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Frequently Asked Questions for AIA Members

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) was created in 1857. Through education, government advocacy, community redevelopment, and public outreach activities, the AIA works toward a public environment that is responsive to the people it serves while representing the professional interests of America’s architects.

The AIA recognizes that continuing education in architecture is crucial to advancing and improving the profession. Architects need continuing education to maintain competency, to prepare for the future, to fulfill the continuing education requirements for AIA membership, and frequently to renew state licensure.

Overview of AIA Continuing Education Requirements for Members

1. What is the AIA Continuing Education System (AIA CES)?

The AIA Continuing Education System (also known as AIA CES) is a thriving, multifaceted, lifelong professional development program and the largest source of education specifically targeted to the design and building industry. This program was developed by the AIA to help members meet their state mandatory continuing education (MCE) requirements and to help them fulfill their AIA continuing education requirement for membership renewal. Most state licensing boards with MCE requirements recognize AIA CES as the primary source of continuing education for their licensed architects. In addition, AIA CES tracks continuing education courses taken by members and records them on their AIA transcripts as a service and as a benefit of AIA membership. AIA CES enables architects to keep current, master new knowledge and skills, plan for the future, and responsibly meet the role society entrusts to a professional architect. The program also allows members to fulfill a requirement for AIA membership and meet any state mandatory continuing education requirements. In this role, the program has the potential to be a primary force in the advancement of our profession.

2. How will the AIA CES Requirements Change in 2012?

On Dec. 9, 2011, the AIA Board of Directors voted to modify the AIA’s continuing education requirement. AIA members are now required to complete 12 hours of health, safety, and welfare (HSW) education; previously 8 HSW hours were required. The total number of continuing education hours required remains unchanged and is 18 hours. Additionally, in the past, members were required to complete 4 SD hours. This credit requirement is no longer in place.

NOTE: AIA continuing education requirements in many cases differ from the state MCE requirements. For instance, the AIA accepts coursework on general course topics, but many states accept only HSW coursework. Also, many states allow as few as 4 LU carry-overs to unlimited-carry over credits per year. For specific inquiries regarding your state licensing board’s regulations please contact your state licensing board. Furthermore, States have strict continuing education timeframes, and credits must be earned within them.

3. How can I earn continuing education credits?

Continuing education credits can be earned in a number of ways. Members can take courses from approved AIA providers in a variety of learning formats: face to face, online, etc. Members can self-report activities for general LU’s from courses take from non AIA providers and from independent research activities.

4. Where can I find an AIA CES Provider course?

The AIA has developed a network of more than 2000 educational providers made up of AIA Chapters, affiliate organizations, firms, manufacturers, universities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies.  You can search for courses by topic area and by provider in our online course directory.

    • To search by topic area, select one of the nine broad course topics and narrow your search by selecting from the generated list of specific topic areas.

    • To conduct an advanced search, which enables you to search by course title, course session date, course format, provider name and credit designation, click on the “Advanced” tab under the Course Directory bar.

5. As a Fellow (FAIA) of the Institute, am I required to complete continuing education hours?

FAIA members are required to complete the 18 LU hours (12 HSW) of continuing education each year. If you are interested in applying for FAIA status, remember that you must have been an active AIA member in good standing for 10 cumulative years prior to your nomination. This includes meeting the annual CES requirements. Those who nominate someone for fellowship must also be in good CES standing.

6. As a new member, or as a member who just upgraded from Associate status, am I required to earn LU hours?

New, first-time members of the AIA, and members who upgraded from Associate membership, are not required to complete the annual 18 LU hours (12 HSW) during the calendar year that they join. Their requirement will begin January 1 of the following year. However, records are kept for those who submit their activities. Note: Any credit received in the first year will not apply toward the following year’s requirement unless the member exceeds the 18 LU hour (12 HSW) requirements.

7. Are associate, allied, IDP, and emeritus members required to earn LU credits?

Associate, allied, and emeritus members are exempt from the CES membership requirement but are encouraged to participate for their own personal benefit and that of the profession. Records are kept for all members who report their activities. IDP interns may now use the AIA record-keeping services.

8. I live and work outside the United States. Am I required to complete continuing education?

Yes! The same requirements are in effect. We realize that many traditional educational opportunities may be limited for you; however, many unique “new knowledge” opportunities are available overseas, such as learning about the host country’s historic architecture. As in many rural areas in the United States, self-reporting activities are a practical means of acquiring credits. Distance education providers offer many continuing education opportunities.  Learning about a country’s building codes, language, and customs will help you develop your profession in the country where you are practicing, therefore you may self-report this new knowledge for general LU’s.

The AIA has chapters in London, continental Europe, and Hong Kong, and additional AIA/CES education providers are located in Canada, Italy, Malaysia, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Spain. AIA members can also attend and report any overseas professional association education activities.

9. I live in a state where face-to-face courses are limited. How can I fulfill my HSW requirements?

AIAU can be a convenient way to fulfill AIA continuing education requirements. Learn on your own time from anywhere in the world. Start a course now, and come back later to finish. Plus, you always have quick access to your course history: What you’ve purchased, what you’ve completed, and more. Once you finish a course, we’ll automatically update your AIA member transcript with LUs in CES Discovery.

