Application Instructions

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

Before starting your application, we strongly encourage you to review our Application Tips page.

Please read each section carefully.

Online Application
Application Documents
1. Transcripts
2. Reference Letters
3. Applicant Statement Form
– Research Statement (Required)
– Equity and Diversity Statement (Optional)
4. CV
5. English Language Facility Tests
Review Process
Checking Your Application Status


We are no longer accepting applications for 2020 admission. The application for September 2021 admission will open on October 15, 2020.

Online Application Deadline

January 15, 2021  (11:59 pm EST) – By this date, applicants must have initiated their online application and paid the application fee.

Application Documents Deadline

February 1, 2021  (11:59 pm EST) – By this date, all supporting documents, including letters of reference, must be submitted.

Online Application

Applicants must apply through the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Online Admissions Application which is housed on a secure server in the University of Toronto. Your application will be considered only after you have entered your personal and academic information in the online application, paid the application fee and submitted all required supporting documents. This includes letters of reference submitted online by referees and transcripts. All documentation must be received at the Department of Geography by the deadline.

  1. Register/log in to the SGS Online Admissions Application. A valid email account is needed, as the University will correspond with applicants using email.
  2. Enter your personal data and contact information on the SGS online application and an applicant identification number (Applicant #) and a secure password will be emailed to you. You can leave and return to your application at any point. Note: You cannot change personal data after the application fee is paid.
  3. Provide the biographical and education information requested.
  4. When completing “Program of Study” information, you may leave the “Area of Study” section blank. If you choose to indicate area of study, enter keywords or a sentence describing your proposed research topic.
  5. Be prepared to submit contact information for THREE referees. Be sure to inform your referees that you are doing this and that the University will be contacting them by email (this will happen after the application fee is paid).
  6. Pay the application fee of $125 Canadian. This fee is non-refundable. The School of Graduate Studies must receive your application fee before the Department of Geography and Planning will review your application. The application fee can be paid online by VISA or MasterCard. The system will not accept Visa debit or MasterCard debit, and the payment cannot be made by wire transfer. Please note that the process requires that popup blockers on your web browser be disabled.

Application Documents

All documents are submitted online. We do not require hard copies.

1. Transcripts

Applicants must list all post-secondary institutions attended on their application. 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.

Applicants are asked to scan and upload their transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended. Transcripts should meet the following criteria:

  • The date of issue for transcripts should be January 2020 for degrees in progress and must include Fall 2019 grades.
  • Do not upload a document that is password protected.
  • Applicants are expected to scan an official copy of their transcript. Student web service printouts will only be accepted if they are from Canadian universities. Such printouts must include the session, course code/level, course title and grade for all courses. The University name must be included.
  • 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.
  • The file size of each scanned transcript must not exceed 4 megabytes (MB). Scanned documents must be clearly legible and print on standard CDN/U.S. 81/2″ x 11″ paper. The file must be in .PDF format. Image files, such as those in .jpg or .bmp formats, must be converted to .PDF before uploading. Please scan your transcript in grayscale at the lowest dots per inch (dpi) setting that results in a legible document. We recommend 72 dpi whenever possible.

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.

2. Reference Letters

Three letters of reference are required. 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.

Once you have paid the application fee, 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. You will NOT be able to change referees once your application payment is made, contact the department by email if you must change a referee.

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 online application will only allow institutional email addresses for references (,, etc. will NOT be accepted). If your reference does not have access to an acceptable email address, their letters must be mailed. We do not accept reference letters by email. 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 30 and can be mailed to the address below:

Graduate Admissions
Geography & Planning, University of Toronto
100 St. George Street, Room 5047
Toronto, ON M5S 3G3 Canada

The department will not accept a reference letter if the referee is not named on the application. Letters in addition to the three listed in the application will not be reviewed.

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.

3. Applicant Statement Form

Applicants must submit the Applicant Statement Form. This form includes space for the following: a Research Statement (including potential supervisor name(s) and bibliography) and an Equity and Diversity Statement.

Research Statement (Required)

Use the space provided in the Applicant Statement Form (max 1 page plus ½ page for a short list of references).

Your Research Statement outlines the research you are proposing to carry out during your graduate program. 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 personal 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.

Equity and Diversity Statement (Optional)

Use the space provided in the Applicant Statement Form (max ½ page).

The Equity and Diversity Statement is an optional element of your application. While you may make reference to your research, the Equity and Diversity Statement should not duplicate in detail the content of your Research Statement.

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?

  1. It will be read by all members of the admissions committee and potential supervisor(s) only.
  2. 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.

4. 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).

5. 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, 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.

You can check to see if your documents have been received by logging in to the SGS online application system and clicking on “Check Status.” We will not confirm receipt of materials by phone or by email. 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.

Once your documents have been submitted the application status will change to “Documents Received” until the graduate office has reviewed your documents online and your application is manually changed to “Under Review”. It may take up to 4-6 weeks from the time all documents are received for the status to be changed to “Under Review”.

When a final decision is made, the status of your application will be changed to “Decision Made”. Application decisions are sent by email.

Review Process

Admission decisions are made by a tri-campus Admissions Committee composed of faculty members in both physical and human geography.
Program staff will review each completed application to make sure all components are completed correctly and to assess eligibility. Once staff have completed this initial check, an application will be moved to “Under Review”.

While “Under Review”, the application file will be made available to all graduate faculty members and to the Admissions Committee. All faculty members, especially those who have been named as potential supervisors, are 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 research statement
  • Availability of a potential supervisor willing to supervise the proposed topic

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.


Please see the Frequently Asked Questions page for commonly asked questions.


The graduate office can be contacted at