Montana CPA License Requirements and Exams

Montana requires that individuals seeking to become certified public accountants hold a bachelor’s degree. The state has no minimum age requirement and does not require that individuals be a U.S. citizen or a resident of Montana. Applicants are also not required to hold 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 Montana

Sitting for the CPA exam in Montana requires that candidates posses a bachelor’s degree, which includes coursework in accounting and general business courses.

Education requirements

Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, which includes 48 hours of coursework in accounting and business.

The coursework includes:

  • 24 semester hours of upper-division or graduate-level accounting courses, including at least one course in each of the following:
    • financial accounting
    • auditing
    • taxation
    • management accounting
  • 24 semester hours in business-related courses, such as:
    • information systems
    • business law
    • finance
    • economics
    • marketing
    • ethics
    • organizational behavior
    • quantitative applications in business
    • communication skills

Application and test fees

The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) administers the exam. Applicants must arrange to have their educational transcripts sent to NASBA, showing proof of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Applicants are also required to submit a 2-inc by 2-inch photo and three references verifying good moral character.

The process to apply for the CPA exam starts with 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 given the first two months of each calendar quarter.

State law requires that first-time applicants submit an application fee of $195 plus exam fees. Those who are retaking the exam are required to pay a registration fee per section plus exam fees. Registration fees are $135 for four sections, $120 for three sections, $105 for two sections and $90 for one section.

In addition to the state’s application fee, there are substantial administrative costs that must be paid in advance to the NASBA.

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 certificate and license in Montana

Montana is a two-tier state that provides a certificate first and then CPA licensing after work experience is completed. After successfully passing all four sections of the exam and the ethics exam, applicants may then apply for a public accounting certificate in Montana by submitting an application and a $150 fee. Individuals with a certificate cannot claim to perform certified or public accountancy.

Once individuals complete the experience requirement, they can apply for licensure, which gives them full practicing rights. Applicants should submit a licensure application to Montana along with an application fee of $150.

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.

Education

Montana requires that applicants hold a bachelor’s degree and complete 150 hours of education, which include the coursework required to sit for the CPA exam.

Work experience in Montana

Work experience is not required for a CPA certificate but is required for full licensing. Experience must include one year, or 2,000 hours, of actual work experience, which can be obtained in private, governmental, academic or public accounting work. Experience must take place within three years prior to the date of the application.

Out-of-state CPA licenses

Montana 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 NASBA’s Qualification Appraisal. Montana also recognizes individuals who hold foreign CPA certificates of licensure, provided they meet the requirements of Montana State Board of Public Accountancy with regards to exam qualifications and experience.

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

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