Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL)


            The Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL) is a program to help students achieve licensure expediently.  For qualified students ready for the challenge, IPAL offers academic and practical experience at a significantly faster pace than a traditional sequence for earning an architectural license.  

            All U.S. jurisdictions require licensure before a person can commence architectural services. Becoming a licensed architect (Registered Architect) allows individuals to legally use the title “architect” and signifies to the public that they have successfully completed the education and examinations necessary to competently practice architecture. IPAL provides students the opportunity to complete requirements for licensure while earning their degree. The initiative encourages NAAB-accredited programs to incorporate the Architectural Experience Program™ (AXP™) and provides the opportunity to take the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) while completing academic curricula. The IPAL option does not replace the NAAB-accredited program, but adds an alternative track within an already existing program (  

            The School of Architecture and Planning is accredited by the National Architectural Accreditation Board (NAAB), which works in conjunction with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Together these organizations approve all educational requirements for architectural licensure. NCARB oversees the IPAL initiative, but individual schools are responsible for managing their own curricula.  

           Our IPAL track allows you to complete the three required components for architectural registration by earning a degree via a NAAB-accredited institution, acquiring required experience through 3,740 hours of paid internships, and providing opportunities to take the total six (6) licensing examinations by the time you earn your M.Arch. degree. Upon completion of these three components, you are eligible to be licensed in the City of Washington, District of Columbia. Once licensed, you may pursue license reciprocity in any other state throughout the country.  

            More than 135 NAAB-accredited schools of architecture exist around the country, but only 21 have IPAL programs. Catholic University’s School of Architecture and Planning has a unique IPAL program that is one of the first programs accepted and launched in 2017 and is one of the most active. The primary reasons for our successful program include:

  • Curriculum: IPAL students take the same classes as students on the traditional path, in a different order.
  • Location: Our school works closely with many local firms. Washington, D.C., has 500+ architectural firms varying in size from small to large offices, most within a few Metro stops from campus!



Students will be eligible to enter the IPAL program after their first semester if the following criteria are met:
  1. 3.2 GPA minimum;
  2. MATH 111 completed by the end of the spring semester;
  3. Final grade from ARPL 101
  4. Mid-term grade and recommendation from ARPL 102 faculty

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What happens if my GPA falls below 3.2? A student in the IPAL program whose GPA falls below 3.2 will be suspended from the IPAL program and continue in the B.S. Arch. program. That student may apply for the M.Arch. program in the fall semester of senior year. If students leave the IPAL program before completion of the M.Arch., they must follow the rules for non-IPAL license candidates, which in some jurisdictions are much stricter.  
  2. Does my undergraduate scholarship continue into the graduate portion of IPAL? Catholic University awards undergraduate scholarships for eight semesters of study. The final three semesters of IPAL coursework are graduate study. At the graduate level, scholarships are awarded by the School of Architecture and Planning. Scholarship amount is based on GPA and portfolio.  
  3. Do I need to stay in Washington, D.C., for my internship? Students may choose an internship wherever they please. A Registered Architect must supervise the internship. Many students decide where to intern based on housing arrangements, while others make the decision based on the professional firm with which they want to work. The School of Architecture and Planning has a robust network of alumni and supportive practitioners in the Washington, D.C., region who regularly recruit our students prior to graduation.  
  4. Should I take an academic leave for all of my internships? Yes. Since you will be earning full compensation for your architectural expertise in a real firm supervised by a licensed architect, and will be studying for two licensing examinations per internship, you will not be enrolled in any academic courses. This may cause financial loans to go into deferment, so a consultation with CUA's financial aid officer is recommended for those students in particular who have governmental loans.


Featured Stories

IPAL Student Michael Matthews Featured by NCARB

Michael Matthews shares his unique experiences and opportunities at Catholic University of America as well as advice for prospective students with NCARB. 

View story here.

Sara Cangarlu: Experincing Benefits of the IPAL Program Firsthand

Sara Cangarlu shares her experience of laanding a full-time paid internship last year at a Washington, D.C., firm, where she was assigned to work on a major project — the design of a sports entertainment complex in Buffalo, NY.

Read more here.