Graduate Program FAQs

Thank you for your interest in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at the University of Calgary! We have collected and answered the most frequently asked questions to make sure that you can easily find the information you are looking for in one place. We will be updating this page as information changes, so please check back often. 

Looking for full admission requirements and details? Visit our Admissions Overview page 

Before You Apply

The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape offers scheduled tours in the fall. Staff or students lead the tours and answer questions about the programs. You can also visit the School through the 360 virtual tour.

No, we do not require specific courses.

We recommend selecting undergraduate courses that will help develop a broad knowledge base that supplements architectural study. Examples include taking courses in the humanities, social sciences, fine arts, biological and physical sciences, computer science, commerce, and management. Creative courses that develop skills in 2D graphics and 3D modeling or fabrication are particularly beneficial, as are whenever possible, collaborative experiential learning experiences. For more information about the undergraduate courses that we suggest students take before beginning the Minor in Architectural Studies, please visit this website: https://sapl.ucalgary.ca/future-students/undergraduate/undergraduate-courses.

We invite you to attend our information sessions. We have professors, students and alumni share their experience at SAPL as well as portfolio review sessions and open houses to showcase our facilities. If you have questions, you can attend our drop-in Ask SAPL sessions for answers and guidance through the application process. Can't make one of the scheduled sessions but interested in changing the future of cities? You can watch the recorded sessions on our Future Students page.

You can learn more about SAPL, our programs, research projects or student work, by signing up for our newsletters, following us on social media, or reading our news stories on the website.

SAPL also hosts Design Matters, a thought-provoking lecture series, which seeks to inspire transformative change. The series brings to Calgary a range of designers, innovators, and thought leaders exploring the edge of design and city building. See why Design Matters 

Application Questions

We have a two-step application process:

  1. Complete an online application form: Submit your biographical, education, and referee information. Referees will receive an automated email (with a link and instructions to complete the online reference) once your application form is submitted. You'll also be prompted to pay your application fee during this process.
  2. Upload application materials to your online UCalgary Student Centre via MyUCalgary: You'll receive an email with instructions on accessing your Student Centre. This is where you can check your application status.

The deadline for all supporting documents to be uploaded is:

  • MArch, MPlan, MLA: January 15
  • MEDes and PhD: February 1
  • DDes: February 28 

Please note all documents must be uploaded by 11:59pm Calgary time on each deadline date.

Yes, but it’s ideal to have at least one, preferably two academic references. If you have taken any courses after your bachelor’s degree, those instructors can provide references as well, depending on the nature of the course. 

The portfolio is a very important element of the application; the Admissions committee is looking for strong evidence of creative ability and/or potential. Think of the portfolio as a visual introduction to your skills, interests, and curiosity and awareness of the built environment. Demonstrate how you want to develop these. Attention to craft is highly valued by the committee. The contribution of the applicant must be clearly identified in any group work that is submitted. The portfolio may include drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and/or design (objects, furniture, interiors, buildings, landscapes, fashion, graphics, etc.). If you have an architecture background, we encourage including design projects, professional work, or research completed during your studies. If you do not have an architectural background, the topics and media (drawing, painting, sculpture, woodworking, photography, etc.) can be anything - it does not have to be about architecture or buildings.

Foundation Year Applicants: Even if you are not an established visual “artist” you still have much to offer that will be revealed in your design and the creative way you present yourself through that medium, multi-scalar observation and interaction with the built environment.

M1/Two-Year Program Applicants: Technical proficiency will be expected. Demonstrate multi-scalar engagement with the built environment, its design, impact, and fabrication. Work from your previous architecture studio courses should be included.

The statement (general essay format) should be no more than two pages. There are no spacing or formatting rules, as long as it’s legible. We want to hear about your interests and why you want to pursue a professional Master's degree. Your statement of interest should focus on why you wish to study planning or landscape architecture at the University of Calgary. You could refer to favourite designers, buildings, books, places and/or mentors. 

Your statement is an opportunity to provide information not found elsewhere in your application and is a complement to your portfolio. Accordingly, the statement should be written in your voice. Aim to highlight something that might make you stand out in comparison to other applicants – something that makes you different or interesting. We do not provide examples of statements to prospective applicants. 

