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With rugged wilderness and cosmopolitan metro areas, Minnesota has a diverse and appealing landscape for life and employment. Leading industries in the state's economy include advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, technology, retail, insurance, and financial services.
Businesses in these and other areas rely on a steady influx of accounting professionals to maintain their financial health and meet compliance standards. To become a certified professional accountant (CPA) in Minnesota, you must meet the state's licensing standards. Minnesota's CPA requirements cover education, work experience, and examination.
Use this helpful guide for your academic and employment research as you learn how to become a CPA in Minnesota.
Education Requirements for Becoming a CPA in Minnesota
Minnesota maintains two sets of education standards that CPA candidates must meet during their journey toward licensure. The first set covers eligibility for the Uniform CPA Examination, and the second relates to license eligibility.
You can qualify for Minnesota's CPA exam with a bachelor's or master's degree. In either case, your education must include extensive accounting coursework.
To qualify for licensure, you must have at least 150 semester hours of college credits. Because most bachelor's programs cover only about 120 semester hours, CPA candidates sometimes pursue bachelor's-to-master's accounting degrees to meet the additional education requirements.
Concentrations, Credits, and Course Acceptance
Since July 1, 2006, Minnesota's standards have allowed candidates with bachelor's or master's degrees to sit for the CPA exam. To qualify with a bachelor's degree, your education must include at least 24 semester hours of accounting coursework covering the following topics:
- Financial accounting
- Management accounting
This path requires your educational institution to hold level-one accreditation.
You may also qualify by completing a bachelor's degree at a level-two accredited business school or business college within a larger institution. If you opt for this route, your coursework must include an additional 24 semester hours of business or accounting courses.
A candidate can also take Minnesota's CPA exam if they have a graduate degree in accounting from an institution with level-three accreditation. You can also qualify with a graduate degree in another area if:
- You earned your degree at an accredited business school or college of business.
- Your undergraduate coursework includes the 24 semester hours of accounting subjects detailed above.
- You have at least 15 semester hours of graduate-level accounting coursework that covers auditing, financial accounting, management accounting, and taxation.
- The institution holds level-two accreditation.
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Minnesota Experience Requirements
You do not need any accounting-related work experience to sit for the CPA exam in Minnesota. However, you must obtain at least one year of accounting experience to secure eligibility for CPA licensure.
More specifically, Minnesota CPA requirements for work experience include:
- At least 2,000 hours of accounting experience supervised by a licensed CPA
- Duties must cover accounting, attestation, compilation, consulting, and/or tax-related services
- Over at least one year and no more than three years of experience
Candidates can earn work experience in academia, government, private industry, or public accounting practice. You may also use experience gained during a paid internship unless you applied that experience toward satisfying Minnesota's CPA education requirements.
CPA Exam Requirements
Like all other states, Minnesota's CPA requirements include passing scores on all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination. State-specific guidelines apply to CPA exam eligibility and other technical details regarding applying for and scheduling your examination session(s).
The subsections below explain Minnesota's CPA exam process.
Eligibility to Take the Exam
You may apply for the Minnesota CPA exam as soon as you meet the education requirements. An exception applies to students nearing completion of an educational program that will fulfill Minnesota's academic requirements.
To qualify for the exception, you must apply no more than 180 days from your expected program completion date. You must also sit for one or more parts of the Uniform CPA Examination no more than 90 days before your scheduled completion date. In addition, you must complete all your education requirements no more than 120 days after taking your first CPA exam section.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) issues a Professional Ethics Exam. Minnesota requires first-time CPA license-holders to pass this exam.
CPA requirements in Minnesota also stipulate that candidates be of "good moral character." You do not need to meet any age minimums, and you do not need U.S. citizenship. However, you must have a Social Security number and Minnesota residency.
If you are not currently a resident of Minnesota, you may still be or become eligible to take the state's CPA exam if you:
- Hold regular employment in Minnesota but reside elsewhere
- Work in Minnesota for the explicit purpose of obtaining experience for CPA licensure
- Moved to Minnesota at least 90 days before taking your first CPA exam section
- Plan to move to Minnesota within no more than 90 days of taking your first CPA exam section
Exam candidates educated outside the United States must have their academic credentials assessed independently. You may order evaluations from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) International Evaluation Services or Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc.
