It is well known that the AICPA Uniform CPA exam is exceptionally challenging, but this process is complicated further by each state also requires applicants to meet their own set of CPA stipulations to fulfill before they will be permitted to sit the exam. We have therefore provided a detailed overview of what the Massachusetts CPA requirements, so as to make this process easier for you.
This should help if you are planning to either take the Massachusetts CPA exam, transfer your existing credits or CPA license to Massachusetts, or to maintain your existing Massachusetts CPA license.
As these requirements are subject to change, we recommended confirming all information with the Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy to clarify that you qualify, and to ensure that none of the charges or requirements have been updated since this piece was published.
Massachusetts has a minimum age requirement of 18 to sit the CPA exam.
There are no residency requirements for the state of Massachusetts.
Although Massachusetts does not require US citizenship to take the exam, they do require applicants to have a valid social security number.
Massachusetts requires applicants to have a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally or nationally accredited university or college to sit the exam. They must have acquired at least 120 semester hours (180 quarter hours) by the time of writing the exam. They are also required to meet the following course requirements:
- Accounting (21 hours), including:
- Financial Accounting
- Cost/Management Accounting
- Business (9 hours,) including:
- Business Law exclusively covering US Uniform Commercial Code
- Information Systems
- Duplicate courses will only be counted once
- Introductory classes will only count towards the general semester hour requirement, no accountancy or business requirements
- AP, ACT, CLEP, and college or departmental examination credit for courses required by the student’s degree program will be accepted as part of the general 150 semester hour requirement provided that they appear on the transcript of a regionally accredited institution
- Personal Finance is not acceptable towards the Finance course requirement
Accountants who graduated from international institutions must have their transcripts evaluated by either the NASBA International Evaluation Services (NIES) or the Foreign Academic Credentials Service (FACS.) If approved, they will be allowed to sit the exam, provided that they meet the other requirements. Otherwise, they will be informed of which requirements need to be fulfilled.
Massachusetts CPA applicants must acquire at least 2,000 hours of work experience in public accounting within no less than one year and no more than three years of applying for their license. This experience must be certified by a licensed CPA from any state. Acceptable experience shall include providing any type of services or advice using accounting attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax and consulting skills. Alternatively, they can fulfill 2,000 hours of work experience in non-public accounting in no less than three years and no more than nine years.
All experience must be documented and include details such as the date of acquisition and the type of experience conducted. They must also be performed under the supervision of a current license holder. They must also attest to the experience.
The Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy does not require an ethics exam for licensure.
How to Apply for the Massachusetts CPA Exam
- Create an account with NASBA’s CPA Exam Service (CPAES) at CPA Central
- Be of good moral character
- Meet the 120 semester hour requirements within 90 days of filing the application
- Apply for transfer of any credits or partial CPA exam results from other states where applicable
- It you are currently rolled at a school, you will need to submit to CPAES a completed Certificate of Enrollment form
- Request the Registrars of all credit issuing institutions to submit official transcripts directly to NASBA, either through post to Massachusetts Coordinator, CPA Examination Services, PO Box 198469, Nashville, Tennessee 37219-8469 or via email
- Pay the application and exam fees
|Auditing & Attestation (AUD)
|Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR)
|Business Environment & Concepts (BEC)
|State exam application fee:
4 sections – $177.00
3 sections – $157.00
2 sections – $137.00
1 section – $117.00
Fees are non-refundable. Most exams can be rescheduled.
How to Apply for the Massachusetts CPA License
Once you have passed all parts of your CPA exam with at least 75%, you will be eligible to apply for you CPA license.
To do so, you will need to:
- Create an online account with the Board
- Meet the 150-semester hour requirement and request that the registrars of all colleges and universities that you attended submit official copies of your transcripts directly to the Board
- Meet the work experience requirements
- Provide proof of being of good moral character by submitting three character reference letters dated and addressed to the Board
- Submit the application form
- Pay the $175.00 initial license fee
Practice Privilege for Out-of-State License Holders
Massachusetts allows for license holders considered to be substantially equivalent to that of Massachusetts’ license are permitted to practice in CPA without a license on condition that:
- The issuing state or jurisdiction allows the same benefit to license holders from Massachusetts. This means that all CPA license holders from the New England area, with the exception of Rhode Island CPAs, are not afforded practice privileges in Massachusetts.
