CPE

Contacting the Licensing Staff

Buck Winslow, Manager,  (919) 733-1421

Cammie Emery,  Specialist, (919) 733-1423  (initial and renewal CPA firm registrations, CPE, and peer review)

Mailing Address
Licensing Section
NC State Board of CPA Examiners
PO Box 12827
Raleigh, NC 27605-2827

Fax Number
(919) 715-8411

Annual Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Requirement

2020 CPE Infographic (overview of CPE requirements as of October 2020)

As a requirement for continued licensure, all active CPAs must complete a specific number of CPE minutes, including at least 50 minutes of regulatory or behavioral professional ethics and conduct. [21 NCAC 08G .0401(e)] by December 31 of each year. There is no CPE requirement for inactive CPAs. 21 NCAC 08G .0406 states that all active CPAs must report their CPE by completing the annual license renewal process by July 1 each year. If a CPA fails to complete the CPE requirements before the end of the previous calendar year but completes them by June 30, the Board may issue a Letter of Warning to the CPA for the first such failure within a five-calendar year period. For the second such failure within a five-calendar year period, the Board may deny the renewal of the CPA’s certificate for not less than 30 days and until the CPA meets the reinstatement requirements outlined in 21 NCAC 08J .0106.

The Board does not register CPE sponsors and does not approve specific CPE activities. CPE sponsors in good standing on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors maintained by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) are considered compliant with the requirements of 21 NCAC 08G .0403(b).

To receive credit for a learning activity,

  • the CPA must attend or complete the activity and receive a certificate of completion as stated in 08G .0403(a)(1);
  • the learning activity must meet the requirements of the Board’s rules on CPE; and
  • the learning activity must increase the professional competency of the CPA.

An activity that increases the professional competency of a CPA is a learning activity in an area of accounting in which the CPA practices or is planning to practice, or in the area of professional ethics, or an area of the profession. Because of differences in the education and experience of CPAs, a learning activity may contribute to the professional competence of one CPA but not another CPA. Each CPA must exercise judgment in selecting learning activities for which CPE credit is claimed and choose only those that contribute to that CPA’s professional competence.

Any CPE activities completed in the calendar year in which a certificate is approved may be used for that year’s requirement even if the minutes were completed before the certificate was granted. If a CPA  completes more than the required number of CPE minutes in one calendar year, the extra minutes, not to exceed 1000 minutes, may be carried forward and treated as minutes earned in the following year. Carry-forward minutes cannot be used to satisfy the ethics CPE requirement, and ethics minutes may not be carried forward as ethics.  A licensee may check his or her carry-forward CPE minutes through the Board’s website. If there is a discrepancy in the number of carry-forward minutes, please contact Cammie Emery. NOTE: Effective January 1, 2020, 21 NCAC 08G, Continuing Professional Education (CPE), is amended to report CPE credit in minutes instead of hours; one CPE hour still equals 50 CPE  minutes. CPE completed before January 1, 2020, is reported in hours, not minutes.

Any CPE minutes used to satisfy the requirements for change of status, for reinstatement, or for applying for a new certificate may be used to meet the annual CPE requirement. Each CPA must maintain records that substantiate the CPE credits claimed for the current year and each of the four calendar years before the current year. CPE minutes are reported in the online renewal process, and the Board may audit information submitted by a licensee who applies for a renewal license.

The amount of credit for all self-study activities is based on the average completion time determined by the sponsor. Please direct questions about the recommended minutes to the activity sponsor. The Board does not require licensees to complete QAS-approved self-study activities.

Credit for a learning activity will not be allowed by the Board unless the activity is

  • in one of the fields recognized by NASBA;
  • is developed by an individual who has education and work experience in the activity subject matter; and
  • uses current, accurate instructional techniques and materials.

Learning activities completed at regionally accredited colleges and universities; formal correspondence activities; formal education activities conducted within an association of accounting firms; technical sessions at meetings of national and state accounting organizations; and professional development activities of national and state accounting organizations may qualify as acceptable continuing education.

CPE credit may be granted for teaching a learning activity for CPAs or authoring a publication as long as the preparation to teach or write increases the CPA’s professional competency and is in one of the NASBA-approved subject areas. The Board does not allow CPE credit for reading or researching accounting journals, periodicals, or reference guides and manuals; tests designed to assess the comprehension of reading material; or ethics activities for other professions.

21 NCAC 08G .0401(e) requires all active North Carolina CPAs to complete at least 50 minutes of CPE on regulatory or behavioral professional ethics and conduct. The ethics activity may be in a group-study format or in a self-study format. The Board accepts an ethics activity (regulatory or behavioral on professional ethics and conduct) offered by a CPE sponsor registered with the NASBA National CPE Sponsor Registry toward the annual ethics requirement. An ethics activity offered by a CPE sponsor not registered with the NASBA National CPE Sponsor Registry is not compliant with 21 NCAC 08G .0401(e), and the Board will not accept it toward the annual ethics requirement.

A non-resident North Carolina CPA whose primary office is in North Carolina must complete at least 50 minutes of CPE on regulatory or behavioral professional ethics and conduct. The ethics activity may be in a group-study format or a self-study format. Any ethics CPE activity (regulatory or behavioral on professional ethics and conduct) offered by a CPE sponsor registered with the NASBA National CPE Sponsor Registry will satisfy the Board’s annual ethics CPE activity requirement. All other non-resident licensees may satisfy the ethics CPE requirement by completing the ethics requirement in the jurisdiction in which he or she is licensed as a CPA and works or resides.

If there is not an ethics CPE requirement in the jurisdiction where the non-resident licensee works or resides, the licensee must complete at least 50 minutes of CPE on regulatory or behavioral professional ethics and conduct. The ethics activity may be in a group-study format or a self-study format. Any ethics CPE activity (regulatory or behavioral on professional ethics and conduct) offered by a CPE sponsor registered with the NASBA National CPE Sponsor Registry will satisfy the Board’s annual ethics CPE activity requirement. An ethics activity offered by a CPE sponsor not registered with the NASBA National CPE Sponsor Registry is not compliant with 21 NCAC 08G .0401(e), and the Board will not accept it.

If you have questions regarding CPE, please contact Cammie Emery, Licensing Specialist.

Annual Audit of CPE Records

Each year, in conjunction with the annual license renewal period, the Board conducts an audit of licensees’ CPE records to ensure compliance with the Board’s rules. If selected for the CPE audit, the licensee must respond to the Board within the specified time frame (usually 30 days) and must provide certificates of completion for each CPE activity claimed for credit. 21 NCAC 08G .0401(i) requires a CPA to maintain records substantiating the CPE credits claimed for the current year and each of the four calendar years before the current year.

If it appears that a licensee is not in compliance with the CPE requirement, the Board staff will refer the matter to the Board’s Professional Education and Applications (PEA) Committee for review. If the PEA Committee determines that a licensee is not in compliance, the Committee will refer the matter to the Professional Standards Committee. The Professional Standards then may recommend that the Board take disciplinary action against the CPA. Failure to comply with the annual CPE requirements for renewal of a licensee’s certificate may result in the forfeiture of the licensee’s certificate for one year and the assessment of a $1,000.00 civil penalty.

For more information about the CPE audit process, please contact Cammie Emery, Licensing Specialist.