Three students stand in grass and look out at small city in the distance

MSc in Rural Planning & Development

Guide processes of change in rural planning and development.

The MSc in Rural Planning and Development is offered through our School of Environmental Design and Rural Development (SEDRD) and provides the opportunity for graduate study, research and professional development in either Canadian or international context.

 Interdisciplinary study

Explore the challenges and opportunities faced by rural communities to find approaches, solutions, and processes of change for rural communities. 

 2-year accredited program

Ensure your career is on the right path with this two-year program accredited by the Professional Standards Board and the Canadian Institute of Planners.

 Join world-class research programs

Benefit from the strong research networks developed by your supervising faculty members. Meet mentors and colleagues locally and globally.


 Unique in Canada

University of Guelph has Canada’s only planning program exclusively focused on rural, Indigenous, and remote communities.

 Focus on your interest

Study in either the Canadian or international stream and choose an emphasis: Community and Social Development; Land Use Planning; Resource and Environment Planning; Rural Policy, or Indigenous Planning.


 Learn from the best

Work and study with leading national and international scholars and practitioners in rural planning and development.


Three students look down at papers on a table

More information on courses and admission requirements can be found here.

Nic in navy collard shirt and dark metal glasses
I help communities, whether it be local governments, regional governments, make perhaps better environmental decisions regarding the natural world around them. I think better can be qualified in a lot of ways but hopefully what I'm doing is allowing through different processes to make decisions that are a better reflection of local cultures, values, and visions for the future.

Dr. Nicolas Brunet, Faculty
Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
Hear more from Dr. Brunet

Dave in dark rimmed glasses and blue checkered shirt
My research centres on understanding how the theory and practice of evaluation is linked to planning practice and planning theory.

Dr. Dave Guyadeen, Faculty
Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
Hear more from Dr. Guyadeen

How to Apply

Application to this program is more like the process of a job application (rather than the process you went through applying for your undergrad degree). 

You apply directly online at Applying to Guelph.

Eligibility requirements for applications to the MSc program are that you hold a four-year honors degree or equivalent, with an average standing of at least second class honors (B-) in the last four semesters or two years of work.

Admission to the MSc program is competitive. Students achieving academic standing below B- with 5+ years of relevant work experience may apply under alternate admission criteria. Please contact the MSc program coordinator to discuss this admissions option.

The following information is required to apply to the MSc program:

  • All university-level transcripts: You are required to provide transcripts from any institution where you have earned (or will earn) a degree, studied for one semester or more, or took courses that relate to your graduate study interests. This includes transfer credits and University exchange/semester abroad transcripts.  Your application checklist on WebAdvisor will identify which transcripts you are required to upload.
  • Statement of interest: You must include a statement of interest expressing your interest in the program. Your statement of research interest (separate from the one requested within the online application form) should outline the following:
    • Your motivations for studying in the Rural Planning and Development program. Why do you wish to study Rural Planning and Development?
    • Your area of research that will be pursued through the program? What do you wish to research through your program?
    • How your academic, professional, and voluntary experiences prepare you for success in the Rural Planning and Development program?
    • Your career goals. What are your professional aspirations at the conclusion of this program?
    • Identify which Rural Planning and Development faculty member(s) you wish to work with in pursuing your research. Please refer to the list of faculty members for information on their expertise and backgrounds.
    • Your statement of interest must not exceed two-pages.
  • Current resume or curriculum vitae: Please provide a current resume that gives a profile of your educational achievements, professional experiences, and voluntary experiences.

Please be aware that any material collected towards a graduate application, (for example transcripts, reference letters, etc.) must be dated within the past year. Any material dated prior to a year from the application date will not be accepted

Good academic standing alone will not guarantee entry to the Program. One of our faculty members must be interested in, and willing to supervise, your research. It is therefore important that you state your research interests and goals clearly and succinctly. Work experience in a related setting is also considered especially useful in applying theory to practice and to identify research needs and topics

The Master of Science in Rural Planning and Development program admits students annually in the fall semester.  

Domestic Application Deadlines

  • May 31 for Fall entry (September start)
  • Applicants are encouraged to apply early. 

International Application Deadlines

  • January 30 for Fall entry (September start)
  • We encourage international applicants to apply early to provide sufficient time for any necessary study or travel permits. 

More details on the U of G graduate program application process here.

Additional planning options

You may also be interested in the Master of Planning (MPLAN).


For questions on applying and admissions: 

Lorena Barker
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
519-824-4120, Ext. 56780 

For questions on program options:

Leigh West
Ontario Agricultural College (OAC)
519-824-4120 Ext. 52101

Melissa smiling at the top of a mountain with wind blowing her hair
The most challenging thing about my program has been balancing a high number of courses with my research assistantship. But this has also been a huge advantage since it has given me the ability to work through my degree efficiently and gain invaluable research experience.

Melissa Visser, Graduate Student
MSc in Rural Planning and Development
Hear more from Melissa

Shannon in green sweater, dark backdrop
In one of my policy classes with Prof. Nic Burnet we had to do a policy paper on a current issue. I’ve always had an interest in how the built form can impact people’s health and well-being, and I came across a news article on safe injection sites. From a planning perspective, where to put these sites and the policies that surround them is an important topic of conversation.

Shannon Labelle, Alumni
MSc in Rural Planning and Development
Hear more from Shannon

My research is putting me right in First Nation communities across Ontario (virtually for now) and giving me the opportunity to explore what Indigenous resurgence looks like in the field of planning and development. Through both research and coursework, I am learning about and sharing my experiences with water and food security in First Nation communities and am extremely excited to collaborate with students who are driven to learn about and determine how they can play a part in reconciliation.

Jessica Wakefield
MSc in Rural Planning and Development