The following sections describe the application process in detail.  Offers of admission will be made in mid to late March.  Applicants will be notified of our decision by e-mail with an official letter to follow by mail if you are admitted.  


Undergraduate Admission

Students who wish to study urban planning at MIT at the undergraduate level must first be accepted to MIT. At the end of the first year MIT students decide which course of study they wish to pursue. Undergraduate applicants do not apply directly to the Department.

Additional information and instructions for undergraduate applicants are available in the MIT Admissions website:


Five-Year SB-MCP Option

Undergraduate Course 11 majors may apply for admission to the department's Master in City Planning (MCP) program in their junior year. Students accepted into the five-year program receive both the Bachelor of Science and the MCP at the end of five years. Admission is intended for those undergraduates who have demonstrated exceptional performance in the major and show commitment to the field of city planning. Criteria for admission include the following: + A strong academic record in Course 11 subjects + Letters of reference from departmental faculty + Practical experience in planning, which could be gained through internships, practicums, studios, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program experiences, summer jobs, etc. + A mature and passionate interest for the field that warrants further study

Students can obtain more information on the five-year program from Sandra Wellford, undergraduate administrator, Room 7-346.



Graduate Admission

The DUSP Graduate Application for Fall 2014 admission is available at:

To get started you must first create a user account and password. This will allow you to start an application and save it multiple times prior to submission. PLEASE record your user name and password- we can not retrieve them for you. 

The following information is critical to your understanding of our admissions process and to the preparation of your application.  You should read the descriptions of the Department and its programs before you complete the application.

Most of your the application requirements can be completed or submitted online. We do however, require official transcripts and GRE/TOEFL scores be sent by mail. More information is provided below.  All supplemental materials should be sent to the following address:

  • MIT Department of Urban Studies & Planning
  • DUSP Admissions
  • 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 7-346
  • Cambridge, MA 02139-4307


The application deadline is January 3rd. All applications and supporting materials must be postmarked by this date or where applicable, submitted electronically. The Admission's Committee will not evaluate incomplete or late applications.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

  • Required:  YES
  • MCP Minimum Score:  NONE
  • PhD Minimum Score:  1200 (Verbal & Quantitative Combined), 5.0 Analytical Writing *Revised score minimum is 308 with 5.0 Analytical Writing for the new GRE test. If you do not meet the minimum score requirements for the PhD program, your application will not be reviewed.
  • Reporting codes: 3514 (MIT), Please type in "Urban Studies" to find code 2205 on the ETS website

Applicants must request that official scores be sent directly to DUSP by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and submit a scanned copy as part of the online application. We suggest ordering your scores as early as possible in order to have them delivered to us on time.  Applicants who take the test after December 31st will not be considered for admission.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

  • Required: For applicants whose native language is not English, even if they have attended school in the United States. No exceptions are made for this requirement. Permanent residents or US Citizens do not need to take the TOEFL exam. If you need clarification on the policy, please see FAQs.
  • MCP & PhD Minimum Score: 600 (paper-based), 100 (internet-based).
  • Reporting codes:  3514 (MIT), 97 (DUSP)

The Admissions Committee regards English proficiency as an important criterion for success in all degree programs. Applicants must request that offical results be sent directly to MIT by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and submit a scanned copy along with their online application.  Applicants who take the test after December 31st will not be considered for admission.  Upon arrival, students must take an English diagnostic test, regardless of whether they have attended English-speaking schools or have studied previously in English-speaking countries.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is also accepted with a minimum score of 7.  See TOEFL information for more details on the requirement. Applicants who are tested after December 31st will not be considered for admission.

1. Application Information

Research Fields

Master in City Planning (MCP) and Master of Science (SM) applicants, should indicate one of the four Program Groups that best fits your interest:

For PhD applicants ONLY:

You may indicate one of the four program groups above or Urban Information Systems (UIS). In the event your research spans two program groups, and you would like your application to be considered by both groups, you should indicate your first and second choice groups at the top of your Statement of Purpose and then discuss the cross-cutting nature of your research and studies in your statement of objectives.


Please note:

  • Our admission process is such that applicants are reviewed by faculty and students from an individual Program Group.  While the Program Group you specify in your application will not bind you once you arrive at MIT, we assume that you have thoughtfully considered why you chose a particular group.
  • Many of the concerns addressed in the other three Program Groups are also addressed within the IDG Group, but IDG emphasizes planning and development issues in the world's low-income countries. Likewise, the HCED group focuses predominately, but not exclusively, on the United States.
  • Applicants with particular interest in either cross-cutting area of Urban Information Systems or Transportation should indicate this on their application but should also specify a primary area of research (for example, "HCED/transportation").