10. How is quality addressed and maintained?

Quality control begins when CES providers and AIA members file their records using Discovery Software. Course quality is monitored through audit/review reports filed by members, subject matter experts, and providers. The AIA works in close cooperation with the state licensing boards and will audit any course requested by a licensing board. The primary object of an audit/review is to determine how well program content reflects the learning objects.

AIA/CES transcripts constitute a 6-year history file of each member’s continuing education credits. We recommend that you keep course materials and documentation for 6 years as well. You will find these materials useful if your CES records are audited by the AIA or a state licensing board. 

In order to maintain high-quality learning experiences for AIA members, Approved Providers are required to offer course evaluations. Templates are available for download via CES Discovery resources page.

Type of Continuing Education Credits

1. What are the types of AIA CES Credits (Learning Unit Hours)?

There are two types of AIA/CES provider course learning units:

    1. General LUs (abbreviated as ―LU)

    2. Health, Safety, and Welfare (HSW) LU’s (abbreviated as―LU/HSW)

2. How does course length apply to awarding credit hours?

All AIA/CES courses, including distance education courses, must be at least one hour in length. AIA/CES course participant credits are designated in learning unit (LU) hours. One contact hour or one hour of time spent directly on education is equal to 1 LU and should be written as 1 LU Hour. If a course is more than one hour in length, additional credit should be given in 0.25-hour increments (Example: A 1 hour, 15 minute course = 1.25 LU Hours). It is up to a provider of continuing education to determine how many credits its course is worth. Furthermore, breaks or nonworking lunches do not count as direct education, and providers must exclude time spent in breaks and nonworking lunches from the total number of LUs awarded. Participants must attend an entire session to receive credit.

Because the minimum course length is one hour, the minimum number of credits that can be awarded is 1 LU Hour. The course length does not always need to match the total number of LUs being awarded. For instance, if you attend a session that is 1.5 hours in length, but only 1 hour is intended to be educational and the other 0.5 hour is an award presentation, then you will earn 1 LU Hour for that course.

3. Where Can I Find Courses with specific credit designation?

Our industry changes every day. New ideas, technology, materials, business opportunities, and more are constantly emerging. AIAU makes it easy to keep up—offering learning units (LUs) on the topics you need to stay current, the tactics and trending issues that affect your practice, and the ideas you crave for inspiration.

Health, Safety, Welfare

1. Why did the Health, safety, Welfare continuing education requirement increase?

Increasing the HSW requirement from eight hours to twelve hours per year sets a higher standard for AIA members and will enable them to fulfill state licensing requirements for most states. Additionally, increasing the required number of HSW credits will raise the level and quality of our continuing education and professional development of architects. AIA members will stand out from the competition within the architectural profession and have more opportunities for new projects and resources.

2. What are the guidelines to Health, Safety, Welfare (HSW)?

AIA members and other architects licensed in states with mandatory continuing education (MCE) requirements for license renewal are required to complete a minimum number of hours of Health, Safety, and Welfare (HSW)-related training. AIA members are required to take twelve learning unit (LU) hours of continuing education per year in approved HSW topics.

Health, Safety, Welfare (HSW) in architecture is anything that relates to the structural integrity or soundness of a building or building site. Courses must intend to protect the general public. Health Aspects of architecture have salutary effects among users of buildings or sites and address environmental concerns. Safety Aspects of architecture intend to limit or prevent accidental injury or death among users of the buildings or sites. Welfare Aspects of architecture engender demonstrable positive emotional responses among, or enable equal access by, users of buildings or sites.

3. How does “health, safety, and welfare” (HSW) tie into CES?

The AIA requires members to earn 12 of the basic LU hour requirements in the area of HSW. The percentage of HSW content in any HSW-related activity must be a minimum of 75% to qualify a course or educational event for HSW credit. This accomplishes three goals: 

    • To ensure that HSW-related programs have a real relevance to our members 

    • To eliminate any question of whether the content of a course was actually HSW-related 

    • To maintain content credibility so that AIA members can concurrently satisfy state mandatory continuing education (MCE) requirements, a large majority of which are HSW-related.

4. What specific subject areas qualify for HSW credit?

The following is a compilation of HSW subject areas as defined by the various state licensing boards with HSW requirements. (An individual state may not accept all subject areas. Be sure to check your state licensing board’s HSW definition and requirements.)

The following sections outline the three primary criteria that AIA/CES courses must meet to be approved for HSW LUs. All three criteria must be met for your course to qualify for HSW LUs.

Criterion # 1: Course content must directly support the HSW definition.

Health, Safety, Welfare (HSW) in architecture is anything that relates to the structural integrity or soundness of a building or building site. Courses must intend to protect the general public.

Health: Aspects of architecture that have salutary effects among users of buildings or sites and address environmental concerns.

Safety: Aspects of architecture intended to limit or prevent accidental injury or death among users of the buildings or sites.

