International Degrees/Canberra Accord

Hello all,

I had posted this as a response to another thread, but I since decided it needs its own thread since I couldn't find much in the forum here about it, and others may be interested to know.  I've been looking into grad schools abroad for various reasons. I also ideally would like to find a school with a Master's degree that can transfer back to the US as 'substantially equivalent' through NCARB, so that I can use it towards becoming licensed (currently, I only have a BS in Science unfortunately, so I would need either an NAAB-accredited degree, or a substantially equivalent degree based on EESA (see below).  And after some research, this is what I came up with:

From what I understand (and please correct me if I'm wrong), based on the Canberra Accord from 2010, it looks like accredited degrees at international universities in their respective countries (Australia, Canada, China, Korea, UK, Mexico) will carry over as 'substantially equivalent' to NAAB accredited degrees here in the US.  This allows programs in these countries to bypass going through EESA and going through the process/paying a fee to have your degree reviewed.  Now I know that doesn't mean 'equivalent,' but NCARB recognizes these degrees as acceptable towards getting US licensure (See here  So, assuming that your degree is in one of those countries, and you received it after January 1 2010, it will fulfill your education requirement for the licensure process.   I know in previous posts, people had said that degrees do not transfer over as fully NAAB-equivalent, but that doesn't mean that they can't be used towards become professionally licensed. 

Just wanted to see if anyone can weigh in with their two cents/personal experience with this, or if there's anything I've misinterpreted.  

Thanks in advance! 

Jul 30, 13 5:26 pm
Architect with a suitcase

The RIBA (UK) did not sign the accord, nor did any school/ system in the EU. This will greatly reduce the schools you can apply to.

The NAAB requirements for  accreditation for schools of architecture do not align with the NCARB (EESA) requirements for foreign educated architects.  They also change fairly often so can change while you are studying. Be careful.

Think where you want to end up practicing architecture. If you are going to live and work in the US, go to school there. It will be a lot easier in the long run. 

Aug 8, 13 10:57 am  · 

Thanks for the reply.  I am definitely being careful about which schools I'm considering for my master's, especially when it comes to transferring a degree back to the US.  My main reason(s) for studying in Europe are that the cost of education is significantly lower than that in the US (I am in the process of obtaining dual citizenship with Ireland, so I will hopefully be able to pay EU student tuition).  My other reason is just a different school of thought all together than that of the US (and it gives me another reasonable excuse to live outside the US for a bit longer). 

But what you mentioned about the NAAB requirements not aligning--from what I understand, NCARB grants substantial equivalency to certain degrees from foreign schools (at a hefty fee), which does not mean 'equivalent' to a US-obtained NAAB accredited degree, but still suffices as far as getting registered as an architect in the US (depending on the state of course, and whether they accept EESA-approved degrees).  

Am I understanding this right? This is the part I just wanted to make sure I had it correct, so I don't find out after I would have a degree that it won't be getting me much towards being licensed in the US.


Aug 9, 13 11:29 am  · 
Architect with a suitcase

Dear Chris

Having a EU nationality does not necessarily entitle you to free/ subsidized  education. It varies from country to country. For instance in the UK if you have not been resident there for 3 years before you go to university  before going to uni  regardless if you have a UK passport or not, the education boards will consider you an overseas student and charge accordingly. I have no idea what the Irish rules are.

Once you have decided on a university course I would check again with NCARB and EESA, and count up your hours on the proposed course with the NCARB education requirements. ( One EU credit hour is roughly 1/2 US credit hour).  You did not specify if you were looking at a 5 year Architecture Course in the EU ( leading to registration there) or a 2 years master course as you have a B. Arch. (Which could leave you without recognition in any country). If you have completed your General Education Requirements in your undergraduate degree you have probably overcome many of the credit hour issues that European Architects face when going through ESSA. 

The 3 schools that have NAAB equivalency are in Istanbul, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. 

There is no reciprocity between the UK  and the USA on the licensing of architects. 

Try the international chapters of the AIA . They might give you further advice on what you should do.

Aug 11, 13 5:37 pm  · 

Thanks again for the reply.  And believe me, I fully understand having the EU citizenship doesn't entitle me to a cheap(er) education.  At this point, I'm just looking into options for going abroad, whether working or for educational purposes--and wanted to really understand my options. Unfortunately, I only have a BS of Architecture through my undergraduate, which is really why I was really trying to understand how degrees from other countries carry/don't carry over.  I will say that having the non-professional degree is really limiting my options for going to get my masters.  So I would be looking to get an M.Arch (or substantially equivalent), which would (ideally) leave me with the possibility of becoming licensed both abroad if I decided to stay, or in the US upon return.  

I'm really just having trouble justifying spending another $100k of loans/debt on 2-3 years of education here in the states, especially when the payback for a masters degree is not considerably higher than that of a bachelor's degree.  But not having an accredited/professional degree here in the states is very limiting on where I could actually become licensed (currently there's probably 15-20 states here that allow people to become registered with a pre-professional degree). 

But thank you again for your help in getting a better understanding on the reciprocity between EU/international degrees and US.  It's definitely a bit confusing at first glance for sure.  I guess I'll wing it!



Aug 12, 13 3:42 pm  · 
Aaron Reddick

Hi Chris,


Did you ever find an answer to this? I have just started the NCARB process and am hoping my degree from Western Australia will be accepted as equivalent.

I have already finished the degree and have now moved back to the States. I am hoping I can avoid the EESA process and the hefty fee associated with it. I've contacted NAAB directly and am anxiously waiting to see if this degree will be acceptable for registration.


Thanks in advance!


Jan 4, 17 12:37 pm  · 


Could you please provide an update on how this went for you? Thanks.


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