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Planning (MES)

The Master in Environmental Studies Planning program combines theory and practice to help you engage reflexively with questions of social and environmental justice in relation to urban and regional development. You’ll focus on Urban and Regional Planning; Environmental Planning; Community, Social Policy and Planning; or Food Planning, gaining the skills to affect positive change at every scale of action, from the neighbourhood to the globe.

Students have the opportunity to learn about and expand the boundaries of city planning through critical interdisciplinary perspectives on:

  • Diversity and social justice – Community planning and equity planning approaches, healthy cities, public engagement, community organizing and activism, planning with Indigenous communities, planning in international settings
  • Emerging environmental problems – Environmental planning, climate justice, urban resilience, waste management, food security, sustainable energy transitions
  • Urban development processes – Housing, critical infrastructures, transport and mobility, urban revitalization, land use, urban environmental design
  • Urban life and politics – Political economy, planning theory and history, policymaking, global urbanization, suburbanization processes

Practical skills are developed through both curricular and professional development components, with requirements including specialized planning workshop courses and a field-based practicum. Unique to the program, our Planning Skills Lab offers weekly hands-on workshops with alumni and professionals in the Fall and Winter terms.

Program Details

Applying to Planning (MES)

  • Honours (four-year) bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
    • B+ GPA over the past two years (or full-time equivalent) of academic study
  • If you are a domestic student and do not meet the above admission requirements, you may be considered for admission based on your professional and volunteer experience.
  • Fall 2021 Online Application: February 15, 2021
  • Fall 2021 Submission of Supporting Documents: February 28, 2021

How to Apply

  1. Complete the York University Graduate Application Form.
    • No documents will be reviewed prior to the submission of an online application.
  2. Pay the application fee.
  3. Submit supporting documents, supplementary forms and English language proficiency (if applicable) through the York University online portal, MyFile.
    • Within four business days of application, you will receive a confirmation email with your nine-digit student reference number, which will allow you to access your MyFile account and upload your documents.
    • It is important to check your MyFile regularly for any documents you are required to submit and updates to the status of your application.


Academic transcripts or degree certificates (if degree conferral is not indicated on transcripts) are required from every post-secondary institution you attended. This includes:

  • Undergraduate and graduate studies
  • Exchange programs
  • Studies for which you did not complete a degree

Transcripts are not required for studies completed at York University.

If you are currently completing your studies, submit your in-progress transcript.

More information about transcript submission is available on the York University Graduate Admissions page.

Statement of Academic Interest

Your statement must follow the format below. Please keep in mind that it should highlight your interest in the Planning program.

Part A: A title summarizing your research interests (20 words or less)

Part B: Five keywords that best  describe your research interests

Part C: A description of your intended research (approximately 500 words):

  • Include key theories, concepts and practices central to your area of interest.
  • Outline why the MES Planning program is suited to meet your academic and professional goals.
  • Describe how your interests relate to our full-time faculty members’ research.
    • Note: You do not need to secure a supervisor prior to applying. If you are accepted into the program, a supervisor will be assigned to you.

Resumé or Curriculum Vitae

You may also wish to include the following information (if applicable) in your resumé or curriculum vitae:

  • Academic honours (scholarships, fellowships, awards, etc.)
  • Academic and professional qualifications and memberships
  • Publications and reports (if any are joint-authored, please provide a separate note describing your contribution)

Two forms ­– Referee and Supplementary Information –  must be completed. These can be found under the “Supplementary Information Forms” link in your MyFile account. It is best to prepare your answers in advance and then copy and paste them into the form.

Referee Information Form

  • You will be required to submit three references or referees.
  • Please provide us with the names, email addresses and mailing addresses of your referees. A link will be emailed, on your behalf, to your referees to complete a Letter of Recommendation form. 
  • Your referees will have two weeks to complete the form.

Academic references are strongly preferred. It is possible to use professional references if necessary, provided that they address your critical thinking skills and how adept you are at dealing with theoretical concepts.

Supplementary Information Form

This is a standard graduate form, so some questions will not apply.

  • Question 1: Awards information – Please list any external awards you have applied for (such as the SHHRC and OGS).
  • Question 2: Language skill – Does not apply to the Planning program. Please leave this section blank.
  • Question 3: Program options – You must indicate that you are interested in the Planning program. 
  • Question 4: Professors you hope to work with – Please identify three faculty members, as mentioned in your Statement of Academic Interest, who could be a potential supervisor. 
  • Question 5: Other information – You may include any additional information that you feel is relevant to your application that has not been previously mentioned.

Professional Experience Form

(if applicable)

We value professional and volunteer experience and appreciate that there may have been barriers that previously hindered your academic studies. Any domestic student that does not meet the minimum academic requirements may still apply to the MES program. You will be required to complete the Professional Experience Application Form in order to complete your application.

Completing this form will provide you with the opportunity to explain to the MES Admissions Committee why you have not meet to minimum academic requirements and how your work and/or life experiences have prepared you to be successful in our Master’s program.

Experiences may include:

• Work experience – paid or unpaid

• Academic experience – such as research projects

• Community or activist organizing or involvement

• Creative artistic practice (including work in popular cultural forms outside of formal arts institutions)

After you have applied and submitted your previous post-secondary transcripts, an admissions assessor will review your documents. If the assessor determines you do not meet our academic requirements, we will contact you and send you the Professional Experience Form in order to complete your application.

Please note: If you are asked to submit this form, it will become part of your application checklist and required to complete your application for a decision. Your application will not be reviewed by the Admissions Committee without this form. Pre-application GPA assessments are not available. All application documents are assessed by our Admissions team.

(if applicable)

If your first language is not English, you must demonstrate you have an acceptable level of English by completing a language proficiency test:

  • TOEFL –  paper-based: 600; computer-based: 250; iBT: 100 (York code: 0894)
  • IELTS (Academic) – overall band score: 7.5

Note: You must meet the required minimum score for your application to be considered.

For more details, see York University’s English language proficiency information.