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Ad-hoc Ph.D. (Urban Planning, Policy, and Design)

The School of Urban Planning offers an ad-hoc Ph.D. program in Urban Planning, Policy, and Design. Its objective is to prepare students to conduct high-quality interdisciplinary research and teaching in the planning and design of urban areas, and in broader issues of urban policy, both in North America and internationally. Ph.D. students must be in residence at the School of Urban Planning on a full-time basis for a minimum of two years.

Applicants to the Ph.D. program are expected to hold a Master's degree in urban planning or a related discipline such as architecture, economics, engineering, geography, landscape architecture, law, political science, social work, sociology, or urban studies. Students from other academic backgrounds will be considered for admission on an individual basis.

The Ph.D. program is small and selective. Students typically have excellent academic records, often have some professional experience, and propose to doctoral work on topics related to those of faculty members in the unit. All students are expected to develop an independent area of research. Decisions on admission are made by the Doctoral Admissions Committee.

Those wishing to apply for the Ph.D. Program must submit a full application online as per the instructions on our Admissions page. Given the high number of applicants, please note that, contrary to the process in other units, applicants do not need to secure the interest of a faculty member before applying; the decision on a potential student’s ‘fit’ with the school is made by the Admission’s Committee. Since our admissions process does not usually include direct interaction between an applicant and a prospective supervisor until the full application has been reviewed, faculty members are often unable to respond to individual inquiries before that point. After review, we will generally contact potential students for a phone interview.


Funding for doctoral students in our program generally includes a mix of McGill University fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships; external fellowships (e.g., Canadian SSHRC, Quebec FQRSC, Shastri Foundation); home country fellowships; and self-funding (e.g., loans, savings). McGill University support is often provided only on a year-by-year basis. By North American standards, tuition and fees are low and the cost of living is moderate (please see this link for current tuition fees and this link to find out more about housing and the cost of living). There are a few multi-year grants. Outstanding students are eligible to be nominated by the School for the McGill Engineering Doctoral Award (MEDA); please note that since half the cost of MEDA’s comes from faculty research grants, the School of Urban Planning awards its Ph.D. students more modest sums, a mini-MEDA, than noted on the general MEDA information page. Applicants are also reminded that the School nominates a select number of individuals, and that the applicant does not apply directly for this award. The Faculty also offers McGill Engineering International Tuition Awards (MEITAs) for new high-calibre international Ph.D. students, as well as a small number of other fellowships. Potential students are encouraged to apply for external funding during the year of application (some deadlines fall in November and January, before our deadline for application); entering students will also be given support with applications for funding made during their course of study.


1. Students seeking professional accreditation must apply to the Master of Urban Planning program.

2. Please do not email individual professors with generic requests for consideration for admission. Professors may respond to specific and detailed enquiries relating closely to their research interests, but please do not take a ‘non-response’ as a lack of interest in you or your proposed field of study.