Collateral Organizations of Architecture: Why should I CARE?

As an architecture student, you may not be fully aware of the collateral organizations that surround architecture; however, as an architecture student, you should become more engaged with them to maximize your path on becoming an architect.

Collateral Organizations

Below are the five collateral organizations that play an important role in the profession of architecture:

  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)
  • Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)
  • National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).
  • National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)

“Each organization represents different groups responsible for the education, training, registration, and practice of architects.”

Below are their websites, their mission and considerations to being more connected.

American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)

(AIAS) is an independent, nonprofit, student-run organization dedicated to providing unmatched progressive programs, information, and resources on issues critical to architecture and the experience of education.

Even if you are NOT a “joiner,” you SHOULD become a member of AIAS; almost every accredited program has a AIAS chapter plus many community colleges and even high schools have chapters.  More than anything, becoming an AIAS member allows you to connect with fellow students across programs and participate in many opportunities.

Over the many years of my involvement, I have always shared – “You get out of it more than you put into it.”  While I was NOT aware of AIAS as an undergraduate, I become overly involved as a graduate student and even was the National Vice-President

Just do it!

Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)

The mission of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture is to lead architectural education and research

While ACSA is more geared to architectural educators (faculty), there are still reasons to connect with ACSA through their competitions.  Plus, if you ever thought of becoming an educator, what better resource than ACSA.

Plus, their companion website – – is an excellent resource when researching architecture programs or wanting to know what is new in architectural education.

National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)

Accreditation, in general, is a process of external review that evaluates colleges, universities and educational programs for quality and improvement.

The NAAB is NOT a member organization like some of the others, but it is still an important association.  To some extent, NAAB is an extension of the other organizations – AIA, AIAS, ACSA, and NCARB.

As a body, NAAB determines the Student Performance Criteria that must be met by each accredited program; they determine what will be taught by the programs but do not dictate the HOW – this is why each program is allowed to be different.

American Institute of Architects (AIA)

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) works to advance our nation’s quality of life and protect the public’s health, safety and welfare, as it has done for 160 years.

You might think that to wait to become involved with AIA after graduation, but you are wrong.  If you plan to become an architect, why not engage AIA as a student. Besides, many AIA chapters have scholarships programs for students; they have many other programs while perhaps not directed to students may still be of interest.

Plus, both National AIA and local chapters have employment boards when you seek positions during summer or after graduation. In addition, many have links to the AIA member owned firms for you to research.

National Council of Architectural Registration Boards

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) is a nonprofit organization made up of the architectural licensing boards of 54 states and territories.

If you wish to become an architect, you will start a Council Record to track your AXP experience and schedule to take the ARE. Again, NCARB is NOT a membership organization to join, but you will want to learn the details of AXP and the ARE as a student, so you can plan accordingly.


Hopefully, I have convinced you to become engaged in the five collateral organizations early as a student.  If you care about your career path to becoming an architect, it is worth your time and energy.


Oddly enough, I have been MORE than engaged in all of the collateral organizations during my career.  It started when I served as Vice-President of AIAS and as Student Director of ACSA; for a brief stint, I was an employee at AIA managing The Search for Shelter as well as I was the Associate Executive Director of NAAB. Finally, I was an IDP / AXP Coordinator for many years with NCARB.

Over the years, I put MUCH into it, but I received much more in return; I suggest you become ENGAGED.

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