Architect Licensure

Getting Licensed

About Architect Licensure

Architects are licensed at the state level; there is no national license to practice architecture. Each state has their own prerequisites for a licensure application to be approved, which can be better explained under three headings: education, experience and examination.

The State of Rhode Island has adopted the following for initial licensure: A NAAB accredited degree satisfies the education requirement.   Completion of NCARB’s Architectural Experience Program® (AXP™) satisfies the experience requirement. Completion of NCARB’s Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) satisfies the examination requirement.


The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) is an independent nonprofit non-governmental organization, founded in 1940 by ACSA, AIA and NCARB. The organization accredits professional architecture degree programs within schools; schools themselves are not accredited. Once accredited, a program is reviewed on cycles that range from every few years to eight years. Confirming program accreditation, and review cycle are two important considerations to review when selecting a school and program.  There are two schools of architecture in Rhode Island, that offer NAAB accredited degrees: Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence and Roger Williams University (RWU), Bristol. 

Experience and Examination

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) is an independent nonprofit non-governmental organization, founded in 1919 during an American Institute of Architects (AIA) convention in Nashville, TN. The organization’s experience and examination standards have been adopted by Rhode Island. Both the AXP and the ARE are organized under 6 headings:

  • Practice Management (PcM)
  • Project Management (PjM)
  • Programming & Analysis (PA)
  • Project Planning & Design (PPD)
  • Project Development & Documentation (PDD)
  • Construction & Evaluation (CE)


The AXP identifies 96 tasks that are essential for competent practice as an architect. There are two methods of demonstrating competent performance of AXP tasks: reporting hours or submitting a portfolio. Most licensure candidates complete the AXP by reporting hours; 3,740 hours under six experience areas (see headings above) are required to complete the program. At least half of the experience is completed under the supervision of a qualified architect. Experience should be reported within 8-months; experience documented within 5-years but after 8-months will only count 50%. Experience older than 5-years cannot be reported, and the portfolio method may need to be considered.

  • The AXP Handbook is an essential resource.
  • Supervisors and Aspiring Architects may find the Chapter’s optional “Schedule of Tasks” Form beneficial for discussion and progress in task completion, not only hours: AIA-RI AXP Form – v3 (*xlsx).


The ARE assesses a licensure candidate’s knowledge and skills to provide various services required in the practice of architecture. No single examination can test for competency in all aspects of architectural practice; the ARE is not intended for that purpose. The ARE concentrates on the professional services that affect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. The exam is organized into six practice-based divisions (see headings above); each division is broken down into multiple sections, and each section has objectives on which candidates will be assessed. A candidate must pass each division within a rolling 5-year time period.

  • The ARE 5.0 Handbook and Test Prep Video Series are essential resources.
  • The Chapter’s Emerging Professionals Committee has an ARE Study Material library that members can use. There is a regular study group which meets regularly; see the Chapter Calendar and/or contact Austin Blanks about meeting times and locations.


State Licensure Board 

NCARB’s Licensing Requirement Tool (Sortable by question or state)


Contact State Licensing Advisor with questions
Jonathan M. Taylor, AIA – RI