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 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.
|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.
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|
|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
Curriculum Module CLOUDINFRA – Infrastructure, Container, and Cloud Native
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.