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. Unfortunately, we have cancelled our Open House due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition, there is a possibility that the university will be closed for a week or more. We plan to hold some virtual events instead and encourage you to explore our website to learn more about our program, curriculum, and community.

Summer Institute

City Planning requires a two-week Summer Institute from August 3- August 21 for entering MCP students to equip them with some of the skills and information that will help them succeed in the program.  The charge for the Summer Institute is $250. Students who cannot afford this fee should email Roslynne Carter at roslynne@design.upenn.edu.  Students who intend to concentrate in Urban Design may need to arrive earlier for a design workshop.  We will email you if you are required to attend the design workshop.



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 Weitzman School is extremely limited, but some small additional awards may be available after April 15th for students with financial hardships. E-mail Lisa Servon (servon@upenn.edu) for more details.  

Q:  What about loans?

A.   Numerous loan programs are available at Penn, primarily for US citizens, if you have filed a FAFSA. Weitzman School’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 Weitzman School 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 2020, and then come January, apply to a second Weitzman School department for a dual degree starting in the fall of 2021. 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 Weitzman School 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 Weitzman School 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. Weitzman School 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). We hope to see you next August!