Getting Started


Please visit MIT Grad Admissions for an overview of DUSP:

  • graduate application requirements,
  • standardized test requirements,
  • areas of research,
  • terms of enrollment,
  • and additional details

Core criteria and guidelines for doctoral admission decisions:

  • Application strength: cohesiveness of statement, compelling research topics, preparedness for doctoral level work.
  • Alignment with Departmental research priorities: achieving racial justice, tackling the climate change, enhancing democratic governance, and closing the wealth gap
  • Advisor-Advising Committee Match
    • Could an applicant work with more than one DUSP faculty on their committee?
    • Does applicant have a strong match with at least one lead faculty?
  • Instructorship match
    • What core classes might applicant be able to TA within DUSP?
      • 11.001J    Introduction to Urban Design & Development

      • 11.002    Making Public Policy

      • 11.005    Introduction to International Development

      • 11.200    Gateway I

      • 11.201    Gateway II

      • 11.202/203    Microeconomics

      • 11.205/11.188    Introduction to Spatial Analysis

      • 11. 220   Quantitative Reasoning  

      • 11.222    Introduction to Critical Qualitative Methods 

  • Cross-cutting substantive areas – research of interest to multiple DUSP program groups and strategic priorities


  • In statements of purpose, applicants are welcome to name faculty members, in DUSP, with whom they wish to: collaborate, seek as an advisor, or under whom they wish to work. We encourage applicants to consider the ecosystem of faculty advisors they might work with if admitted to DUSP.
    • If you reach out to a faculty member directly and they have not responded before you complete your application, please note that no response does not reflect a judgement. Faculty have many time commitments and may be unable to answer your request quickly.
  • Please do not expect detailed feedback on your statements of purpose or your CVs from faculty in advance of your application submission.  
    • Please do note DUSP students offer Peer Application Support Services (PASS), supporting students who may face structural barriers in applying, including (but not limited to) international applicants, first generation college students, and applicants who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, queer, disabled, and/or a person of color. 
  • DUSP doctoral admissions is run by committee, not by individual faculty members. In short, this means that no one faculty member independently decides to admit a student. 
    • Faculty members do on occasion recruit students for their externally funded research, but those student's admission is still decided by committee.  


Please visit MIT Grad Admissions for an overview of DUSP:

  • graduate degree programs,
  • graduate application requirements,
  • standardized test requirements,
  • areas of research,
  • terms of enrollment,
  • and additional details


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:

Peer Application Support Services

We as a department are striving to "center racial justice within urban design and planning and to create space for imagining what is required to build inclusive, thriving, and just cities” – Adapted from a statement from CoLab.

The Peer Application Support Service (PASS) is historically a student-led initiative dedicated to increasing the diversity of each admitted class to DUSP. The program supports Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other prospective applicants from underrepresented communities and/or those who may face structural barriers in applying.

PASS is a student-run mentorship program that connects prospective Masters and PhD students with current students who can provide guidance during the application process. Mentors can advise individual applications, proofread final drafts of essays, and answer questions about the curriculum. The PASS program is active during the months leading up to the application deadline. If you are interested in taking part in PASS:

  • Fill out the PASS interest form during Fall 2023.
  • For questions about PASS, reach out to
  • For specific admissions questions, reach out to

If admitted to the PASS program, a current graduate student will contact you by early November to connect you with a mentor. If you sign up for PASS after the deadline, we may review your application on an ad-hoc process. Please keep in mind that graduate students are offering this service to supplement other support you may be getting from your own personal and professional networks. Though PASS is intended to extend support to you in this application process, this is not a guarantee of admission.

Financial Support

Tuition (Graduate, PhD)

Five to seven PhD students are admitted with complete financial support packages for five years, including optional summer work funding. A typical funding package consists of a first-year fellowship with no work requirements, followed by four years of department funding with research or teaching requirements. This covers full tuition, a monthly stipend, and student health insurance. Optional summer work funding is available in the form of research assistantships or curriculum development teaching assistantships for four summers. PhD students admitted with faculty-sponsored research or external funding must also be financially supported for five academic years. 

Tuition and the estimated living expenses for a MIT graduate student are available via the MIT Graduate Admissions Office

Tuition (Graduate, MCP)

Applicants to the MCP program who are accepted are offered a minimum financial aid package of 80% tuition and student health insurance. In addition, some Master's students are also offered a research assistantship covering a monthly salary in exchange for ten hours per week of work for a faculty member throughout the nine-month academic year. 

Tuition and the estimated living expenses for a MIT graduate student are available via the MIT Graduate Admissions Office


Tuition (Graduate, SM)

Unfortunately, there is no departmental funding available to support the SM program a this time. 

SM students may seek additional financial aid through opportunities such as faculty sponsored research grants. 

Tuition and the estimated living expenses for a MIT graduate student are available via the MIT Graduate Admissions Office

Tuition (Undergraduate)

MIT Student Financial Services provides financial aid and customer service to all MIT students by helping students understand their financial options and select the best ones for them and their family. They award need-based financial aid from MIT and coordinate the receipt of aid from other sources. Learn more via their site:

For undergraduate students, MIT Admissions provides an online calculator to estimate what it will cost to attend MIT.  

MIT Student Financial Services

For more detailed information regarding the cost of attendance, including specific costs for tuition and fees, books and supplies, housing and food as well as transportation, please visit the SFS website.

DUSP Lemann Fellowship (MCP)

Current and incoming, full-time Master of City Planning students (MCP) who are: Brazilian citizens and have a demonstrated commitment to addressing Brazilian urban challenges may apply for a DUSP Lemann Fellowship. For students awarded the fellowship in their first year, renewal for a second year is contingent upon maintaining a strong record of academic excellence. 

The DUSP Lemann Fellowship will provide funding for tuition expenses, adding to department support. Lemann fellows will not pay tuition for their education at MIT. In addition, recipients of the DUSP Lemann Fellowship may apply to the Lemann Foundation for additional funding to account for cost-of-living expenses beyond their tuition contingent upon demonstrated need.

Only admitted MCP students are eligible. No separate application is required. First-generation students are especially encouraged to apply. The department will alert students upon admission if they receive the Lemann Fellowship. 

Fee Waivers

Fee waivers for graduate admission to MIT are processed centrally. Please visit OGE's site to learn more about eligibility. For students who do not meet the OGE eligibility criteria, DUSP has a limited number of departmental fee waivers available to support applicants. You can apply for consideration in advance of December 1, 2023 here.


All Master's and PhD students are eligible at any time to apply for loans and nondepartmental funds. Some restrictions may apply to international students. MIT's Student Financial Services (SFS) 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 SFS. Learn more via SFS:

FAQ (General)

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?

Please refer to DUSP's MIT Grad Admissions page for complete information on application deadlines.

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 materials.

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 who select the CDD program group submit a portfolio, however; it is not required.

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 4-10 doctoral candidates.

What are my chances of admission to your program based?

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, 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 application materials on file from previous years.

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 applicants whose native or first language is not English. If you completed an undergraduate or masters degree in the US or at a college or university where the instruction was in English, you are not required to take the TOEFL/IELTS. 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 not need to take the TOEFL exam.

When will I know if I have received financial aid?

Tuition fellowship 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 admissions process but we encourage you to attend an Information Session in the fall or reach out to with questions.

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 certified 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 early March.

May I defer admission?

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.

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 degrees at both Harvard and MIT simultaneously.