Innovative licensing of architects – a model for the legal profession?

While many who comment about the design of legal education look to medical schools, it seems to me that architecture schools provide another useful model. The architecture curriculum integrates classroom instruction with a central role for the studio (the equivalent of simulation or clinical work in law school), and the review of student work (also called critique or “crit”) is central to the studio. There may be lessons to be learned.
Now an alternative method of licensure (similar to the Daniel Webster Scholars Program in New Hampshire, but on a larger scale) is being considered:
NCARB Endorses New Path to Becoming an Architect:  Architect Licensure Upon Graduation

Incorporating internship and examination requirements into university education, the regulatory organization aims to simplify and accelerate the licensing process.

30 May 2014
Washington, DC—The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Board of Directors has announced their endorsement of the concept of an additional, structured path that leads to licensure in a U.S. jurisdiction. The new path—licensure upon graduation from an accredited program—would integrate the rigorous internship and examination requirements that aspiring architects must fulfill into the years spent completing a professional degree in architecture.
The concept was designed by a distinguished group of volunteers convened by NCARB, which recommends national architect registration standards, called the Licensure Task Force. This group, which was initially formed in mid-2013, is headed by NCARB’s Immediate Past President Ron Blitch of Louisiana, and it includes former and current leaders of NCARB, the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Association of Colleges and Schools of Architecture (ACSA), and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), as well as interns, recently licensed architects, program deans and instructors, and jurisdictional licensing board representatives.
A Progressive Path
Describing the work of the Licensure Task Force, NCARB CEO Michael Armstrong said, “NCARB is engaged in streamlining and simplifying the licensing process for aspiring architects, and we are actively re-engineering all elements of the architectural licensing process—education, experience and examination—to focus on facilitation of licensing.”
“This additional path to licensure is another concrete step to reimagining and reconfiguring each part of the process while upholding the rigorous standards needed to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare,” he said.
This progressive concept was borne of research and development efforts by the Licensure Task Force, with leaders from diverse segments of the architectural community to analyze each component of the licensure process to identify overlaps and redundancies to existing programs.
Now beginning the second year, the Licensure Task Force will start to identify schools interested in participating in the program. NCARB expects to issue schools Requests for Information later in the year, followed by a Request for Proposal process in 2015.
Exam Evolution
In addition to the licensure work, NCARB also announced this month that a transition plan is underway to guide the implementation of major improvements and changes to the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®), the test that all prospective architects must take to get their licenses. The new ARE 5.0 will launch in late 2016, while ARE 4.0 will remain available for at least 18 months after the launch.
The exam is required by all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands for initial architectural licensure by assessing candidates for their knowledge, skills, and ability to provide all services required in the practice of architecture.


One Response

  1. Howard’s post is energizing; now we law professors can learn not only from licensure requirements for the medical profession, but also from the architecture professionals, who incorporate the “studio,” the equivalent to our clinical work, in their programs. That rigorous internship requirements are being considered for licensure, and that architecture schools will be volunteering to participate in this program, should be an inspiration for law school accreditation. We should consider the notion that, rather than being ABA-ordered to adhere to a rigid program of study, law schools could offer “rigorous internships,” perhaps as an alternative means of student qualification to sit for bar exams.

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