Tennessee CPA Exam Requirements 2024: Important Steps

Tennessee CPA Exam Requirements

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Tennessee CPA Exam Requirements

Applicants who wish to be familiar with the Tennessee CPA exam requirements may find this article helpful as we summarize each prerequisite for this state. Like all other states, in order to become a Certified Public Accountant, each applicant should fulfill the “3 Es”: Education, Exam and Experience.

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Summary of Tennessee CPA Requirements

Credit Hours to sit for the CPA Exam120
Credit Hours in Accounting at the Upper-division to sit for the CPA Exam18
Bachelor’s Required to sit for the CPA ExamYes
Credit Hours to receive a CPA License150
*Credit Hours in Accounting to receive a CPA License30
*Credit Hours included in Accounting courses at the Upper-division Level to receive a CPA License24
Credit Hours in General Business to receive a CPA License24
Ethics ExamYes
Work Experience1 – 3 Years
Required CPE Hours Every Two Years80

Education Requirements

For applicants to sit for the CPA exam they must accomplish the Tennessee CPA education requirements. While 120 semester hours are accepted to sit for the exams, getting a CPA license requires 150 semester hours of credit. Applicants may opt to complete the remaining 30 semesters after the exam.

For CPA Exam Education Requirements

  • Complete 120 semester hours within a four-year baccalaureate degree or higher.
  • Complete at least 18 semester or 27 quarter hours of accounting at the upper division excluding credits from internship programs.

For CPA License Education Requirements

  • Obtain a baccalaureate degree and at least 150 semester hours of education.
  • Complete at least 30 semesters or 45 quarter hours of accounting which includes at least 24 semesters or 36 quarter hours at the upper-division. Internship programs may be included at a maximum of 6 semesters or 8 quarter hours.
  • Complete at least 24 semesters or 36 quarter hours in general business such as:
    • Algebra, Calculus, Statistics, Probability
    • Business Communication
    • Business Law
    • Economics
    • Ethics
    • Finance
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Technology/Information Systems

Applicants can submit their CPA exam application while their education is in progress. However, they must complete their education before being able to sit for the exam.

For applicants with foreign education, credits earned are subject to evaluation by the following:

  • NASBA International Evaluation Services
  • Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute
  • Center for Applied Research, Evaluation and Education/International Evaluation
  • Foreign Academic Credentials Service, Inc.
  • International Consultants of Delaware, Inc.
  • International Education Research Foundation, Inc.
  • Josef Silny & Associates, Inc.

Uniform CPA Examination

The Uniform CPA exam is administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Tennessee applicants completing the required education will have to apply to their division called CPA Examination Services (CPAES) through CPA Central.

Tennessee CPA Exam Requirements and Application Process

All transcripts and/or international evaluations must be submitted to CPAES directly from the school or evaluation service. Credit transfers are not accepted and transcripts must be submitted from each institution. Only official transcripts which are issued by the institution’s Registrar’s Office including the Registrar’s official seal are accepted.

The following are the materials to be submitted upon application to CPAES for the CPA exam:

  1. All official transcript/s from each school are listed on the application.
  2. A Notarization Form.
  3. Photograph Form with a 2×2 photograph taken within the last three months that only shows the head and shoulders.
  4. International Evaluation, if applicable.
  5. Testing Accommodations Request Form, if applicable.

For transcripts to be mailed, transmit the documents to this address:

CPA Examination Services – TN
PO Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219

When the submission is complete, wait for NASBA to approve the application. Once approved, NASBA will send a Notification to Schedule (NTS). Schedule and pay for the exam at Prometric.

The NTS will expire in 6 months since its issuance date. Applicants can schedule the CPA exam in the following test centers in Tennessee:

  • Chattanooga
  • Clarksville
  • Nashville
  • Cordova
  • Knoxville

On the exam day, bring two valid IDs for verification. Once done, wait for the results as scores will be notified by mail or email. Applicants can also check their scores via NASBA.

Studying for the CPA Exam

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.

You may take the required test sections in any order, but you must pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination within an 18-month period beginning on the date the first examination section completed was taken. All components must be passed within the 18-month term. Any exam taken outside of the 18-month timeframe will result in a loss of credit.

Tennessee CPA Exam Cost Breakdown

The Tennessee CPA exam cost consists of four main fees: the education evaluation application fee of $90, the $344.80 per CPA exam section totaling $1,379.20 for all four sections, a $100 fee on the CPA license application, and lastly a renewal fee of $110.

Education Evaluation Application Fee$90.00
Auditing and Attestation (AUD)$344.80
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)$344.80
Regulation (REG)$344.80
Disciplines (ISC, TCP, or BAR)$344.80
Total for all 4 CPA Exam Sections$1,379.20
CPA License Application Fee$100.00
License Renewal$110.00
Late Renewal$100.00

CPA Licensing

After passing the CPA exam, applicants may start fulfilling the requirements to obtain a CPA license. The instructions for Initial CPA licensure will be sent to the applicants when all relevant education and exam information has been received in the board office.

If the applicant has met the requirements for licensure, he or she may apply for a Tennessee CPA license online.

As a requirement for licensing, applicants must gain the following:

Tennessee CPA Experience Requirements

To meet the Tennessee CPA experience requirements, one year of experience is required and will have to consist of full or part-time employment that extends over a period of no less than one year and no more than three years and includes no fewer than 2,000 hours of performance of services which may include industry, government, academia or public practice. This experience should include providing any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attestation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax or consulting skills.

