentation, among others. Students will evaluate the appropriateness of various inventory, analysis and assessment tools and their connection to design. A series of field trips is required to provide opportunities to critically assess the California landscape as a product of human intervention and natural resilience.

LA 5611 Construction I:  Manipulation + Making

Explores fundamental technical theories, concepts, methods and processes associated with primary categories of constructing the built environment as associated with landscape architecture. Emphasis is placed on site engineering, water management, tectonic structure and project construction workflow. Additional content may include general survey and technical soils.

MLA Core Courses (36-units)

General Standing and Advanced Standing Track

LA 4771 Professional Practice

The practice of landscape architecture, covering professional responsibilities and ethics, client and contractor relationships. Analysis and discussion of the structure and organization of the profession of landscape architecture; its history and future. Case studies of professional firms and organizations in the Los Angeles region.

LA 5261 Grad Landscape Architecture History

An overview of historic developments and foundations of landscape design and the profession of Landscape Architecture from prehistory to the 20th century. Students will understand the role of biophysical and socio-cultural contexts in design development, and the connections between past landscape design and present practice. Students will develop skills in analysis of landscapes, library research, and written communication of ideas.

LA 5582 Geodesign Fundamentals for Environmental Designers

Study of fundamental knowledge, principles, processes, models, and skills of geodesign in the context of environmental design with a focus in landscape architecture. Application of geospatial thinking, geospatial data, geo-processing and other contents of contemporary Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to solve sustainable planning and design problems defined by a wide range of ecological, environmental and social conditions at different scales.

LA 5621 Construction II: Methods + Materials + Measuring

Introduction to the technical processes, concepts, methods and performance metrics associated with materials and the making/building of the urban landscape. Focuses on the structure and attachment of built elements with an emphasis on both the cultural and ecological performance measures of built landscapes.

LA 5772 Environmental Design Theory

An exploration of design, urban, aesthetic, evolutionary, behavioral, and ecosystem theory to explain human landscape preference, perception, and ecological functioning within a context of design problem-solving in urban and non-urban environments at a range of scales. Landscape as a lens to understand civilization.

LA 6111L Design III: Design for Change (Lab/Studio)

Examination of concerns underlying landscape design and planning and processes for dealing with them at all scales from the small project to the regional. Emphasis on applied ecology, systems techniques, and environmental policy and management as well as design and planning techniques. Techniques for predictions of alterations in social and natural processes brought about by human use of the land and the application of such assessments to environmental management.

LA 6121L Design IV: Complex Systems (Lab/Studio)

Explores energy, food, water, land, air, habitat, fire, and other key landscape systems as core design requirements for ecological and human health and maximizing natural capital. Site typologies under study will include marginal agricultural land/rangeland, mine/quarries/landfills, power lines and transportation corridors (including highways and railroads), flood control (spreading grounds, debris basins, or floodways) and water supply infrastructure (aqueduct right-of-way, reservoirs or treatment plants), energy and resource landscapes, and logistic hubs or data centers.

LA 6441 Plant and Ecology

An introduction to plant ecology and design issues relevant to the profession of landscape architecture. Special emphasis is placed upon plant communities and association of plants most appropriate to the Southern California region and the environmental factors that control these communities as related to planting design theory and application. Identification of native and adapted species; introduction to cultural, functional, and aesthetic criteria in the organization of design associations of plants. Special emphasis is placed upon the study and application of plant ecology and design in urban ecosystems. Introduction to the challenges encountered in urban ecosystems with a focus on sustainable and resource-efficient planting design. Identification of plant species adapted to urban conditions.

LA 6451 Coupled Human and Natural Systems

Studies the interface and reciprocal interactions that link human (e.g., economic, social) and natural (e.g., hydrologic, atmospheric, biological) systems. Addresses the complex nature of reciprocating interactions and feedbacks between humans on the environment, the effect of the environment on humans, and tools to anticipate impacts of design decisions on coupled human and natural systems.

LA 6771 Research Methods for Environmental Design

Introduction to the development and assessment of research questions, preparation and writing of literature reviews, matching of research questions to methods, strengths and weaknesses of methods, qualitative and quantitative data and their analysis, critique of existing research, and preparation of research reports. Also addresses research accessibility, quality of research, venues for communication, and common standards of rigor. Addresses data mining; visualization of data; experiments.

LA 6071L Design V: Integrative Design and Planning (Lab/Studio)

Group project related to large scale regional planning and design. Adopts an integrative issue-based approach to problem solving and documentation that is directed at identifying the problem, developing mapping tools to assist with problem-solving, and visual communication. Involves advanced application of geodesign technology, interaction with the public or other stakeholders, and other forms of primary data collection as required to solve the problem.

