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Broadening Pathways to CPA Licensure
Stay informed about this effort and our progress.

Check out the latest news and conversations about the CPA pathways initiative.

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The MNCPA introduced legislation (HF 1749 and SF 1660) in February 2023 to consider broadening the pathways to CPA licensure. The legislation was advocated for and supported by the MNCPA board after years of discussion with members concerning the ongoing CPA pipeline concerns.

The profession is at a critical point. Declining high school graduation sizes, increasing demand for CPAs, increasing retirements and declining number of candidates sitting for the CPA exam are converging to severely restrict the number of CPAs who provide critical financial services and advice to communities, businesses and individuals. 

As it stands now, Minnesota CPA candidates must meet a 150-college credit requirement and have one year of work experience before sitting for the exam. This legislation offers two new pathways, including one that would call for 120 college credits and two years of work experience.

We ask all stakeholders to step forward to be part of this discussion toward a positive change to address the CPA pipeline issue.

Bob Cedergren, CPA headshot

Bob Cedergren, CPA, partner, Wipfli LLP

"The profession is facing a challenge and, potentially, a crisis if we don’t make changes that will attract more students to the profession. As a board, we are seeking to explore other alternatives to meeting the 150-hour education credit requirement while maintaining the high degree of professionalism and standards expected of the CPA profession and its representatives."

Bob Cedergren, CPA, partner, Wipfli LLP

Issues facing the profession

Barriers to the profession

The additional year of education and cost associated with it is a significant barrier to potential accounting students and those who may sit for the CPA exam. High school graduation rates are declining, and fewer graduates are seeking higher education. Additionally, competition for those students has increased greatly with other growing industries. Delaying a year of earning combined with the cost of an additional year of school is prohibitive.
Increasing demand for CPA services

There are not enough CPAs to provide the very needed — and growing services — required by public accounting firms, businesses, governmental entities and nonprofits. Increasingly, more work is being transferred to an overseas labor force, who do not meet the same requirements to practice as a CPA in the United States.
Public protection

The financial stability of communities, organizations and individuals are in peril because there are not enough CPAs. In the past year, the Minnesota Society of CPAs experienced sharp increases in calls from cities, school districts, individual clients and companies required to have an employee benefit plan audit, asking for help to find a CPA. Their prior CPA was either no longer practicing or let them go as a client.
Stephanie Markert, CPA headshot

Stephanie Markert, CPA, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

"I am so proud of the work done by the MNCPA to create optionality so all may benefit from our wonderful profession. Minnesota is approaching changes in our profession as an active resistor, by not simply sitting back and disagreeing with what is, but providing solutions of what could be alternative pathways to licensure. This feedback is necessary to drive change and stimulate productive conversations that will result in actionable next steps. The CPA exam is the gold star — the minimum standard of quality — while additional education should be a personal choice."

Stephanie Markert, CPA, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP


A survey of MNCPA members shows an increase in the number of new hires who hold accounting degrees with 120 credit hours. Fifty percent of respondents say it is unlikely or highly unlikely staff with 120 hours will sit for the CPA exam.

A 2019 study titled, “Occupational licensing and accounting quality: Evidence from the 150-hour rule,” by John Barrios, a professor at University of Chicago Booth School of Business, found a 15% reduction in first-time CPA exam candidates after the 150-credit requirement was implemented. This decline aggregates over multiple years. The study also found there wasn’t an increase in work quality after the 150-hour rule was adopted.

A study published in 2020 by Brian Meehan and E. Frank Stephenson from Utah State University found the 150-hour education requirement acts as a barrier to entry, and their analysis suggests that that the additional educational requirement does not enhance candidate quality.

We see the impacts across Minnesota with a disproportionate effect on Greater Minnesota as businesses, governmental entities, nonprofits and individuals report they are unable to find CPAs. This is also happening in other states.

Members who have a voice in hiring were surveyed concerning the CPA pipeline. Two takeaways:

  • 67% say they hire college graduates without 150 college credits for entry-level positions that require accounting/tax knowledge.
  • More than 50% say, historically, new hires in accounting-related roles without 150 college credits were unlikely to pursue the CPA credential.
Boz Bostrom, CPA headshot

Boz Bostrom, CPA, professor of accounting and finance, College of St. Benedict & St. John’s University

"As an educator, I have regular and ongoing discussions about how to best prepare my students for work as CPAs. I have those discussions with CPA firms, private and public businesses, and organizations in the nonprofit and governmental sectors. Simply put, allowing for alternative pathways to CPA licensure will not only help address issues with the CPA pipeline but reduce unnecessary hours and dollars spent by individuals who aspire to become CPAs, all while maintaining the competency needed to serve the public."

