National Architectural Accrediting Board approves Initial Accreditation for Fairmont State’s Master of Architecture program
On Friday, May 19, the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) announced they approved the Initial Accreditation of Fairmont State University’s Master of Architecture program. The NAAB is the sole accrediting body for architecture programs in the United States and it ensures that graduates are appropriately prepared to enter the profession.
“Gaining NAAB accreditation is a game-changer for everyone involved with our Master of Architecture program,” said Fairmont State University Interim President Dr. Diana Phillips. “This important designation attests to the caliber of the faculty and instruction provided to our students. It provides new career opportunities for our students as the only accredited architecture program in West Virginia. I am incredibly proud of the steadfast commitment of all those involved in this arduous process.”
This milestone gives West Virginia its first and only professional degree program in Architecture which now makes it possible for those wishing to become an architect to stay in West Virginia for their entire architecture education.
“The initial accreditation through the NAAB for our Master of Architecture program not only provides a hallmark of distinction for our program, but it also establishes expectations for program quality, mission and core values, and sets forth a continuous improvement mindset for quality assurance that positively impacts the effectiveness of teaching, students’ learning, and program administration,” said Fairmont State Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Tim Oxley. “The program faculty put forth a mammoth effort to receive this initial accreditation and are much appreciated for the time invested toward this end.”
NAAB accreditation is a rigorous, multi-year, three-step process. A program must pass an initial candidacy, a continuing candidacy, and finally, an initial accreditation step to be approved. Each of these steps requires the program faculty to produce and submit an Architecture Program Report to demonstrate that the program, curriculum, and student work meet the NAAB conditions and procedures for accreditation. Each of these reports, as well as observations from accompanying site visits, undergo a peer review process by a team of educators, practitioners, students, and other regulators. Their Visiting Team Report must then be examined and approved by the NAAB Board of Directors. The Initial Accreditation is for a term of three years. After three years and yet another report, site visit and approval, programs are usually granted an eight-year term of accreditation. All of this is to help ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the public regarding the built environment.
“Architecture, like Law and Medicine, is a highly regarded professional degree, so this is a very prestigious achievement for Fairmont State University, especially given its smaller size,” said Director of Fairmont State’s Architecture Graduate Program Dr. Bob Kelly. “It’s also a great day for our students, who have taken a chance on us hoping that they would receive an accredited degree. The accreditation is backdated to January 1, 2022, the year of our Initial Accreditation site visit. Students who graduated after that date will receive an accredited degree. The degrees of those who graduated up to two years before that will also qualify for certification by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, which can allow them to seek registration in other states, and eventually in West Virginia.”
Department of Architecture Chair, Joel Dugan, describes how the Architecture program at Fairmont State has positively impacted its alumni and their surrounding communities, and how NAAB’S accreditation will ultimately improve these things.
“The Architecture program at Fairmont State University is something to marvel at. It's incredible how much our architecture program impacts the region and beyond. The program’s influence can be seen in the work of alumni who have gone on to play essential roles in local city planning as well as in the operation of prestigious architecture firms across the nation,” said Dugan. “Now that the program has received accreditation for its Master of Architecture degree from the NAAB, it's exciting to think about how much more they can achieve. This respected and elite accreditation uniquely positions our program as a flagship architecture program in our state and one of the only fully accredited visual art pathways in a sought-after professional field.”
Admission to the Master of Architecture degree program requires the completion of a Bachelor of Science in Architecture degree or its equivalent.