Welfare: Aspects of architecture that engender demonstrable positive emotional responses among, or enable equal access by, users of buildings or sites.

Criterion #2: Course content must include one or more of the AIA/CES-acceptable HSW topics.

Health, Safety, and Welfare Topics

Technical and professional subjects, that the NCARB Board deems appropriate to safeguard the public and that are within the following enumerated areas necessary for the proper evaluation, design, construction, and utilization of buildings and the built environment.

BUILDING SYSTEMS: Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Communications, Security, Fire Protection

CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT ADMINISTRATION: Contracts, Bidding, Contract Negotiations

CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS: Drawings, Specifications, Delivery Methods

DESIGN: Urban Planning, Master Planning, Building Design, Site Design, Interiors, Safety and Security Measures

ENVIRONMENTAL: Energy Efficiency, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Natural Hazards, Hazardous Materials, Weatherproofing, Insulation

LEGAL: Laws, Codes, Zoning, Regulations, Standards, Life Safety, Accessibility, Ethics, Insurance to protect Owners and Public

MATERIALS and METHODS: Construction Systems, Products, Finishes, Furnishings, Equipment

PRE-DESIGN: Land Use Analysis, Programming, Site Selection, Site and Soils Analysis, Surveying

PRESERVATION: Historic, Reuse, Adaptation

Criterion #3: 75 percent of course content must be on HSW topics.

To qualify for HSW credit, 75 percent of a course’s content and instructional time must be on acceptable HSW topics, as outlined above. This means that if your course is 1 hour in length, at least 45 minutes (that is, 75 percent) must be spent discussing HSW topics.

In addition, AIA/CES requires that each provider course provide a minimum of four learning objectives. For HSW course qualification, however, three of the four mandatory course learning objectives (that is, 75 percent) must address HSW topics. This is one way that AIA/CES verifies that 75 percent of a course is actually on HSW topics.

For more information on learning objectives, please see the learning objectives section of the AIA CES Provider Manual.

5. How does The Architect Registration Examination tie into the HSW Definition?

The Architect Registration Examination is designed to determine whether applicants for architectural licensure posses’ sufficient knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide professional services while protecting the health, safety, and welfare (HSW) of the general public. An understanding of HSW is a focus of the ARE.  The following is information useful for ARE students, that may also be useful for those trying for a better understanding of HSW.

The Pre-design division focuses on environmental analysis, architectural programming, and architectural practice, including:

Evaluation of existing structures
Impact of sociological influences on site selection and land use
Effect of physiographic and climatic conditions on land use
Ability to develop construction cost estimates and budgets
Development of design objectives and constraints for a project
Effect of human behavior, history, and theory on the built environment
Interpretation of land surveys and legal restrictions
Principles of practice, including office management
Consultant coordination

The General Structures division covers structural systems and long-span design, including:

Basic structural analysis and design
Selection of appropriate structural components and systems
Calculation of loads on buildings
Incorporation of building code requirements
Identification and selection of various structural connections
Analysis of soils reports

The Lateral Forces division concentrates on effects of lateral forces on the design of buildings, including:

General concepts of lateral loads
Identification and calculation of wind loads and seismic loads
Incorporation of code requirements
Requirements for non-structured building components related to lateral forces

The Mechanical/Electrical Systems division addresses mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and acoustical systems (and their incorporation into building design), including:

Incorporation of code requirements
Evaluation, selection, design, and incorporation of appropriate plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and sound control systems
Determination of heating and cooling loads
Selection of building envelope elements
Evaluation of costs of mechanical and electrical systems

The Materials and Methods division addresses the evaluation and selection of materials and methods of installation and the development of building details, including:

Evaluation of site conditions
Incorporation of environmental and cultural issues
Identification and ability to detail concrete, masonry, wood, structural metal, and miscellaneous metal construction
Analysis, selection, and ability to detail moisture and thermal protection systems, door and window systems, finish materials, specialties, and conveying systems
Evaluation of costs of systems
Incorporation of code requirements

The Construction Documents and Services division covers the conduct of architectural practice, including:

Preparation and review of working drawings and specifications
Coordination of contract documents
Preparation of bidding instruments
Evaluation of substitutions and preparation of cost estimates
Interpretation of general conditions
Review of standard agreements
Observation of the progress of work and material testing
Preparation and review of documents for change orders, progress payments, and project closeout

The Site Planning division focuses on the relationship between site use and environment; the consideration of topography, vegetation, climate geography, and law on site development; and the synthesis of programmatic and environmental requirements. Six vignettes test the candidate’s understanding of specific areas:

Site design—general site planning principles
Site zoning—cross-sectional building area limitations imposed by zoning and other setback requirements
Site parking—requirements and limitations that influence the design of parking areas and driveways
Site analysis—requirements and limitations that influence subdivisions of land and delineation of building limit areas
Site section—influence of site design requirements on sections
Site grading—understanding of requirements affecting topographic changes

The Building Planning division covers the synthesis of programmatic and environmental issues into coherent designs through the process of schematic design. Three vignettes test the candidate’s understanding of specific areas:

