Landscape Architecture, B.L.A.

Program Code: LARCH_BLA

Program Description

Landscape architecture is the art of design, planning, or management of the land and of the natural and built elements upon it. As an academic discipline, it embodies creative, cultural, philosophical, and scientific knowledge bases. As a professional discipline, the practice of landscape architecture includes site design, urban design, master planning, community planning, regional planning, resource conservation, and stewardship.

The program currently is a nine-semester curriculum leading to a professionally accredited Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree. One semester of the curriculum is spent in a required semester abroad. The program prepares graduates for entry into professional offices or pursuit of advanced study in related disciplines. The curriculum develops both the creative insight and the technical skills essential to practice and fulfills the education requirement needed in all states to be eligible to take the professional licensing examination.

What is Landscape Architecture?

Landscape architecture is an important "change agent" design profession for the 21st century addressing both social and environmental challenges of our times. Landscape architects are licensed professionals who design places that have beneficial impacts on the health and resilience of our ecosystems, our communities, and ourselves—places of delight, of wonder, of comfort, and of respite that include parks, plazas, arboreta, campuses, gardens, memorials, green roofs, interactive installations, commercial centers, transportation corridors, waterfront developments, and so much more. In all of their efforts, Landscape architects are guided by commitment to social, environmental, and economic benefit. All of this makes landscape architecture "the most exciting 21st century design profession that you've probably never heard of."

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You are creative, active, involved.
  • You want to be an agent of change and solve problems.
  • You are passionate about sustainability.
  • You are fascinated by people and cultures; inspired by history and traveling.
  • You like technology and hands-on work.
  • You enjoy working with a team and you want to design for the 'big' issues.
  • You want to engage with art, nature, and design to unlock powerful solutions for the complex issues of today and tomorrow.

Entrance Procedures

Incoming First Year Students

Incoming first year students must apply to Penn State. Students who are accepted to Landscape Architecture will be directly admitted to the undergraduate professional degree (Larch_BLA). There is no portfolio required for incoming first year students.

Change of Major/Change of Campus Students

Change of major/change of campus students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or above and are required to submit a cover letter and essay by February 15. Students will be placed in either first or second year studio based on demonstrating proficiencies required for advanced placement standing.

Transfer Students

Transfer students must apply to Penn State. Transfer students are required to apply and submit a cover letter and essay by February 15. Students will be placed in either first or second year studio based on demonstrating proficiencies required for advanced placement standing.

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree in Landscape Architecture, a minimum of 139 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 6
Requirements for the Major 109

21 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 9 credits of GN courses; 6 credits of GA courses; 3 credits of GH courses; 3 credits of GS courses.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn a grade of C or better in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
SOILS 101Introductory Soil Science Keystone/General Education Course3
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
LARCH 60Cultural History of Designed Places Keystone/General Education Course3
LARCH 115Design I: Intro Spatial Composition3
LARCH 116Design II: Spatial Design3
LARCH 125Landscape Architecture Orientation Seminar1
LARCH 145Ecology and Plants I3
LARCH 155Skills Lab I: Hand & Digital Graphics2
LARCH 156Skills Lab II: Hand & Digital Graphics2
LARCH 215Design III: Site Design4
LARCH 216Design IV: Expanded Use, Scale, and Context4
LARCH 235Design Implementation I: Grading3
LARCH 236Design Implementation II: Materials3
LARCH 245Ecology & Plants II3
LARCH 246Ridge & Valley in the Field1
LARCH 255Skills Lab III: Digital Graphics2
LARCH 256Skills Lab IV: GIS2
LARCH 276Human Dimensions of Design: History & Theory3
LARCH 315Design V: Expanded Use, Scale, and Context4
LARCH 335Design Implementation III: Planting Methods3
LARCH 336Design Implementation IV: Stormwater3
LARCH 365WContemporary Trends in Landscape Architecture3
LARCH 375Human Dimensions of Design - Applied3
LARCH 386Professional Practice3
LARCH 414Design and Theory V: Advanced Landscape Architectural Design (5 per semester, maximum of 15)5-15
LARCH 424Design Theory Seminar3
LARCH 499ADesign Theory Seminar1
LARCH 499BDesign and Theory VI: Contemporary/International Landscape Architectural Design Issues5
LARCH 499DContemporary/International Special Topics3
Additional Courses
Select 6 credits of the following:6
Plant Stress: It's Not Easy Being Green Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to Plant Biology Keystone/General Education Course
Structure and Function of Organisms Keystone/General Education Course
Genetics, Ecology, and Evolution Keystone/General Education Course
Energy Conservation for Environmental Protection Keystone/General Education Course
Global Change and Ecosystems Keystone/General Education Course
Landforms of the World Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to Environmental Geology
Plants in the Human Context Keystone/General Education Course
Atmospheric Environment: Growing in the Wind Keystone/General Education Course
Environmental Sustainability Keystone/General Education Course
Select 6 credits of the following:6
Design Thinking and Creativity Keystone/General Education Course
Architecture and Ideas Keystone/General Education Course
Ideas Across Time in Architecture and Urbanism Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to Drawing Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to Sculpture Keystone/General Education Course
Asian Art and Architecture Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to the Art and Architecture of the Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas Keystone/General Education Course
Ancient to Medieval Architecture Keystone/General Education Course
ARTH 202
American Architecture Keystone/General Education Course
ARTH 315
ARTH 320
ARTH 330
African Art Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to Graphic Design Keystone/General Education Course
Select 3 credits of the following:3
Early African History Keystone/General Education Course
Modern African History Keystone/General Education Course
What is Asia? Keystone/General Education Course
Paris: Anatomy of a Global City Keystone/General Education Course
The American Scene Keystone/General Education Course
German Culture and Civilization Keystone/General Education Course
Contemporary German Culture Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to U.S. Environmental History Keystone/General Education Course
Nature and Environment Keystone/General Education Course
Environmental Philosophy Keystone/General Education Course
Select 3 credits of the following:3
Introduction to Contemporary Africa Keystone/General Education Course
First Farmers Keystone/General Education Course
Foundations: Civic and Community Engagement Keystone/General Education Course
Science, Technology and Public Policy Keystone/General Education Course
Urban Geography: A Global Perspective
Leisure and Human Behavior Keystone/General Education Course
Introductory Rural Sociology Keystone/General Education Course
Race, Ethnicity and Culture Keystone/General Education Course

