Admissions to Master's Program in Planning, Design, and Construction

Thank you for your interest in pursuing graduate study in the School of Planning, Design, and Construction (SPDC) at Michigan State University (MSU).  This document is intended to guide you through applying to one or more of our Masters programs.  Please read this entire document carefully to ensure your application receives full review. 

SPDC offers seven graduate programs between two colleges. 

Through the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, we offer

  • Master of Science in Construction Management (MCM)
  • Master of Art in Environmental Design (MED)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Planning, Design, and Construction (PhD-PDC)
  • Graduate Certificate in Real Estate Development and Construction (REDC)
  • Graduate Certificate in Urban Resilient Redevelopment (URR)

Through the College of Social Science, we offer

  • Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP)
  • Master of International Planning Studies (MIPS)

Admission Requirements

Admission to any of SPDC graduate programs requires the following

  • Possess a bachelor’s degree in a related area
  • 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) grade point average in undergraduate program
  • Proof of English language proficiency for all international applicants whose first language is not English

Individual programs may have additional requirements.  Please see the program specific requirements later in this document.  PhD applicants, please see the PhD Admissions Guide.

Decision Process

The school’s decision to admit or not admit an applicant into one of its degree programs is based upon an evaluation of the complete application packet, which includes: all transcripts and mark sheets, GRE scores, TOEFL scores (when relevant), recommendations/reference letters, academic statement, and other pertinent information such as a portfolio, awards, professional experience, and related achievements.

Decisions cannot be made until all requirements have been received and application fees have been paid.  Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.  We are unable to determine eligibility through means outside of the official application process.


Application materials must be submitted by the below deadlines.  Applications cannot be submitted after the below deadlines.  International students are encouraged to apply and submit requirements as early as possible.  International applications could take four months or longer to process due to immigration issues.

  • Masters of Construction Management
    • Fall semester application deadline: February 1*
  • Masters of Environmental Design
    • Fall semester application deadline: First Day of Class*
  • Masters of Urban & Regional Planning
    • Fall semester application deadline: August 1*
    • Spring semester application deadline: October 1
  • Graduate Certificate deadlines
    • Fall semester application deadline: First Day of Class
    • Spring semester application deadline: First Day of Class
    • Summer semester application deadline: First Day of Class

*Please note:  All international applications requiring a new visa must be fully reviewed and processed by June 1 for a Fall start.

Completing Application

Please note, once you have submitted your application, you will not be able to go back and make changes.  Ensure that your application is complete and accurate before submitting.

Steps to Complete Application

  • Complete your online profile starting at MSU Application and submit along with the application fee.
  • Indicate your Major Preference.  We offer seven graduate programs through two colleges.
    • Construction Management (Masters)
    • Environmental Design (Masters)
    • Planning, Design, and Construction (Doctoral)
    • Real Estate Development and Construction (Graduate Certificate)
    • Urban Resilient Redevelopment (Graduate Certificate)
    • Urban & Regional Planning (Masters)
    • International Planning Studies (Masters)
    • College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
    • College of Social Science
  • Follow the application steps to complete your personal background, academic history, employment, activities, etc., and submit the application along with the application fee.  See the application checklist later in this document for details on application requirements.
  • Indicate if you are interested in working with any specific faculty.
  • Have GRE scores electronically reported to MSU by ETS testing service; this is required only for Construction Management applicants:
    • For reporting purposes use School Code 1465 (MSU);
    • GRE scores must be taken within the last three years.
  • International applicants must report TOEFL scores (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS scores (International English Language Testing System).
    • For reporting purposes use School Code 1465 (MSU);
    • TOEFL or IELTS must be taken within the last eighteen months, scores must be no more than two years old at the time of matriculation or entry to MSU.
    • For more information, please see the section in this guide for English Language Proficiency.
    • For Fall 2023, MSU is also accepting Duolingo English Test, TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition, and the IELTS Indicator tests.  Detailed information can be found on the Graduate School website.

All application documents sent by mail should be addressed to the following:

SPDC Graduate Program Coordinator
Human Ecology Building room 102
552 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing, MI 48824

Please see the section regarding specific programs for additional details on the admissions process.

SPDC Application Checklist

  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
    • Recommenders can be personal, academic, or professional but should include at least one academic recommender
    • Recommendations should include a letter of support
  • Resume or CV
  • Official transcripts in original language and official English Translations
    • Scanned/uploaded transcripts are not accepted as official
    • Request the registrar of each college of university attended to mail all records of any previous schooling (mark sheets, transcripts, diplomas, certificates) directly to the MSU SPDC Graduate Secretary. Records must show courses taken and grades earned and must be translated into English if the original records are in another language.
    • Documents must arrive in an envelope sealed by the issuing university. If your university does not issue duplicate transcripts, best practice is to take your official transcripts to your university registrar, have photocopies made and stamped with the university stamp, seal the transcripts in an envelope while at the registrar, and have a university stamp placed on the seal of the envelope. 
    • If your transcripts do not state the degree received, a copy of the diploma/degree certificate is also required.
    • MSU Office of Admissions is unable to return documents provided during the admissions process. Please do not send your only original documents. 
    • All academic records not issued in English must be accompanied by a word-for-word, line-by-line, official, English translation. Translation must be done by ONE of the following, and arrive to MSU as hardcopies in official, sealed envelopes:
      • The institution that issued the academic records
      • An official, certified translator in the country of study
      • If done in the US, an official, certified, American Translators Association translator or translation agency. See for lists of individuals and agencies who are affiliated to them. 
  • Academic statement/Statement of Purpose
    • A concise academic statement of your plans for graduate study, your research interests, your career goals, and how MSU’s graduate program will help you meet your career and educational objectives
    • Can include information about how your background, life experiences, and other opportunities and challenges motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree
  • Official GRE scores
    • Must be sent electronically from the testing center using code 1465.
    • GRE scores should be from a test taken within the last 3 years.
    • Required for CM applicants only.
  • Design Portfolio
    • Required for MED applicants. Optional for other applicants.

