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Application Procedure

Applications are considered only once a year for admission the following Autumn Quarter

Our admissions process is online, and all materials should be sent electronically through UW Graduate Admissions.

Application Deadlines

For admission Autumn 2023, application materials from international applicants by December 1, 2022, and from U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and immigrants are due by January 3, 2023.

While we understand that some materials may not be available immediately on the deadline, we do expect applications to be complete within a few days of the deadline. Applications that are not complete within a week of the final January 3 deadline will not be reviewed. We do not accept applications at other times of year or make provisional acceptances for incomplete applications.

Our deadline for international applications is early because if there are problems with the application they can take longer to resolve. We strongly recommend that international applicants meet the December 1 deadline, but applications will be reviewed as long as all materials are received and the application is complete within a week of the January 3 deadline.

Application Forms

Apply online to the University of Washington Graduate School, and follow the procedure outlined there. You will be asked to download, complete, and upload your completed copy of our Program Application form.

Applying for Funding

If you would like financial assistance from the program, please indicate that on the above-mentioned program application form that is part of the online application. Both domestic and international applicants are equally eligible for support. For more information, please see our Student Support page.

Curriculum Vitae

You will be asked to upload a document containing your curriculum vitae: a detailed biographical outline, including your employment history and explanation of work responsibilities, any publications, honors, awards, professional registration and societies, foreign language and computer skills, extra-curricular collegiate activities as well as avocations, hobbies, places traveled.

Statement of Purpose

You will be asked to upload a document containing a two- to three-page (single-spaced, 12-point font or equivalent) statement outlining your career objectives, reasons for choosing to undertake doctoral study in the built environment and what you expect from the program. The admissions committee uses this statement to understand your personal goals and desires with respect to the field. It is important to outline clearly your research objectives and focus. You are encouraged to prepare this document very carefully. This document should address the following items:

  1. A brief overview of your academic and professional background, including previous research experience.
  2. Describe your motivation for pursuing doctoral studies and your current research interests. This is your opportunity to explain what you would like to learn through advanced study and what you plan to achieve by doing so.
  3. Identify at least three members of the faculty you would like to work with. One or more of these should be a core member of the program’s faculty.
  4. Briefly outline your intended course of study, including your primary research interests. You may also want to list several courses that you would like to take during your first year in the program.
  5. Conclude with a short description of your envisioned future and the role you would like to play in the field.

The applicant’s statement of purpose often proves to be the most important document in the application process. While other documents help establish general qualifications and background, the statement of purpose is a personal expression that distinguishes an applicant from other applicants and relates her or his specific interests to those of program faculty.

The objectives of the statement of purpose are twofold. First, it builds on the content of more generalized documents, such as transcripts and the curriculum vitae, by providing further details regarding the applicant’s background and academic qualifications. Second, it delivers a clear description of the applicant’s objectives, including research interests and intended course of study. This information is critical to the application process and a focused, well-written document is essential to the decision to admit. For this reason, the statement of purpose should reflect your best thinking regarding your decision to pursue doctoral studies at the University of Washington.

As you write, please keep in mind that it is important to be as specific as possible. The admissions committee seeks to understand your objectives and to ensure that your interests are compatible with those of the program faculty. And while it is understood that your knowledge of the University of Washington may be limited, you are encouraged to seek information via the Internet and through faculty that you have an interest in working with. The more informed and focused your statement of purpose, the better your chances of admission.

Due to the significance of the document, it is highly recommended that you allow yourself plenty of time to prepare it and that you seek feedback from academic advisors.


You will be asked to upload transcripts from each post-secondary school you have attended. Transcripts do not need to be official at this time. All applicants who have attended institutions outside the U.S. and Canada should include a degree statement with their transcripts. Please see the Grad School’s FAQ for Applicants, especially the section on what is required when sending international transcripts. If you are accepted to the program, the Graduate School will then request specific official transcripts.

