The AICPA Uniform CPA exam is known to be challenging on its own, but this process is further complicated by each state providing their own set of requirements to fulfill before the applicant qualifies both to sit the exam and to apply for licensure. Therefore, we have compiled a detailed summary of the Tennessee State Board of Accountancy’s requirements. This also includes details on transferring your existing credits or CPA license to Tennessee, or to maintain your existing Tennessee CPA license. As these requirements are subject to change, we recommended confirming all information with the Tennessee State Board of Accountancy to make sure you qualify, and to verify that the charges have not been updated since this piece was published.

Age

There is no minimum age requirement to sit the CPA exam in Tennessee.

Residency

There are no residency requirements for the CPA exam in Tennessee.

Citizenship

Tennessee has no citizenship requirements to sit the CPA exam.

Education

Tennessee has a requirement of a bachelor’s degree or higher from a four- year college or university education to sit the CPA exam. This includes fulfilling credit requirement of 150 semester hours by the time of sitting the exam. However, the course requirements for sitting the exam varies slightly from those required for licensure as follows:

For taking the exam

  • Accounting courses (18 hours/ 27 quarter hours), at upper level, junior courses or higher. These cannot include credits from internship programs.

For CPA licensure

  • Accounting courses (30 hours/ 45 quarter hours), 24 hours of which must be at the upper level, junior courses or higher. These cannot include credits from internship programs.
  • Business courses (24 hours/ 36 quarter hours) in one or more of the following:
    • Algebra
    • Calculus
    • Statistics
    • Probability
    • Business Communication
    • Business Law
    • Economics
    • Ethics
    • Finance
    • Management
    • Technology/Information Systems
    • Marketing

Accredited Institutions

Non-accredited institutions

If an institution was not accredited at the time that an applicant’s degree was received but was accredited at the time the application was filed with the board, the institution will be recognized as acceptable to the board on condition that:

  • The applicant’ educational program would award them with a full Bachelor’s degree at the time that the institution became accredited
  • The have the institution’s Registrar submit a complete transcript directly to the Board
  • The applicant completes at least 15 semester (22 quarter) hours, or the equivalent, in post-bachelor’s education at the accredited institution, of which at least 9 semester (13 quarter) hours, or the equivalent, shall be in accounting
  • The institution provides a statement that the applicant is in good standing with the institution and that their GPA in these subjects is satisfactory for them to graduate

Accepted credits

  • Education earned at a regionally accredited community college or two-year degree granting institutions are acceptable
  • Education earned at a community college or two-year degree granting institution that is not regionally accredited will be accepted if they are added to a transcript of a regionally accredited institutions are acceptable
  • Correspondence, CLEP credit, pass/fail grades and online courses are acceptable when an applicant receives credit for the courses at a regionally accredited college or university. These courses must appear on an official transcript.

Approved International Evaluation Services

Work Experience

Tennessee CPA applicants are required to acquire at least 2,000 hours of work experience either before or after passing the CPA exam. These must be acquired between no less than one year and no more than three years. This must be completed within ten years prior to applying for licensure.

This experience may consist of providing any type of services or advice using accounting, attest, management advisory, financial advisory, tax or consulting skills under the employment of either government, academia, industry or public practice. They must be fulfilled and tracked under the direct supervision of a CPA whose license is valid and in good standing with their issuing board.

Ethics

The Tennessee State Board of Accountancy requires the candidate to take the AICPA Professional Ethics Comprehensive Course and Exam “For Licensure.” The applicant must achieve 90% or higher in order to apply for licensure. This must be completed within 90 days of completing your experience requirement.

How to Apply For the Tennessee CPA Exam

The Tennessee State Board of Accountancy outsources thir CPA exam application process through NASBA as follows:

  • Create an online account with the CPAES
  • Submit official transcripts from all institutions’ Registrar’s Office with the official unopened seal to NASBA. The degree earned must be posted on the official transcript. This can be done by paper mail to NASBA directly from the institution or submitted by the institution electronically to this email address
  • Submit the application form
  • Pay the relevant fees
  • Include official copies of transcript translations and official copies of the transcript themselves where necessary

Fees

Application Fee$170.00
Auditing & Attestation (AUD)$226.15
Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR)$226.15
Regulation (REG)$226.15
Business Environment & Concepts (BEC)$226.15
Registration Fees
4 sections – $150.00
3 sections – $125.00
2 sections – $100.00
1 section – $75.00
$300.00
Total$1,374.60

Fees are non-refundable. Most exams can be rescheduled. 

