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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 2025, application materials from international applicants by December 1, 2024, and from U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and immigrants are due by January 2, 2025.

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 2 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 2 deadline.

Application Forms

Apply online to the University of Washington Graduate School, and follow the procedure outlined there.

Applying for Funding

All applicants are considered for funding and an additional funding application is not required. 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.

Work Sample “Writing Sample or Essay”

Please note that though the title of this submission is “Writing Sample or Essay,” here we want more than just a writing sample, but want a sample 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.

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. Applicants may upload more than one item.

Graduate Record Exam (optional)

Note that submitting GRE test scores is optional and not required for admission to the PhD in the Built Environment.

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 University of Washington Graduate School’s English Language Proficiency requirements as outlined in their Policy 3.2. Please see the policy document for details and score requirements.

Note that students with scores below those listed as “Recommended Score” on Graduate School Policy 3.2 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. For the TOEFL our institution code is 4854, Department code: 99 (any department). Applicants using Academic IELTS test scores for their proof of English language proficiency must submit official scores electronically via the IELTS system (E-TRF), using the University of Washington’s organization ID 365. 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 and unfortunately, applicants studying on F or J visas are not eligible for application fee waivers. Please see the Grad School’s site for details. We regret that our program does not have funds available to cover fee waivers for applicants, and hope you will find a way to pay the application fee should you decide that this program is the best fit for your research interests.

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, or have any questions or problems, please contact Neile Graham,, 206-543-5996 (mornings, U.S. Pacific time zone).

The Graduate School also offers admissions FAQs.