Do You Know Your BEA's?

Quick question: Who can accurately define NCARB’s Broadly Experienced Architect (BEA) program? If you’re stymied for an answer, unfortunately you’re not alone. In spite of the fact that the BEA program has been in existence since 1997, too many people do not fully understand this unique pathway to NCARB certification.

Quite frankly, the BEA program is not for everyone. It is, in fact, geared to architects seeking the NCARB Certificate who do not hold degrees accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

Impossible task, you may be thinking. Isn’t an accredited degree part of certification requirements? On one hand, that’s precisely the case: earning an NAAB-accredited degree comprises a portion of certification requirements. On the other hand, the Council recognizes that architects may follow different routes to licensure and, ultimately, certification.

In order to be eligible for BEA consideration, an architect must meet two initial requirements:

  • Registration (or licensure) with one of NCARB’s 55 Member Boards for at least 10 years and
  • In responsible charge as a registered architect of a comprehensive practice of architecture for a minimum of 10 years.

By meeting these basic criteria, an architect is then asked to obtain an evaluation of his or her post-secondary education, if any, from the Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA), completed by NAAB. This evaluation identifies any NCARB education requirements that have not yet been met; in turn, the architect is asked to compile an NCARB Education Dossier demonstrating how learning in the deficient areas has been gained. The dossier is reviewed in detail by three members of the BEA Committee. If the dossier demonstrates the required learning, the architect is invited to a personal interview with the BEA Interview Committee in order to verify the contents of the dossier.

The committee holistically assesses the dossier as well as the interview. A favorable consensus will mean that the architect has met the NCARB Education Standard and is eligible for certification and its many associated benefits including inter-jurisdictional reciprocity.

The BEA process is not for the fainthearted. It is a comprehensive evaluation of an architect’s education and professional experience. It is often time-consuming, and it is not inexpensive. Check the NCARB fee schedule for current fees.

What the BEA process does offer is an alternate pathway to NCARB certification. Its potential audience is registered architects who have gathered the bulk of their learning in a practice setting.

Additional information about the BEA program can be found in the most current edition of the NCARB Education Standard, a publication updated on an annual basis. The NCARB web site also offers information on BEA criteria. Interested architects wishing to take part in the BEA process should contact Michiel M. Bourdrez, AIA, Director, Professional Services (202/783-6500).