Skip to content
BECOME A CERTIFIED PROFES­SIONAL FOR SOFTWARE ARCHITECTURE — ADVANCED LEVEL (CPSA A®)

Advanced Level Exam

On this page you will find all information about the CPSA®-Advanced Level exam. In contrast to the Foundation Level exam, which is a multiple-choice exam, the Advanced Level exam requires you to write a term paper. The assignment is reviewed and evaluated by two recog­nized examiners of the iSAQB. After­wards, the paper is defended by the exam candidate before the examiners. All requirements and the procedure of the Advanced Level are described below.

Requirements for exami­nation registration

All CPSA® training courses (modules) at Advanced Level provide skills in varying degrees from three areas of compe­tence, namely method­ology, technology, and commu­ni­cation. To prove these skills, the iSAQB has set a certain number of credit points for each Advanced module.

To register for the CPSA‑A® exam, you need at least 70 credit points in total, and all 3 areas of compe­tence of the Advanced Level must be covered with at least 10 credit points each. As a rule of thumb for the calcu­lation of credit points, each training day is valued with 10 credit points. However, a single Advanced Level training course will earn a maximum of 30 credit points, even if it lasts longer than 3 days. Credit points can be re-evaluated by the iSAQB every 12 months. The exact allocation of credit points to the modules can be found on the Advanced Level page.

All iSAQB® Accredited Training Providers issue an official certificate of partic­i­pation with the respective credit points for attending an Advanced Level training course. Therefore, at least 75 percent of the time of the training course must have been completed.

Exami­nation registration

In order to register for an Advanced Level exami­nation with one of the licensed certification bodies, the following requirements are necessary:

Certified Profes­sional for Software Architecture, Foundation Level  iSAQB certificate 
A minimum of three years full-time profes­sional experience in the IT industry, including involvement in the design and devel­opment of at least two different IT systems.  Overview, in tabular form, of activ­ities as well as relevant IT systems. List of key features as bullet points (system & project scope, sector, technologies, products used, frame­works, operating systems, methods, patterns). 
Partic­i­pation in CPSA‑A® Accredited Training (or equiv­alent recog­nized training or certifi­cates) with a total score of at least 70 credit points gained in all three different areas of compe­tence and at least 10 credit points in each compe­tence area.  Certifi­cates of atten­dance issued by the Accredited Training Providers 
Non-disclosure agreement concerning the exami­nation task and reports (expert opinions) resp. corrections  Personal, written decla­ration of consent by the examinee not to pass on the exami­nation task they received, any documents, models, papers, and notes created during the task processing as well as the reports (expert opinions) or correc­tions to other persons or organi­za­tions. This is a standard contract which stipu­lates a penalty for any breach of contract by the examinee. The document can be obtained from the certification body. 

Exami­nation structure

The CPSA‑A® exami­nation consists of two parts, an assignment (paper) followed by an oral exami­nation in the form of a defense of the assignment.

The assignment task is themat­i­cally associated with one of three system types. The partic­i­pants can choose the appro­priate system type themselves and, if they wish, receive two tasks from two different system types to choose from after they have previ­ously signed a non-disclosure agreement for each task. After receiving the tasks, the partic­i­pants have three days to decide which of the two tasks they would like to work on for the exami­nation and to inform the certification body of this decision.

The following three system types are available to choose from:

Information system

An information system is used to retrieve information and process business trans­ac­tions. Users in different roles work collab­o­ra­tively on an overall result. The system takes care of the storage, input and output, validation and processing of the data for the users. The aggre­gation of data into reports also occurs.

Information systems are often used in a company’s intranet. The users in an intranet usually are expected to have a behaviour that is predictable (e.g. with respect to scala­bility) and regular within certain limits (not a “wilderness” like on the Internet).

Often rather complex business processes are important, which can make it challenging to properly authorise users for the business processes.

Information systems can also be web-based, but they are not a “web system” (see the next section for a more precise definition).

Web system

A web system basically serves the same purposes as an information system. The difference lies in the target group and the type of use. A web system is intended for use on the Internet (the “wilderness”). The Internet is an environment in which large numbers of users, heavily fluctu­ating loads and occasionally malicious attackers can be expected.

Due to the use of the Internet, higher network latencies are often to be expected than with in-house appli­ca­tions, which can have a negative effect on the system response time behaviour and thus (also) its usability.

Attention must be paid to these special circum­stances when designing a web system (in addition to the business logic itself).