Block diagram—development of a diagrammatic floor plan from a bubble diagram
Interior layout—principles of design and accessibility that govern interior space planning
Schematic design—understanding of the planning process involved in schematic design

The Building Technology division also concentrates on the synthesis of programmatic and environmental issues into coherent designs at the design development level. The six vignettes test candidate’s understanding of specific areas:

Building section—impact of structural, mechanical, and lighting components on the vertical form of buildings
Structural layout—basic structural framing concepts through development of a framing plan for a simple building
Accessibility/ramp—accessibility requirements related to ramp and stair design
Mechanical/electrical plan—integration of mechanical, lighting, and ceiling systems with structural and other building components
Stair design—the three-dimensional nature of stair design and code issues
Roof plan—basic concepts related to roof design through the development of a roof plan for a small structure.

Sustainable Design

1. What is Sustainable Design (SD)?

Recognizing that sustainable design practices have become a mainstream design intention in the architectural community, the Board of Directors has voted to allow the sustainable design education requirement to sunset at the end of calendar year 2012. AIA members will no longer need to complete the sustainable design requirement to fulfill their AIA continuing education.

Sustainability is the concept of meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable design is achieved through an integrated design and delivery process that enhances the natural and built environment by using energy sensibly with a goal toward carbon neutrality; improves air and water quality; protects and preserves water and other resources; and creates environments, communities, and buildings that are livable, comfortable, productive, diverse, safe, and beautiful.

2. Why Did Sustainable Design Become a Mandatory Continuing Education Requirement for AIA Membership from 2009-2012?

Sustainability has been a focus of architectural practice for over thirty years, and the AIA has provided resources and tools to assist its members in better serving their clients and communities through environmentally responsible projects. The AIA Board of Directors recognized the need to again help prepare their colleagues and fellow practitioners respond to the latest challenges and opportunities facing the profession. The issue of climate change and the impact of buildings on carbon emissions created a new expectation among clients and the public to look to the expertise of architects for solutions that can help them leave a greener footprint. The AIA is responding to this growing demand for our members to assume greater leadership in addressing the challenges facing our planet.

As shown in the AIA’s position statements on sustainability and sustainable design, architects must take responsibility for their role in creating the built environment. Sustainable design has evolved from a niche service offering to a profession-wide imperative. Social, political and economic factors are all driving the market toward mainstreaming sustainability, and AIA architects who educate themselves in sustainable design will have an advantage, and again, have the privilege of providing ever greater service to clients and community.

3. What is the AIA's Position Statement 44 on Sustainable Architecture Practice?

To meet challenges set out in the Institute’s Position Statement 44 on Sustainable Architectural Practice and the goals of “SustAIAnability 2030,” members need to be aware of and educated in sustainable design practices, focusing on carbon reduction and energy efficiency. The actions taken by the AIA will be supportive of members to strengthen their resolve and voluntarily encourage their continuing professional development in this growing all important area of practice.

Finding AIA CES Courses

1. Where may I find continuing education courses in specific areas of study?

There are countless continuing education opportunities and resources:


a.) Course Directory- via the Discovery platform!

If you are an AIA member, access the course directory by doing the following:

-Begin at
-Log in using your primary email address and password

-Click on the red "Course Directory" button at the top of the page.

-Click the "Advanced" link underneath the red bar to conduct an Advanced


If you are a nonmember, access the course directory by doing the following:

-Begin at

-Click on "Education" at the center of the page

-Click "Find Courses" on the left

-Click the blue link that says "Online Course Directory"  

-Click the "Advanced" link underneath the red bar to conduct an Advanced



b.) Consider Architect Magazine (published by Hanley-Wood) as a resource. You may read Architect Magazine articles and earn continuing education credit by passing an online quiz. To create an account and/or access the online quiz, please visit  


c.)  Attend the AIA National Convention to satisfy the AIA continuing education and maybe even your state licensing board requirement during the four day convention!


d.) Consider your local and state components as options too. Their contact information may be found here.


e.) Complete profession related volunteerism, study/research or self guided tours? Submit a self -report form for General LU credit. Do so via Discovery!

f.) Check out AIAU


1. Where can I access online learning opportunities?

AIAU features rigorously-curated content for architects, designers, builders, and others working in our diverse and evolving field. These online courses supplement events in your community, giving you learning you can access any time of day, from any place in the world with an Internet connection.

2. Can I meet my state license Mandatory Continuing Education (MCE) requirement by taking AIAU courses?

In most states, you can meet your state requirements by earning HSW credits, but you should check with your state licensing board to verify that credits earned through AIAU are accepted. AIAU also offers ADA-related courses for AIA members licensed in Texas and California. View MCE requirements by state.

3. Are course packages available?

Members can purchase a four-course bundle for $85. The price for non-members is $135.

4. How do I take a course?

Sign in to your AIAU account. Click on “My AIAU” and select “My courses” from the dropdown menu. This page will list all of your available courses, along with any courses you have completed. Click on any available course to being or continue.

