FAQs for Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Landscapes

General Questions

If you are currently a Graduate Certificate student in Landscape Design
If you are an alumnus of the Graduate Certificate in Landscape Design
If you are an alumnus of the non-credit Landscape Design Certificate: Recent (since 2002)
If you are an alumnus of the non-credit Landscape Design Certificate: Earlier (1997-2002)
If you are an alumnus of the non-credit Landscape Design Certificate: Earlier than 1997 (graduated 10 years ago or more)
If you did not complete your non-credit Landscape Design Certificate

General Questions

Is there an application deadline?

The application deadline is June 1.
(NOTE: the deadline for 2012 has been extended to June 28)

Can I start at any point in the curriculum or are there prerequisites?

You should begin with the first course, PSLD 6260 Introduction to Sustainable Design, in late August. If you can't do that, you may take a few of the courses while waiting to pick up the sequence next year.

Do I need to finish the whole program in a single year or can I come back and finish it later?

You may step in and out of the program if necessary, within the University's limit of 5 years to complete any of our programs. But of course it's best to keep up with the momentum and finish the program in 16 months.

Can I do all the Distance Learning first?

The Distance Learning units are semester-based; you can take them in the semester in which they are offered, as long as they don't have prerequisites.

Must I always begin in August?

The program is set up ideally to start in August because it is a prime time to study native plants, and it is not yet the busiest time for practicing landscape designers. See question no. 2 for alternatives.

Can I just come and take a few courses that I'm interested in?

Yes, you may within the following limits:

  • The course you want has no prerequisites, or you have taken the prerequisite.
  • The University's general rule allows non-degree students to complete no more than 1/4 of the total credits required of a program in non-degree status. After that you must be an admitted student to take any more courses.
  • There is space available in the class

Do I just register for those courses?

Yes, you just register, but priority will be given to degree candidate students.

What do I do if I just want to learn native plants?

The best thing is to enroll in PSLD 6264 and 6265 which are an intensive study of native plants.

In what way will this Graduate Certificate or master's degree enhance my career as a landscape designer?

While many of our graduates say that no one asks them for their academic credentials, we understand that there is a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in completing a full master's degree.

Professionally, it is really the Sustainable Landscapes curriculum that will enhance your career opportunities. You will become knowledgeable and develop the skills and competence to prepare environmentally responsible design work, in response to a burgeoning new market.

If you are currently a Graduate Certificate student in Landscape Design

Do I need to apply to get into the Sustainable Landscapes Graduate Certificate or the master's program? If so, what's my application deadline?

Yes, you do need to apply; it makes no sense for you to apply for the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Landscapes, since you are eligible for the master's degree. You may apply online for the master's, and you only need to send in a new statement of purpose and an updated resume. We have your other transcripts on file, and the application fee is waived. Your deadline is June 1.
(NOTE: the deadline for 2012 has been extended to June 28)

Do I need to complete all the Landscape Design courses first?

Yes. You may not begin the Sustainable Landscapes curriculum prior to completing the Landscape Design program.

Is financial Aid available?

Student loans are available for the Sustainable Landscape (SL) curriculum. Students must be enrolled for at least 5 credit hours at the graduate level in order to be eligible for financial aid. Please contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance for more information. 

Can I just take a course or two in the Sustainable Landscapes curriculum?

Yes, you may within the following limits:

  • The course you want has no prerequisites, or you have taken the prerequisite.
  • The University's general rule allows non-degree students to complete no more than 1/4 of the total credits required of a program in non-degree status. After that you must be an admitted student to take any more courses.
  • There is space available in the class

What if I have to move away before I get a chance to complete the program?

The Sustainable Landscapes coursework is designed in short learning segments and includes Distance Learning courses, so it is accessible to people outside the metro region. It is therefore possible to travel to Washington for the intensive weekend course from anywhere.

If you are an alumnus of the Graduate Certificate in Landscape Design

How do I apply?

You may apply online for the master's, and you only need to send in a new statement of purpose and an updated resume. We have your other transcripts on file, and the application fee is waived.

Can I get just the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Landscapes, or do I have to go for the master's?

There is no point in getting a second Graduate Certificate, since you would be qualified to get the master's degree when you complete the Sustainable Landscape courses. So apply for the master's degree!

Can I just come in and take the courses I'm interested in?

Yes, you may within the following limits:

  • The course you want has no prerequisites, or you have taken the prerequisite.
  • The University's general rule allows non-degree students to complete no more than _ of the total credits required of a program in non-degree status. After that you must be an admitted student to take any more courses.
  • There is space available in the class

What about just learning native plants?