NTS Validation Period

You will receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS) upon paying for your Payment Coupon from NASBA. You will have 6 months from the date of issuance in which to write your CPA exam, or the NTS will expire. You will then need to reapply for the exam. Therefore, before trying to save money by applying for multiple exams at once, make sure that you will be able to study for them and schedule them in beforehand.

Locations

How to Apply for a Tennessee CPA License

To apply for CPA licensure in Tennessee, you will need to:

  • Submit your application to the state board
  • Complete and submit the Experience Verification Form
  • Provide proof of passing the AICPA Ethics Exam
  • Request the Registrars of all educational institutions to send official copies of all transcripts directly to the Board illustrating that the 150-semester hour and course requirements have been met
  • If applying from another state where you passed part some sections of the exam from, you will need to submit a Transfer of Grades Request form
  • Pay the $100.00 application fee

Practice Privilege for Out-of-State License Holders

A CPA who holds an out-of-state license recognized as substantially equivalent to that of Tennessee’s, can practice in Tennessee without needing to obtain a license or permit from the Board on condition that:

  • The license is current and in good standing with the issuing state or jurisdiction
  • They must obtain an individual substantial equivalency evaluation from NASBA’s CredentialNet Service
  • Their principal place of business is in the state of licensure
  • They do not live in Tennessee
  • They have fulfilled the 150-credit hour requirement, have acquired one year of work experience and have passed the CPA exam
  • The individual will stop practicing in Tennessee should their license expire in the issuing state

Reciprocal Application

Interstate License Reciprocity

Tennessee recognizes interstate reciprocity of CPA licenses from jurisdictions and states that are considered to be substantially equivalent to that of Tennessee. In order to apply for CPA license conversion, you will need to me the following requirements as well:

  • Provide a letter of good standing from the issuing state or jurisdiction
  • Create an online account with the Board and submit the application form
  • Pay the $200.00 fee

International License Reciprocity

Tennessee recognizes international license reciprocity for licensing bodies of foreign associations who have entered into Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) with the US International Qualifications Appraisal Board (IQAB.) License holder from these institutions will be able to take the International Qualification Examination (IQEX) in lieu of the full CPA exam. The exam fee is $835.00. Additionally, they will still need to meet the work requirements stipulated above. Other foreign license holders will need to follow the same path as outline under ‘Foreign Educations’ above.

This applies for licenses issued by the following bodies:

License Renewal Requirements

Tennessee CPA license holders are required to renew their licenses biennially by December 31st. The year will be either even or odd based on their birth year. During this time, the applicant must acquire 80 hours of continued professional education (CPE) and is required to submit 20 CPE per year.

They must also fulfill the following CPE educational hours:

  • 2 hours CPE of a Board-approved state-specific ethics course
  • 40 hours CPE of technical subjects such as:
    • Accounting
    • Governmental Accounting
    • Auditing
    • Governmental Auditing
    • Business Law
    • Economics
    • Finance
    • Information Technology
    • Management Services
    • Regulatory Ethics
    • Specialized Knowledge
    • Statistics
    • Taxes
  • If you are engaged in attestation, you will require 20 hours CPE in Accounting and Auditing
  • If you are engaged in expert witness testimony, you are required to fulfill 20 hours CPE in the area in which the court deems you an expert
  • Further information can be found here
  • Pay the $110.00 renewal fee

Inactive license holders

Tennessee CPA license holders can apply to change their license status to ‘inactive.’ This will allow them to maintain their license by paying the annual the ‘inactive’ renewal fees, without the need to meet the CPE requirements. However, they will need to reactivate their license, should they choose to resume practicing public accountancy.  

This entails:

  • Fulfilling 80 hours of CPE in technical subjects within the last 24 months
  • The CPE must include two hours of Tennessee State-Specific Ethics
  • There is no reactivation fee for changing an inactive license to ‘active’ status
  • Pay the $110.00 renewal fee

Expired license holders

Failure to pay the renewal fee or meet the CPE requirements on time will result in the license’s lapsing. The license holder will then have 6 months to renew their license, meet the CPE requirements and pay both the late and renewal fees, or their license will expire. The license holder will then need to reactivate their license as follows:

  • Fulfilling 80 hours of CPE in technical subjects within the last 6 months
  • The CPE must include two hours of Tennessee State-Specific Ethics
  • They will also need to submit before the Board a full account of why they failed to renew their license on time
  • If approved, they will then need to pay a $250.00 reinstatement fee

State Board

Tennessee State Board of Accountancy