Admissions to PhD in Planning, Design and Construction

September 8, 2023

Application Deadlines

• Application deadline for fall semester: February 1
• Application deadline for funding considerations: January 1
• Application deadline for exceptional circumstances: See FAQ Below

Application Document Checklist

Applications will only be reviewed if they are complete with all required documents. The following documents are required for admissions review:

  • Resume or CV
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Official transcripts in original language and official English translations directly from the issuing institutions (both undergraduate and master’s degrees), often in official sealed envelopes.
  • An academic statement, showing 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.
  • A personal statement, about how your background and life experiences, including social, economic, cultural, familial, education or other opportunities or challenges motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree.
  • Official English-Language scores (for international applicants only)

The following documents are optional for admission review and may be requested later for final admissions decisions:

  • Supporting documents to demonstrate excellence in a concentration are highly encouraged for admission considerations and funding opportunities. Examples are academic publications, writing samples, scholarly work, or design portfolio.
  • Official GRE scores taken within the last 3 years are encouraged.
  • Official hard copies of degree certificates/diploma will be requested if your official transcripts do not indicate the degree conferred and record the date of conferral.
  • Other specific required documents by each concentration.
  • Outside Financial Proof such as Affidavit of Support & supporting documentation (typically bank statement or loan document) may be requested after the review process if necessary.

Instructions to Complete Application

  • Start your online application from the Graduate School Portal.
  • Select PhD in Planning, Design & Construction as major preference (Code 5355)
  • Choose a concentration (CM, ED, or URP) for your PhD degree in the application
  • Indicate any specific Advisory Faculty as Major Professor in the application
  • Complete the online application and upload all required materials and supporting documents to the online system and pay the application fee.
  • Order official transcripts from ALL your degree-granting institutions to be sent to the school office address:

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

Electronic transcripts can be sent directly from the degree-granting institution to Ms. Jordan Kenyon.

  • Order test scores delivery, such as TOEFL, GRE, IELTS, to MSU (Code 1465).
  • Mail other application documents to the above address if they cannot be delivered digitally to the online application system.

Admission Evaluations

If you complete the application before deadline, the PhD admission committee will review all materials in your application and recommend the admission decision (with funding decisions) for college and university approval, after consideration of your academic record, experience, personal qualifications, and proposed program of study. During the review process, you may be invited for an interview by the Advisory Faculty. Please make sure the contact information (especially the email address) you provided in the application is valid so that we can reach you when an interview is necessary. You may also be asked to provide additional documents or evidence and upload them to your online application system.

You will be informed by email once a decision comes. During the review process, you may contact the Graduate Program Coordinator for procedural or paperwork inquiries.

Admission to the program is conditioned upon the applicant's providing accurate and current admissions information and upon the applicant's updating such data if circumstances arise that make the previously provided information inaccurate, misleading, or incomplete in an important way. Falsifications, misrepresentations or omissions in application answers or supporting data may constitute grounds to deny or revoke admission to the program.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Any requirements for the recommenders and recommendation letters?

Recommenders can be personal, academic, or professional but should include at least one academic recommender. The letters should be uploaded directly to the online application system by recommenders.

  • What are official transcripts?

Official copies of ALL records from all postsecondary schooling attended or attending. Mark sheets, transcripts, certificates, and diplomas must be submitted as official documents directly from each institution. In most cases, these documents will need to be sent in official, sealed, issuing institution envelopes.

Official academic records must be mailed directly to our school office address, in some cases, provided electronically, certified, from your institution. Transcripts not issued in English must be provided in the original language, along with an official English translation. Translations must be done by the issuing institution, a certified translator in the country of study, or by an American Translator’s Association certified translator in the US.

MSU is unable to return documents provided during the admissions process. Please do not send your only original documents.

  • What if I cannot have official transcripts delivered by deadline?

You may upload unofficial transcripts/degree diplomas to the online application system to catch the deadline for admission review. The unofficial transcript will be used to make School application decisions; however, official transcripts will be required by the university to issue official admission.

  • What if my institution does not issue duplicate transcripts?

We suggest you 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.

  • Who is a Major Professor?

A Major Professor is an Advisory Faculty member who will supervise your doctoral progress, chair your PhD guidance committee, and usually offer financial supports such as a graduate research assistantship. You are highly recommended to communicate with the Advisory Faculty in your desired concentration to identify a Major Professor and/or secure possible funding supports.

You should indicate your Major Professor in your online application. If Major Professor is not identified in advance or indicated in the online application, the application will be circulated among the Advisory Faculty in the desired concentration to identify a Major Professor. No applicant will be admitted unless an approved faculty member is willing to serve as Major Professor.

  • Can I apply to start in a spring semester?

Yes, though most of our PhD students start their program in fall semesters. If your application is complete before deadline, we recommend you discuss this with your Major Professor about the start time. If you miss the deadline, your application must qualify “exceptional circumstances” to be processed.

  • What is the application deadline for exceptional circumstances?

The application deadline may have a rolling basis in cases of exceptional circumstances. To qualify, you must ensure the following: (1) Securing a Major Professor, and (2) obtaining a funding commitment at the graduate assistantship level. In such instances, your Major Professor must agree to advocate for your application on your behalf (faculty-driven).

  • What if I am completing my master’s study and do not receive the degree yet?

Your graduate transcripts must indicate you can receive the master’s degree before the start of your PhD study. Your master’s degree such as diploma may not be required for admissions review, but the proof of master’s degree must be in place within the first year of your PhD study.

  • Are GRE scores required for application?

No. They are not required but encouraged for admissions evaluation or funding considerations. A lack of GRE scores in application will NOT delay the admission review process.

  • What are the funding requirements?

A funding commitment is a requirement of admissions to the PhD Program. No applicant will be admitted without a funding commitment stated below. You do not need to submit funding documents in the application process unless you are asked to do so.

Funding commitment can be:

    • Funding commitment from your Major Professor at the Graduate Assistant level for a minimum of one year (renewal subject to satisfactory progress).
    • Funding by an organization, including but not limited to Government, a domestic or an International agency (e.g., National Science Foundation, Fulbright, Home Country Government Fellowship or Foundations, other Fellowships, etc.), and Michigan State University.
    • A minimum wage of 10 hours per week for three years by your Major Professor (renewal subject to satisfactory progress) and additional proof of self-funding.
    • Self-support with proof of financial documents.
  • What are the requirements for English testing scores?

You must meet the requirements of English language proficiency by the MSU Graduate School. The detailed requirements can be found at

  • Any information about VISA process?

You will receive VISA documents (e.g., the I-20/DS-2019 Form) only after you receive formal notice of acceptance from the University Office of Admissions. You may check the status from your online application portal.

We suggest you contact the MSU Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) for any further VISA and immigration inquires:

Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at