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Ecology of Managed Landscapes concentration

See also: Course requirements for Ecology concentration


Students in this concentration are passionate about creating healthy urban landscapes that provide valuable services to the ecosystem as well as the surrounding community. They love hands-on work and getting outside. By completing coursework in areas such as aboriculture, garden management, lawn and landscape cultivation, and urban ecosystems, the student can gain applicable skills leading to careers including: public garden management, urban forestry, professional landscape management and design, environmental landscape assessment and soils remediation, turfgrass management, and outreach education.

“This is not a lab rat field. This is for people who are really going to get out there everyday.” – Dr. Nina Bassuk 

Career Paths:

  • Academia: Professorship and accompanying research in the lab or field
  • Landscaping: Residential or commercial properties
  • Turfgrass management: Design and management of golf courses and sports fields
  • Urban forestry: Management or design of parks, street trees, and grasses
  • Botanical gardens: Management, cultivation and outreach education
  • State or National Parks: Management, cultivation of native plant populations, and surveying

Post-graduation Income Expectations:

Varies greatly on location and position, $40k-$90k. Some golf course turfgrass managers earn up to six figures!

Education Required Beyond Undergraduate:

Depends on what career path you choose. For example, academia often requires at the very least a master’s degree, but more often a PhD in a specific field. Landscape architects require a two to three year graduate program to earn a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) degree in addition to passing the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE). But other careers such as those in urban forestry or public garden management require a bachelor degree and at most a master’s degree. If you are looking to start your own business in any of the aforementioned careers, earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree could be beneficial.

Job Prospects:

Good. Everything is only becoming more urban! Those spaces still need to be livable, and populations need access to green spaces. Also, there is a global movement to "green" historically barren urban spaces. It is a really innovative field!

What is innovative today:

  • Water management in disturbed or urban areas: application of different types of trees, shrubs, or grasses for water run-off management; use of developed soils that can hold the weight of cars and cement, but also permit root growth; and integration of native plants for a mutually beneficial landscape.
  • Urban livability: Improvements to the aesthetic, air, and water quality of urban areas by design of plant/water run-off integrated systems and green roofs.
  • Food systems: Reducing food deserts in urban areas by way of rooftop or space-efficient gardens.
  • Chemical reduction in pest management: Working with new environmental regulations to determine greener ways of pest management.

What one can do as an undergraduate:

  • Research: labs that specialize in soil development, water management, or herbaceous or woody plants
  • Experiential internships: public gardens, state or national forests, or even the Cornell campus