Introduction for Prospective Architecture Students and their Families
In the United States there are several ways to become a licensed architect, considering each state sets their own requirements for licensure. While this often proves confusing to prospective architecture students and their families, it does provide a variety of options to accommodate a range of personal needs and educational styles. The National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB) establishes minimum conditions that all professional architecture programs must meet, but allows each program to design how best to deliver an architectural education. In order to be a professional degree program it must be accredited by the NAAB, these degrees are typically B. Arch, M. Arch, or D. Arch.
As of 2015, there were 129 accredited architecture programs within the United States. Accredited programs automatically become members of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA). Once you have identified a list of programs that interest you, visit their web sites or call to request information. The best way to figure out if an architecture program will be a good fit for you is by visiting when classes are in session and speaking to current students.
The Journey (The Three E’s)
A NAAB-accredited professional degree is required for licensure in most states. There are many possible ways to complete an architectural education. At Illinois, we offer a 4 + 2 program, a four-year undergraduate pre-professional program (Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies, BS in AS) followed by a two-year NAAB accredited professional program (Master of Architecture, M. Arch). This program has been offered since the mid 1970s because we believe it provides greater educational opportunities, allows students to be more mature before deciding to enter a professional program and produced more well-rounded graduates who are better prepared for professional practice and life.
In all states, some form of internship is required for professional licensure as an architect. Illinois, along with 53 other jurisdictions participate in the National Council of Architecture Registration Board’s (NCARB) Architectural Experience Program (AXP). AXP requires interns to document their experiences in the defined categories. Interns must complete 3,740 hours in six experience areas.
Upon receiving a high school diploma, students are eligible to begin earning AXP hours. Many students find part-time or summer jobs in professional offices and begin counting AXP hours while still in school. (AXP hours can be 100% recorded within 8 months of your experience, so make sure to plan ahead).
Each state sets own rules for when an individual can begin the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). In Illinois, an intern can begin testing upon completion of a NAAB accredited professional degree program (i.e., M. Arch offered at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign). ARE 5.0 will launched in November 2016 and requires a five-part computer based exam. Each part of the exam may be taken separately. Candidates have five years to successfully pass all sections of the ARE.
For those who are on the process of ARE 4.0, you would be able to complete the rest for the next 18 months (until June 30th 2018) starting from November 2016. Use the transition calculator (https://arecalc.ncarb.org/) to help guide through the process. There is the opportunity to only need to take five exams if transferring between the two exams.
Licensure, Reciprocity, and Continuing Education (AFTER GRADUATION)
Once you’ve passed all sections of the exam, you may apply to your state registration board for a license. They will review your record and, if satisfied, you will be an architect. If in the future you choose to move or work on a project in another state, it is recommended that you apply for an NCARB certificate. Not only does this mean you can put the initials NCARB behind your name, but it also allows for a smoother process to obtain a new license in a different jurisdiction.
Architecture, like all professions, is continually changing in response to new societal demands, legal decisions and technological advancements. Continuing education is an important part of the profession and is required to maintain your license in Illinois (and many other states) and to maintain professional membership in the American Institute of Architects (AIA).