How important is the prestige of an MLA Graduate program when hiring?

Zola Vighi

I'm in the process of researching First Professional MLA programs. I have a BFA in Sculpture. I spent four years interning in an architecture firm right out of high school. This internship experience helped me to see how the design process works in a corporate setting, but it seemed like everyone who worked in the firm came from Ball State. This didn't really give me a sense of what is important to look for when searching for an MLA program.

I have a strong background in design and a strong aesthetic sense. I hope to choose a program that is studio based, and affords opportunities to intern or work on public projects. I'll happily work like a dog so that I can come out prepared with a portfolio that speaks to my skills. However, I find myself wondering how far the strengths in a portfolio will take me, versus how much my graduate program will factor into a hiring decision. Does the prestige of a program really count when hiring a landscape architect? It seems reasonable to have brand recognition as a part of my decision making process.

I was intrigued by the program description at University of Oregon. I like the concept of balancing professionalism with liberal arts, and I am especially intrigued by the focus on sustainable design and interdisciplinary studies. However, I don't find anything convincing or compelling about the reputation of the school. Should I be worried? Other schools I'm considering: RISD, VCU, Cal Poly.

My husband is also going back to graduate school for an MFA, so cost is a very real factor, as is choosing a school that would have a MFA Sculpture program (we are willing to geographically split, but it's not ideal). I expect that when we are both employed we'll eventually be able to pay off the investment in our education, but I don't want to be shackled to my debt until I retire.

If you have advice, I'd like help organizing an outline of whats important to consider in an MLA I program. I'm preparing to make as many contacts as I can. Thanks for your advice and suggestions.

Jan 10, 13 1:07 pm

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