Considering Accreditation?

Applying to Become an Accredited Planning Program

There are two separate application stages for seeking accreditation by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB). Planning programs must first apply to become a candidate for accreditation. Only after a program has been granted Candidacy Status, can it then apply for accreditation itself. The entire process, including both stages of application, may take three years. A detailed Accreditation Application Timeline is available.

Applying for Candidacy Status

The first step in applying for Candidacy Status is to ensure the program meets the five preconditions for accreditation as outlined in the Letter of Application for Candidacy Status. Once PAB confirms the preconditions have been met, the Program will be asked to produce a Self-Study Report, wherein it documents compliance with PAB’s standards and criteria. The Self-Study Report Manual provides instructions on how to prepare and submit the Self-Study Report, and includes the template to be used. Along with the Self-Study Report, the Program will also submit a candidacy application fee. The PAB Board will review the Self-Study Report and meet with the program administrator to discuss the Program. If Candidacy Status is awarded, PAB will assign a season (fall or spring) for the Program’s Site Visit, and the Program will move on to the second stage of the accreditation process: applying for initial accreditation.

Applying for Initial Accreditation

Once a program has been granted Candidacy Status, PAB will send a three-member Site Visit Team, comprised of two planning professors and a planning practitioner, to perform a three-day, on-sight evaluation. The Program is responsible for all of the costs and logistical aspects of the visit, including arranging for the team to meet with the program’s faculty, students, alumni, the institution’s administration and members of the local professional planning community. The Site Visit Manual contains detailed information on the required and recommended elements of the Site Visit schedule. After the visit, the Site Visit Team will produce a report evaluating the program according to the PAB’s Standards. The Program will have an opportunity to comment on the Site Visit Report. The program administrator will appear before the PAB Board to respond to questions derived from the report. The PAB Board then makes a decision regarding accreditation.


If you have questions about these application processes or any of the materials included here, please do not hesitate to contact Jesmarie Johnson, Executive Director of the PAB, at (773) 334-7200 or

PAB Accreditation Standards Review

PAB is in the process of reviewing its accreditation standards for planning programs. To learn about the process and how you can be involved click here

Useful Documents

Accredited Planning Programs

The list of PAB-accredited planning programs.

Planning Programs Granted Candidacy Status

The list of planning programs seeking accreditation which have been granted Candidacy Status.

Considering Accreditation?

Instructions for becoming an accredited planning program.

Summary of Recent Actions

History of Accredited Programs

This list includes all degree programs currently and previously accredited by the PAB.

2017 Accreditation Standards

(File Download: 338kB)

Standards approved March 3, 2017.
Programs submitting Self-Study Reports in 2018 will use the 2017 standards.

PAB Policies and Procedures Manual

(File Download: 492kB)

PAB combined its Accreditation Document with its Policies Manual to form a single new manual: The PAB Policies and Procedures Manual. This new manual contains all the PAB policies and procedures and provides guidance on the accreditation process.

The Value of Accreditation

(File Download: 268kB)

How it works and how it benefits students and the public; a brief document developed by regional, national and programmatic accrediting organizations, and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

CHEA YouTube Video: Accreditation and Its Value To You

Accreditation Toolkit

A publication by CHEA designed to provide information on accreditation to students, faculty, presidents, chancellors, and governing boards of higher education institutions. For updated information broken down by group, please visit: