Iowa CPA License Requirements and Exams

Iowa requires that individuals seeking to become certified public accountants hold a bachelor’s degree. There is no minimum age requirement, and the state does not require that individuals be a U.S. citizen or a resident of Iowa. However, applicants must 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 Iowa

Sitting for the CPA exam in Iowa requires that candidates hold a bachelor’s degree, which includes coursework in accounting and business-related courses. Applicants can sit for the exam when they are within 120 days of meeting the educational requirements.

Education requirements in Iowa

Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university if the proper coursework is satisfied.

The coursework includes:

  • Bachelor’s or graduate degree in accounting or business that includes the following:
    • 24 semester hours in accounting with at least one course in each of the following: financial accounting, auditing, taxation and management accounting
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher without an accounting concentration that also includes the following:
    • 24 semester hours in accounting with at least one course in each of the following: financial accounting, auditing, taxation, and management accounting; and
    • 24 semester hours in business-related courses such as: finance, management, marketing, economics and business law

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 or higher from an accredited school.

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 examination is available in the first two months of each calendar quarter.

State law requires that first-time applicants submit a $145 application fee plus exam fees. Those who are retaking the exam are required to pay a registration fee and exam fees. Registration fees are $115 for four sections, $100 for three sections, $85 for two sections and $70 for one section.

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.

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

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 Iowa

After successfully passing all four sections of the CPA exam, the ethics exam and obtaining the work experience, applicants may then apply to become a certified public accountant in Iowa. Applicants must submit a licensure application to Iowa along with a $100 fee.


In addition to the requirements for the CPA exam, applicants must achieve 150 hours of education.

The coursework includes:

  • 24 semester hours, or equivalent quarter hours, in accounting above elementary-level accounting or principles of accounting

If it has been more than three years since an applicant passed the CPA exam, he or she is also required to complete 120 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) in order to obtain a license.

Work experience

Iowa requires one year of experience for full licensing, which can be obtained in more than one employment situation (including internships) in government, industry, academia or public accounting. Two years’ experience is required for attest, which includes one year of attest and one year of general experience.

Ethics exam

In addition to passing the CPA exam, applicants must take and pass 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.

Out-of-state CPA licenses

Iowa allows CPAs in good standing and licensed in other states or U.S. jurisdictions to practice in the state. An individual from a non-substantial equivalency state who holds a valid license as a CPA and has obtained NASBA’s National Qualification Appraisal Service verification that his or her qualifications are substantially equivalent may practice in Iowa. Iowa recognizes individuals who hold foreign CPA certificates of licensure, as long as they meet the requirements of Iowa’s Board of Accountancy.

Disclaimer:Requirements for Iowa 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 Iowa’s CPA requirements.


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