Degree Objective

Specify only the program you are currently applying for: MCP, SM or Ph.D. 

Proposed date of entrance

The Department admits students for September only. 

2. Letters of Recommendation

As part of the online application, you will be asked to supply the names and contact information for three evaluators. We will not accept more than the required three letters of recommendation. You can request letters from your recommenders at any time during the application process. We recommend that you do this as early as possible.


1. Enter the requested information about your recommenders and save it.

2. Visit 'Letter Status' to request letters from your recommenders.

3. Follow the instructions given to send a request to each evaluator.  You control when your recommender receives the prompt and are responsible for making sure they have copies of these instructions. You can also edit recommender information (if they have not submitted a letter) and track letters by visiting the Letter Status page.

TIP: Checking the "WAIVE" box communicates to your recommender that you waive the right to view the recommendation that they write. It is generally considered best practice to waive viewing privileges because the recommendation will hold more weight during the application review if the applicant has waived the right to read it.

If at all possible, all recommendations should be completed using the online method. However, we will accept paper letters in a signed, sealed envelope sent directly to the department at the address above. We will not accept unsigned letters.

3. Personal Information

Please be sure to provide your correct e-mail address for correspondence. Most correspondence will be via e-mail. A personal web page URL or skype user name are not required.

4. Ethnicity

For U.S. citizens and permanent residents only. Please choose all selections that apply to you. For more information, please see MITs Policy on Nondiscrimination.

5. Addresses

Admissions letters will be sent to your mailing address (if different from your permanent address). This address should be where you will be living during the months of March and April and where you want admissions-related correspondence to be sent.

6. Colleges/Universities Attended

The Department requires scanned versions of your transcripts (submitted with your online application) AND official transcripts from the registrar of each undergraduate and graduate college or university you attended sent by mail. Uploaded copies can be a scan of your official transcript or an unofficial grade report. Please Note: We can NOT confirm receipt of your official transcripts.  If you are admitted and we do not have them on file for verification, we will contact you. 

  • If you participated in a study abroad experience and your coursework/credits are indicated on your home institution's official transcript, you do not need to list this or send an official transcript from that program.
  • If you attended a community college or university, did not receive a degree there, and transferred credits to another institution from which you received a degree and are submitting an official transcript from that institution, you do not need to list the community college/university or provide an official transcript.

Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. If a college or university does not issue transcripts, a certified letter must be provided. It should list courses, grades, degree(s) and date received.

7. Test Scores & Experience

This section provides an opportunity to explain your university's grading system or GPA scale. Use this section to explain any aspect of your transcript that you think might need clarification. If you have taken the GRE exam multiple times, you may report the exams in any order, but please report strictly by exam date (do not mix-and-match the section scores within a set).

Official test scores sent directly from the testing service are required in addition to uploaded scores. You may upload your personal copy of the score report or a pdf of any online reporting of the score from the test provider.  Please Note: We can NOT confirm receipt of your official test scores.  If you are admitted and we do not have them on file for verification, we will contact you. 


In lieu of completing the section regarding honors, publications, experience, etc., the Department requires a resume or CV as part of the application. It must be uploaded and submitted online. Please limit your text to a reasonable length, equivalent to a one to two page resume.

8. Financial Statement

Please indicate here if you wish to be considered for financial assistance and do your best to estimate the assured financial resources that will help fund your education. If you indicate you would like to be considered for aid, you will be considered for Research Assistant (RA) positions as well as tuition grants.  Financial aid decisions are need and merit based.  

If you expect to need federal student loans to help fund your education, you should also complete the FAFSA. More information about loans can be found on the Student Financial Services website.  You can also refer to the Financial Aid section on this page for more informationn.

9. Subjects Taken

Please list courses most relevant to the planning field first. Do not list textbooks. If you have been away from school for several years, please do your best at recording this information.  If you were or are an MIT student, you do not need to complete this section.  Enter "n/a" in the first row and column.

10. Statement of Objectives

The statement of objectives should be equal to the length of a 1 to 1.5 page single spaced document and address the following:

Beginning in the space below please give a statement explaining your reasons for wanting to do graduate work in Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. The statement should describe how you think, see and feel about the world and your professional objectives. You should set forth the issues or problems you want to address in the course of your studies, and the setting in which you eventually see yourself working professionally. Your honors, extracurricular activities, teaching and other experiences can be integrated into your Statement of Objectives; telling us how and why what you have done relates to what you propose to study at MIT, and what you plan to do professionally in the future. Do not re-create your CV or resume.

