Getting into UT-Austin for MLA....


Hi all, 

I will begin a post-bac program in Landscape Architecture at UCLA EXT. They have a great program and I am really excited about it but my time in LA seems to be dwindling too. I still want to pursue landscape arch though and was wondering about the program in Austin. I hear UT has a top architecture school, ranked higher than UCLA actually. 

I was wondering if it were possible to take the courses at UCLA EXT for a good year, build a portfolio and then apply to UT-Austin. Would that help my chances of getting in? How difficult is it to get into the school for an MLA? Perhaps since I have no design background would it be better for me (and possible) to apply to do a bachelors? In this economy is a BLA any good? 

I would appreciate the help. Thanks guys! 

Aug 1, 13 10:15 pm

UT-Austin is, without a doubt, a good university.  Landscape architecture is typically less competitive for admission than architecture across the board.  Their M.Arch. 1 has always been challenging to get into, but has become more so as Austin has become a "cool" place and UT-Austin has climbed in the rankings in most fields.  I'm sure their landscape architecture program would be equally good.  If you plan to work in Texas, the alumni ties are as strong as a pair of longhorns.  And, UT-Austin is known nationwide, too.

Yes, I think the extension programs at UCLA are good for preparing portfolios.  They are extension programs so, for some states, they don't prepare you to get a professional's stamp.  In California, I think the design professions don't have a stipulated educational requirement, but I'm not going to touch that.

I often wonder what they do with applicants who express an interest in architecture and then send in applications for MLAs as first degrees.  One such program was tempting for me because it meant no relocation was needed, but I couldn't even cough up an essay that could explain why I would have wanted to be a landscape architect.

I don't know.  MLAs are almost always 3 years, and not 3.5 or 4, so it's as long as a BLA would be, and you get an accredited graduate degree in the process.

Aug 1, 13 10:52 pm

If I remain in CA I would probably finish the landscape certificate, get licensed and perhaps finish a masters at Cal Poly. 

If I end up moving back to my home state of TX, I would apply to UT and A&M. A&M I know for sure might be a long shot since it's one of the top five in MLA. 

But would it be impossible to get into UT? I would take a year at UCLA which on the quarter system would be enough courses to build a decent portfolio, no? 

Aug 2, 13 12:04 am

For some fields, just because a school is highly ranked it doesn't mean the school has the applicant flow to go with it.  I think that, for people moving to TX for a good school, they'd want to be at Rice-Houston or UT-Austin, especially since grad students tend to be older and may have worked after getting a bachelor's degree.  I almost think it would be easier to get into A&M than UT-Austin.  During the spring, when there were threads about applications to graduate a-school, UT-Austin was repeatedly mentioned while A&M was rarely mentioned.

I've gone to grad school with and have worked with A&M grads, and have liked them, but based on the collective cultures of A&M and UT-Austin, as I perceive them, I think UT-Austin would be doable for someone who has hung out in L.A., but A&M would be a stretch.  But I'm talking about non-Texans.

As for courses to take, I couldn't tell you which extension courses to take.  Just make sure you take courses which depict translating concepts into graphic form.  That's what they like to see for a-school after unrelated degrees, which was my situation prior to architecture.

Aug 2, 13 12:36 am

Excellent. I will be sure to mention those courses to the advisers I meet two weeks from now.

Rice doesn't have Landscape but if it did I would try in a heartbeat although getting into Rice would not only be a dream but very convenient for me since my family lives in Houston. If I wanted to switch from Landscape to regular Arch I would probably shoot for University of Houston which is reputable but probably easier on admissions for newbies. Would that even be possible to do a year of landscape arch and then apply for a regular arch degree? I would rather do landscape but if I can prove myself at UCLA and have a shot at Rice, then by all means, why not! 

A&M is higher ranked higher in MLA and BLA than UT Austin. I am surprised it's not mentioned more. Its program is solid. I wouldn't mind going there at all even though I know College Station TX would bore me to tears! 

Aug 2, 13 1:12 am

I wanted to clarify that, when I mentioned Rice and UT-Austin, it was for their nationwide reputations.  I think A&M is a good school, but Rice and now even UT-Austin are very selective in admitting freshmen and grad students.  So, in that regard, I was just mentioning the perceptions of the schools, irrespective of programs, and their being the two real "destination schools" in Texas for people from all over.  I don't think you should consider switching around between fields based on schools.  It's not like you're admitted to an MLA and can hop over to a M.Arch.  It will be an entirely new application process in a subsequent year, except for the reuse of the GRE, if required.  My 2 cents is that you should decide if you want to work 8+ hours a day doing the work of a landscape architect or that of an architect, and then select your schools.  In which field did you do an undergraduate degree?

Aug 2, 13 1:36 am

OK so here is the plan if everything goes well 

do a year of UCLA EXT Landscape Arch and get excellent grades, letters of recs, and a good portfolio. 

If I remain in CA I would apply to Cal Poly or USC MLA

If I have to return to TX I would apply to UT-Austin or A&M

Does this sound realistic? Are these schools just absolutely difficult to get into?

Aug 3, 13 1:40 am

It can be realistic if you give it 110% and make it work.

Also, you just don't apply to either/or this school or that one.  In the first time around graduate design admissions game, you apply to many.  I applied to 8 programs and, thankfully I did so, because I got a rude awakening from the experience.

Aug 3, 13 11:13 am

Eight schools, wow? I don't even know if there are that many programs in MLA in LA or Texas. 

Aug 3, 13 3:34 pm

Also do you need a BLA or an MLA to practice in TX and CA? 

I was thinking about going for the BLA if all you need is a BLA to practice. A second bachelors wouldn't be bad. If I return for a masters I would do it in urban planning. 

Aug 3, 13 3:57 pm

I only looked at one MLA (3 year) to avoid relocating and didn't apply, so I don't know the education and licensing routes in landscape architecture.

Aug 3, 13 6:03 pm

Most of the architects I've found on design firm websites in Texas only had a BLA. 


I know in CA the post-Bac in LA from UCLA counts as the required education to sit for the exam. So I'm guessing all that's required is a BLA here too. 


I know in NY you need an MLA to practice. That's what I've heard. 

Aug 3, 13 8:06 pm


Aug 5, 13 6:44 pm

Most people here are architects, building designers, architecture students, and architecture aficionados.  Most don't know all the regulations across various states to practice architecture unless we use the charts on the NCARB website, so I suggest you locate a similar website for a collective l.a. body or for the individual state boards.

Aug 5, 13 11:36 pm

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