Architectural Education

The other day I cam across this informative post on the Association of collegiate schools of Architecture website and thought I would share it in case anyone was interested in following the architectural path in school. I was a little lost when I went through school and wished that they had such great resources like these for me to look through at the time. Now I am an architect in Bakersfield and My youngest son is about to go away to college on the East coast so my educational research has been up the last couple weeks naturally : )

Here is a section of the article I found to be very helpful. Again I obtained this information from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture website:

Paul Brown Architect Educational Blog Post


There are 125 schools offering professional architecture degree programs in the United States and Canada. Out of necessity you will need to limit carefully the number of schools you wish to investigate. Since these programs look primarily to prepare students for potential careers in architecture, you should also consider issues of architectural licensure as well as many educational variables. Some of these issues are personal and others pertain to the schools you are considering. We will begin here with the basic facts about licensure.

Routes to Licensure. To begin with, you should understand the overall routes to becoming a registered architect. Regulation of the profession of architecture, including the licensing of practitioners, is a function of each US state/territory or Canadian province exercising its power to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people. The entire path to licensure requires eight to ten years – five to seven years in school plus a three-year internship. The internship years are spent as a salaried employee in an architectural or related practice working under the supervision of registered professionals. After you meet the internship requirements you will be required to pass a comprehensive examination. Once you fulfill the education, internship and examination requirements of a jurisdiction, you can become a “licensed” or “registered” architect.

You should be aware that each state or jurisdiction registers architects by its own set of requirements. The requirements are generally consistent from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but there are variations. These variations should not be an influence in your selection of any architectural program. All jurisdictions have an education requirement which may be satisfied by earning a professional degree in architecture accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) in the United States or the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) in Canada. Many registration boards requiring a professional degree in architecture from an NAAB/CACB-accredited program also accept other education assessed as equivalent (e.g., a professional degree in architecture from a foreign institution). Not all boards require a professional degree from an accredited program to satisfy their education requirements. Some boards require a pre-professional degree in architecture, while others require a bachelor’s degree in any subject. The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) in the US and the Committee of Canadian Architectural Councils (CCAC) have established standards and criteria that most licensing boards have adopted as their standard for admission to licensing examinations. Satisfaction of these requirements facilitates initial and subsequent reciprocal licensure. For the most up-to-date information regarding particular state requirements, contact NCARB or CCAC.

In general, it is best to pursue your professional architectural education in the country in which you intend to practice and be registered. However, in the past several years discussions regarding reciprocity between countries (such as essentially exists between the United States and Canada) have been promising and may lead to an easy transfer between countries in the near future.

Accredited Degrees

The final issue to understand before you begin your selection process concerns the issue of an “accredited professional degree program.” The NAAB and the CACB, the national architecture accrediting bodies in the United States and Canada respectively, determine whether schools of architecture meet certain minimum education criteria.

It is worth emphasizing that schools of architecture are not accredited – only specific professional degree programs are accredited. Most schools offer only one or two accredited architectural degrees, but may have other related degree programs. For example, a school of architecture may offer a program in historic preservation or architectural engineering as well as the accredited professional architecture degree program. Much of the course work may be the same, but if you plan to pursue licensure, you may encounter registration difficulties later in your career unless the program in which you are enrolled is the NAAB- or CACB-accredited professional degree program.

Having a degree that is accredited is important for meeting the educational qualifications necessary to take most states’ architectural licensing examinations. The requirements vary from state to state and province to province, even from year to year, despite attempts by NCARB and CCAC to achieve uniformity. For up-to-date requirements, check with your jurisdiction’s registration board. Generally, the schools will know the advantages or disadvantages of their degree programs relative to the law in their state.

Accreditation does not mean that all schools are the same. Every program has its special features and unique philosophy. Some schools offer many options while others have a more defined program. A single school may offer several accredited professional degree programs-for example, it may offer both a five-year undergraduate degree for high school graduates, and a three-and-a-half-year graduate degree intended for people who already have a degree in another field. A professional degree program is accredited by the same standards whether it leads to a Bachelor of Architecture or a Master of Architecture degree.

A new school of architecture cannot have a program accredited by NAAB until its first professional class has graduated. If the program is then accredited, most state registration boards will consider the accreditation as retroactive for two years so that the first class can benefit from accreditation. If you are considering a school that is not accredited, check with the registration boards in the jurisdictions in which you plan to practice about their rules. A few simple questions put to the schools you are considering will give you a very clear picture of their accreditation status. Suggested questions are listed at the end of this section.

The basic information above applies to everyone pursuing a career as a registered architect. Now the selection process becomes a little more difficult because you must also consider personal variables. For example, not all students studying architecture will become registered architects. Some may decide during their studies that they would rather be landscape architects or perhaps manage an architectural office rather than practice architecture in the traditional sense. The good part of considering these and other variables is that choosing a career in architecture is not just choosing a single track; many career options are available because schools of architecture celebrate and encourage diversity.

Click here to read the remainder of the article and to find the article source: the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture website