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 over five years or ten semester equivalent of learning cycle. 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 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 university’s designated pathway qualification at Bachelor level. This qualification is specifically intended to dovetail with the Master of Architecture and to expose students progressively to the required concepts and skills. Universities may accept students into the Master of Architecture from a variety of pathway degrees.
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 University 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 equivalent volume of learning. If the Program Provider uses the trimester approach to achieve the 10 semester equivalent volume of learning in less than five years, their default period of accreditation will be less than five years.
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 is the term ‘threshold’ used in the Accreditation Program Accreditation Procedure?
Within the Accreditation Procedure, the term ‘threshold level’, meaning the standard necessary to achieve competency, is explained in the ‘Key Terms’ on page 25.
The term ‘threshold’ applies at the individual assessment task level, not to an overall unit or subject. When a Provider is considering the threshold level relevant to an individual assessment task, the threshold should be met for a student to pass an assessment task. This should be evident from the marking rubric for the assessment task. This has the direct consequence that students that do not achieve the threshold level have been assessed by the Program as not having met the competencies linked to that assessment task. The competencies linked to a particular assessment should be specified in the related teaching and assessment materials. The student work is evidence of the course/unit achieving the specified learning outcomes/competencies as specified in the teaching materials. In panel deliberations, greater weight should be given to the teaching materials rather than the student work.
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.
Provider Annual Reports are due for submission to the Secretariat by 15 April annually, commencing in 2019. Download the current template here and you can read the Administrative Guidance for preparing Provider Annual Reports here.
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.
Overseas Qualifications Assessment
How can I have my overseas qualifications in architecture assessed for migration purposes?
Details about the AAAC’s Overseas Qualifications Assessment process is found here.
Can you tell me whether my overseas qualification is recognised by AACA?
The AACA considers applications on a case by case basis. Therefore, we cannot provide advice on a qualification until a full application together with supporting documentation and payment of the fee has been received. See here for information on AACA’s overseas assessment process and links to application forms.
If my overseas qualification is assessed as not suitable for the occupation architect for migration purposes, will AACA advise me how I can upgrade my qualifications to be able to meet the requirements?
The assessment of overseas aualifications is a two-stage process. Stage 1 – Provisional Assessment is a desk based assessment of academic qualifications obtained by coursework. Once resident in Australia and regardless of the outcome of the Stage 1 assessment applicants can apply for Stage 2. The Final Assessment is a detailed assessment of applicants’ experience gained through academic or professional practice. If unsuccessful in Stage 2, advice is provided on areas of deficiencies and top up studies are recommended as a requirement for the offer of a second interview.
I had a Provisional Assessment a few years ago but my qualifications were found to be not suitable. Now that I have more experience I’d like to apply again.
If you are a resident in Australia and you have completed a Provisional Assessment regardless of the outcome you should undertake the Overseas Qualifications Assessment Stage 2 – Final Assessment. In the portfolio required for this assessment you may provide through academic or professional practice.
If you are not a resident in Australia, you may only re-apply if you have completed additional qualifications in studies related to architecture.
I’d like to have my qualifications assessed but am waiting for my university to provide one of the required documents. Can I submit my application now and send the remaining documents later?
Applications must be complete when submitted, with all supporting documents in the required format. See here.
How long is my skills assessment valid for?
For the purpose of migration, assessments are valid for three years. If your assessment is older than that and your need an assessment for your visa application we are able to re-issue the outcome statement for a small fee. See our forms and fees page here.
What is the level of English language competency required by AACA?
For a Provisional Assessment AACA has no English language requirement. For a Final Assessment a standard English proficiency test is required if the qualification obtained was not undertaken in English. An IELTS Test Certificate (scoring 6.5 or above), or equivalent or a letter from an employer certifying English language proficiency is sufficient evidence.
How long does it take to process an application for skills assessment?
Generally it takes a maximum of 12 weeks to process applications once complete applications are received. If documentation is not complete, not properly certified or translated, or the fee is not paid in the prescribed way the assessment may take longer as assessments cannot be completed until all documentation requirements have been fully met.
I’ve recently completed an accredited Australian architecture qualification, having previously completed a Bachelor of Architecture overseas. I’d like to have my qualifications assessed for migration purposes. What documents should I provide?
You do not have to provide the Bachelor degree documents if your Master’s qualification is listed as an Accredited Australian Architecture Qualification. You should apply for a verification of your Australian qualification, see here.
How long does it take to process an application for verification of an Australian qualification for migration purposes?
Applications for verification of Australian qualifications for migration purposes usually take no more than four weeks to complete, provided the fee and complete documentation is provided in accordance with AACA’s requirements. See here
Registration – no recognised qualification
I’ve been involved with building design for many years but I have no architecture qualifications. Can I become registered as an architect?
The National Program of Assessment was introduced for people who have substantial skill and experience in the architectural profession have no formal qualification in architecture, or whose qualification has assessed as not-equivalent to an accredited qualification.
The National Program of Assessment is recognised by all Australian registration authorities as an alternative entry to the Architectural Practice Exam, successful completion of which is required before applying to a State and Territory registration board to become registered as an architect.
Architectural Practice Exam
What should be studied in preparation for the Architectural Practice Examination?
The scenarios upon which the questions ae based are written by practising architects based on situations found across the range of practice in architecture. The scenarios test one or more performance criteria that may be tested in Part 2 of the Architectural Practice Examination. Part 3 examination by interview focuses each candidate’s experience and knowledge applied in the context of the specified performance criteria from the National Standard of Competency for Architects. See here for the required performance criteria that may be examined in the Architectural Practice Examination and here for the link to general info about the Architectural Practice Examination.
Are there any training courses available prior to undertaking the Architectural Practice Examination?
Most Registration Boards offer a briefing session for candidates and there are several preparatory programs available for candidate. Details can be obtained by contacting the Boards directly. See here for link to Board websites.
What does the National Examination Paper look like?
- The National Examination Paper comprises 9 scenarios:
- Each scenario has 5 multiple choice questions
- Each multiple choice question has one correct answer
- Each multiple choice question is worth one mark
- Correct answers score as one mark – incorrect answers score as zero marks
How long is the National Examination Paper?
Candidates have 75 minutes to complete the exam (which includes ten minutes reading time), you must arrive at least 30 minutes before the start time.
Where is the exam centre for the National Examination Paper?
Once your Logbook and Statement of Practical Experience has been assessed and accepted by the Board you will receive notification of the details of the test centre. Your personal exam log-on details will be provided by the Invigilators on the day of the exam.
Will I need to bring anything to the examination centre?
Just bring your photo identification. Your personal exam log-on details will be provided by the Invigilators on the day of the exam. Candidates will be provided with either a laptop or desktop device to undertake the exam and IT support will be on hand at the test centre to assist with any technical issues.
Who supervises the examination?
The exam will be invigilated by Board staff who will check candidates’ photo ID on the day. IT support will be available at the centre in the unlikely circumstances that technical assistance is required.
How do I know if I passed the National Examination Paper?
You will receive your results directly from the Boards generally within 3 weeks of the date of the National Examination Paper. All candidates will receive feedback based on the Performance Criteria.
Candidates who have been successful in the exam can apply to sit Part 3, Examination by Interview through their local Board.
How important is the statement of practical experience?
The statement of experience is very important and should be well considered and clearly expressed as it will be discussed in the Part 3 interview. It is important that this statement encompasses the candidate’s overall experience and is clearly linked to your logged experience.
What are the submission requirements for the Electronic Logbook?
All of this information can be found in our website here. Applications are submitted to the architect registration board in your state or territory. Some states and territories now only accept on-line applications, so check with them for specific for submission requirements.
Logbook of Practical Experience
See here for APE Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any Mutual Recognition Agreements in place between Australia and overseas countries?
Mutual recognition with New Zealand applies through the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement. Currently registered architects wishing to become registered in New Zealand under the terms of this agreement should contact the New Zealand Registered Architects Board.
The USA/New Zealand/Australia allows for Australian architects to be registered in 30 US states and territories without completing further examinations. See here for more details.
Australia is a signatory to the APEC Architect Mutual Recognition Agreement. Currently there are mutual recognition agreements in place with Japan, Singapore and Canada.
How to find an architect
How can I check whether an architect is registered?
In each State and Territory of Australia it is a legal requirement that any person using the title ‘Architect’ or offering services to the public as an Architect, must be registered with the Architects’ registration board in that jurisdiction. You can search the architect register in most Australian jurisdictions online at the Architect Registration Board in your state and Territory.
Duplicate Copies of Documents
I have lost or no longer possess an original copy of my provisional or skills assessment letter. Can I request a duplicate copy?
Yes, you may request a duplicate copy of your provisional or skills assessment letter. However, you will have to provide the following before the duplicate can be issued:
- Statutory Declaration stating the reasons why you need a copy of the Skills assessment letter, your full name and date of birth, the name of your qualification, date of graduation and institution from which the qualification was obtained.
- A fee of AU$50.00 for reissue to overseas applicants or $25.00 for local applicants is payable by bank cheque or Australia Post Money Order. See here.