When planning an event, providers must ensure that the content for every event or activity meet the following criteria:

  • Must be designed to meet a specific planning-related training objective. The educational purpose or objective must be clearly identified.
  • Should address the demonstrated educational needs of AICP members as outlined in AICP’s Core Competencies.
  • Must be designed to teach subject matter in appropriate depth and scope for the following minimum level of a planner in current practice with at least four years of professional experience after earning a 2-year master's degree in planning.
  • Must be unbiased and non-promotional in nature. An organization's services or products may be discussed prior to or after the completion of the CM credit portion of the activity.
  • Must be led by one or more experts on the subject matter.
  • Must be at least 30 minutes in duration.
  • Once an event or activity is entered for CM credits, the substantive content of the event or activity cannot be altered. If substantial changes in content are made, the activity must be re-entered as a new event or activity.

*For ethics and law refer to the specific section below.

Required Speaker

At least one speaker is required to enter an event, activity and on demand product. CM-events must be led by one or more subject matter experts. An expert is defined by AICP as a professional who has made a contribution to the profession through practice, teaching, research, or publications; completed works that proclaim individuality and mastery of the principles of planning taught and whose work demonstrates outstanding quality and professionalism.

Law and Ethics


Activities offering CM ethics credit must focus on training planners on the standards of ethical behavior according to the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. While general ethics courses, local ethics laws, and ethics codes from other professions can introduce relevant issues as well, the AICP Code focuses on a system of moral principles specific to professional planners. This may be accomplished using a variety of formats and techniques, including those presented in the Ethics Toolkit.

As a rule of thumb, ethics sessions should elicit self-reflection from participants and prompt them to consider how they might react to a situation or scenario. Ethics scenarios are rarely "cut and dried," and the most effective ethics sessions challenge participants to view a situation from a variety of perspectives, taking into consideration several variables.

Because the Certification Maintenance program requires 1.5 credits of ethics per reporting period, when planning ethics session, consider offerings of at least 90 minutes. This consideration would be appreciated by AICP attendees, so that one session is all that is needed to meet the requirement.

If an ethics session includes breakout groups, to receive CM ethics credit, each breakout group must be facilitated by a presenter experienced with the code who is prepared to guide the group and speak authoritatively on the topic of ethics. Group size should remain relatively small, and therefore, facilitated breakout sessions may be difficult to conduct in very large groups. Given logistics, a session that includes breakout groups must subtract 15 minutes from the length of the session in calculating the CM credit. For example, in order for a session that includes breakout groups to deliver 1.5 CM credits, the session must last 105 minutes.

A session can qualify even if it focuses on aspirational principles (or other parts of the code) rather than rules of conduct. Ethics sessions are not required to cover the code comprehensively (and probably shouldn't try, unless they are a longer format) but should focus on some aspects of it and get into more depth.

To what extent does a session have to deal with specifically planning issues to qualify? It should have a significant focus on relevant examples of ethical behavior, based on the principles described in the Code of Ethics. Ethics training for elected or appointed officials is not eligible for CM credit.

Organizers should use the Ethics in Planning: A Toolkit for Conducting Ethics Sessions as a reference to craft a training that best meets the size, goals and learning styles of their audience.


Providers must demonstrate that the content of the activity is related to planning law, such as environmental law, land use law, redevelopment law, administrative law, housing law, etc. Activities submitted for law-credit CM approval must be closely related to recently enacted planning laws or recent (recent is defined as within the last 10 years) case decisions or trend in existing planning laws or case decisions. Training on law must constitute a majority of the content of the activity.

On Demand Education

Providers may enter recorded educational products for CM credit. The recorded products for CM credit allow the flexibility of quality training anytime and anywhere. The provider must include a link to the materials (i.e. PowerPoint, PDF presentation, survey, etc.) for this CM eligible product. APA National does not post materials or recordings to its website for providers.

