Application Instructions

The Department of Geography & Planning accepts applications for September admission only. There is no January admission.

Please read all instructions carefully before you start your application.


Application opens - October 10, 2024
Application payment deadline - January 10, 2025 (11:59pm ET)
Application document submission deadline - January 10, 2025 (11:59pm ET)

Online Application

Register/log in to the SGS online application. If you are a first time applicant, click “create an account” to begin your application. You will receive a verification code via email as part of the account creation process – after entering this code, you will create a new password.

You may save and return to the application at any point in the process. Complete each of the required sections of the application:

Section Instructions
Program Selection Select Department of Geography & Planning, FT or PT (only available for MSc Pl), and program you are applying to. You may indicate interest in up to 2 collaborative specializations (this is optional, there will be opportunities to join specializations after admission).
Personal Contact Provide all requested personal and contact information
Academic History List all post-secondary institutions attended. This includes bachelor’s, master’s, PhD, certificate, non-degree or special student studies. You must list all institutions attended, even if a degree was not granted.
English Language Proficiency Requirement Check If you have not completed a degree program in English, you will be required to submit an English language facility test score. Add the appropriate test scores (please note, GRE and GMAT in the drop down are NOT accepted). Your test will only be accepted if completed within 2 years of date of application. In addition to self-reporting in the application, you must arrange for the testing agent to send official test scores directly to the University of Toronto.
Additional Information Current/past U of T students provide their U of T student number (leave blank if you have never enrolled as a student at U of T). Confirm your citizenship information. You may also list any awards you have/will apply for (optional).
Faculty Questions MSc Planning: Select your preferred planning concentration.
PhD: List up to 3 supervisor names, and up to 3 research keywords. Applicants are strongly advised to contact any potential supervisors prior to listing them in the application. See Finding a Supervisor for further instructions.
Recommendations Add a maximum of three referees. Provide only institutional email (university or corporate/work issued email). Letters from free email hosting such as gmail, Hotmail, etc. will be rejected.
Optional Surveys Information shared in these optional surveys are confidential and not part of your student record. SGS will report data to departments/faculties in aggregate form (ensuring individuals are not identified).
Signature Indicate your agreement that all information reported is true, correct and complete.
Review/Continue Review your application and complete any missing info, then proceed/continue to application payment and submission of additional supporting application materials (below). Changes cannot be made to the above sections once you have submitted.

Once all sections above are completed, applicants can submit their application and proceed to application payment and upload of all supporting documents.

Application Payment

Submit payment of $125 CAD (payable by credit card). The deadline to complete the application payment is January 10, 2025 (11:59pm ET). Your application will NOT be reviewed if the fee payment is not made by this date. Any fee payment made after this deadline will not be refunded.

Upload Documents

Supporting documents can be submitted after completion/submission of online application sections (above). Submission of all required application documents below is required by January 10, 2025 (11:59pm ET). Your application will NOT be reviewed if documents have not been submitted by this date.

Select the document type from the drop down and upload your file. Do not submit any materials in addition to those listed below. Additional materials will be rejected/deleted from your application review.

Please review the detailed instructions below for each component of the application.

Supporting Documents

Please review the detailed instructions for each of the required supporting application materials below. Refer to our application checklist to ensure you have submitted all required documents.

Reference Letters

Three letters of reference are required. Only submit names for three references. If additional references are listed, they will not be reviewed.

References from university instructors are preferred but employer references (or others) may be acceptable if the writer is in a position to evaluate your academic abilities and preparation for graduate studies.

We will only accept letters from referees with institutional email addresses. References from free email providers (such as,, etc.) will NOT be accepted. If your reference does not have access to an institutional/employer email address, their letters must be mailed. Mailed letters must be on letterhead and include an original (ink) signature and include full contact information (address, phone, etc.). Letters must be sealed with the author’s signature across the seal. Mailed letters must be received by the document deadline January 10. We do not accept reference letters by email.

The University will contact your referees by email to complete their reference using an online web-based form. Please ensure you confirm your referees’ availability and contact information before listing them as a reference. Your reference will be asked to confirm their relationship to you (e.g. thesis supervisor, etc.), how long they have known you and to provide descriptive comments that will assist in providing a complete picture of your abilities and potential as a graduate student, focusing on research experience, capabilities and/or potential.

The university will not follow up when letters are outstanding, it is the applicant’s responsibility to monitor the status of their references online and to contact referees if letters are outstanding. The online application allows applicants to resend the email notification to their references and to change referee information.


Applicants are asked to scan and upload their transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended. This includes bachelor’s, master’s, PhD, certificate programs, nondegree or special student studies. You must list all institutions attended, even if a degree was not granted. Transcripts should meet the following criteria:

  • Provide an official copy of each transcript.
  • If your degree is in progress, you must provide a transcript that includes you most recent Fall grades.
  • Do not upload a document that is password protected.
  • A transcript legend/grade scale must be included for each transcript submitted.

Transcripts that are in a language other than English or French MUST be accompanied by an official English translation. The translation must be completed by the issuing university or by a certified translator. Both the original and translation copy must be provided.

Official mailed copies of transcripts are not required unless you accept an offer of admission to the program. If admitted, the department will request that you arrange to have official copies of transcripts sent directly to us from the issuing university (with the exception of U of T students) as a condition of admission prior to being allowed to register.

Personal Statement (MSc Planning only)

Your Personal Statement outlines the reasons you want to complete a professional graduate degree in planning. The document must be 1 page maximum (11pt font, single-spaced, 1” margins) – approximately 600-650 words.

