Land use education and training to locally appointed and elected planning officials throughout Michigan. Teaches the fundamentals on roles, responsibilities and best practices for planning and zoning in Michigan.

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.

Citizen Planner Classroom Program

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

  1. Understanding the Planning and Zoning Context: Learn the legal sources and limitations of planning and zoning authority and explore your understanding of ethical decision-making.
  2. Planning for the Future of Your Community: Recognize the function and importance of a master plan, know the process for developing one and its relationship to zoning.
  3. Implementing the Plan with Zoning: Discover the importance of zoning, learn how zoning is administered and gain confidence in your zoning reviews, including site plans. 
  4. Making Zoning Decisions: Learn how to adopt and amend a zoning ordinance, understand the role of the zoning board of appeals and obtain skills in basic property development methods.
  5. Using Innovative Planning and Zoning: Strategize with placemaking and design-based solutions for local and regional success in the New Economy.
  6. Successfully Fulfilling Your Role: Strengthen your ethical decision-making skills, apply standards to your decision-making and know when to ask for help.

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 a comprehensive training manual. Review the listing of planned Events linked at the top of this page or contact the Citizen Planner office for information on upcoming events.

Citizen Planner Online

Citizen Planner Online is a completely online, self-paced version of the program designed for individuals who can’t fit a six-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 so that individuals can do as much or as little at one time as fits their schedule. 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, 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. 

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 (NEW STREET ADDRESS)
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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Upcoming Events

  • Feb 21

    2019 Master Citizen Planner Live Webinar Series

    February 21, 2019 - December 19, 2019 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

    This webinar series is designed to offer continuing education for Master Citizen Planners in a convenient online opportunity and is open to all planning and zoning officials.

  • Mar 12

    Facilitative Leadership - March 2019

    March 12, 2019 - March 14, 2019 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Ziibiwing Cultural Center, 6650 E. Broadway in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

    This three-day class is for both new and experienced leaders, managers, facilitators and graduate students who would like to develop or improve their facilitative leadership s

  • Mar 21

    Citizen Planner Macomb County

    March 21, 2019 - May 2, 2019 MSU Extension, 21885 Dunham Road, VerKuilen Building Entrance E, Clinton Township, MI 48036

    This 6-session series covers land use education and training. The course is intended for local appointed and elected officials, zoning administrators and interested citizens.

  • Apr 3

    Citizen Planner Lake County

    April 3, 2019 6:00PM - 9:00PM 6 - 9 p.m. Webber Township, 2286 W. Springtime Street, Baldwin, MI 49304

    This 6-session series covers land use education and training. The course is intended for local appointed and elected officials, zoning administrators and interested citizens.

  • Jul 9

    Master Citizen Planner Webinar Recordings

    July 9, 2019 Webinar

    Master Citizen Planner webinars are a convenient, online option for continuing education among Master Citizen Planners and all planning and zoning officials.

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