On-demand education has additional criteria for CM eligibility. Please consider the following learning objectives before entering your product:

  1. What evaluation tools are used to measure the efficacy of the educational product and speakers? How are those tools used to help make necessary changes to the content and delivery of the product?
  2. How does the product integrate methods by which the learner acts upon the information and knowledge that has been imparted (e.g., asking questions of the course instructor(s), writing an essay, taking a test or quiz, completing a project assignment, etc.)?
  3. How does the product use multiple methods of learning? Methods of learning include:
  • Text or course outline of course content
  • Plans
  • Photographs of case studies
  • Relevant graphics or other visuals
  • Audio lectures linked to PowerPoint presentation
  • Supplemental reading materials

Demonstrating acquisition of content

All CM-eligible products must contain a mechanism for gauging acquisition of content. Methods will vary with the format of each product, but some methods that have worked in the past are:

  • Multiple choice tests
  • Essays
  • A question-and-answer forum
  • Online discussion board
  • Additional methods, as justified by the CM Provider

Copyright and reproduction permission

Course instructors will acknowledge the source of all materials. If the materials are owned by the instructor, this will be stated in the program. All other images, photographs, reading materials, handouts, etc. will each be acknowledged in the materials. The CM provider will keep copies of all copyright and reproduction permissions and provide them upon request to the APA staff during a CM review. The provider will also obtain a copyright agreement from the course instructor(s) and make them available to APA staff.

Short, Timed Presentation Sessions

These presentations are short — often 6 or 7 minutes — and are accompanied by a timed set of slides — often 20-25 slides. The format encourages presenters to be concise and creative, and to offer a perspective or insight on planning that may depart from a traditional presentation in panel session.

To obtain CM credit for these sessions:

  1. Must meet the CM Eligibility Criteria
  2. Topical themes must be organized in 30-, 60-, 90- or 120-minute modules (e.g., "Retrofitting Suburbia" or "Public Engagement").

Unconference Event or Activity for CM Credit

The following are guidelines for events and activities seeking CM credit for an "unconference" type of format.

Recommendations, But Not Requirements

  • Social Media: Website and pre-event solicitation of ideas; Twitter, blogging, and a forum can all enhance the experience.
  • Ignite Talks: Also called Lightning Sessions can be used to kick off the event and inspire thinking about the issues; experienced speakers from allied fields (i.e. technology) as well as engaged planners can make good presenters.


AICP defines an unconference as: a participatory event in which attendees learn by shaping and leading the event as well as exchanging ideas with other individuals who have an earnest interest in the topic.

Unconferences are eligible for CM credit as long as they:

  • Meet the CM eligibility criteria.
  • Maintain the CM standards of delivery.
  • Are focused on one topic.
  • Have an event theme. Must have some boundaries or departure point such as "transforming transportation."
  • Engage an expert facilitator. An expert facilitator who fits the AICP expert definition that is a person defined as an individual who has contributed to the field of planning through practice, teaching, research or publications; has completed work that exhibits a mastery of the principles of planning; and whose work demonstrates a commitment to outstanding quality and professionalism.
  • Enable active participation from attendees.
  • Constitute a full or half day. The event should be no less than 3 hours and can be as long as 8 hours.
  • Are peer-developed and driven.
  • Have topics selected by those who attend.
  • Are planned in advance. The general format must be decided in advance and some structure created so the event transpires in a meaningful way.
  • Please note: Only portions of these events are eligible for CM. Examples of non-instructional activities, ineligible for CM credit include: Breaks, lunch, panel selection, and welcome/orientation.

Example of Schedule

9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. = CM 4.0
Welcome and Orientation (no CM)
9:30-9:45 a.m.
Table Time B (CM)
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Ignite Talks (CM)
9:45-10:15 a.m.
Lunch (no CM)
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Panel Picking (no CM)
10:15-10:45 a.m.
Table Time C (CM)
1:30-2:15 p.m.
Coffee Break (no CM)
10:45-11:00 a.m.
Table Time D (CM)
2:15-3:00 p.m.
Table Time A (CM)
11:00-11:45 a.m.
Wrap-up (CM)
4:00-4:30 p.m.

Non-CM Event Promotion

Special benefit for approved providers — you may enter your non-CM eligible events for promotion on the APA website as long as the following criteria are met:

  1. You have an active provider registration for the calendar year the event is held
  2. Education must include one of the following target audiences:

a. Emerging Professionals: Planning education that does meet the educational level of a certified planner.

b. Public Education: More basic than at a professional level for a certified planner.

c. Planning Commission and Official Education: More basic than at a professional level for a certified planner.