What are you looking for in a Letter of Intent when applying for admission to the School of Urban Studies & Planning?

The Letter of Intent is an important part of the evaluation process. Aside from demonstrating your writing ability, it gives the Admissions Committee the opportunity to get to know who you are. Think of how you would present yourself in a face-to-face interview and discuss your interests. Additionally consider covering some of the following topics in your letter:

  • The basis of your interest in graduate work in urban studies and/or planning
  • Your career objective
  • The field you plan to specialize in
  • Any relevant academic, professional or volunteer experience that you will bring to the program.

Keep in mind that we receive more than 150 applications per year for the MURP program. Each person reviewing the applications reads more than 50 files. That's a lot of personal statements to read. You should be able to write an excellent statement in two single-spaced pages or less. Writing clearly and concisely is a trait of an excellent planner. Demonstrate that here. At the same time, don't be too brief. Explain why you want to pursue a planning degree, why you want to do it at PSU, how what you've done already has led to and supports that decision, and what you would like to do when you're done. The selective use of examples is good. Planning is often about telling stories. Tell your story; just be direct, clear, and concise. Planning is a broad field, but be as specific as possible about what you might want to focus on within the MURP program and why. Make it clear that you understand what the field of planning is and how it relates to your long-term objectives. Explain how this degree will help you achieve your goals.

Don't forget to proofread carefully. Don't rely on spell- and grammar-check. It doesn't look good when you name another school in your statement or leave in obvious typos.