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Application Process

Application for admission to the department consists of the following:

  1. Submit an electronic application to the Graduate School online at In addition, the department requires official transcripts, GRE scores, TOEFL/IELTS scores for students whose native language is not English or who did not complete a degree in an English-only university, a statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation. For more about these requirements, see numbers 2-6.
  2. TRANSCRIPTS: Send official transcripts or academic records from each institution attended. **International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Documents must be issued by the school with the official seal/stamp and official signatures.

    Transcripts should be sent to the Department of Urban and Regional Planning – NOT to the Graduate School. The Department of Urban and Regional Planning at UW-Madison only requires you send one official copy of your transcripts.

    Please send official transcripts to:

    Emily Reynolds
    110 Music Hall / 925 Bascom Mall
    Department of Urban & Regional Planning
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Madison, WI 53706

  3. GRE SCORES: Submission of results from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required. GRE scores can take six weeks to transfer from ETS to the department, so take the test well in advance of the application deadline. The department only accepts electronic GRE scores sent directly from ETS. Use ETS institution code 1846. There is no department code. For information on the GRE, go to:
  4. TOEFL/IELTS SCORES: Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). TOEFL scores must be sent electronically from ETS. Use ETS institution code 1846. There is no department code. Paper copies of the TOEFL are not acceptable. Official IELTS scores should be sent by mail to the department at the same address transcripts are sent to (above).

    UW-Madison requires that an admitted applicant whose TOEFL (paper-based) test score is below 580, TOEFL computer-based test (CBT) score below 237, TOEFL Internet-based test score below 93, or MELAB below 82 take an English assessment test upon arrival. You must then register for any recommended English as a Second Language (ESL) course(s) in the first semester you are enrolled.
  5. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: This should be a thoughtful, reflective, one or two page statement discussing why you wish to go into the field of planning and what you expect to do professionally. If you have an interest in a particular concentration, you should discuss that; if you have planning or planning related experience, this should also be discussed.

    The statement of purpose should be attached to the electronic application to the Graduate School.
  6. LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION: Three letters of reference from people who know your academic or professional work. Letters are submitted through your electronic application to the Graduate School. When you put in the names and email addresses of your recommenders, they will receive an email instructing them how to submit their letter. You can send reminder emails through the electronic application portal to your recommenders if for some reason they misplace this email.
  7. Optional, supplemental materials, like a writing sample, resume, CV, or portfolio, can be sent via email or mailed to the department at the above address. In reviewing applications the department gives extra weight to planning related work, such as volunteer service in the U.S. Peace Corps or professional planning experience. The department also considers graduate work (not taken as an undergraduate), even if it is in another field. If students have such experience it should be stressed in the application.
  8. **Students must have taken a statistics course for grade and credit prior to beginning their course of study in the department. If a statistics course shows up on your transcripts, that is acceptable. If you have not taken a statistics course, plan to take one once you are admitted to the program, and send the additional transcript to the Department upon completion.

If you have any questions about any part of the application process, please read the Graduate School's FAQ first. If you still have questions, email Admissions Coordinator Emily Reynolds.


Students may apply for admission to the program beginning with either the Fall semester or the Spring semester. As a general policy, however, most students will be admitted for the Fall semester so that they can follow the typical course of study.

Fall Semester Admission
The deadline for all applicants, both master's and Ph.D., is March 1 (beginning in the 2014-2015 academic year).

The deadline for the Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (AOF) is February 1.

Ph.D. applicants interested in being eligible for nomination for a University Fellowship must apply by January 1.

Spring Admission
For admission in the Spring semester, applications must be submitted by October 15. Students will be admitted for Spring semester only as space allows.

Contacts / Inquiries

Please direct requests for information about our Ph.D. and Master's programs to:

Emily Reynolds
110 Music Hall / 925 Bascom Mall
Department of Urban and Regional Planning
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706

Phone: (608) 262-1005
Fax: (608) 262-9307