As the profession of architecture grows in new and interesting directions, so does the education and licensure paths that feed into it.  Many in the profession are familiar with the typical education path of having an intern position to earn NCARB experience while a student, earning a NAAB accredited degree, earn more experience, and pass the exams.  However, in the past few years, NCARB has been working to provide an alternative path to licensure and is working with state licensing boards to get this path approved as a viable option. This path is known as the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL). 

IPAL is an accelerated path to licensure for students to meet the requirements for licensure while documenting the same hours of work experience, obtaining a NAAB accredited degree, and passing their exams all at once.  When they gather their diploma they will be a fully accredited architect (pending any other requirements from their jurisdiction of practice).  Currently, there are 26 programs at universities that offer the IPAL program.  A majority of the universities offer it as a graduate program, yet there are those that offer it to undergraduates although there may be certain stipulations applied.  These programs typically have tie-ins for work-study programs or strong connections to internship programs with local firms to help facilitate the work experience needed to meet IPAL and NCARB requirements.  Many IPAL participants will need to work what equates to a part-time job at a minimum along with being a full-time student to meet all the requirements to complete the program. 

With a new path to licensure emerging and tying into education requirements provided nationally, those who dream of a career in architecture will have multiple paths to obtaining licensure. In 2018, the first group of IPAL graduates moved into the workforce. It will be interesting to see how their alternative path and experience has molded them as architects, and if any change will be ushered into the profession as a whole.

For more information on IPAL, requirements, and a list of institutions that provide the path, visit

article submitted by Virginia Licensing Advisor, Michael Hammon, AIA. You can reach out to Michael at with any licensing questions.