Becoming a Licensed Architect


To be eligible for the ARE and begin the licensure process, a candidate must furnish evidence of completing the required education or training experience in architectural work (or the equivalent). Candidates may possess a degree from an accredited program, graduate from an Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL) program, possess a degree from a nonaccredited program, or solely document work experience. A description of each path is provided as follows (or you may use the Board’ requirements for eligibility page to find how much credit you will receive):

Degree from a NAAB/CACB Program

A professional degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB), or approved NAAB Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA) with foreign degrees earns the most architectural educational experience credit (five years) and fulfills the Board’s eligibility requirement for the ARE. A degree from a NAAB or CACB is required for Certification by NCARB and for licensure in most US jurisdictions.


  • Candidate can immediately take the ARE
  • Candidates with a degree from a NAAB or CACB program have greater access for reciprocal licensure in other US jurisdictions (37 require it)
  • A degree from a NAAB or CACB program is required for NCARB Certification

Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL) Program

IPAL is an option available for candidates pursuing licensure in California. The IPAL program integrates the experience and examination aspects with a degree from a NAAB program. Candidates can complete the licensure requirements while earning an accredited degree. IPAL programs provide a structured approach to complete the AXP and take each division of the ARE before graduation.

A candidate enrolled in an IPAL program may fulfill all three aspects of licensure in less time than it typically takes candidates to complete the licensure process. There are prerequisites specific to each school that must first be met before admission is accepted by the respective program. Contact the respective program for more details about it.

After a candidate is awarded their degree from an IPAL program and completes the ARE, they will be eligible to take the California Supplemental Examination (CSE).

Candidates interested in pursuing this path should visit NCARB’s IPAL portal for more information.


  • All the benefits of a degree from a NAAB program
  • Candidate has completed the AXP requirement and ARE
  • Candidate can be eligible to take the CSE

Degree from a Non-NAAB/CACB Program
(Degree + Work Experience)

A degree from a non-NAAB/CACB program (including a foreign degree) affords flexibility for candidates as it permits them to combine any field of study with work architectural work experience under a licensed architect. The amount of architectural work experience required varies depending upon the specific degree awarded and field of study or the number of postsecondary units earned for those without a degree. A candidate fulfills the five-year requirement by having their school submit their transcripts for evaluation and using employment verification form(s) to document work experience (work experience must be under the direct supervision of an architect licensed in a US jurisdiction).


  • Grants partial credit for degree earned
  • Allows a candidate to use work experience under an architect

Work Experience Only

The work experience only path allows candidates who work full time for five years (40 hours per week) under the direct supervision of an architect licensed in a US jurisdiction in lieu of earning a degree. Candidates use employment verification form(s) to document work experience to fulfill the education aspect for testing and met the Board’s requirements.

Some architectural training experience may be granted credit for work performed beyond 40 hours in a week. See the experience page for more information.


  • Candidate receives credit for five years of full-time work experience under an architect
  • Candidate can earn an income through their employer while gaining experience
  • No additional educational required

Note: Transcripts may either be submitted by your school(s) to NCARB or the Board. Transcripts submitted from a school to NCARB may help candidates seeking licensure in multiple US jurisdictions. Submissions by a candidate are not acceptable.