Top 10 FAQs for International Candidates About the Path to Licensure

Architectural licensure candidates and NCARB Certificate holders can be found all over the world. But because the path to licensure in the U.S. varies based on your experience and credentials, it can be tricky for some candidates to know where to start.  

That’s why we compiled a list of international candidates’ and architects’ frequently asked questions and answers! 

Before starting the path to licensure, you should confirm your jurisdiction’s licensing requirements. You can do this using NCARB’s convenient Licensing Requirements Tool. And if you have any questions, contact NCARB’s Customer Relations team for assistance. 

Licensing and Credentials 

Q: I’m a licensed architect in another country. How can I pursue licensure in a U.S. jurisdiction? 

A: If you are actively registered to practice architecture in a country outside of the United States and your license meets certain requirements, you can become licensed through the foreign architect path to certification. Once you have 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 licensing. 

Q: What is the difference between the standard path to licensure and the path to licensure for international candidates? 

A: Each of the 55 U.S. licensing boards, or jurisdictions, set their own requirements for licensure in their jurisdiction, but they all include three core components: education, experience, and examination. On the standard path to licensure, candidates can earn a license by completing their local architecture board’s specific requirements. In most cases, this involves earning a degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), completing the Architectural Experience Program (AXP®), and passing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE®). 

The Foreign Architect Path is a means of fulfilling the education, experience, and examination requirements in the United States. Some candidates may need to complete an Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA), which is a means of fulfilling the education component. 

Q: Where should I translate my credentials from another country? Does NCARB have a list of certified translators or services to recommend? 

A: If your credential authority is unable to complete the form in English, ask the authority to forward the completed form to a certified translation service, and have the translation service send the original form and English translation directly to NCARB. 

Q: What is the difference between applying for licensure as a foreign-educated applicant and applying for NCARB certification through the foreign architect path? 

A: As a foreign-educated applicant, you will likely have to apply for an EESA, which is facilitated by the NAAB. If EESA identifies any deficiencies in your education, you may need to complete additional courses. You will also need to complete the AXP and ARE. Once you complete these requirements, you can be licensed in a U.S. jurisdiction that accepts applicants with an overseas education. 

As a foreign architect applying for NCARB certification, you will not need an EESA assessment but will still need to complete the AXP and ARE. Once you are certified, you can use your NCARB Certificate to apply for a license in a jurisdiction that accepts the foreign architect path. Details about these requirements can be found in NCARB’s Certification Guidelines

Q: What is a mutual recognition agreement/arrangement, and how do I know if it applies to me? 

A: A mutual recognition agreement or arrangement enables NCARB Certificate holders to pursue reciprocal licensure between the U.S. and the country they are licensed in. If you are a citizen of Australia, Canada, Mexico, or New Zealand, you may be able to pursue architectural licensure in the United States through the appropriate mutual recognition agreement/arrangement. Note: Not all U.S. jurisdictions accept mutual recognition agreements/arrangements. 

Education 

Q: What if I have a degree in architecture from another country? 

A: If you received an education outside of the United States or Canada and are not licensed to practice architecture in that country, you may need to have your education assessed through EESA. Then follow the remaining steps on the foreign architect path to get certified. Note: Applicants for this route do NOT need an EESA. 

Q: How do I start the EESA process? 

A: Before you start the application process for either path, you should first contact NCARB’s Customer Relations team to confirm your eligibility. If you haven’t already begun your NCARB Record, you'll need to create an NCARB Record—a verified account of your education, experience, and examination history that is necessary to prove you meet the requirements for licensure and/or NCARB certification. 

To apply for an education evaluation, you must log in to your NCARB Record and request an invitation to apply for EESA. Once you have received an EESA invitation, you must pay the EESA fee through your NCARB Record and send all required documents, including any academic transcript(s) and descriptions of all courses taken from each post-secondary institution, to NAAB. 

Q: How do I know if I need an EESA evaluation? 

A: The EESA is for individuals who hold a degree from a university outside of the United States or Canada but are not yet licensed to practice architecture. If you meet the requirements for NCARB certification as a foreign architect, you will not need an EESA assessment. If you don't meet these requirements, you may need to get an EESA evaluation as part of the path for Foreign Educated Applicants

Experience 

Q: As an international architect applying for NCARB certification through the foreign architect path, does the requirement to complete the experience program apply to me? 

A: Yes, international applicants must complete the AXP, although you are not limited by the AXP reporting requirement after you are made eligible for the foreign architect path.  

Q: What experience earned abroad qualifies toward U.S. experience requirements? 

A: A maximum of 1,860 hours toward experience requirements can be earned for work completed in a foreign country under the supervision of an architect engaged in the practice of architecture and licensed in that country. The rest of your experience hours must be under an AXP supervisor who is licensed in the United States or Canada in a firm lawfully practicing architecture—this firm is not required to be located in the U.S. or Canada. Learn more about the AXP requirements


Learn more about NCARB’s role in architectural licensing, navigating through the AXP and ARE, and alternative paths to licensure in our recent webinars (hosted in English and in Spanish).