Welcome City and Regional Planning Students

Congratulations! We are truly thrilled that you are considering joining us next fall. This is the place to find answers to many of your questions about enrolling in Penn’s Department of City and Regional Planning. First up, if you can possibly make it to PennDesign’s Open House on March 27th, do try. You’ll learn firsthand about all the amazing educational opportunities available at PennDesign, including dual degrees, certificates, and coursework in other schools and departments. You’ll also get to meet faculty and current students and discuss possible programs of study. Please visit this page for further information. If you can’t make it to Philadelphia for Open House on March 27th but can come sooner or later, please e-mail Ms. Roslynne Carter (roslynne@design.upenn.edu) and we will try to set up individual meetings with faculty and students.

Summer Boot Camp

Our two-week August boot camp (August 14-24) is entirely voluntary, and includes six sessions: (i) Regression analysis and statistics for planner; (ii) Spreadsheet modeling; (iii)Micro-economics for planners; (iv) Introduction to R Statistical System; (v) Introduction to graphics software for city planning; (vi) Introduction to GIS. The first four are open to all admitted students; space in the latter two is limited. We’ll be sending out more information on how to enroll in bootcamp activities after April 15th. Again, note that bootcamp participation is voluntary.


Q:  I didn’t get all the financial aid I was hoping for.  Who do I talk to find out about additional financial aid? 

A:  Graduate financial aid at PennDesign is extremely limited, but some small additional awards may be available after April 15th for students with financial hardships.  E-mail John Landis (jlan@design.upenn.edu) for more details.  Many students serve as TAs (which pay $2,000 per semester) at least once during their two years in the program.  

Q:  What about loans?

A.   Numerous loan programs are available  at Penn, primarily for US citizens. PennDesign’s Admission/Financial Aid Office (fin-aid@design.upenn.edu) can connect you with Penn’s Student Financial Services Office which can help you assemble the best loan package for your needs.

Q:  I applied to another PennDesign program besides City Planning but didn’t get in.  Can I add another degree later?

A.    Yes, this is common. Start your City Planning program in the fall of 2017, and then come January, apply to a second PennDesign department for a dual degree starting in the fall of 2018.  By that time, assuming you do well, the City Planning faculty may be able to help you with an internal recommendation.  Note that admission to other PennDesign departments is easier than admission to Wharton or the Law School.

Q:  Can I defer admission for a year or two?

A.  As a matter of departmental policy, we offer deferred admissions only for health reasons, or because of a unique and one-time only job opportunity.  We do not generally offer deferred admission for financial reasons, or to take a regular job. Even so, most students who are admitted once are likely be admitted again if they reapply.

Q.  I want to start preparing for fall courses.  What courses should I take or books should I read?

A.  If you have never taken a course in basic statistics or an introductory course in microeconomics, and have the opportunity to do so, it might be a good idea.  As to readings, a good place to start is with Planetizen’s list of top 20 planning books of all time (www.planetizen.com/books/20).  Or, you could not read anything new about planning secure in the knowledge that you will have lots to read next fall.

Q.  Can I start putting together my course program?

A.  Sure,  consult our website for a set of sample programs by concentration.  But remember, many students change their concentrations or specialties once they get here, so don’t write anything in stone.

Q.  Is it easy to find housing in Philadelphia?  Within walking distance of Penn?

A.  Surprisingly easy, but you will need to give yourself a few days to look, familiarize yourself with nearby neighborhoods, and maybe look for a roommate.  There are also a limited number of opportunities for graduate students to serve as residence hall advisors for pay.  Again, we’ll have more information on housing opportunities after April 15th.  In the interim, here’s the link to Penn’s Off-Campus Housing Services page: www.business-services.upenn.edu/offcampusservices/?p=graduate_guide/welcome

Q.  Will I need a laptop if I don’t already have one?

A.  Absolutely, and our terrific PennDesign IT department will be sending you information on minimum specifications and purchase opportunities in June.

Q.  Can I find out who my academic advisor  will be?  And can I contact him or her?

A.  Advisor assignments aren’t made until the summer, but feel free to e-mail any city planning faculty member about your program of study.

Q.  What are certificates?

A.  Certificates are like a second concentration, but are offered on a cross-departmental basis.  Taking a certificate means foregoing most of your electives, so you should probably wait until you come to Penn before deciding for sure whether or not you want to take a certificate. PennDesign offers twelve certificates. To find out more about them, visit the Certificates web page.

Q.  Can I contact current PennPlanning students by e-mail to get their perspective on the program?

A.   This is the time of the semester (March and April) when students are incredibly busy with their studies.  Sometime in the next few weeks, we’ll be posting the names and e-mails of current MCP students who have agreed to serve as Admissions Ambassadors on the City Planning homepage.  Look for it.

Q.  I’m still undecided between Penn and another program.  What else can you tell me that help me make up my mind?

A.  Three things.  First, you won’t find a better planning program anywhere else. Penn’s combination of core skills and knowledge, diverse and deep concentrations, dual degree programs, and multi-department certificates is unparalleled.  Second, you will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with other really smart, interesting, and nice students, many of whom will become lifelong friends.  And finally, even though a Penn education is expensive, past graduates tell us they can’t imagine not having come to Penn.

We hope we've answered all of your questions. If you have others, feel free to e-mail the Admission Coordinator Roslynne Carter (roslynne@design.upenn.edu). See you on March 27th, or better yet, next August!