Architecture Licensing Compliance Guide

Architecture Licensing Compliance

Architecture Firm Licensing

A Blueprint for Compliance: The map below illustrates nationwide licensing requirements for architecture firms.

Click on a state to read about detailed license requirements in that state.
18 States (and D.C.) Do Not Require Firm Licensure
28 States Require Firm Licensure
4 States Require Firm Registration or Other Prerequisites

Licensing Complexity

Regardless of the size, maturity, and footprint of your architectural firm, licensing can be a challenge. Requirements and application processes vary by state, so what works in one state doesn’t necessarily apply in the next. Unfortunately many firms discover these challenges through trial and error when applying for new licenses, tying up valuable resources in the process.

Firms may feel relieved after obtaining a license, but maintaining a license also demands careful tracking and coordination. Filing renewal applications, managing qualifier licenses, tracking continuing education credits, and updating records with state authorities are all a part of maintaining the good standing of your license.

For firms with a presence in more than one state, these challenges are multiplied. In addition to licensing requirements, firms often trigger business entity and tax registration requirements when expanding to new states. This usually means filing with the secretary of state, department of revenue, and board of architects.

While filings to these different state agencies are typically made on separate forms, they are frequently dependent on each other, meaning mistakes made on one form can hold up the whole process. Obtaining a firm license can already take anywhere from 4 to 22 weeks, so limiting rejected filings is critical.

The following highlights areas that commonly trip up architectural firms managing licensing across multiple jurisdictions. In addition to using the informational resources provided below, you can take advantage of our full range of AE compliance solutions, from purpose-built software to expert services to make the task easier.

Obtaining Additional Licenses

When evaluating opportunities in new jurisdictions, it’s important to check requirements concerning the following:

Order of Operations

In most states, registration with the secretary of state precedes firm licensing. Yet in a few states, firms must receive approval from the board of architects before registering with the secretary of state. It’s important to understand the order of filings in a new state before beginning any applications.

Name Requirements

In some states, architectural firms must include some form of the word “architecture” in their names, while in others, firms are subject to additional requirements if their names contain such as reference. As a result, firms often need to adopt fictitious names to operate in new states.

Corporate Structure

Many states restrict the types of business entities that can provide architectural services. For example, in New York firms cannot practice architecture as a general business corporation or a non-professional limited liability company. For this reason, corporate structure should be examined early and carefully when contemplating a new jurisdiction.

Ownership and Management Requirements

Another area to consider when licensing an architectural firm in new geographies is ownership and management. Many states require firms to have a specific share of ownership by licensed architects. In North Carolina at least two-thirds of owners/shareholders of corporations must hold an architect license and at least one of the officers or directors must be licensed in North Carolina. Because of these requirements, firms may need to form a new entity under a different mix of owners to work in a particular state.

Design Firm Licenses

Some states combine the applications for architecture with other AE disciplines into a single design firm application. Illinois, for instance, uses a general design firm application for architecture, land surveying, professional engineering, and structural engineering.

Maintaining Compliance

Once licensed, firms must work to maintain certificates of authorization, licenses of individual qualifiers, and good standing of their entity in each state.

License Renewals

Most firm licenses must be renewed every one to two years. If your firm has been disciplined by any state licensing board, this must usually be disclosed in renewals. In addition, firms should track renewals of individual architect licenses, particularly for architects in responsible charge. Since renewals require continuing education (CE), it’s important for firms to have a system in place for tracking CE credits and reminding architects of upcoming renewal deadlines.

Maintaining Accurate Records

Firms must also maintain accurate records with state agencies. To change their names or addresses, firms must notify the board of architects and fill out new certificate of authorization or change forms, depending on the state. Many firms don’t realize that if they are changing their name, they must first register the change with the secretary of state. Interestingly, in some states this requires prior approval from the board of architects!

