About the Planning PhD Program

The University of Toronto’s Department of Geography & Planning is one of the oldest and largest geography departments in North America. Founded in 1935, the department is now present on three University of Toronto campuses (downtown Toronto, Mississauga and Scarborough), and maintains a roster of approximately 250 graduate students. It has a faculty of more than sixty professors with a diverse range of research interests, and each faculty member is associated with several research areas. This concentration of scholarship within the Department of Geography and Planning allows for the maintenance of a very energetic and creative environment.In addition, our graduate students have the opportunity to customize their studies through a number of collaborative specializations established with other units at the University of Toronto.

The tri-campus graduate program offers MA, MSc, and PhD degrees in Geography and MScPl and PhD degrees in Planning.

The Planning Program at the University of Toronto

We are a community of scholars, practitioners and activists studying cities and regions, committed to fostering places that are liveable, equitable, and humane.

Our distinguished faculty bring an unusually wide variety of perspectives to bear on planning education—based on extensive research and outreach projects across the economic, social, urban, environmental and design dimensions of planning.

We welcome students with diverse educational backgrounds and work experiences aligned with planning; especially those who belong to groups that are currently underrepresented in planning academia and practice, from either domestic or international arenas.

As a Planning Program we:

  • address issues of social justice and environmental sustainability across all specializations of planning;
  • bridge the largely imagined gap between theory and practice;
  • advocate an interdisciplinary and critical approach to planning;
  • engage in the communities around us;
  • attract a varied, representative, experienced and creative student body every year.

Our Approach to Planning

The University of Toronto is a global leader as a research university. Our planning PhD offers our students access to a rich mix of scholars and practitioners and the opportunity to pursue scholarly issues and their practical applications in local, regional and international contexts commensurate with the divers expertise of our planning and geography faculty. The program benefits from its close ties to the cognate discipline of geography and the wider network of scholars across the university.

Our faculty work across the domains of spatial analysis and planning intervention, theory and practice, reflection and action. This advantageous situation gives planning students access to a remarkably wide range of courses and faculty with expertise pertenint to many aspects of planning.

The approach to planning we advocate is interdisciplinary, critical and engaged. With us, students can pursue their interests in planning theory and history, political economy and public finance, economics, research methods, policy analysis, urban design, architecture, environmental studies, international development, anthropology, history, feminism, Marxism, critical theory, cultural studies, as well as urban, social, historical and cultural geography.

Our Commitment to Diversity

A strong commitment to diversity is another vital hallmark of our program. We wish to reflect the increasing social diversity of global cities in our student population and faculty, and we take pride in our efforts to bring a true diversity of perspectives on planning and related issues into our classrooms.

We recognize that these objectives can be achieved in part through curriculum development, but are also enhanced by recruitment strategies. The purpose of recruiting the best talent from a wide range of ethno-culturally diverse communities is not merely to ensure the demographic composition of the existing program better reflects that of the urban region, but to enrich it by creating an intellectual environment where diverse opinions about what planning is and should be may thrive.

We welcome students with diverse educational backgrounds and work experiences, working in both international and domestic realms, from Canada and countries around the world.

The Graduate Office

The graduate office is located at St. George campus, on the 5th floor, Sidney Smith Hall (100 St. George St.) within the Department of Geography and Planning.

The Graduate Administrator is the first point of contact for geography graduate students. The Administrator is available to provide student services and to direct students to available resources, for example: Enrolment and registration issues; Funding and payment questions; Award application questions; Admission questions; Information on program requirements; Information on departmental and SGS policies and procedures; Liaising with SGS on behalf of students; Signatures (approvals); Advice and referral to resources available on campus to assist graduate students.

The Associate Chair  and Director, Program in Planning is responsible for management of academic matters related to the graduate program, including admissions, awards and curriculum. The Associate Chair is available to assist students with issues related to their academic program, for example: Supervision; Academic progress; Liaising with SGS on behalf of students for non-standard issues; Advice about resources available on campus to assist graduate students.

The Graduate Chair is responsible for overall graduate policy and strategic planning direction for the graduate program.

The graduate office works closely with the Graduate Geography and Planning Student Society (GGAPSS) on graduate matters.

Campus Affiliation

As a tri-campus program, students have access to services and courses at all three campus. Newly admitted students are affiliated with the downtown St. George (STG) campus by default. Students who have supervisors at Mississauga (UTM) and Scarborough (UTSC) campuses may change their affiliation by completing the SGS campus affiliation form. Information about changing campus affiliation is forwarded in the summer to incoming students.

There are a number of benefits to affiliating with UTM or UTSC campuses, for example free shuttle bus and Mississauga Transit service (UTM only), access campus specific grants/awards, access to office or other shared space, and other resources. Students are encouraged to discuss campus affiliation with their supervisor when they start the program.

Graduate Geography and Planning Student Society

The Graduate Geography and Planning Student Society (GGAPSS) is the course union for graduate students in the department. The GGAPSS website provides information on activities and services for current and prospective students.