The most common—and the most widely accepted—path to becoming licensed in the United States includes earning a degree from an architecture program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). On average, licensure candidates with a degree from a NAAB-accredited program have greater success when taking the ARE. The NAAB’s 2019 data also reveals that both new and total enrollment in accredited programs is increasing, although the number of graduates remains steady.

In 2019, just over half of newly licensed architects started their NCARB Record while in school, indicating that the majority of students are now overlapping experience with education. Growth in the proportion of individuals starting their Record in school suggests NCARB’s efforts to raise awareness of the licensure process are helping students make early progress on their experience and examination requirements for licensure.

New Enrollment Improves

According to data from the NAAB, over 7,700 new students enrolled in a NAAB-accredited program in 2019—a 2 percent increase from the previous school year. Of these new students, 48 percent are enrolled in Bachelor of Architecture programs, and 51 percent are enrolled in Master of Architecture programs. Less than 1 percent are enrolled in Doctor of Architecture programs.

The total population of new enrollees continues to be split evenly between men and women, aligning with the near-gender parity seen for candidates beginning the experience program and a sign that equity may increase in later career stages in the coming years.

Note: This data is provided to the NAAB by accredited programs and was published in the 2019 NAAB Report on Accreditation in Architecture, available at www.naab.org. Students enrolled in non-accredited architecture programs are not represented.

Total Enrollment Improves

Just over 26,000 students were concurrently enrolled in a NAAB-accredited program in the 2018-2019 school year, up 3 percent from the 2017-2018 school year. This is the highest total enrollment seen since 2013.

Of these students, 58 percent are enrolled in Bachelor of Architecture programs, 42 percent in Master of Architecture programs, and less than 1 percent in Doctor of Architecture programs. Fifty-one percent are men, and 49 percent are women.

Note: This data is provided to the NAAB by accredited programs and was published in the 2019 NAAB Report on Accreditation in Architecture, available at www.naab.org. Students enrolled in non-accredited architecture programs are not represented.

Number of Graduates Holds Steady

In 2019, 5,985 degrees were awarded by NAAB-accredited programs across the country, virtually the same amount of degrees awarded in 2018. This is slightly lower than the average number of graduates seen across the decade, which is 6,138. This drop could correspond to the gradual decline in total enrollment seen between 2013 and 2017.

Of these graduates, 53 percent were men and 47 percent were women—a 1 percentage point decrease in gender equity compared to 2018, when women represented 48 percent of graduates.

Note: This data is provided to the NAAB by accredited programs and was published in the 2019 NAAB Report on Accreditation in Architecture, available at www.naab.org. Students enrolled in non-accredited architecture programs are not represented.

Half of Newly Licensed Architects Start Record in School

Of all architects who earned their initial license in 2019, just over half started their NCARB Record while in school—a two percentage point increase compared to 2018. This proportion has seen steady growth over the past decade, more than doubling from the proportion seen in 2010.

Creating an NCARB Record is considered one of the first steps on the path to licensure because it enables students to begin reporting experience. Growth in the proportion of architects who started their Record in school indicates a better informed student population, and an increased overlap between education, experience, and examination—potentially shortening the time to licensure in future years.

Note: This data can shift as individuals sometimes update their registration information months or years after earning a license.

Most Licensure Candidates Attend NAAB-Accredited Programs

Of all licensure candidates who completed the AXP in 2019, 82 percent held a degree from a NAAB-accredited program. This is two percentage points fewer than the percent of candidates who held a degree from a NAAB-accredited program completing the AXP in 2018.

While this percentage has varied only slightly from year to year (the 10-year average is 84 percent), the proportion of candidates who hold a degree from a NAAB-accredited program has been on a slight declining trend since 2015. However, the majority of candidates continue to earn a degree from a NAAB-accredited program in order to complete the education requirement for licensure.

Note: Historical data can shift because licensure candidates can backdate AXP experience up to five years.

Graduates From Non-Accredited Programs Complete the ARE Sooner

In 2019, individuals who don’t hold a degree from a NAAB-accredited program finished the national licensing exam approximately four months sooner than individuals who graduated from NAAB-accredited programs.

This is a reversal of the historical trend, which has typically seen graduates from accredited programs complete the exam several months sooner.

Because the majority of candidates hold a degree from a NAAB-accredited program, this shift could be due to the overall increase in time to complete the exam seen in 2019 as a result of low pass rates (see Time to Complete Exam Increases).

Graduates From Accredited Programs Have Higher ARE Success Rates

Although individuals who don’t hold a degree from a NAAB-accredited program finished the ARE sooner than individuals who do hold a degree from a NAAB-accredited program in 2019, graduates of accredited programs continue to perform better on the exam. Graduates from NAAB-accredited programs had an average 54 percent success rate (the average pass rate across all ARE 5.0 divisions), compared to 48 percent for graduates from non-accredited programs.

Historically, candidates from accredited programs outperform their peers by 6 to 9 percentage points. The average ARE 5.0 success rate fell by 2 percentage points in 2019 (see Exam Transition Sees Success Rates Drop).

Graduates From Accredited Programs Have Higher ARE Division Pass Rates

In 2019, candidates with degrees from NAAB-accredited programs outperformed their peers across all ARE 5.0 divisions. The difference in pass rates was greatest in ARE 5.0’s Programming & Analysis division, with graduates from accredited programs outperforming graduates from non-accredited programs by 10 percentage points. The difference was least noticeable on the Construction & Evaluation division, with graduates from accredited programs performing just 2 percentage points better.