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Ph.D. in Planning, Design and the Built Environment

Application and Admissions

  • When do I apply?

    The first step in applying to the Ph.D. in Planning, Design and the Built Environment program is to identify a faculty member with whom you have similar research interests and discuss potential opportunities in his or her research agenda. Students are not admitted to the program without a faculty member having indicated willingness to serve as Major Advisor. Information concerning opportunities in specific fields of study and faculty research interests, including email contact information, can be found on the People > Faculty page.

    The PDBE Admissions Committee begins reviewing graduate student applications for admission to the program and for a graduate assistantship after January 1st of each year, but students are encouraged to apply in early November and December as graduate assistantships are competitive. Students who will be supported through graduate assistantships are, in general, admitted only in the fall semester of each academic year. Individual faculty members must indicate their intention of supporting prospective applicants on graduate assistantships to the PDBE Admissions Committee prior to a student's acceptance into the graduate program.

  • What do I need to apply?

    Online applications for graduate degree programs are found on the Graduate School website. There is a $80 nonrefundable application fee for domestic applicants and an $90 fee for international applicants; the fee can be paid by credit card. The Program also requests each applicant include a written Statement of Purpose (no more than 2 typewritten pages), outlining your general interests in graduate research and your future career goals and a Portfolio (that could include but is not limited to a research statement, writing samples, and samples of completed projects).

    The following materials are required before an application is considered complete and will be forwarded to the Department (remember to receive consideration for a graduate assistantship. All materials except the statement of purpose and portfolio should be sent directly to the Graduate School and should reach Graduate Admissions no later than January 1st of each year):

    1. On-Line application form found on the Graduate School website *.
    2. Non-refundable application fee.
    3. Unofficial transcripts (uploaded to the application). Official transcripts will only be required if admitted.
    4. GRE scores (no more than 5 years old; Clemson's institution code is 5111).
    5. Letters of recommendation - 3 required for Ph.D. applicants – 2 of which must be from academics (submitted online).
    6. TOEFL scores (no more than 2 years old). We also accept IELTS or the PTE scores for English Language Proficiency *.
    7. Statement of Purpose and Portfolio (if pursuing design research)

    *Everything can be included/attached to the application.  Nothing needs to be mailed until we need their final-official transcripts. 

    *TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE is required of all international students whose native language is not English.

  • How do I apply?
    Use the Apply Now link to the left for more details about how to apply. Or if you are familiar with the online application, go directly to the Clemson Graduate Application at
  • What happens after I apply?

    Once all application materials (items 1- 7 listed above) have been received by Graduate Admissions, your file will be forwarded to the PDBE Program. Applicant files are reviewed by the PDBE Admissions Committee.  Admitted applicants will receive formal notification of Graduate Admissions by mail. The entire process takes from 4-6 weeks, thus applicants are usually notified of their acceptance or decline by mid-March of each year. If you have not received a decision letter by April 1st, you may email the program Director, Dr. Michael Carlos Kleiss, to inquire about the status of your application.

    The following guidelines are used by the PDBE Admissions Committee to determine each applicant's acceptability for the program. These benchmarks are guidelines, thus applicants may be considered acceptable by the PDBE Admissions Committee even if one or more benchmarks are not absolutely met.

    1. GRE score: A combined score of 310 on the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the GRE and an Analytical Writing score of = 5.0.
    2. GPA: A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 from undergraduate degree institution and 3.5 from Master's degree institution.
    3. TOEFL (international students): = Minimum score of 600 (out of 677) from paper test or 267 (out of 300) from computer based test, 100 on internet based test, or equivalent (e.g., IELTS or 7.5).
    4. Strong letters from recommenders that speak to an applicant’s academic skills and research potential: 3 required of which two must be from academics
    5. For students interested in pursuing design research, a promising Portfolio of prior work relevant to the doctoral program is important.
Ph.D. in Planning, Design and the Built Environment
Ph.D. in Planning, Design and the Built Environment | Lee 3-123, Clemson, SC 29634