If you are applying to the MPlan program, please include a brief description indicating your understanding that the program is studio-based and showcase your ability to read and understand space. The selection committee wants to know why you chose to apply to SAPL's MPlan program specifically. 

I have international transcripts, and it’s difficult to obtain a new set from my university. Do I have to submit them now? 

You can scan your copy of your transcripts (and English translation if applicable) and upload them as your “unofficial transcripts.” If you are offered admission, you will be required to have an official hard copy of your transcript sent directly from your university by mid-summer to confirm your place in the program.

To be considered official, all academic records must be sent directly to the University of Calgary from the institution and received in envelopes that have been sealed and endorsed by the issuing institution. If you have transcripts from multiple institutions, you may bundle the sealed and signed envelopes (unopened) in one package. Students and graduates from the University of Calgary do not have to submit official transcripts. If you attended university in another country, review international admissions requirements.

Physical or electronic copies of your official transcripts can be submitted: 

A) Send physical official transcripts to the following address:
Faculty of Graduate Studies, ES 1010
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB, Canada, T2N 1N4

OR

B) If your post-secondary institution has the capacity to email official transcripts, they should be sent directly to the Faculty of Graduate Studies at gradtranscripts@ucalgary.caThese must be emailed by the school, transcripts emailed by the applicant will not be accepted.

No, University of Calgary alumni or students do not need to submit an official transcript. Email admissions@sapl.ucalgary.ca with your UCID once your degree has been conferred and the system will be updated.

Yes! Despite still being in the process of finishing your program, we recommend that you apply to SAPL. You can upload your unofficial transcripts with your final Fall grades before the deadline and then request that your institution submit a final official transcript after your degree has been awarded.

The non-refundable application fee is CDN $125 for Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and CDN $145 for international students attending on a Study Permit. 

The application fee is a mandatory fee and one that cannot be waived or deferred.

If you are applying to the MArch, MPlan, MLA, or MEDes degree with more than one degree, then your grade point average (GPA) will be assessed based on the grades of your first undergraduate degree. If you are applying to the PhD in Environmental Design, then your GPA will be assessed based on the grades of your bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Please note that if you have more than one degree, it will be taken into consideration in the overall assessment of your application.

Our SAPL degrees are listed as the following in the application portal: 

  • Master of Architecture (MArch): “Environmental Design – Master of Architecture”
  • Master of Planning (MPlan): “Environmental Design – Master of Planning”
  • Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA): “Environmental Design – Master of Landscape Architecture”
  • Master of Environmental Design (MEDes): “Environmental Design”
  • PhD: “Environmental Design” from the first window and "PhD program" in the second window
  • Doctor of Design (DDes): "Doctor of Design" 

MArch Questions

A four-year bachelor’s degree is required for admission to the Master of Architecture (MArch) program. Any discipline is acceptable, and we recommend students take a program that interests them, that they will enjoy and do well in, as grades are very important when applying to the MArch. A common degree we see AT students do is a BA in Urban Studies. 

Applicants with a two-year AT diploma are typically awarded one-years' worth of block credit towards a bachelor's degree here at UCalgary. If you transfer here, you can also consider applying to our Minor in Architectural Studies (ARST). After graduating with an AT diploma, you should expect to complete three years of a bachelor’s degree, including the ARST Minor, then two more years at the master’s level. Please note that if you complete a bachelor's degree without the ARST Minor, you would have to complete three more years at the master's level. 

The Minor application process is outlined here: https://sapl.ucalgary.ca/future-students/admissions/arst. You would apply as a transfer student to the main bachelor’s degree program and at the same time apply to the ARST Minor by submitting a portfolio by February 1 of the year that you apply.

We are asking almost all applicants whose degrees are not accredited in North America through the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (https://cacb.ca/) or the National Architectural Accrediting Board (https://www.naab.org/), to apply for the complete 3-year program. This is to ensure all students who graduate from our program are able to meet the same standards required by our national accrediting bodies. 

Our updated curriculum builds on our strengths as a leader in computational approaches to design, simulation and construction in the context of a changing climate and the increasing need to address equity as a core design principle. It also includes opportunities for students to engage in work-integrated learning studios and other activities that require core competencies in those areas. Exceptions will be granted only in very rare circumstances, or through a pre-approved relationship between the degree granting institution and the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. The Foundation year provides great experience and context even to those with an undergraduate degree in architecture. Students with architecture undergraduate degrees who have done the Foundation year have said it was very beneficial and they are glad they did. 

