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Architectural Experience Program (AXP)
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Licensure candidates for the practice of architecture in each of the 54 U.S. jurisdictions will typically be required to complete the three core components: education, experience and examination. In California, experience can be substituted for the education requirement.

The Architectural Experience Program (AXP), administered by NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Board), provides the framework to guide licensure candidates in developing and recording the required hourly experience needed. California requires a total of 3,740 hours across the experience areas identified in the AXP. Half of the documented experience (1,860 hours) must be gained under the supervision of a licensed architect, while employed by the architecture firm (Setting A). The remaining half of the experience can be performed outside an architecture firm (Setting O).

On June 29, 2016, NCARB launched the Architectural Experience Program (AXP), when it completed a multi-year effort to revamp the program’s predecessor, the Intern Development Program (IDP). The most noticeable change is the simplification of the experience reporting areas from seventeen to six. This restructuring is designed to “better reflect current architectural practice and technology”. Since there are many emerging professionals who have started their NCARB records under IDP, NCARB has provided a built-in calculator within each record to convert the experience hours from the seventeen IDP reporting areas to the six new AXP reporting areas.

The overhaul of the IDP to AXP occurred concurrently with the overhaul of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) from ARE 4.0 to ARE 5.0. The new ARE 5.0 consists of six division examinations organized around the phases of a project and which align with the six AXP reporting areas. This is a significant change from ARE 4.0 which featured seven divisions organized around content areas.

Licensure candidates who have started with ARE 4.0 can either complete their examination in ARE 4.0 or transition to ARE 5.0. The deadline for completing the examination divisions in ARE 4.0 is June 2018. For candidates interested in transitioning to ARE 5.0, the successful completion of certain divisions in ARE 4.0 may earn credit and an exemption from one or more of the division exams in ARE 5.0. Please check the credit model and calculator provided in the candidate’s NCARB record.

In addition to the AXP hourly reporting, licensure candidates can now complete the AXP through the portfolio method. Candidates will be required to upload documentation that demonstrates competency in all 96 AXP tasks. Note that the AXP requirements must be fulfilled by either the hourly reporting method OR by the portfolio method, and not by a combination of the two.


  • Volunteer at a pre-approved community-based design center/collaborative (up to 320 hours, any AXP experience area)
  • Regular AIA tours with project architects/mentors (up to 40 hours, Construction & Evaluation)
  • Design Competitions (up to 320 hours, any AXP experience area)



Looking for an AXP mentor? Check out the AIASF Mentorship Program to meet AIASF members who are available to help answer your questions about careers in architecture and can sign off on design competitions and site visits.

Questions on AXP? AIASF Architectural Licensing Committee has an NCARB Architect Licensing Advisor on board who can help find answers to questions you may have about the AXP.