Your statement should include the following:

  • Previous academic, professional, or other experience: Describe how your academic, professional and personal experiences provide a strong foundation for undertaking a planning degree. Summarize academic achievements, as well as professional, volunteer and other experiences that inform your understanding of planning, and how you intend to build on them in graduate school.
  • Why you want to pursue your graduate degree in the Department of Geography & Planning: Please indicate what area(s) of planning you intend to focus on, both in the Planning Program and beyond, after becoming a planner. Indicate how our graduate program fits these professional goals.

Research Statement (PhD only)

Your Research Statement outlines the research you are proposing to carry out during your graduate program. The document must be 1 page maximum (11pt font, single-spaced, 1” margins) – approximately 600-650 words. You may attach up to 1/2 for a reference list.

Your statement should include the following:

  • Outline of the research you propose to do: Describe your research focus, how and why you chose this area of study. Provide an outline of your proposed research, including question(s), context, objectives, methodology and the significance of your research.
  • Academic interests: Connect your research question(s) to your knowledge of the literature, theory, and methods.
  • Previous academic or other experience: Describe how your academic, professional and personal experiences provide a strong foundation for undertaking your proposed research. Summarize academic achievements, previous research experience (e.g. thesis project, lab work), professional experience (e.g. project coordination, non-profit work), or pre-existing relationships you have with community (ies) you are proposing to work with. You can point to your equity statement if you have produced one, but you should not repeat all of its content here.
  • Why you want to pursue your graduate degree in the Department of Geography & Planning: Connect your research interests to faculty members and research group interests in the department. You must list at least one and up to three potential supervisors in the form. Contact potential supervisor(s) and identify them in your statement.

Please review the Application Tips for additional information on the research statement and contacting supervisors.

Equity and Diversity Statement (Optional)

The Equity and Diversity Statement is an optional element of your application. While you may make reference to your research professional and academic goals, the Equity and Diversity Statement should not duplicate in detail the content of your Research Statement. The document must be 1/2 page maximum (11pt font, single-spaced, 1” margins) – approximately 300 words.

The Equity and Diversity Statement describes how your background and experiences relate to your decision to pursue graduate education in the Department of Geography and Planning. We are particularly interested in whether you have experienced barriers to accessing higher education – if so, what are they and how did you overcome them?

You may also include information about the following:

  • How would you like to contribute to equity and diversity in the Department of Geography & Planning?
  • Whether you have experienced economic or educational challenges/barriers and if so how have you overcome them?
  • How have you come to understand social, economic and/or educational challenges/barriers experienced within other communities?
  • Any examples from volunteer service or community leadership to advance equity and diversity.
  • How your research methods and/or questions relate to under-represented populations or issues of inequality, if applicable.
  • How will your Equity and Diversity Statement be used in the admissions process?

It will be read by all members of the admissions committee and potential supervisor(s) only.

Our goal is to align the admissions process with the Department’s Statement on Diversity and the University’s commitment to Equity, Diversity and Excellence.

CV or Resume

Upload your current CV or resume. This document should outline your education, relevant personal and work experience (paid and unpaid), publications, professional activities, awards, honours, grants and fellowships (as applicable).

English Language Facility Test Scores

If your primary language is not English and you graduated from a non-Canadian university where the language of instruction and examination was not English, you must submit acceptable English language facility test scores. Minimum scores must be reported on a single test (tests cannot be combined) and achieved by the application deadline.

TOEFL is the most commonly submitted test and scores are reported electronically by the testing agency to the university at your request (to report your score use 0982 for the university code and 70 for the department code). IELTS scores can be sent electronically – select “University of Toronto (undergraduate and graduate programs) from the list of options. The University of Toronto (Undergraduate and Graduate Programs) is an IELTS “STED RO”. This means that we subscribe to the electronic score-sending service and do not accept paper results. You may wish to advise your test centre, specifically, that U of T is an STED RO when you make your request to have your scores sent to us. You do not need to notify U of T once you have ordered your test results. U of T receives IELTS results on an ongoing basis. Other test scores can be mailed directly to Admissions, School of Graduate Studies by the testing agency.

Applications with missing test scores, or scores which do not meet the minimum requirements will not be assessed. There is no exception to the English language facility requirements. Minimum scores must be provided before the supporting document deadline.

Checking Your Application Status

It is the applicant’s responsibility to monitor the status of their application to ensure all required documents are submitted by the applicable deadlines, and to contact references to submit outstanding letters. We will not contact applicants or references for missing documents. The department will only review complete applications.

Please ensure that you have read and understood the application requirements, paid the application fee, and submitted all the necessary components of your application package.

Review Process

Admission decisions are made by an Admissions Committee composed of planning program faculty members.

Program staff will review each completed application to make sure all components are completed correctly and to assess eligibility.

While under review, the application file will be made available to the Admissions Committee. For PhD applicants only, all faculty members, especially those who have been named as potential supervisors, are also invited to provide feedback on individual applications – however the ultimate decision on whether an applicant is offered a position in the graduate program is made by the Admissions Committee.

The Admissions Committee will consider the following aspects of each application:

  • Grades
  • Awards, fellowships and honours
  • Publications
  • Letters of reference
  • Experience relevant to the proposed program of study (e.g. language skills, work and volunteer experience)
  • Quality of the statement of intent/research statement
  • Availability of a potential supervisor willing to supervise the proposed topic (PhD only)

The committee meets on a rolling basis throughout February and March to make final decisions and send out admission offers.  All decisions are expected to be available by mid or late-April.

Questions and Contact

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions.