Department of Geography and Planning

Department of Geography and Planning
Department of Geography and Planning


Group at a community Conference - every year SURP students organize and host a Community Conference on an Environmental Mangement topic.Urban and Regional Planning draws on knowledge from a number of subject areas. Students are admitted from a variety of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, as well as engineering, architecture and the natural sciences. Persons who have been working in planning are encouraged to apply. Candidates with either four-year bachelor or honours degrees may be admitted with full graduate student status. Generally, an applicant should have an upper second class standing in their undergraduate degree to be considered for admission.

Students are expected to have numeracy skills and be able to solve basic math problems using algebra and geometry.

Prospective students whose native language is not English are required to take an English language proficiency test.

Step-by-step Process

Online application

To submit an online application:

1. Create an account - Click on "New User? Create Account", to set up your User ID and password. Enter the information requested, including a working email address, and a password that you can remember, and then click "Create Account". An email containing your User ID will be sent automatically to the email address you entered. You need this User ID and your password to continue the online application.

2. Complete and Submit the Application- You can now enter your User ID and password under "Returning User Log in". On the next screen, hit the "click here to apply" button. This will begin your application.

Complete all the screens as they are presented to you, remembering to click Save and continue before you move on to the next set of questions. When you have completed all the sections, you can submit your application. At this point, you are asked to pay the non refundable application fee on-line (currently $105 CDN). Remember, you must be able to pay the fee on-line with a Visa or Mastercard number, in order to complete your application on-line.

Please note that the application fee of $105 (CDN) is non-refundable.


  • You may apply at any time, and decisions on admission are made as applications are received. However, most fellowships are adjudicated in March and application should be made by March 1st if you wish to be considered for fellowships or awards.
  • International students must apply before the end of January to allow time for visa approvals.
  • Students enter the program in September.


You are responsible for ensuring that all required documentation is received by the School of Graduate Studies and Research. All hard copy documentation must be submitted in duplicate and on appropriate forms where provided. Your application must be complete before a decision regarding acceptance will be made.


All applicants will be notified in writing by the Registrar of the School of Graduate Studies and Research and of the conditions of the acceptance. Our School will also send a letter giving a deadline by which you must accept or decline the offer. This letter will also indicate the amount and deadline for receipt of the non-refundable acceptance deposit. Official letters of acceptance are only valid for the academic year indicated in them.

Required Information

You are responsible for ensuring that all required documentation is received by the School of Graduate Studies and Research. All hard copy documents must be submitted in duplicate and on appropriate forms where provided. Your application must be complete before a decision regarding acceptance will be made.

Application fee

There is a non-refundable application fee of $105.00 CAN for each application to a program. Those applying online must pay the application fee using a MasterCard or Visa credit card. Those applying with a paper application must submit with that paper application a certified cheque or money order of $105.00 CAN, payable to Queen's University.


A complete application must include official, up-to-date transcripts for all current and previous study the applicant has listed in the Academic Background section of the application.

Acceptable methods for submitting transcripts:

Transcripts can be uploaded to the online application, as PDF files. The transcripts must be scanned (black and white recommended) and saved as a PDF file, and uploaded successfully. Complete instructions are available to applicants on the Transcript Upload section of the online application.
If a transcript or transcripts cannot be successfully uploaded to the online application, applicants are responsible for ensuring that an official transcript or transcripts of all current and previous university-level studies are sent to the School of Graduate Studies by all universities previously attended. All hard copy transcripts received as part of an application for admission must be received in sealed envelopes.

Final transcripts: Hard copy original official transcript showing degree completion and conferral, will be required from all applicants who accept an offer of admission to graduate studies at Queen's University. These final transcripts are to be sent directly from the issuing institutions to the School of Graduate Studies, in sealed envelopes.

Transcripts sent from the issuing university should be sent to:

School of Graduate Studies
Queen's University
Gordon Hall Room 425
74 Union Street
Kingston, Ontario
Canada K7L 3N6

Other transcript notes:

Transcripts in languages other than English or French must be accompanied by an English or French translation provided by the institution issuing the transcript.
Photocopied transcripts or those printed from a university website are not permitted.
Degree and graduation certificates must be included if the transcript does not indicate the type of degree and date granted.
Transcripts are to be sent directly from the issuing institutions to the School of Graduate Studies, in sealed envelopes.
All hard copy transcripts received as part of an application for admission must be received in sealed envelopes.
Transcripts submitted with applications become the property of Queen's University, are subject to verification, are not available for copying and will not be returned to the applicant.

Official transcripts are NOT REQUIRED for any study of any kind carried out at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. The School of Graduate Studies will access the student record directly for applicants who have attended or are currently attending Queen's University.

Letters of recommendation

Two current academic recommendations are required. If you have been out of university for a number of years, one or more professional recommendations may be included, however, all effort should be made to include academic recommendations. Applicants applying online will have the option to have their referee submit the letter of recommendation to Queen's University electronically. Photocopied or stale-dated letters are unacceptable.

Other documentation

A "statement of interest" is required. State your interest in the field of urban and regional planning, e.g. is there a specific topic you propose to study or how do you propose to address your topic in your program at Queen's?

Test scores

All required test scores must be received directly from the testing agency, before your application is complete.

International Students

Applications for international applicants close the end of January for September admission as immigration procedures are lengthy. Only one or two international students may be admitted. While the School of Urban and Regional Planning gladly accepts applications from international students for a limited number of places, the University can offer only a very limited amount of financial assistance. The annual cost of living in Kingston and studying at Queens for an international student in the MPL program is about $48,578. When applying, please be aware that you will have to raise most of this amount yourself. If you are an international applicant, please review the information provided on the School of Graduate Studies, International section which outlines additional steps.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the minimum admission requirements?

A four-year undergraduate degree with a B+ average or better in the final two years. Two letters of reference. 

International Students are directed to the School of Graduate Studies policy on English Language Proficiency (ELP).  The School of Urban and Regional Planning requires the following minimum scores for the ELP tests that are accepted by the School of Graduate Studies at Queen’s University:

1. TOEFL Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT): The minimum overall score is 100, made up of the minimum scores in each component test as follows: 

Writing test: 25/30

Speaking test: 25/30

Reading test: 25/30

Listening test: 25/30

Applicants must have the minimum score in each test, as well as the minimum overall score.

2. MELAB: 88 (minimum overall score)

3. IELTS: 7 (total score of 7.0 for the IELTS test AND a 7.0 for each test band (listening, reading, writing and speaking)

4. PTE Academic: 65 (minimum overall score)

2. Do I have to write an English Language Proficiency test?

The program is delivered in English. Therefore, it is required that you demonstrate a strong command of the English language (written and verbal). If your undergraduate degree was not completed in the English language, then an English Language Proficiency test is required to demonstrate language proficiency.

3. How long is my English Language Proficiency test valid?

Two (2) years.

4. Will I gain admission to the program if I just meet the minimum requirements?

Meeting the minimum requirements is enough to warrant consideration of your file, but does not guarantee admission. Over half of this year's class held first class degrees.

5. How many students are admitted each year?

The School of Urban and Regional Planning admits only 35 students per year.

6. How competitive is admission?

Each year we received hundreds of informal enquiries and over 100 completed applications for 35 places.

7. Is there an application deadline?

Queen's uses a 'rolling' admission process which ensures that applications are reviewed as soon as they are complete. But, candidates are encouraged to apply before March 1st.

8. How do I submit my transcripts?

This link will take you to the School of Graduate Studies website.  Scroll down to "Step 2: Compile the Documentation" and you will see full details about how to submit your transcripts.

9. Do I need to arrange for two copies of my transcripts?


10. What grade point average is required?

Averaging a 3.3 on a 4.3 scale, 77% or 'B+' or better, in your final two (2) years (see also FAQ #31).

11. Is it compulsory to have a four-year undergraduate degree?


12. Do you conditionally admit candidates with a three year degree for a qualifying year?

We do not make conditional offer of admission to candidates with a three-year degree. Candidates are welcome to apply to the Queen's Faculty of Arts and Science for admission as a special student, but we have not preference where your fourth year is completed. So most students in this situation, complete a fourth year at the university nearest to their home.

13. I do not have a degree in Geography, Engineering, Architecture, or Environmental Studies. Should I still apply?

Yes. We have no fixed pre-requisites. The majority of our students come from the social sciences and humanities.

14. I have never taken a planning course before. Will I be in over my head?

The vast majority of our students have never completed a planning course before enrolling in the program.

15. When will I hear from the Admissions Coordinator?

When your application file is complete, it will be examined by the Admissions Coordinator. You should hear from the Coordinator within 6 weeks of the completion date.

16. Can I take the Master's degree part-time or by correspondence?

The M.PL. program is a rigorous professional education with extensive group work and many out-of-classroom activities. Our students are typically engaged over 60 hours per week, so combining the program with a full-time job is not possible. All our students are full-time and resident in Kingston during the fall and winter terms. Some students who have completed their coursework and accepted a full-time professional job are granted part-time status after their fifth term to complete their Master's thesis or report.

17. Will I be interviewed?

An interview is not part of our admissions process. But we encourage prospective candidates to visit the school if you are in Central Canada, to meet our faculty, staff and students. The fall Open House is a good time to visit, but we welcome visits throughout the year. Please contact Jo-Anne Tinlin ( in advance to ensure that your visit goes smoothly.

18. Is it possible to earn the master's degree in planning from Queen's through distance education, or would I have to attend classes at the University?

No, the course is only offered by classes at the university.

The programme is an intense, 5 term professional education, similar to an MBA or MPA. In addition to 12 hours classes and labs per week, the students have numerous group projects, site visits, field trips, public lectures, etc.

Our students tell us that they are engaged about sixty hours per week during the busy times; this experience cannot be combined with a full-time job.

To facilitate this experience, the school provides the students with 24 hour, 7 day access to shared private offices, with desks, bookshelves and high speed internet connections.

19. How long is the average length of study in the program?

A typical programme is five terms: two terms of classes (September- April); one term of paid internship (summer); two terms of classes and report/thesis (September- April). Some students extend their report-thesis into the following summer, sometimes with a second paid internship.

20. How many students receive entrance awards and what is the average amount of the award?

That varies from year to year. The entrance awards depend upon academic merit. All first class students typically receive Queen's Graduate Awards. Many upper second class also receive Queen's Graduate Awards. The Queen's Graduate awards vary from $1,000 to $10,000. The students with first class standing are also entered in the competitions for larger scholarships; in recent years, they won several prestigious external awards ranging from $10,000 to $17,500. These graduate awards are grants - quite different from the teaching assistantships offered by other departments, which involve many hours of grading for large undergraduate classes.

21. Could you advise me of the procedure to be considered for awards within the department?

You tick the box "Wish to be considered for Financial Aid" in the on-line application. We do the rest. Decisions on school awards are typically announced in March, with acceptance letters. The larger Queen's awards competitions results are announced in April or early May. There is usually a second round of internal awards in late May, after the results of the big provincial /national competitions.

22. What about other financial aid?

University wide graduate scholarships bring $10-$15,000 per year. First class students are automatically entered into these competitions in March.

The Graduate School also has many bursaries for financial need, and special tuition bursaries for international students.

We are proud that Queen's distributes the highest proportion of its operating budget to student aid in Canada.

Many of our students also qualify for the Work-Study Program, which provides part time jobs in the school or on campus (maximum 100 hours per term)

First Class Students may also apply for external support, which typically ranges from $15,000-$17,500.

Ontario Graduate Scholarship from Ontario Student Assistance Program

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

23. Does the School offer Teaching Assistantship (TA) jobs?

The MPL program does not offer TA jobs.  MPL students are considered for TA positions in the Department of Geography and Planning after PhD and research MA/MSc students.  But you may also write the head of the Queen's Department in your undergraduate field to enquire about opportunities. SURP students have TAed Geography, Environmental Studies, Women's Studies and Civil Engineering courses recently, but the jobs are often mainly reserved for grad students in research streams in these departments.

