Off-Campus Programs

Photo of off-campus study students

"I found myself reminiscing about Cal Poly and the incredible experiences I had there...particularly with the department itself. And a huge aspect of my experience was the study abroad programs that were offered. I participated on the first one to Japan and China...This trip began my desire to live and work in foreign lands. I then spent a year studying in the program in Florence...and then joined the LA trip through Spain and Portugal. So, as you can see, I took advantage of all that was offered and to this day I value every minute of those experiences. For students who desire similar things and can save up and afford such opportunities, I encourage each and every one of them."

--Kirkwood Hale, class of 1988

The Landscape Architecture Department is committed to the principles and concepts of Off-Campus Study. The department faculty encourages every student to participate in Off-Campus study opportunities as a means to enhance professional education and development, and heighten personal growth and awareness. Such experiences stimulate development of life-long learning habits and prepare a student for the expanded nature of the professional world and the ever-increasing networking of cultures addressing global issues.

Off Campus Study Application

To download the Off Campus Study Application, click here.

Approach + Participation

Off-Campus Study presents a vehicle to explore and experience unique study options, approaches, landscapes and cultures. During the fall quarter of each academic year, available program options are announced through the Cal Poly International Center (CPIC) and the Landscape Architecture Department Off-Campus Study Committee. All students in the department may participate as long as eligibility and procedural requirements are met.

Off-Campus Study is considered valuable; however, the student must evaluate each opportunity against personal educational objectives and time frames. Participation in any approved program is intended to allow for normal progress toward the satisfaction of graduation requirements. Therefore it is important that an academic advisor is alerted of your interest early in the application process. Students wishing to receive academic credit for Off-Campus study must participate in a pre-approved study/travel experience, and adhere to the procedures and requirements established by the Landscape Architecture Department and Cal Poly. All course work to be taken Off-Campus must be identified and concurrent with the department's curriculum. Department approval is demonstrated by completion of all signatures on application forms.

Off-Campus Study Objectives

Each program option has its own specific learning objectives. The general objectives for Off-Campus Study by Landscape Architecture Department students were developed in 1986 and remain common to all options.

  1. Extend beyond the familiar classroom and campus environments the opportunity to "Learn By Doing" via direct involvement in academic and professional activities of an Off-Campus nature.
  2. Effectively heighten student's development and involvement of intellectual, emotional and perceptual learning experiences.
  3. Further student's ability to purposefully acquire, process and manipulate information in conducting day-to-day activities and practical life experiences.

Criteria for Participation

Most programs have specific criteria for participation. The Landscape Architecture Department approves students for Off-Campus study who meet the following conditions:

  1. A Cal Poly SLO grade point average (GPA) of 2.75.
  2. Completion of ALL general education and departmental required courses in the major up to the time of participation.
  3. Completion of a minimum of two (2) Focus Studios and ILC's prior to the quarter of off-campus study.
  4. Review of progress towards degree with an academic advisor and a plan of coursework during Off-Campus study activities.

Program Options

Students can engage in Off-Campus study in a number of ways according to individual interests, capabilities and resources. Options include:

Departmental Student Exchanges

Recommended for fourth year students. Go to the Cal Poly International Center web site and Off-Campus Study Committee for further information.

The Landscape Architecture Department has agreements with two Landscape Architecture programs in Australia and England. The LA Department currently has agreements with:

Via other departments on campus, there are agreements for study in Brazil and Switzerland (agreement with City and Regional Planning), France (Architecture) and Canada (Ag. Business). Contact the departments directly to verify eligibility requirements.

National Student Exchanges (Universities with Landscape Architecture)

The National Student Exchange program is recommended for third and fourth year students. There over 20 universities around the country with landscape architecture programs that are current members of the NSE system – agreements change constantly. To search for programs in landscape architecture, click here.

Apply with the LA Department and the Cal Poly International Center on campus.
NSE Application Deadline is Feb. 2013.

CSU International Programs

Recommended for fourth year students (see web site There are several approved programs of study that include Landscape Architecture and related studies. Placement in these programs is by permission of the Coordinator and host Department. These include:

  • Fachhochschule Nurtingen, GERMANY
  • University of Montreal, Quebec, CANADA

Connections with Architecture

Several programs may be available through the Architecture department. Recommended for fourth year students. Placement in these programs is by permission of the Coordinator and host Department. See the Architecture Department's 4th Year Off-Campus Programs web site. Participation in Architecture programs must be approved and coordinated with an academic advisor in order to receive course credit.

Other University Travel/Study Programs

Recommended for third and fourth year students. Go to the Cal Poly International Center web site for information and options. Opportunities with Landscape Architecture and related programs include:

Independent Study Programs

Recommended for fifth year students. Proposals for independent study will be received from students in order to engage in research and preparation related to their final year of study. Key to the proposal is how the concentration study and design topic may be advanced in a given Off-Campus location. See the Landscape Architecture Department Off-Campus Study Committee and Academic Advisors for further information.

Process for Participation and Application Form

Announcement of Study Options - The Off-Campus Study Committee presents available study options to students during the fall quarter. Students should also visit the Cal Poly International Center (Building 38, Room 106 - Office Hours Monday-Friday 10:00-11:00 am and 2:00-4:00 pm) and the CPIC web site during the fall quarter to investigate program details, application requirements and deadlines.

In addition to individual program deadlines, ALL students must submit an Off-Campus Study Application the Off-Campus Study Committee by the deadline noted on the form. This application includes an essay/statement on your intentions for Off-Campus Travel and a Formal Study Plan requiring Academic Advisor signatures.

The committee and Department Head review Applications to Participate for general fulfillment of criteria and an understanding of possible student numbers and spread of interest in study options. Upon review of statements, the committee notifies each student of their status to participate and related academic issues.

Students must ALSO apply directly to the program(s) of interest, keeping in mind related due dates.

Preparation - Each student must engage in preparatory activities/studies required for each Off-Campus category and area of visit. These studies should involve an understanding of the natural systems and cultural and environmental setting characteristics of the location where they will study.

Integration - Student(s) are expected to share the Off-Campus study and travel experience with faculty, students and the university community. An exhibit and presentation is to be prepared of the professional work and personal experience. The Off-Campus Study Committee will coordinate the presentation.

Contact for More Information

Landscape Architecture Department
Off-Campus Study Committee

Joseph Ragsdale
Phone: 756-2040

César Torres-Bustamante
Phone: 756-1534

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