UT Landscape Architecture Program Earns Accreditation

August 22, 2012

KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Landscape Architecture Program has achieved its initial accreditation from the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB).

UT is now the only accredited landscape architecture program in Tennessee and one of few programs in the Southeast.

Nearly all states, including Tennessee, require that license-seeking professionals in landscape architecture possess professional degrees from accredited programs.

UT’s commitment to service learning, interdisciplinary collaboration, and excellent student work was noted by LAAB in their final report.

“Our accreditation is a milestone event for the entire university, our partner colleges, and the profession of landscape architecture in the state of Tennessee,” said Brad Collett, interim chair of the landscape architecture program.

“With enhanced national credibility and visibility, our faculty, students and alumni now find ourselves at the threshold of seemingly limitless opportunities to make meaningful contributions to design in our communities and stewardship of our natural environment.” 

To become accredited, programs must demonstrate a culture of self-evaluation and a commitment to continuous improvement that assures students and the public that its graduates are receiving a quality education and meeting or exceeding the profession’s expectations for entry-level employment.

A team of external reviewers assessed the program by seven standards that include its educational values, curriculum, facilities, student and faculty accomplishments, and capabilities to achieve the program’s outlined long-term goals. Initial accreditation visits occur only after each program has graduated its first class; UT’s initial cohorts crossed the stage of Thompson-Boling in May 2011.

The landscape architecture program is a joint collaboration between the College of Architecture and Design and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Its graduate-level curriculum focuses on the planning, design, and stewardship of constructed and natural environments.

"Landscape architecture has historical roots in the United States. The term landscape architecture became common after 1863, when Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux used the term in relation to their design of New York’s Central Park," said Collett.

"Today, landscape architects deal with the complex relationships between the built and natural environments through the planning and design of traditional places such as parks, greenways, streetscapes, residential developments, urban centers and campuses, gardens, institutional centers, resorts, and waterfront developments, the restoration of natural places disturbed by humans including wetlands, grayfields, brownfields, stream corridors, and mined areas, and planning projects for national, regional, and local historic sites and parks."

UT’s program offers three degrees: the Master of Landscape Architecture first-professional degree, the Master of Arts in Landscape Architecture, and the Master of Science in Landscape Architecture. The first-professional Master of Landscape Architecture degree prepares students to seek licensure, whereas the Master of Arts and Master of Science are offered for those who already have a professional degree in Landscape Architecture, or those who want to conduct research in landscape architecture but do not intend to pursue a career path that requires professional registration.

In the four years since the program began in August 2008, UT landscape architecture students have engaged in several meaningful applied research projects including the New Norris House, the Haiti Project, and the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon entry, Living Light.

Recently, the program became participant to a $4.3 million grant given to the city of Knoxville through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. Students developed research and design recommendations that addressed stormwater quality and flash flooding in Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon and Union counties. The program is now working on a green infrastructure guide with the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission, expected to be completed by February 2013, which identifies opportunities for stormwater management methods that promote infiltration, evapotranspiration, and harvesting and reuse of rainwater in East Tennessee communities.

”The program is intent on delivering a solid education in the fundamentals of the profession,” said Collett, “but we also see advancing the design and stewardship of landscapes in our communities, and enhancing the profession’s capacity and body of knowledge in Tennessee and beyond as central to our mission.“

Establishment of the program took several years and the support of many in and around the region, including the Tennessee American Society of Landscape Architects (TN ASLA), the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board, the Tennessee State Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners and the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission gave its final approval for the program in late July 2007.

Accreditation was achieved through the leadership of four program chairs – Professors Tracy Moir-McClean, Sam Rogers, Ken McCown, and Brad Collett. Oversight and support through the deans and faculty of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the College of Architecture and Design, and UT administration were also instrumental to the program’s success.

To learn more about the UT Graduate Landscape Architecture Program, please visit

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Kiki Roeder (865-974-6713,
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