11. Supplemental Application Materials (Not Required)

Supplemental materials such as portfolios or writing samples are not required. However in certain instances, described below, applicants may wish to supplement their application with extra documentation.

Design Portfolio (Not Required)

The submission of a design portfolio online through the application portal is highly recommended but not required of all CDD MCP applicants with a design background. Please Note: Paper portfolios are no longer accepted. Only electronic versions uploaded with the online application will be reviewed.

The portfolio should include evidence of recent creative work: personal, academic and/or professional. Choose what you care about, what you think is representative of your best work, and what is expressive of you. Work done collaboratively should be identified as such and your role in the project defined. We expect the portfolio to be the applicant's own work. Portfolios should have a 30-page maximum and should not exceed 10MB (maximum). The dimensions should be roughly 1275x1650 pixels at 150 dpi and exported for screen viewing. Portfolios should be uploaded as a single PDF file through the online application system.

Writing Sample (Not Required)

Applicants who wish to submit an outstanding academic or professional writing sample must do so through the online application system. The supplemental material should be uploaded as a single PDF file and should not exceed 5MB (maximum). Only electronic versions uploaded with the online application will be reviewed.



Financial Aid

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning offers financial assistance to approximately 80 percent of Master's students and 50 percent of doctoral students. Except in certain instances, this assistance does not cover the full cost of tuition and living expenses at MIT. We encourage all applicants to apply for aid regardless of nationality or race. To facilitate a student's search for financial aid, DUSP maintains an updated list of external fellowship opportunities, both domestic and international. Please see scholarship link below.


Tuition for the 2013-2014 academic year is $43,210. The estimated budget for a single graduate student is approximately $67,078 for nine months. These figures include tuition (nine months), books and supplies, health insurance fees, and an allowance for a reasonable standard of living. Additional costs should be added to this budget for students with families.

Living expenses vary widely depending on such factors as marital status, availability of resources, and interests. Monthly living costs (housing, food, and personal expenses) average $2,400 for a single graduate student and $3,050 for a married graduate student. The estimated living expenses assume that a student will live frugally. Little is allowed for clothing, travel, and incidental expenses. The budget does not include the purchase or maintenance of an automobile or other major items. It may be possible with careful budget planning to reduce the allowances for housing and food, but not by more than two or three hundred dollars. Round trip transportation costs and travel insurance are not included.

Master in City Planning (MCP)

DUSP provides support to MCP students through research assistantships, tuition grants and hourly-paid jobs. All students are eligible to apply for departmentally funded hourly jobs and off-campus internships both of which pay approximately $2,500 per semester. Financial aid is awarded based on need and merit.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Five to seven PhD students are admitted with complete financial aid packages for four years. A typical funding package consists of a first year fellowship followed by three years of department funding. This covers full tuition and a monthly stipend. In exchange, students serve as research assistants or instructors during each of the semesters for which they receive department funding. After the first four years, it is sometimes possible to obtain an externally funded research assistantship or a departmentally funded instructorship.

Other PhD students are admitted without financial aid. These students must have either an externally funded fellowship, a research assistantship funded by outside sources, or their own financial resources. Under current policies, students without MIT financial aid or external funding cannot be admitted to the program.

Once students have completed their general exams, normally by the end of their third year, and have developed a preliminary dissertation proposal, they can qualify for non-resident reduced tuition (5 percent for the first three terms of non-resident status, and 15% for the last three semesters).


All Master's and PhD students admitted with or without aid are eligible at any time to apply for loans and nondepartmental funds. Some restrictions may apply to international students. MIT's Student Financial Aid Office (SFAO) administers both need-based and non-need-based loans. Loan eligibility for need-based loans is determined by using a standard budget developed by the SFAO. Specific loan programs include:

  • Federal Direct Stafford Student Loans. This program of need-based loans is the best source of loan funds for MIT graduate students. The maximum annual amount for this loan is $8,500 (subsidized); $10,000 (unsubsidized). Interest rates vary.
  • MIT Technology Loans. A technology loan may be available to meet need beyond the Stafford loan. Although need-based, all MIT loans for graduate students require a co-maker.
  • Alternative Loans. These loans may be available to students not eligible for need-based loans. They may also be available to replace the expected student contribution, calculated by the SFAO for need-based loans. The SFAO keeps information on many different alternative loan programs.


