National Council of Architectural Registration Boards

National Council of Architectural
Registration Boards (NCARB)
Non-profit corporation - 501(c)(6)
Industry Architecture
Founded 1919
Headquarters Washington, DC
Key people

Kristine A. Harding, President

Michael J. Armstrong, CEO

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) is a nonprofit corporation comprising the legally constituted architectural registration boards of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands as its members. Its mission is to protect 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.

NCARB recommends model law, model regulations, and other guidelines for adoption by its member jurisdictions, but each makes its own laws and registration requirements. As a service to its members, NCARB develops, administers, and maintains the Architectural Experience Program (AXP) and the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) as well as facilitates reciprocity between jurisdictions through the NCARB Certificate.


Illinois became the first state in to enact laws regulating the practice of architecture in 1897. In May 1919, during an American Institute of Architects (AIA) convention in Nashville, TN, 15 architects from 13 states came together to form an organization that would become NCARB. Emil Lorch from Ann Arbor, MI, was elected the organization’s first president in May 1920.[1]

As expressed by its founding members, NCARB’s stated goals were:


NCARB is led by a Board of Directors elected by the member registration boards at its Annual Meeting and Conference each June. It has six officers (president/chair of the Board, first vice president/president-elect, second vice president, treasurer, secretary, and the past president) and eight directors (one from each of the six regions and a member board executive and public directors).[2]

Additionally, a chief executive officer and two vice presidents lead the headquarters in Washington, DC. The office is split into two divisions, programs and operations. Between 90 and 100 people are on staff in Washington, DC.[3]

NCARB Regions

Today, NCARB comprises the registration boards from the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories (Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). These boards are organized into six regional conferences:


Each U.S. jurisdiction grants individuals an architectural license. To become licensed, there are three essential components: education, experience, and examination. NCARB maintains intern and architect records as a service to their customers and their member registration boards. Additionally, NCARB develops and administers the programs most often required to complete jurisdictions’ experience and examination requirements. NCARB also facilitates reciprocity between jurisdictions and acts on behalf of its Member Boards when negotiating international agreements.


Most U.S. jurisdictions require a professional degree from a program that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). NCARB publishes the NCARB Education Standard as a recommendation to its Member Boards, but requirements often vary between jurisdictions. Those who do not have a degree from a NAAB-accredited program may have their degree evaluated through the NAAB’s Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA) if they would like to earn an NCARB Certificate. More information on the education requirement can be found in the NCARB Education Guidelines.[4]

Architectural Experience Program

All U.S. jurisdictions accept completion of NCARB’s Architectural Experience Program (AXP) to help satisfy their experience requirements. The AXP is a comprehensive training program that was created to ensure that interns in the architecture profession gain the knowledge and skills required for the independent practice of architecture.[5]

Architect Registration Examination

The Architect Registration Examination (ARE) is required by all U.S. jurisdictions and accepted by 11 Canadian provinces to satisfy examination requirements for licensure. It is a computerized exam that assesses candidates for their knowledge, skills, and ability to provide the various services required to practice architecture independently.[6]

NCARB Record

An NCARB Record is a detailed, verified record of education and training, and is used to establish qualifications for examination, registration, and certification. An architectural intern must have an NCARB Record to participate in the Intern Development Program (IDP), the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), or apply for the NCARB Certificate.[7]

NCARB Certificate

The NCARB Certificate facilitates reciprocal registration among all 54 NCARB Member Boards, 11 Canadian jurisdictions, and can be used to support an application for registration in other countries. Although certification does not qualify a person to practice architecture in a jurisdiction, it does signify that he or she has met the highest professional standards established by the registration boards responsible for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. The standard requirements for NCARB Certificate are:

  1. A professional degree from a NAAB-accredited or CACB-accredited program. If you were educated in a foreign country, you must have your foreign education evaluated by the National Architectural Accrediting Board through the Education Evaluation Service for Architects (EESA).
  2. Complete the Intern Development Program (IDP) training requirements.
  3. Pass all divisions of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).
  4. Receive a license to practice from one of the state registration boards.

There are two alternative ways to earn an NCARB Certificate, the Broadly Experienced Architect (BEA) and the Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) programs. Earning an NCARB Certificate through one of these alternatives is not accepted by all jurisdictions. Architects interested in earning the NCARB Certificate through one of these programs should verify acceptance with the jurisdiction in which they wish to be licensed prior to pursuing certification.[8]

Broadly Experienced Architect (BEA) Program

Architects who do not hold a professional architecture degree from a NAAB-accredited architecture program are eligible to apply for an NCARB Certificate through the Broadly Experienced Architect (BEA) program. To be eligible for the BEA program, architects must hold a current registration from a U.S. registration boards and have comprehensive experience as a registered architect between 6 and 10 years depending on their educational background.

To earn an NCARB Certificate through the BEA program, architects must have an NCARB Record, have their education evaluated through the Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA), prepare and submit an education dossier that demonstrates learning through experience to satisfy any education deficiencies, and complete an interview with NCARB’s Broadly Experienced Architect Committee.[9]

NOTE: Effective July 1, 2016, NCARB is no longer accepting applications for certification through the Broadly Experience Architect Program. A new certification path for architects with a NAAB-accredited degree will launch in July, 2017.

Foreign Architect Path to Certification

The Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) program has been phased out and is no longer available as a path to NCARB certification for foreign architects. According to NCARB, "Foreign architects seeking NCARB certification can complete two programs required for licensure in the United States: the Architectural Experience Program (AXP) and the Architect Registration Exam (ARE)." The Foreign Architect Path to Certification requires candidates to hold a degree from an accredited, validated, or officially recognized architecture program that leads to a license or credential for the unlimited practice of architecture in the foreign country. This path also requires that you be a registered architect in good standing in the foreign country.

Foreign registered architects are eligible to apply for an NCARB Certificate through the Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) program. To be eligible for the BEFA program, foreign architects must have graduated with a professional degree from an accredited/validated/officially recognized architecture program, be credentialed in a foreign county, and have completed at least seven years of comprehensive practice as an architect exercising responsible control in the foreign country. [10]

Continuing Education

NCARB assists architects in keeping their skills and knowledge up to date through its Professional Development Program of self-study courses. The objective of the NCARB monograph and mini-monograph series is to provide a quality continuing education resource, both economical and convenient, that investigates current and emerging topics of interest to practicing architects. The series explores everything from sustainable design to fire safety in buildings to professional conduct to post-occupancy evaluation. All learning units are Health, Safety, and Welfare (HSW) and Sustainable Design (SD) units.[11]

NCARB announced in June 2010 that it will discontinue production of monographs and mini-monographs. Existing inventory will continue to be sold.[12]

International Practice

NCARB has established reciprocal registration for architects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and is engaged in similar discussions with additional countries. NCARB is also administers the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Architects program in the United States.[13]

See also


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