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PhD in Urban Planning

Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation
New York, New York
United States
Urban Studies & City Planning

The Ph.D. in Urban Planning is focused on training individuals for future careers as teachers, researchers, policy-makers, and business entrepreneurs in the field of urban planning—in academia, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and think tanks. The program equips individuals with the theoretical and methodological expertise to address important contemporary issues, such as climate change, transportation, immigration/forced migration, housing, spatial analysis, and poverty and inequality. It is a highly competitive doctoral program, accepting only three candidates each year. In consultation with faculty, candidates develop individual study programs anchored in advanced knowledge concerning the socioeconomic, political, and environmental processes that shape cities and regions, and the quality of life within them. Underlying these inquiries are questions related to the effectiveness of urban processes, and their justice, democracy, and ethics. The Ph.D. in Urban Planning is a program within the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) while the actual degree is granted by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).


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, 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.


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Admission Requirements



Please see below for detailed instructions regarding letters of recommendation, transcripts, and standardized tests.


Applicants must submit all materials directly, not through an agent or third-party vendor, with the sole exception of submissions by the US Department of State’s Fulbright Program and its three partner agencies IIE, LASPAU and AMIDEAST, and by the Danish-American Fulbright Commission (DAF), and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). In addition, the applicant will be required to attest to the accuracy and authenticity of all information and documents submitted to Columbia. If you have any questions about this requirement, please contact the GSAS Office of Admissions at


Failure to submit complete, accurate, and authentic application documents consistent with these instructions may result in denial or revocation of admission, cancellation of academic credit, suspension, expulsion, or eventual revocation of degree. Applicants may be required to assist admissions staff and faculty involved in admission reviews in the verification of all documents and statements made in documents submitted by students as part of the application review process.




Letters of recommendation must be submitted through the GSAS online application system. Letters of recommendation may not be sent via email, nor may paper letters be sent via postal mail. All letters must be uploaded by the recommender directly to the application system.


You may submit your online application even if your letters of recommendation have not yet been submitted. Once the letters are received, we will append them to your application.


Columbia GSAS accepts up to four letters of recommendation.


Three letters of recommendation are required by most programs, but some MA programs may only require two letters. For application requirements for the program to which you are applying, please visit that program’s webpage on the GSAS website.




Applicants who applied previously should log in to the application account created during the prior application season and use the same profile to create an application for the new term. Letters of recommendation from the earlier application can then be included in the new application. See the Recommendations page in the online application for more information.




Instructions for Submission of Transcripts When Applying


Applicants should upload a transcript or record (e.g., web-based transcripts, mark sheets, relevé de notes) of any academic work from each university-level institution you have attended for use in review of your application.


Applicants to the Sustainable Development and Climate and Society programs also must upload a separate listing of specific courses.


Official transcripts are required only after an offer of admission has been made and accepted.


GSAS retains official documents for admitted applicants only. If an official document is sent to us by an applicant who does not enroll, the document will not remain accessible, even if an offer of admission is made at a later time.


Uploading Your Transcript to the Online Application System


Transcripts should be uploaded on the Educational History page of the online application. Transcripts should not be combined into one document; they should be uploaded as individual documents.


Follow these guidelines to ensure that you are able to upload your transcript:


– Scan at the lowest DPI that results in a legible document. (We recommend to use under 300 DPI whenever possible.)


– Ensure that the institution name and other identifying marks are not missed during the scanning process and that your scanned copy is clearly legible and can print on letter-size paper (8 ½» x 11″).


– Include the transcript legend (found on the back page, in most cases).


– Save your document as a PDF file.


– Make certain that its size is less than 2000 KB (2 MB). Scanning in grayscale or black and white may produce the best results.


– If the scanned file is too large, first make a photocopy (experimenting with different settings until you find one that results in the smallest file size), then scan the photocopy.


– You may upload an institutional web-based transcript/academic record.




Applicants may be required to take standardized tests to be considered for admission.


You should confirm the particular admissions requirements for the PhD or MA graduate program to which you are applying. Consult this list of PhD programs or this list of MA programs.


Tests that may be required:


– GRE (Graduate Record Examination) General Test


– GRE Subject Test


– TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) to fulfill the English Proficiency Requirement. See the Information for International Students page to confirm whether you must fulfill that requirement.


The ETS (Educational Testing Service) institution code for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) is 2162, to be used with the GRE and TOEFL. GSAS does not use department codes.


All test scores should be reported to the GSAS Office of Admissions.


GRE scores are valid for five years from the date taken. For more information, see the GRE website.


TOEFL scores are valid for two years from the date taken. For more information, see the TOEFL website.


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General information
4 years full time
Malo Hudson
Not Confirmed
+1 (212) 854-3414
1172 Amsterdam Avenue New York, New York 10027
Campus Location
The information of this PhD was extracted from the Official Website of the program.
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