Graduate Admissions: City and Regional Planning

Degree Programs

With the Graduate School at Cornell University, the Department of City and Regional Planning offers the following degree programs: 

The department also offers two dual degree programs for those interested in design and real estate. Students may apply for the second program once they have started the first program.   

Applicants interested in real estate as their first choice program should reach out to the Paul Rubacha Department of Real Estate.


  • City and Regional Planning (M.R.P., Ph.D. CRP, M.A. HPP): Fall, January 10; there is no spring semester admission. Apply now.
  • Regional Science: Fall, January 10; there is no spring semester admission. Apply now.
  • Real Estate: December 1 application fee waived, Round 1; January 15, Round 2; March 1, Round 3; April 15, Round 4. Apply now.

Tuition Costs and Financial Aid

Tuition for graduate study at AAP varies by discipline and degree. The most up-to-date tuition costs by program can be found on the tuition and funding page.

The financial cost of graduate school is one of the most important issues facing prospective students. The costs of our programs are competitive with many peer institutions. The amount of financial assistance we can offer students varies by program. The M.R.P. and M.A. in Historic Preservation Planning programs also offer students a summer stipend when they participate in a summer internship experience. All students will be considered for aid, and awards will be detailed in a letter at the point of admission. The Ph.D. program provides all admitted students with full tuition, stipend (including during the summer), and health care. 

The funding opportunities page lists funds at Cornell and beyond for which City and Regional Planning students can apply.

Admissions Criteria

In addition to the requirements outlined by the Graduate School, the Department of City and Regional Planning has the following specific requirements:

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a recognized educational institution. A variety of undergraduate backgrounds have proven to be good preparation to enter the field of City and Regional Planning.
  • To enroll in doctoral study, applicants must have completed a master's degree (planning or related field preferred). 
  • Applicants to the Ph.D. program in City and Regional Planning are required to submit a writing sample with their application.

For all graduate degrees, the department reviews the statement of purpose, personal statement, and other supporting materials for the following:

  • Motivation to pursue graduate study 
  • Academic performance and preparation
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Evidence of perseverance and resilience
  • Letters of recommendation

The Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.) also reviews applicants for their: 

  • Potential to lead and/or contribute to their communities
  • Ability to communicate (in writing, visualization, and/or public speaking)
  • Past work and/or research experiences

The Master of Arts in Historic Preservation Planning (M.A. HPP) also reviews applicants for:

  • Demonstrated commitment to the discipline through education, experience, research, and initiative

The Doctor of Philosophy in City and Regional Planning (Ph.D. CRP) also reviews applicants for:

  • Scholarly commitment, including potential for research productivity and initiative 
  • Research alignment with program and faculty

Tips for Effective Applications 

  1. It is important that you have a clear motivation for attending graduate school in your chosen field of study at Cornell at this time. Are you confident that you want to pursue this degree, for instance, as opposed to design, policy, or geography? What are you interested in studying once you start school? What do you hope this degree will allow you to do after graduation that you cannot do now? If you are unsure of how to answer these questions, be sure to attend open houses and/or talk with faculty and students. 
  2. Of all the application pieces, the personal statement and academic statement of purpose are the most important. This is where your voice speaks clearly and explains what you want to study and why. Do not use the essay to tell your life story or reiterate what is in your resume. Rather, use the essay to give specific examples or tell stories, cases, or problems that provide an example of how you observe the world and how you think. Share your experiences not as a timeline but as a way to demonstrate your creativity, leadership, resilience, and ability to communicate. 
  3. Seek out recommenders who not only know you well but are committed to your success and willing to write specific letters about you. Effective recommenders can be faculty or colleagues and supervisors. Be clear about whether you want them to explain particular challenges you faced (for instance, issues that may have affected grades on the transcript), or if you do not want them to mention particular issues. Be sure to ask recommenders well in advance and provide them with your resume, personal essay, statement of purpose, and the necessary forms, deadlines, and submission links for Cornell's application. 

Application Requirements

The deadline for receiving application materials for all graduate city and regional planning programs is January 10. There is no spring semester admission. Students interested in these programs must submit an online application with supporting documentation, including:

  • Two letters of recommendation are required for all programs 
  • Transcripts from each college or university previously attended; required for all programs 
  • All applicants must meet the English Language Proficiency Requirement 

    • For applicants to the MRP program who must submit TOEFL/IELTS scores, there is a preferred minimum overall score of 100 for the TOEFL iBT and an overall band score of 7 for IELTS. Section minimums set by the graduate school must also still be met

  • Academic Statement of Purpose: required for all programs

  • Resume/CV; required for all programs 

  • Writing Sample; required for Ph.D. CRP, optional for MRP and M.A. HPP

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