PhD in Regional Planning Applying

Admission and financial awards are highly competitive, so we encourage you to apply as early as possible for the subsequent fall semester. To received full consideration for admission and financial awards, completed applications must be received by December 15.

We receive 40 to 60 completed applications each year. We typically offer admission to three to six applicants and usually all admitted students enroll.

In most common circumstances admission decisions should be completed by mid-March.

Rarely. The special cases are students who apply for fall enrollment but are delayed for visa or other reasons, transfer into the doctoral program immediately after completing master's degrees at the University of Illinois, or have an exceptional record and match the mid-year assistance needs of a new or on-going research project.

In exceptional cases we may consider applicants with unique academic records or research experience with only a bachelor's degree from an accredited college in the United States or a comparable degree from a recognized institution of higher learning elsewhere. In such a case the student should also complete key courses required for a master's degree in urban planning, as determined by the advisor and plan of study committee. Completion of such courses may require additional time to complete the PhD degree.

  • Application for admission to the Graduate College, with application fee
  • Your statement of purpose
  • Your statement of personal history
  • Your current resume or curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores if you are an international student
  • Academic transcripts

Access the online application system through the Graduate College. You can upload your personal statement online and send out requests for recommendations, which your letter writers can submit online, too. Transcripts may be uploaded to the online application system as well.

If you are a current graduate student at UIUC in a program other than the PhD in Regional Planning and want to transfer in, you will use a petition process rather than the online application system. Graduate College instructions, along with the actual petition needed to be completed, may be found here. You will need to complete the petition, obtaining signatures from your current department and submit it to DURP, along with the following:

  1. Statement of purpose;
  2. Statement of personal history;
  3. Current resume or curriculum vitae;
  4. Three letters of recommendation, at least one being from a current UIUC faculty member;
  5. Valid GRE scores (within last five years); and
  6. A copy of your application that was originally submitted to your current department (including transcripts).

The deadline for submitting these documents to DURP is December 15th. Your submitted petition packet will be reviewed at the same time as all other applications received through the online application system.

If you have already received a graduate degree from UIUC, you will use a petition process rather than the online application system. Graduate College instructions for this process are found here. Follow the instructions for Entering a New Graduate Program after Previous Enrollment. In addition to the paperwork required by the Graduate College, you will need to submit to DURP the following:

  1. Statement of purpose;
  2. Statement of personal history;
  3. Current resume or curriculum vitae;
  4. Transcripts;
  5. Three letters of recommendation;
  6. Valid GRE scores (within last five years); and
  7. Current TOEFL scores, if an international student (more information here).

The deadline for submitting these documents to DURP is December 15th. Your submitted petition packet will be reviewed at the same time as all other applications received through the online application system.

The primary purpose of the letters of recommendation is to help us assess your ability to complete our program with distinction, your potential to make significant scholarly contributions, and your commitment to teaching and advanced research in planning or related fields. All your letters should be from references who know you well enough to say specific things about your abilities, accomplishments, and potential relevant to doctoral study. At least two of your letters should be from faculty members from whom you have taken courses or with whom you have worked on research. If you have had extensive professional experience, such as doing research for a year after your master's degree, your third letter might be from colleagues or supervisors. Otherwise, all three letters may be from academic sources.

All applicants must submit scores for the verbal, quantitative and analytical writing components of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Test. These scores should be submitted into the online application system. Applicants who have already taken the GRE should request the Educational Testing Service send scores to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign using our institution code number 1836. Our university does not use department codes so that may be left blank.

International students must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores. Please submit all test scores into the online application system and request official scores be sent to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign using our institution code 1836. The test date must be within two years of the date you enter the program. For admission purposes, you may be exempt from the TOEFL requirement. However, please be aware that if you are interested in being considered for a teaching assistantship, you are encouraged to demonstrate oral English proficiency prior to arrival on campus.

The minimum GRE score is 75th percentile on each of the three components. Yet, because we consider an applicant's full set of qualifications in making admissions decisions, we occasionally admit students with lower GRE scores. Please see our admissions requirements and criteria for additional information on how we make admissions decisions.

The University has a grade point average (GPA) cutoff of 3.0 (B) for admission to the Graduate College, based on the final 60 hours of post-secondary study. Most entering Ph.D. students have GPAs of 3.5 or more.

The Graduate College evaluates the transcripts of international applicants for the purposes of determining a GPA equivalent to U.S. university records. The Graduate College uses a conversion formula specific to the international university.

You must achieve a TOEFL score higher than 610 on the Paper-Based Test (PBT), 253 on the Computer-Based Test (CBT), or 102 on the Internet-Based Test (iBT) or an IELTS score greater than 6.5 in all sub-sections, but we prefer your scores to be much higher. Click here for more information on Graduate College score requirements.

Yes, but rarely. To do so requires that we submit a detailed request to the Graduate College. The case for requesting the exception must be very strong and depends on the applicant having other outstanding qualities, such as extraordinary research or professional achievements.

Your statement of purpose should be sufficient, but, if you have a research paper or piece of professional work that represents you well, feel free to send it in pdf or paper form with a note explaining your role in the research or project. We shall not return any materials to you.

All transcripts, letters or recommendation, test scores, resumes, statement of purpose and paperwork needed from international students should be uploaded into the online application system.

Financial Support

The Ph.D. program offers merit-based fellowships and research and teaching assistantships, but not need-based financial aid. The assistantships typically require 10 or 20 hours of work per week and include a waiver of tuition and most fees. A twenty-hour assistantship pays roughly $1600 per month, $15,000 per academic year (August 16-May 15), and $18,000 if two summer months are included.