Integrated B.L.A. in Landscape Architecture and M.S. in Landscape Architecture

Requirements for the Integrated B.L.A. in Landscape Architecture and M.S. in Landscape Architecture can be found in the Graduate Bulletin.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Robin Bierly
Stuckeman School Undergraduate Academic Adviser
127 Stuckeman Family Building
University Park, PA 16802

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2021-22 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contain suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Landscape Architecture, B.L.A. at University Park Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
ENGL 15 or 30H*‡3LARCH 116*3
LARCH 60 (GA;US;IL)*† 3LARCH 156*2
LARCH 115*3SOILS 101*‡3
LARCH 125*1Additional Course for Major (see list)*13
LARCH 145*3Additional Course for Major (see list)*13
LARCH 155*2Additional Course for Major (see list)*13
 15 17
Second Year
LARCH 215*4LARCH 216*4
LARCH 235*3Additional Course for Major (see list)*13
LARCH 245*3LARCH 246*1
LARCH 255*2LARCH 256*2
Additional Course for Major (see list)*13LARCH 276*3
 LARCH 336*3
 15 16
Third Year
CAS 100A, 100B, or 100C3ENGL 202A, 202B, 202C, or 202D3
LARCH 315*4LARCH 414*5
LARCH 335*3LARCH 236*3
LARCH 365W*3LARCH 375*3
Additional Course for Major (see list)*13LARCH 386*3
 16 17
Fourth Year
LARCH 499A*1LARCH 414*5
LARCH 499B*5LARCH 424*3
LARCH 499D*3Additional Course for Major (see list)*13
Foreign Language (Recommended) or Elective*3Additional Course for Major (see list)*13
 Additional Course for Major (see list)*13
 12 17
Fifth Year
LARCH 414*5 
Additional Course for Major (see list)*13 
Additional Course for Major (see list)*13 
Total Credits 139

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and replace both ENGL 30H and CAS 100. Each course is 3 credits.

Change of Major Application: A minimum grade point average of 2.0 and an essay submission to be evaluated. Students will be admitted in the fall semester only.

Submission Requirements

For More Information, please contact:

Robin Bierly
Stuckeman School Undergraduate Academic Adviser
127 Stuckeman Family Building
University Park, PA 16802

Career Paths

Penn State Landscape Architecture graduates are well-prepared to join our distinguished professional alumni network with a clear path to licensure and making an immediate impact on the world. The Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (B.L.A.) program is designed to prepare graduates for either advanced study or professional careers. A B.L.A. degree provides students with a background in creativity, technical skills, and ethical considerations necessary for professional practice. Careers or graduate study can lead to a diverse array of focus areas, including sustainability, urban planning, research, social or environmental justice, design, ecology, social health and well-being, technology, construction, or community outreach.


The world is constantly changing, and landscape architects are skilled designers poised to shape, drive, and responsibly steward these changes. Penn State landscape architects are artists, ecologists, engineers, scientists, sociologists, conservationists, and often, leaders. The profession enables you to connect with your passion. Engage with art, nature, and design. Build spaces, places, and experiences. Collaborate. Solve problems. Design a better future. A B.L.A. will prepare you with leading-edge technical design principles and a deep foundation in technologies and design-thinking methods so that you can immediately enter professional practice with a wide range of opportunities.


Opportunities for Graduate Studies

While the accredited B.L.A. prepares students for professional practice, graduates may opt to pursue advanced degrees to gain specialized expertise. Penn State’s M.S. in LA is a research-focused degree in which students hone expertise in a targeted area of the profession. M.S. in LA applicants should hold an accredited professional degree in landscape architecture. Penn State also offers an online graduate certificate and a Master in Professional Studies degree program in Geodesign, an exciting, new, design and planning strategy that harnesses big data to ensure wise decisions grounded in the triple bottom line of sustainability: environmental, social, and economic good.


Professional Resources


The BLA undergraduate curriculum is accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB). The mission of LAAB is to evaluate, advocate for, and advance the quality of education in landscape architectural programs. LAAB establishes standards that ensure that current and future practitioners understand, obtain and maintain the knowledge, skills and abilities required to practice landscape architecture in the future.


Professional Licensure/Certification

Many U.S. states and territories require professional licensure/certification to be employed. If you plan to pursue employment in a licensed profession after completing this program, please visit the Professional Licensure/Certification Disclosures by State interactive map.


University Park

121 Stuckeman Family Building
University Park, PA 16802