Admission is competitive and based on merit. We do not admit students directly into research groups; all prospective students go through a single application process. If your background and qualifications are a good fit to the current needs and interests of the program’s faculty, they may accept you with funding from one of their research projects. In your statement of interest, please be sure to describe your research interests and skills, as they will be important for determining whether you receive an offer of admission.

Applicants admitted to the PhD Program must already hold a Master’s degree and will normally have completed the requirements for the Master of Architecture, Master of Planning, Master of Landscape Architecture, Master of Geography, or a related program. Students from allied fields are also encouraged to apply, and field specialization and background are open. 

Consistent with the University requirements, applications are evaluated based on Grade Point Average (GPA) scores, (optional) Graduate Record of Examination (GRE) scores, and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores (where applicable). All exams must have been taken within a year before applying to the program:

  • Academic achievement as evidenced by an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) or better, and a graduate grade point average of 3.5 or better.
  • If submitted, the program looks for GRE scores of 158 or better on each of verbal and quantitative reasoning tests and for a minimum of a 4.00 score on analytical writing, unless a student’s record documents substantial professional or scholarly achievement as evidence of exceptional ability.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English must take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam, or have a graduate degree from a university in the U.S. or another English-speaking country. Applicants can view current score requirements on the International Admissions site.‚Äč

The following documents must be submitted before an application will be considered:

  • Online Application
  • Application Fee
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
  • Examples of previous research and written works
  • Official transcripts from all previously attended institutions of higher learning
  • Statement of Personal and Professional Goals
  • Scores of Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for non-U.S. residents whose native language is other than English
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score (not required but strongly encouraged)
    Financial Statement (for non-U.S. residents/citizens)

For Fall 2021 Admittance:

Application Opens: September 1, 2020
Application Deadline: December 15, 2020

To apply to the PhD program, click here.

If you’re interested in coming to CU as a new student or to continue your education, we are here for you. Please contact Jodi Stock.

Questions on how to submit your application should be addressed to:

Kelly Santa Maria
Graduate School Admissions
Phone: 303-315-0049


Nearly all accepted students receive multi-year financial packages that cover some or all tuition and fees and a living stipend. PhD students also have opportunities to teach their own courses or work as research or teaching assistants alongside faculty from the college and across the university.

Current students are funded by grants and contracts from agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. Forest Service, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, the Babbitt Center, Denver Housing Authority (DHA), the Water Research Foundation, and the Gates Family Foundation.

The doctoral program also provides two additional internal funding opportunities:

  • $5,000 Dissertation Completion Fellowships for candidates in the dissertation phase
  • $1,000 Conference Travel Fellowships for students/candidates presenting papers at national conferences