The Dual-Degree Advantage

This spring, as graduates don their cap and gown and huddle for photographs with Sparty, the first group of students enrolled in the new dual BLA/MED curriculum will walk across the stage to accept their diploma.

This spring, as graduates don their cap and gown and huddle for photographs with Sparty, the first group of students enrolled in the new dual BLA/MED (Bachelor of Landscape Architecture/Masters of Environmental Design) curriculum will walk across the stage to accept their diploma.

The program has created a curriculum infused with high-impact teaching and learning practices to address a number of academic, research, and strategic issues. The curriculum decreases student time to graduation for the BLA, and the dual BLA/MED degrees enhances graduate competitiveness for jobs, fosters enhanced research and scholarly production, and furthers the program’s reputation while attracting students nationwide.

According to Dr. Pat Crawford “The BLA/MED is an innovative approach to professional education. Students graduate in 4½ years with a BLA or 5 years with the BLA/MED dual degree. The professional training of the bachelor’s combined with the master’s level education strengthens our graduate’s potential to compete in the marketplace, remain sought-after candidates in professional firms and provide leadership to our diverse and expanding profession. Professional design degrees, such as landscape architecture, require a strong blend of skill development, critical thinking, and creating application; what we call today scholarly activity.”

In the BLA/MED curriculum, students are introduced to the ideas of applied scholarship throughout their design education. In their third year, students are encouraged to think about their own scholarly or research project and applying for dual enrollment and graduate school admissions.

In the fourth year fall semester, students begin graduate-level course work linking theory and methods of landscape architecture research with their own design ideas. The fourth year spring semester includes a graduate seminar where they craft their scholarship proposals for their Thesis/Practicum course work to be conducted in their fifth and final year.

The fifth year experience also includes a graduate studio to apply their scholarly work in a studio design environment.

According to a 2009 article by Design Intelligence, a group that ranks landscape architecture programs in the United States, it was concluded that “To be a complete and competent landscape architect, knowledge and technical proficiency are required in more different subject areas then in any other design discipline. Universities cannot address all areas with the desired depth in the time that it takes to complete a bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree. This is where the Masters degree…plays a role in the educational process, [As does practical training].”


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