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Understanding less traditional CPE options

BOA Business

Anne Janotta Erickson, MNCPA membership marketing team leader | April 2020 Footnote

Editor's note: Updated April 1, 2020

Shake up your CPE earning potential by understanding the rules surrounding teaching, writing and college credits.

As is the case for all types of CPE, reference the NASBA Fields of Study when determining whether the credits are technical or nontechnical.

CPE for teaching

Accounting educators can claim up to 60 CPE credits each rolling, three-year period for writing and/or teaching an accounting-related class at the CPE or college level.

You’re allowed to claim full CPE credit the first time you teach or write a course. After that, you must show that the content has changed substantially and required significant research in order to earn additional CPE. You can’t claim credit for writing and teaching the same course. Credit can only be claimed upon completion of the course.

CPE credit breakdown:

CPE course:
Earn CPE for your preparation time up to two times the number of CPE credits available.

Example: 8 credit CPE course = up to 24 total credits
  • 8 credits for presentation
  • Up to 16 credits for preparation
College course:
  • Semester system: 1 college credit = 15 CPE credits
  • Quarter system: 1 college credit = 10 CPE credits

CPE for writing

Authors can claim up to 60 CPE credits each rolling, three-year period for their published work.

CPE credit breakdown:

  • 1 CPE credit = 50 minutes of writing and related work (researching, editing, etc.)
CPE credit can only be claimed once the work is published. It also must be formally reviewed by an editor or reviewer other than yourself. Your sponsor must provide written documentation indicating it has been reviewed.

CPE for college credits

College curriculum counts for CPE, too. Credit is earned upon completion of the course.

CPE credit breakdown:

  • Semester system: 1 college credit = 15 CPE credits
  • Quarter system: 1 college credit = 10 CPE credits
Not every college course qualifies for CPE. Per the Statement on Standards for CPE Programs issued jointly by NASBA and the AICPA, a course must contribute to your professional knowledge as a CPA for it to qualify for CPE.

Colleges and universities are approved for group live CPE only; if your course is online, it is considered blended learning. Blended learning courses must be from a NASBA-approved blended learning provider. So far, the only approved blended learning college/university program in Minnesota is the University of Minnesota’s Master of Business Taxation program.

Exercise caution when pursuing independent study credits. Too often, CPAs confuse independent study with self-study. Contact the Minnesota Board of Accountancy (BOA) to be sure you’re on the right track. Self-study must be from a NASBA approved self-study provider.

Save a copy of your official or unofficial course transcript. This document must be from the school and list your name. Saving your syllabus is strongly recommended but not required.

Is it Board-approved or non-approved?

Teaching and writing credits are categorized as approved if the sponsor is an approved CPE sponsor. If the sponsor isn’t approved, credits will be categorized as non-approved.

CPE for a college course is categorized as approved if it’s earned at a school that qualifies students to sit for the CPA exam. If that’s not the case, CPE earned would be non-approved.

A note about ethics credits

You cannot decide on your own that a CPE course qualifies for ethics credits. Instead, this requires documentation from the provider verifying that it should count for ethics (field of study is ethics). This verification does not need to be on the CPE transcript, but it does need to come from the provider itself.

Avoid these common mistakes

  • Misunderstanding or manipulating the NASBA Fields of Study.
  • Basing CPE on the course title rather than the listed NASBA Fields of Study. Check both the website before you sign up for the course and the certificate you receive for the actual awarded CPE type.
  • Failing to confirm needed CPE quantities before the BOA’s deadlines.
  • Claiming credit for teaching substantially the same course twice or not keeping documentation that proves the course was substantially changed when claimed/taught a second time.
  • Not having a document from your school or CPE sponsor that independently confirms you taught a class.


While the BOA can’t pre-approve CPE credits, they can provide guidance. Reach them at 651-296-7938 or

And, remember, the MNCPA is always here to support you. Reach us with questions at 952-831-2707 or