AICP logo - American Institute of Certified PlannersAbout AICP Certification

American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) is the American Planning Association's professional institute, providing recognized leadership nationwide in the certification of professional planners, ethics, professional development, planning education, and the standards of planning practice. It is the opinion of many that planners having the AICP credential bring extra value to their employers and their communities.


AICP Exam Background

Taking the AICP exam is the first step to becoming a certified planner. To qualify, one must be a current APA member, submit an online application meeting certain education and experience criteria, and pass an examination. The exam is given twice a year, in May and November. From the website: "If you are eligible, you can apply for AICP Certification. APA accepts applications twice a year — in June (for the exam administered each November) and December (for the exam administered each May)."

Your best source of current, complete certification and exam information is directly from APA at


Upcoming Exam

The authoritative source of information about the current exam is

  • Current Exam Testing Window : May 6-20, 2019
  • Application window for next exam:  opens June 3; early-bird discount ends June 10, 2019
  • Final Application Deadline: June 27, 2019
  • Next Exam Testing Window: Nov. 4 - 18, 2019


Exam Scholarships

The AICP Reduced Exam Fee Scholarship offers assistance to one Louisiana Chapter member annually who may defer taking, or is unable to take, the AICP exam because of its high cost. Scholarship recipients pay reduced fees to AICP as follows:

  • First-time AICP applicants: $145 (combined $70 application and $75 exam fee)
  • Previously approved AICP applicants: $75 (exam fee only)

To qualify you must submit a written explanation of financial hardship to the Chapter Professional Development Officers (including financial hardship caused by a budget cutback in a firm or agency):

Members of ethnic or racial minorities shall be given preference.
The applicant selected will be otherwise unlikely to take the exam without the reduced fee.
The applicant's employer will not subsidize the exam fee.

In addition, the Chapter offers a Chapter AICP exam scholarship in the amount of $325 which is offered as a reimbursement after the candidate takes the exam (pass or fail). Scholarship criteria are the same as for the APA scholarship above. Contact the Chapter Professional Development Officer to apply for either scholarship.


Study materials

Study resources, including the AICP reading list are found on APA's website - The exam Prep Course on is also a good source of information. The Louisiana Chapter holds a study session, usually during the state conference but sometimes at other times, to assist in preparation.  Contact our Professional Development Officer for more information. Below are exam preparation resources for your use.


AICP Certification Exam

During 2017 the exam was revised to more closely focus on current trends in planning. New content was added while some older sections were removed. Below are new guidelines and materials effective with the 2017 update.

Adopted Exam Content Outline  PDF icon

Reading List PDF icon

The following list may help planners who are preparing to take the AICP Certification Examination beginning May 2017. Please note that the readings are presented with these understandings:

  • No reading list can span the entire range of topics covered by the AICP exam. As a result, this list is not a substitute for professional planning experience and education.
  • It is not expected that exam takers will have read all the resources cited.
  • The readings are intended as guidelines only. While many AICP exam questions are based on these readings, many are developed from other materials of similar content.
  • Many readings are available for download on the web or in any well-stocked planning office library. Those choosing to purchase readings are encouraged to do so selectively. Consider purchases that not only help in preparing to take the exam, but also serve as long-lasting references for professional practice.
  • Due to copyright, site endorsement, and continuity issues, web links are provided only for readings available through the American Planning Association website or a government agency.
  • This reading list was last updated in August 2016 in conjunction with the AICP Certification Examination update in place starting with the May 2017 exam window.
  • Those interested in additional APA–published reading lists should consider The Essential Planning Library Revisited and 100 Essential Books of Planning.


APA Policy Guides

APA’s adopted policy guides provide a wealth of information regarding issues of importance to planners.

APA Planning Advisory Service (PAS) Reports

More than 90 reports on various topics have been produced by the Planning Advisory Service since 2000. While all contain information valuable to those preparing to take the AICP exam, the following are some representative examples:

582. Local Planning Agency Management. Wayne Feiden, FAICP. 2016. 119 pp.
578. Sustaining Places: Best Practices for Comprehensive Plans. David R. Godschalk, FAICP, and David C. Rouse, AICP. 2015. 72pp.
576. Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: Next Generation. James C. Schwab, AICP. 2014.
575. Planning for Solar Energy. David Morley, AICP (ed.). 2014.
571. Green Infrastructure: A Landscape Approach. David C. Rouse, AICP and Ignacio F. Bunster-Ossa. 2013.
566. Planning for Wind Energy. Suzanne Rynne, AICP, Larry Flowers, Eric Lantz, and Erica Heller, AICP (eds.). 2011.
560. Hazard Mitigation: Integrating Best Practices into Planning. James C. Schwab (ed.). 2010.
549/550. Fair and Healthy Land Use:  Environmental Justice and Planning.  Arnold, Craig Anthony. 2007.


APA Knowledge Center: Applied Research Reports and Guides

The Applied Research section of APA’s online APA Knowledge Center contains valuable reference resources addressing a variety of topics, including these examples available under “Completed Projects”:

  • Family Friendly Communities: “Using Smart Growth and Universal Design to Link the Needs of Children and the Aging Population." 2011.
  • Brownfields: “Creating Community-Based Brownfield Redevelopment Strategies.” 2010.
  • Planning for Food Access: “A National Scan and Evaluation of Local Comprehensive and Sustainability Plans.” 2012.
  • Arts, Culture, and Creativity: “How Arts and Cultural Strategies Create, Reinforce, and Enhance Sense of Place.” 2011.
  • “The Benefits of Street-Scale Features for Walking and Biking.” 2015.
  • Planning for Public Health: “Healthy Plan Making: Integrating Health into the Comprehensive Planning Process—An analysis of seven case studies and recommendations for change.” 2013.

Other Resources


AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct  

American Planning Association. AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.