AICP Comprehensive Planning Examination

The following list may help planners who are preparing to take the AICP Comprehensive Planning Examination. Please note that the readings are presented with these understandings:

  • No reading list can span the entire range of material in the AICP exam. As a result, the list is not a substitute for professional planning experience and education.
  • It is not expected that exam takers will have read all the resources cited.
  • The readings are intended as guidelines only. While many AICP exam questions are based on these readings, many are developed from other materials of similar content.
  • Many readings are available for download on the web or in any well stocked planning office library. Those choosing to purchase readings are encouraged to do so selectively. Consider purchases that not only help in preparing to take the exam, but also serve as long lasting references for professional practice.
  • Due to copyright, site endorsement, and continuity issues, web links are provided only for readings available through the American Planning Association website or a government agency.
  • This reading list was last updated in May 2013 in conjunction with the Comprehensive Planning Examination "refresh" in place starting with the November 2013 exam window.
  • Those interested in additional APA-published reading lists should consider The Essential Planning Library Revisited and 100 Essential Books of Planning.
  • When preparing for the AICP exam, most people will identify areas of strength and those that need improvement. You may want to pay particular attention to those publications that would fill those gaps.

General Reference


Hack, Gary, Eugenie L. Birch, Paul H. Sedway, and Mitchell J. Silver. 2009. Local Planning: Contemporary Principles and Practice. Washington: ICMA.

American Planning Association (ed.). 2006. Planning and Urban Design Standards. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

APA General References

Planning magazine

Journal of the American Planning Association

PAS reports

Policy Guides

History, Theory, and Law

Blaeser, Brian W., and Alan C. Weinstein. 2008. Federal Land Use Law and Litigation. Egan, Minn.: Thompson West.

Brooks, Michael. 2002. Planning Theory for Practitioners. Chicago: APA Planners Press.

Krueckeberg, Donald (ed.). 1983. Introduction to Planning History in the United States. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Center for Urban Policy.

Lucero, Lora (ed.). 2005. Four Supreme Court Land-Use Decisions of 2005. Planning Advisory Service Report no. 535. Chicago: American Planning Association.

Scott, Mel. 1995. American City Planning Since 1890. Chicago: APA Planners Press.

Plan Making and Implementation

Berke, Philip, and David Godschalk. 2009. "Searching for the Good Plan: A Meta-Analysis of Plan Quality Studies." Journal of Planning Literature 23(3): 227-240.

Dandekar, Hemalata. 2003. Planner's Use of Information (2nd ed.). Chicago: APA Planners Press.

Gaber, John, and Sharon Gaber. 2007. Qualitative Analysis for Planning & Policy: Beyond the Numbers. Chicago: APA Planners Press.

McLean, Mary L., and Kenneth Voytek. 1992. Understanding Your Economy: Using Analysis to Guide Local Strategic Planning. Chicago: APA Planners Press.

Meier, Kenneth J., Jeffrey L. Brudney, and John Bohte. 2008. Applied Statistics for Public and Nonprofit Administration. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Publishing.

Myers, Dowell. 2008. Analysis with Local Census Data: Portraits of Change. Bingley, U.K.: Emerald.

Myers, Dowell. 1992. Analysis with Local Census Data: Portraits of Change. Boston: Academic Press, Inc.

Patton, Carl, David S. Sawicki, and Jennifer Clark. 2012. Basic Methods of Policy Analysis and Planning (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Education.

Smith, Stanley K., Jeff Tayman, and David A. Swanson. 2001. State and Local Population Projections: Methodology and Analysis. New York: Springer Publishing Co.

Functional Areas of Practice

Alexander, Christopher, and Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein. 1977. A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. New York: Oxford University Press.

Arnold, Craig Anthony. 2007. Fair and Healthy Land Use: Environmental Justice and Planning. Planning Advisory Service Report nos. 549/550. Chicago: American Planning Association.

