Advanced Level

As a follow-on to the Foundation Level, which has been available for some time now, iSAQB’s Advanced Level is the next logical step in qualifying software architecture professionals. Developed according to iSAQB’s specification, this training scheme follows a modular structure and requires successful trainees to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and skills. Holders of the CPSA-A will be able to:

  • Design medium-sized to large IT systems independently and in a methodologically sound manner
  • Assume technical and content-related responsibility within IT systems of medium to high criticality
  • Plan, design and document appropriate measures to meet non-functional requirements
  • Accompany development teams in the process of implementing these measures
  • Manage and direct architecture-related communication processes within medium-sized to large development teams

Three skills areas

For the purpose of CPSA-A training, iSAQB has defined the three following skills areas:

  • Methodical skills: a systematic approach to architectural tasks, regardless of the technologies used
  • Technological skills: knowledge and implementation of technology solutions used in design tasks
  • Communicative skills: communication, presentation, argumentation and moderation skills as well as the ability to cooperate productively with different stakeholders

Two possibilities of acquiring the skills required for these skills areas exist:

  1. Through licensed training, based on a curriculum module of the iSAQB Advanced Level curriculum
  2. Through accreditation of a certificate from an institution other than iSAQB

For training that teaches content as defined by a curricular module, the participant will be awarded a certain amount of credit points. If you take part in such training and would like to register for the CPSA-A examination, you will need a total of at least 70 credit points, and all three skills areas will have to be covered with a minimum of 10 credit points in each skill area.

As a rule of thumb for calculating credit points, ten credit points are awarded at present for every single day of training. However, no more than 30 credit points can be awarded for training relating to just one particular curriculum module, even if the duration of this training exceeds three days. Credit points can become subject to a reassessment by iSAQB every twelve months. Should further criteria in addition to the afore-mentioned rule of thumb be introduced, these will be published online in advance.

Acquiring skills through the Advanced-Level scheme

Curriculum modules

The Advanced-Level programme’s structure is modular with a curriculum consisting of individual modules, each focusing on a particular core topic pertaining to the skills required of a software architecture professional. The following table gives a snapshot of the current situation. For each module, there is a detailed module description including content and objectives. Modules showing a link to their module description under ‘Acronym’ already form integral part of the scheme and are available for licensing (see below for more details on licensing). Work on other modules is still in progress.

Acronym Title/publication date Brief description of content

Credit points

technological methodical communicative
ADOK Architecture Documentation
How to document and communicate software architectures 0 20 0
AGILA Agile Software Architecture
How to accomplish effective architecture work in agile teams and projects 0 20 10
AWERT Architecture Assessment
How to determine whether architecture meets expectations 0 20 0
CLOUDINFRA Infrastructure, Container and Cloud Native
How to design and implement adjustable infrastructure for the Cloud 20 10 0
DDD Domain Driven Design
How to design functional architecture in cooperation with experts and developers 0 20 10
EAM Enterprise Architecture Management
How to maintain consistency within a large IT system and application landscape 0 30 0
EMBEDDED Embedded Systems
How to design embedded systems that have a direct impact on their environments 20 10 0
FLEX Flexible Architectural Models
How to develop most flexible architectures 20 10 0
FUNAR Functional Software Architecture
How to design architecture with functions, immutable data, and combinators 20 10 0
IMPROVE Evolution and Improvement of Software Architectures 2015-Jan-14 How to improve software systems systematically, focussed on economic and technical objectives? 10 20 0
SOA-T Service-oriented Architecture
How to design service-oriented architecture 20 10 0
SOFT Soft Skills for Software Architects
How can software architects lead and moderate discussions on architecture determination and present their architecture in a comprehensible manner? 0 0 30
SWAM Mobile Architectures 2015-Okt-05 How to design architecture for mobile end devices 20 10 0
WEB Web Architecture
How to design effective and secure web-based systems 30 0 0

Recognition of third-party certificates

If you are a participant and have already acquired skills through other training schemes as evidenced by a certificate, you will be able to apply for accreditation of relevant CPSA-A credit points under certain conditions (for more details please refer to the explanations further down on this page).

How the scheme operates

Submission of modules

The initial step is the development of the programme’s curricular modules. The CPSA-A scheme can be extended at any time. Anybody with relevant expertise can contribute a curriculum module by producing a module description to be submitted to iSAQB. The iSAQB Advanced Level working group will then decide whether the module should be accepted or rejected. There may also be further feedback given to the author that must be incorporated before the module can be accepted.

If you would like to submit a module:

  • contact us under to get a document template for a module description
  • complete it and
  • send the completed description to advanced-newmodules AT

Publication of modules

Once iSAQB has accepted a module, it will become part of the training scheme and published on the iSAQB website. At that stage, iSAQB will also make a decision on the amount of credit points awarded to participants for this module.

Licensing modules

Interested and already licensed training organisers can license a published module and develop a module-specific training. They will be granted a licence for this training, allowing them to then offer it under the name iSAQB® CPSA Certified Professional for Software Architecture Advanced Level®.

If you are a training organiser and would like to license a module in order to develop a specific training:

  • first, contact info AT for further information about the process.

If you are not yet licensed training organiser of the iSAQB, please contact us via the Contact Form of the iSAQB e. V.

The licence agreement contains specific, legally-binding provisions on licensing details.

Carrying out training

If you are a training provider or organiser and have licensed a module, you will be allowed to use the iSAQB logo for advertising. You will have to issue participants of your training with a certificate confirming their attendance. This will serve as evidence that they have acquired the amount of credit points required for admission to the examination.

Accreditation of third-party certificates

If you are a participant and have previously been certified elsewhere, you might be able to submit an application for accreditation of your certificates to iSAQB. For these certificates, you will be awarded with a certain amount of credit points in one or more skills areas waiving the requirement to undergo training in those areas again.

The following guidelines apply to accreditation:

  • If the certificate is acknowledged by iSAQB, you receive the credit points listed in the table below upon application. The list is subject to change. Changes become effective on 31 December of each year.
  • Other technical and methodical trainings will not be accredited.
  • For communicative trainings (soft skills) the recognition phase ended on 1st July 2015 and no more Credit Points will be given for external trainings.

iSAQB acknowledges the following certificates for advanced level:


accredited credit points

technological methodical communicative
SEI SOA Architect Professional Certificate 20 0 0
SEI Software Architecture Professional Certificate 0 20 0
SEI Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method® (ATAM®) Evaluator 0 15 0
SEI Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method® (ATAM®) Leader 0 20 0
SEI PLTP Team Member 20 0 0
SEI PLTP Leader 20 10 0
Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA) 10 10 0
Open Group TOGAF 9 Foundation 0 10 0
Open Group TOGAF 9 Certified 0 20 0

Examination and certification

If you would like to be tested as a CPSA-A, you will have to register with one of the recognised certifying bodies. After initial consultation, your chosen certifying body will send you an examination task to be completed by you within approximately 40 working hours. You will also have to document how you solved the task and send the solution to the certifying body. The certifying body will appoint two independent examiners and transmit your solution to them for assessment and evaluation. This will be followed up by a telephone conversation between the examiners and you, the participant. During this conversation, you will have to explain and defend your solution.

If the examiners confirm that you meet all requirements for a CPSA-A, that yours is a good solution and that you have documented, explained and defended the solution well, the certifying body will issue you with the CPSA-A certificate.

The exam can be taken in English.

Our document template for examination tasks and examination criteria for creating new tasks (“Task Development Kit”) gives an impression of what examination tasks basically look like. You can download it here.