Overview of Architectural Education

Overview Of Architectural Education

The primary means of satisfying most U.S. registration boards’ education requirements is earning a professional degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). NAAB is the only agency authorized to accredit architecture programs in the United States. It is also a requirement for an NCARB Certificate, which facilitates reciprocity between registration boards.

Graduation from a NAAB-accredited program does not guarantee registration as an architect. You must also complete experience and examination requirements.

NAAB-Accredited Programs

There are over 100 schools of architecture in the United States that have programs accredited by NAAB. A NAAB-accredited program includes courses in general studies, professional studies, and electives. The curriculum ensures that graduates are technically competent, critical thinkers, and capable of defining multiple career paths within a changing societal context.

NAAB’s goal is to ensure that graduates:

  • Are competent in a range of professional skills
  • Understand architecture’s historical, socio-cultural, and environmental context
  • Are able to solve architectural design problems including technical system integration and health and safety requirements
  • Comprehend an architect’s roles and responsibility in society
Accreditation Process

The accreditation process is intended to verify that programs satisfy standards that NAAB has established 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. An extensive review process of accreditation conditions is conducted every five years by NAAB with input from the four collaterals.

The next review of the Conditions for Accreditation occurrs in 2013. The new conditions will go into effect in 2014. NCARB released its contribution in January 2013: 

Related Publications


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.

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Related Content

Education Requirements
A professional degree from a NAAB-accredited program is the primary means of satisfying most U.S. registration boards’ education requirements.