Illinois CPA Exam Requirements 2024: 7 Significant & Essential Guides

Illinois CPA Exam Requirements

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If you want to become a CPA in Illinois, we’ve summarized the Illinois CPA exam requirements so that you’ll know the exact steps to become a licensed CPA in Prairie State.

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Table of Contents

Summary of Illinois CPA Requirements

Credit Hours to Sit for CPA Exams150
Credit Hours in Accounting subjects to sit for the CPA Exam (For graduate degree in business)30
Credit Hours in Business subjects to sit for the CPA Exam (For graduate degree in business/other major or graduate degree)24
Baccalaureate/Graduate Degree required to sit for CPA Exams?Yes
Ethics Exam Required?Yes
Work Experience Required1 – 4 Years
Required CPE Hours Every Two Years80

Educational Requirements for the CPA Exam in Illinois

There are two main Illinois CPA education requirements to take the CPA exam and get your Illinois CPA license set by the Illinois Board of Examiners:

  1. A bachelor’s degree with higher education accreditation.
  2. 150 semester credit hours.

The basic education requirement is a graduate degree or a bachelor’s degree in either accounting or business courses. The bachelor’s degree in accounting or business must have a regional accreditation by the Illinois state board. The accrediting body must be under the ACBSP accredited program or must have the ACBSP accreditation. However, Illinois has specific education requirements for CPA candidates that fall into three different “options”:

Option 1

Earned a graduate degree or a bachelor’s degree in accounting and 150 total semester credit hours

Option 2

A graduate degree in business or accounting and 150 semester credit hours, which includes 30 semester credit hours in accounting that includes managerial accounting that include managerial accounting, financial accounting, taxation, and auditing.

Option 3

A baccalaureate degree in any subject, OR a graduate degree in any subject, AND 150 semester credit hours that include:

  1. 30 semester credit hours in accounting that include managerial accounting, financial accounting, taxation, and auditing.
  2. 24 semester credit hours in business that include 2 semester hours in business communication, and 3 semester hours in business ethics.

Age and Residency Requirements for CPA Exam

Illinois state board requires no minimum age, citizenship, or residency requirement as a qualification for CPA candidates in Illinois to take the CPA examination.

In order to be licensed, you must obtain social security number (SSN). However, SSN is not necessary to take the CPA exam or receive certification.

Required Documents for Illinois CPA Exam Requirements and Application Process

We’re now done with the education requirement. Another thing to proceed with the Illinois CPA exam application process is the required documents, thus, the state mandates a CPA candidate to present the following documents to the Illinois Board of Examiners:

Create an Account on the ILBOE’s Online System

Illinois requires CPA candidates to create an account on the ILBOE online account system to establish their identity, file an application, apply for CPA exams, and see their test scores.

Credentials Evaluation Application for CPA Certificate in Illinois

Using the created account on ILBOE’s system, you must complete the credentials evaluation and pay the corresponding fee according to your particular situation in Illinois. You must pay the credential evaluation fee that applies to your eligibility along with your application form.

Evaluation Pricing

  • Pre-Evaluation – $50
  • Domestic Education Evaluation – $200
  • Foreign Education Evaluation
  • Combination of Domestic and Foreign Education Evaluation – $200
  • Score Transfer for Completed Exam – $345
  • Score Transfer for Partially Completed Exam
  • IQEX – $345

The Pre-Evaluation is optional and meant for candidates who are uncertain about their qualifications.

As for international candidates, do not apply for NASBA’s $225 Credential Evaluation if you have international credits totaling 12 or less domestic semester credit hours. Instead, for $120, you can apply for NASBA’s Evaluation for CPA Exam and/or Licensure.

Official Transcripts

Before taking the Illinois CPA exam, you will be asked to submit an official transcript from your previous institution electronically to etranscripts@ilboe.org or by mail delivery directly to the Illinois Board of Examiners as proof of fulfillment of education requirements.

After paying the processing fee, you are off to wait for about 6-8 weeks for your Evaluation Results Letter to be evaluated and emailed to you by the Illinois Board of Examiners.


The ILBOE will only accept an education evaluation report from the National Association of State Boards of Accounting (NASBA) for an official evaluation. Any other agency’s evaluations will not be accepted.

Receiving of Credential Evaluation Results

The Illinois Board of Examiners will send you an email with your official results letter or credential verification, indicating whether you are approved or deficient.

Approval signifies that you have met all of the education requirements, and if you fall short or deficient, you will have the opportunity to obtain the necessary education requirements. As a result, you will be allowed to provide additional transcripts, and if you are unable to provide the transcript within the time frame specified, which is three years, you will need to pass another credential evaluation application and its corresponding fee.

