Admissions : Ph.D. in Urban Planning, Policy, and Design

The deadline for submitting applications and uploading supporting material (including letters of recommendation) is 15th January of the calendar year in which the student wishes to be admitted. Admission is normally granted for the Fall term of the same calendar year (beginning in September), although it may be granted for the Winter term (beginning in January of the following calendar year) in exceptional cases.

Individuals who wish to be admitted into the Ph.D. programme formally apply to the School of Urban Planning, not to a specific professor. Students are selected by consensus among all core faculty members based on two criteria: (1) the promise of excellence as conveyed by the application documents; and (2) the desire and ability of a professor to take on supervision of the student’s proposed research.

You are encouraged to view the webpages of individual faculty members, to acquaint yourself with their research interests and projects, and to see if they have advertised any Ph.D. research opportunities.

The application must contain a statement of research objectives, a curriculum vitae (CV), two writing samples, and three letters of recommendation.

Please note: McGill’s graduate application process is now entirely online. Hard copies of supporting documents are not accepted! All supporting documents can be written in either English or French.

Interviews will be conducted with short-listed applicants (via phone, Skype, or Zoom) before a final decision on admission is made. These interviews, during which the Graduate Programme Director and the prospective supervisor will be present, are designed to better know and evaluate the applicant.

Here are detailed step-by-step instructions for completing your application to the Ph.D. programme.

  1. You must complete the online application form at uApplyincluding payment of the application fee using a valid credit card. Within 48 hours of submitting your payment, you will be able to upload the other required supporting documents.
  2. Using uApply, you must upload a current version of your curriculum vitae. This should include a description of your academic and professional experience and accomplishments, along with full contact information.
  3. Using uApply, you must upload a statement of research objectives, not exceeding three pages, including (a) an outline of long-term career goals; (b) an explanation of why you believe that a Ph.D. in Urban Planning, Policy, and Design will help you achieve those goals; and (c) a clearly-articulated but concise discussion of your research interests, intended research plans, and proposed methodological approaches.
  4. Using uApply, you must upload unofficial copies of transcripts for your complete university-level academic record to date, including transfer credits, student exchanges, and all programmes (complete, incomplete, and/or in progress). Incomplete or inaccurate applications that are submitted can significantly delay or even prevent an admission decision. You must therefore verify the following BEFORE submitting your application:
    • Ensure that on uApply, the title of the degree matches what is actually indicated on the transcripts, e.g., B.A., B.Sc., B.S.Sc., Licence, etc.; if you cannot find a complete match, please enter 'Bachelor' or 'Master'.
    • Ensure that the year that a degree was granted matches what is actually indicated on the transcripts.
    • Ensure to include a copy of the degree certificate (diploma) if the transcript does not indicate that a degree has been conferred. For degrees that follow the British system, please include the overall standing if applicable.
    • Ensure that the documents include the transcript key/legend.
    • Ensure that a separate record has been created for every institution that is mentioned in the transcripts that are uploaded, even if grades for those institutions are already reflected. This includes institutions where transfer credits were received, or where exchange terms were taken. The exceptions are high schools and Québec CEGEPs.

McGill's Graduate Studies policy requires that applicants have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0/4.0 (B) or 3.2/4.0 (just below a B+) for the last two years of full-time studies of an undergraduate degree (or equivalent).  

  1. We must receive three (3) letters of recommendation, at least two of which must be from current or past professors; these are now collected online through uApply. Within 48 hours of submitting your application fee, an email will be sent to your referees. The contact information that you provide must contain a valid institutional email address for each of these individuals, who are required to answer a series of online questions. They may also upload an additional free-form letter.
  2. If your first language is not English and you have not completed an undergraduate or graduate degree from a recognised foreign institution where English is the language of instruction, or from a recognised Canadian institution (anglophone or francophone), you must provide documented proof of competency in oral and written English by the application deadline. McGill University only accepts IELTS and TOEFL scores submitted electronically by an official test centre. No paper test report forms will be accepted. In response to COVID-19, both the IELTS and TOEFL tests have been made available online for students who are unable to take the tests at a test centre. See also TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition and the IELTS Indicator. Applicants must directly ask the centre where the test is taken to send the scores to McGill electronically; our INSTITUTION CODE is 0935. The minimum acceptable exam results for the TOEFL are an overall score of 100 on the iBT with a score of at least 23 on each of its four components; for the IELTS, the minimum overall band is 7.0 with a score of at least 6.5 for each component. We also accept the McGill Certificate of Proficiency in English or McGill Certificate of Proficiency (English for Professional Communication: Certificate of Proficiency). The certificate must have been awarded by the application deadline.
  3. Using uApply, you must upload two examples of independent written work (e.g., course papers, articles, chapters, research reports) in English or in French. The two pieces must be uploaded together as a single document not exeeding 60 pages.

Please note: It is your responsibility as the applicant to ensure the completeness of the application (including letters of recommendation) for each programme to which you are applying. Your file is complete when you see a green checkmark under 'Req.' on uApply. Applications may not be evaluated if they are still incomplete by the application deadline. All supporting documents uploaded must be the final versions. When the application is complete, the status can change to 'In Review' at any time before the deadline (15th January), after which time documents cannot be replaced or modified. It is the applicants’ responsibility to verify that the correct documents have been uploaded.

If you have questions that are not answered anywhere on the McGill website, you may email us. Owing to the volume of correspondence we receive, however, please anticipate a delay of at least a week before you get a response.

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