Wisconsin's 150-hour educational requirement for CPA licensure

What is the 150-hour educational requirement?
Anyone who wishes to become a CPA in Wisconsin must have at least 150 semester hours of education. Inquiries can be made to accounting chairs at state universities and colleges or the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services at 608-266-5511.

How are the additional credits earned?
The additional credits can be either undergraduate or graduate credits. Some colleges offer an expanded bachelor of science in accountancy program; others encourage students to obtain the additional credits by completing a master of accountancy program. Check with the accounting program head at the college or university in which you are enrolled or interested.

Is the requirement unique to Wisconsin?
Currently, 54 states and jurisdictions have a 150-hour requirement. For the most recent update on the national status of the 150-hour educational requirement, visit www.nasba.org.

Why is the requirement necessary?
The business world has changed dramatically since the accounting profession began 100 years ago. CPAs no longer simply "crunch numbers." Today's CPAs need to effectively communicate complex information, think critically to advise clients or employers in key business decisions and understand constantly changing technology.

What is the history behind the 150-hour requirement?
In 1969, the American Institute of CPAs issued a report stating that the body of knowledge required for basic competency for CPAs really necessitated five years of education.

In 1977, Florida became the first state to pass 150-hour legislation.

Florida's requirement took effect in 1983. It has resulted in higher numbers of first-time Uniform CPA Exam-passers and higher starting salaries for CPAs.

In 1988, the AICPA polled its members and found that 83 percent favored a 150-hour education requirement.

In 1989, the "Big 8" public accounting firms issued a position paper which called for higher education to focus on the broader skills that could be acquired through an expanded education requirement.

In 1995, the WICPA introduced the issue to the Wisconsin State Legislature.

In March 1996, the Wisconsin State Assembly and the Wisconsin State Senate passed legislation requiring 150 hours for both CPA Exam eligibility and CPA licensure. Then-Gov. Tommy G. Thompson signed the bill into law on May 2, 1996.

On April 8, 2014, Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation reducing the education requirement to 120 semester hours to take the CPA Exam, while retaining the 150-hour requirement for CPA licensure. View details regarding this change.

Related links
> CPA Exam requirements by jurisdiction (PDF)

> Wisconsin CPA Exam FAQs