Illinois Uniform CPA Examination

Following the completion of your credential evaluation, you are now eligible to take the uniform CPA exam which is offered by the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

Through the online account system of the Illinois Board of Examiners, you need to submit an initial examination request applicable for first-time candidates examiners. After submitting the initial examination request, CPA first-time candidates can choose up to four exam sections to be taken over the course of six months. The following are the initial application fee:

  • 1 exam section – $40
  • 2 exam sections – $76
  • 3 exam sections – $108
  • 4 exam sections – $120

The CPA exam consists of the three core sections and candidates would need to select one of the three discipline to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge, allowing candidates to choose a specialization. There is no set order in which the exam portions must be completed. The components of the CPA test are as follows:

  • Auditing and Attestation. This exam section covers the basics of financial and attest services, such as audits, reviews, compilations, and preparing agreements.
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting. This exam section covers financial accounting topics for all business entities, including the government and nonprofits.
  • Regulation. This exam section covers federal taxation, tax services, professional ethics, and business law for individuals and business entities.
  • Disciplines
    • Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR): Focused on financial reporting, data analytics, and performance management. This area is suitable for those who are interested in financial analysis and reporting. An extension of FAR core.
    • Information Systems and Controls (ISC): Concentrates on IT governance, data security, and system controls. Ideal for individuals who wish to specialize in IT audits and information security. An extension of AUD core.
    • Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP): Centers on personal financial planning and tax compliance for individuals, businesses, and other entities. Suitable for those with a strong interest in taxation and financial planning. An extension of REG core.

Payment Coupon

The procedure will be as follows: immediately after submitting an examination request in your ILBOE account, ILBOE will send a confirmation email of your examination request and forward it to NASBA. Then, using your jurisdiction ID, create an account with NASBA via CPA Central.

An email with your jurisdiction ID will be sent to you to confirm your initial exam request so that you can open an account with NASBA and pay the payment coupon (PC) you received. Your NTS will begin on the day of your payment. Your NTS’s six-month expiration date is computed from the day of payment.

The coupon must be paid within 90 days, and if it is not paid within that term, it is void. A void coupon implies you must start over by filing another examination request through your ILBOE account.

Schedule of Exam using Notice to Schedule

The Notice to Schedule (NTS) is an important document to have when scheduling your CPA exam at Prometric Center. NTS will be available in your CPA Central account within 1-3 working days, and you must print it as soon as possible as the main mandatory requirement on test day. You must have the following items with you before visiting the Prometric Center on test day:

  1. The Notice to Schedule (NTS)
  2. Two (2) IDs for identification

NTS allows you within 6 months to take the specified exam before it expires, and if you failed to take the exams, then you have to pass a Re-exam application and pay the corresponding application fee to continue the testing process. It is important to know that the Illinois Board of Examiners will not provide refunds for untested sections.

Illinois CPA Exam Cost Breakdown

The Illinois CPA exam cost consists of four main fees: the CPA exam registration fees which will depend on the number of sections taken, $226.15 per CPA exam section totaling $905 for all four sections, the CPA license application fee of $120, and the renewal fee of $40.

Examination Fees
Auditing and Attestation (AUD)$226.15
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)$226.15
Regulation (REG)$226.15
Disciplines (ISC, TCP, or BAR)$226.15
Total for all 4 CPA Exam Sections$904.60
Registration Fees
4 Examination Sections$120.00
3 Examination Sections$108.00
2 Examination Sections$76.00
1 Examination Section$40.00
CPA License Application Fee$120.00
Renewal Fee$40.00

Extensive Testing Experience in a Scheduled CPA Exam

We all know how stressful the CPA exam is, so knowing what is going to happen before, during, and after the exam will help us prepare for and anticipate the unexpected.

Before the incoming examination, CPA Exam Blueprints and practice tests are available from the AICPA to help you prepare for the exam. Aside from that, Prometric has a video that provides tips for exam day preparation.

Cheating is strictly forbidden on exam day; therefore, if you witness any cheating occurrence, you can immediately report the scenario to Prometric’s Security Department. Furthermore, if you have any problems concerning the test site, you can contact the NASBA’s Candidate Care Department.

Following the exam, you will receive a computer-generated confirmation confirming that the answers you submitted were received by the AICPA. You must keep the confirmation till your results are released. The AICPA determines score release dates.

Illinois CPA Ethics Exam

The CPA Ethics Exam is one of four standards that the state where you live and practice requires you to complete before awarding you a license and they vary depending on your location. As part of the Illinois CPA ethics exam requirement, passing the AICPA Ethics Exam is required for certification. The AICPA Ethics Exam is taken after completing a course called Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course. You must earn a minimum score of 90% in order to qualify for certification.

