Sustainable Urban Planning Program Begins Accreditation Process

The program received “candidacy status” this month and aims to be fully accredited beginning in 2019.

Sustainable Urban Planning program students
Sustainable Urban Planning program students after presentations at Yonsei University in Seoul in May 2016. The program, which has grown considerably since its launch, received "candidacy status," the first step to becoming fully accredited by 2019.
January 12, 2017

The George Washington University’s Sustainable Urban Planning Program reached a milestone this month in its process to receive accreditation from the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB).

The program’s master of professional studies degree, housed in the College of Professional Studies, received the PAB’s “candidacy status,” a required first step that indicates the program meets various criteria required to be considered for full accreditation.

For example, the program must have conferred at least 25 master’s degrees and have submitted various materials to the PAB, including a strategic plan, self-study report and various data about the program and its successes. Having fulfilled the requirements, PAB informed the university it received “candidacy status” as of Jan. 1.

“This is a major landmark in the progression of the program,” said John Carruthers, program director.

Currently, PAB accredits 72 master’s and 16 bachelor’s degrees in planning in North America. Accreditation recognizes a program’s quality and indicates it meets standards developed by PAB with input from experts in the field.

“Our mission is to ensure high-quality education for future urban planners,” said Jesmarie Johnson, PAB associate director.

Ms. Johnson added that employers could be assured that graduates of PAB-accredited programs have the requisite “knowledge, skills and values necessary for effective practice,” while prospective students to a PAB-accredited program can be confident that “the program is engaged in continuous review and quality improvement.”

To become accredited, PAB will send a three-member team of peer reviewers, comprised of two planning professors and one planning practitioner, to conduct a three-day, on-site evaluation of the program, Ms. Johnson said. The visit includes a review of materials prepared by GW’s Sustainable Urban Planning program as well as interviews with administrators, faculty and students in the program. If accreditation is granted, PAB determines the term, up to seven years.

If accredited, the Sustainable Urban Planning program would be the only PAB-accredited program in the District.

“We are proud that our relatively new program in Sustainable Urban Planning has reached such an important milestone,” said Ali Eskandarian, CPS dean. “We will make sure the program is provided with the necessary resources to achieve full accreditation.”

Dr. Carruthers said interest in the Sustainable Urban Planning program has “grown exponentially” since its launch in 2011, including from students all around the world, and it not only boasts a group of distinguished alumni but has a clear path forward outlined in its strategic plan.

Planning programs differ in their focus areas, Dr. Carruthers said, and GW’s program is particularly globally oriented—offering students a study abroad opportunity in Seoul, South Korea and soon one in Dhaka, Bangladesh, as well—and emphasizes planning for climate change adaption and mitigation. The program is also unique in that it offers students direct access to many accomplished planning experts currently working in the field, both in private and public sectors.

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CPS Sustainable Urban Planning Program signs formal agreement to share research, teaching knowledge with Korean Research Institute on Human Settlements.