Illinois CPA License Requirements and Exams

Illinois requires that individuals seeking to become certified public accountants hold a bachelor’s degree and be at least 18 years old. Applicants are not required to be a U.S. citizen, reside in Illinois or have a valid Social Security number. Individuals who meet these qualifications can take the first step to getting licensed by taking the Uniform CPA Examination.

Step 1: CPA exam in Illinois

Sitting for the CPA exam in Illinois requires that candidates hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, which includes coursework in accounting and other business-related courses.

Education requirements

Applicants sitting for the CPA exam must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher with a concentration in accounting from a regionally accredited college or university recognized by the board and have 150 hours of education.

The coursework includes:

  • Graduate degree from an accounting program
  • Graduate degree from a business or accounting program, including:
    • 30 hours in accounting at the undergraduate or graduate level, including:
      • financial accounting, auditing, taxation, management accounting
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher, including:
    • 30 hours in accounting, at the undergraduate or graduate level
    • 24 hours in business courses at the undergraduate or graduate level

Application and test fees in Illinois

The Illinois Board of Accountancy administers the exam. Applicants must arrange to have their educational transcripts sent to IBOA, showing proof of a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited school.

The process to apply for the CPA exam starts with completing and submitting an Academic Credentials Evaluation Application. U.S. applicants must pay a fee of $175, and foreign applicants must pay a fee of $250.

Applicants can then submit an exam application. After requesting and receiving authorization to take the test, followed by acknowledgement from the state and official notice to schedule (NTS) the exam. Once this process is completed, applicants can select a date to take the CPA exam. The NTS expires in six months, after which candidates must submit a new application. The exam is available the first two months of each calendar quarter.

State law requires that first-time applicants submit an application fee and exam fees. The application fees are $120 for four sections, $108 for three sections, $76 for two sections and $40 for one section. Those reapplying must pay the same fees.

The Uniform CPA Examination comprises four sections:

  • Auditing and Attestation
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Regulation
  • Business Environment and Concepts

Each section of the exam has a specified administration fee. Applicants may take one or more of the four required sections at a time. In addition to the administration fee for each section, CPA exam applicants are charged a separate fee for each testing session they take.

Taking, passing and retaking the CPA exam

The passing score for each of the four exam sections is 75. Applicants may take the sections individually and in any order, but are required to pass all four within a rolling 18-month period, which begins on the date the first examination section passed was taken.

Credit for any section passed shall be valid for 18 months from the actual date the examination section was taken. Examination credits expire by section, and applicants will lose credit for each section passed outside of the 18-month period.

Step 2: CPA license in Illinois

After successfully passing all four sections of the exam, the ethics exam and completing the work experience, applicants may then apply to become a certified public accountant in Illinois. Applicants must submit the application to Illinois along with a $120 application fee.

Ethics exam

In addition to passing the CPA exam, applicants must take the AICPA Ethics Examination. Official verification, mailed directly from the AICPA, showing that the applicant passed the exam with a score of 90 or higher is required. Applicants must have passed the ethics exam within three years prior to applying for licensing.

Education

Licensing requires that candidates hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and complete 150 semester hours of education.

Work experience

One year of general experience is required for full licensing, which can be obtained in government, industry academia or public practice.

Out-of-state CPA licenses

Illinois allows CPAs in good standing and licensed in other states or U.S. jurisdictions to practice in the state as long as the issuing state has been verified to be substantially equivalent to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s Qualification Appraisal. CPAs from other states can practice if they have five years of work experience.

Illinois also recognizes individuals who hold foreign CPA certificates of licensure as long as they meet the requirements of the Illinois Board of Accountancy.

Disclaimer: Requirements for Illinois CPA test-takers and license applicants are subject to change. Visit the state’s Board of Accountancy website to check for recent revisions to Illinois’ CPA requirements.

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