Accreditation of Architecture Programs

What is the Architecture Program Accreditation Procedure in Australia and New Zealand?

The Architecture Program Accreditation Procedure in Australia and New Zealand sets out the peer review process through which all architecture programs in Australia are assessed against the accreditation standard, generally once every five years or ten semester equivalent. This assessment is made by an independent Accreditation Review Panel, composed of practicing architects and academics, which then makes a recommendation on whether and for how long a program should be accredited. The decision on accreditation is made by the relevant architect registration board.

The Procedure is administered by the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia on behalf of the State and Territory architect registration boards who are responsible for the regulation of architects via the State and Territory Architects Acts. The New Zealand Architects Registration Board licences the Procedure from the AACA for the purpose of accrediting architecture programs in New Zealand.

You can access the Architecture Program Accreditation Procedure in Australia and New Zealand here, noting that the Procedure consists of a primary document and a number of support documents. All of the Procedure documents can be found on the Publications page.

Why do university architecture programs need to be accredited?

A prerequisite for architectural registration in all Australian States and Territories is the completion of a university program in architecture (or accepted equivalent) accredited by the architect registration boards in each State and Territory in Australia. Accreditation of university programs provides confidence that graduates have achieved the required fundamental competencies for them to progress on the path towards registration.

Do I need to have an accredited Australian degree to become a registered architect?

Generally yes, as the most common pathway to architectural registration is to obtain an Australian accredited Master of Architecture qualification following a five year program of study followed by successful completion of the Architectural Practice Examination.

However, accredited degrees from New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore allow entry to the Architectural Practice Examination and five year architectural programs of study from other countries may be accepted following successful completion of the AACA’s Overseas Qualifications Assessment process or the AACA’s National Program of Assessment, a practical examination which can grant exemption from the requirement to hold an accredited architecture qualification.

Experienced overseas and local practitioners who meet specific eligible criteria may also be eligible for the fast-track to registration assessment. Further information on the different pathways to registration can be found here.

What is an accredited Australian architecture qualification?

In Australia, the accredited qualification is normally the Master of Architecture degree. Bachelor-level degrees are not accredited. In practice, most students first complete the provider’s designated pathway qualification at Bachelor level. This Bachelor level qualification is specifically intended to dovetail with the provider’s Masters degree and to expose students progressively to the required concepts and skills for entry to the Master of Architecture. Providers may also accept students into their Masters degree from a variety of prior education experiences, in accordance with the provider’s policies.

Are Bachelor programs in architecture accredited?

No. The Master of Architecture is the program accredited for the purpose of registration by the Architect Registration Boards in Australia and New Zealand. Pre-professional degrees (eg. Bachelor degrees) or other preparatory programs that may serve as a pre-requisite for admission to a professional degree program are not accredited. Students with a successful performance in a relevant pathway bachelor degree are generally guaranteed admission to the accredited Master’s program, while students with other suitable degrees are admitted on a case-by-case basis. It is up to each provider to establish their own entry requirements and assessment processes to ensure that students entering their Masters programs have demonstrated prior achievement of necessary competencies.

Who makes the decision about program accreditation?

The eight state and territory architect registration boards have statutory responsibility for the accreditation of architectural programs of study within their jurisdictions. Programs accredited in one jurisdiction are recognised in all states and territories (and New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore). Assessment for accreditation occurs through the conduct of an Accreditation Review Panel. By agreement, architect registration boards are guided by the recommendations of the Accreditation Review Panel, however they are not bound to accept those recommendations. A decision by an architect registration board not to grant accreditation is usually reviewable under the administrative appeals arrangements applying in the respective state or territory.

What is the standard for accreditation of architecture programs?

For the purposes of accreditation, architecture programs are required to demonstrate that graduates meet 37 of the 70 Performance Criteria in the National Standard of Competency for Architects.  

How long is the accreditation period for architecture programs?

The default period of accreditation is five years or 10 semesters.

How can I find out which programs are accredited?

A list of accredited university programs in architecture is included on the AACA website – see here.

Does the Accreditation Procedure assess qualifications from overseas universities?

The Accreditation Procedure only applies to qualifications in Australia and (under licence) in New Zealand. Qualifications from other countries (excepting Hong Kong and Singapore where Australia has a Mutual Recognition Agreement in place) are individually assessed under the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia’s Overseas Qualifications Assessment process.

How is the Accreditation Procedure funded?

The Accreditation Procedure is funded equally by the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia on behalf of the Architect Registration Boards and the providers of accredited programs.

From January 2018 funding of the Accreditation Procedure is based on full cost recovery arrangements and incorporate transparent financial accounting and reporting on an annual basis. Costs include all Accreditation Panel costs, inclusive of the costs incurred in running the Secretariat, operation of required management systems (primarily via the new Accreditation Management Committee), and training of Standing Panel Members. Some accreditation activities, such as pre-accreditation Program Advice, are funded on a fee-for-service arrangement.

What are the Knowledge Domains and how are they incorporated in the Accreditation Program Accreditation Procedure?

The Knowledge Domains underpin the entire National Standard of Competency for Architects and do relate to every Performance Criteria; they provide context as to the practice environment. A Provider does not need to provide evidence of achievement of each Knowledge Domain for each of the required Performance Criteria.  A Provider may use the Knowledge Domains to assist in their underpinning description of their achievement of a particular Performance Criteria.

How should a Provider report on proposed or actual changes to their program?

Refer to Page 21 of the Accreditation Procedure that outlines Provider Annual Reporting, and the need for program changes are to be reported via this mechanism.

The Provider Annual Reporting mechanism commenced in 2019. 

What advice can AACA provide to students about studying  architecture and pathways to registration as an architect in Australia?

Students or potential students wishing to study architecture and later register as an architect in Australia should consider the information available here: Information for students

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