REG Chapter 2: Licensing and Disciplinary Systems

understand and explain the role and authority of state boards of accountancy.

Quick lesson here – after reading this you should understand and be able to explain the role and authority of state boards of accountancy.

What is a State Board of Accountancy

The state boards of accountancy are the ones that give you your CPA license… and that’s why they’re important (well, maybe not the only reason why they’re important but you get the point). But, the same way they giveth… they can taketh away. There are 55 boards of accountancy and each have the power to license newly minted CPAs. The requirements are different in each state but for the most part CPAs will have some combination of these requirements

  1. You need to pass the exam (that’s why you’re reading this)
  2. Education (130 to 150 credit hours, continuing education, and ethics courses)
  3. Real world experience

Make sure to check with your region’s State Board of Accountancy for specific guidance. Don’t worry though because the differences between each state won’t be tested, just know the three general requirements and you’ll be fine.


NASBA stands for the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. So when you register for licensure you go to their website and then go to your specific state board of accountancy. Once you meet all the requirements your state board of accountancy will send you your CPA certificate (yay).

The AICPA stands for The American Institute Of Certified Public Accountants. They are the ones who make the actual CPA exam but they don’t give you your CPA license (confusing I know). It’s just like the financial aid office and the registrar’s office at college: neither one is any help and you still don’t know how to register for classes.

Easiest Question on the Exam

The only major thing you need to know about the State Boards of Accountancy is that they can take your license away. You can be expelled from the AICPA but the AICPA itself can’t take your license away.

Some ways you can get your license taken away are as follows:

  1. Fraud
  2. Ethics violations
  3. Committing a felony
  4. Failure to comply with renewal requirements

Basically. they can take your license away if you do something really messed up. There may be a hearing and you can fight it but for the most part they have the final say.

So, the easiest question on the exam: who can give a CPA and who can take a CPA away? Correct, the State Board of Accountancy.

What We Learned

  1. State Boards give the CPA license
  2. AICPA writes the CPA exam

For additional reading you can read more about NASBA here and the role of the AICPA as it relates to the state boards here.

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