Boz Bostrom, CPA, professor of accounting and finance, College of St. Benedict & St. John’s University

Join the discussion

Please share your thoughts about the CPA pipeline issue and about the proposed Minnesota legislation by emailing

Explore the conversation further


CPAs are MIA
Fortune CFO Daily
Sept. 7, 2023

US accounting profession rethinks entry rules amid staffing crisis
Financial Times
Sept. 6, 2023

Two state socities seek alternatives to 150-hour rule
Sept. 6, 2023

Shrinking CPA pipeline fuels calls to relax education mandate
Sept. 5, 2023

Diversifying the accounting talent pipeline: What does the research say?
The Center for Audit Quality
Aug. 31, 2023

Research: Why Students — Particularly Diverse Ones — Aren’t Pursuing Accounting
Going Concern
July 24, 2023

Minnesota's 150-hour bill to carry over to 2024
Accounting Today
May 31, 2023

A broader path: Minnesota Society of CPAs looks to inspire dialogue around CPA shortage with new licensure proposal
INSIDE Public Accounting
April 12, 2023

Number of CPAs dwindle as demand grows
April 5, 2023

CLA CEO supports Minnesota proposal, sees 'no empirical evidence' that 150-hour rule elevates profession
INSIDE Public Accounting
April 5, 2023

CLA backs changes in 150-hour CPA requirement
Accounting Today
April 3, 2023

Talking tax season tips with the U of M
University of Minnesota News
March 15, 2023

Minnesota bill seeks to broaden path to becoming a CPA in face of talent shortage 
Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal
March 8, 2023

Accountants have to go to college for five years; Minnesota is rethinking that
The Wall Street Journal
March 6, 2023

Minnesota may abandon the 150-hour rule for CPAs
March 6, 2023

Minnesota proposes alternatives to the 150-hour rule
Accounting Today
Feb. 28, 2023

NASBA upholds 150-hour education requirement for CPA licensure
Journal of Accountancy
Feb. 23, 2023

MNCPA to explore broadening CPA licensure options
Feb. 1, 2023


CPA mobility: Separating fact from fiction
Blake Oliver, Accounting Today
Sept. 25, 2023

Solution to accountant shortage?
Alessandra Riemer, LinkedIn News
Sept. 9, 2023

150-hour rule: Let's keep arguing about what color the drapes should be while the house is burning down
Adrienne Gonzalez, Going Concern
Sept. 5, 2023

President's memo: 'You are not listening!'
Ken Bishop, NASBA president and CEO
Aug. 22, 2023

Experiential learning: An evolution in how knowledge is obtained by prospective CPAs
Joseph Petito, Esq., Maryland Board of Public Accountancy board member
Aug. 15, 2023

Why should a school district care about CPA licensure?
Val Mertesdorf, Northfield Public Schools' director of finance
Aug. 4, 2023

Why the CPA qualifcation's 150-hour college credit rule is outdated — and inequitable
Guylaine Saint Juste, National Association of Black Accountants president and CEO
July 14, 2023

Broadening the pathways to CPA licensure discussion will continue
Geno Fragnito, MNCPA director of government relations
May 22, 2023

CPA pathways discussion: Addressing the objections
Linda Wedul, MNCPA president and CEO
May 8, 2023

Is it ethical to endorse an educational path that is suspectible to cheating?
Sharon Lassar, CPA and John J. Gilbert
April 7, 2023

Broadening pathways to CPA with MNCPA President Linda Wedul — Audio | Video 
Cloud Accounting Podcast
March 27, 2023

CPA crisis: NASBA CEO Ken Bishop on the 150-hour rule and accounting talent shortage
Cloud Accounting Podcast
March 15, 2023

Why NASBA can push its message and what CPAs can do about it
Sharon Lassar, CPA and John J. Gilbert
March 10, 2023

Bridging the skills gap of new accounting graduates
Cloud Accounting Podcast
March 8, 2023

Addressing the CPA pipeline issue requires collaboration and bold leadership
Jen Leary, CliftonLarsonAllen CEO
March 3, 2023

The cost of the 150-hour rule: $2 billion
Blake Oliver, CPA
March 2, 2023

CPA credential legislation is start of discussion
Linda Wedul, MNCPA president and CEO
March 1, 2023

Response to Journal of Accountancy article, Feb. 10, 2023, ‘NASBA upholds 150-hour education requirement’
Linda Wedul, MNCPA president and CEO
Feb. 27, 2023

An agile accounting profession requires adaptable licensing requirements
Linda Wedul, MNCPA president and CEO
Feb. 24, 2023

Accounting and finance for Black students and professionals | Includes CPA Pathways discussion
NABA's Guylaine Sainte Juste chats with AICPA's Barry Melancon
Feb. 23, 2023

Broadening the path to CPA licensure
Linda Wedul, MNCPA president and CEO
Jan. 31, 2023


Reach out to Corey Butler, MNCPA communications manager, at