Difference Between NAAB-Accredited And

Non-Accredited Programs

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In order to satisfy the education requirement for NCARB certification, you must hold a professional degree in architecture from a program accredited* by NAAB, a professional degree in architecture from a program accredited* by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB), or a CACB-certified professional degree in architecture from a Canadian university.

NAAB is the only agency authorized to accredit professional degree programs in architecture in the United States. Although graduation from a NAAB-accredited program does not guarantee registration, accreditation is intended to verify that accredited programs achieve education standards established by NAAB in collaboration with the four collateral organizations—the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), and NCARB.

* The program must have been accredited no more than two years after the graduation date.

Professional Degrees

All professional degrees are awarded through a NAAB-accredited program. The following three types of degrees are acceptable for the satisfaction of the education requirement to become NCARB certified:

  1. Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) degree 
    NAAB-accredited degree programs awarding a bachelor’s degree must require a minimum of 150 semester credit hours, or the quarter-hour equivalent, in academic coursework in professional studies and electives.
  2. Master of Architecture (M.Arch) degree
    NAAB-accredited degree programs awarding a master’s degree must require a minimum of 168 semester credit hours, or the quarter-hour equivalent, of which 30 semester credit hours, or the quarter-hour equivalent, must be at the graduate level, in academic coursework in professional studies and electives.
  3. Doctor of Architecture (D.Arch) degree
    NAAB-accredited degree programs awarding a doctorate must require an undergraduate baccalaureate degree or a minimum of 120 undergraduate semester credit hours, or the undergraduate-level quarter-hour equivalent, and a minimum of 90 graduate-level semester credit hours, or the graduate-level quarter-hour equivalent, in academic coursework in professional studies and electives.
Non-Professional Degrees

If you have a non-professional degree, you will need additional education to earn an NCARB Certificate.

These degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Architectural Studies degrees, Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Architecture degrees, Bachelor of Environmental Design degrees, etc.
    These types of degrees are often referred to as pre-professional degrees because they are the prerequisite requirement for admission to many master of architecture programs.
  • Graduate degrees in specialized areas of study often completed by students who have already obtained a professional degree in architecture.
    These types of degrees are often referred to as post-professional degrees in architecture.

If your program earned NAAB accreditation within in two years after your graduation, your degree may be considered professional.

These degrees may not satisfy individual U.S. jurisdiction requirements for licensure. Individual requirements vary and you should contact your jurisdiction for specific education requirements.

Additional Education

Students, particularly those who have obtained a professional degree from a foreign institution, who are seeking a professional degree in order to apply for NCARB certification should ensure that the degree is a professional degree and that the program is accredited by NAAB.  

Contact NAAB with questions about NAAB-accredited programs and professional degrees.

Related Publications

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Education Guidelines
Updated July 2016! The Education Guidelines provide a general overview of the education requirement for NCARB certification, and explains how architects who do not hold a professional degree in architecture from a NAAB-accredited program can satisfy this requirement.

Download (PDF, 508K)

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Certification Guidelines
Updated November 2016! The Certification Guidelines outlines the requirements for NCARB certification for U.S., Canadian, and foreign architects.

Download (PDF, 384K)

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Transcript Request Form (Form 122)
Send this form to your educational institution to request your transcripts be sent NCARB. NCARB cannot accept a student-issued transcript, it must be sent directly from your college or university. If you were educated outside of the United States or Canada, do not use this form. Contact NAAB to have your education evaluated.

Download (PDF, 130K)

Related Content

Registration Board Licensing Requirements
View the requirements for registration in your jurisdiction.
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Related FAQs

What is an EESA assessment?

The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) administers the Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA) program, which evaluates non-NAAB accredited degrees and the credentials of foreign educated applicants against the NCARB Education Standard.

Is it possible to seek registration if I have a foreign education?

Yes, many jurisdictions have procedures for considering a foreign education.

Most jurisdictions require that:

  1. You hold a professional degree in architecture which is evaluated by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) as satisfying the NCARB Education Standard;
  2. You satisfy the experience requirements of the Architectural Experience Program (AXP), and;
  3. You complete the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

You may review the different jurisdictional requirements by visiting our registration board requirements section.

What if I'm in school? Do I still have to pay for the renewal, or can I put it on hold?

If you are a licensure candidate, the application fee for an NCARB Record covers the first year. After the first year, you must pay the annual renewal fee to keep an active Record.