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State CPA Societies seek to join Ohio in possible alternatives to 150-hour licensure requirement

Written on May 3, 2024

OSCPA Staff Report

Around the country at the state and national levels, discussions continue to take place about potential licensure improvements that will achieve the collective goal of increasing the number of licensed CPAs entering the accounting profession and increasing the number of experienced CPAs who stay in the accounting profession. A huge focus has been on what many students view as a big hurdle to becoming a licensed CPA: current educational requirements.  On that front, Ohio has been ahead of the curve for decades. 

Ohio laws and rule changes, some in place since 1959, have allowed CPA candidates to become licensed through not only the traditional 150-hour education requirement and one year of experience, but also through two additional pathways: 

  • A bachelor’s degree, a score of at least 670 on the GMAT, and four years of experience (in place since 2000) 

  • An associate degree plus a score of at least 670 on the GMAT, plus four years of experience (in place since 1959) 

All three paths to licensure require 30 hours of accounting courses and 24 hours of business courses, plus passing the Uniform CPA Examination. 

While keeping continued interstate mobility a priority, OSCPA and other state CPA organizations have been actively exploring additional alternative approaches to help attract and retain licensed CPAs.  

On the national front, OSCPA has been engaged with two national pipeline study efforts – NASBA’s Professional Licensure Task Force and AICPA’s National Pipeline Advisory Group – to discuss potential solutions to the financial and time costs of completing 150 semester hours of education, which is by far the most popular licensure approach. NASBA’s task force has proposed an alternative to the last 30 hours of college education that involves a two-year “Structured Professional Program” where off-transcript, structured experience would involve yet-to-be defined experiential learning components.  AICPA’s task force is focusing on a series of short-, medium- and long-term solutions, with the short-term solution maintaining 150 hours on a college transcript.  Both organizations are working to maintain interstate mobility as much as possible and expect to take their proposals to their respective boards for consideration in the coming weeks. 

Several other states are concerned about how long it might take to reach a national solution and are considering pipeline changes of their own this year.  Recent developments include: 


Pending legislation continues the existing 150 hours of college education plus 1 year experience requirement but adds a second pathway that allows for licensure after 120 hours and 2 years of experience. Both also require passing the CPA Exam. This change is being driven by the Minnesota Society of CPAs and is not opposed by the Minnesota Board of Accountancy. 


Pursuing a rule change that adds a second pathway to licensure: 120 hours of education and 2 years of experience in addition to the existing 150-hour requirement. This change is supported by the Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy and the Arkansas Society of CPAs. 


Staff members of the California Board of Accountancy will present their recommendations in mid-May to its Board, which includes two proposed pathways: 1) a master’s degree in accounting, tax or laws in taxation plus one year of experience, or 2) a baccalaureate (or higher) degree with a concentration in accounting, or a non-accounting degree plus accounting-related courses. 


Recently passed a law requiring all Indiana colleges and universities, excluding Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University, to offer three-year degree programs by July 2025.  While not directly related to accountancy licensure laws, it will impact what constitutes a bachelor’s degree and how many additional college credits will be required to become a CPA after that degree is earned. 


More than 90% of members participating in surveys and focus groups believe there should be alternative pathways to CPA licensure in Iowa. The final task force recommendation combines the support for alternatives with the importance of preserving mobility for Iowa CPAs.  

New Hampshire 

Similar to Arkansas, New Hampshire is looking to adopt a rule that would create a second pathway to licensure. Language has not yet been released. 

South Carolina 

The South Carolina Association of CPAs is proposing legislation that specifies possible alternatives to the 150-hour requirement and allows CPAs from other states to practice in South Carolina without 150 hours of higher education. 


Utah plans to move forward with alternative pathways in June. The expectation is that the options will consist of the current 150 hours, some format of 120 hours + 2 years of experience, as well as a pathway to bring in people who have worked in the profession, passed the CPA exam but do not have the current 30 additional hours. Utah is working to “future proof” their language to allow for a three-year degree approach down the road. 

What’s next for Ohio? 

The Ohio Society of CPAs has taken a leadership role analyzing the issues involved in the profession's accounting talent supply gap and continues to engage with Ohio leaders and key stakeholders in the business, academic, government and non-profit space to implement meaningful change that will close the accounting talent gap.  

You can read more in OSCPA's Accounting Talent Pipeline White Paper, and you can provide your input by joining the Ohio Accounting Talent Coalition, an organization committed to the vision, goals, objectives and strategies that have been and/or will be decided by the Coalition as reflected in the Ohio Talent Action Plan. 

Updated May 7, 2024

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