The waiver of graduate tuition for the fall and spring semesters, the partial waiver of fees, and health coverage (including dental and vision coverage) are worth another $25,000 for students who are not in-state residents. The total investment of more than $40,000 a year in doctoral students helps explain why admission and assistantship decisions are made carefully and cautiously.

A one-year assistantship also includes a waiver of summer tuition and a partial waiver of summer fees, valued at roughly another $10,000, but very few graduate courses other than independent and dissertation research are offered in the summer months. Information on need-based financial aid (grants and loans) is available from the Graduate College.

No. Your admission application qualifies you for consideration for assistantships and fellowships.

The research grants and contracts of faculty members are the primary source of Ph.D. financial support. That is why the match between an applicant's skills and interests and a faculty member's research is so important in admission decisions.

Other important funding sources are (1) teaching and research assistant positions our doctoral students secure in other units, (2) Fulbright Foreign Student Program awards and other external competitive grants to students, (3) fellowships and scholarships provided by home countries or employers, (4) competitive fellowships awarded by the Graduate College or the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, and (5) teaching assistant appointments in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. These five sources are listed in approximate order from the most frequent to the least frequent.

We strive to offer financial awards to all doctoral students we admit who do not already have fellowships or financial support from their employers, home countries, or other sources. That goal is one reason our doctoral program remains small, and we must turn away many impressive applicants each year.

Quite good, though it may take you a semester to get to know the faculty and find projects requiring assistants in this Department or elsewhere on campus.

It depends on how you count it. A one-semester half-time assistantship obligates you to 20 hours of service per week for 18 weeks (360 hours). The current stipend for beginning doctoral students of $7,483 per semester means you are earning $20.79 per hour. Yet, the University is also paying your tuition and most of your fees as you pursue your graduate degree, as well as providing you health coverage (including dental and vision). Considering those costs, which are a direct savings to you, the assistantship "compensation" is more than $50 per hour (less if you are an Illinois resident who would pay in-state tuition).

Your compensation is a cost for a faculty member paying you through a research grant or contract, which may help you understand why faculty members are very cautious in making multi-year commitments to incoming doctoral students.

The University has a fellowship program for domestic students from traditionally underrepresented groups. We can nominate two outstanding applicants each year for this highly competitive program. To be considered, submit all of your application materials no later than December 15th. Include a note that states your interest in the minority fellowship program.

Please see the discussion of our admissions criteria. We admit three to six students each year from as many as 60 applicants, most of whom are well qualified. We try to identify students for whom our faculty are particularly well suited as research mentors and for whom we can identify sources of financial support. Sometimes we cannot admit very strong applicants because a research group is complete or a faculty member is reluctant to add another advisee because of other commitments. Given this element of randomness, we try to make decisions promptly. Our advice to you is to submit the best application you can while also applying to other schools to increase your chances of gaining admission to a Ph.D. program.


Usually there are 25 to 30 counting all stages of coursework and research. Generally 20 to 25 reside on campus, while the others typically are doing dissertation research full-time elsewhere or holding teaching or research positions while completing their dissertations.

No. Intense interaction with faculty members and other doctoral students on research, as well as learning from your fellow students, are defining characteristics of our Ph.D. program.

Champaign-Urbana is an affordable community. Housing accessible to campus is readily available, and rental vacancies exist throughout the year. Students can usually find acceptable housing ranging from $250 to $700 per month. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is about $500 to $600 per month. Although you can find apartments as late as August, you can find better, less expensive places if you line them up in May or June or even earlier. Graduate dormitory rooms and university apartments are also available from University Housing for similar prices. The bus system is excellent, and your student fees cover unlimited bus use. For additional information see the Housing page of the Graduate College website.

The University enrolls over 11,000 graduate and professional students in more than 100 programs. It is among the top eight universities in number of earned doctorates awarded annually in the United States. Advanced research is supported extremely well by the University Library, one of the largest public university collections in the world, with more than 10,500,000 volumes, over 6,000,000 manuscripts, periodicals, and other non-print materials, and more than 65,000 journals. The Library's subscriptions to journals on-line enable students to download articles without charge. The City Planning and Landscape Architecture collection is now housed in a modern, airy, well-wired facility, the ACES Library, which is adjacent to the Department's home in Temple Buell Hall.

A world leader in supercomputing design and applications, the University is home to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and developer of the internet browser Mosaic(TM), which revolutionized the use of the World Wide Web. Students have access to over 3,500 computer terminals in classrooms, residence halls, and campus libraries. Seventy-six percent of classrooms and over 130 buildings allow wireless connectivity, including Temple Buell Hall.

The Krannert Center for Performing Arts maintains a busy schedule of events throughout the year, bringing international star performers and orchestras to campus. Campus recreation and exercise facilities are extensive, and include, among many others, the new Campus Rec Center-East (CRCE) and the newly renovated Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) building. Scores of clubs and interests groups are on campus. See the Campus Life and Opportunities page of the Graduate College website for more information.

Yes, doctoral students have shared offices in Noble Hall or in the Regional Economics Applications Lab in Davenport Hall.

Yes! The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign enrolls more international students than any other public university in the United States. Many programs, resources, clubs, and supporting programs exist for international students and domestic students with interests in international issues. The Illinois International website is a resource for international programs at the University.

Yes. With sufficient notice, we can schedule a visit for you on most weekdays. Contact the Ph.D. Program Director by email to arrange a visit so that we can be sure that you meet the faculty members most pertinent to your areas of interest. If the timing allows, we shall try to give you an early indication of your admission prospects in case it affects your plans to visit.

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