Wisconsin's 120-hour educational requirement for CPA Exam

On April 8, 2014, Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a change to the CPA Exam education requirement, reducing it from 150 credit hours to 120 credit hours while retaining 150 credit hours for CPA licensure.

Despite opposition expressed by the WICPA to changing Wisconsin CPA Exam education requirements, a recent law change has reduced the Wisconsin CPA Exam education requirement from 150 credit hours to 120 credit hours.

In response to a legislator's October 2013 request for co-sponsors of a proposal to eliminate statutory education requirements for all Wisconsin licensing exams, the WICPA requested that the Uniform CPA Examination be exempted from this legislation. Assembly and Senate bills were then introduced streamlining the issuance of licenses by eliminating license exam education requirements, allowing individuals to enter the workforce sooner after passing licensing exams. Since the bills' provision to eliminate all education requirements for Wisconsin licensing examinations did not receive publicity, the WICPA was among the few organizations to express opposition to this provision. The bills proceeded swiftly through the legislature and became law (2013 Wisconsin Act 114) in late December.

Since the organizations administering the national Uniform CPA Exam (i.e., American Institute of CPAs, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and Prometric) have NOT prescribed CPA Exam education requirements, the new law passed in December 2013 effectively eliminated all education requirements for candidates taking the Uniform Wisconsin CPA Exam in Wisconsin.

Reinstatement of CPA Exam education requirement
Shortly after enactment of the new law, the WICPA met with legislators and representatives from the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS), the Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board (AEB) and the governor’s office to encourage prompt reinstatement of a CPA Exam education requirement to avoid losing the Uniform CPA Exam in Wisconsin, which both the AICPA and NASBA stated would be a strong possibility in the absence of any statutory CPA Exam education requirement.

WICPA member and Assembly Rep. Howard Marklein, CPA introduced a bill to reflect technical updates to Wisconsin accountancy regulations. Consequently, as a result of various meetings and communications, WICPA member and Assembly Rep. Dale Kooyenga, CPA introduced an amendment to this bill reinstating a Uniform CPA Exam education requirement. Due to expressed opposition from some legislators to a 150-credit-hour CPA Exam education requirement (which could have jeopardized the reinstatement of any CPA Exam education requirement), the amendment provided for a 120-credit-hour exam education requirement that is currently applied in 30 states, rather than the 150 credit hours that continues to be required for CPA licensing in all states (including Wisconsin). In other words, 120 credit hours are now required to take the Uniform CPA Exam, and 150 credit hours are required for the CPA license. This bill unanimously passed the Assembly on Feb. 11 and the Senate on March 18, and was signed by Gov. Walker on April 8.

Looking ahead
The WICPA has and will continue to be actively involved in legislative issues that impact the accounting profession in Wisconsin. The WICPA will collaborate with organizations such as the DSPS, AEB and NASBA as questions arise related to this change. We will continue to provide you with updates regarding this change as they become available.

Please share your comments or questions with us at Comments@WICPA.org. Or call WICPA President & CEO Dennis Tomorsky, CPA, J.D., CGMA at 262-785-0445 ext. 4519.

Related links
> Wisconsin's 150-hour educational requirement for CPA licensure

> Wisconsin CPA Exam FAQs

> CPA Exam requirements by jurisdiction (PDF)