Masters course for US licensure

I have graduated with a 5 yr B.arch degree from India. I have a valid license from the Council of Architecture, which is the official governing body for architecture here. I wish to pursue a Masters course in the US, after which I intend to find work there(and eventually get  a US license to practice as well), and settle down. 

According to the research I have done, I am eligible to apply for the M.Arch 2 degree course, since I hold a B.Arch Degree.

1. Is this course accredited by NAAB or NCARB?

2. Is an accredited degree the only eligible degree requirement for the ARE? Does holding a non-accredited degree still allow me to appear for the ARE and apply for a US license, as long as I hold a B.Arch degree?( but not from the US)

3. Does it make any difference if I pursue a M.S.Arch. or a M.Des. or M.UD. course instead?


Amal Roowala

Nov 6, 12 12:41 pm


Not an expert in this, but have some relatively recent experience regarding this topic. 

I believe reciprocity procedure for foreign education & experience depend on the state architects board, which defers from state to state.

Most of the states and NCARB requirements says you need to have a NCARB / NAAB accredited professional degree in order to sit for the AREs.  A few states such as California does not require you to have a degree.  But to qualify, you need something like 8 years of education/experience. Education is evaluation for US equivalence by NAAB.  California also only count foreign experience at 50% and a certain amount of the 8 years required must be domestic. (example of California requirements:

I think You are also required to complete IDP before you can be licensed.  Some state even require you to have completed the IDP before you can begin taking the AREs.

Sorry there is no short or definitive answer to your question.  If you have a general idea which region of the US you are interested in, your best bet is to look up those states’ Architects Board for specific.

Good luck!

Nov 6, 12 2:31 pm


Thanks for the prompt answer. I have done a bit of research myself since then on this topic. Most universities have accredited courses in the form of M.Arch. 1, and non-accredited post professional courses in the form of M,Arch 2 or M.S. Arch. (The exact naming of the courses varies from university to university, but they are basically the same) IDP and ARE are necessary no matter what course I take (the number of  required hours will vary greatly from situation to situation) I understand that some states do not require an accredited degree as a prerequisite for licensure.

I need to know a few things at this stage:

1. I am not familiar with the current work scene in the US. How much of an advantage is it to actually hold a license, as compared to working in a partnership, or as an architect in a firm, or a big company, where someone else is there to take care of the signatures for project approvals. 

2. I read somewhere that holding an M.S. Arch. degree  results in a much larger median salary as compared to an M. Arch. degree(65k+ as compared to 45k) Is this true?

If you could answer these questions I'd be really grateful. My basic concern is which direction I should take regarding my future career. Any insights into the same would be appreciated.



Nov 24, 12 7:46 am

Guys, any help out there, please

Nov 26, 12 2:59 am
vado retro

short answers for you...


1. You should only attend an naab certified school. Any certified school will have this information on its website.

2. Yes. You need to attend an naab certified school.

3. If you want to be an architect go to architecture school.

Nov 26, 12 4:16 pm


1. Benefit of holding a license varies.  Most licensed architects do not stamp drawings, unless they are either owners or principals at firms, usually due to limit to the firm’s liability insurance coverage.  This generally holds true for all sizes of firms, but there are exceptions.  One gets increased credibility and recognition (and in some cases becomes more valuable or hirable, because you can now be billed at higher rate to clients) when one become licensed.  In general, bigger firms encourage licensing more and small firms care less.  Oh, did I mention you are not allowed to introduce yourself as an “architect” until you become licensed…  There are a great many past posts on the value (or lack thereof) of licensing.

2. I don’t know anyone holding M.S.Arch, and am confused as to the purpose and meaning of such a degree.  My understanding is that it’s usually NOT an NAAB accredited professional degree?  It’s also usually shorter (1 year vs. 2 years for an M.Arch).  So my assumption is that it would be less respected.  But I really haven’t heard of that degree all that much.  Understand that starting salary is not really tied to the degree you hold in this profession (in US).  Much will depend on how well you present yourself (communication, professionalism, portfolio, other capabilities, etc. etc.).

Nov 26, 12 5:05 pm


I just came across this thread. I've applied to various master's programs this year in the US - both MS Arch and M.Arch. Amal, could you share your experience with me cos I have the same questions regarding my final choice. I'm very interested in an MS Arch (from Michigan/Taubman college) given the specialization opportunities and the research track offered. But I'm wondering if it will hamper my prospects after graduation as compared to an M.Arch. Please advise. Thanks in advance!

Feb 14, 16 12:25 pm

"The Master of Science in Architecture Design and Research (M.S.) is an advanced, post-professional degree in architecture offered by the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and the Rackham Graduate School."

Not accredited.

"University of Michigan's Taubman College graduate degree in architecture is open to students who have already earned pre-professional undergraduate degrees in architecture (2-year) as well as those who received undergraduate degrees in a subject other than architecture (3-year)."



The former will leave you eligible for license only in states that allow a path to licensure via the workplace. The latter satisfies the educational path to licensure that still requires work experience, but is much more commonly accepted by the states.


More info:

Feb 15, 16 11:47 am

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