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Landscape architects draw from natural elements to form and design outdoor spaces. The Landscapes and Ecological Systems Certificate provides knowledge of plant systems and their ecological value; plant classification and identification; and ecological processes, patterns and practices. An advanced studio format offers the tools to successfully select plant species for specific uses, lessons on sustainable applications, and the ability for students to produce meaningful spatial design concepts.

"This course [Plant Taxonomy] was exactly what I needed. It has provided me with a strong foundation for developing a plant palette, and I'm excited to build upon what I've learned - both professionally and in the next two courses."

Landscapes and Ecological Systems Certificate student



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Certificate Enrollment

Enrollment in the Landscapes and Ecological Systems Certificate requires the submission of the Certificate Application Form to Continuing Education in the Registrar's Office. For additional information, please contact us by email at or by phone at 617.585.0135.

Certificate students must begin academic coursework in the program within two academic semesters of submitting the enrollment materials.

Program Requirements

The Landscapes and Ecological Systems Certificate program requires the completion of three courses for a total of 9 credits. Landscapes and Ecological Systems Certificate students take the same courses as students in the Landscape Architecture degree programs. 


Three Courses / 9 Credits

Students can choose three courses from the Landscapes and Ecological Systems Certificate curriculum below.

Courses are offered in the fall and spring semesters. Visit Continuing Education Courses for current offerings. Click below for course descriptions.

*SUS2022 Sustainable Planting Design and Practice requires permission from the Program Director to register. Interested students should email

Learning Goals

MNS1003 Botany

  • Understand how and why all life is dependent on green organisms.
  • Understand fundamental principles of life.
  • Understand the unique structure of plant cells.
  • Obtain knowledge of primary functions and forms of plant organs.
  • Obtain knowledge of the development and current use of Binomial System of Nomenclature.
  • Obtain knowledge of seed plant distinctions.
  • Characteristics and uses of well-known plant families.
  • Obtain knowledge of various human uses of plants.
  • Understand how plants respond and adapt to environmental stimuli, biotic and abiotic stresses.
  • Understand the importance of plants in relation to current pressing problems and future challenges.
  • Understand how plants' morphological features and reproductive strategies determine their uses in the landscape.

MNS2009 Plant Taxonomy

  • Introduction to plants, the taxonomy and characteristics of various species.
  • Obtain knowledge of North American plants and ecosystems.
  • Natural and cultural systems including principles of sustainability.
  • Understand a range of plant species, how to classify these, and what types of species are suited for various applications.
  • Attend field trips at the Arnold Arboretum to gain knowledge of plant species.

MNS2004 Ecology Systems

  • Understand ecological systems and processes.
  • Understand project sites as part of greater regional systems.
  • Understand the application of ecological science in creating sustainable mega-regions.
  • Interpretation of ecological patterns.
  • Review of projects and practices that incorporate ecological thinking through spatial design.

SUS2022 Sustainable Planting Design and Practice (permission needed to register)

  • Develop design concepts supported by planting design and plant material choices.
  • Understand site specific plant material applications.
  • Consider plant material properties when developing planting designs.
  • Understand sustainability issues and demonstrate ethical decision making processes.
  • Include sustainable design applications to planting designs.
  • Apply technical knowledge to support healthy plant growth.