As the accreditor for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in planning, PAB’s mission is to promote excellence among planning programs and ensure high quality education for future urban planners. In this role, PAB supports planning programs, students, and the profession as a whole. The benefits of accreditation include:
Accreditation standards assure that students receive a high‐quality education that reflects the needs of the profession and supports the supply of well‐prepared planners entering the field.
- Accreditation acts as an assurance that graduates are receiving an education with a cohesive competency for the profession. In particular, practitioners and employers view accredited programs highly in providing the core for professional education with commonly recognized standards for skills, knowledge, and values, and potential employers value planners who have been educated at accredited programs. Accreditation provides an assurance that a program’s graduates are well prepared for practice with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively serve in the workplace and with the public.
- For accredited programs, the standards provide structure and the foundations of what students need to receive in a planning education. Accreditation also provides an effective external perspective and evaluation of planning programs that identifies areas of opportunity and furthers continual improvement. In an accreditation review, programs gain a perspective of the latest developments and practices and are given an effective benchmarking against their peers.
- Standards related to faculty size, scholarship and research activities, and involvement with planning practice and the community ensure that planners in accredited programs are learning from active scholars and engaged educators.
Connecting Education to Practice
Accreditation (or a degree from an accredited program) serves as a marker of approval from the planning profession.
- Through its connections to the APA and AICP, PAB accreditation provides a “stamp of approval” from the profession that can be particularly valuable to students seeking education as an entry point into the profession.
- PAB accreditation connects to the AICP credential which provides a key means for professional advancement. Graduates from accredited planning programs are also eligible for AICP Candidacy status immediately upon graduation.
- Accreditation encourages more direct collaboration between the academy and practice through standards that emphasize faculty service to the profession and partnerships between programs and local planners.
Enhancing the Visibility of Planning
Planning is typically a relatively small program that shares resources with larger or more visible programs within its college or university. As accreditation is often valued by higher education administrators, it can improve a program’s position in negotiating for space, faculty appointments, or other forms of support. Stakeholders from unaccredited programs frequently cite the potential for higher visibility and marketing to attract higher enrollment as a motivation to seek accreditation.