In Architecture, what is the IDP?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 January 2020
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The Intern Development Program (IDP) is a program which most American architects complete before becoming certified as architects. Many nations have programs similar to the IDP for people who intend to practice architecture. The goal of the IDP is to confirm that architects have received sufficient education and on the ground experience to be able to practice architecture on their own safely and effectively. The creation of standards for people in the architecture field promotes a high level of skill, quality, and safety.

Two organizations, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), developed the Intern Development Program in the 1970s. Almost all of the regions overseen by these organizations require completion of the IDP from architecture students who wish to apply to take the licensure exam, although there are a few exceptions.

People who wish to enter the IDP must demonstrate that they have completed at least three years of architecture school, and file an application to enter the IDP. They must also identify an employer and a supervisor who is in charge of monitoring the intern's work and submitting performance reports. Once in the IDP, someone can be known as an Intern Architect or Architect Intern, but not as an architect, because use of this term is limited to people who are fully qualified architects.


In the IDP, students learn about the day to day practice of architecture. This experience can be very valuable, as it allows students to see real world situations and to explore a variety of problems which they would not have encountered in the school environment. As an intern's work improves and grows stronger, he or she will be allowed to be more and more independent. Upon completion of the IDP, the student may apply to sit for the architecture exam which will allow him or her to become a Registered Architect.

Over the course of the IDP, a student is expected to complete a minimum of 700 training units, with each training unit corresponding to eight hours of work. Students must also satisfy requirements in a number of categories, including management, design and construction documents, and construction contact administration. The program also includes a community service requirement, which is designed to promote positive community relations for the architecture field, and to remind architects that charitable applications of their professional skills are an important part of a well-rounded life.



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