No, the program is only offered as full-time.

The MArch program at the University of Calgary offers students a work-integrated learning experience. Although this isn't a traditional paid co-op work term, it provides an opportunity for MArch students to establish collaborative networks that together tackle some of the most critical challenges and opportunities that face the architectural discipline, our communities, cities, regions and nations. These hybridized studios are co-led by professionals — leaders from architectural offices, developers, policy makers and builders, in Calgary and in some cases outside of Canada. Additionally, there are many networking opportunities during the program to meet prospective employers. We have several practicing architects and designers who teach in our faculty as sessional instructors, there are many firms that sponsor student scholarships, and the SAPLSA (student association) holds networking events each year. 

The MArch program is the foundation for becoming a licensed architect in jurisdictions across Canada, the United States, and the European Union.

MPlan Questions

‘Studio’ is a teaching and learning format that engages students in experiential learning through problem identification, analysis, and the design of interventions for preferred outcomes. A traditional part of design education in architecture and landscape architecture it puts students in real or simulated planning project situations where instructors engage with students in problem solving that may result in physical or spatial design outcomes or policy and land use planning outcomes.  

SAPL's Master of Planning degree is studio-based design program, therefore, applicants must submit a digital portfolio that provides examples or illustrates the applicant’s creative ability and the ability of the applicant to read and understand space. It could include design work, professional work, research, creative ability, community action, or ideas related to their statement of intent or interests in Planning. It could also be a narrated collection of photographs that are presented as examples of spaces of a particular character or quality. That that showcase the applicants ability to critically observe spaces of different scales and from different contexts. 

Professional Planners need strong writing skills because they will be expected to prepare research reports, write grant proposals, and articulate planning issues to a wide variety of audiences, including colleagues, community members, and stakeholders. 

At least one example of academic or professional productivity such as a written essay, published paper, thesis, design project, consulting report. The examples of writing should be submitted in digital form (one portable document in a PDF file), uploaded by the applicant to their Student Centre, upon submission of their online application. If there is more than on example in the PDF document, please include a table of contents at the beginning. 

MLA Questions

We are asking almost all applicants whose degrees are not accredited in North America through the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (https://www.csla-aapc.ca/csla-aapc) or the American Society of Landscape Architects (https://www.asla.org/), to apply for the complete 3-year program. This is to ensure all students who graduate from our program are able to meet the same standards required by our national accrediting bodies. 

Exceptions will be granted only in very rare circumstances, or through a pre-approved relationship between the degree granting institution and the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. The Foundation year provides great experience and context even to those with an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture. Students with landscape architecture undergraduate degrees who have done the Foundation year have said it was very beneficial and they are glad they did. 

Yes! We require a four-year undergraduate degree, ideally with experience in design, the humanities, social sciences, arts, engineering, biological and/or physical sciences – including, wherever possible, studio, laboratory and collaborative learning experiences.

Landscape architects work in private practice, as well as in larger interdisciplinary consulting firms, and different levels of government (municipal, provincial, federal). Landscape architects have a range of practice expertise in technology and construction, plants, soil, irrigation, public space and street design, recreational amenities, climate change adaptation, low impact development, project management, habitat and park design, industrial landscape restoration and reclamation, urban design, and visual communication.

The MLA program is the foundation for becoming a licensed landscape architect in jurisdictions across Canada and the United States. 

MEDes Questions

If you have a design background, such as industrial design, interior design, or engineering, then yes, but only if you are interested in doing research with a focus in architecture, planning or landscape architecture. If you don’t have a background in these areas and are interested in studying other topics, then another graduate program may be better suited.  

Please provide a funding plan that demonstrates that you can fund your entire program of study. It can include your intention to apply for scholarships or assistantship opportunities, if applicable. It can literally be a couple of sentences. We do not require financial or bank statements.

For our thesis programs, we can only offer admission to applicants who we can match with a supervisor, thus the importance of your statement of research interest. We don’t require applicants have a confirmed supervisor upon application, however it’s strongly recommended to reach out to any professors whose research interests match yours. You will be asked to list the names of a few professors you feel are a good fit in your online application form. You can find a full list of our faculty members here: https://sapl.ucalgary.ca/about/people/faculty.

