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NASBA discusses equivalent path to CPA licensure, without the need of having a fifth year to complete a 150-hours education program — seeks comment

Jan 3, 2024

NASBA Task Force

This email from NASBA was shared with INCPAS on December 26, 2023.

In October, during my inaugural address at NASBA’s annual meeting, I discussed the creation of a Professional Licensure Task Force (Task Force) whose charge was to consider new concepts for CPA licensure that may be included in the UAA to update the current licensure model.

Since its creation, the task force has met twice. It held an in-person meeting at NASBA’s offices in Nashville on November 20 and it held a virtual meeting on December 18.  During its meetings, the task force discussed the history of the current education model, the education required under Mutual Recognition Agreements, and the Experience, Learn and Earn and experiential learning models that have been introduced during 2023.  The committee agreed that the general principles adopted for ELE: cost effective; rigorous education component; and scalable to firms and employers of all sizes, should apply to the development of a structured professional program. The task force also discussed outreach to the AICPA’s National Pipeline Advisory Group’s Substantial Equivalency work group.

Following these discussions, the Task Force believes it is important to share its discussion to date and solicit directional input from the boards of accountancy and other interested parties.

General Concept: Through its discussions, the Task Force has narrowed its discussions on a structured experiential learning program that would provide for education, documented experience, and other elements that would provide an equivalent path to licensure without the need of having a fifth year to complete a 150-hours education program that would appear on an accredited transcript.  This additional path, to be defined in greater detail, would include an education and experience component to measure a participant’s competency to be licensed as a CPA and would be considered equivalent to the current 150-hour pathway defined in the Uniform Accountancy Act. The development of a structured professional program would require legislative, and rules changes in some states and may impact interstate mobility in some states until all states have adopted the new equivalent path.

The elements of this concept are not unprecedented for U.S. licensure. For decades, international candidates have achieved licensure through the completion of a baccalaureate degree followed by a professional program that includes documented experience, educational components, and measurement.

The concept being discussed for the U.S. would minimally require that all mandatory accounting and business requirements are achieved in addition to having a baccalaureate degree.

Question: Do you believe that the Professional Licensure Task Force should continue to focus its discussions on an equivalent path to licensure that defines a structured professional program that would qualify an individual for licensure as a CPA?

Reply to Concept Exposure

We encourage the State Boards and other interested parties to consider these proposed changes and send any comments or recommendations to the UAA Committee via by March 31, 2024.


Stephanie Saunders, CPA
Chair, NASBA

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