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Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning

The Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning is part of the Rackham Graduate School, (otherwise know as Rackham) which is a community of scholars, researchers, and students in over 191 graduate programs of study at the University of Michigan.

Important Dates:

Application Deadline: January 15
Intent to Enroll Deadline: April 15



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).


Rackham online application

The application fee for U.S. citizens and permanent residents is $75, and the fee for international students 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. For more information please see Application Fee and Application Fee Waivers.


Statement of Purpose/Resume

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.)


A good curriculum vitae or resume will give us another view of who you are and elaborate your strengths and skills outside of the classroom, showcasing your accomplishments. In addition to your educational experience, student resume should contain professional experiences, other jobs you have held, a list of groups or organizations that you are involved in, programming languages or other computer skills you have, community involvement or volunteer work that you do. Think of your resume as another opportunity to tell us about yourself.

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.

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.


Submitting your transcripts:

Step 1: TO APPLY, submit a scanned copy of your official transcript. Applicants must scan and upload an official transcript/academic record into the ApplyWeb online application. This transcript must display the institutional seal and signature of the Registrar or Recorder of Records.

Step 2: AFTER an offer of admission, submit your official transcript. Admitted students must submit to the Rackham Graduate School an official transcript/academic record, front and back, issued by the Registrar or Records Office for each bachelor's, master's, professional, or doctoral degree earned. 

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.

Graduate Record Examination Scores 

Effective for 2022 applicants and beyond, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are no longer required nor considered for admission to all graduate programs at Taubman College.

English Proficiency / TOEFL / IELTS

English Proficiency Requirements

Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency, unless they meet one of the criteria for an exemption listed below. Please contact one of the testing agencies shown in the following chart and have an official score report sent to the University of Michigan at least 6-8 weeks prior to the application deadline. The scores must be received from the testing agency no later than the application deadline. Language test scores are valid two years from the test date.  Photocopies and/or faxes of English proficiency scores will not be accepted. Please take note that the minimum requirement is: 95 iBT.


Description of Test Assessment Provider Speaking Test Minimum Overall Score Submission of Test Scores
IBT TOEFL Educational Testing Service Yes 95 TOEFL scores are sent by ETS electronically to institution code: 1839
Paper/Pencil TOEFL & TWE Educational Testing Service No 600 TOEFL scores are sent by ETS electronically to institution code: 1839
IELTS Cambridge, United Kingdom Academic version 7.0 Official IELTS scores are sent electronically to the Rackham Graduate School.

Taubman College does not admit students who have not met minimum score requirements. If you are close to the minimum scores outlined above we encourage you to retake the exam to meet the minimum requirement. Students who have submitted all required materials (including English proficiency exams) by the application deadline are given first consideration for admission. It may make you a less competitive applicant to not have your scores sent in by the deadline.

Rackham English Proficiency Exemptions

You qualify for an exemption from taking an English proficiency examination if one of the following criteria are met:

  • You are a native speaker of English.
  • You completed all of your undergraduate education and earned an undergraduate degree at an institution where the language of instruction is English only.
  • You completed all of your graduate education and earned a graduate degree at an institution where the language of instruction is English only.
    • If you completed a Master’s degree that was strictly research and no academic classes, that degree does not meet the exemption. This type of Master’s degree is generally awarded at a non-U.S. institution.
  • You are a current U-M student.

Please refer to the related Rackham webpage for additional information.

Summer Institute for International Students (SIIS)

Admitted students that were required to take either the TOEFL or the IELTS examination and achieved a minimum score, may participate in a one month intensive cultural and language immersion program called the Summer Institute for International Students (SIIS) that begins in early August.  Native English speakers from outside the US are also welcome to attend the program, but not required. Tuition will not be charged to the student to attend this program, however, there will be a $500 fee.  The primary focus of the program is to provide extensive opportunities for students to become accustomed to a U.S. university environment with the goal of easing their transition into a full time academic curriculum in English. Students can expect to gain an understanding of instructor expectations and student responsibilities. The SIIS program allows students to become acquainted with each other, Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan before regular classes begin. The English Language Institute (ELI) offers a two credit hour architecture specific English course in the fall that students should plan to take, in addition to their regular coursework, to continue the work started in the SIIS program. Students should plan to arrive on campus in August and check in before the program begins. Details will be emailed to students once they have accepted their admission offer.

Pay $500 SIIS Program Fee.

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).

Undocumented and DACAmented Students

Detailed information about Undocumented and DACAmented Students for this degree program can be found on the related Rackham webpage.

Evaluation and Status of Application


Applications will not be evaluated until all credentials have been received and the application fee has been paid. Applications missing credentials cannot be guaranteed a review by the admissions committee. Eligible applicants are considered for admission on the basis of the following criteria:

  1. Quality and content of all previous academic education
  2. Evidence of professional commitment and direction, including statement of purpose, resume, letters of recommendation, portfolio, etc.
  3. IELTS or TOEFL test scores (if applicable)
  4. The number of openings available
  5. The suitability of the program to the applicant's area of interest

Using Wolverine Access

Through your Wolverine Access account you will be able to:

  • Verify the application information you submitted, including, portfolio, test dates and scores, and letter of recommendation that are received.
  • View the transcripts representing a Bachelor's, Master's, Professional, and/or Doctoral degree that are received.
  • Receive admission decision.
  • Update your address, phone number, and e-mail address.

Allow 5 business days, after creating your account, to verify that your application and materials have been received in Wolverine Access.

Checking the Status of Your Application Online

Applicants can verify application data and status online approximately 10 – 15 days after their application is submitted. The admissions office, will send an email to each applicant that include’s the University of Michigan Identification Number (UMID). You will need to use a login ID and password to confirm some personal data before viewing your application status. Student Service staff will try to keep all materials received current. However, please allow sufficient time for processing before contacting the office.

For Applicants Who are Current Students or Employees: Log into Wolverine Access using your existing University of Michigan Uniqname and password, click New and Prospective Student Business.

For Applicants New to the University:

About five business days after you submit your application you will receive an email confirming that Taubman has downloaded your application from ApplyWeb. This email will direct you to set up your friend account.

  1. Go to the Friend Account Request Form and enter your email address.
  2. You will receive a confirmation email with a link to create your friend account.
  3. For more information, see the Information and Technology Services website.

Please allow 10-15 business days for your application status to update.

Notification of Acceptance

Applicants will be notified of their admission status by late-February or early March. If you are admitted, you will be able to see that you have been recommended for admission by the Urban Planning Program via the online web application status. Notification letters will be sent via email. Any scholarship award decisions made by the Urban Planning Program will be noted in the letter of admission. The next step is for Rackham Graduate School to review, certify, and process the admission recommendation.

Admitted students are invited to Preview Weekend, in late March: Preview Weekend is an opportunity for admitted students to visit Taubman College, meet faculty and students, tour the facilities, campus, and Ann Arbor, and attend Taubman College events. Further details are given in the admission letter.

Residency Classification

Residency Classification Guidelines have been developed to ensure that decisions about whether a student pays in-state or out-of-state tuition are fair and equitable and that applicants for admission or enrolled students who believe they are Michigan residents understand they may be required to complete an Application for Resident Classification and provide additional information to document their residency status. Please see the University of Michigan Residency Classification Guidelines.

I-20 / Visa (International Applicants Only)

Immigration Documents for International Students: Please allow a minimum of 2 -3 weeks from the date your acceptance, for the I-20 or DS-2019 to be prepared and mailed from our office using your preferred delivery service.


Contact Admissions at TaubmanCollegeAdmissions@umich.edu or 734-763-1275

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