Land use education and training to locally appointed and elected planning officials throughout Michigan. Citizen planners who have completed the program testify to the value of learning the latest in the art and science of land use planning.

The Michigan State University Extension Citizen Planner Program offers land use education for locally appointed and elected planning officials, and interested residents, throughout Michigan. This non-credit course leads to a certificate of completion awarded by MSU Extension. Advanced training through the Master Citizen Planner (MCP) credential is also available. The Citizen Planner Program is offered in a classroom or via video conference setting, or through a convenient self-paced opportunity called Citizen Planner Online.

To see all upcoming Citizen Planner events, click on the Events page or on “View more events” in the events listing.

Citizen Planner Classroom Program

Citizen Planner Classroom a seven-week course offered in a classroom setting or through video conferencing. Participants earn the certificate by successfully completing all seven core sessions. Courses are held during consecutive weeks at a local facility, or via computer-based video at your home or office. Each three-hour session includes lectures and hands-on learning exercises. The seven core sessions provide a basic skills on roles, responsibilities, and best practices for planning and zoning in Michigan, including:

  1. Introduction to Planning and Zoning: Smart Growth and the New Economy, Conflict of Interest and Planning Resources
  2. Legal Foundations of Planning and Zoning: Cases, Statutes and other Planning Authority
  3. Roles and Responsibilities, Part I: Master Plan and Planning Process, Sub-Area Plans, and Working with the Public
  4. Roles and Responsibilities, Part II: Zoning, Site Plans and Zoning Board of Appeals Process
  5. Plan Implementation and Development Controls: Subdividing Land, Zoning Controls and Non-Regulatory Techniques
  6. Innovative Planning and Zoning: Green Development, Form-Based Code, Traditional Neighborhood Design and Conservation Design
  7. The Art of Community Planning: Participation, Effective Meetings and Managing Conflict

Citizen Planner instructors include MSU Extension educators, MSU faculty, and practicing planners and attorneys in Michigan. The registration fee for the Citizen Planner Classroom Program is $295 and includes all sessions and a comprehensive training manual. Review the listing of planned events on the right side of this page or contact the Citizen Planner office for information on coming events.

Citizen Planner Online

Citizen Planner Online is a completely online, self-pace version of the program designed for individuals who can’t fit a seven-week course into their schedule, or who prefer this style of learning. It takes approximately 15 hours or so to complete, and can be accessed 24/7 – do as much or as little at one time as you like. Citizen Planner Online is completely redesigned and now more engaging than ever. To participate, you will need a broadband internet connection and a desktop computer, laptop, or tablet (iPad or Android). Larger screens will provide a better experience for you. The cost of the course is $275 per person. This program also leads to an MSU Extension certificate of completion. Watch the video below to learn more.

Select one of the options below to register for Citizen Planner Online:

Master Citizen Planner Credential

Participants who complete the Citizen Planner Classroom Program or Citizen Planner Online are eligible to earn the Master Citizen Planner (MCP) credential. In addition to completing the course, the MCP credential requires passage of an online exam and capstone presentation, and meeting annual continuing education requirements.

Master Citizen Planners may receive incentives, such as course discounts, exclusive training opportunities, and scholarships for annual conferences and regional training offered by partnering organizations. The MCP designation is an achievement recognized as the standard of excellence among planning officials and community leaders in Michigan.

How to become a Master Citizen Planner

Citizen Planner Advanced Academy

The Citizen Planner Advanced Academy is an annual training opportunity developed for Master Citizen Planners. Offered each year in early June, the Advanced Academy includes instruction on the latest developments within the discipline of planning and zoning, plus emerging land use hot topics statewide. While the program is tailored to MCPs, it is open to all. Explore details of this year’s Citizen Planner Advanced Academy.

Citizen Planner Impacts

Read about the history of the Citizen Planner Program, including stories about program impacts and details on a long-term evaluation in the Planning & Zoning News, an Extension bulletin - Measuring Impacts Using Ripple Effect Mapping and Survey Evaluation Techniques and in the Journal of Extension - Transforming the Knowledge Gap for Local Planning Officials: Impacts of Continuing Education in a Master Citizen Planner Program.


To learn more about the Citizen Planner Program, contact:

Citizen Planner
Michigan State University Extension - Van Buren County
801 Hazen St., Suite D
Paw Paw, MI 49079
Phone: 269-657-8213
Fax: 269-657-8212

Or contact the MSU Extension Land Use Educator close to you.

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