An introduction to accredited degrees

In the United States, there are several ways to become a licensed architect; each state sets their own requirements for licensure. While this can be confusing to prospective architecture students and their families, it does provide a variety of options to accommodate a range of personal needs and educational styles.  The National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB) establishes minimum conditions that all professional architecture programs must meet, but allows each program to design how best to deliver an architectural education.  A professional degree program must be accredited by NAAB. These degrees are typically the B.Arch, M.Arch, or D.Arch.

The School of Architecture at the University of Illinois is one of over 130 accredited architecture programs in the United States.  These schools vary widely in their curricula and the breadth of study available beyond architecture. In today’s rapidly changing world this can be an important consideration when you compare architecture schools.

Our Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies is a four-year, non-accredited degree that offers a comprehensive introduction to design fields and prepares students for rigorous graduate work. In addition, the University of Illinois offers over 150 programs across campus, which can be accessed through elective coursework. If you are interested in combining your interest in architecture with another field, there is no better choice than Illinois.

Our Master of Architecture (M.Arch) degree is our NAAB-accredited degree. Admission to this 2-year program requires an undergraduate degree in architecture.  A Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies (BSAS) degree, like the one offered at Illinois, would allow admission to our 2-year M.Arch program as well as most other NAAB-accredited Master of Architecture programs in the United States.

Achieving licensure in architecture

Education

A NAAB-accredited professional degree is required for licensure in most states. At Illinois, we offer a 4 + 2 program: a four-year undergraduate pre-professional program (Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies) followed by a two-year NAAB-accredited professional program (Master of Architecture).

In the Fall of 2017, the School of Architecture introduced entirely new 4-year (BSAS) and 2-year (M.ARCH) curricula.  These new curricula recognize the tremendous changes that have occurred during the past 25 years, not only within the architecture profession but also in society more broadly.  We are more connected, more diverse, and more mobile than ever, and technology has radically altered the way we accomplish many aspects of our lives. Together, these changes offer numerous challenges and opportunities for architectural education in the 21st century.  Our new curricula address these challenges head-on and leverage the many opportunities they afford, from a greater engagement with new technologies to taking advantage of a truly diverse and global student body.

Our new curricula will position you for a meaningful and sustained career in architecture and allied field and provide you with the agility to respond to the many changes that you will encounter as an architect in the 21st century.

Experience

In all states, some form of internship is required for professional licensure as an architect.  Illinois, along with 53 other jurisdictions, participate in the National Council of Architecture Registration Board’s (NCARB) Architectural Experience Program. The AXP, as it is known, requires interns to document their experiences in the defined categories. Interns must complete 3,740 hours in six experience areas.

Upon receiving a high school diploma, students are eligible to begin earning AXP hours.  Many students find part-time or summer jobs in professional offices and begin counting AXP hours while still in school. AXP hours can be 100% recorded within 6 months of your experience, so make sure to plan ahead.

Examination

Each state sets own rules for when an individual can begin the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).  In Illinois, an intern can begin testing upon completion of a NAAB accredited professional degree program (i.e., M. Arch offered at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign). ARE 5.0 launched in November 2016 and requires a six-part computer based exam. Candidates have five years to successfully pass all sections of the ARE.

After the ARE

Once you’ve passed all sections of the exam, you may apply to your state registration board for a license.  They will review your record and, if satisfied, you will be an architect.  If in the future you choose to move or work on a project in another state, it is recommended that you apply for an NCARB certificate.  Not only does this mean you can put the initials NCARB behind your name, but it also allows for a smoother process to obtain a new license in a different jurisdiction.

Architecture, like all professions, is continually changing in response to new societal demands, legal decisions, and technological advancements. Continuing education is an important part of the profession and is required to maintain your license in Illinois (and many other states), and to maintain professional membership in the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Career Services

The main functions of the Architecture Career Services Office center on four major tasks: soliciting and publicizing job openings for students and graduates, facilitating on-campus interviews between prospective employers and our students, organizing the annual Career Expo, and providing resume and job search assistance counseling and programming. Current students and prospective employers wishing to learn more about services and programs available through the Career Services Office should contact arch-undergrad@illinois.edu or call 217-333-7720.

More information is also available on our Career Services page.

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