Tracking Qualifier Licenses

In addition, firms must be vigilant in tracking the licenses of qualifying architects and promptly reporting changes in their information or status to state agencies. If a qualifier leaves, the firm has a limited time to appoint a replacement or risk forfeiting the certificate of authorization. Because most firms lack software to connect COAs and qualifier licenses, this is a major source of inadvertent unlicensed activity within the industry.

Branch Office Registration

In some states, branch offices must be registered individually with the secretary of state. Some states require an architect in responsible charge for each branch location. In addition, it’s important to accurately document which branch offices and associated architects will be providing services on a particular contract and ensure that they are properly licensed according to the requirements of the state where the work is being done. This is another area that frequently trips up multi-state firms.

Corporate Lifecycle Filings

In addition to managing COAs and qualifier licenses, architectural firms must maintain good standing in each state by maintaining registered agent service and submitting annual reports and other corporate lifecycle filings. Deadlines vary with each jurisdiction, so firms need a reliable means for tracking deadlines and alerting staff of upcoming due dates to safeguard their good standing.

Streamline Paperwork and Eliminate Risk

For architectural firms, licensing and entity management will always be complex. But with the right technology and support, your firm can navigate these complexities with confidence, agility, and efficiency. Our software and fully managed services for architectural firms provide the resources you need to reduce risk, reclaim staff hours spent on government paperwork, and capture more opportunities.

50-State Chart of Architecture Firm Licenses

Looking for architecture certification requirements in a particular jurisdiction? The following table summarizes architecture firm licensing requirements across the United States. Click on any state for the licensing information specific to that state.

Alabama

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Alabama Board for Registration of Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$75

Filing Method:

File online. A renewal link will appear on the board's website during the renewal period.

Due:

Annually by April 30.

Alaska

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Alaska State Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$500 ($200 application fee plus $300 registration fee) 

Form:

Certificate of Authorization for Corporate LLC, or LLP Practice

License Renewal

Fee:

$300. Firms that obtained a license in the second half of the renewal period and are renewing for the first time pay a prorated fee of $150.

Form:

Biennial Certificate of Authorization Renewal for Corporate LLC or LLP Practice

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.

Arizona

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Arizona State Board of Technical Registration

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Form:

Annual Branch Registration (Renewal)

Due:

Annually by the initial registration anniversary date.


Agency

Arizona State Board of Technical Registration

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Form:

Annual Firm Registration (Renewal)

Due:

Annually by the initial registration anniversary date.

Arkansas

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More Info

Agency

Arkansas State Board of Architects, Landscape Architects & Interior Designers

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$250

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Annual Renewal Application

Due:

Annually by January 31.

California

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Agency

California Architects Board

Initial Application

License Renewal

Colorado

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Colorado

Architecture firms are not licensed at the state level in Colorado. Business entities are permitted to practice architecture provided that they comply with CO Stat. § 12-25-304.

Connecticut

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection - Occupational and Professional Licensing Division

License Renewal

Fee:

$375

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by April 30.


Agency

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection - Architectural Licensing Board

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$220

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by July 31

Delaware

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Agency

Delaware Division of Professional Regulation - Board of Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

You are notified of the amount of the renewal fee at the time of renewal.

Due:

By January 31 of even-numbered years.

District of Columbia

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in District of Columbia

The District of Columbia will require architecture firms to obtain a license sometime in 2020.

Florida

Our Resources:

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Agency

Florida Board of Architecture and Interior Design

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$125

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

February 28 of every odd numbered year.

Georgia

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Georgia

Architecture firms are not licensed at the state level in Georgia. Business entities are permitted to practice architecture provided that they comply with O.C.G.A. § 43-4-10.

Hawaii

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Hawaii

Architecture firms are not licensed at the state level in Hawaii. Business entities are permitted to practice architecture provided that they comply with HAR § 16-115-4.

Idaho

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Idaho

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Illinois

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

License Renewal

Fee:

$75

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Expires on April 30 of every odd year.

Indiana

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Indiana

Indiana does not issue firm licenses at the state level and no longer requires professional corporations to obtain a certificate of registration before incorporating.

