Earning your architecture license can be complicated, especially if you aren’t following the “standard” education, experience, and examination path. To help you feel confident and prepared, here are answers to the top questions candidates have regarding non-traditional licensure opportunities and how to navigate them.


1. Can I earn a license without a degree from a National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)-accredited program?

You can earn a license without a degree from a NAAB-accredited program in some U.S. jurisdictions—currently, 17 jurisdictions offer paths to initial licensure that don’t require graduation from a NAAB-accredited program. Typically, these paths involve substituting additional experience in lieu of education. Our Licensing Requirements Tool guides you through requirements for licensure in all jurisdictions, so you can identify what alternative options are available.

2. How do I apply for licensure in the United States if my degree is from a university outside the United States?

If you are licensed abroad, you may be able to pursue the Foreign Architect Path to obtain your NCARB Certificate. If you were educated abroad but do not have a license, you may be able to pursue an Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA). Both paths will require you to complete the Architectural Experience Program® (AXP®)  and the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®). Learn more about obtaining licensure as an applicant from a foreign country.


3. I’ve worked in the architecture industry for years but never documented my experience, and now it’s not eligible for Architectural Experience Program® (AXP®) credit. Do I have any other options?

The AXP Portfolio is designed for unlicensed individuals seeking to satisfy the experience requirement for licensure. It provides an option to complete the AXP by submitting a portfolio of your work, rather than submitting hourly experience reports. This pathway is for experienced designers who have work older than five years that otherwise meets the AXP’s experience requirements. Learn more about completing the AXP Portfolio.

4. I’ve worked for a professional engineer/landscape architect/interior designer. Can I earn AXP credit for that experience?

The AXP does not require all of your experience to be earned under the supervision of a licensed architect. Experience setting O provides various opportunities you can take advantage of to complete the AXP outside of working for a typical architecture firm. Working under the supervision of other licensed professionals can qualify for AXP credit, but keep in mind that you must be paid for your work. Read about how to gain experience under AXP setting O.

5. Can I earn AXP credit for experience earned outside of the United States?

Yes, you can earn AXP credit for experience earned outside of the United States. Experience setting O included alternative options to satisfy experience requirements, including work done under the supervision of an architect licensed outside of the United States or Canada. Note: if you earned experience abroad under the supervision of a U.S. or Canadian architect, it may count toward experience setting A.

6. I’m self-employed. Can I approve my own experience reports?

No. There is no AXP opportunity where you can review and approve your own experience reports.


7. Can I take the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) if I don’t live in the United States?

Yes, if you are living outside of the United States, you have the option to take the ARE via online proctoring or visit one of PSI’s international test center locations.


8. I’m a licensed architect from a foreign country. How can I pursue licensure in a U.S. jurisdiction?

If you are actively registered to practice architecture in a country outside of the United States, you can pursue licensure through our Foreign Architect Path to Certification. Once you hold an NCARB Certificate, you can use that credential to establish your license in a specific U.S. jurisdiction. Note: not all U.S. jurisdictions accept the Certificate for initial licensure.

9. Do I need an NCARB Certificate to apply for licensure in another jurisdiction?

No, some jurisdictions offer ways to gain a reciprocal license without an NCARB Certificate. Visit the Licensing Requirements Tool to find out if your jurisdiction requires the NCARB Certificate for reciprocal licensure.