Route to Urban Design - MLA or M.Arch?


Hi everyone,

I have read through all of the landscape arch vs. arch forums, as well as a lot of the urban design topics. I'm stuck. If I want to pursue urban design (can't get a Masters in Urban Design because I don't have a design background, and I can take electives in the subject with either M.Arch or MLA), would it be better to have a degree in architecture or landscape architecture? Does it really matter? My personal interests are only getting in the way/confusing me, because I can see myself in either program. Architecture does seem more diverse, and I've already taken some courses, but LA seems to have more of a focus on open space planning and human scale, which I think is more applicable. 

I also want to take the registration/certification process into account, because I think it will increase my prospects in urban design. Seems like becoming a certified LA may be a little smoother process (at least in California).

Please help! I'm in the application process now. 

Thank you!

Nov 28, 18 5:48 pm

Urban design-LOL.

Nov 28, 18 6:58 pm

...what?  Urban Design programs don't require a design background. 

With that said I'd personally explore an MLA/UD or MA/UD design degree that combines either LA or Arch with urban design.  

Nov 28, 18 10:05 pm

Dangermouse - Thanks, but are you thinking of Urban Planning? Because every MUD program I’ve seen requires a design background. 

And I would be able to take urban design electives, but I’m looking for feedback on whether LA or A is a better foundation for urban design.

Nov 29, 18 11:35 am

Ideally you would know design, architecture, and landscape architecture. Where you start doesn’t matter. Just apply and go to a decent school that isn’t too expensive.

Nov 29, 18 12:09 pm
You’re a lot more likely to get hired and make the right networking connections via the MLA than the M.Arch. It’s not unheard of to go the M.Arch route but it’s an uphill battle as the MLA and UD grads are going to get put to the top of the hiring pool and the number of positions available is rather small to begin with. My anecdotal advice is pulled from active UD professionals who all have an MLA or UD background and a few M.Arch grads who have tried and never been given the chance to break into it. The UD/MLA grads all seem to have similar stories of there being few positions in existence, and some having gone back to get another degree just to network/intern for that first job (which they’ll never leave). These anecdotal stories are from professionals in NYC, DC and Chicago. I imagine it’s similar elsewhere.
Nov 29, 18 1:33 pm

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