The best thing is to enroll in PSLD 6264 and 6265 which are an intensive study of native plants.

Do I not need to submit a portfolio?

No, you are recent enough graduates that we don't require a portfolio from you.

If you are an alumnus of the non-credit Landscape Design Certificate:
Recent (since 2002)

Why are you making the distinction between recent and less recent grads?

Non-credit graduates since 2002 have had the benefit of a major curriculum upgrade that occurred in 2001-2002 in preparation for our shift to Graduate Certificate status. Also, the University considers classes older than 5 years outdated requiring updating.

Under what conditions can I be eligible for the master's degree? The Graduate Certificate?

In addition to your application and application fee, we will need your transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 3.0, since we have never asked you for them before, and a resume and statement of purpose.

We also want to see the quality of the professional work that you have been doing since your graduation in a portfolio, and we ask you to take PSLD 6213 Contemporary Themes in Landscape Design which is a new required course in the Landscape Design curriculum.

If you wish to earn just the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Landscapes, the same application requirements apply, but you will not have to take PSLD 6213.

Do I have to take PSLD 6213 before I can begin the Sustainable Landscapes courses?

We highly recommend taking PSLD 6213 Contemporary Themes in Landscape Design in the summer term, just before you embark on the Sustainable Landscapes coursework. In extremis, you can pick it up in Spring I. This is a one-credit seminar that meets 6-7 times, focusing on design trends and theories of the 20th century.

Can you describe the portfolio requirement?

A portfolio is simply a record of the professional and creative work you have done. We are particularly interested in the Landscape Design work you have accomplished since graduation. This is similar to the portfolio you would show a prospective client. If you are showing team projects, we ask that you indicate the part you played in the team.

How extensive should a portfolio be? What size?

Any size will do, but 8 1/2 x 11" is simplest. 10-12 pages would be enough, but we place no limits on that at this point. The portfolio can be sent to The George Washington University, College of Professional Studies, Office of Admissions, 805 21st Street, NW, Suite 301, Washington, DC 20052 or sent electronically as a PDF file to kwright@gwu.edu with a copy to Adele Ashkar at aashkar@gwu.edu.

If you are an alumnus of the non-credit Landscape Design Certificate:
Earlier (1997-2002)

Why are you making the distinction between recent and less recent grads?

Non-credit graduates since 2002 have had the benefit of a major curriculum upgrade that occurred in 2001-2002 in preparation for our shift to Graduate Certificate status. Also, the University considers classes older than 5 years outdated requiring updating.

Under what conditions can I be eligible for the master's degree? The Graduate Certificate?

In addition to your application and application fee, we will need your transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 3.0, since we have never asked you for them before, and a resume and statement of purpose. In addition to your application and application fee, we will need your transcripts since we have never asked you for them before, a resume and statement of purpose.

We also want to see the professional work that you have been doing since your graduation in a portfolio; we'd like to see a minimum of two years of high quality projects, and a letter of recommendation supporting that work. In addition, we ask you to take PSLD 6213 Contemporary Themes in Landscape Design which is a new required course in the Landscape Design curriculum, and PSLD 6234-6235, Planting design I and II.

If you wish to earn just the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Landscapes, the same application requirements apply, but you will not have to take the three PSLD courses.

Do I have to take PSLD 6234-6235 and 6213 before I can enroll in the Sustainable Landscapes program?

We highly recommend taking PSLD 6213 Contemporary Themes in Landscape Design in the summer term, just before you embark on the Sustainable Landscapes coursework. In extremis, you can pick it up in Spring I. This is a one-credit seminar that meets 6-7 times, focusing on design trends and theories of the 20th century.

PSLD 6234-6235 are available in Fall and in Spring. It is not absolutely necessary to take them prior to enrolling in the Sustainable Landscapes curriculum; you can take them concurrently, or even afterwards.

Since PSLD 6234-6235 are Planting Design I and II which we have already taken, why do we have to repeat them? How have they changed?

Of all the core courses in the Landscape Design program, the planting design sequence is the one that has changed the most in ways that can enrich your practice directly. We now have several instructors teaching these courses in addition to Joan Honeyman, and all have an updated curriculum that includes the study of individual plantsmen and designers to learn and apply their specific strategies in planting design.

What if I don't take the three extra courses?

If you don't take the three courses, PSLD 6213, 6234 and 6235, you would only qualify for a Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Landscapes upon successful completion of the Sustainable Landscapes curriculum.

Do I have to decide upfront and commit to either the master's degree or the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Landscapes?

