Planning Accreditation Board Update

By Mark Kulaas, FAICP

The Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) met during the American Planning Association (APA) Conference in Seattle last month. The PAB accredits higher education programs that lead to bachelor and master degrees in planning. The PAB is a cooperative program sponsored by the American Planning Association, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP).

Why is the PAB important and its meetings newsworthy? Start with its mission, which is “The Planning Accreditation Board ensures high quality education for future urban planners.” In simple terms, PAB is an important component in maintaining a legacy of planners and planning. Using terms of economics: universities are the supply side of planners; employers are the consumers of that supply. The triad partnership of APA, AICP, and ACSP provides the foundation for quality control in the supply side of this relationship.

While no Board member is a member of the Washington Chapter, several chapter members are in the site visitor pool of persons charged with reviewing accreditation and re-accreditation applications. Site visit teams consist of three persons: two university-level planning educators and one planning practitioner. The teams spend three intensive days on-site at accredited programs reviewing student work and meeting with faculty, students, university administrators, alumni, employers and APA leadership. The teams then prepare a report and recommendation to PAB on re-accreditation. 

There are three accredited planning education programs in Washington State. These are at Eastern Washington University (Bachelor and MURP) and the University of Washington (MUP). Western Washington University’s Bachelor in Urban Planning and Sustainable Development has been granted candidacy status through 2016 as a precursor to accreditation.

The PAB took action in Seattle on re-accreditation applications that were reviewed by the various site visit teams last autumn and winter. Board members and site visit pool members also met to discuss potential adjustments to the accreditation review criteria and process. Site visit team members, both educators and practitioners, had an opportunity to discuss how their visitations played out and aspects of the review criteria that could benefit from more clarity and focus.

More information on the Planning Accreditation Board including the list of accredited programs is available on their website:


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