How did your neighborhood take shape? Who turned the empty lots downtown into bustling shopping areas with rain gardens and green spaces? How were the unused railroad tracks transformed into paths for biking, walking, and bird watching?
A Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) degree will equip you with the design skills and scientific knowledge you need to design dynamic places that help ensure a healthier future for us all. In this accredited, professional degree program, you’ll learn to use creativity, innovation, and problem-solving processes to create designs that are not only healthy for people and the planet, but are also beautiful.
Our BLA program is ranked #3 in the US by College Factual and #2 by Deans in the Design Intelligence survey. We have a deep history of excellence as one of the oldest landscape architecture programs in the nation, and we have produced some of the best-known practitioners in the US. We are the only professionally accredited undergraduate landscape architecture program in Illinois.
Our BLA program is STEM-classified, so international students with an F-1 visa are eligible to remain in the US for OPT (Optional Practical Training) employment for up to three years and two months after graduation, and those granted an H-1b visa can stay an additional six years (total of nine years).
What you will learn
The four year program in Landscape Architecture requires 124 semester hours. The majority of these credit hours are in required landscape architecture courses, consisting of design studio, construction, plant materials and design, history, design communication, and professional internship. General education courses are also required, as well as courses in related fields like urban planning and geography. Check out our BLA handbook for a list of course requirements.
In the first year, students acquire basic knowledge about landscape architecture, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and mathematics. This first year is general and flexible to allow students from other colleges and universities to acquire this basic knowledge and transfer into the second year of the curriculum.
In the second year, students become deeply involved in studio experience and site engineering. Students learn a systematic approach to solve landscape architectural problems, emphasizing the basic principles of design, design process, and site planning skills. Methods of landscape survey and analysis further supply the student with a logical basis for making design decisions. The use of computers in the design process is introduced in this year as well.
In the third and fourth years, we increase the complexity and scale of our students’ design opportunities. We connect them with real places and people and allow them to work collaboratively to create interesting, complex design solutions. Our students travel to places like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles and work on design solutions specific to these sites.
What students can expect
Our students don’t just immerse themselves in lectures and student work. They collaborate on projects with experts in architecture, urban planning, engineering, geography, and new media. They go on field trips to see award-winning designs. They participate in (and win!) prestigious design competitions. Many of them travel abroad in a variety of countries, from Spain to China.
They connect to mentors and potential employers through a required professional internship based in locations such as Chicago, New York, and Hong Kong. Though we are nestled in the rural landscape of central Illinois, the world is our campus.
We’ve worked to create a community of scholars where everyone is comfortable, supported, and heard. We learn from each other and rely on each other to grow and change. Some of the many ways we support our students include:
- Individualized attention in small classes
- Opportunities to engage with our world-class faculty
- Career fairs and targeted employment assistance
- Regular academic advising
In its report for 2019, College Factual has ranked our BLA program #3 in the nation.
Minor in Landscape Studies
Our Minor in Landscape Studies is an excellent way for students in other majors to pursue interests in landscape architecture and related practices. For some, it is also a way to consider and prepare for eventual, graduate-level study of landscape architecture at the master’s (MLA) or doctoral (Ph.D.) level.
Learn more about our Minor in Landscape Studies.
If you’re considering coming to Illinois and would like to learn more about the College of Fine & Applied Arts, request more info here.