Architecture Internships: A Guide for Students

Architectural internships can be found through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), as well as at individual colleges and universities. Learn more about internship lengths, requirements and professional settings.

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Architecture Internships

Architecture students who want to complete internships can explore options offered through the national Council of Architectural Registration Boards and through individual colleges and universities. School-based programs can include cooperative experiences, urban internships, and graduate internships. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, students who are interested in a career as an architect must complete a paid internship at an architectural firm or a closely related business before gaining licensure. Additional licensure requirements include a professional degree, such as a Bachelor of Architecture, and a passing score on the Architect Registration Exam. Internships are typically three years in length and must be completed prior to taking the exam.

Internship Development Program

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards is composed of the architectural licensing boards found in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and some U.S. territories. The organization offers an Internship Development Program, and admission requirements include a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Under the direction of qualified supervisors, students participate in 3,740 hours of professional training. Professional experiences are distributed over six major categories, including:

  • Practice management
  • Project management
  • Project planning and design
  • Programming and analysis
  • Project development and documentation
  • Construction and evaluation

Among these six broad groups are 96 tasks in which students must demonstrate proficiency on licensure exams, including building analysis, business operations, construction, and schematic design.

College and University Options

In general, undergraduates who are enrolled in a Bachelor of Architecture program must participate in an internship, which is typically facilitated through the school itself. Students can apply some of the time spent in these internships towards the 3-year training requirement. In addition to cooperative education and summer work experiences, individual schools may provide students with the opportunity to study abroad or in an urban setting.

Depending on the school, students in a cooperative education program receive academic credit and are paid for their time. Although beneficial, training does not necessarily have to take place in an architectural firm. Professional experiences must be documented, and paperwork can include evaluations, progress reports, and self-assessments. As a means of reflecting on their career goals and training, students may also have to submit journals, portfolios, and papers.

At individual schools, undergraduates enrolled in a Bachelor of Architecture program may have the chance to spend a semester in New York City or another urban setting, which may include a part-time internship at an architectural firm (16 hours per week). A full course load is not recommended, and students should be aware in advance that not all internships provide payment. Admission to these programs can be competitive, and considerations to determine placements can include:

  • Student preference
  • Portfolio
  • Software skills
  • Other skills necessary for work at a particular firm

Graduate Internships

Some graduate architectural programs, such as those that lead to a Master of Architecture, may offer winter or summer internships with local firms. Individual schools may also allow qualified architecture students to spend a semester or as many as 30 weeks studying and working abroad. In general, the programs require a full-time commitment with a relevant office or project, after which students receive academic credit. Although program options vary, some internships may be used to fulfill the elective requirements.

Aspiring architects can prepare for licensure through internship programs which provide hands-on training and can be found through the NCARB and postsecondary institutions.

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