Application Instructions


The online application for September 2020 admission will be available in October 2019 (date TBD)

Online Application Deadline: TBD mid-January 2020

By this date you need to complete all parts of the online application (biography, education, program of study, reference contact information) and pay the application fee.

Documentation Deadline: TBD late-January 2020

By this date you need to submit all supporting documents (statement, CV) and all reference letters must be submitted.

Once all documents are received your application can be reviewed for admission.

On Line Application Instructions

  1. Log in to the SGS online admissions application. A valid email account is needed to complete the online application, as the University will correspond with applicants using email.
  2. Provide the biographical and education information requested. An applicant identification number (Applicant #) and a secure password will be emailed to you. The online application allows applicants to manage and submit biographical and educational information as well as specific documents immediately to the University. Applicants can edit an in-progress application and check the status of all documents submitted using the secure password and Applicant #. You can leave and return to your application at any point. Note: You cannot change personal data after the application fee is paid.
  3. Be prepared to submit contact information for THREE referees. Your referees should have valid institutional e-mail accounts. Please communicate with your referees in advance to confirm their contact information. After payment, your referees will be contacted by e-mail and asked to submit their recommendation electronically.
  4. 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. When you have submitted the fee you will be able to check the status of 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 pop-up blockers on your web browser be disabled. If you are unable to pay by credit card you may print an invoice from the application and mail it with a certified cheque to the School of Graduate Studies.

You will be asked to submit one electronic or scanned transcript from each post-secondary institution attended. Scanned copies of transcripts must be up to date and must include the transcript “legend” which is usually printed on the back of the paper transcript. The admission committee will make its decision about your application based on this scanned transcript. Please ensure that the file is complete and readable before submitting. Note that you will not be required to submit an official transcript unless admitted to the program; verification of your paper transcript will be a condition that must be met prior to registration. More detailed requirements for scanning and submitting can be found below.


Material to be submitted via the School of Graduate Studies online application:

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 professional experience in preparation for graduate studies. The University will contact your referees by email to obtain online references once you have paid your application fee – please ensure you confirm your referees’ availability before providing their contact information. You will NOT be able to change referees once your application payment is made. Contact the department 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.

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.) to the address below:

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

Note: There is no reference letter form. The department cannot accept a reference letter if the referee is not named on the application. Reference letters must be submitted by documentation deadline.

Current CV

You will be asked to upload your CV to the on line application. Outline your education, relevant personal and work experience (paid and unpaid), publications, professional activities, awards and honours, grants and fellowships (as applicable).

Statement of intent for MScPl

Write a one-page ‘personal statement’ about yourself, outlining the experiences that have led you to graduate study in planning. Please explain how those experiences – personal, political, professional, academic or other – now inform your approach to one or more of our specializations in planning, indicating what you intend to focus on both in the Planning Program and beyond, after becoming a planner. Bear in mind that our commitment to excellence in planning education includes building a varied, representative, experienced, creative and critical student body every year. To this end, we especially welcome strong applications from students belonging to groups that are currently underrepresented in the academic and professional worlds of planning. Microsoft Word or PDF format is acceptable.

Research statement form for PhD applicants

The Research Statement form is available within the online application (a link is contained within the document instructions). The form includes the following information: 1) three research keywords, 2) prospective supervisor’s name(s) and 3) 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 (they should include fall 2018 grades, if available), and within 1 year of the application deadline for completed degrees.

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 ROSI 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). No newly admitted student may register in graduate studies at the University of Toronto without submitting an official transcript that confirms the information provided on the scanned transcript submitted with the application. In other words if you are a successful applicant to our program you would be required (in order to clear your condition and to register) to arrange for your original transcript/s to be sent to our graduate office directly from the institution you attended.

English language proficiency information

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 the status of your application

The department will review only applications with all required documents. These applications will be in ‘under review’ status. We will treat all ‘documents pending’ applications as incomplete and they will not be reviewed.

You can check if your documents and reference letters have been received by logging in to the SGS online application system and clicking on “Check Status.” It will not be possible to confirm receipt of applications directly. Please ensure that you have read and understood the application requirements, paid the application fee, and gathered all the necessary components of your application package. If you have done this, you shouldn’t need to worry.

Review Process

Admission decisions are made by an Admissions Committee composed of planning faculty members.

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”.

Once “under review”, the application file will be made available to the Admissions Committee. For PhD applicants only, 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 statement of intent/research statement
  • Availability of a potential supervisor willing to supervise the proposed topic (PhD applicants only)

The committee meets on a rolling basis throughout February and March to make final decisions and send out admission offers. It may take up to 6-8 weeks for an application decision to be available once a file is under review. All decisions are expected to be available by mid or late-April.


Visit the FAQ section for commonly asked questions.

MSc Pl applicants can contact the MSc Planning Advisor, Marija Wright at

PhD applicants can contact the Graduate Advisor, Jessica Finlayson at