Planning Experience Essays

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See updated deadlines for the May 2021 certification cycle

Submit Your Essays

Members must pass the AICP Certification Exam and their planning experience essays must be approved before AICP Certification is earned.

Download the AICP Guide: Planning Experience Essays for detailed information on the essay requirements and general tips and criterion-specific response instructions and guidance.

Essay Criteria

The AICP Commission has established three criteria that distinguish the experiences of professional planners from those of layperson planners, allied professionals, community stakeholders, and elected or appointed officials:

  • Professional planners demonstrate a professional level of responsibility and resourcefulness while applying a planning process appropriate to the project or situation.
  • Professional planners evaluate multiple impacts to a community when implementing professional planning tasks.
  • Professional planners influence public decision making in the public interest.

To become an AICP certified planner, members must write three short essays that describe and explain how their professional experiences align with the criteria.

Essay Response Requirements

  • Each response must be between 250-500 in length.
  • Each response must be based on the member's verified professional experience (but does not need to address the entirety of that experience).
  • Each response must be unique and aligned with its respective criterion (i.e., a response cannot be repeated for multiple criteria).
  • Each response must be self-contained and self-explanatory (i.e., a response must not be dependent on information provided in a different response, an employment verification letter, or external documentation).

Be sure you've thoroughly read the guidance in the AICP Guide: Planning Experience Essays before beginning your essays.

Planning Experience Essay Tips

Essay Review Process

Our team of AICP certified planners will collaborate in evaluating your essays to determine whether they meet the required criteria for professional planning experience.

Planning experience essays are a crucial component in the certification process and must be approved before certification can be earned. If your essays are denied, you'll receive detailed feedback provided from our review team that provides the reasons for denial so you can revise your essays during a future window.

If you applied as an expedited submission, you'll have one week from the date of notification to revise and resubmit your essays for a second review during the same window. A second essay submission in the same window does not guarantee an approval.

May 2021 AICP Certification Cycle

Essay Dates

Expedited Essay Review Window Opens February 9, 2021, 9:00 a.m. CT
Expedited Essay Review Window Closes February 16, 2021, 3:00 p.m. CT
Regular Essay Window Opens February 16, 2021, 3:00 p.m. CT
Regular Essay Window Closes February 23, 2021, 3:00 p.m. CT

May 2021 AICP Certification Cycle Fees*

Application Fee $70
Planning Experience Essay Fee $220
Expedited Essay Review $290
AICP Exam Registration Fee $220
AICP Exam Transfer Fee $100
Planning Experience Essay Appeal Fee $100

*All fees are non-refundable