Urban Planning

Program Category: PhD Programs
Interim Director of Graduate Studies: Tom Slater
Website: https://www.arch.columbia.edu/programs/11-ph-d-in-urban-planning
Degree Programs: Full-Time: MPhil, PhD

Please note: GSAS confers the degree for this program and administers its admissions, but degree requirements and financial aid are administered by the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

As cities continue to evolve, innovative policies and practices are needed so that development is equitable and sustainable. The Urban Planning program offers the knowledge and skills that define an effective urban planner while presenting numerous opportunities to reflect on the role of planning in society and issues of social and global equity.

Building on the extraordinary resources of Columbia University and the City of New York, students learn from a faculty of national and international scholars as well as highly regarded practicing professionals who connect students to current issues and perspectives. Throughout the curriculum, the emphasis is on real-world challenges and how planners can improve the lives of urban residents. With the program located in New York City, one of the global centers of international commerce and culture and a city experiencing population growth, the faculty looks to the city's planning issues for studios and classroom examples while also drawing from best practices from around the world. Armed with these experiences, our students graduate with the capability to analyze issues, develop plans, and advise policymakers on the growth and development of cities with the intent of making cities more just, more equitable, and more prosperous.

Special Admissions Requirements

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation from academic sources.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

For more information, refer to our Admissions Information and Frequently Asked Questions pages.

*GSAS will accept up to four recommendations, regardless of the number required by your program of interest. However, to be eligible for admission at GSAS, at least TWO letters must be submitted by academic recommenders.


The applicant must hold a master’s degree in urban planning or in a related discipline and have excellent academic credentials (a grade average of B+ or better). In addition, the applicant is required to have completed at least 90 points of undergraduate liberal arts courses in the social sciences, humanities, or natural sciences, and the equivalent of the core courses provided in the master’s-level curriculum in the Division of Urban Planning, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. While the GRE is optional, applicants who do not have quantitative academic experience are encouraged to submit GRE results to supplement their application.

Fellowships are awarded in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success. Teaching and research experience are considered an important aspect of the training of graduate students. Thus, graduate fellowships include some teaching apprenticeship.