Embedded system

An embedded system is directly connected to its environment through sensors and can also influence the environment through actuators. The tasks of an embedded system are often measurement and control of processes in its environment. In the case of information or web systems, on the other hand, the environment consists exclu­sively of human users or other IT systems. In contrast to IT and web systems, resources (e.g., memory, energy, computing time) in embedded systems are limited and archi­tec­tures for those systems have to consider this. Often, latencies are important, that is, the reaction time to external events and their handling. Special cases are embedded real-time systems in which timely task processing is essential, as well as safety-critical systems.

Conducting the examination

Upon agreement, the certification body will send you an exami­nation task which you must solve within approx­i­mately 40 working hours. The solution to the task must be documented.

The assignment must be completed and returned to the certi­fying body within three months of receipt of the task. When issuing the assignment, the certi­fying body will inform the exami­nation partic­ipant of the submission deadline; earlier submission is permitted. If the assignment is not returned by the deadline, this part of the exami­nation shall be deemed failed.

Apart from the maximum time allowed of three months, the total time allowed for completing all exami­na­tions of twelve months must also be considered. If these twelve months are exceeded, the entire exami­nation shall be deemed failed — regardless of whether the three-month deadline had been adhered to or not.

The certification body assigns two independent examiners and hands over your solution to them so that it can be reviewed. The examiners will then talk to you on the phone. During this conver­sation you have to explain and defend your solution. If the examiners confirm that you meet all the requirements for the CPSA‑A®, that your solution meets the guide­lines, and that you have documented, explained, and defended the solution well, the certification body will issue the CPSA‑A® certificate to you. The exam can be taken in English and German.

If you would like to take a CPSA®-Advanced Level exam, you can apply to one of our recog­nized certification bodies.

Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Are credit points awarded for partic­i­pation in online training courses at Advanced Level?

For online training courses at Advanced Level you will receive an official iSAQB partic­i­pation certificate with the respective credit points.

Are partic­i­pation certifi­cates for Advanced Level training courses also issued if a training course has to be cancelled through no fault of one’s own, or if the partic­i­pation is delayed?

For Advanced Level training courses, partic­i­pation certifi­cates with the desig­nated credit points can only be issued if a partic­ipant has attended at least 75% of the training. If less than 75% have been completed, the intended credit points may not be awarded. It is necessary to repeat the entire training or to make up for the missing part in order to earn the credit points. In any case, this regulation also applies to reasons that are not the fault of the partic­ipant (e.g. illness, accidents, traffic jams, etc.).

Do credit points earned from attended Advanced Level training courses expire?

Credit points, once you have earned them, are valid indef­i­nitely and do not expire. 

How can I find a certification body for the CPSA exam?

You can find all information about the certification bodies here.

How long is a success­fully completed CPSA certification valid?

A CPSA certification is valid for life, just like a university degree.

How much does the Advanced Level exam cost?

The exami­nation fee for one partic­ipant is 2,550.00 EUR plus VAT, a repeat exami­nation is 750.00 EUR plus VAT.

I have lost my certificate. Can it be reissued?

If your certificate has been lost, you can contact the certification body that took your exam or the iSAQB. Generally, you can request a copy of your certificate within 10 years after the date of the exam.

I’m a student. Can I take the Advanced Level exami­nation as well?

The Advanced Level exami­nation is aimed at people with profes­sional experience, see also the requirements in the Advanced Level Exami­nation Rules. If you are a student with work experience, it is best to check whether you meet all the requirements using the Advanced Level Exami­nation Rules.

Is the iSAQB respon­sible for the quality of its training providers’ CPSA trainings?

The iSAQB operates an elaborate quality assurance system with regard to its training providers, CPSA trainings, and trainers. Our aim is to ensure a consis­tently high training standard for all CPSA training courses worldwide. However, despite extensive accred­i­tation processes, the iSAQB assumes no liability for the quality of trainings provided by its accredited training partners. Furthermore, the iSAQB assumes no liability for the results of CPSA examinations.

May I call myself “Software Architect” after passing the exam?

The CPSA certification is not a vocational quali­fi­cation, but a proof of knowledge in the field of software architecture. The iSAQB is not entitled to award vocational quali­fi­ca­tions, so we propose you call yourself “Certified Profes­sional for Software Architecture by iSAQB” after passing the exam.
In Germany it is unclear if it is legally allowed to call oneself “Software Architect”. We recommend you inform yourself about the laws regarding the vocational quali­fi­ca­tions in your country.

What is the difference between a certification body and a training provider?

The iSAQB has stipu­lated that there be a formal and organi­za­tional separation between training course providers and certification bodies – hence these two different roles. Training course providers offer training, courses, workshops in order to prepare you for the CPSA‑F exami­nation for instance, or your CPSA‑A exami­nation project.

