The program designed to guide professionals through the early stages of their career has been renamed the Architectural Experience Program (AXP) and updated to reflect modern practice. Effective June 29, 2016, the program now requires licensure candidates to document 3,740 hours of experience in six simplified areas that cover all phases of architectural practice, rather than 17 experience areas. 

Developed by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the program—which was previously called the Intern Development Program (IDP)—is required for licensure in most U.S. jurisdictions. This update is one of several NCARB has made to its experience program over the past few years, namely: streamlining the number of required hours from 5,600 to 3,740; the ability to report experience beyond six months and up to five years; accepting AXP credit for paid academic internships; and enabling licensure candidates to earn AXP credit after high school and regardless of a project’s duration.

The six new experience areas include: Practice Management, Project Management, Programming & Analysis, Project Planning & Design, Project Development & Documentation, and Construction & Evaluation. These areas also mirror the six divisions of the new licensing exam, Architect Registration Examination (ARE) 5.0, which launches November 1, 2016, providing further alignment between the two programs. 

“The NCARB Board of Directors, in consultation with our Member Boards, has updated the AXP to more closely align with current practice and terminology,” said NCARB President Kristine Harding, NCARB, AIA. “We have carefully broadened the program’s scope without reducing its rigor, which will help ensure licensure candidates acquire the skills and knowledge needed to practice in today’s evolving landscape.” 

Over the past year, NCARB has released a number of resources to help licensure candidates and their supervisors prepare for this update, such as: 

  • The AXP Guidelines: A comprehensive guide to navigating the program, reporting experience, and more. 
  • The Experience Calculator: An online tool that shows how professional experience will transfer to the new program. 
  • A blog series that breaks down the tasks associated with each area, plus real-world examples of opportunities that qualify for the AXP.   

June 29 also marks the launch of NCARB’s AXP Portfolio, a new option for design professionals who can document two years of experience that is older than five years. To qualify for licensure through this alternative option, candidates will also need to meet their licensing board’s education and examination requirements.

For more information on NCARB’s experience program, visit