Tennessee CPA Ethics Exam Requirements

To meet the Tennessee CPA ethics exam requirements, candidates must pass the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ ethics examination with at least a 90% score. The course and exam is titled Professional Ethics: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Comprehensive Course (For Licensure).

Applicants must attach the completed work experience form and ethics exam certificate during the online application process. The fee for an initial CPA license application is $100.

CPA Renewal Requirements

A Tennessee CPA must renew their licenses every other two years. The cycle occurs from January 1 to December 31 biennially. A mandatory Continuing Professional Education (CPE) will have to be met by all CPAs. The CPE requirements are as follows:

  • 80 approved hours every 2 years with a minimum of 20 hours in each year.
  • Of the 80 hours, at least 40 hours must be in technical subjects. Examples of technical fields are:
    1. Accounting
    2. Accounting (Governmental)
    3. Auditing
    4. Auditing (Governmental)
    5. Business Law
    6. Economics
    7. Finance
    8. Information Technology
    9. Management Services
    10. Regulatory Ethics
    11. Specialized Knowledge
    12. Statistics
    13. Taxes
  • For attest services, including compilations, at least 20 of the 40 technical hours must be in the Accounting and Auditing category.
  • For providing expert witness testimony, at least 20 hours must be in the general area in which the court deems the licensee an expert, such as tax, auditing, etc.
  • Two hours of board-approved state-specific ethics for license renewal should be earned during every two-year licensing period.
  • CPE credits can be allowed if a licensee has successfully completed exams approved by the board.

Check the Tennessee State board’s website for further details on renewals. For renewal submission, indicate all CPEs on the renewal form and submit them here.

Renewal Exemptions

New Tennessee CPAs will have a different CPE requirement from the above mentioned if:

  • The new CPAs holds a license of more than one year but less than the full two-year reporting period will only need to earn at least 40 hours, including 20 technical hours and 2 hours of board-approved State Ethics for the first renewal. 
  • New CPAs who were granted a license in the same year as the first renewal have no CPE requirement for the first renewal.

CPE Sponsors

An approved CPE hour/s are earned through the sponsors listed on NASBA’s National Registry of sponsors or exempt sponsors such as:

  • Professional accounting organizations such as AICPA, Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants (TSCPA), Tennessee Association of Accountants (TAA), Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) or other similar organizations that are approved by the board.
  • Accredited Universities or Colleges.
  • Firms or other institutions who offer organized in-firm or in-house CPE programs for their employees and clients without charge.
  • Governmental Entities

Except those offered by the AICPA or state CPA societies, all other self-study course providers must have each course evaluated by NASBA. The board has designated NASBA’s Quality Assurance Service (QAS) Program to establish the registration process and enforcement of QAS. 

Licensees may visit the National Registry to verify QAS providers and courses. If they are unsure about the sponsor’s status, they will have to directly contact the board.

A licensee may request pre-approval of CPE credits that are industry-specific or are offered on a limited basis and provided by a non-registered sponsor. Licensees must receive an approval from the board prior to attending the course. Submit the request and upload the associated course information through the core.tn.gov account.

CPE Records

Both the licensee and sponsor have to keep records of the accomplished CPE documentation or certificate. These must include the sponsor’s name, date(s) of training, the title of the program, CPE subject code and CPE credit awarded. The board annually selects 10% of renewing licenses at random for an audit of CPEs. Licensees and sponsors are expected to maintain the documents for 5 years.


All candidates must successfully present and accomplish their requirements according to the procedures outlined by the Tennessee State Board and NASBA. Failure to do so may hinder them from accomplishing the CPA designation. It is encouraged to constantly check on the board or NASBA for the latest updates and requirements.

Tennessee CPA Exam F.A.Q.s

Below are the commonly asked questions about the Tennessee CPA exam and CPA license requirements:

What are the requirements to sit for the CPA exam in Tennessee?

To meet the Tennessee CPA exam requirements, applicants must obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree or higher and completed at least 18 semester or 27 quarter hours of accounting at the upper division excluding credits from internship programs.

How many accounting credits do you need to sit for the CPA license in Tennessee?

Tennessee applicants need to complete at least 30 semester of accounting including at least 24 semesters at the upper division. A maximum of 6 semester from internship programs may be included. Applicants must also completed at least 24 semester general business.

How do I register to take the CPA exam in Tennessee?

To be able to take the CPA exam, apply and submit your application and transcripts through NASBA. Once your complete application is approved, NASBA will issue a Notice to Schedule (NTS). The NTS lets you schedule your exams with Prometric and is one of the important documents to be presented upon taking the exam.

How much is the CPA exam in Tennessee?

During the application for the exam, first-time applicants are required to pay an education evaluation application fee of $90 and an examination fee of $344.80 for each section. There are four (4) exam sections and would total $1,469.20 for first-time applicants.

Does Tennessee require an ethics exam for the CPA?

Tennessee does require an ethics exam and applicants must complete the course given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Applicants will need to pass the exam with a score of no less than 90%. 

Do CPA exam scores expire in Tennessee?

As with all states, once a CPA candidate passes their first CPA exam section, they will only 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 Tennessee.

How long does it take to become a CPA in Tennessee?

With the required credit of 150 semester hours to apply for a license, it is already around 5 years for education alone. Another year would be for taking and passing the exams. After passing the exam, at least one more year is required for the mandatory experience in order to be eligible to apply for the license. That’s roughly 6 to 7 years to acquire the license and be a Certified Public Accountant in Tennessee.

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