LA 6081L Design VI: Project Documentation (Lab/Studio)

Requires preparation of an extensive professional report documenting data collection, analysis, results, and recommendations related to a large-scale integrative design and planning project

MLA Directed Electives Courses (9-units)

A variety of electives courses will be offered each semester.

LA4781 Urban Green Infrastructure

Explores problems related to stormwater management, climate adaptation, urban heat island effect (etc.). Provides the tools required to optimize the design of natural and technical resource flows in the landscape from a systems perspective. Introduces design practices that reduce human impacts and optimize the built environment to restore degraded ecosystem services. Flows of water and human movement across the landscape are the primary focus.

LA4782 Evolving Issues in Environmental Design

Focuses on new and changing topics and methods in environmental design aimed at improving social, environmental and economic conditions. Principles will be learned through case studies, field trips, readings, and design exercises as appropriate to the topic. Historical basis of the issue, scope of the problem, impacts, and possible solutions will be examined.

Topics will be announced each semester

Topics will be announced each semester.

LA5271 History II: Modern Landscape History

Analysis of significant landscapes in the 20th and 21st Centuries in urban, suburban and rural contexts. Focuses on a range of landscape typologies that include parks, plazas, streetscapes, and notable residential projects. Addresses the emergence of landscape architecture as a profession; and the design concepts, firms and significant personalities who shaped the American landscape. Instruction emphasizes the historical, social, political, economic, and philosophical forces that influenced the profession's modern era.

LA5782 Landscape Architecture Teaching Practicum

Designed to give students actual teaching experience and developmental feedback. Practicum students are involved in course planning and implementation as well as assessment of students and of the course throughout the semester. Practicum students perform a variety of instructional roles, including, at a minimum, the independent teaching of a subject unit in the course and regular classroom attendance for a semester. Practicum students prepare an assessment instrument for the course, assist with lecture preparation and assignment design, as well as work in class with students.

LA5990 Special Topics for Graduate Students

Group study at a graduate level of a selected well-defined topic or area not covered by a regularly offered course.

LA6772 Finding Problems

Leadership in professional practice requires more than ethics and liability for ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of the public. LA6772 explores how projects are realized from the perspective of public practice, an emerging mode of professional activism that is entrepreneurial and proactively engaged in defining issues and projects that address them, then seeking funding for design and implementation. LA6772 also covers academic practice: from research and writing, through publication.

LA 6910 Directed Research

LA 6920 Independent Research

Other Electives

Additional pre-approved electives are listed in the MLA Handbook. Please consult with the MLA graduate coordinator about taking other courses as an elective.

Master’s Project or Thesis Track (12-units)

Since 2018, the MLA Thesis track has been suspended.

LA 6941 Master's Thesis/Project Research

Research and development of thesis project or faculty-approved master's project.

LA 6951 Master's Project

Development of a terminal creative or research project designed to demonstrate skills and knowledge achieved in the graduate program. Project focus and site will be selected by the student in consultation with Master's Project Advisor. Development of the Master's project is conducted under the supervision of a Master's Project Committee. Student selects Committee members, conducts original design research, and produce a report within a landscape-related theoretical framework.

LA 6773 Master's Culminating Experience Seminar

Take in Fall and Spring. Topics to be announced that align with the LA6071L and LA6081L projects. Thesis students will earn credit by making satisfactory progress on their work.

LA6961 Master's Thesis

Development of a terminal thesis designed to demonstrate skills and knowledge achieved in the graduate program. Thesis subject and methods will be selected by the student in consultation with Master's Thesis Advisor. Development of the Master's Thesis is conducted under the supervision of a Master's Thesis Committee. Student selects Committee members, conducts original quantitative and/or qualitative research, and produce a report within a landscape-related theoretical framework.

International Program Courses

LA4811L International Landscape Architecture Methods (Lab)

Features the development of studio projects that focus on cultural and environmental issues within Italy and Western Europe developed within a context of critical dialogue about current cultural values, the role of leisure and pleasure in the landscape, the sacred and profane, the influence on religion on physical form and relationships, and evidence of past cultures and their impact on design thinking.

LA4872 History of International Landscapes [or LA4251 Asian Garden]

Investigation of a selected urban site within the European region, with a focus on the contemporary function of the site’s urban landscape elements. Focuses on both the historic and contemporary contributions of selected urban center. Emphasis on transportation, pedestrian accommodation, and open space structure.

LA4873 International Professional Practice

Exploration of the scope and nature of professional practice in Europe, including presentations by regional professionals. Addresses the practice of landscape architecture, covering professional responsibilities and ethics, client and contractor relationships. Analysis and discussion of the structure and organization of the profession of landscape architecture; its history and future. Case studies of professional firms and organizations in the European region. Addresses standards of practice in Europe, and compares European practice with practice in California.