Education Report Reveals Key Insights from NCARB Practice Analysis

12 March 2013

Washington, DC—A series of special reports from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) will share education, internship, examination, and continuing education-related findings from its 2012 Practice Analysis of Architecture. The Education Report is now available to download and presents data and key insights relevant to architectural education.

“The 2012 study is the most comprehensive practice analysis ever undertaken for the architecture profession,” said Michael J. Armstrong, NCARB CEO. “The expanded scope of our survey drew upon a wide spectrum of the profession and yielded an unprecedented and rich set of information that will not only drive our exam specification, but will also inform and guide important programs and policies related to education, internship, and continuing education.”

The Education Report encompasses extensive data collected from four education-specific surveys that elicited different information from the following respondent groups:

  • Educators indicated whether specific tasks were covered in their architecture programs, and the extent to which they felt students perform each task by completion of architecture education;
  • Interns and architects indicated the extent to which they performed specific tasks by completion of their architecture degree program;
  • Educators and architects indicated when specific knowledge/skills (K/S) should first be acquired, and to what level each K/S should be acquired within the years of architecture education; and,
  • nterns and architects indicated when they acquired specific K/S and to what extent each K/S is typically used.
Highlights of Education Findings

Eight areas were identified as needing greater reinforcement and focus prior to completion of accredited education.

  • Communication – Basic communications skills—both written and oral—need to be strengthened.
  • Collaboration – While rated as important, a gap in perception exists between educators and interns/architects on whether this task is performed by completion of school.
  • Professional Conduct – Practitioners report this is critically important and should be further incorporated in accredited programs.
  • Practice Management and Project Management – Interns and recently licensed architects are acquiring these skills sooner, but more exposure and understanding needs to happen during education.
  • Site Design – Respondents indicated site design K/S are covered during education, but survey results suggest students should have a greater ability to perform related tasks prior to graduation.
  • Constructability – Findings indicate that an understanding of the materials, and the basic skills necessary to integrate them into a project, should begin in the classroom.
  • Sustainability – Respondents indicated they believe that accredited education could better support students in developing this area of expertise.
  • Technology – Educators and architects collectively indicated more technology-related K/S should be acquired by completion of education.

In addition to exploring key similarities and differences among the responses of architects, interns, and educators related to task coverage/introduction, level of K/S acquisition, and the point of K/S acquisition, the Education Report also points to some positive trends. For example, the data revealed that recently licensed architects and interns are acquiring many important K/S prior to licensure, compared to architects licensed for more than 10 years. Improvements in both education and internship programs over the past decade may be contributing toward this trend.

Use and Application

The education survey findings guided NCARB’s Contribution to the 2013 National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) Accreditation Review Conference (ARC). The Council will also use the data to support necessary updates to the NCARB Education Standard. Additionally, the data will contribute to the evolution of the Council’s Broadly Experienced Architect (BEA) and Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) programs. In the longer term, NCARB will use the data to support the exploration of new models that might further blend the existing components of education, experience, and examination with regulation to more effectively prepare the future practitioner and better serve the profession.


A practice analysis has historically been conducted by NCARB every five to seven years. The primary goal of previous studies was to gather data for purposes of maintaining a current and valid test specification for the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®). The Council expanded the scope of the 2012 study, adding new rating scales that would answer various research questions pertinent to education, internship, examination, and continuing education. As a result, the survey design, data collection, data analysis, and application processes were significantly revamped. As in the past, the Practice Analysis is consistent with the benchmark Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing.

The 2012 NCARB Practice Analysis of Architecture was designed under the guidance and review of a Practice Analysis Steering Committee (PASC) comprised of Member Board Members and architects representing the profession’s collateral organizations: the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), and the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

NCARB selected PSI Services, LLC, to conduct the study, which included a total of 11 separate surveys in order to decrease the amount of time required to complete the survey and to help ensure that a statistically valid response rate would be obtained. The final analysis sample included 7,800 responses, providing a substantive basis for summarizing professional practice through its representativeness, statistical precision, and breadth of information.

The complete 2012 NCARB Practice Analysis of Architecture will be released in June 2013, following the release of the individual reports. Please contact Kim Kerker at if interested in reproducing any of the information included in the Education Report.


The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ membership is made up of the architectural registration boards of all 50 states as well as those of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB assists its member registration boards in carrying out their duties and provides a certification program for individual architects.

NCARB protects the public health, safety, and welfare by leading the regulation of the practice of architecture through the development and application of standards for licensure and credentialing of architects. In order to achieve these goals, the Council develops and recommends standards to be required of an applicant for architectural registration; develops and recommends standards regulating the practice of architecture; provides to Member Boards a process for certifying the qualifications of an architect for registration; and represents the interests of Member Boards before public and private agencies. NCARB has established reciprocal registration for architects in the United States and Canada.


Related Content

Practice Analysis of Architecture
NCARB’s Practice Analysis of Architecture survey, conducted every five to seven years, provides essential insight into the practice of architecture. Findings are significant to the profession and help determine the knowledge and skills necessary to practice architecture independently and protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare.

NCARB's Contribution to the NAAB 2013 Accreditation Review Conference
NCARB's paper for the NAAB 2013 Accreditation Review Conference is based on common threads and recurring themes identified in the data from the 2012 Practice Analysis of Architecture, feedback from the Council’s Education Committee, and “blue-sky” concepts regarding the role of the academy in licensure.