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​Pathways to qualify as an architect

There are many different options you can consider if you want to train as an architect. Whilst the typical route involves five years study at university and completion of a minimum of two years' practical experience, you can also study part-time; study whilst working in architectural practice through RIBA Studio or through the new apprenticeship route. Discover more in our Think Architecture brochure.

RIBA cannot give validation to individual students or professionals and only validates programmes of architecture/examinations run by education providers (such as universities) or examining bodies. To gain a RIBA validated qualification, you need to study a RIBA validated course.

In the UK, RIBA is not the licensing or registration body; that function is performed by the Architects Registration Board (ARB). You should contact ARB directly for further information.

If you’re an architect registered and practising outside the UK and EU, you can apply for RIBA Chartered Membership through MEAP. This is a process to gain international Chartered Membership status only.

RIBA Part 1

RIBA Part 1 provides you with the opportunity to develop your core architectural skills and understanding, preparing you for post Part 1 practical experience, further study or commencing full time work. You are eligible for free RIBA Student Membership from your first year of study. If you are studying a university undergraduate degree (e.g. BA or BSc Architecture) this would typically take three to four years full time, or you could study through RIBA Studio or an apprenticeship if you are working in practice.

You may be able to study abroad for up to a year (e.g. through the Erasmus+ programme). You could also graduate with further qualifications in specialist related fields such as planning, urban design or conservation.

Stage 1 practical experience/year out

Stage 1 practical experience is highly recommended post Part 1 studies, and is typically one year in duration.

You will need to source a workplace, employment mentor and a Professional Studies Advisor in order to record your practical experience using the RIBA's PEDR website. Subject to meeting the RIBA practical experience eligibility criteria, you can count this experience towards the registration requirement set out by the Architects Registration Board (ARB).

The RIBA encourages students to gain experience either under the supervision of an architect or another qualified construction industry professional at this stage.

You may choose to work for longer than one year to save money or to gain additional experience. Other options include taking time out to work in the wider construction industry, work overseas, volunteer or travel.

RIBA Part 2

Part 2 will provide you with enhanced architectural knowledge and project complexity. It can be completed in the form of a two year full time university degree or the other work-based routes as described above. The name of the award varies across providers e.g. BArch, Diploma, MArch.

Students may choose to return to the school where they completed Part 1, or apply to study for Part 2 at another school or route. There will be opportunities for students to carry out specialist study and research, possibly abroad.

The Level 7 Architect Apprenticeship provides students with the opportunity to complete a Part 2 and a Part 3 qualification with an approved university training provider, whilst also working in practice.

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 stage 2 practical experience graduates will be given more responsibility on projects. At this time you should begin studying a part 3 course which covers aspects of practice, management and law. Further guidance can be found on the RIBA's PEDR website.

At this stage you can become an RIBA Associate member which will provide you with a range of services and benefits appropriate to the needs of graduates at this stage of their career.

RIBA Part 3

You can undertake the RIBA's Part 3 or study at one of our validated course providers.

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


Having gained the Parts 1, 2 and 3 qualifications you can apply to 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.

Funding your studies

Here you will find information on how to fund your architecture studies.

International Students

If you have studied or qualified to be an architect outside the UK, including RIBA validated qualifications completed outside the UK or EU, your qualification(s) will need to be assessed for equivalence to the UK Parts 1 and 2 by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and you will also need to undertake a UK Part 3 to be eligible to apply for UK architect registration.

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