A TA job is a big commitment for a student in an intense, course-based professional Master's degree like a MBA, an M.PL. or an MPA.

24. How heavy is the program in terms of science and math?

The planning profession wants our graduating students to be numerate, and we assume a facility with basic high school mathematics. One undergraduate methods course is a good idea, but not a prerequisite. Our core analytic methods course is pitched at the introductory level, so if students already have two undergraduate methods courses, they are usually exempted.

25. I'm a liberal arts student. Will I be able to take the program?

We accept people from the liberal arts and social sciences all the time. A keen interest in the environment and human settlements seems to be the main pre-requisite for success.

26. How does the internship program work for international students?

International students can accept volunteer (unpaid) positions relating to their planning education with off-campus agencies. International students can also accept paid on-campus employment relating to their planning education, subject to some conditions. Other international students take courses and do fieldwork for their reports and theses in the summer.

27. Are international students fully funded for their studies?

We cannot offer full financial support. Our best support packages might include perhaps one half to two thirds of the typical annual cost of $48,578. We recommend that prospective international graduates seek support from their home country and international agencies like the United Nations and World Bank.

28. Do I need to arrange for a research supervisor and topic before admission?

No. Students select research topics at the end of first year, on issues of mutual interest with faculty. Unlike other graduate programs, admission does not depend upon the availability and research funding from an individual faculty supervisor arranged in advance. There is no need for prospective students to contact individual faculty members about research topics, and we find that student research interests often evolve during the first year.

29. How are report/thesis supervisors selected?

Supervisors are matched late in the first year, based upon the final topic of the students report or thesis proposal and the availability and research skills of the particular faculty members. Most students preparing a thesis or Master's research report find a research supervisor from among the regular or adjunct faculty of the School.

30. Is a acceptance deposit required?

Yes, a deposit is required to secure your place with us. The amount and deadline for receipt of the deposit is indicated in the student's offer of admission. The acceptance deposit will be applied to your tuition fees. In the event of subsequent withdrawal, the acceptance deposit is not refundable.

31. How does SURP consider academic standing / GPA for admission to the MPL program?

We look at academic records two ways:
1) the average mark / GPA from student's entire academic record over their undergraduate (and graduate, if applicable) career

2) the average mark / GPA from student's last two years of study before applying (last 20 term-length courses if part-time).

We use whichever record is better for considering academic standing for an applicant. For mid-career students with relevant experience, we may consider a smaller number of recent courses.

32. I have commitments in another city. Can I take the MPL part-time? / Over the Web?

Unfortunately, our graduate professional degree is only offered for full-time study. The MPL is an intensive two-year graduate degree that requires a lot of teamwork, group projects and faculty-student collaboration that occurs outside the classroom. All of our graduate students come to Kingston from other parts of Canada (and internationally), take accommodation within a few minutes walking distance of campus, and immerse themselves in the degree program for two years. We provide students with offices on the same floor as the faculty, school classrooms, labs and administrative facilities, so SURP is a high-contact educational experience.

We have found that our model does not match the needs or schedule of those with other jobs, especially in another city. The students say that the program absorbs about 60 hours a week, without any travel time.

For mid-career staff interested in upgrading their planning background on a part-time basis, we recommend the Professional Master's in Public Administration Program from the Queen's School of Policy Studies. The PMPA is a part-time mid-career program that allows students to take some SURP courses as options.

33. How can I find out more about a career in urban Planning?

A recent overview of working in the profession is Becoming an Urban Planner A Guide to Careers in Planning and Urban Design

For a Canadian Perspective see the CIP.

For our intro to the field, visit the Planning Canadian Communities website.

If you are in central Canada, please consider visiting our school for its open house during the Fall term. Contact Jo-Anne Tinlin for an invitation.