Internship Report Reveals Key Insights From NCARB Practice Analysis

29 April 2013

Washington, DC—The Internship Report, the second in a special series of publications from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), shares findings from the most comprehensive practice analysis ever undertaken for the architecture profession. The report presents data and key insights that will allow the Council to undertake a fresh and comprehensive review of how architectural internship serves as an important bridge connecting education with licensure.

“The Intern Development Program (IDP) must evolve through both continuous modifications and adjustments, and through periodic comprehensive review of the design, structure, and implementation of the program,” said NCARB CEO Michael J. Armstrong. “Data from the 2012 Practice Analysis will guide this effort in the long-term, as we look to ensure that internship remains a positive and valuable training experience that prepares future architects for independent practice.”

The Internship Report encompasses extensive data collected from three internship-specific surveys:

  • IDP supervisors and mentors were asked to indicate the level at which interns perform specific tasks by completion of the IDP;
  • IDP supervisors and mentors, as well as architects licensed two to 10 years, were asked to indicate whether specific tasks should be required as part of the IDP; to what level the task should be performed by completion of the IDP; and whether supplemental education/experience would be acceptable in lieu of on-the-job performance of the task; and
  • Interns who completed the IDP within the past year, and architects licensed in the past year who also completed the IDP in the past two years, were asked to indicate the level at which they performed specific tasks by completion of their IDP experience, and how frequently they performed (or observed others performing) the task during their IDP experience
Highlights of Internship Findings

The Practice Analysis provided an opportunity to analyze the IDP in relation to the contemporary practice of architecture. The resulting findings were the product of four key areas of analysis:

  • Task Relevance – Supervisors, mentors, and architects determined that over 70 percent of the tasks surveyed should be required in the IDP.
  • Level of Performance – Supervisors and mentors overwhelmingly indicated that interns were “performing the tasks with assistance” or “observing others perform” the tasks—not the intended goal of the IDP. A combination of program enhancements and improved supervisor/mentor education may help raise the expected level of intern performance.
  • Frequency of Performance – Only 25 percent of the tasks included in the survey were rated by interns and recently licensed architects as being performed “often” and “regularly.” This data will be considered as existing core and elective hourly requirements are reviewed.
  • Value of Supplemental Education/Experience – Survey responses indicate that supervisors, mentors, and architects do not believe supplemental education/experience is an acceptable alternative to on-the-job performance of tasks.

The findings of the Practice Analysis will be used to ensure the internship experience is viewed by educators, interns, supervisors, and the profession as a valuable step in the development of the next generation of practitioners.

Use and Application

The 2012 NCARB Practice Analysis of Architecture will have a significant impact on internship over the course of the next several years. In the short-term, the NCARB Internship Committee, consisting of Member Board Members, recently licensed architects, and other subject-matter experts will use the findings to inform and guide incremental revisions that will keep the IDP current, responsive, and relevant. In the long-term, the data will be used to inform development of a future internship experience as the Council, with the insights of its new Intern Think Tank, the IDP Advisory Committee, and internal internship task force, explores new opportunities and directions in internship and its relationship to licensure and practice. The performance gap indicated by the low level of performance ratings indicated in the category “performed with no assistance” must also be addressed in the long-term. Further investigation and analysis may lead to substantial changes to the implementation and structure of the program.


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 Amanda Pica at if interested in reproducing any of the information included in the Internship 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 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.




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