Explore Our Education Alternative for NCARB Certification

Are you an architect without a degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)? If so, you may be eligible to apply for an NCARB Certificate—gaining access to benefits like simplified mobility, free continuing education, and more. With our commitment to diversity in mind, NCARB has recently implemented an alternative path allowing architects to satisfy the education requirement for certification by either documenting experience beyond the Architectural Experience Program®’s (AXP®) requirements or submitting a Certificate Portfolio.

First thing’s first—you’ll want to make sure you have an active NCARB Record. Next, call us to apply. We’ll review your educational background and determine which option you’re eligible for. You can find a breakdown of both pathways within the Education Alternative below.

Two Times AXP

To qualify for this option, you must:

  • Have at least three years of continuous licensure to practice architecture in any U.S. jurisdiction without disciplinary action.
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in a program with significant architecture coursework, as determined by NCARB.
    • To qualify, you must hold a four-year degree from an institution with U.S. regional accreditation (or the Canadian equivalent) that was awarded after earning less than 150 semester credits or the quarter-hour equivalent.
    • The program must include 60 semester credit hours (90 quarter hours) of architecture coursework in the degree program major (e.g., architecture).

If you meet these requirements, you may have the opportunity to meet the education requirement for NCARB certification by documenting two times all requirements of the AXP. This experience would not need to meet the AXP’s reporting requirement.

NCARB Certificate Portfolio

To qualify for this option, you must have been continuously licensed for the last three consecutive years in any U.S. jurisdiction without disciplinary action, and have at least a high school degree or an equivalent.  

Applicants eligible for this path will complete an NCARB Certificate Portfolio, documenting work experience gained as an architect that meets the subject areas of the NCARB Education Standard. If you have obtained more than 64 semester credit hours of college education, you have the option of obtaining an EESA evaluation, which would highlight areas of the Education Standard that haven’t been met by your coursework. You would then submit a portfolio to address those subject areas and categories.

Both the Two Times AXP and NCARB Certificate Portfolio options are offered at no additional charge to the cost of maintaining your active NCARB Record. However, if you choose to have an EESA evaluation completed, be aware that the NAAB does charge an EESA fee. If your NCARB Record has lapsed at any time, you may be charged the initial certification application fee of $1,100. 

It’s important to be aware that not all jurisdictions accept our education alternative. Please use our licensing requirements tool to learn which jurisdictions currently grant reciprocity through the Education Alternative.

Whether you’re looking to pursue certification or would like to learn more, our customer service team can walk you through these options. We also encourage those interested in the Education Alternative for Certification to explore our Education Guidelines  and Certification Guidelines for more details.


In part two of this series, we’ll cover alternative options for foreign architects looking to pursue certification.