How to Apply to PennPlanning
How to Apply to PennPlanning
The first thing to do is to find out if Penn is right for you. Obviously, you have taken a look at our website (www.design.upenn.edu/city-regional-planning). Now see how your interests match those of our faculty and current students. Then take a look at our concentration areas, certificate programs, and dual degree opportunities and see how well they offer the study and practice opportunities you might be interested in. Look past individual courses to see if you can identify interesting sequences and areas of study.
Next, send an e-mail to one or more PennPlanning faculty and start a conversation about your study and career goals. Is PennPlanning the right place for you? How does PennPlanning stack up to its competition in your areas of interest? How do our studio and workshop classes work? What jobs are available after graduation? What can Penn do in terms of financial aid?
If you decide to apply to PennPlanning, start lining up your application ducks. Visit the PennDesign Admissions web page (www.design.upenn.edu/admissions) for more detailed application instructions.
Take the GRE exam if you have not already done so, and the TOEFL or IELTS Academic exam if English is not your primary language. Contact two or more of your undergraduate school professors and find out if they will write strong and timely recommendation letters. If you have been out of school for a few years, identify employers who can write about your work history and abilities.
Most importantly, start thinking about how you can best express why you want to come to graduate school in general and PennPlanning in particular. Your personal statement should touch on three themes: (1) How you came to be interested in planning; (2) What you hope to do with your degree and graduate education once finished; and, (3) Why PennPlanning is a good fit for your interests and professional plans. If you have been involved in a planning-related activity, even just to volunteer, be sure to mention it. Try to keep your personal statement to 500 words or less, and if possible, have a friend or colleague review it to make sure it is clear and concise.
If you are applying for the Urban Design Concentration, you should consider submitting a digital portfolio of prior design work.
When deciding who to admit, we give slightly greater weight to personal statements and letters of recommendations, so make sure your personal statement fully reflects who you are, and make sure your recommenders discuss your ability to undertake graduate-level study. If you have had a blip in your undergraduate studies or professional career, be sure to explain it. We do look closely at GRE and TOEFL scores - along with your undergraduate grade point average (GPA) - as a way of determining if you are ready for graduate school. We don't, however, apply GRE or GPA minimums, so if your GRE scores or GPA are a little low, but your personal statement and recommendations are exemplary, there is a good chance you will be admitted.
If you can, come by PennDesign. This year's Open House event is scheduled for October 29, 2012, and there's no substitute for you looking us over. And vice versa. If you can't make it on open house day, come by when you can. You can e-mail faculty to set up individual appointments, or contact Ms. Roslynne Carter (e-mail: email@example.com), and she will try to line up appointments with faculty and current students.
If you can't come by, e-mail or call a PennPlanning faculty member to let them know who you are and that you are applying. We get hundreds of applications every year, so it's important to keep your name in front of our faces.
The deadline for all admissions materials to be received by us is January 17, 2013. Be sure to follow-up with your undergraduate university to ensure they have mailed us your transcript, and your recommenders to ensure that they have sent us letters of recommendation. The number one problem with admissions is that the application is incomplete or missing a key item. Remember that it is your responsibility, not ours, to make sure that your application is complete. You can check the status of your application on-line.
Sometime in early February, we will get together as a faculty to make admissions decisions for the coming year. Once the PennPlanning faculty has made its decision, the university will still have to check on a number of things. You will be able to log back into your on-line application to view your notification letter on March 14, 2013. Please do not call PennPlanning before then to check on your application.
Good luck with your application and we look forward to seeing you at PennPlanning.