Applying for and Scheduling the Exam
You may apply to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination in Minnesota directly on the NASBA website. By submitting an application, you are requesting approval to take the CPA exam.
When applying for the exam, you must submit academic transcripts from all postsecondary institutions you have attended. Your school(s) need to send transcripts directly to NASBA's CPA Examination Services (CPAES) on your behalf.
You may apply to take one or more CPA exam sections if you have not yet graduated from your program. However, you must meet the exception guidelines listed in the previous section. Each candidate also needs to include a Certificate of Enrollment with their application.
Upon receiving approval, you will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) notification. Your NTS notification contains instructions on the next steps you need to take to schedule an exam date and time. Minnesota allows examinees to take CPA exam sections individually or all at once. If you choose the individual option, you may take the sections in any order.
When you pass one or more sections of the CPA exam in Minnesota, your credit remains valid for 18 months. Thus, you must pass all four sections within 18 months of passing the first section for your scores to meet licensing standards.
As of April 2023, the following fees apply:
- Application fee (for first-time applicants): $170
- Re-examination fee (for re-exam applicants): $85
- Examination fees: $238.15 per section
After Passing the Exam
Minnesota CPA requirements recognize a candidate as eligible for licensure upon:
- Passing all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination
- Accruing one year (2,000 hours) of paid accounting experience within 1-3 calendar years
- Meeting all education requirements
Your CPA exam results will not expire if you pass all four sections within 18 months.
License-seekers must meet different educational requirements than CPA exam applicants. To obtain a CPA license in Minnesota, your education must include:
- At least a bachelor's degree
- At least 150 semester hours of undergraduate and/or graduate coursework
- At least 24 semester hours of accounting coursework at the intermediate level or higher
- At least 48 semester hours of business coursework, including the 24 semester hours of accounting requirements
You must also pass the AICPA's ethics exam within two calendar years of applying for your initial Minnesota CPA license.
In Minnesota, CPA licensure requires annual renewal, with licenses expiring on Dec. 31. The renewal period begins each fall. There are no grace periods available to licensees who fail to renew on time.
Like other states, Minnesota requires CPAs to complete ongoing continuing professional education (CPE) to maintain license eligibility. Minnesota's CPE guidelines mandate that CPAs complete at least 60 hours of technical CPE every three years.
The Minnesota Board of Accountancy recognizes these as examples of technical study areas:
- Accounting and auditing
- Business law
- Economics and finance
- Regulatory ethics
Minnesota CPAs can also take non-technical CPE in areas including:
- Behavioral ethics
- Business management
- Computer applications
- Human resource management
Non-technical CPE does not count toward license renewal requirements. Licensees report eligible CPE directly through the Minnesota Board of Accountancy website.
You do not necessarily need a CPA license to hold an ownership stake in a Minnesota accounting firm. However, at least two-thirds of the firm's owners must be licensed CPAs in good standing. You must also obtain a firm permit to market or identify the business as a CPA firm.
Questions About CPAs in Minnesota
How do I become a CPA in Minnesota?
To become a CPA in Minnesota, you must have at least a bachelor's degree that includes 48 semester hours of business coursework, including at least 24 semester hours of upper-level accounting credits. You also need 2,000 hours of work experience and passing scores on all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination.
Who can take the CPA licensure exam in Minnesota?
You can take Minnesota's CPA exam if you have a graduate degree in accounting or a bachelor's degree covering at least 24 semester hours of accounting coursework. Additional business education requirements may apply, depending on the school(s) you attended.
How long does it take in Minnesota to become a CPA?
Full-time students can usually complete their CPA education requirements in about five academic years. You must then accrue 2,000 hours of accounting experience over 1-3 years. In total, the journey to CPA licensure in Minnesota can take 6-8 years.
Is getting a CPA license in Minnesota hard?
Minnesota maintains CPA licensing standards similar to those used in other states. It is no harder or easier to become licensed in Minnesota than any other U.S. jurisdiction.
How many hours do you need to become a CPA in MN?
Minnesota CPA requirements for licensure include at least 150 semester hours of college coursework. You also need 24 semester hours of upper-level accounting courses, and you may need an additional 24 semester hours of business or accounting courses. To get your license, you also need at least 2,000 hours of paid accounting experience.
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