University Senate                                                          Proposed: December 17, 2004








WHEREAS,     the Education Committee has favorably reviewed a proposal from the School of Continuing Education to establish a program leading to the M.S. in Landscape Design; and


WHEREAS,     the committee is satisfied that the proposal has the support of the executive committee of the School of Continuing Education; and


WHEREAS,     this program, which is unique in the country, responds to a need for a rigorous studio program that trains people to work professionally as designers of residential landscapes and small gardens as opposed to larger projects with a broader range of technical and architectural challenges; and


WHEREAS,     in addition to design, the Columbia program requires students to study landscape history and theory; to develop a broad plant vocabulary, and to master a range of technical knowledge which, while not as extensive as that required of a landscape architect, is nonetheless deeper than that acquired in certificate programs which are offered elsewhere;


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED       that the University Senate establish a program leading to the M.S. degree in Landscape Design, with the proviso that the Education Committee will review the program in five years.





                                                               Education Committee



Education Committee subcommittee review



The proposed program is well designed and the syllabi that have been submitted indicate appropriate depth for a graduate program of this kind.


The program is different from a program that leads to a degree in Landscape Architecture, and was supported in concept by the former dean of the School of Architecture. The program prepares students to work as landscape designers, who, unlike landscape architects, do not require licenses. 


There is no overlap with existing programs or courses inside the University.  No courses offered by other units of the University are available for students enrolled in this proposed program, whose courses are all newly planned.


The subcommittee noted that the program has no electives at this time. The intent of SCE is to test the market with the proposed core. If students call for additional courses, they may be added later. There are plans for some intensive non-credit seminars for the students, particularly in business and computer-assisted design.


The academic director of the program, Joseph Disponzio, has a distinguished scholarly background. He will be responsible from the start to recruit additional faculty and oversee curriculum development to bring the program to maturity. The large community of landscape designers in the greater metropolitan area suggests that SCE will have no problem recruiting high-caliber faculty for this program.


The subcommittee recommends approval.




School of Continuing Education

Proposal for an MS in Landscape Design




Columbia’s MS in Landscape Design (MSLD) prepares students for careers as landscape designers specializing in residential and smaller-scale design projects.  The rigorous program of study emphasizes studio work in order to develop students’ technical and design competence and to enable them to begin professional practice upon graduation. 


The MSLD targets individuals who wish to pursue a professional career in landscape design, but who choose not to enroll in a full-time program of study leading to a professional degree in landscape architecture.  Ideally suited for working professionals or those in career transition, the MSLD is a part-time program, with all courses offered in the evening or on Saturday.  Instructors hold terminal degrees in their respective fields and studio design instructors are professionally licensed landscape practitioners. 




The 34 pt. program is composed of 11 courses and an internship.  Four studio courses lie at the core of the curriculum (16 pts).  In addition, students are required to take a course in the history of gardening and landscape design (3 pts.); three plant material courses (6 pts); and three technical courses (6 pts.) devoted to drafting, graphic representation and landscape construction.  The supervised internship (3pts) is taken immediately prior to the last term of study. 


In their first term, students enroll in two courses which form the foundation for further study.  LAND K4200, History and Theory of Gardening and Landscape Design, is a comprehensive survey that focuses on the key periods and styles that distinguish the Western tradition, providing students with a basic design vocabulary and introducing them to the seminal theories of landscape design.  Design 201, Landscape Representation:  Graphics and Landform Modeling, is a studio course intended to cultivate students’ capacity to represent design ideas graphically.


At the center of each of the four subsequent terms of study is a studio course.  The first three studios are devoted to specific themes: analysis and schematic design; design development; and planning and design of landscapes.  The final studio calls on students to design a residential garden, using a real site and developing a realistic program capable of implementation. 


Complementing each of these studios are plant material and technical courses. Conducted almost entirely in the field, the plant material courses allow students to develop an increasingly extensive plant vocabulary.  Moreover, they cultivate the students’ understanding of plant characteristics and maintenance requirements as well as their sense of how best to incorporate plants into landscape designs.  The technical courses introduce students to the plastic qualities of landscapes, train them to read topographical maps, and explore in depth site grading and drainage as well as landscape construction. 


In their supervised internships, students either serve as apprentices in professional landscape design firms or complete a practicum in a privately owned garden.  Designed to immerse students in a professional setting prior to graduation, internships require a full-time commitment for a minimum of two weeks.  Internships may be arranged locally or anywhere throughout the world depending on student interest and talent.


 Degree Requirements


Term I

LAND K4200 History and Theory of Gardening and Landscape Design.  3 pts.

LAND K4210 Graphics and Landform Modeling.  3 pts.


Term II

LAND K4404 Landscape Design Studio I – Site Analysis and Schematic Design.  4 pts.

LAND K4102 Plant Materials:  Woody Trees and Shrubs I.  1.5 pts.

LAND K4112 Landscape Technology. Site Grading and Drainage.  1.5 pts.


Term III

LAND K4405 Landscape Design Studio II – Design Development. 4 pts.

LAND K4103 Plant Materials: Woody Trees and Shrubs II .  1.5 pts.

LAND K4113  Landscape Technology. Construction and Site Details 1.5 pts.


Term IV

LAND K4406  Landscape Design Studio III – Planning and Design of Landscapes 4pts.

LAND K4215  Internship 3 pts.


Term V

LAND K4407  Landscape Design Studio IV – Advanced Planting and Design.  4 pts.

LAND K4220  Planting Design.  3 pts.


Satisfactory Progress toward the Degree

The academic progress of each student is reviewed shortly after the end of each term. The School of Continuing Education considers a student’s academic progress to be satisfactory when it is at a rate that allows the student to complete all requirements for the M.S. degree within four years (12 terms, including summer terms). In this regard, marks of INC or UW do not indicate satisfactory progress and will be taken into account in the review of each student’s performance. Those not meeting this satisfactory progress requirement will normally be dismissed.

Satisfactory progress is also assessed on the basis of grades. Degree candidates must complete all courses required for the degree with an overall average of 3.0 (B) or better. Every course creditable to the degree must be taken for a letter grade, although students may register for one additional approved course per term on a Pass/Fail or R credit basis. If a student’s average falls below 3.0, or if 50 percent or more of the student’s program shows marks of INC or UW in any given semester, the student will be placed on academic probation. Students who have a second academically unsatisfactory term will be dismissed from the program, as will any student who receives two final grades of C (including C+ or C-) or any student who receives a final grade of D or F. A student receiving a grade of C in any semester may take only one course the following semester. All decisions to place a student on academic probation or to dismiss a student for academic reasons are subject to appeal (see below).