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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 a certain number of skills from three areas of compe­tence, namely method­ology, technology, and commu­ni­cation. To represent 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 relating to the exami­nation task  Personal written decla­ration of consent by the candidate stating that they undertake to refrain from passing on to other persons or organi­za­tions the task they were provided with or any documents, models, data and notes created during accom­plishment of the task. This is an agreement, which stipu­lates a penalty for any breach of the agreement by the candidate. The document can be obtained from the certification body. 

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 1,700.00 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.

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.

May I use other success­fully completed certi­fi­ca­tions instead of attending Advanced Level training to register for an Advanced Level exam?

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 the iSAQB. For these certifi­cates, you will be awarded with a certain amount of credit points in one or more areas of competence.

Therefore, the iSAQB has accepted certain certifi­cates. The following certifi­cates for the Advanced Level are acknowledged:

Certificate Acknowl­edged Credit Points
technical 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

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 system types in the selection of exami­nation tasks?

A web system has a very high share of web specifics (browser-based appli­cation, often focussing on internet-relevant properties like scala­bility or security). Web portals and web shops are typical examples for this type of system.

An information system allows an inter­active use (in contrast to embedded systems or batch systems). In the end, web systems are information systems, too. Actually, some web systems are classified wrongly as information systems at the moment. In contrast to web systems, e. g. desktop appli­ca­tions, client/server appli­ca­tions with rich non-web-clients, and also classic enter­prise appli­ca­tions belong to the category “information 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.


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]

Versão em Português [pdf]

中文版 [pdf]

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