AAMU student, Luis Balderrama

4+1 Program Charts a Success!

A graduate of the Alabama A&M University Department of Community and Regional Planning  (DCRP) master’s program recently passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Exam, the only independent verification nationwide of planners’ qualifications.

As a DCRP student, Luis Balderrama was eligible to register for and take the AICP exam, an eligibility that also extends to all American Planning Association members. Persons passing the AICP Exam earn the AICP Candidate designation and receive actual AICP Certification after meeting the AICP professional planning practice requirements.

DCRP made some curriculum modifications (i.e., including the removal of the comprehensive exams for the MURP students and the addition of the mock AICP tests into one of the required  URP 529 – Professional Practice course) in Fall 2021. Similarly, the Department added the mock AICP test into a required course at the undergraduate level.  Thus, Balderrama’s success with the AICP Exam is one of the Department’s expected results from its curriculum modifications.  

Balderrama was enrolled in AAMU’s stellar MURP 4+1 program. He received his BUSP degree in December 2021 and was slated to graduate with the MURP degree in December 2022. The MURP 4+1 program was established in the Fall 2019 semester to enable academically qualified students like Balderrama to earn BSUP and MURP degrees sooner than they would in traditional program settings.

“I’m very excited to have passed the AICP exam!” exclaimed Balderrama, who had been studying since last May.  “I would study for the exam at work whenever possible. If it wasn’t for Dr. Yin’s encouraging us to take the exam, I probably would have kicked it further down the road. What I learned in his class that semester was the foundation I need to get motivated to just do it. I hope other students in our department take this leap.” 

“The planning programs at AAMU have been working hard to give students more preparation for the AICP exam, including incorporating material from the AICP exam content outline directly into our classes and giving students the chance to take practice exams,” noted Dr. Jordan Yin, AICP, who teaches the graduate Professional Practice course (URP 529).

Balderrama has also received praise for passing the exam from AICP President Mitchell Silver, FAICP.  Silver, the first African-American president of the American Planning Association, said  that the AICP-Candidate credential shows commitment to the planning profession and the communities Luis will serve.

“Luis’ ability to prepare and pass the exam is evidence of his understanding of AICP Code of Ethics and competence in planning knowledge,” said Silver. “I thank Luis for his focus and Alabama A&M University, an HBCU institution, for preparing Luis to pass the exam.”