5. Can I retake a course to refresh my knowledge at a later date?

Feel free to retake completed courses again, up to one year after purchase. You cannot earn additional LUs for retaking completed courses you have already passed.

6. When will my completed courses appear on my AIA transcript?

Generally, AIA member transcripts will be updated in CES Discovery within seven business days after course completion.

7. Do courses expire?

Courses expire one year after purchase. As long as you complete the course and pass the quiz within one year, you’ll receive learning units (LUs) for that course.

Transcripts/Reporting Credits

1. How do I sort my transcript by LU’s and save and print my transcripts?

Begin at

    • Select “Transcript” at the top of the page.

    • Log in by entering your log-in credentials.

    • Once you are logged in, click “Printable Transcript” in the top red bar.

    • -Please view the top of the transcript for total LUs and total HSW.
    -When you first pull up your transcript, the date range will default to the current year. You must filter by date range to see total LUs for an earlier time period.

    • -Once you have filtered based on dates of your choosing, you may save, print, or email the transcript and submit it to your state licensing board.

2. How is credit for a course I take through a registered Provider recorded on my transcript?

When you attend an AIA CES registered course, you must provide your AIA member number to receive credit on your transcript. Once a Provider has taken attendance for a course, you do not have to take any action to receive credit. After the course is completed, Providers have ten business days to report attendance through the CES Discovery system.

3. It has been more than ten business days and the AIA CES registered course has not appeared on my transcript. How can I ensure I receive credit for the course?

If AIA CES registered course credits do not appear on your transcript within ten days after completion of the course, and/or if an AIA Provider instructed you to submit a self-report, please contact AIA CES with the Provider and course name, so we can reach out to them to address and correct these issues or omissions. Important: all Architectural Record articles may count towards the AIA continuing education requirement.  The 8 article limit has been removed.

4. Should I keep my own records of my transcript?

We recommend that all members regularly check their transcripts and keep their own records of transcripts up to date in the event that a credit is not posted. It is also a good idea to keep on file certificates of completion, dates in which you took courses, names of courses and course numbers and provider names. We also recommend that you keep all records of self-reports.

5. What if I took a course and my credit is not showing on my transcripts?

If you took a course through an AIA provider and the course does not show up on your transcript with 10 business days of that date in which you took the course, than please call us and provide the name of the course, the provider and course number and we will contact the provider. If you submitted a self-report and the credits are not showing up on your transcript than contact us and we will investigate the issue.

6. How do I receive credit for the articles in Architectural Record magazine?

All acceptable articles (the expiration date can be found on the exam answer page) are to be returned with exam and $10 to Architectural Record at the address listed in the magazine. Please allow 30 days from the time you send your test to Architectural Record and the time it appears on your transcript.

7. It has been more than ten business days and the AIA CES registered course has not appeared on my transcript. How can I ensure I receive credit for the course?

If AIA CES registered course credits do not appear on your transcript within ten days after completion of the course, and/or if an AIA Provider instructed you to submit a self-report, please contact AIA CES Support with the Provider and course name, so we can reach out to them to address and correct these issues or omissions.

8. What type of distance education courses can count for CES credits?

Distance education is defined as a method of instruction in which there is a separation of place and/or time between the instructor and learner, between fellow learners, and/or between learners and the learning resources. These courses may use one or more delivery methods. Examples of distance education course delivery (alone or in combination):

Teleconference/audio conference
NCARB monographs

9. How do I receive credit for becoming LEED Accredited?

Preparation courses are eligible for credit and can be self-reported. Study time is not eligible for LU or HSW credit.

How often can I take the same class for AIA credit?

As a condition of membership renewal, all active AIA members must successfully complete 18 learning units each calendar year, with at least eight of the 18 learning units in subject areas relating to health, safety, and welfare (HSW). Beginning in January 2012, AIA members will be required to complete 12 hours of health, safety, and welfare (HSW) education.  AIA members cannot take more than 12 learning units (LU) of continuing education per day to retain acquired knowledge. AIA members can take the same course once every 12 months to receive credit.

11. What if I notice a duplicate course entry on my transcript?

If you notice duplicate records on your transcript, please contact the AIA right away, as this could potentially impact your compliance status. Duplicate records do not count twice towards your continuing education requirements and needs to be removed from your transcript.

12. What if I exceed the annual requirement of 18 credits?

A member who exceeds the annual requirement may carry up to 18 LU hours (including 12 hours of HSW) over to the next year. Carryover credit can be used for one year only; it is not cumulative. Only the number of credits needed to fulfill the annual requirement for the following year may be carried over. Extra credit may not be carried past the one-year limit.

13. How are transcript records kept and how may they be accessed?

Individual transcript records are updated daily.  Anyone with an active AIA membership number can access a transcript.  To find your transcript visit the Education page of 

    • Click on “Sign-in” in the Find Your Transcript box.

    • Enter your email address and password.

    • Find and click on “Printable Transcript.” 