Iowa

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Iowa

As of July 1, 2014, the Iowa Architectural Examining Board no longer registers firms. The board only registers individual architects.

Kansas

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Kansas State Board of Technical Professions

License Renewal

Fee:

$95

Form:

Business Entity Renewal Form

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Due:

Business entities with names beginning with A-L renew by December 31 in even numbered years; M-Z renew by December 31 in odd numbered years.

Kentucky

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Kentucky

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Louisiana

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Agency

Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners

Initial Application

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Filing Method:

Email a Firm Application Request Form to hlavigne@lsbae.com then apply through the online portal after board approval.

License Renewal

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Form:

Architectural Firm Registration Renewal Form

Due:

Annually by June 30.


Agency

Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners

Initial Application

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Filing Method:

Email a Firm Application Request Form to hlavigne@lsbae.com then apply through the online portal after board approval.

License Renewal

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Form:

Architectural-Engineering Corporation Registration Renewal Form

Due:

Annually by June 30.


Agency

Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners

Initial Application

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Form:

Email a Firm Application Request Form to hlavigne@lsbae.com then apply through the online portal after board approval.

License Renewal

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Form:

Professional Architectural Corporation Registration Renewal Form

Due:

Annually by June 30.

Maine

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Maine

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Maryland

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More Info

Agency

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation - Board of Architects

Initial Application

Fee:

$35 application fee + $100 permit fee.

Filing Method:

File an application online then email a managing agent certification form to dloplboardofarchitects-dllr@maryland.gov.

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Biennially

Massachusetts

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More Info

Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Massachusetts

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Michigan

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Agency

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) - Bureau of Professional Licensing

Initial Application

Fee:

$0

License Renewal

Minnesota

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More Info

Agency

Minnesota Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying Landscape Architecture, Geoscience and Interior Design

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Form:

Professional Firm Registration Renewal

Due:

Annually by December 31.

Mississippi

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More Info

Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Mississippi

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Missouri

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Agency

Missouri Board For Architects, Professional Engineers, Professional Land Surveyors and Professional Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Licenses originally issued in even-numbered years expire on December 31 of each even-numbered year and licenses originally issued in odd-numbered years expire on December 31 of each odd-numbered year.

Montana

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Montana

  • Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.
  • PCs must file a copy of their articles or incorporation or certificate of foreign qualification with the board.

Nebraska

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Agency

Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects

Initial Application

Fee:

Tiered fee structure by number of licensees. 1-5: $100 6-10: $200 11-49:$300 50+: $400

Form:

Application for Certificate of Authorization

License Renewal

Fee:

Tiered fee structure by number of licensees. 1-5: $50 6-10: $150 11-49:$250 50+: $350

Form:

Renewal forms are mailed a month prior to expiration.

Due:

Biennially from date of issuance.

Nevada

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Agency

Nevada State Board of Architecture, Interior Design and Residential Design

Initial Application

Fee:

$425. The fee is reduced to $300 if the firm is made up of only Nevada registrants.

Form:

Firm Registration Application

License Renewal

New Hampshire

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Agency

New Hampshire Joint Board of Licensure and Certification: Board of Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$80

Form:

Application for Certificate of Authorization Renewal

Due:

Annually by December 31.

New Jersey

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Agency

New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs - State Board of Architects

Initial Application

Fee:

$100 application fee + $250 license fee if applying during the second year of the renewal period or $500 if applying during the first year of the renewal period.

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$500

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Biennially

New Mexico

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in New Mexico

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

New York

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in New York

  • New York does currently license architectural firms, however, firms must follow procedures established by the Education Department when incorporating or foreign qualifying.

North Carolina

Our Resources:

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Agency

North Carolina Board of Architecture

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Form:

Firm Renewal Form

Due:

Annually by December 31.

North Dakota

Our Resources:

More Info

Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in North Dakota

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Ohio

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Ohio Architects Board

Initial Application

Fee:

$125

Filing Method:

Firms can apply online but must also submit a Firm Ownership Spreadsheet with the online application.

