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Frequently Asked Questions


Memorial Union Terrace

What is planning?


Why earn a planning degree?


What careers are available to planners?


How did professionals in the field become interested in planning? (YouTube video by the American Planning Association)


What jobs do students seek after graduation?

Students are hired for positions in various departments of local, state and federal government, higher education, non-profits organizations, and private consulting firms. See Career Development. They work as transportation planners, community development coordinators, regional planners, economic development specialists, food system planners, environmental planners, land use planners, comprehensive plan project managers, non-profit directors, and in many other capacities.

What are the prerequisite courses for admission?

All students are required to have an introductory level course in statistics for admission. This requirement may be met by taking an introductory course, for no graduate credit, during the student’s first semester of study.

Why does a student who wants to be planner need to study statistics and methods of planning analysis?

Planners use and assess a wide variety of data in their work; it is necessary for all planners to have the basic skills to understand such concepts as tax incremental financing local government budgets, impact fees, and population forecasts to aid in informed decision-making.  Furthermore, planners must interact regularly with other analysts (economists, demographers, etc.) who provide analysis to decision makers.

Can I study a specific field of planning such as transportation or environmental planning?

Students take core (required) courses and acquire skills that are basic to all areas of planning work. Students then tailor their studies to develop a focus on particular fields of planning such as regional design, housing and community development, historic preservation, food systems planning, natural resource development and planning, dispute resolution and public participation, smart growth and rural communities, watershed management and planning and social justice and environmental equity. They do this by carefully selecting electives offered by URPL faculty and by other departments on campus.  See areas of specialization.

Do you have dual degree programs?

Yes, to see all of the double degrees, certificates, and how to apply to them, please see dual degree programs.  UW-Madison Graduate School policy allows some "double counting" of course work, but no more than one-fourth of the credits being offered in the requirements of one Master's degree can be used for the requirements of any other Master's level degree.

What is the fall application deadline?

There are two application deadlines for those individuals wishing to begin their studies in the fall semester: February 1, and April 1. All applicants who wish to be considered for an Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (AOF) or for Department scholarships/fellowships must apply by February 1. For applicants who do not apply by February 1, the application deadline is April 1. Admission is as space allows. Applicants whose complete applications are received after this deadline will be notified that they did not meet the application deadline, but they should consider application for the following spring semester. Exceptions to the April 1 deadline can be made only for other extenuating circumstances.

Do you have spring admission?


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

What do I need to know about the application process?


Does URPL provide financial assistance?

URPL offers several small scholarships including the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Planning Association Scholarship, Richard B. Andrews Scholarship, Jerome Kaufman Scholarship, and the Lola D. Lasker Fellowship.  All applicants who wish to be considered for URPL scholarships/fellowships must apply by February 1.

Can I send photocopies of my transcripts/GRE scores/TOEFL scores?

No. You must send Official Transcripts, sealed by the university. Please do not send photocopies of transcripts or of test scores like the GRE or TOEFL. The only test scores we accept by paper are official IELTS scores.

Are there special forms for the letters of recommendation?

You must follow the Graduate School's online Letters of Recommendation Instructions.

How can I check the status of my application?

You can check the status of your own application through your UW Student Center. Your Student Center information will be sent to you as soon as you submit an application to the graduate school.

How will my application be evaluated?

Applications are carefully reviewed by the Masters Program Committee, which consists of at least three faculty members appointed by the Department Chair (plus the Graduate Admissions Coordinator) who participate actively on matters of admission, the granting of fellowships and scholarships, and other program administration concerns. In reviewing applications, the Committee gives extra weight to planning-related work, such as Peace Corps or professional planning experience. The Department also considers graduate work (not taken as an undergraduate), even if it is in another field.

How do I arrange a visit to URPL?

If you wish to visit URPL, contact Emily Reynolds, URPL Admissions, to set up an appointment. Call 608.262.1004 or email emreynolds2@wisc.edu.

Does URPL have a visit day for accepted students?

No, however, individual tours of the department can be scheduled.  See the previous question for more information on how to set up a tour.

Are there additional resources on the University of Wisconsin - Madison campus that would be helpful to a prospective graduate student?

The University of Wisconsin - Madison Graduate Student Collaborative offers information and resources online at their websites. These include the Guide to Graduate Student Life and campus-wide events calendars. A list of websites may be found at the UW Graduate School website.