APA's Early Career Membership Program and Free Year of Membership

Q. What is the American Planning Association?

A. APA is a nonprofit public interest and research organization committed to creating healthy and vital communities through urban, suburban, regional, and rural planning. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, advance the art and science of planning to meet the needs of people and society.

Q. Who belongs to APA?

A. APA's members, a community of more than 40,000 planners, officials, and decision makers in more than 95 countries around the world. More than 5,000 APA members are students.

Q. What is the Early Career Membership Program?

A. It's a five-year membership program that gives you all the benefits of a regular APA member at a reduced cost. Early Career Membership Program participants have access to special programming at APA events and get substantial discounts on national and chapter dues, conferences, publications, and division memberships.

Q. Who is eligible for the Early Career Membership Program's first year of free membership?

A. Full-time undergraduate or graduate planning students who attend programs that are full members of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and who have never been members of APA.

Q. Why does APA offer a free year of membership to students?

A. College or graduate school may be the most financially challenging period of professional life. During this free year, you can take advantage of all the benefits of the Early Career Membership Program without having to worry about the cost. And just as you represent the future of your profession, you represent the future of APA. We hope that experiencing the advantages of membership will encourage you to stay in the Early Career Membership Program when the free year is over.

Q. Is the free membership really free?

A.There will be absolutely no cost to you for dues in either APA (the national organization) or your local chapter. (Chapter membership is required for all APA members in the United States). You may choose optional activities that require a fee, such as joining a division or attending APA's annual National Planning Conference. However, all of these options — and more — are priced at a discount for Early Career Program members.

Q. When does my period of free membership start and end?

A. You will begin to receive member benefits as soon as you're enrolled in the program. Your free year will end December 31, 2015.

Q. What happens then?

A. When your year of free membership ends, you'll be eligible for four more years in the Early Career Membership Program at prices you can afford. (In fact, a year of program membership probably costs less than most of your textbooks.) APA will send you a letter and renewal notice. While we hope that you will renew and continue to participate in the Early Career Membership Program, you are under no obligation to do so.

Q. What if I don't sign up now and decide later that I want the free year of membership?

A. Assuming you've never been an APA member, you can sign up for a free year as long as you're a full-time student and enrolled in a program that is a full member of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Check with your school's APA program administrator for information about the next enrollment period.

Q. How do I sign up?

A. Fill out the Free Student Member application and give it to your school's APA program administrator. He or she will send your information to APA and APA will enroll you right away. APA will send you an e-mail confirming your membership and you will start receiving member benefits immediately.

Q. What does the Early Career Membership Program include?

A. All of the benefits of APA regular membership, such as:

  • Membership in a local chapter
  • Chapter and national conferences and other events that offer opportunities for networking and interacting with experienced planners
  • Planning magazine 11 times a year
  • APA's member e-newsletter, APA Interact
  • Access to the member directory and other members-only resources on the APA website
  • The opportunity to improve your professional visibility and job prospects by posting your profile and resume on the APA website
  • Member discounts on purchases from APA Books

There are also special benefits just for participants in the Early Career Membership Program:

  • Membership in chapter-level Young Planners Groups (where available)
  • Reimbursement for most of the cost of National Planning Conference registration in return for on-site assistance
  • The opportunity to present your work at the National Planning Conference
  • Leadership opportunities on APA's Student Representatives Council
  • Eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, outstanding achievement awards, and other honors

How does APA's Early Career Membership Program benefit students?

A. APA is a unique and valuable partner, and what you get out of it depends on your own needs and level of involvement. For example, you may use APA's publications and website to complete assignments, conduct research, and investigate career possibilities. You can get present your work, polish your resume, and get one-to-one career guidance from planning veterans at the National Planning Conference. And by meeting practicing planners at chapter and national events, you can gain insights into planning practice and start building an important network of professional relationships.

Exactly how you use the Early Career Membership Program is up to you, but your active participation in the nationwide community of planners will enhance your professional education and establish your career on a strong foundation.