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation: at least two from college instructors and, if appropriate, one from an employer. One or two additional letters are welcomed but not required. Applicants should include letters from instructors knowledgeable about your research and academic potential, one preferably to include your master’s thesis advisor. You should specify your recommenders and have them submit their letters as per the instructions which are part of the online Graduate School Application process. If necessary, you may use this downloadable form and have your recommenders send them by postal mail; however we do prefer applicants to use the online recommendation process if at all possible.

Work Sample “Large Portfolio”

Please note that though the title of this submission is “Large Portfolio,” here we are not asking for a traditional design portfolio, but for a work sample or samples, an exhibit of work which should accomplish two things:

  1. illustrate the applicant’s interests and abilities in areas related to the built environment, and
  2. demonstrate evidence of promise for scholarship and research rather than design abilities.

Consequently, a design portfolio is rarely appropriate. Suitable materials may be an essay, a paper, a master’s thesis, a publication, a report, or a project for which the applicant has had major responsibility, or a combination of these things. If the sample is a joint work, applicants should clearly describe their contribution. If they include multiple items, applicants should compile them into one document and begin the document with a list of what is included. Files may be formatted in PDF, Word, or RTF, but the size cannot exceed 30 MB. To create smaller PDF files, use screen quality rather than printing quality to reduce the size of your document.

Graduate Record Exam (currently optional)

Note that while we recommend applicants submit GRE test results with their application, we are not requiring the GRE test for 2023 admissions to the PhD in the Built Environment.

Graduate Record Examination results must be submitted by all applicants. Our faculty take GRE scores as a significant part of your application.

If you are submitting GRE scores, tests should be taken no later than November (October for international applicants) in order to avoid late-arriving test results. If you are concerned about your scores, we recommend taking the test the summer before applying in order to allow yourself time to improve your scores before the application deadline should you need to.

Request Educational Testing Service forward your GRE score report using our institution code 4854 (there is no department code). For further information about GRE examinations see the GRE website.

English Proficiency

The program follows the UW Graduate School’s English Language Proficiency requirements. In accordance with these requirements, prospective international, immigrant, and permanent resident students whose native language is other than English and who have not received a degree from an accredited institution where the native language is English must submit a satisfactory TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score.

English proficiency test scores from any test date older than two years will not be accepted. See Graduate School Memo 8 for details and score requirements.

Note that students with scores below those listed as “Recommended Score” on Graduate School Memo 8 are unlikely to be accepted to our program. We strongly recommend applicants take these tests no later than October.

Note that for the TOEFL and IELTS the University of Washington has a central depository for scores. The the TOEFL our institution code is 4854, Department code: 99 (any department). For the IELTS, you must request from the center where you took the test that your scores be sent electronically using the IELTS system (E-TRF) to the following address: University of Washington All Campuses, Organisation ID 365, Undergrad & Graduate Admis, Box 355850, Seattle, WA, 98105, United States of America. If you have already taken the IELTS, you can go to the IELTS test center location for the email address of the IELTS Administrator to make your request. Allow a minimum of 13 working days for reporting test results to our school.

Application Fee Waivers

Application fee waivers are administered through the Graduate School. Please see their site for information. Note that unfortunately our program does not have any budget available for fee waivers for any applicants.

Submitting the Application

Apply directly on-line to Graduate Admissions. You and your recommenders should be able to complete your entire application entirely online.

If for any reason you are unable to upload or provide electronic copies of any materials and need to mail them, the program’s postal address is:

Neile Graham, Program Coordinator
Ph.D. in the Built Environment
University of Washington
Box 355740
Seattle, WA 98195-5740

For express or courier deliveries for which a street address is required, use: Ph.D. in the Built Environment, 410L Gould Hall, 3950 University Way N.E., Seattle, WA 98105.

For questions please contact: Neile Graham,, 206-543-5996 (mornings, U.S. Pacific time zone).

The Graduate School also offers admissions FAQs.