15. I am a lapsed member and I need to look at/receive a copy of my transcript now.

As you know, transcript management and access to the AIA transcript are member benefits. If you were once a member, we keep your transcript on file for 10 years. Please contact AIA CES Support to have a copy of your latest transcript emailed to you. Follow this link to


1. What are Self-reported Activities?

If a course is not offered by an AIA CES Approved provider, members have the option of self-reporting the course or activity. The intent of this activity must be educational in nature and incorporate new knowledge in reference to their practice of architecture. Members must indicate whether the activity they are reporting is a self-designed, structured, or professional community service self-reported educational activity:

    • Self-Designed Activity. This type of learning activity is organized by the member specifically to meet his or her individual needs. A self-designed activity frequently involves more than one type of medium or method, such as research, reading, interviewing subject experts, listening to audiotapes, and/or viewing videos. To determine what qualifies for self-reporting, ask yourself the following questions: (1) Is this a planned learning activity? (2) Is this activity intended to be educational or operational? (3) Are you acquiring new knowledge or are you sharing your knowledge with others? (4) How will you apply this new knowledge to your practice? This method is not acceptable for health, safety, and welfare (HSW) credit. Some state licensing boards will not accept this type of reporting for mandatory continuing education (MCE) requirements. (Recommended minimum of three hours)

    • Structured Self-Reported Program. This is a structured activity offered by an organized, third-party, non-AIA provider. Documentation of attendance/participation will usually be required as a supplement when reporting this activity to meet a state licensure requirement. For members who self-report a structured activity, the AIA is not able to assist in acquiring any support documentation that may be required by a state licensing board MCE audit.

    • Professional Community Service This type of activity could include architecture panels or community board meetings. Members can self-report 2 hours (LUs) of community service per calendar year.

To be eligible for credit, all self-reported activities must be planned educational activities that provide you with new knowledge that can be applied toward the practice of architecture. Members should complete the AIA/CES Self-Report and submit it online. Be sure to specify which type of learning activity you are reporting so the data can be entered accurately into your transcript. The title should be indicative of the course content. Members calculate LU hours for self-reported activities by reporting the number of hours spent in architecture-related learning. Think in terms of billable hours applied to learning.

2. How do I submit a Self-report and why would I elect to do so?

A self- report should be submitted and must be completed online for the following reasons:

    • Earn credit for attendance of a non-AIA provider course

    • Complete studies (including for the LEED exam), write a book and/or research related to the profession

    • Volunteer in the related profession

    • Participate in a self-guided walking tour

One may submit online via the Discovery platform!

    • Begin at

    • Click on "CES Discovery Sign In" on the left margin

    • Click the blue icon button "Go to Sign In" at the center of the page

    • At the Discovery homepage, please log in using your primary email address and password.

    • Select the "Self-reported Activities" tab

    • Scroll to the bottom and click "Add New." Fill in the form and click "Save". Once submitted, each self-report will be reviewed within 5 business days. If approved, the status will appear as "Approved."

3. Can I still fax a self-report?

In order to ensure accurate and secure tracking of self-reports, members are now required to submit this information through AIA CES Discovery.

4. What are the new guidelines for self-reporting and how do they differ from previous guidelines?

In calendar year 2012, aligning closer with state licensing boards’ practice, AIA members will no longer be able to self-report HSW courses for credit. Members will need to complete HSW credits by taking qualifying courses from registered AIA CES Providers and Providers will need to report HSW courses for members to receive HSW credits. Members can continue to self-report learning unit (LU) credit hours.

Beginning January 1, 2012, members must attend courses through an AIA CES registered Provider to receive HSW credit. Providers will be responsible for reporting HSW credits to be posted to member transcripts.

5. How are self-reports currently reviewed and how long does the process take?

AIA CES no longer reviews self-reports for accuracy or quality. Please make sure your self-reported activity entry is filled out correctly with the number of Learning Units recorded.

6. How will the new self-report guidelines affect me?

In 2012, AIA members will only be able to self-report learning unit credits. To obtain HSW credits, members must take courses through AIA CES Registered Providers. These courses may be taken through traditional, face-to-face classroom learning, or virtual learning.

7. What will I be able to self-report now and how will that help me fulfill my continuing education requirements?

A member may self-report a general education course as it applies to the architectural profession for Learning Unit (LU) credit. Qualifying topics will help AIA members improve the performance of their practice. In addition, members may self-report Professional Community or self-designed activities involving research or analysis.

The new education requirement allows for six learning unit credits per year. While some courses do not qualify for HSW credit, these learning unit courses are equally as important to the architectural profession.

8. What information do I need to include when submitting a self-report?

When submitting a self-reported activity, you must include the name of the course, four learning objectives or an in-depth description, the number of learning units, and the contact information for the administrator of the course you attended.

9. Do I need to submit an attachment with my self-report after February 1, 2012?

After February 1, 2012, self-reported activities will only be eligible for LU credit and members will not need an attachment to obtain credit.

10. How can I obtain credit for teaching?

Members who present a program or class, or serve on a panel, or give a speech one hour or longer can self-report the topics as a structured activity program. AIA members can self-report the research and preparation time for presentations, speeches, classes that they teach. The research must be self-reported as self-designed and, regardless of the topic, will not qualify for HSW credit. The AIA allows a maximum of 10 LU hours of research time for each hour of actual class presentation time. Members may select just one option, either teaching credit or research, but cannot claim both for the same event.

11. How does University/College faculty receive credit for teaching?

Full-time (FT) university faculty can not apply for credit if the course in question is part of their regular curriculum workload. They can however, apply for credit if the course or program is “outside” of their normal work assignments. Part-time (PT) faculty can apply for teach credit for any course taught once every 3 years.

For each semester hour of credit assigned to the course the AIA will allow 15 LUs hours. (1 semester hour = 15 LU hours; 3 semester hours = 45 LU hours, etc…)
For each quarter hour of credit assigned to the course the AIA will allow 10 LUs hours. (1 semester hour = 10 LU hours; 3 semester hours = 30 LU hours, etc…)

12. I completed a graduate level class since I registered as an architect, how do I self-report the credit?

Members can self-report university or college level courses completed since they registered as architects as structured non- HSW self-reported activities.  The following outlines the number of credits that can be reported per credit per course:

For each semester hour of credit assigned to the course the AIA will allow 15 LUs hours. (1 semester hour = 15 LU hours; 3 semester hours = 45 LU hours, etc…)
For each quarter hour of credit assigned to the course the AIA will allow 10 LUs hours. (1 semester hour = 10 LU hours; 3 semester hours = 30 LU hours, etc…)


1. How do I calculate the number of credits that I need?

Members are required to earn 18 Learning Units (LU) per year. Of those 18 LU’s, 12 need to be Health, Safety, Welfare (HSW). HSW credits count towards LU. This is why credits on your transcript appear as either (LU) or (HSW/LU). To calculate the credits that you need in order to be in compliance for a given year subtract the number HSW’s earned from the HSW’s and LU’s required. Subtract the number of LU’s earned from the remaining LU’s required.

2. What is the Rollover Policy?

A member who fails to meet the annual requirements will be given a nine month grace period. Any credit earned during the 9 month grace period will apply towards the deficit. So, an HSW credit earned during the 9 month grace period will apply towards any LU/HSW deficit. During the grace period, members are able to report retroactively any activities that were completed in the previous year.

A member who exceeds the annual requirement may carry up to 18 LU hours (including 12 hours of HSW) over to the next year. Carryover credit can be used for one year only; it is not cumulative. Only the number of credits needed to fulfill the annual requirements for the following year may be carried over. Extra credit may not be carried past the one-year limit.

Note: Most state licensing boards do not allow carryover and deficit credit. States have strict continuing education timeframes and credits must be earned within them. Please note that carry over credit only applies if there is a deficit in the following year. For instance, if a member earns 20 units in 2010, but 14 in 2011, then 2 credits carry over from 2010 towards 2011. However, if a member earns 20 credits in 2010 and 20 credits in 2011, then no credits carry over.

3. Are there any deadlines for reporting activities?

There is a September 30th deadline every year. This deadline applies to any activity completed within the previous calendar year. For example, an activity completed in December of 2008 would need to be submitted to AIA/CES Records no later than September 30th 2009. The deadline is not nine months from the date of completion; it is nine months from the end of the calendar year. Any activities submitted to AIA/CES Records after the September 30th may be put on hold. This course of action applies to AIA Members and AIA/CES Registered Providers.

4. What if I fail to meet the end of the year deadline, what options do I have?

A member who fails to meet the annual requirement will be given a nine month grace period. Any credit earned in the following year will apply toward the deficit. During the grace period, members are able to report retroactively any activities that were completed in the previous year.

5. Are there any exceptions past the 9 month grace period?

No. You have one year and 9 months to fulfill your continuing education requirements. If you do not fulfill the requirement by Sept 30th of that year, you then have the option to reinstate your membership or submit a waiver if you believe that your circumstances qualify for a waiver of the continuing education requirement. All members are subject to audit. (See waiver)

6. What if I took a course 10 business days or less before the September 30th deadline and the provider does not report attendance in time?

As long as the course was successfully completed before the deadline, if the provider reports it after the deadline, it will still apply. It is a good idea to get in touch with the AIA and the provider if you anticipate this happening, especially if it presents potential impacts to your CES audit status.

7. What is the AIA/CES Non-compliance Policy?

Members are considered in non-compliance with the AIA/CES requirement if they have not completed and reported their annual 18 LU hours (12 HSW) by December 31st of every year. Members in non-compliance have an opportunity to report missing continuing education credits for nine months into the next calendar year. During this period, members who are audited are considered “at risk” of membership termination for non-compliance with CES. Audit notifications will begin in the Spring of each year. Members are contacted via mail, email, telephone and fax. If CES transcript records still indicate these members have not completed the annual CES requirements after September 30, they are then considered lapsed for non-compliance and cannot renew their membership for the following year until the audit is resolved.