Students enrolled in the Mitacs Accelerate stream partake in a unique 16-month version of the MEDes that partners students with leading design firms. Students split the time of their studies between a paid internship, courses, thesis-writing and defense. In the application, students should identify an area of interest within SAPL's broader research program, and after admissions, work under a faculty supervisor with aligned research. To establish the internship, the student, supervising professor and organization develop a research project together. Internships are four months long and can be one or two terms.

The MEDes has two main formats: 1) 16-month program with Spring start (coincides with completion and graduation from first professional degree). Graduation in September or 2) Two-year program with Fall start. However, we offer flexibility on a case-by-case basis, so please email us if you have a question about the timeline of the program.

No, the MEDes does not fulfill the accreditation requirements for licensure of architecture, planning or landscape architecture. It is a research-based master’s degree tailored to recent graduates of professional architecture, planning, or landscape architecture programs, who want to develop an area of specialization early in their career. 

Please visit our professional program pages for more information:

PhD Questions

There is a Minimum Doctoral Stipend for students enrolled full time in the PhD program. Students who are externally sponsored (i.e. admitted with documented financial support from an external agency meeting the minimum amount) are not normally funded from university sources and are exempted from the Minimum Doctoral Stipend. Please refer to the “SAPL Funding Policy” here for more detailed information: https://sapl.ucalgary.ca/future-students/graduate/phd-environmental-design-phd under “Guidelines”.

For our thesis programs, we can only offer admission to applicants who we can match with a supervisor, thus the importance of your statement of research interest. We don’t require applicants have a confirmed supervisor upon application, however it’s strongly recommended to reach out to any professors whose research interests match yours. You will be asked to list the names of a few professors you feel are a good fit in your online application form. You can find a full list of our faculty members here: https://sapl.ucalgary.ca/about/people/faculty.

The minimum education requirement is a professional design degree from an accredited school. A master’s degree is required to be eligible for admission.

The PhD in Environmental Design is intended for students looking to undertake full-time doctoral research on a specific topic in the fields of architecture, planning or landscape architecture.

DDes Questions

The new Doctor of Design program is distinct from traditional PhD programs because the research is practice-focused and design-based, with candidates developing a work-integrated research program centred around a unique enquiry emerging from their experience and insights in practice. Students remain fully engaged in their working life while pursuing a research program in an intense and rigorous format that is distinct from, but parallel to, their professional work. 

The Doctor of Design program does not have any program-specific funding. As it is targeted towards mid-career professionals, the expectation is that they can fund their studies. DDes students are eligible for some of the Faculty of Graduate Studies scholarships that are open to all students: https://grad.ucalgary.ca/awards/award-opportunities/search-awards. For additional information regarding research expenses, external conferences and travel, please contact SAPL.

Financial Questions

Our tuition and fee breakdown can be found on the Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar. Please note that fees are calculated and assessed on an annual basis, so they are subject to change.

New students to our professional programs can apply for scholarships through the School and the Faculty of Graduate Studies. All successful applicants are automatically considered for entrance scholarships, no separate application is required.

There will also be opportunities to apply for teaching and research assistantships, and other scholarships throughout the program. The expectation is that applicants are able to fund their studies themselves, with the hopes they are successful in obtaining scholarships or assistantships to supplement their own funds.

It is not necessary for students to contact professors about funding before being accepted to the program, unless otherwise stated on the award or scholarship that you are applying for.

After Submitting

You can log in to the application system to track the receipt of the required materials on your Student Centre portal. 

Our admissions committee notifies applicants, beginning in March. All applicants will know their status by May 1. Please do not contact us to inquire about the status of your application. Questions and problems encountered with your application will be emailed to you and progress will appear in your Student Centre. Be sure to monitor these correspondences. 

You will be notified by email. We will contact you as soon as possible, regardless of the result.

The application process is competitive, and unfortunately not all qualified applicants meeting the requirements will be admitted. All applicants are ranked and initial offers are made. Those who have strong applications may be asked to be placed on a waitlist. This means that should a space become available you may be offered admission. This process is ongoing until all offers have been accepted; therefore, it's important to check your emails regularly for updates. 

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