FAQ about Admission

Admissions Coordinator: Anne Nessa (anne-nessa@uiowa.edu) 319-335-0041

The minimum requirements for admission are a bachelor’s degree in any major and a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00, or the foreign equivalent as determined by the Office of Admissions. Please refer to the Graduate College Admissions page for Urban and Regional Planning or Public Affairs for more information.

Submit the online application to the Graduate College and pay the application fee. Create an admissions profile on the student portal at MyUI.uiowa.edu and follow the instructions to upload and submit all required documents.

Portfolios and writing samples are not required as part of the application process. A statement of purpose describing your interest in graduate school is required.

Official GRE scores from the Educational Testing Service are encouraged but not required. Official LSAT and GMAT score reports may also be submitted.

International applicants whose first language is not English must submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Automatic waivers of this requirement are granted for persons who have completed a bachelor's degree (or higher) at an accredited university in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada (excluding French Quebec), Africa (English speaking), Australia, or New Zealand. For more information, please refer to the English Proficiency Requirements of the Graduate College.

Assistantships are available and are offered to approximately half of the incoming class (plus a corresponding number to the second-year class). Assistantships require ten hours of work per week and are accompanied by a tuition scholarship and stipend. The priority application deadline to be considered for funding is January 15. Please see our website for more information on financial assistance.

The admissions committee usually replies to applicants within 4-6 weeks of application completion.

Introductory statistics and microeconomics

Tuition amounts for graduate students are on the Registrar’s website. More information on estimated annual expenses can be found here.

A Financial Statement does not need to be submitted with the application materials. Once you are recommended for admission, international students must submit a financial statement.

Applicants admitted to the program can apply for one deferment or change of session for up to one year.

FAQ about the Master of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Iowa

Planning at Iowa is a two-year master's degree program oriented toward educating professional planners.Planning schools generally approach urban and regional planning in one of two ways: from the perspective of physical design, or from that of policy planning, employing social science tools and techniques. The first perspective emphasizes how planners can shape the built environment; the second focuses on how planners can influence decisions, policies, and actions that affect the quality of life in cities and regions. Prior to 1974 Iowa’s Program offered a physical-design-based curriculum. In 1974-75, the Program shifted primarily to a policy perspective based on the social sciences, although urban design is an interest of several of our faculty.

The field of planning serves a variety of constituencies concerned with improving transportation systems, housing, employment opportunities, air and water quality, and other aspects of life in our nation's cities and regions. By its curriculum design and faculty activities, the School falls squarely within the Sustainability institutional focus of the University of Iowa.

The Planning Program's mission has five elements:

  • Maximizing the long-run career potential of graduates who will seek professional positions primarily in the U.S., providing them with entry-level skills as well as the depth and flexibility needed to progress in planning over a lifelong career;
  • Providing graduates with basic competence in an area of emphasis within the field of planning so that they are prepared for specialized planning jobs;
  • Challenging students to think about the roles they will play as planners, their ethical and moral responsibilities, and their commitment to improving the quality of life in our nation's cities and regions;
  • Disseminating knowledge in the planning field through both graduate and undergraduate teaching, as well as through the professional and public service activities of the faculty. The latter includes active participation in applied research supporting the development and improvement of public policies at the local, state, and national levels;
  • Advancing the state of knowledge through research on the nature of urban and regional economic, political, social, and environmental systems and on the effects of alternative public policies.

The School of Urban and Regional Planning is committed to admitting a diverse student body and supporting a learning environment in which many values and perspectives contribute to the richness of the educational experience, to the field of planning, and to the communities we live and work in.

Students come from a wide variety of undergraduate majors and professional backgrounds but possess qualities which show potential for success in graduate school and in the planning field. The graduate students come from all over the U.S. and from countries around the world, and typically include one or two Fulbright students each year. Here is what some of our students have to say about the School.

The accredited Planning program at Iowa has an excellent reputation, an extensive and active alumni network, and competitive and well prepared graduates. The curriculum includes both the practical and analytic skills planners need to be successful, and the Field Problems courses give students “real world” planning experience. The program’s Career Services Coordinator works closely with students providing individualized career assistance and with internship and job searches.

M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning


  • Law
  • Sustainable Water Development
  • Social Work
  • Occupational and Environmental Health
  • Higher Education and Student Affairs

Undergraduate-to-graduate (U2G):

  • Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Economic Development
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Housing and Community Development
  • Land Use and Environmental Planning
  • Transportation Planning

Eight full-time professors and six adjunct faculty

20-30 students

Yes, a student may complete the program as a part-time student.

While a thesis is not required, as a capstone course Field Problems reflects the time, commitment, and importance commonly associated with a thesis. It should therefore be treated as if it were a thesis. Those wanting to do a traditional thesis may do so in addition to Field Problems.

It is not required, but is highly recommended. Most students do an internship during the summer between their first and second year.

Of course! We have an Open House for prospective students in the fall and a Campus Visit Day for admitted students in the spring. If you’re unable to come to either of those, please contact Anne Nessa at anne-nessa@uiowa.edu or 319-335-0041 to arrange a personal visit.

We also hold webinars for prospective students a couple of times per year, please check our homepage for upcoming sessions.

School of Urban and Regional Planning
University of Iowa
347 Jessup Hall
Iowa City IA 52242-1316


FAQ about Iowa City

There are links to several housing resources on the Graduate Admissions website. An additional resource is to contact Iowa City area rental housing agencies. Our students often live in Iowa City, but commute from Coralville and North Liberty as well.

If you are interested in finding a roommate within the School of Urban and Regional Planning, please contact our admissions coordinator.

Iowa City has a population of about 75,000. The metro area has a population over 164,000.