- The license is valid an of good standing with the issuing Board
- Their primary place of business is in the issuing state
Interstate License Reciprocity
Massachusetts does not recognize interstate reciprocity in most states because they do not allow for Massachusetts’ CPA license holders to practice reciprocally in their states. You will need to contact the Massachusetts’ Board to confirm their stance on your issuing Board’s licensure. Additionally, applicants will need to demonstrate that:
- They passed all four parts o the Uniform CPA Exam
- Attach a copy of their current license
- Be considered as substantially equivalent to that of Massachusetts according to the NASBA National Qualification Appraisal Service (NQAS)
- Pay the $499.00 reciprocal license fee
Those from non-equivalent states will also need to fulfill the following:
- They meet Massachusetts’ current educational and work experience requirements, or they met all of Massachusetts educational and experience requirements at the time that their license was issued
- They have had at least four years of experience within the ten years prior to their application for Massachusetts’ licensure
International License Reciprocity
Massachusetts allows for license holders to take the International Qualification Examination (IQEX) in lieu of the four-part Uniform CPA exam on condition that:
- Their license is currently valid and in good standing with the Board
- They must submit official copies of all educational documents
- They must submit written proof of being of good moral character
- Provide proof of meeting the educational requirements stipulated above
This means that all license holders who were issued licenses by one of the bodies that form part of NASBA’s Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) will be eligible for this path. If not, you will need to undergo the same process as outlined under ‘Foreign Educations’ above.
NTS Validation Period
Once the exam has been paid for, NASBA will issue that applicant a Notice to Schedule. The applicant will then have six months from the date of issuance to set or change the date for the exam. If they fail to do so, they will need to reapply and pay the application fee again.
License Renewal Requirements
Massachusetts CPA license holders are required to renew their licenses annually biennially by June 31st. During that time, they are required to meet the continued professional education (CPE) requirements of 80 hours. The only specific allocation is that 4 CPE hours must come from professional ethics.
- Applicants have the following cap for the following CPE methods:
- 20 hours – Published Materials, Books, etc.
- 40 hours – Teacher, Speaker, Lecturer, etc.
- Accredited college courses in accounting, business administration, and economics will award 15 CPE hours per semester hour
- Non-accredited college and university courses will be awarded one CPE hour for each class hour
- Organized and recognized online courses are acceptable
- Partial credit is awarded in 0.2 or 0.5 increments
- For other programs, each class must:
- Be at least 50 minutes long to count as one CPE hour
- Require attendance
- Be conducted be a qualified instructor or discussion leader
- Require a written outline to be issued
- Exemptions may be made for reasons of health, military duty or other relevant considerations
- For the first year of licensure, the number of CPE required is prorated depending on the month of issuance:
- July/Aug./Sept. – 80 CPE
- Oct./Nov./Dec. – 70 CPE
- Jan./Feb./Mar. – 60 CPE
- Apr./May/June – 50 CPE
Inactive license holders
Massachusetts stopped issuing inactive licenses in May 2017.
Expired license holders
Failure to renew your license on time will result in the license expiring. You will then need to apply for reinstatement of your license, as well as pay the delinquency fees. In order to reactivate an expired license, you will need to submit an application form containing:
- You license number
- Notarized proof of no criminal record
- Submit an Application for Reinstatement of an Expired License form
- Proof of meeting 160 CPE hours within the four years prior to expiration, including 80 CPE within the last two years and 8 CPE hours of ethics
- In addition to the above fees, a fee may be assessed against those certified public accountants who have received three suspensions within the previous six years
Fines may be waived according to the Board’s discretion according to special circumstances
Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy
- Address: 1000 Washington Street, Suite 710, Boston, MA 0211
- Phone: 617-701-8635
- Fax: 617-727-1627
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/board-of-public-accountancy
- Hours: Mon – Fri: 08:45 – 16:30