Licensing of Architects in the United States of America

Graduate Architecture Program Information

(source: National Council of Architectural Registration Boards – NCARB)

All U.S. States, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories (Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) require individuals to be licensed (registered) before they may call themselves architects or contract to provide architectural services. Many architecture school graduates work in the field even though they are not licensed or while they are in the process of becoming licensed. However, a licensed architect is required to take legal responsibility for all work. Licensure requirements normally include: (1) a professional degree in architecture, (2) a period of practical training or internship, and (3) passage of all sections of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

1. In most jurisdictions, the professional degree in architecture must be from a school of architecture whose program is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Foreign-educated individuals who wish to apply for NCARB certification or for registration in most jurisdictions and who do not have a professional degree from a NAAB-accredited architecture program may have their educational credentials evaluated through Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA), administered by the NAAB.*

2. All architectural registration boards require a training period before candidates may become licensed. Many jurisdictions have adopted the training standards from the Intern Development Program (IDP), now renamed the Architectural Experience Program (AXP), administered by NCARB. These standards stipulate broad and diversified training in identified areas of architectural practice.

3. After completing a professional degree, and, in some jurisdictions, the required internship period, or portion thereof, intern architects are eligible to sit for the Architect Registration Examination. The examination tests candidates on a broad body of practice-acquired architectural knowledge, and is given in sections throughout the year. Candidates must pass all sections of the ARE.

Once candidates for professional registration complete the above requirements and meet any additional standards established by their registration board, they may become licensed to practice in that jurisdiction.

Most jurisdictions require continuing education to maintain licensure. Requirements vary but usually involve the completion of a certain number of hours of study every year or two through seminars, workshops, formal university classes, conferences, self-study courses, or other sources.

Related Organizations

For more information, contact:

National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)
1801 K Street NW, Suite 700K
Washington, DC 20006
tel: (202) 879-0520
fax: (202) 783-0290

National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)
1101 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 410
Washington, DC 20036
tel: (202) 783-2007
fax: (202) 783-2822

Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA)

*When applying for a professional license as an architect in most jurisdictions or when applying for a NCARB certificate, foreign-educated applicants who have not earned a professional degree accredited by the NAAB, normally must request an EESA evaluation report to determine if their previous studies meet the NCARB Education Requirement and can be considered by NCARB as an acceptable alternative to a NAAB-accredited degree. This report compares the subjects completed by the applicant with the NCARB Education Standard. The report specifies which requirements have been met and any deficiencies in meeting portions of the standards. The evaluation process is initiated through NCARB and normally takes at least 45 business days after EESA has received all required application materials, including certified academic transcripts, course descriptions, and an application fee of approx. $2,500.00 (USD).

Last Modified: Aug. 11, 2022