Application Instructions

The Department of Geography and Planning offers admission in September only. There is no January admission.

Please read each section carefully.


The online application for September 2020 admission will open in October 2019 (date to be confirmed).

Online Application Deadline

January 2020 (date to be posted in October 2019)

By this date, applicants must have initiated an online application and paid the application fee.

Supporting Documents Deadline

January 2020 (date to be posted in October 2019)

By this date, all supporting documents, including letters of reference must be submitted.

Online Application

Applicants to the Department of Geography and Planning must apply to the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) through the 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.

Please follow these instructions carefully:

  1. Log in to the SGS Online Admissions Application.
  2. A valid email account is needed to complete the online application, as the University will correspond with applicants using email. 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 of Toronto School of Graduate Studies will be contacting them by email (this will happen after the application fee is paid).
  6. Pay the application fee of $120 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. This payment method is secure as the transaction is handled by Mirapay, a third party authorized by VISA and Mastercard. Mirapay provides the School of Graduate Studies with payment confirmation only. SGS and the University of Toronto will not have access to your credit card information. Please note that the process requires that popup blockers on your web browser be disabled.
  7. You will be asked to submit one electronic or scanned transcript from each post-secondary institution you have attended. Scanned copies must be up to date and must contain the transcript legend (usually printed on the back of a paper transcript). Transcripts submitted without a legend will not be accepted. The admissions committee will make a decision about your application based on the scanned transcript. Please ensure that the file is complete and readable before submitting. You will not be required to submit official paper copies of your transcripts until after the committee has made it’s decision. If admitted, you will be required to submit an official transcript; verification of your paper transcript will be a condition that must be satisfied before registration.
  8. Submit copies of the remaining documentation (CV, Research Statement) electronically.

Supporting Documents

All documents should be submitted online. We do not require hard copies.

Letters of Reference

Three letters of reference are required. References from university instructors are preferred but employer references (or others) are acceptable if the writer is in a position to evaluate your academic abilities and preparation for graduate studies. The University will contact your referees by email to complete their reference using an online web-based form once you have paid your application fee – please ensure you confirm your referees’ availability before providing their contact information.

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 should be sent directly by the reference or submitted in an envelope with their signature across the seal, must be on letterhead and include an original signature and include full contact information (address, phone, etc.). Mailed letters must be received by the document deadline January 31 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 status of mailed letters will be updated on the online application once staff have received and processed them.

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.

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.

Current CV or Resume

Outline your education, relevant personal and work experience (paid and unpaid), publications, professional activities, awards, honours, grants and fellowships (as applicable), and submit it electronically.

Identifying a Supervisor

Applicants are expected to contact prospective supervisors at the time of application. Potential supervisors names must be listed within the Research Statement Form. Applicants can consult the listing of prospective supervisors who are actively recruiting students or the full faculty listing for details on research interests, publications, telephone and email contact information.

Research Statement

The Research Statement Form is available within the online application (a link is contained within the online application’s document instructions). The form includes the following information: 1) up to three prospective supervisor name(s), 2) research keywords, 3) research project title and 4) a one-page research statement. The research statement must be limited to the 1-page form (including references, if applicable) – additional pages will not be reviewed.

The research statement should outline the nature of the research you have carried out in the past and the research you are proposing to do in your graduate program. Bear in mind that our commitment to excellence in education includes being a varied, representative, experienced, creative and critical student body every year. To this end, we encourage applications from students belonging to groups that are currently underrepresented in the academic and professional world of geography. Applicants are invited to include an optional statement in their Research Statement describing the ways in which they expect to contribute to the multiple forms of diversity, equity and excellence supported in the Department.


Applicants must list all post-secondary institutions attended on their application. This includes bachelor’s, master’s, PhD and non-degree or special student studies. You must list all institutions attended, even if a degree was not granted.

The date of issue for transcripts should be January 2019 for degrees in progress and must include Fall 2018 grades.

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

  • 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.
  • Do not upload a document that is password protected.
  • If your transcript is double-sided (i.e. courses and grades printed on both sides of the page), please be sure to scan the front and back of each page.
  • The transcript should include course codes/level, titles, grades, session in which courses were completed and class averages if available. Your transcript legend (or grade scale) must be included, and scanned copies must include the name of the institution.
  • Transcripts that are in a language other than English or French MUST be accompanied by an official English translation (provided by the university, or by a certified translator) – transcripts without an English translation will not be accepted.

Note: 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. University of Toronto students may submit a screen capture of their academic history from Acorn in place of a transcript.

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.

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 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). 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.

Checking 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 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