Member CES Audit

1. What is the Audit process?

Each year, a percentage of AIA members are randomly selected for audit review of their continuing education requirements. A list is generated of audit eligible members, and from that list a percentage of members are randomly selected. If you are selected, the AIA will correspond with you and your component to let you know that you are being audited and notify you what you need in order to be in compliance.

2. If I am audited one year, can I be audited the next?

Any member who is not in compliance can be audited. Audits occur always for continuing education requirements of the following year.

3. I’ve received notification that I am under audit, what do I do?

At this point, you should make plans to fulfill your continuing education requirements by the end of the year. We recommend getting in touch with local components and with the AIA if you need help accessing your transcript and determining what credits you need to fulfill in order to meet compliance standards. Components can also direct you towards specific courses and resources that you have available in order to complete your requirements.

4. What if I am on audit but believe that my transcript is inaccurate?

If you believe that your transcript does not accurately reflect the credits that you have earned, there could be a number of reasons for this, such as a provider not reporting your credit, and you should contact the AIA. It is a good idea, for this reason, to keep all records of completed courses (certificate of completions) and self-reported activities.

5. Should I send certificates of completion for credits that are not posted on my transcript?

It is the responsibility of the provider to report any credits earned through an AIA registered provider. If the course was earned through a non AIA provider, please refer to self-reports FAQ’s. Also, you can send certificate of completions to

6. Is there a Waiver policy for AIA members?

Please refer to the Waiver section.


1. What do I do if I didn’t meet requirements and my membership lapsed?

To reactivate your lapsed membership, you must reinstate through the formal reinstatement process.

2. How do I reinstate my membership if I lapse due to CES non-compliance?

The AIA CES Reinstatement Policy allows members who lapsed due to non-compliance to reinstate at any time. To qualify for reinstatement reinstating member would be required to complete 18 learning units during the year of reinstatement. Once the member is reinstated he/she is responsible for the annual 18 LU hour (12 HSW) requirement. The member would be entitled to use this process only once in any three-year period.


1. Can I be exempt from requirements and what qualifies for an exemption from the CES requirement?

Exemptions may be granted for three reasons:

    a) Medical disability or other serious health conditions affecting the Architect member for a period of more than six months and/or throughout the last three months of the year;

    b) For any of the following reasons: (i) the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth; (ii) the placement with the Architect member of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement; or (iii) to care for the Architect member’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;

    c) For any of the following reasons: (i) absence due to military leave and obligation; (ii) any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the Architect member’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a “covered service member” on “covered active duty” (as those terms are used with reference to the Family Medical and Leave Act); or (iii) for military caregiver leave, i.e., to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the Architect member is the service member’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin;

    d) Severe financial hardship; or

    e) For such other good cause as may be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Secretary.

2. What explanation and documentation is needed for a waiver?

For waiver documentation, an explanation of your situation, be it medical disability, financial hardship, or overseas assignment will suffice.

3. Who reviews my waivers and what is the process?

Once the waiver form is completed, please submit this form to your assigned State or Local Chapter Component. Your Component will then forward your petition to the National office with comments, if any, to the Secretary for his or her consideration. The review process can take up to one month. Once the Secretary has either approved or denied the waiver, the AIA will be in correspondence with you regarding the decision and steps on how to move forward.

4. When will I find out if my waiver was approved?

The Institute Secretary can take up one month to review waiver requests. Once the decision is made, the AIA will notify you.

State Licensing Continuing Education Requirements

1. What is mandatory continuing education (MCE)?

Mandatory Continuing Education (MCE) is education required by a state to retain licensure. Over 45 jurisdictions have implemented a MCE license requirement, but these requirements vary from state to state, province to province.  For a quick overview of individual state/province MCE requirements, please visit the MCE Map.

Each state has the legal right to establish its own guidelines and requirements. However, most states requirements are similar, whether they require architects to meet them annually or biannually.  If you, like the average AIA member, have four or more state licenses, you must meet the continuing education requirements for all the states in which you intend to practice.

To date, most states that require MCE indicate they will accept AIA/CES transcripts as documentation for completion of valid continuing education credit.  For AIA members, this means that our single record-keeping system is the documentation needed for reporting your state MCE requirements when requested.  We do, however, strongly suggest that you keep backup documentation of your activities as support, especially if the credit is a self-reported activity as it may be requested. The AIA or your state licensing board may require you to show backup documentation at renewal time or if you are under an audit.

2. If I meet AIA National continuing education requirements, will I meet my state licensure requirements?

The AIA has increased its HSW requirement from 8 HSW’s to 12 HSW to set a higher standard for AIA members that will enable them to fulfill state licensing requirements for most states. However, we do not guarantee that you will fulfill your state’s licensing requirements if you meet AIA’s continuing education requirement. Please check with your individual state licensing boards.

3. What is the relation between HSW and state mandatory continuing education requirements (MCE)?

Both the AIA and state licensing boards base their programs on the contact hour. A majority of states require 12 contact hours of HSW for their MCE. The AIA/CES program requires 12 contact hours of HSW from a third-party provider. Some states allow some forms of self-reporting.


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