The Master of Science in Urban Planning is a two-year accredited professional degree actively engaged in the practice of urban planning. The program connects the study of the urban built environment with grounded analysis of socioeconomic and political conditions in order to explore the tensions that arise between market forces, civil society, and the goals of planning. The program pays special attention to the potential of urban analytics and the importance of advocating for social justice through planning. In fact, it is one of the first planning programs in the United States to engage data science and visualization alongside spatial analysis to tackle today’s urban problems and inform possible planning solutions for the future.
The Master of Science in Urban Planning program is rooted in a global outlook. By studying the impact of global linked processes (for example, immigration and climate change) locally, in our cities and communities, the program aims to foster new creative planning and policy approaches that will improve processes and outcomes in cities around the world. The curriculum emphasizes real-world problems and insists that planners are central to confronting them and to improving the life of urban dwellers—and in doing so, the program positions planners as social activists. The program’s graduates work in critical and leading roles in government, private firms, nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups, multilateral institutions, and international NGOs.
The Master of Science in Urban Planning program offers four concentrations: Built Environment, Community and Economic Development, International Planning and Development, and Urban Analytics. At the core of the program is a team-based studio project, which takes place in the first year of the curriculum, and a thesis, which is carried out throughout the second year. The Urban Planning studio is not a “capstone” project but a way of modeling what it means to incorporate intellectual questions into practical proposals. The studio revolves around a real client with a real-world issue. Students work as a group under the direction of faculty, producing critical and innovative analysis of socioeconomic, environmental, and political conditions as well as stakeholder engagement. In many ways, the studio introduces, considers, and evaluates “best practices” in planning.
Recently, the program has significantly updated the contents of its seminar electives and core curriculum courses to introduce more knowledge related to the global dimensions of planning and more critical assessment on the use of spatial analytical tools. For electives, in particular, the program now offers new knowledge- and skill-based courses on data analytics, machine learning, social entrepreneurship in the urban built environment, infrastructure planning in a global context, inclusion and housing, mobility and accessibility, and healthy global cities. Students can also now take case-based practicums, grounded in a coherent conceptual framework, to better connect with modes of practice. Also, a number of half-semester practicum courses are being offered on critical planning issues, including residential planning in a global context, economic development for social inclusion, global practices in disaster planning, transit in resilient urban systems, and mega projects in global cities.
The curriculum has shifted to further integrate studio and seminars—with seasoned practitioners teaming up with more academically-oriented faculty to better unite theory and practice. The program has also emphasized new collaborations with the design faculty to offer studios and courses that enable substantive collaboration among planning and design students.
1.- Online Application
Create and complete an online application.
A fee of $75 (payable by Visa or MasterCard) is due at the time of application submission.
2.- Letters of Recommendation
Three letters of recommendation are required for all degree program applicants. GSAPP does not have a special form for letters of recommendation. Recommenders may scan and upload recommendation letters to the online application. Letters received directly from applicants will not be accepted.
One letter of recommendation is required for New York/Paris program applicants and Visiting Scholars. Non-degree program applicants (including Introduction to Architecture and Special Students) may include recommendations but they are not required.
3.- Personal Statement
A personal statement is required for admission to each program (with the exception of Introduction to Architecture). In approximately 500 words, describe your background, your past work in your intended field of study and your plans for graduate study and a professional career.
An academic transcript/record from each university attended and credit earned is required for all applicants. All transcripts must be received by the application deadline. Applicants should upload a digital copy or scan of their transcript/s to the online application. We allow digital copies of transcripts for review purposes only.
Please note that the applicant may upload unofficial transcripts at the start of the application process. Once an applicant has been admitted and has indicated acceptance of our offer of admission, certified and secure online official transcripts must be submitted directly to Columbia from the applicant’s prior institution(s)’ Registrar Office. Please note that incoming students for the fall 2019 semester will be contacted with specific instructions on electronic submission from prior institution(s) for receipt of these documents. Only if a prior academic institution is unable to submit certified and secure online official transcripts, an official transcript in a sealed envelope must be sent directly from that institution’s Registrar Office to Columbia. Columbia will use its verification vendor to verify the applicant’s degree and transcript with the prior academic institutions and/or the relevant country’s Ministry of Education. Applicants will be asked to consent to participate in this verification process by submitting an authorization and release form.
Resumes or CVs are required for all degree applicants and CVs are required for Visiting Scholar applicants.
Applicants to the M. ARCH, M.S. HP, M.S. UP, M.S. CCCP, and M.S. RED* programs must take the GRE.
Applicants should contact ETS to have official test scores sent to the GSAPP Admissions Office via Institution Code 2164. GRE scores are valid for five years after the test date. At this time there is no minimum required GRE score for admission.
All applicants whose native language is not English must submit TOEFL scores (with the exception of Introduction to Architecture applicants). At this time there is no minimum TOEFL score required for admission.
International students who have successfully completed two years of study in an English-speaking institution may waive the TOEFL exam requirement provided they can submit relevant transcripts.
Applicants should contact ETS to have official test scores sent to the GSAPP Admissions Office via Institution Code 2164, Dept. Code 12. TOEFL scores are valid for two years after the test date.
We do not accept the TOEFL ITP. We do not accept the IELTS in lieu of the TOEFL.
8.- Dual Degree Option
The following programs are approved for dual degree within GSAPP: – M. ARCH & M.S. CCCP – M. ARCH & M.S. UP – M. ARCH & M.S. HP – M. ARCH & M.S. RED – M.S. UP & M.S. HP – M.S. UP & M.S. RED – M.S. HP & M.S. RED
The following programs are approved for dual degree with other schools at Columbia: – M.S. UP & Master of Business Administration (with the Business School) – M.S. UP & Juris Doctor (with the School of Law) – M.S. UP & Master of Science in Social Work (with the School of Social Work – M.S. UP & Master of Science in Public Health (with the Mailman School of Public Health) – M.S. UP & Master of International Affairs (with the School of International and Public Affairs)
Program requirements, including suggested course sequences can be found here.
9.- Application Status
Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review application policies and procedures before submitting an online application. The GSAPP only accepts applications online.
Applicants may check the status of their application after submission by logging into their account with their email address and password and reviewing the status page.