Portland State University

Portland State University

Portland, OR


Portland State University's Master of Architecture Degree Receives NAAB Accreditation

By PSUArchitecture
Jul 5, '13 7:15 PM EST

PORTLAND, Or. (4 April 2013) – Portland State University’s School of Architecture has announced that its professional Master of Architecture program, established in 2009, has received initial accreditation from the National Architectural Accrediting Board.

"We've had many accomplishments to celebrate as the architecture program has formed and prospered over time, but in my 18 years of effort at PSU, this one brings the most sheer satisfaction and joy,” said Clive Knights, Director of the School of Architecture.

For any architecture student seeking to become a licensed architect, earning a degree from an accredited professional program is one of three requirements for licensure, along with internship hours and a licensing exam. For this reason, receiving accreditation from NAAB is a critical step for a professional architectural degree program.

This news comes just weeks after another welcome development for the program, in which the former Department of Architecture was elevated to become the School of Architecture. The newly named College of the Arts (formerly the School of Fine and Performing Arts) encompasses the Schools of Architecture, Art + Design, Music and Theatre + Film.

The program’s accreditation coincides with a recent positive trend in the national architecture industry. According to the American Institute of Architects’ Architecture Billings Index, “the February ABI score was 54.9, up slightly from a mark of 54.2 in January. This score reflects a strong increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 64.8, higher than the reading of 63.2 the previous month – and its highest mark since January 2007.” The February ABI average in the West was 54.7.

Employment prospects have been more promising as well, with 75% of the first graduating class of Master of Architecture students have landed jobs with firms in Portland, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Shanghai, and other cities.

Saundra Stevens, Executive Vice-President, AIA Portland and AIA Oregon, commented: “It’s great to see the ABI score over the 50 mark now—it’s an indicator that the industry is starting to come back from the darker times around 2009, when we were in the 46 to 48 range. Over the last couple of months, we are beginning to see an upturn in hiring. We expect growth to be slow for a while, but Portland firms tend to be very deliberate about their hiring practices. Generally, when they hire, they are hiring for the long term.”

The route toward accreditation began in 2008 when the program was first granted NAAB candidacy status; the first class of graduate students began their studies in fall 2009. The accreditation process involved extensive archiving of student work, careful course planning, collecting data from students, generating exhaustive reports and curating exhibits of student work for evaluation by visiting NAAB representatives. 

"The professional degree accreditation has long been a focus for PSU and the architectural community. We are absolutely delighted that it has come to fruition and that our partnerships have flourished and can continue to grow," said Barbara Sestak, AIA, Dean of the College of the Arts.
Accreditation allows the school to build on relationships with professionals formed through the work of an NCARB research grant awarded to Assistant Professor Corey Griffin and Professor Sergio Palleroni in 2011, in which students have collaborated with Portland-area practices. The faculty view the accreditation, in part, as supporting the two years of research done through these collaborations and highlighting the value of the program to the practice community, Knights said.

In view of its accreditation, the School of Architecture intends to expand intake to the Master of Architecture program for the fall of 2013. A second round of applications will be accepted through April 29, 2013. Details regarding how to apply to the graduate program can be found at

“Achieving NAAB accreditation proves that a program can push the boundaries of creativity and challenge the definition of how we make architecture today, opening up questions and possibilities, rather than being limited by convention, and can do this all with the endorsement of the national professional accrediting body. Architecture in Portland just got a phenomenal boost. I think this will be transformative," said Knights.

About Portland State University (PSU)
Located in Portland, Oregon, PSU has about 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. PSU’s motto is “Let Knowledge Serve the City,” and we provide every student with opportunities to work with businesses, schools and organizations on real-world projects. Our downtown campus exhibits PSU’s commitment to sustainability with green buildings, while environmental responsibility is incorporated into much of the curriculum.

About the School of Architecture at Portland State University
The School of Architecture’s four-year bachelor’s degree program and two-year professional master’s degree program emphasize focused study in architectural design, the humanities, tectonics and the profession, in a rich, design-based curriculum, as they prepare students for a career as a licensed architect. The Master of Architecture program concludes with the completion of a major design thesis study of individually inspired questions concerning architecture, culture and technology.


Media Contact:
Karen O’Donnell Stein, 503.725.8422,