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.

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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.

Learn more about 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

  • Oct 24

    2019 MCP Webinar Recordings

    October 24, 2019 - January 31, 2020

    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.

  • Jan 14

    2020 Introduction to Lakes Online Course

    January 14, 2020 - March 13, 2020

    Six-week online course designed for lake enthusiasts interested in learning about ecology, aquatic plants, watersheds, shorelines and more. Includes video lectures, discussion forums, quizzes, and live ask-an-expert webinars with instructors.

  • Feb 6

    MSU Extension Zoning Administrator Certificate Program

    February 6, 2020 - February 7, 2020 1/14 9 -1:30 a.m. & 1/22 1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. EST (prior to 2/6-7 program) Bay Harbor Village Hotel & Conference Center 4000 Main St. Bay Harbor, MI 49770

    The MSU Extension Zoning Administrator Certificate Program teaches zoning administration techniques to reduce legal risks to the zoning administrator and their community.

  • Feb 12

    Citizen Planner Oakland County

    February 12, 2020 - April 1, 2020 2100 W. Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford Township, MI, 48328

    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.

  • Feb 13

    Citizen Planner Ingham County

    February 13, 2020 - March 26, 2020 121 E. Maple Street, Mason, MI 48854

    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.

  • Feb 20

    Citizen Planner Macomb County

    February 20, 2020 - March 26, 2020 21885 Dunham Road, Clinton Township, MI 48036

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

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