Required for International Applicants:

  • Official English-Language scores
    • Must be sent electronically from the testing center using code 1465.
    • TOEFL/IELTS scores should be from test taken within the last 18 months; scores must be less than 2 years old by time of matriculation to MSU.
  • Financial information
    • Affidavit of support & supporting documentation (typically bank statement or loan document).
    • NOTE: You may submit financial documents after the review process however, if you are admissible, the processing of the admission will stop until these documents are received.  This can affect the admission acceptance for the semester of your choice.
    • Not required for 100% online programs (MIPS, REDC, and URR)
  • Official hardcopies of Degree Certificates/Diploma
    • If your official transcripts do not indicate the degree conferred and record the date of conferral, you must submit official hardcopies of your degree certificate/diploma.
    • NOTE:  You may submit unofficial transcripts and degree certificates for the initial review.  However, if you are admissible, the processing of the admission will stop until these documents are received.  This can affect the admission acceptance for the semester of your choice.

Note:  Applications will only be reviewed if they are complete with all required documents (with the exception of financial documentation)

English Language Proficiency

All international applicants and applicants whose first language is not English must be able to be proficient in English as a condition for regular admission to MSU.  Such applicants will be required to demonstrate their proficiency by meeting certain minimum standards on any one of the following tests: 

    • Minimum average score of 80
    • no sub-score below 19 for reading, listening and speaking
    • no sub-score below 22 for writing;
    • Minimum average score of 6.5
    • No sub-score below 6.0

A bachelor’s degree earned in the US generally allows for an automatic waiver of the language proficiency requirement.  A bachelor’s program conducted in English but outside the US generally does not waive the English Language Proficiency requirement.  Applicants will still be required to demonstrate their proficiency via one of the above tests.  There are a very small number of exceptions for citizens from certain approved English-speaking countries.

For more information, please visit the Graduate School’s information on English Language Competency. 

Provisional Admission

SPDC, with approval of the Dean, may grant admission with provisional status to an applicant qualified for regular admission, but lacking English language proficiency.  Students admitted provisionally will be tested at the English Language Center upon arrival at MSU and will begin studying in the English level determined by that test.  Once a student meets the language proficiency requirements for regular admission, they will be issued a degree-seeking I-20.  If the student has not met the language proficiency requirement at the end of two years, they cannot continue to enroll in courses. Provisional admission may increase program duration.

Minimum Acceptable Scores for Provisional Admission

  • TOEFL: Overall score of at least 70
  • IELTS: Minimum average score of 6.0
  • MSU ELT : Average score of at least 72

Construction Management Program Applicants

It is not required that applicants possess a Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management. Preferred backgrounds include:

  • Construction management,
  • Architecture,
  • Engineering,
  • Design,
  • Urban planning,
  • Business management and
  • Real estate.


To be admitted on regular basis applicants must meet these base requirements:

  • Possess a four-year degree in construction management or a related area such as architecture, business, design, engineering, management, or urban planning.
  • As part of the Undergraduate Program have completed:
    • Three semester hours of introductory calculus (MTH 123 survey of calculus I or equivalent);
    • Three semester credits of Introductory physics (PHY 231 introductory physics I or equivalent).
    • Have background in construction management areas related to
      • CMP 222 – Statics and Strength of Materials
      • CMP 315 – Construction Quantity Surveying
      • CMP 322 – Structural Systems
    • Typically, applicants with bachelor’s degrees in Construction Management, Architecture and Civil Engineering, will not be required to take any collateral courses.

Collateral Courses:

Applicants who do not meet the requirements noted above may be required to complete specified collateral courses with a grade-point average of at least 3.00. These courses will not count toward the degree. The guidance committee will determine which courses are required as collateral courses for each applicant.

Masters in Environmental Design Program Applicants

The program provides an alternative to traditional Professional Degrees by addressing the needs of students with undergraduate design backgrounds who wish to work in an interdisciplinary setting while pursuing an area of individual interest.

This graduate program is intended for students holding an accredited undergraduate degree in one of the major design professions, including:

  • Interior design.
  • Landscape architecture.
  • Graphic design.
  • Urban design.
  • A related design field.


To be admitted on regular basis applicants must meet these base requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in design related field
  • Faculty member to serve as Major Professor for the length of the graduate program.  A list of approved faculty may be found in the back of this document or on the SPDC webpage.

Masters in Urban and Regional Planning Program Applicants

Admission to the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program does not require prior urban planning coursework and is designed to build on undergraduate strengths.

We encourage students from various backgrounds and different stages in their professional careers to apply. We take into account a number of factors including:

  • A personal statement about your interest in the program.
  • Undergraduate GPA.
  • Letters of recommendation.

Ideal students are those with strong intellectual ability; good written and verbal communication skills; basic statistical methods and have demonstrated a proven potential for leadership in the field of urban and regional planning.

 Frequently Asked Questions

This digital document provides answers to many common questions about applying to our masters programs.

Accessibility Questions:

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