the role of PhD’s in Landscape Academia

As I witnessed the epic struggles of my wife to complete her PhD in Health Psychology, I vowed to avoid being a masochist and to never throw myself through the flaming hoops required to get a doctorate. But now that I’m launching my academic career, I’m looking at the playing field and figuring out how rules differ from practice.

In response to two friends from Archinect, Nam Henderson and architechnophilia, who are considering the academic imperative to chase the PhD, I started a archinect discussion, which I’ll repost my initial post here.


Most PhD’s for LA oriented folks are not in LA but in associated fields like planning, geography, history, botany, ecology, or civil engineering. More PhDs seem to be at public universities, while the ‘design schools’ have mostly MLAs.

The bigger question, is what does a PhD in Landscape get you? Mostly it seems to be the ability to quantify the landscape and use statistics. Research can be accomplished with an MLA as the majority of faculty in LAAB programs have either an MLA or MArch.

Also note that most PhD granting institutions place the candidates in between several departments…

Just checking LA grad school’s faculty, here are list of faculty with PhDs.

My doctoral colleagues at the U of MN have degrees from:
Ph.D, Landscape Architecture. Edinburgh College of Art
Ph.D, Urban and Regional Science. Texas A&M
Ph.D, University of Arizona

Ph.D. Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University

Ph.D. Environmental Design and Planning, Arizona State University

Ph.D,University of Pennsylvania honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Miami University, and honorary Doctor of Science from Florida International University
Ph.D. Landscape Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art
PhD, Columbia University
Ph.D. Harvard University

PhD Harvard University

Cal Poly:
Ph.D. University of Arizona, School of Renewable Natural Resources
PhD by Project at RMIT University
Ph.D. Urban and Regional Science, Texas A&M University
PhD Natural Resources with a minor in Environmental Psychology, University of Arizona

PhD, Geography and Environmental Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University
Ph.D., University of British Columbia, Vancouver
Ph.D. Urban Design and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Sc. ETH Zurich, Switzerland
PhD University of Michigan
Ph.D. Environmental Planning, Berkeley

PhD Civil Engineering, University of Toronto
doctorate in English at the University of Toronto

Ph.D. in Regional Planning, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
Ph.D. Ecology, State University of New York at Stony Brook

UMass (includes planning):
Ph.D. Urban Forestry, University of Massachusetts
Ph.D. Environmental Sciences, Wageningen Agricultural University, Wageningen, Netherlands, Department of Physical Planning and Rural Development
Ph.D. City and Regional Planning, UPenn
Ph.D., Urban and Regional Planning, University of Waterloo, Ontario
Ph.D. Anthropology, Cambridge University
PhD, University of North Carolina , Chapel Hill
Ph.D. Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan

Penn State:
Ph.D. Architecture (specialization in Environment Behavior Studies), University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Ph.D., Doctor of Philosophy, Geography (Designated Emphasis in Social Theory and Comparative History), University of California Davis
PhD, Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University
Ph.D., Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara
PhD Environmental Design and Planning, Virginia Tech
Ph.D. Zoology, Southern Illinois University

1 thought on “the role of PhD’s in Landscape Academia

  1. Barry. Thanks for the great overview… it parallels some information gathering I did recently in determining the relevance and application of PhD for practice and academia – as I was determining a Grad School path for myself.

    I’m planning on attending Portland State University in Fall 2010 to get a PhD in Urban Studies from the School of Urban Studies & Planning. The urban studies offers a less ‘planner’ specific opportunity (as opposed to the Urban & Regional Planning track) to investigate landscape urbanism, urban infrastructure and ecology-based planning – while also obtaining the necessary credentials to teach in either LA or other allied professional programs. It also gives an opportunity – which was important to me – to study in Portland, using the city as a laboratory for contemporary urbanism.

    Good luck on you path – look forward to hearing how it goes!

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