IPAL is an accelerated route to earning your professional architectural licensure. In this relatively new program, students can complete their required experience hours and exams while in university.
The Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (or IPAL for short) is an ambitious program launched by NCARB in 2015 to allow motivated and talented students to complete their Architectural Experience Program (AXP) and Architect Registration Examination (ARE) while simultaneously completing their degree.
The “normal” procedure of obtaining your architectural licensure begins by earning a degree from a “National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)” accredited Institution. After earning a degree, you need to complete the required 3,740 hours of experience under the AXP. Afterwards, you must meet the eligibility criteria of your relevant state board of architecture and pass the 6 Divisions of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), and finally apply for a license upon passing the ARE.
Understandably, this is a very tough and time-taking journey. With this in mind, NCARB launched the IPAL (Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure) program in 2015 to allow students in participating architecture schools the ability to complete their AXP and ARE while earning their degrees, and ultimately get their license in a much shorter period of time.
At the moment, only specific architecture schools offer the IPAL program. Since 2015, 28 NAAB-accredited programs at 23 schools across the United States have established an IPAL path.
You can find more about these schools here.
It is the responsibility of the school to structure a curriculum that enables students to complete the AXP and pass the ARE before graduation. To help do this the school appoints an IPAL advisor and an architect licensing advisor to each student.
If you’re interested in joining an IPAL program, spend some time researching the various options. Each school has a distinct curriculum strategy within the IPAL framework.
IPAL advisors have the following responsibilities:
Sources: IPAL Advisors
Architect licensing advisors are local professionals, educators, and students who volunteer their time to help others pursue licensure and reciprocity. These volunteers often provide candidates with their first glimpse into the licensure process, lending help and guidance along the way. Similar to a supervisor or mentor, candidates look to their advisors for insight into completing the AXP, passing the ARE, and meeting licensure and reciprocity requirements.
Sources: Architect Licensing Advisor
Being part of an IPAL program doesn’t guarantee that you will be licensed when you graduate. However, even if a graduating student isn’t considered an “IPAL” graduate, they will still meet most states’ education requirements for licensure by graduating from a NAAB-accredited program and would also not lose any AXP or ARE progress made while in school. After graduating, the student can simply continue the journey and complete the remaining AXP hours and ARE divisions in order to earn a license.
NCARB does not charge any fee for participating in IPAL. Students will however encounter extra costs in terms of their school tuition. Students will also need to pay the fees associated with NCARB’s AXP and ARE programs.
As of 2020, over 650 students have enrolled in IPAL options across the United States. IPAL is an incredible way for students to earn their licensure in the shortest amount of time possible.
It is not without its limitations though, students should be aware that not all jurisdictions currently accept divisions of the ARE passed prior to graduation, however, many boards are in the process of updating their laws and rules to accept IPAL.
If you’re interested in researching the IPAL program and the schools that offer it, you can find more about these schools here.
If you’re already studying for the ARE or planning on starting your journey soon, take a look at Remy & Ray’s Guide to the ARE. It is the most fun & interactive way to study for the ARE.