Architectural Licensure Upon Graduation


The National Council Architectural Registration Board (NCARB), a regulatory entity for individuals working to earn an architecture license, has created a new program that enables students to become licensed architects upon graduating college. This program is referred to as the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL) initiative. There are currently seventeen schools participating in this pilot program, although not all jurisdictions accept the requirements met through the IPAL program.

Intergrated Path to Architectural Licensure

Copyright NCARB


The principle behind this new program is completing the required hours for the Architectural Experience Program (AXP) during summer breaks. NCARB requires a minimum of 3,470 hours of professional experience spread across six experience areas. (Individual jurisdictions have additional requirements.) In the IPAL program these hours would be achieved through summer and partial semester internships.

Experience Map

Copyright The Journal of the American Institute of Architects

NCARB Experience Requirements (old & new):

The six required Architectural Registration Exams (ARE’s) would be taken throughout the degree program. Depending upon student’s curriculum, the exams could align with current core subject classes.

PROS (from personal perspective):

  • The program offers a structured and straight-lined path to earning an architecture license in an otherwise difficult process.
  • Students are able to directly apply their classroom education to real world experience, and more importantly bring real world experience back to the classroom.
  • An early start on the ARE exams is helpful due to the overwhelming content.
  • Career focused networking resulting from daily interactions with architectural professionals.
  • A study routine for exams is already established, and peer support would be readily available.

CONS (from personal perspective):

  • Architecture school is notoriously difficult to complete; NCARB has just added an additional layer of stress.
  • Studio courses tend to consume every spare second in an architectural student’s life; finding additional study time will be challenging. After all design is never complete, merely abandoned due to deadlines.
  • he program infills the much-needed summer breaks with obligations. Many architectural students use these breaks to travel abroad and study different areas in design vernacular. Travel is a well-known simulant for design growth.
  • ARE exams would be an additional exam to prepare for. This would only work well if aligned with core curriculum.


NCARB is establishing this new program to support and promote the growth and licensure of young architects. As with any new programs, there will be a healthy amount of change required as it develops. The idea behind this program thankfully has the architectural profession in mind, and seeks to produce more licensed architects. Due to the extra strain placed upon students, the program may inadvertently add semesters to the overall length of college attendance. Good for schools, bad for student loans.

Architecture cartoon

Copyright Roger Penwill

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