An accessible alternative

Program Orientation

RAIC Syllabus Categories

Syllabus Students fall under one of three categories:

  1. Diploma Program Candidates: Individuals seeking professional licensure must complete the full Diploma Program of Studies to obtain the RAIC Professional Diploma in Architecture.
  2. Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) Referral Students: Invididuals seeking academic certification complete courses as instructed by the CACB
  3. General Interest (GI) Students: Individuals with a personal interest in studying architecture can study courses of interest within the RAIC Centre of Architecture through Athabasca. However, General Interest students seeking to attend studio courses may require approval from the local Coordinators first prior to registering as such within the program. Athabasca University might offer some virtual studio component in the future for General Interest students, so please keep posted with our website for current updates. 

Program Year

The Syllabus academic year is divided into 2 Terms:

Term 1 February 1 – June 15 (courses begin March and end early June)
Term 2 August 1 – December 15 (courses begin Sept. and end early Dec.)

NOTE:  Academic courses may be completed year-round via the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University

Diploma Program Duration

The full 8 – 12 year Diploma Program of studies is divided into 3 Parts:

Part I: Introduction to Architecture

Duration: 2 – 3 years
Course Load: 9

Part II: Skill Development, Knowledge Acquisition & Understanding

Duration: 2 – 3 years
Course Load: 10
Work Experience: 2,800 logged hours (3 years @ 20 hrs/week; 1.5 years @ 40 hrs/week)

Part III: Synthesis & Application

Duration: 4 – 6 years
Course Load: 9
Work Experience: 7,000 logged hours (3.5 years @ 40 hrs/week)

Note: It is assumed that students would work Part Time under Part II and be a Full Time employee by the time they enter Part III of the program. This is a rough estimate of the total number of years students will spend in to complete the program, therefore the actual timeline will depend highly on the amount of work the student can handle and the timeframe needed to complete the academic course portion (i.e. 3 months per course vs 6 months per course).

Diploma Program Components

Unlike the sequential University route of theoretical education followed by work experience through the Intern Architect Program, the RAIC Syllabus Professional Diploma Program of Studies is comprised of 3 concurrent components described briefly below and detailed in the Curriculum Sequence Chart and Course Calendar. The 28 courses of the RAIC Syllabus Professional Diploma Program of Studies have been numbered and grouped into a planned learning path with emphasis on integration of design studio workshops, academic courses and work experience.

1) ACADEMIC (correspondence) COURSES - 18 courses

NB: All courses offered through RAIC Syllabus and AU Centre for Architecture may or may not permit mutual substitution with other recognised institutions and are subject to audit.

Theory Sequence (4 courses)

Architectural theory is a body of knowledge that endeavours to understand the values and ideas of culture and their expression in architectural form. Architectural theory, as an independent area of inquiry in architecture, has gained considerable ground over the last century. It has also gone through significant changes during this period. These changes are a result of two profound shifts in the way we think about the world in general and about architecture in particular. The shifts are directly related to the rise and demise of “modernist” theory in architecture. The latter shift, expressed under the heading of ‘Post-Modernist’, has gained considerable ground over recent decades. Today, however, architectural theory can be seen as a critical setting to understand ‘Classical’, ‘Modern’ and ‘Post-Modern’ orthodoxy. Arguably, it is characterized by an inclusivist approach, tolerant of accepted as well as polemical positions.

The Theory Sequence is structured to allow the student to develop a basic understanding of architecture as language and design as a conscious methodical act, embodying means; the role and nature of theory in architecture; the major theoretical ideas and issues that have influenced architecture over the last century; and recent trends in architecture with an emphasis on future directions.

History Sequence (3 courses)

No part of the global environment survives untouched by human intervention, from ancient times to the present. Good design and management of the built environment needs informed critical understanding. History – an ordered account of past societies, their works and ideas – provides the essential foundation. These courses provide an opportunity to study the past through architecture, using buildings, settlements, gardens and landscapes, both as works of intrinsic interest and as the most complete record of past societies and their ideas. Architects generally need not have any great specific knowledge of architectural history, unless they are practising in some specialized field like restoration. But there are some architectural monuments from the past that anyone in the field ought to know. A suggested list of them is included in the course descriptions.

Technology Sequence (9 courses)

Technical systems play a primary and defining role in informing architectural design at the conceptual stage. Performance characteristics and environmental impact analyses are important; equally critical are the spatial and visual impacts on the design. The selection and integration of these systems into a coherent whole is dependent upon the design intention and is, therefore, an integral part of the design process.

Professional Practice Sequence (2 courses)

Successful practice of architecture in the 21st century depends upon business and management skills necessary to compete in the continuously changing marketplace of the design profession. The increasing complexity and sophistication of conducting business, managing a professional practice, and establishing professional standardschallenge the architect to maintain up-to-date knowledge and skill sets. Working within local and global communities, effectively communicating with many partners within a project, developing and modifying management systems to support a professional practice are necessary skills for future professionals.

ACADEMIC COURSE DELIVERY: Website & Correspondence 

ACADEMIC COURSE EVALUATION: Assignments and/or Examinations


Architectural design must be founded upon knowledge and awareness. It is essential to understand the consequences and implications of a design and how it may be perceived, experienced and interpreted. It is essential to design with knowledge not only of the physical media of building, of materials, structure and services, of the pragmatic reality of practice and law, but also of architectural principles and precedents, and of the cultural, social and theoretical context in which a work of architecture is created.