Off-campus internships provide MCP candidates with the opportunity to gain practical experience in the planning field, while securing resources to help meet tuition costs and living expenses. All students are eligible to participate in off-campus internships, but we encourage students to be realistic about the amount of time they can actually spend working and commuting to work, given the heavy demands of their coursework. The following is information on DUSP's primary internship opportunities: the DUSP Career Development Internship Program.

DUSP Career Development Internships

The DUSP Career Development Internship program is aimed at providing Master's and upper-level Undergraduate students with meaningful professional experience to strengthen and enhance their academic experience. The Career Development Program regularly solicits listings for semester-long internships from an extensive database of area alumni/ae and other employers. Students in the Department have worked at a variety of local organizations, including community development corporations, public agencies, and private consulting firms. Students may also secure positions on their own, using their own contacts and networks.  Students receive a stipend from the Department based on an internship commitment of 144 hours (an average of 12 hours per week for 12 weeks). MCP students receive a stipend of $3,000 and Undergraduates receive $2,500. The Department offers limited financial support to eligible organizations. Students, employers and faculty sponsors sign a three-way agreement describing the work assignment and compensation arrangements. In addition,  MIT Global Education Career Development (GECD) provides assistance to all MIT students, including access to resources helpful to internship seekers. GECD is located in Room 12-170; the phone number is (617) 253-4733.


A number of fellowships are available to DUSP students. Of particular note to students interested in international development is the Legatum fellowship program.  The Legatum Center seeks entrepreneurs who aspire to have a lasting and positive economic impact on low-income countries by developing their own entrepreneurial ideas and building their own local enterprises.  The application deadline is February 15th and the program is only available to MIT students. More information can be found on their website:

The Donald M. Payne International Development Program seeks to attract and prepare young people for careers in the USAID Foreign Service. The Payne Graduate Fellowship Program provides benefits of up to $90,000 over two years toward a two-year master's degree, arranges internships on Capitol Hill and USAID Missions, and provides professional development and support activities for those who want to become Foreign Service Officers in the U.S. Agency for International Development.  Fellows may use the fellowship to attend any good two-year master's program in a U.S. institution to study an area of relevance to international development, including international relations, public policy, public administration, languages, public health, environmental sciences, agriculture, urban studies, or business administration. At the end of the two-year fellowship, Fellows enter the Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency for International Development.  Applicants must be college seniors or graduates looking to start graduate school in the fall of the year they apply, have GPAs of at least 3.2 and be U.S. citizens. It welcomes applications from those with any undergraduate major who have an interest in a career of international service.  Information and application materials can be found at  The Program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and managed by Howard University.  

An exhaustive list of other funding resources can be found here:




Frequently Asked Questions

I don't have a background in design--can I apply?

Yes. Our students come from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, including but not limited to public policy, urban design & planning, architecture, economics, political science and engineering.

What is the deadline for applying to DUSP?

Completed applications and supporting materials must be post marked or submitted electronically by January 3rd for admission the following September.

Where should I send my application?

We strongly recommend that you fill out the on-line application available at:

I submitted an application but would like to know if you have received it, or if anything is missing. How do I check?

Because of the large volume of applications we receive, we can not confirm receipt of official transcripts or test scores.  

Where should I send my official transcripts & test scores?

All supporting materials (letters of recommendation may be sent directly by the evaluator) should be sent to the address below:

  • MIT Department of Urban Studies & Planning
  • DUSP Admissions
  • 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 7-346
  • Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

Can I submit more than 3 letters of recommendation?

No, we will not review more than three letters of recommendation.

Do I need to submit a portfolio or writing sample?

It is recommended that applicants to the CDD program group submit a portfolio, however; it is not required. If you are applying to any other program group, please do not submit a portfolio or writing sample. They will not be reviewed.

How many applications do you receive each year?

We have approximately 400 applicants to our MCP program each year, and of those we accept 55-60 students. For the PhD program we have approximately 125 applicants and accept 10-12 doctoral candidates.

What are my chances of admission to your program based on the following criteria (GRE scores, class rank, etc.)?

We cannot provide preliminary evaluations of chances for admissions based on any one or two qualifications. The Graduate Admissions Committee carefully reviews the entire application package (statement of intent, GRE scores, recommendation letters, transcripts, etc.) to determine admission decisions.

I applied to DUSP in a previous year, but was not admitted. How do I re-apply?

If you would like to re-apply to the program, you must follow the same steps as a new applicant. We do not keep transcripts, test scores or any other application materials on file from previous years.

Do I need to take the GRE exam and what is the minimum score?