Berke, Philip R., and David R. Godschalk. 2006. Urban Land Use Planning (5th ed.). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Daniels, Tom. 2014. Environmental Planning Handbook for Sustainable Communities and Regions. Second Edition. Chicago: APA Planners Press.

Daniels, Tom, and Katherine Daniels. 2003. Environmental Planning Handbook. Chicago: APA Planners Press.

DeGrove, John. 2003. Planning, Policy and Politics: Smart Growth and the States. Cambridge, Mass.: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Ewing, Reid, Keith Bartholomew, Steve Winkleman, Jerry Walters, and Don Chen. 2008. Growing Cooler. Washington D.C.: Urban Land Institute

Litman, Todd. 2006. Parking Management Best Practices. Chicago: APA Planners Press.

Lynch, Kevin. 1960. The Image of the City. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

McHarg, Ian L. (1969) 1991. Design with Nature. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Moore, Terry, Paul Thorsnes, and Bruce Appleyard. 2007. The Transportation/Land Use Connection. Planning Advisory Service Report no. 546. Chicago: American Planning Association.

Morris, Marya, et al. 2006. Integrating Planning and Public Health. Planning Advisory Service Report nos. 539/340. Chicago: American Planning Association.

Nolon, John, and Patricia Salkin. 2006. Land Use in a Nutshell. St. Paul, Minn.: Thomson West.

Raja, Samina, Brandon Born, and Jessica Russell. 2008. Planners Guide to Community and Regional Food Planning. Planning Advisory Service Report no. 554. Chicago: American Planning Association.

Shoup, Donald C. 2011. The High Cost of Free Parking. Chicago: APA Planners Press.

Vuchic, Vukan R. 2005. Transportation for Livable Cities. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Center for Urban Policy Research.

Weeks, Kay, and Anne Grimmer. 2001. "The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties: with guidelines for preserving, rehabilitating, restoring and reconstructing historic buildings." Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Cultural Resource Stewardship and Partnerships, Heritage Preservation Services.

Wheeler, Stephen M., and Timothy Beatley. 2004. The Sustainable Urban Development Reader. London: Routledge.

Spatial Areas of Practice

Arendt, Randall G. 2015. Rural by Design: Planning for Town and Country. Chicago: APA Planners Press.

Arendt, Randall G. 1994. Rural by Design: Maintaining Small Town Character. Chicago: APA Planners Press.

Barnett, Jonathan, F. Kaid Benfield, Amando Carbonell, Paul Farmer, Shelly Poticha, and Robert Yaro. 2007. Smart Growth in a Changing World. Chicago: APA Planners Press.

Barnett, Jonathan. 2003. Redesigning Cities: Principle, Practice, Implementation. Chicago: APA Planners Press.

Birch, Eugenie L. 2009. Urban and Regional Planning Reader. London and New York: Routledge.

Congress for the New Urbanism. 1999. Charter of the New Urbanism. New York: McGraw-Hill Books.

Duany, Andres, and Jeff Speck. 2010. The Smart Growth Manual. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Lang, Robert E., and Jennifer B. LeFurgy. 2007. Boomburbs: The Rise of America's Accidental Cities. Washington, D.C.: Brookings.

Lynch, Kevin, and Gary Hack. 1984. Site Planning. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Public Participation and Social Justice

Arnstein, Sherry R. 1969. "A Ladder of Citizen Participation." Journal of the American Institute of Planners 35(4): 216-224.

Davidoff, Paul. 1965. "Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning." Journal of the American Institute of Planners 31(4): 331-338.

Friedmann, John, Robert Nisbet, and Herbert J. Gans. 1973. "The Public Interest and Community Participation." Journal of the American Institute of Planners 39(1): 2-12.

Peattie, Lisa R. 1968. "Reflections on Advocacy Planning." Journal of the American Institute of Planners 34(2): 80-88.

AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct

American Planning Association. AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.