Certification bodies organize the CPSA‑F and CPSA‑A exami­nation – but must not offer any training or seminars in this area themselves.

What is the difference between the three system types in the selection of exami­nation tasks?

Information system

An information system is used to retrieve information and process business trans­ac­tions. Users in different roles work collab­o­ra­tively on an overall result. The system takes care of the storage, input and output, validation and processing of the data for the users. The aggre­gation of data into reports also occurs.

Information systems are often used in a company’s intranet. The users in an intranet usually are expected to have a behaviour that is predictable (e.g. with respect to scala­bility) and regular within certain limits (not a “wilderness” like on the Internet).

Often rather complex business processes are important, which can make it challenging to properly authorise users for the business processes.

Information systems can also be web-based, but they are not a “web system” (see the next section for a more precise definition).

Web system

A web system basically serves the same purposes as an information system. The difference lies in the target group and the type of use. A web system is intended for use on the Internet (the “wilderness”). The Internet is an environment in which large numbers of users, heavily fluctu­ating loads and occasionally malicious attackers can be expected.

Due to the use of the Internet, higher network latencies are often to be expected than with in-house appli­ca­tions, which can have a negative effect on the system response time behaviour and thus (also) its usability.

Attention must be paid to these special circum­stances when designing a web system (in addition to the business logic itself).

Embedded system

An embedded system is directly connected to its environment through sensors and can also influence the environment through actuators. The tasks of an embedded system are often measurement and control of processes in its environment. In the case of information or web systems, on the other hand, the environment consists exclu­sively of human users or other IT systems. In contrast to IT and web systems, resources (e.g., memory, energy, computing time) in embedded systems are limited and archi­tec­tures for those systems have to consider this. Often, latencies are important, that is, the reaction time to external events and their handling. Special cases are embedded real-time systems in which timely task processing is essential, as well as safety-critical systems.

What should I consider regarding credit points?

The credit points can be reval­uated by the iSAQB every 12 months. If you plan your training measures over some years you should consider this, in case you focus mostly on the number of points for the individual seminars. This reval­u­ation can apply to the number of points as well as to the distri­b­ution to the areas of compe­tence. It is possible that credit points are no longer rewarded for one of the three compe­tence areas, so you would have to cover this compe­tence area with another seminar. However, there have only been very few changes so far.

Which requirements must I fulfil to access Advanced Level certification?

  • Successful training and certification at CPSA‑F level (Certified Profes­sional for Software Architecture, Foundation Level).
  • A minimum of three years full-time profes­sional experience in the IT industry, including the involvement in the design and devel­opment of at least two different IT systems. Excep­tions can be granted upon appli­cation (for instance involvement in open source projects).
  • Training and further education within the scope of iSAQB Advanced Level trainings of at least 70 credit points. All three areas of compe­tence must be covered with at least 10 credit points each. Existing certi­fi­ca­tions can be credited to these credit points upon application.
  • Successful completion of the CPSA‑A certification task, including an interview with two independent examiners appointed by the iSAQB.

Will the assignment for the Advanced Level exam be subject to a plagiarism check?

All assign­ments by partic­i­pants of the Advanced Level exami­nation are first subjected to a plagiarism check by the certification bodies, which results in an exami­nation report. This exami­nation report is then forwarded to the respon­sible examiners for evalu­ation, along with the assignment.

Downloads

Advanced Level – Exami­nation Rules

This document contains general rules regarding the CPSA-Advanced Level exami­nation. It provides information on areas of compe­tence, modular concept, exami­nation requirements, costs, prepa­ration, regis­tration, and structure of the examination.

English Version [pdf]

Deutsche Version [pdf]

Advanced Level – Sample task for the CPSA‑A exami­nation task

Sample task “BigSpender” / Topic – Information System

Deutsche Version [pdf]

English Version [pdf]

Curriculum Module CLOUD­INFRA – Infrastructure, Container, and Cloud Native

Curriculum of the Advanced Level Module CLOUD­INFRA with all learning goals and terms for the individual chapters.

Deutsche Version [pdf]

English Version [pdf]

Glossary of Software Architecture Termi­nology

The iSAQB Glossary covers the basic termi­nology of software architecture. The glossary is available in English, French, German, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese (Brazil), and Spanish. Additional languages are in prepa­ration. Please note that only the English version contains a detailed expla­nation of all terms.

English Version [pdf]

Deutsche Version [pdf]

Versión en Español [pdf]

Versione Italiana [pdf]

Version Française [pdf]

中文版 [pdf]

Versão em Português [pdf]

Stay Up-to-Date with the iSAQB® Newsletter!

Scroll To Top