Your Ultimate Guide to AICPA CPE

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AICPA CPE for CPAs Today

Whether you’re an independent contractor, run your own firm, or work for a large accountancy firm, membership with the AICPA gives you access to high-quality resources at discounted prices and networking opportunities. While holding this membership isn’t mandatory for CPAs, many large organizations prefer to hire CPAs with it.

The reason behind this is to maintain a membership with the AICPA, you must complete AICPA CPE requirements. Whether you pursue AICPA CPE online or through in-person programs, the membership acts as proof of your expertise as a CPA.

In this guide, we’re going to discuss all the essential things about AICPA CPE for CPAs to help make up your mind about joining the AICPA.




AICPA CPE Requirements: Applicability as Per Membership Plans

The AICPA offers six types of membership options depending on your role, work status, and industry. Here’re the details of each to help you figure out how to join the largest member association in the world with over 431,000 members.

  • Regular Membership

To become a regular member, you need to have passed the Uniform CPA Exam, fulfilled the AICPA CPE requirements, and hold a valid CPA license. In terms of the CPA license, if you had one in the past, you can still apply for a regular membership provided it wasn’t revoked due to disciplinary reasons. You also must adhere to the AICPA’s Code of Professional Conduct and its Bylaws. Additionally, you agree to meet the requirement of 120-hour AICPA CPE for CPAs every three years.

The cost of a regular membership varies depending on your industry and role. You can also opt for the regular membership under categories including retired members, military service, and TLW (Temporarily left the workforce).

  • Associate Membership

You may apply for the associate membership if you’ve cleared the Uniform CPA Exam. There’re no mandatory requirements of having a valid CPA license and showing your CPE status. Under this membership also, you need to comply with the Bylaws and the Code of Professional Conduct.

  • Non-CPA Associate Membership

You can apply for a non-CPA associate membership if you meet any of these requirements:

  • You’re a professional staff member or owner of a CPA firm licensed for practicing in the U.S., and it has at least one professional having the AICPA regular membership.
  • You’re working in a non-U.S. or U.S. university or college as a full-time accounting or business educator role.
  • You’re a government or corporate finance professional sponsored by or under the supervision of one of the AICPA’s regular voting members.
  • You carry out governance or management responsibilities with regard to a company that’s served by one of the industry-specific AICPA memberships as mentioned by the Council.
  • You’re eligible to receive an AICPA credential but don’t have the eligibility for any other associate category or regular voting AICPA membership.

You also need to adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct and the Bylaws.

  • CPA Exam Candidate Membership

To obtain this membership, you need to be a college graduate. Additionally, your CPA exam status needs to be one of the following:

  • You’re presently taking the exam.
  • You’re scheduled to take the exam.
  • You wish to study for the exam.

You may opt to become an associate member after clearing the exam. This membership also requires you to adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct and the Bylaws.

  • Student Affiliate Membership

If you’re a part-time or full-time student at a non-U.S. or U.S. university or college and don’t qualify for the CPA license already, you may get the student affiliate membership. You may hold this membership for up to five years of becoming a graduate. Here also you need to adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct and the Bylaws.

  • International Associate Membership

To apply for the international associate membership, you need to meet these requirements:

  • You’re primarily affiliated with any of these organizations: CPA Australia, CA ANZ, CPA (Canada), ICAEW, IDW, HKICPA, CAI, JICPA, IMCP, ICAS, or SAICA.
  • You hold a valid non-U.S. accounting authorization from one of the above organizations, governmental body, or similar body approved by the Board of Directors of the AICPA.
  • You don’t have a CPA certificate from a U.S. jurisdiction.

With this membership also, you need to adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct and the Bylaws.

AICPA CPE for CPAs: Exceptions to Requirements

If you’re an AICPA member but fall under one of the following categories, you aren’t required to meet the AICPA CPE requirements.

  • Unemployed and don’t represent yourself as a CPA in front of third parties.
  • Retired and don’t represent yourself as a CPA in front of third parties.
  • Belong to the TLW category, and don’t represent yourself as a CPA in front of third parties.
  • You’ve officially placed your CPA license/certificate in “inactive” status with your state board of accountancy and don’t represent yourself as a CPA in front of third parties.

You may also receive a waiver for the requirements of AICPA CPE for CPAs if you cannot meet them because of these situations:

  • Military service
  • Extreme natural disasters
  • Health
  • Other similar situations that may prevent you from meeting the requirements

The Best AICPA CPE Sponsors to Meet Your Requirements

When it comes to taking AICPA CPE courses, the most popular options available to you include the AICPA itself and other NASBA-registered CPE sponsors. Let’s take a look at each of these in detail.


Due to its massive popularity and rich history, many CPAs prefer to pursue CPE from the AICPA. It offers four options, including both onsite and online AICPA CPE. The options include:

  • Bundles

These are typically a number of CPE courses bundled together and are offered at a discounted price. Therefore, you get to earn a significant number of CPE credits by purchasing just one or two bundles.