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by June 30.

Oklahoma

Our Resources:

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Agency

Oklahoma Board of Architects, Landscape Architects, and Registered Interior Designers

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$325

Form:

Certificate of Authority Renewal Form

Due:

Biennially by June 30 of odd numbered years.

Oregon

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Agency

Oregon State Board of Architect Examiners

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Due:

Annually by January 31.

Pennsylvania

Our Resources:

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Agency

Pennsylvania Architects Licensure Board

Initial Application

Fee:

$50

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Form:

Online Renewal

Due:

By June 30 of odd numbered years.

Rhode Island

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Rhode Island Division of Design Professionals

Initial Application

Fee:

$0

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$0 for firms with only one licensed architect (and strictly no other employees/assistants etc.) and $120 for firms with more than one licensed architect.

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

By December 31 of even-numbered years.

South Carolina

Our Resources:

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Agency

South Carolina Board of Architectural Examiners

License Renewal

Fee:

$185

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Renewal Form

Due:

By August 31 of odd-numbered years.

South Dakota

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation: Board of Technical Professions

Initial Application

Fee:

$100

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$80

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Biennially by the date of issuance.

Tennessee

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Agency

Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance - Tennessee Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners

Initial Application

License Renewal

Texas

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Texas Board of Architectural Examiners: Architects, Interior Designers, Landscape Architects

Initial Application

Fee:

$45

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$45

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by date of initial issuance.

Utah

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Utah

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Vermont

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Vermont

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Virginia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By February 28 of even-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Due:

By February 28 of even-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By February 28 of even-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.

Washington

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Washington State Department of Licensing: State Board of Architects

Initial Application

Fee:

$19 business license fee + $284.50 certificate of authorization fee.

Form:

Business License Application and Registered Professional Design Firm Addendum

License Renewal

Fee:

$145.50 renewal fee + $11 processing fee.

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by date of initial issuance.

West Virginia

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in West Virginia

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Wisconsin

Our Resources:

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Agency

Wisconsin Examining Board of Architects, Landscape Architects, Professional Engineers, Designers and Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$68

Form:

FM929 Report of Renewal Information for COA

Filing Method:
  1. Online
  2. Complete FM929 and send by fax
Due:

By January 31 of even-numbered years.

Wyoming

Our Resources:

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Not Required

Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Wyoming

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

ARE (Architect Registration Examination) - Assesses candidates for their knowledge, skills, and ability to provide the various services required to be a practicing architect.

AXP (Architectural Experience Program) - NCARB program for architectural internship, a requirement for licensure that occurs after filling the educational requirements.

BEFA (Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect) - An alternative NCARB certification that allows foreign architects to independently practice architecture.

COA (Certificate of Authorization) - The most common name of the registration required for firms to practice architecture in a given state.

Design Firm - Architectural firm registration is sometimes grouped with engineering and land surveying on a single “design firm” application form.

NCARB Certification - Licensed architects have the option to become Certificate holders to signify that they have met national standards established by U.S. licensing boards for protecting public health, safety, and welfare. Certification also facilitates reciprocal registration in all 54 jurisdictions, 11 Canadian jurisdictions, and can be used to support an application for licensure in other countries.

Reciprocity - This is when a licensed architect in one state can provide documentation (often a NCARB certificate) to more easily apply for licensure in another jurisdiction.

State Board - Often referred to as the State Architects Licensure Board or Board of Architects, an individual state’s board serves as the regulatory authority for architects. The board qualifies and licenses individuals seeking architectural licensure. The board is responsible for preserving the public health, safety, and welfare of individuals who occupy built environments.

National Architecture Accrediting Board
NAAB establishes criteria for and accredits professional architecture degree programs in the United States.

The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)
AIAS is an independent, student-run group that promotes excellence in architecture education, training, and practice.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA)
AIA is a voluntary professional organization for architects providing advocacy, information, and community.

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)
ACSA represents architectural education programs across the globe.

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)
NCARB is the national organization representing the state registration boards.

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