Should the education requirement for CPAs be increased to 150 semester hours of education, which includes a baccalaureate degree?
The AICPA has recognized the value of the 150-hour education requirement since 1959 and supports the UAA minimum education requirements to become a CPA to include a baccalaureate degree and accounting concentration. Since the inception of the initiative to increase the education requirement, a majority of states have enacted the 150-hours of minimum education.
Importance to CPAs
With the business environment becoming increasingly diverse, certified public accountants must meet new challenges when making critical business decisions.
Prospective CPAs need to have a broad educational base that includes accounting and business knowledge and develops the skills needed for continued growth in a fast changing global economy. There are a number of reasons that an increase in the education requirement is needed:
Improved Quality of Work. A more educated group of graduates will produce a more educated group of accountants. The public will be able to continue to place its trust in the work performed by CPAs if the public knows the skills that have been obtained are the result of a comprehensive education.
- Increased Technical Competence. The greater demands of business, as well as the continuing expansion of practice in an international environment, have further enhanced the need for highly technical accounting services.
- A Complete Education. To function effectively, CPAs must have more than technical knowledge of their profession. They must also be educated in history, languages and the sciences.
In a 1988 vote, the membership agreed overwhelmingly to amend the by-laws of the Institute to require 150-hours of education for new members after the year 2000.
The position on the 150-hour requirement was reaffirmed through the concept of substantial equivalency, which was incorporated into the Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) as Section 23. The UAA contains basic criteria for initial licensure as a CPA, including: 1) 150 semester hours of education, including a baccalaureate degree; 2) successfully passing the uniform CPA examination, and 3) a one year general experience requirement verified by a licensee, which is broadly defined to accommodate experience in all fields of employment (i.e., public accounting, industry, education, government, etc.).
In recent years, several remaining states have moved to enact the 150-hour education requirement. Most recently, legislators in California and Colorado passed a 150-hour requirement. A total of 54 of 55 U.S. jurisdictions have now enacted the requirement. Only the U.S. Virgin Islands is yet to pass the provision.
In addition to the AICPA, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), the American Accounting Association (AAA) and the Federation of Schools of Accountancy (FSA) all support the 150-hour education requirement.
AICPA Staff Contacts
Suzanne Jolicoeur, State Regulatory Outreach, 919.402.4906
Scott Moore, Academic & Career Awareness, 919.402.4575
Summary of Jurisdictions That Have Passed the 150-Hour Requirement
Uniform Accountancy Act