PMBOK Release Date

PMBOK® Guide Release Date

Project Managers at all stages of their career should aim to stay current with content contained in the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) standards and publications. Available in multiple languages, and free to all current PMI members in a digital format, the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) has a 25+ year history. Whether for keeping skills relevant, adapting project management practices to meet current business needs, or preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification exam, Project Managers can benefit from a deep understanding of the latest release of the PMBOK® Guide.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification

Around the world, project managers and trainers have asked: “What is the PMBOK® Guide release date?” due to the far-reaching impact of this professional resource. The Project Management Institute released a new edition of their A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) in August 2021. The changes for the PMBOK® Guide are reflective of changes in the profession since the 2017 PMBOK® Guide – Sixth edition. The new edition of the PMBOK® Guide reflects conceptual shifts to value delivery over deliverables and the use of different project methodologies even within a single organization. Project Management Professionals (PMP)® can demonstrate their understanding of the PMBOK® Guide and many other foundational project management-focused skills through a passing score on the certification exam.

Why PMI has the PMBOK® Guide

For PMI to propel its guide into global notoriety as the profession’s most widely adopted standard, it must be a vetted body of knowledge backed by data and industry best practices. Benefits to having a guide for project management, the PMBOK® Guide as it is called, include:

  • allows companies to standardize practices across teams, departments, and divisions thus building unity and consistency no matter where in the company
  • helps project managers to work with a standardized system thus expanding career opportunities across companies
  • reduces project failure by documenting methods, tools, and techniques that consistently work while simultaneously sharing what does not work
  • allows for customization of processes to adapt to specific company requirements thereby balancing best practice with personalization
PMBOK® Guide Release Date

When thinking of the PMBOK® Guide, keep this old saying in mind: “To break the rules, first you have to know the rules.” When project managers invest time in learning the rules, they also are investing time in learning how and where rules can be broken.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) Origins

It began as a report (1981), evolved into the “Ethics, Standards, and Accreditation Committee Final Report” (1983), and changed into the resource document “The Project Management Body of Knowledge” (1987). Each iteration was grounded in the need to advance the development of the profession of project management.

The PMBOK® Guide was published as a standalone guide in 1996 by PMI to provide its members with a global standard for all things project management: tools, processes, and terms. The same drive to continuously improve that lead to the creation of the PMBOK® Guide itself remains in place as evidenced by the process used to update and make changes to the PMBOK® Guide. It is not a static or “dusty” resource but one PMP® credential holders should understand when taking the PMP exam and stay current as changes are made in each edition.

PMBOK® Guide Release Date History

It has been twenty-five years since the 1st edition of PMI’s PMBOK® Guide was first published. With each edition of the PMBOK® Guide, PMI has refined the content to reflect the evolution of the field of project management. Whether as a digital or printed book, each edition of the PMBOK® Guide has had a release date eagerly tracked by practitioners.

PMBOK® Guide Release Date History

As noted in the summary table below, there are roughly four years between the release of the latest edition of the PMBOK® Guide. Some editions are very different than their predecessor. Other editions include only minor updates to ensure the relevancy of content. One major change to note, the sixth edition (2017) content was revised to not be fully replaced by the 7th edition; rather, it has been refined and in some way now compliments some of the more technically focused content found in the Sixth Edition. Depending on the available technology at the time of the release of each PMBOK® Guide, there has been a digital version, a physical version, or both made available by PMI.

History of the PMBOK® Guide Publication

7th Edition – 20213rd Edition – 2004
6th Edition – 20172nd Edition – 2000
5th Edition – 20131st Edition – 1996
4th Edition – 2009Whitepaper – 1987

Due to its impact at an individual, business, and industry level, it is important to know the next PMBOK® Guide release date. As of August 2021, PMI has made available the latest edition of the PMBOK® Guide for free to active PMI members in a digital format.

Studying for the PMP Exam?

PMBOK® Guide Latest Edition

The PMBOK® Guide includes The Standard for Project Management. “The standard is the foundation upon which the vast body of knowledge builds, and the guide serves to capture and summarize that knowledge.”For project managers most familiar with the earlier versions including the Sixth, refer to PMI’s PDF handout mapping changes for the 7th edition PMBOK® Guide. The passionate PMP® credential holder can connect with PMI to learn about progress made in the profession of project management in each new release by sending an email to PMI at

PMBOK® Guide 7th Edition Release

The PMBOK® Guide latest edition (PMBOK® Guide7th edition) has updates including performance domains, tailoring, and models, methods, and artifacts. Changes from the PMBOK® Guide 6th edition are more than just small process-focused tweaks. At a conceptual level, the PMBOK® 7th edition is an update in all things project management for all PMP® credential holders. Key changes for the PMBOK® Guide include:

  • The Standard for Project Management has moved from processes to principles
  • The knowledge areas have been replaced by performance domains
  • The focus has shifted from a single project manager to team members and roles
  • The traditional waterfall approach is now modified to include a tailored approach for project-related work

One consideration for the latest edition of the PMBOK® Guide is it includes both:

  • The Standard for Project Management, which carries the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) designation, and
  • A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), a framework for applying the lessons in the standard using the broader body of knowledge most important to the project management profession.