How the AICPA Test is Structured

The CPA exam of Illinois offers a self-study Ethics Course to help you prepare for the exam. You may take the course either online or through correspondence.

The exam itself is a take-home, open-book test of 40 multiple-choice questions. You are required to make a score of 90 or above to pass. The exam allows only four question errors, so you must read the questions carefully. Also, be careful in choosing your answer.

You will be allowed three attempts to pass the exam online. If you fail, you must provide a paper version.

Illinois requires CPA candidates to take and pass the AICPA ethics exam after completing a course while obtaining a grade of at least 90% to qualify for a CPA certificate. After passing the ethics exam, you may now proceed to complete the Illinois CPA license requirements.

Experience Requirements for the Illinois CPA License

Once you have passed the CPA exam in Illinois, you will have to fulfill Illinois CPA experience requirements. In the state of Illinois, these cannot be done before you have passed the CPA exam and it’s after you’ve already passed the exam that you’ll need to fulfill the work requirements.

You must have at least 1 year relevant of public accounting experience in government, industry, academia, or public practice in accordance to fulfill the experience requirements of Illinois CPA license requirements. You must have provided a service in the following areas:

  • Accounting
  • Attestation
  • Management Advisory
  • Financial Advisory
  • Tax Consultation

Finally, after the long process of CPA exam completion and payment of tons of exam fees, you can now apply for an Illinois Certified Public Accountant license and you are now qualified to practice accounting in the state of Illinois and be one of the licensed CPAs.

Once you have worked for the prescribed length of time, you will submit verification to the board. If approved, you can apply for a license. Finally! You can now practice accounting in the state of Illinois. Yet, after getting your Illinois CPA license for the first time, you will then have to maintain it on a regular basis.

In addition, when it comes to licenses, all CPA licensees need to maintain their active status through continuing professional education (CPE). At least four hours of professional ethics must be included in the 120-hour requirement.

Illinois CPA License Requirements & Application

Applicants for a certified public accountant license in Illinois must meet the following requirements:

  • Applicants are only eligible for experience if they have completed 120 hours of undergraduate study and have a baccalaureate degree with an accounting specialization or the equivalent.
  • Pass the CPA Examination in all four parts.
  • Completing at least one year of full-time experience, or its equivalent, providing any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attestation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills gained through employment in government, industry, academia, or public practice is required.
  • 12 months with at least 20 workdays per month in which the applicant was engaged in full-time job totaling 1,500 hours or more per year.
  • If a person works part-time for more than a year but less than four years and accumulates 2,000 hours of experience, he or she has accumulated the equivalent of one year of full-time experience.
  • Completing an AICPA Ethics Exam self-study course titled Professional Ethics with a score of 90% or above is required.

Applicants who are eligible to apply for the license need to be guided of the following:

  • If you’ve posted all exam scores on your ILBOE online account before submitting the Ethics Exam score, the board will email your official certification letter approximately 3 days after they receive your Ethics Exam score.
  • If you have submitted the Ethics Exam score, but we are still waiting for the score of your fourth exam section, the board will email your official certification letter approximately 3 days after the score release date of that fourth exam.
  • Your certification letter contains your certificate number and important information about applying for an Illinois license. Until you get a license, you cannot legally identify yourself as a CPA.
  • Once you receive your certification letter which contains your certificate number, apply for a license at IDFPR.
  • The board reports the certified candidates to the IDFPR on the 1st and 15th of every month. Please allow IDFPR 2 weeks from that date to update their records. After that second week, feel free to apply for licensure.

Illinois CPA CPE Requirements

Another list of requirements is needed for CPE, and take note that for the first renewal period following the initial issuance of the license, licensed CPAs are exempt from the continuing professional education requirement, and CPE requirements are waived for registered CPAs.

During each triennial term, each permit holder must have completed at least 120 hours of appropriate continuing professional education (CPE), including 4 hours of ethics and 1 hour of sexual harassment prevention training.

Courses, programs, or activities must have a subject matter that includes one or more of the following disciplines of study:

  • Accounting
  • Government accounting
  • Administrative practice
  • Auditing
  • Governmental auditing
  • Behavior ethics
  • Business law
  • Business management and organization
  • Communications
  • Computer science
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Management advisory services
  • Marketing
  • Mathematics
  • Personal development
  • Personnel/HR
  • Production
  • Regulatory ethics
  • Social environment business
  • Statistics
  • Taxation

Accounting, financial, and tax professionals use continuing professional education to keep their licenses, competencies, and expertise up to date. When accounting professionals complete CPE content, they get a specific number of CPE credits. For every 50 minutes of coursework, you’ll earn one CPE credit.

