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Proposed New Model for CPA Licensure

The CPA Evolution initiative aims to transform the CPA licensure model to recognize the rapidly changing skills and competencies the practice of accounting requires today and will require in the future.

It is a joint effort of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

In summer 2019, NASBA and the AICPA developed five guiding principles to inform the creation of a new licensure model. We sought feedback on these principles from stakeholders across the profession.

What We Heard From You

More than 2,000 of you responded to the guiding principles. Thanks to your valuable insights, we are one step closer to a solution for evolving CPA licensure. The original driver behind CPA Evolution was the impact of technology on the profession. From your feedback, we heard an underlying theme that, while greater technological expertise should be required for licensure, there are other factors disrupting the profession as well. You told us the effort to evolve the licensure model should not solely be focused on attracting those with technological and analytical skills to become CPAs; it should be about ensuring the CPA license remains fit for purpose to assure continued public protection. We needed to think bigger and approach this challenge with a different mindset.

Proposed New Model for CPA Licensure

NASBA and the AICPA carefully reviewed all of the feedback we received, studied other professions’ licensure models and considered multiple options for updates to the licensure model before developing the below approach. We believe this approach is responsive to stakeholder input while still propelling the profession into the future. This is a draft licensure model and is not considered final.

We recommend a core + disciplines licensure model. The model starts with a deep and strong core in accounting, auditing, tax and technology that all candidates would be required to complete. Then, each candidate would choose a discipline in which to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge. Regardless of chosen discipline, this model leads to full CPA licensure, with rights and privileges consistent with any other CPA. A discipline selected for testing would not mean the CPA is limited to that practice area.

This proposed model:

  • Enhances public protection by producing candidates who have the deep knowledge necessary to perform high-quality work, meeting the needs of organizations, firms and the public.
  • Is responsive to feedback, as it builds accounting, auditing, tax and technology knowledge requirements into a robust common core.
  • Reflects the realities of practice, requiring deeper proven knowledge in one of three disciplines that are pillars of the profession.
  • Is adaptive and flexible, helping to future-proof the CPA as the profession continues to evolve.
  • Results in one CPA license.

For more information about the proposed model and why our two organizations believe it is the best approach for CPA licensure, read the FAQs below and download a summary of the initiative here.

What’s Next

Through the end of 2019 and into 2020, we’ll gather more feedback on this approach from stakeholders and build out more details of the model. We aim to finalize an approach for an updated CPA licensure model in summer 2020. After the approach is finalized, we will establish implementation plans for what is expected to be a multi-year effort.

CPA Evolution is still a work in progress. NASBA and the AICPA will continue to work collaboratively with stakeholders from across the profession and beyond to develop a solution that best meets the needs of the profession, organizations, the regulatory community and the public.

If you’d like to share your thoughts on the proposed licensure model, you can email