Architects without a professional degree in architecture can now earn NCARB certification through an alternate path.

Washington, DC—The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has launched the second phase of its revised certification path for architects without a degree from an accredited program. This newest path comes as part of a multi-year effort to streamline NCARB programs and initiatives to be more inclusive of individuals outside of the traditional path to licensure, while maintaining the rigor necessary to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare.

Through the new NCARB Certificate Portfolio, architects licensed in a U.S. jurisdiction who hold any education other than an architecture-related degree—including those who do not have a college degree—can satisfy the Certificate’s education requirement by completing an online portfolio documenting learning through experience. The first phase, which launched in February 2017, enables architects with a four-year, architecture-related degree to satisfy the same requirement by documenting two times the Architectural Experience Program’s™ (AXP™) hours.

“Professional mobility is a goal of many practicing architects,” said NCARB President Kristine A. Harding, NCARB, AIA. “This revised path makes that goal achievable for a broader range of licensed individuals, while maintaining the quality standards expected by our boards and the public.” Together, these alternative paths form the successor to the Broadly Experienced Architect (BEA) Program, which was retired in 2016.

The NCARB Certificate is a valuable credential for architects that facilitates reciprocal licensure across the 54 U.S. jurisdictions and several countries, among other benefits. To qualify for certification, applicants must meet the NCARB Education Standard, traditionally done by earning a professional degree in architecture from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

Both the NCARB Certificate Portfolio and two times AXP option are offered at no additional charge to active NCARB Record holders and eliminates the BEA’s $5,000 review fee. It also facilitates a shorter, more objective review process than the previous program, allowing applicants to link exhibits in the portfolio to specific areas outlined in the NCARB Education Standard. Applicants will also need to meet NCARB’s experience and examination requirements to earn an NCARB Certificate.

U.S. architects interested in pursuing certification through the portfolio must have at least three years of continuous licensure in any U.S. jurisdiction without disciplinary action, and fall into one of two categories:

  • Architects with post-secondary education who have obtained 64 or more semester credit hours. These applicants are required to obtain an EESA evaluation and submit a portfolio to address any deficiencies.
  • Architects with less than 64 semester credit hours of post-secondary education. These applicants are not required to obtain an EESA and must address all education requirements through a portfolio.

Learn more about the benefits of NCARB certification.



The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ membership is made up of the architectural registration boards of all 50 states as well as those of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB assists its member registration boards in carrying out their duties and provides a certification program for individual architects.

NCARB protects the public health, safety, and welfare by leading the regulation of the practice of architecture through the development and application of standards for licensure and credentialing of architects. In order to achieve these goals, the Council develops and recommends standards to be required of an applicant for architectural registration; develops and recommends standards regulating the practice of architecture; provides to Member Boards a process for certifying the qualifications of an architect for registration; and represents the interests of Member Boards before public and private agencies. NCARB has established reciprocal registration for architects in the United States and Canada.