You must remember to maintain your certificates of completion when meeting your CPE requirements. If you are a CPA, it is suggested that you preserve your CPE credentials for at least 5 years. State boards can conduct routine audits at any time to search for verification of course completion.

CPE Reciprocity

CPAs with multiple state licenses are exempt from meeting the specific CPE requirements of each state if they meet the CPE requirements of their home state.

This exception promotes consistency while removing unnecessary restrictions that do not contribute to the public interest.

  • CPAs will be required to complete one hour of sexual harassment prevention training in addition to meeting the individual standards of their home state.

Illinois CPA Exam F.A.Q.s

Here are some commonly asked questions regarding Illinois’s CPA exam and CPA licensure requirements.

What Are the Requirements to Sit for the CPA Exam in Illinois?

To sit for the CPA exam in Illinois, you must meet the education requirements which require at least a bachelor’s degree and 150 semester hours of college. 30 semester credit hours in accounting that include Managerial Accounting, Financial Accounting, Taxation, and Audit. 24 semester credit hours in business that include 2 semester credit hours in Business Communication and 3 semester credit hours in Business Ethics.

How Long Does it Take to Become a CPA in Illinois?

You will need to attain the full 150 semester hours required nationwide. This is roughly five years of education, then one year to take and pass the CPA exam, and then one year to meet the experience requirement. That makes a total of 6-7 years to get your CPA license. Once you have met all the requirements and have submitted your application to receive your CPA license from the Illinois Board of Examiners, if approved you will receive your license in the mail within 3-4 weeks.

How Much Does It Cost to Take the CPA Exam in Illinois?

The total cost of the CPA exam for an aspiring CPA in Illinois is $1,024.60, this is considering that you pass all exams on the first try. The breakdown of the cost is $120 for the application fee and $904.60 exam fee for all four sections of the exam.

How Many CPAs are in Illinois?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as per the May 2021 data, there are currently around 49,590 accountants in Illinois with an annual salary of $76,800.

Do CPA Scores Expire in Illinois?

Regardless of the state, once a CPA candidate passes their first CPA exam section, they then have 18 months to pass the remaining three CPA exam sections to complete the Uniform CPA Examination. Once a CPA candidate has passed the Uniform CPA Examination, their scores never expire in Illinois.

How Many Accounting Credits Do You Need to Sit for the CPA License in Illinois?

You must complete at least 30 semester credit hours in accounting that include Managerial Accounting, Financial Accounting, Taxation, and Audit. 24 semester credit hours in business that include 2 semester credit hours in Business Communication and 3 semester credit hours in Business Ethics.

Does Illinois Require an Ethics Exam for the CPA?

Yes, the Illinois State Board requires all candidates applying for the CPA license must complete at least 8 hours in length the AICPA ethics examination or its equivalent. With a minimum score of 90% to pass the test.

You can get the AICPA Ethics Exam here.

How Much Does it Cost to Renew CPA Exam in Illinois?

Renewals are done every three years and licensed CPAs must pay the renewal fee of $120 and complete the required CPEs with the exception of first-time CPAs, they would only need to pay the renewal fee.

Licensed CPAs will pay a renewal fee of $120 and must have completed 120 hours of continuing education. As in previous renewals, there is a maximum cap of 80 interactive hours and a minimum requirement of 40 live hours. Four hours must be taken in ethics with an additional one hour in prevention of sexual harassment training. Licensed CPAs renewing for the first time must renew and pay fees but are exempt from CPE requirements. Registered CPAs will pay a renewal fee of $90 and are exempt from CPE requirements for every renewal.

How Do I Maintain my CPA License in Illinois?

To maintain your CPA license in Illinois, active CPAs must renew their license every three years. They are required to complete 120 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) with four hours in ethics education and one hour in sexual harassment prevention training from an IDFPR-approved continuing education provider.

When can I renew my CPA license in Illinois?

All renewals are done every three years, you will receive a renewal email from FPR.Notice@Illinois.gov from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). It is important that IDFPR has your updated email address to receive this electronic renewal notice.  You can update your email address with IDFPR here.

What Counts as Work Experience for CPA in Illinois?

You must have at least 1 year relevant of public accounting experience in government, industry, academia, or public practice in accordance to fulfill the experience requirements of Illinois CPA license requirements. You must have provided any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attestation, management advisory, financial advisory, or tax consultation.

How Do I Take the Illinois CPA Ethics Exam?

The Illinois State Board requires all candidates to take the AICPA ethics exam and you can get it from here.

Who Issues CPA License in Illinois?

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is the one in charge of licensing CPAs in Illinois.

Who Regulates CPA in Illinois?

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is the one that regulates CPAs in Illinois.

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