Requirements on Reporting and Credit Hours

CPA CPE Requirements on Reporting and Credit Hours After becoming a certified CPA, you will need to complete continuing professional education (CPE) courses to renew your CPA license every 1-3 years in order to retain your professional competence.

The number of CPE credits necessary and the time frame for earning them vary depending on the regulations of the AICPA, state boards of accountancy, and other professional organizations concerned. You must complete the CPE requirement in order to maintain your AICPA membership and license renewal.

The following article incorporates an overall outline of CPA CPE prerequisites for CPAs across the U.S.

CPA CPE Requirements on Credit Hours

As part of the continuous obligations for maintaining the CPA qualification, you must adhere to all state rules. According to the American Institute of CPAs, you must finish a minimum of 120 hours of CPE for each three-year reporting period (AICPA).

Every state requires an equivalent of 40 CPE hours per year, however the flexibility with which the requirements can be met varies. For example, the reporting term can be one, two, or three years. In addition, certain states have special requirements for CPE course subjects or topics. As a result, it's usually a good idea to double-check the exact requirements of your state board of accountancy.

Qualified CPE Courses

Previously, state boards typically maintained a list of pre-approved CPE providers. But that is no longer the case. As a result, most boards rely on the NASBA's National Registry of CPE Sponsors. CPE courses on this authorized list should be assigned an ID that may be easily traced on the NASBA Registry website.

The aim of NASBA is to promote the functioning of state accounting boards and advance their members' common interests.

Technical vs Non-Technical Subjects

Most state boards have their own credit requirements, restrictions, and other subject or field of study prerequisites. Some state boards have rules with respect to the base number of technical courses, like bookkeeping/auditing, and a maximum number of soft courses, similar to the personal development and behavioral courses.

Ethics Course

Many state boards began integrating ethics as mandatory CPA CPE requirements in 2011 and 2012. The total number of hours required varies, however you are generally expected to complete 2 or more hours of ethics CPE each year.

Some states will only accept an ethics course authorized and approved by their own state board. Make sure you thoroughly read the directions from your state board. If you are unsure, you may always look it up online or contact them by email.


Some states restrict the kind of self-study programs you can take or have a limited set; for example, the self-study program must be graded in order to be accepted. The term varies slightly across states. Please carefully read the Board Administrative Rule or contact your CPE course provider.

Live Webinars

Live webinars, in contrast to self-study courses, are often valid for CPE hours because they are genuinely interactive in nature. As a result, many firms have begun to offer live webinars covering a wide range of CPE topics. Illumeo, for example, offers live webcasts to aid you in meeting your CPA CPE requirements.

Obtaining CPE Credits as a Speaker, Presenter, or Author

In most states, you can also earn CPE credits by producing an article or book, or by lecturing, speaking, or presenting on CPA-related topics in your profession.

In most circumstances, this rule is also subject to limitations. You can either claim the credit for up to a set number of hours or the credit is discounted; for example, if you have a 2-hour lecture, you can only claim one hour of CPE credit.

Converting College Credits to CPE Credits

CPAs can often enroll in college classes to obtain CPE hours as well. The entire meeting time of the course is generally used to calculate the number of credits earned.

1 semester hour = 15 CPE credits

1 quarter credit = 10 CPE credits.

So for instance, a college-level course that meets for 3 hours per week during a semester is viewed as a 3-hour course. It could count for 45 CPE credits, in that case.

Reporting CPE Courses

In general, state boards require licensees to submit and report their CPE credits for each renewal cycle, however, an increasing number of state boards are requesting that licensees retain the documentation without the need to report the credits. For a possible audit by the State Board, you must retain all supporting papers on file for at least 4-5 years (or as stipulated by your state board).

Some states require licensees to provide CPE credits on a yearly basis. Others, on the other hand, only require CPAs to report every two or three years.

Even if a CPA feels that the program should have offered more credits, they must never seek more CPE credits than those that the CPE program provider recommends. It is advised to speak with the NASBA immediately if this situation occurs.

CPAs have a lot of freedom to take part in the sponsored programs they want, but they should only receive credit for activities that really advance their professional competence. Additionally, participants who participate in a program in part can only receive credit for the activities they actually participated in or attended.

Details Required on Your Certificate

The majority of CPE courses provide a certificate that serves as your attendance record. Your certificate from a respectable CPE provider will include details that a state board might need to know, like the CPE topic and the total number of class hours. If not, be sure to include the following information.

  • The title of the program

  • Participant's name (that would be you)

  • The dates and number of hours that were spent there

  • Course/program completion date

  • Specific topics covered during the program

  • Total number of hours granted

  • Signature of a program provider authorized representative


This article discusses the credit hours and CPE requirements for CPAs. However, always double-check your state's specific CPA CPE requirements.