GRE scores are required of all applicants and should be taken early enough for scores to reach MIT before the January 3 deadline. We do not accept the GMAT as a replacement. The Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing sections are required of all applicants to the DUSP Graduate Program. There is no minimum score requirement for the MCP program. The minimum score required for the PhD program is 1200 V&Q combined (308 in the new scoring system), and an analytical writing score of 5.0. If your scores do not meet the minimum required for admission, or if you have not taken the test, we will not be able to admit you. Applications with low and missing test scores will not be reviewed. 

Do I need to take the TOEFL exam? Can the TOEFL exam be waived in certain cases for international students?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of every applicant whose native or first language is not English. No exceptions will be made for this requirement. If you completed an undergraduate or masters degree in the US but are from a non-English speaking country you are REQUIRED to take the IELTS/TOEFL. If you are from the US but were raised speaking another language, you are REQUIRED to take the IELTS/TOEFL. The Admissions Committees regard English proficiency as crucial for success in all degree programs. A minimum TOEFL score of 100 (internet-based) is required by DUSP.  We also accept the IELTS (International English Language Testing System with a minimum of 7. Permanent residents or US Citizens do no need to take the TOEFL exam.

What codes do I use when reporting my GRE and TOEFL scores to DUSP?

The codes you should use when reporting your GRE scores to DUSP are as follows: 3514 (MIT), 2205 (DUSP). When reporting TOEFL exam scores, applicants should use:  3514 (MIT), 97 (DUSP).

What forms do I fill out to apply for financial aid?

You can apply for aid by filling out the of the "Financial Support" section included in the online application.

Do you provide financial support for foreign applicants?

All applicants who request financial aid are considered.

When will I know if I have received financial aid?

All financial aid decisions are made at the same time as the admission decisions.

Do I need to request an interview before I apply to DUSP?

We do not conduct interviews as part of the admission's process but we encourage you to attend our Open House in the Fall for prospective students.

Do you have interpreters to read international applications?

No, it is the applicants responsibility to have an application and all its contents translated to English before it is submitted. If a college or university does not issue transcripts, a certfied letter must be provided. It should list courses, grades, and degrees and date received.

When will I be notified of my admission decision?

Admission decision letters will be sent by the first week of April.

May I defer admissions?

No, we do not defer admissions. You may re-apply the following year by following the same steps as a new applicant.

Do you provide any assistance in preparing an application?

The Students of Color Committee at DUSP have created the "Peer Application Support Service" (SCC PASS) to provide assistance to prospective Masters in City Planning students in the application process. SCC PASS is intended to support student of color applicants through individual application advising, proofreading final drafts of essays, and answering questions about the program. See the sidebar link under "Application Instructions" above or click here.

Can I get two degrees from MIT at the same time? Can I get a degree from Harvard and DUSP at the same time?

Students may pursue dual degrees in virtually any other department at MIT, provided they are accepted for admission and complete degree requirements in each department. Some common dual degrees completed by planning students are with architecture, real estate development, and transportation. Students who have been admitted to study for the Master in City Planning may apply to the other program during their first year of study at MIT and propose a program of joint work in the two fields that will lead to the simultaneous awarding of two degrees. Please be aware that pursuing a dual degree will add at least a year to your studies. MIT Students are not eligible to complete a degreee at both Harvard and MIT simultaneously.



SCC Peer Application Support Service

The Students of Color Committee (SCC) of MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) are committed to increasing the ethnic and cultural diversity of each admitted class and are excited that you are considering our program in your application process.

As part of our mission, a group of graduate students have created SCC Peer Application Support Service (SCC PASS) to provide assistance to prospective Masters in City Planning students in the application process. SCC PASS is intended to support student of color applicants by:

  • Providing individual application advising
  • Proofreading final drafts of statements of objective essays
  • Answering questions about the curriculum and the Masters in City Planning degree

If you are interested in taking part in any of listed services, please follow the instructions below:

  1. E-mail with the following information about you:
    • Name, E-mail, Phone, Address
    • Program Group Interest, Years of Work Experience
    • Age, Racial/Ethnic Background, Gender
    • Preferences for a peer advisor (ie: similar interests, similar geographic region, similar background)
  2. If you have specific questions or concerns about the application process, the curriculum, or the MCP degree, include it in the body of the email.
  3. If you already have a draft of your Statement of Objectives that you would like to be reviewed for feedback, please attach it as PDF document to your e-mail.

Upon receipt of your e-mail, a current graduate student volunteer will contact you within a week of receiving your request. Please keep in mind that graduate students are volunteering their time to SCC and are offering this service to supplement other support you should be getting from your own personal and professional networks. Though we want to extend our support to you in this application process, this is not a guarantee of admission.