American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)

AICP is the professional institute of APA concerned with requirements for certification of professional planners, ethics, professional development, planning education, and the standards of practice. Certified planners are skilled at finding solutions to current community problems in ways that will carry a community toward long-term goals. Each of our Sections is active in promoting AICP membership. As of the end of 2012, the California Chapter of APA has 1975 members of AICP. AICP certification is recognized throughout the United States as the mark of a professional planner. Members of AICP pledge to adhere to a detailed Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Once certified, professional planners may place the designation “AICP” after their name to indicate their membership in AICP, and their mastery of the principles, skills, knowledge and experience determined by the organization as essential for a professional planner. To maintain membership in the AICP, a certified planner must earn a specific number of continuing education credit hours that include courses in planning and law, must pass a rigorous examination, pay an annual fee and must be a member of the American Planning Association in good standing. Advanced Specialty Certifications (ASC) for Certified Environmental Planner (CEP), Certified Transportation Planner (CTP) and Certified Urban Planner (CUD) are also available. These advanced specialty certifications recognize an individual’s in-depth knowledge, experience, and leadership skills in either environmental planning, transportation planning or urban design. They were granted to AICP certified planners who have demonstrated at least eight years of professional experience in their respective fields and have successfully passed a rigorous examination. The exam period is offered one time per year, in May. To find out more about ASC follow this link to the National APA website. The California Chapter gained 11 ASCs in 2011, the inaugural year of the program: 9 CEPs and 2 CTPs. In 2012 the Chapter added 4 CEPs and 2 CTPs.  In 2014 the Chapter added 3 CEPs and 7 CTPs.

California’s new ASC AICP CEP, CTP and CUD Recipients

APA California celebrates our certified members:

The Chapter also maintains records for recent years’ new AICP members. Go here to view the archive files.

AICP Exam Information

Have you noted the initials “AICP” following your fellow planners’ names?  If you’ve thought about becoming AICP yourself, now is the time for investigation and action!

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. Certified planners use their skills to find solutions to community problems and carry the community toward its desired long-term goals. 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. Individuals applying to take the AICP Certification exam must demonstrate that they have engaged in professional planning experience that qualifies them for AICP certification.

A complete description of the AICP process and requirements is found on the APA National website.

The Exam Window for the November 2020 AICP exam period is November 9 – 23, 2020.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE: In order to assist exam-takers from the California Chapter with the cost of the AICP Exam, the Chapter will award Eight AICP Exam Fee Scholarships to offset applicants’ costs. The AICP Exam Fee Scholarship program was established to offer assistance to individuals who may defer taking or are unable to take the AICP exam because of the cost. One AICP Exam Fee Scholarship will be awarded for each of the eight (8) sections within the California Chapter.

Scholarship recipients pay reduced fees to AICP as follows:

  • Approved AICP applicants: $75 (exam fee only). The fee is reduced from $425 and all applicants pay the $85 application fee.
  • NEW! AICP Candidate Pilot Program Participants –the exam registration fee will only be reduced by $25 (exam fee only). The fee is reduced from $100 to $75.

To be eligible for an AICP Exam Reduced Fee Scholarship for the November 2020 AICP Exam, please complete this application and email it to Sharon Grewal, AICP, Vice President of Professional Development at sharon.grewal. [email protected] no later than on Wednesday, October 14, 2020. Late applications cannot be accepted.

Please go to the AICP heading on the Chapter’s website under Professional Development to find and review the application. We encourage you to pursue this scholarship if any of the criteria in the application apply to you.

We urge you to explore the opportunity to become a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners in 2020!

And, come to the AICP Prep Session at the conference where you can learn more about preparing for the exam and hear from those who have passed the exam!


APA California is pleased to offer a complete on-demand AICP exam training course. With over 12 hours of instruction by relevant field experts, this course provides the guidance and materials needed to better prepare for the exam. Study at your own pace! Learn valuable exam taking tips! All registrants will receive course updates regarding recent changes to the AICP exam process and scheduling.  The full course cost is $75 for APA Members, $25 for Student Members.

Topics include:

  • Part 1: Planning History and Context
  • Part 2: Exam and Training Course Overview (Free)
  • Part 3: Plan Making and Implementation
  • Part 4: Regulatory Law
  • Part 5: Ethics Training
  • Part 6: Public Participation
  • Part 7: Planning Trends, Demographics & Transportation
  • Part 8: Leadership, Administration & Management

Register here to access the full course.


The San Diego, Northern, and Los Angeles sections typically offer a series of AICP Exam Study sessions during the year. Please contact Lorena Cordova [[email protected]] for information on the San Diego sessions; Dr. Don Bradley [[email protected]] for the Northern sessions, and Tim Hou [[email protected]] for the Los Angeles sessions.


The APA’s Chapter Presidents Council (CPC) offers its CPC Study Manual for those who are preparing to take the AICP written exam. The purpose of the study manual is to help review basic planning concepts and to practice skills that are necessary for taking a multiple-choice test. PLEASE NOTE: The Study Guides are out of stock at this time due to reduced manufacturing in response to Covid-19.

Information on AICP Exams