Finally, it is essential to design with conviction that the essence of architecture lies in its artistic power and integrity. The sequence of design courses explores design principles, architectural typologies and integrations.


Face-to-Face via studio workshops located in 13 chapters: Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto,  London, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax 

  • 12 – 14 weeks in duration each term
  • weekly (evening) meetings
  • some weekend meetings / special events
  • delivery via Adobe Connect (or Skype) to outlying areas (where available)


Mid-term and Final Presentations before a Jury

3) WORK EXPERIENCE – approximately 9800 Hours

Concurrent application in the ‘real world’ of theory learned through academic and design courses is an integral part of the RAIC Syllabus. Students are required to seek and obtain work experience under the direct supervision of a Canadian Registered, Practising Architect, in a variety of office situations to demonstrate and document the acquisition and application of knowledge obtained per Canadian Experience Record Book (CERB) requirements of the Intern Architect Program (IAP).

Although no work experience is required of Part I students, it is recommended that you find employment a few courses prior the beginning of Part II. (Work experience, or "back-entering" gained prior to Syllabus studies and/or during Part I of the program may be applicable.)

Work experience requirements in Parts II & III of the Program are detailed in the Course Calendar and Curriculum Sequence Chart.  For complete details, see the Work Experience Manual.

Entry Requirements

Candidates must have Grade 12 Matriculation (or equivalent) and Internet access. It is advantageous, but not required, to have some previous post-secondary education. While drafting and CAD standards are useful, good ideas, a positive attitude, and a strong work ethic are far more critical to success.

Although the Syllabus has an ‘open door’, candidates should be aware of the need for post-secondary level English and Math skills to effectively progress through the courses, and may be advised at any time during their Syllabus studies to enhance these skills through Community College, Technical Institute or University studies.

English as a Second Language (ESL) candidates must provide evidence of passing the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) with their application. Minimum scores required are: TOEFL: paper-based 555; computer-based 213; iBT 100; or IELTS  (ESOL Cambridge) band score minimum of 5.5. Refer to the Official TOEFL website for more information ; CAEL: 70 overall; 60 in each section; website: ; ESOL:

Communication can be defined as the ability to formulate or receive an idea, transmit the idea to another person in a comprehensible form, and have the recipient duplicate the idea that has been sent. Architects must be able to receive and formulate ideas, and communicate those ideas through written, graphic and oral presentation to clients, government officials, employers and the general public. A candidate to the Program needs to possess sufficient drawing skills to do sketches; naturalistic and abstract renderings using a variety of materials (such as pencil, pen & ink, watercolour, chalk); and the ability to create 3D objects (model building).

Once accepted, students may then register for courses.

Syllabus Expectations

In the Syllabus, a Student is expected to be involved with the intent of learning. Successful Syllabus students are committed, self-motivated, and tenacious, and are able to study independently (correspondence courses) as well as work with others (design workshops). In addition to diligent study, students are expected to contribute time and energy to their local Chapter, assisting the volunteer professionals in delivery of the design studio courses.

The Syllabus works well for individuals with excellent time-management skills, able to balance 30+hours per week of studies, employment and personal lives over the 8 - 12 year time period to complete all requirements.

There is no ‘fast-track’ method of completing the Syllabus, though advanced standing may apply due to previously completed post-secondary courses (see below).

Advanced Academic Standing

Diploma Program Candidates may apply for an Entry Credit Assessment to determine potential advanced academic standing based on previously completed post-secondary courses. 

Assessments are based on Official Transcripts and detailed course outlines (not just calendar or website descriptions), provided by candidates to the Registrar upon application. Letters of reference, portfolio of previously completed design studio work and appropriate fees are also required at the time of application.   

Please note: It is outside the Syllabus mandate to evaluate academic credits based upon work experience. Consideration of Advanced Academic Standing does not apply to CACB Referrals or General Interest Candidates.

Administration & Faculty

The Syllabus is administered by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC).  Design Studio Workshop delivery is coordinated by members of the profession, with logistical assistance by the students in each Chapter. There are currently Chapters located in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto, London, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.  Click here for Contact List.

Administrative staff are employees of the RAIC. Academic Examiners,  Local Coordinators, Design Studio Mentors, Jurors and Advisors are either volunteers or receive a modest honorarium.

Contribute as a Volunteer

As in the profession itself, the success of the Syllabus relies on the creative energies of the professionals who participate in its delivery. The constituencies of the Syllabus are those in the profession themselves; architects, engineers, building scientists, project managers, and academics, who believe in this education model and participate as a way of giving something back to their professions.

The design studio portion of the Program is delivered in each of the Chapters in an interactive format between the Coordinators, Mentors and Students.

Students of the Syllabus volunteer their time to assist Coordinators in the administration of local Chapters. For details on how you can help, contact your Chapter Student Representative.


Costs to deliver the Syllabus are financed by student fees. See Fees for further details.

How to Apply

Please refer to the Application section for more information.

Further Questions?

Contact the Syllabus Office by email at or by calling our toll-free number: 1 (844) 856-7242