However, their prices are pretty steep which may not be a viable option for cost-conscious CPAs. To give you an idea, the least expensive bundles under the “Management Accounting & Finance” category come at a price range of $143.75 - $169.15. It may not be a feasible option for many CPAs to pay that much to earn just 3.5 credits.

  • Conferences

AICPA offers conferences that you can attend to pursue AICPA CPE online or onsite. These also let you earn a significant number of credits by attending just one event. Just remember that these tend to be the most expensive options of completing AICPA CPE requirements.

  • Self-study courses

You can take these online AICPA CPE courses to study at your own pace and earn credits at your convenience. While these courses typically fall under AICPA’s least expensive option of meeting CPE requirements, you can easily find many NASBA-registered CPE sponsors that offer them at much lower prices than it.

  • Webcasts

AICPA offers a large collection of live and on-demand webcasts covering many different topics. While webcasts tend to be slightly costlier than self-study AICPA CPE online courses, they’re ideal for those who prefer to learn in a virtual classroom setting.

There’s another key reason why many CPAs prefer to take CPE courses from the AICPA despite the higher costs of the options. Being the national organization of CPAs in the U.S., it continuously keeps on adding new AICPA CPE courses and webcasts to its collection. As a result, for many CPAs, AICPA’s collection is the best place to explore to learn the most relevant information from industry leaders.

NASBA-Registered CPE Sponsors

The NASBA (National Association of Boards of Accountancy) maintains a registry of CPE sponsors that offer CPE programs according to nationally recognized standards. The sponsors listed in the registry are considered NASBA-approved CPE providers.

When you’re looking to take AICPA CPE courses from a CPE sponsor other than the AICPA, it’s always best to check its NASBA approval. This is because the NASBA registry not only follows a stringent process for sponsors to join it but also conducts random compliance audits to ensure that providers are meeting the standards outlined by it.

You may also note that CPE sponsors need to renew their memberships every year. Failing to do this on a specific date may lead a sponsor to receive an “inactive status.” All these factors make NASBA-registered sponsors quality resources that CPAs can leverage to pursue AICPA CPE for CPAs.

Tips To Choose the Right NASBA-Registered Sponsor for Onsite or Online AICPA CPE Programs

As discussed above, pursuing AICPA CPE online programs from a NASBA-registered sponsor will typically be a cost-effective option. However, with thousands of registered sponsors available, identifying the right one can be a difficult task.

To help you out, we’ve jotted down some key things to consider to accomplish this conveniently.

  • Availability of different learning formats

Learning styles differ from one person to another. Also, for one AICPA CPE course, you may comfortably master the topic by choosing the self-study format. On the other hand, you may prefer to attend a live webinar to learn a more complex topic.

Therefore, you should choose a sponsor that offers different learning formats such as self-study materials, live webinars, and pre-recorded videos. It’ll help to ensure that you can choose the right format that best suits your learning style. At CPEThink.com, we offer all these formats so that you don’t need to experience the hassle of joining multiple sponsors.

  • Availability of a large course collection

Most likely, you already know that learning activities, which you can engage in to meet your AICPA CPE requirements, cover a wide range of topics. It means you’ve got a large number of options to expand your knowledge and acquire new skills.

Again, choosing a sponsor that has a large collection of courses will help you avoid the inconveniences of joining multiple providers to take different courses. For instance, we offer over 700 courses on many different topics covered in the NASBA fields of study.

Another key advantage of joining CPEThink.com is that you’ll be able to choose our unlimited subscriptions. This’ll let you access our entire course library for either one or two years, depending on your chosen subscription. You can choose from all our self-study courses, including ethics and free webinars, to earn a virtually unlimited number of CPE credits. You’ll also get unlimited attempts to clear the final exams along with unlimited certificate prints.

While our courses are already less expensive than what’s charged by a lot of sponsors, choosing one of our subscription packages will help you lower their costs even more. And then you’ll get our industry’s best 100-day, 100% money-back guarantee. If you feel that our courses aren’t the right choices for you for whatever reason, we’ll give your money back within 100 days of the purchase date.

  • Good customer reviews

Believe it or not, you can get a clear idea of the quality of a CPE sponsor by going through its customer reviews. Once you’ve shortlisted some AICPA CPE sponsors, read their reviews to see what their past students had said about them.

Ideally, there should be a mix of both positive and negative reviews. However, if you notice a sponsor has received mostly negative reviews, you should look for another one. Apart from the reviews page on a sponsor’s own website, you may also want to read its reviews on third-party review websites. It may feel like a negligible task, but doing it diligently may help you avoid lots of unnecessary hassles down the line.

In Conclusion

The world of accounting is built on a massive knowledge base that’s continually altering, expanding, and getting more complex. As AICPA is the premier organization in the country, completing AICPA CPE on time can help you acquire new skills and expand your knowledge of the rules, regulations, and best practices of the industry. Moreover, as we mentioned above, having a membership with the AICPA will help improve your reputation and strengthen your position in the industry.

If you’re looking to start right away, you may start by checking our collection of courses.


If flexibility, compliance, diversity, accessibility, and standard are what you strive for in your continuing professional education, you’re in the right place. Access your education anytime, track your progress, and print your required certifications. Get started, today.




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