MNCPA is here for you.
Let us know how we can help.

Broadening Pathways to the CPA Credential

Stay informed about this effort and our progress.

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 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.
Lisa Miller, CPA headshot

Lisa Miller, CPA, CFO, Colle McVoy

"A single path to achieving CPA accreditation is outdated, produces no differentiation in professional performance, limits the diversity of our profession and is a significant financial obstacle for candidates. By allowing candidates to choose the path that works best for their personal situation, we can better address the workforce shortage and limited diversity in our profession. We need to create opportunities for students of color, students from lower-income families, students in no-college households and for nontraditional students. Someone needs to be the first to develop other options or the CPA profession will be outsourced to other countries that do not require 150 hours."

Lisa Miller, CPA, CFO, Colle McVoy


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


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

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

Bridging the skills gap of new accounting graduates
Cloud Accounting Podcast

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

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

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

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

An agile accounting profession requires adaptable licensing requirements
Linda Wedul, MNCPA president and CEO

Broadening the path to CPA licensure
Linda Wedul, MNCPA president and CEO


Minnesota House File 1749
Legislation introduced on Feb. 15, 2023.

Minnesota Senate File 1660
Legislation introduced on Feb. 16, 2023.

Occupational Licensing and Accountant Quality: Evidence from the 150-Hour Rule
John Manuel Barrios

Reducing the Barrier to Entry: The 120/150 CPA Licensing Rule
Brian Meehan and E. Frank Stephenson


Reach out to Corey Butler, MNCPA communications manager, at