Taubman College

Apply / Ph.D. in Urban Planning

Application and Portfolio Deadline: January 15th annually

Check the Status of your Application

The Urban and Regional Planning Program is part of the Rackham Graduate School, which is the overall administrative unit for Graduate programs. Rackham works in conjunction with 19 schools and colleges to recruit applicants, administer the admissions process, and serve students through the final stages of degree attainment.

Admissions Eligibility:

Applicants will normally possess a Master's degree in Planning or a related field (such as Public Policy, Environmental Studies, Geography, Social Work, Architecture, etc.). Applicants with other Master's degrees will be considered, as will exceptionally well-prepared applicants with a Bachelor's degree. There is no foreign language requirement for Doctoral students in Planning. However, work in some areas of specialization and on certain research/dissertation topics may require knowledge of one or more foreign languages (obtained either before or during Doctoral studies).

Application Materials:

  • Rackham online application
  • Non-refundable Application Fee $75 U.S. / $90 fee non-U.S.
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Personal Statement
  • Official Transcripts (submit hard copy to Rackham Graduate School)
  • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation
  • Resume
  • Examples of Work / Portfolio
  • GRE Scores (required)
  • TOEFL (equired for non-native English speakers)

Application Fee

The fee for United States Citizens and those with permanent resident visa status is $75 (U.S. funds). The fee for non-U.S. citizens is $90 (U.S. funds). The application fee is paid online, via credit card, before the application is submitted. The application is submitted electronically to the program of study and the Rackham Graduate School. Applications received without fees will not be processed. For more information please see Application Fee and Application Fee Waivers.

Statement of Purpose

This is a vital component of your application. Explain how you arrived at the decision to pursue doctoral studies in urban and regional planning, what you plan to do during the course of your studies, and how you hope to use your doctoral education in planning. In particular, discuss the intellectual and policy challenges that you hope to address in your doctoral studies, outline the methodological skills you plan to pursue, and briefly note any tentative dissertation research topics. (The typical length is 2–4 pages.)

Personal Statement

The personal statement should be a concise, well-written statement about how your personal background and life experiences, including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, have motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan. This is not an academic statement of purpose, but a brief (500 word limit) discussion of the personal journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree.


Submitting your transcripts is a two-step process:

  1. Applicants will scan and upload an official transcript/academic record that displays the institutional seal and signature of the Registrar or Recorder of Records into the online application.
  2. Applicants are also required to submit an official transcript/academic record by mail or as an e-transcript to Rackham before the graduate program application deadline. The official transcript/academic record must be received in an envelope sealed by the issuing institution. For more information please see Transcripts.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required and should testify mainly to your academic and professional capacity and promise. Letters should be substantive statements from academics and professionals familiar with your abilities and accomplishments. For more information please see Letters of Recommendation Submission Options.

Portfolio / Examples of Work

Submissions of examples of work should support your statement of purpose and clearly demonstrate research and writing abilities. These may consist of published articles, papers, portfolio or other writing samples. Examples should be uploaded as PDF files with the online application.


Please upload an up to date resume with your online application.

Graduate Record Examination Scores (required)

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required. Have an official score report sent to the University of Michigan (Institution code: 1839, department code 4402) at least 4-5 weeks prior to the deadline. GRE scores are valid for five years. There is no minimum score requirement.

If you have taken the GMAT or LSAT, we can use those scores in place of the GRE. LSAT scores should be listed on the additional information page of the online application. For more information please see Required Tests.
(GMAT or LSAT accepted in place of GRE)

English Proficiency

Applicants who have earned or will earn a Bachelor's or Master's degree are exempt from submitting an official English proficiency score if:

  • The degree was earned from an institution where the language of instruction is English, exclusively. This exception does not apply if some classes completed were taught in a language other than English. Verification from the school may be required.
  • The degree was earned from a country where the official language is English (United States of America, Australia, England).

Being a U.S. citizen or a U.S. permanent resident does not automatically exempt an applicant from taking an English proficiency exam; if the applicant's first language is not English, the applicant must meet the exception above or submit English proficiency exam.

TOEFL Examination (International Applicants Only)

Evidence of adequate spoken and written English is required for admission. Applicants whose first language is not English must submit an official test score from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English (ECPE), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) scores. Have the official score report sent to the University of Michigan (institution code: 1839, department code: 97) 4–6 weeks prior to the application deadline. Scores are valid for two years. The minimum requirements are: 100 IBT, 250 computer based, or 600 paper based. You must meet the minimum score to be considered for admission. For more information please see Required Tests for Non-native English Speakers.

I-20 / Visa (International Applicants Only)

Please do not submit financial information at the time of application.

If you are recommended for admission and the Rackham Graduate School approves the admission, you will be notified by Rackham to submit the Affidavit of Financial Support for International Students along with the required financial documentation (i.e., bank statements).