No, you don't have to commit yourself entirely, but if you have any doubt, we recommend that you apply to the master's program. Then if you decide to stop at the Graduate Certificate, it will be possible to change your status at that time.

Can you describe the portfolio requirement?

A portfolio is simply a record of the professional and creative work you have done. We are particularly interested in the Landscape Design work you have accomplished since graduation. This is similar to the portfolio you would show a prospective client. If you are showing team projects, we ask that you indicate the part you played in the team.

How extensive should a portfolio be? What size?

Any size will do, but 8 1/2 x 11" is simplest. 10-12 pages would be enough, but we place no limits on that at this point. The portfolio can be sent to The George Washington University, College of Professional Studies, Office of Admissions, 805 21st Street, NW, Suite 301, Washington, DC 20052 or sent electronically as a PDF file to kwright@gwu.edu with a copy to Adele Ashkar at aashkar@gwu.edu.

If you are an alumnus of the non-credit Landscape Design Certificate:
Earlier than 1997 (graduated 10 years ago or more)

Why won't my certificate count towards a master's degree?

The Landscape Design program has evolved greatly in 10 years.

    * The curriculum was completely revised and upgraded as we prepared for graduate level academic credit
    * Prior to that, curriculum was upgraded and revised on a regular basis to reflect changes in the industry and in theory/thought process.

How much advanced standing could I get towards the master's degree?

University policy allows waivers or advanced standing up to 25% of the credits required of the program you are applying for. So you can get the equivalent of 11 academic credits towards the 46-credit master's degree.

Can I still be eligible for the Graduate certificate in Sustainable Landscapes?

Yes, and that could be your best option. Applying for the Graduate Certificate in Landscape Design acknowledges your successful completion of the non-credit program, and your professional achievements, without placing any conditions on your candidacy beyond the basic application criteria.

What are the application criteria for the Graduate Certificate?

In addition to your application and application fee, we will need your transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 3.0, since we have never asked you for them before, and a resume and statement of purpose.

We also want to see the professional work that you have been doing since your graduation in a portfolio and two letters of recommendation supporting that work.

Can you describe the portfolio requirement?

A portfolio is simply a record of the professional and creative work you have done. We are particularly interested in the Landscape Design work you have accomplished since graduation. This is similar to the portfolio you would show a prospective client. If you are showing team projects, we ask that you indicate the part you played in the team.

How extensive should a portfolio be? What size?

Any size will do, but 8 1/2 x 11" is simplest. 10-12 pages would be enough, but we place no limits on that at this point. The portfolio can be sent to The George Washington University, College of Professional Studies, Office of Admissions, 805 21st Street, NW, Suite 301, Washington, DC 20052 or sent electronically as a PDF file to kwright@gwu.edu with a copy to Adele Ashkar at aashkar@gwu.edu.

Why does Virginia Tech accept this credit and not GW?

Virginia tech does not technically accept our non-credit program as academic credit; our program was acknowledged after a curriculum study and upgrade in 1997 to be equivalent in principle to Virginia Tech's 'qualifying year', which is about 1/3 of their total MLA 90-credit degree. GW has no comparable circumstances. Virginia Tech also requires more coursework of candidates that have an older GW certificate.

If you did not complete your non-credit Landscape Design Certificate:

Can I qualify for the master's? The Graduate Certificate?

Yes, you can apply directly for the master's degree, with advanced standing for any courses you took at GW within the past five years (B or better grade). You may also apply for the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Landscapes.

How do I apply?

In addition to your application and application fee, we will need your transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 3.0, since we have never asked you for them before, and a resume and statement of purpose.

We also want to see the quality of the professional work that you have been doing since your stopped taking courses in a portfolio.

If you wish to earn just the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Landscapes, the same application requirements apply, and depending upon you portfolio, you may or may not need to complete other courses.

Do I have to complete my Landscape Design coursework before starting the Sustainable Landscapes curriculum?

Yes. You may not begin the Sustainable Landscapes curriculum prior to completing the Landscape Design program. One exception: you may wish to take PSLD 6260 in further preparation for PSLD 6234-6235 Planting Design I and II if you are interested in using native plants in those design courses.

Can I still get a certificate in Landscape Design?

No, the Graduate Certificate in Landscape Design is not available to you, but you may seek the master's degree.

What if my GW classes were earlier than 2002 - the five-year limit?

If your courses at GW were prior to 2002, we would apply GW's advanced standing policy. University policy allows waivers or advanced standing up to 25% of the credits required of the program you are applying for. So you can get the equivalent of 11 academic credits towards the 46-credit master's degree.