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The purpose of this text is to provide information on architecture

education and professional licensure in architecture in the US.
Architecture Degree Programs

There are three ways to obtain the first professional degree:

 Completing a five-year undergraduate program leading to the Bachelor of Architecture (B Arch)


 Completing a four-year pre-professional degree, such as a Bachelor of Sciences in Architecture, or a

Bachelor of Sciences in Architectural studies, etc., followed by a two-year program leading to the
Master of Architecture.

 After obtaining a Bachelors degree in a non-architecture subject, completing a three-to-four year

Master of Architecture (M Arch) degree.

Both Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Architecture degree programs are monitored and certified by
the National Association of Architecture Boards (NAAB), Pre-professional degrees do not
have to be accredited by the NAAB for entrance to the Master of Architecture (M Arch) program. Usually,
successful completion of a degree program at an NAAB-accredited institution is a requirement for
employment as a licensed architect in the US.

M Arch graduates are eligible for the three-year internship, which is the next step toward professional
licensure (see below).

A doctoral level of architecture study is available in the US. Many doctoral programs in architecture focus
on history and theory and are designed to meet the growing need for teachers and interdisciplinary
researchers in the field. However, some universities offer a Ph.D. in architecture with a specialization in
design technology that emphasizes the use of computers and allied technology in architectural education
and practice. The National Architecture Accreditation Board (NAAB) does not monitor or certify programs
at this level.

The Structure of Architecture Education

Undergraduate students in B Arch programs begin architecture study in their first year and combine this
coursework with the school's general education requirements. The number and content of general
education courses vary from school to school, but typically include English, maths, science, history and a
foreign language. It is difficult, if not impossible, to switch to another field of study beyond the end of the
first year without lengthening the total time required to complete a degree.

The curriculum for undergraduate, non-professional degrees in architecture also combines specialized
courses with general education courses required by the university. However, the first two years of the
program emphasize the required general education courses specified by the institution. Architecture study
in the first two years is usually limited to introductory topics. Non-professional students do not have to
make a firm commitment to the architecture program until the end of their second year. Specialist
coursework in architecture usually begins in the third year.

There can be wide variations in the content of architecture courses, even among accredited schools of
architecture. However, there are some basic similarities. Nearly all undergraduate architecture programs
(both professional and non-professional) devote a great deal of time and study to design. Students
produce projects in the studio and then participate in round-table discussions amongst peers and

In addition, students take courses in behavioral science, structural and mechanical engineering and
economics. There is additional course work in graphic art in various media that is combined with
computer graphics and computer-aided design. Students also take mathematics and physics as
preparation for the study of engineering statics and vector forces. At some point, architecture students
usually take a background course in the history of human building. Optional courses include architectural
technology, contract documents and others.

Acceptance into US Schools of Architecture

The National Association of Architecture Boards reports that in 1999 the average acceptance rate into
accredited schools of architecture was approximately 45 percent. However, statistics vary from year to
year and school to school.

Admission to an undergraduate professional architecture program is for those individuals who have
established both an aptitude and a commitment toward the profession. Undergraduate applicants are
expected to have: (1) a solid background in the physical sciences including maths, (2) the ability to fully
conceptualize projects, (3) a strong proficiency in oral and written communication, (4) wide interests in the
humanities and (5) the ability to sketch and draw with ease. Admission to undergraduate professional
architecture programs is highly competitive and a portfolio is often required.

Admission to non-professional Bachelor of Arts in architecture programs requires the same general
background. However, non-professional programs are structured so that students have the option to
change to a different field of study after the first two years.

Admission to M Arch programs can be granted to students without professional degrees in architecture
who are seeking the path to professional licensure. B Arch graduates who desire further education in their
field are also accepted.

A non-professional Master of Arts in architecture is available for those with non-professional degrees in
architecture or related fields such as urban planning. Successful completion of a bachelor's degree in
architecture or a related field is required.

Admission to doctoral programs in professional architecture usually requires completion of an M Arch. For
specific details on admission to doctoral programs in architecture, you should contact the school where
you wish to apply.

Please read our handouts Undergraduate Study in the United States and Graduate Study in the United
States for guidelines on the US university admissions process for bachelor's or master's/doctoral

Admissions Tests

Applicants to Bachelors degree programs are usually required to take the SAT, while applicants to
graduate programs (Masters or Ph.D.) may have to take the GRE. Furthermore, international students
whose native language is not English will have to take the TOEFL test.


Tuition costs vary greatly from one school to the next and range from $12,500 per year to more than
$39,000 per year. Tuition rates for undergraduate programs tend to be less than postgraduate programs.
Thus, a five-year undergraduate architecture program would be less expensive than a "four + two" plan in
which the final two years are spent in postgraduate study.

Practicing Architecture in the US

Each state in the US has its own licensing body for architects and a newly graduated candidate must
follow the regulations set forth by the state in which he or she plans to work. However, there has been a
movement toward standardization and the following are general guidelines:
To practice as a licensed architect in the US, a candidate must have completed either a Bachelor
of Architecture or a Master of Architecture degree from a school accredited by the NAAB.
The next step toward licensure involves work as a paid intern at a firm staffed by licensed
architects for three years. The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards has
established standards and criteria as to how the internship work should be directed. Candidates
are expected to gain experience in all aspects of the field from design to zoning, to management
and other topics. Following the completion of the internship period, a candidate must earn an
acceptable score on his/her state's comprehensive architecture examination.

Foreign Architecture Graduates

Foreign-educated architects should contact the Architectural Registration Board in the state where they
wish to practice for information on licensing procedures. Information on registration boards can be
obtained from the National Council of Architecture Registration Boards, 1801 K Street NW, Washington,
DC 20006 USA, Tel: 001 202 783 6500, fax: 001 202 783 0290, email:
Some states may recognize some or all of an architect's education gained outside the US.

Additional Resources

 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture - 1735 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006
USA. Tel: 001 202 785 2324, fax: 001 202 628 0448, web site:

 National Council of Architecture Registration Boards, 1801 K Street NW Suite 1100, Washington, DC
20006 USA. Tel: 001 202 783 6500, fax: 001 202 783 0290, email:

 National Architectural Accrediting Board - 1735 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20006 USA.
Tel: 001 202 783 2007, web site:

 American Association of Architects -

 Occupational Outlook Handbook - A hard copy of the Handbook is

available at the Fulbright Information Center.

 Free copies of the TOEFL, SAT and GRE bulletins are also available at the Center.

This text was adapted from the information available at the US-UK Fulbright Commissions web site.