For those wondering how the PMBOK® Guide relates to the PMP exam, PMI has published a list of sources their exam creators have used to base their questions on and the PMBOK® Guide is featured as a major source. This reference list, along with the current exam content outline (ECO), should be used to prepare to take the PMP® certification exam. According to PMI®, the list of sources is not the complete list, but it does provide a large cross-section for students to base their studies on.

PMBOK® Guide 7th Edition Formats

As PMI describes it, each release of their flagship guide “… is a fundamental resource for effective project management in any industry.”Note current PMI members can download a full version of the last edition of the PMBOK® Guide in a PDF format. In the PDF file, project managers can easily search for keywords and terms in support of their current work and as part of the preparation for taking the PMP® certification exam.

PMBOK® Guide 7th Edition

With the digital version, project managers can use Adobe Acrobat software to highlight and bookmark key sections. The digital version is also helpful as there is no need to worry about leaving the printed book at a desk or having to lug it around between locations.

Why the PMI® updates the PMBOK® Guide

Each new edition reflects careful consideration of project management profession changes. Changes to the PMBOK® Guide – 7th edition were made based on PMI research, both with market surveys and working with practitioners around the globe.PMI® issued a FAQ in March 2021 sharing the motivation behind the release of the latest guide:

“Based on feedback from project managers across industries and around the world, we heard there was room to improve the content and structure to reflect current ways of working. Practitioners are now tasked with identifying the right delivery approach (predictive, adaptive, or hybrid) to get the job done and deliver value. We recognized that we needed to update the PMBOK® Guide in order to stay relevant and meet the needs of our customers.”

Know the PMBOK® Guide 7th edition will not be the last. The history of the PMBOK® Guide will progress from the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th to undoubtedly the 8th edition and beyond. The continuous improvement efforts do not stop with a release of a new guide edition.

How often the PMBOK® Guide is updated

Using industry research from job bank data, data, and member surveys, PMI updates the PMBOK® Guide about every 3 to 5 years to ensure alignment with where the profession is and where it is headed. The standard Standard for project Project management Management is an American National Standards Institute or ANSI standard, which means that every four to five years, it has to be updated, reaffirmed, or retired.

How the latest edition of the PMBOK® Guide affects the PMP® certification exam

For both the latest and future versions of the PMBOK® Guide, students intending to sit for the PMP® exam should understand (not just memorize!) the concepts laid out in the guide and be able to apply them to a given scenario to determine the best course of action to be taken. The scenarios provided on the PMP® certification exam may lend themselves to having more than one plausible answer to the question. But when sitting for the PMP® exam students will be asked to choose the best answer among the choices given which requires more than just simply recalling a term based on memory. Students should possess a well-rounded understanding of project management concepts found in the PMBOK® Guide, as well as the other texts found on the PMP exam reference list. 

How does the release of PMBOK® Guide – 7th edition affect students who were studying for the PMP® exam before its release? 

The release of the 7th edition does not directly affect students studying before its August 2021 release. According to PMI, the PMP® certification exam will not have changes until fall 2021, but students who are anticipating taking the exam in late fall 2021 (Q3) or early winter 2021 (Q4) should be prepared to see questions that might have been sourced from the latest version of the PMBOK® Guide.

Will the changes made in PMBOK® Guide – 7th edition be reflected on the PMP® certification exam?

PMI® has stated there will be a slow rollout of new questions added to the PMP® exam question bank based on the new version of the PMBOK Guide, rather than a complete replacement of questions based on previous editions of the guide. Previous updates to the PMBOK® Guide have resulted in a more complete replacement of the PMI question database.

How can students prepare for editions following the 7thedition?

PMI updates its standards every 3-5 years, so students should focus on the 7th edition for the foreseeable future. The PMP® certification exam may be impacted by a change to the exam content outline (ECO) prior to the next edition of the PMBOK® Guide being released, as it also typically follows a 3-5-year update cycle. The last PMBOK® Guide release date was August 2021.


For additional information, including access to the 6th, 7th, or future releases of the PMBOK® Guide, look to­. Both current and prospective PMP credential holders should make a note when the PMI posts a PMBOK® Guide release date, and always review the latest edition to ensure they stay current with the best practices of project management.

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Megan Bell
Megan Bell
Project Manager & Writer at Project Management Academy
Megan Bell