APA Ethical Principles in Planning

This statement is a guide to ethical conduct for all who participate in the process of planning as advisors, advocates, and decision makers. It is a guide and not a code by which individuals may be held accountable.


Members elect the APA Board of Directors and the AICP Commission. The Board delegates day-to-day operations to its staff in Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

  • APA Board of Directors
  • AICP Commission
  • Chapter Presidents Council
  • Divisions Council
  • Student Representatives Council

APA Senior Staff

We measure our success by the successes of our members and the communities they serve.

    Media Center

    Learn about APA, its members, and the latest planning-related news.

    International Initiatives

    Challenges and successes often cross geographic, national, and institutional borders. Here are some examples of how APA is involved worldwide:

    • Global Planners Network
    • World Town Planning Day
    • United Nations Habitat
    • World Urban Forum

    APA by the Numbers

    • 40,000 members from 90 countries
    • 47 chapters throughout the United States
    • 24 divisions that embrace the wide range of planning
    • Office location: Chicago

    A Brief History of the American Planning Association

    On October 1, 1978, the American Planning Association emerged from the consolidation of the American Institute of Planners and the American Society of Planning Officials. Both memberships and boards had overwhelmingly approved the consolidation earlier in the year and decided to create a single independent, not-for-profit educational organization that was:

    ... organized exclusively for charitable, educational, literary and scientific purposes to advance the art and science of planning and the activity of planning — physical, economic, and social — at the local, regional, state and national levels.

    Within APA would be a professional institute — the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) — that would be responsible for the national certification of professional planners.

    Although AIP was incorporated in 1917 as the American City Planning Institute (renamed the American Institute of Planners in 1939), and ASPO in 1934, we trace our roots even further back to 1909 and the first National Conference on City Planning in Washington, D.C. From that and subsequent conferences, the organized planning movement emerged.

    This model of a single organization — a "big tent" for everyone interested in planning, with an internal institute to advance the interests of the profession — was unique at the time and has attracted great interest around the world.

    The planning movement has been well served by APA. We have grown from an organization of 13,000 to more than 40,000 members, of whom 17,000 are certified by AICP.

    Collections of historical papers about the beginnings of these organizations reside at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at the national planning archives at Cornell University.