becoming an architect

Qualifying to be an architect typically involves five years at university and completing a minimum of two years' practical experience.

For more information download our Think Architecture leaflet.

Think Changes! Following changes in the structure of architectural education across the EU from November 2013, the RIBA has been working with UK schools of architecture to develop a professional qualification that allows greater flexibility and student support. Changes to the current system could be in place from September 2018. For more information please visit the RIBA Education Review webpage.

The typical route to qualification includes:

RIBA Part 1

University undergraduate degree e.g. BA or BSc
Three years full time. Gives students the opportunity to develop a broad range of skills and architectural understanding. You are eligible for free RIBA Student Membership from your first year of study.

Some UK architecture courses run exchange programmes with universities abroad for up to a year of study (e.g. Erasmus programme).

Some Part 1 graduates gain further qualifications in specialist related fields such as planning, urban design or conservation.

Other Part 1 graduates move on to work in something different with the skills that they have developed at this level.

Stage 1 practical experience/year out

Practical experience: Typically one year in duration.

Students record their experience on the PEDR website, monitored by a Professional Studies Advisor (PSA) from their university, and an employment mentor from their practice.

The RIBA provides guidance for students and employers on the PEDR website, and encourages students to gain experience either under the supervision of an architect or another qualified construction industry professional at this stage.

Some students choose to work for longer than one year to save money or to gain additional experience. Other students take time out to work in the wider construction industry, work overseas, volunteer or travel.

RIBA Part 2

University degree: Varies from school to school e.g. BArch, Diploma, MArch.

Two years full time. Will provide students with enhanced architectural knowledge and project complexity. Students are still regarded as undergraduates in the architectural education process, but should seek clarification on fee status at individual schools.

Students may choose to return to the school where they completed Part 1, or apply to study for Part 2 at another school.

There will be opportunities for students to carry out specialist study and research, possibly abroad.

Stage 2 practical experience

Further practical experience: 24 months' experience in total is required to sit the part 3 examination, of which 12 months minimum should be undertaken in the EEA, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man under the direct supervision of an architect. At this stage graduates will be given more responsibility on projects and begin studying aspects of practice, management and law on a part 3 programme. RIBA Associate membership offers a range of services and benefits appropriate to the needs of graduates at this stage of their career.

RIBA Part 3

Final qualifying examination:

The examination in professional practice and management is taken at an RIBA-validated course provider.

Candidates will typically be assessed on the following elements:

  • 24 months of practical experience recorded on the PEDR website
  • Professional CV and career evaluation
  • Case study
  • Written examination
  • Final oral examination 

More on RIBA Part 3


Having gained the Parts 1, 2 and 3 qualifications you can register as an architect with the Architects Registration Board (ARB); the title 'architect' is protected by law, so that the public can always be sure that they are dealing with a properly qualified architect.

At this point you are eligible to become a Chartered Member of the RIBA. This gives you access to a wide range of services and benefits, and entitles you to become part of, and have influence over, a national and international network of architects.


Alternative routes to qualification 

Options for those who are unable to study full time

Practical experience and Part 3 

Information on the final exam to qualify

International graduates and architects 

Options for non-EU and international architects

How to fund your studies 

Lots of advice on fees and costs

Support from the RIBA 

What we do to help students

After qualification 

Advice for post-qualification