What are the requirements to obtain a CPA license in Tennessee?

Andy Diehl -

Tennessee State Board of Accountancy (TNSBA)  CPA License Requirements

Initial CPA License

To apply for an Initial CPA license in Tennessee, candidates must earn a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university and obtain a total of 150 semester hours of education. Education must include 30 semester hours in accounting (24 of which must be in upper division courses) and 24 semester hours in business courses. The candidate must then:

  • Pass the Uniform CPA Examination,
  • Pass an ethics examination given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) with a score of 90% or better.  The exam is available through AICPA or TSCPA; and
  • Complete one year of experience in accounting acceptable to the Board.

The Tennessee State Board of Accountancy is notified when a candidate has met the education requirements and passed the Uniform CPA Examination.  The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) transmits to the Board your candidate file containing CPA exam grades and education transcripts.  Click here to view a list of candidate files received by the Board.

After meeting all requirements, and having confirmed the Board's's receipt of your candidate file, you may apply for a Tennessee CPA license.  You will be asked to upload your Ethics Exam Certificate and Work Experience Form with the online application.

Currently, there is an 8-10 week delay from the time you were notified you passed your last exam for receipt of candidate files. Please contact NASBA if you have questions about where you are in their process.

The fee for an initial CPA license application is $100.00.

Experience Requirements

The experience required to be demonstrated for issuance of an initial certificate pursuant to T.C.A. §62-1-106(j) shall meet the following requirements:

  • Experience may consist of providing any type of services or advice using accounting, attest, management advisory, financial advisory, tax or consulting skills
  • Acceptable experience shall include employment in industry, government, academia or public practice
  • No fewer than 2000 hours of experience (earned in no less than one year or more than three years).  Experience must be earned within the ten (10) years immediately preceding the application for certification

Reciprocal CPA License

To apply for a reciprocal CPA license in Tennessee a candidate must hold an active CPA license in good standing in another state.  The candidate must request a Letter of Good Standing to be sent directly to the Tennessee State Board of Accountancy.  You may apply for a license through reciprocity at core.tn.gov.  Please note that your application will not be processed until our Board has received the Letter of Good Standing. 

The fee for a reciprocal CPA license application is $200.00.

Transfer of Grades

Candidates having passed the CPA Exam in another jurisdiction may apply for an original Tennessee CPA certificate via a transfer of those grades.  A candidate must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Pass all four (4) parts of the CPA examination in another state without obtaining a CPA license in that state.  Candidates should request a transfer of grades from that State using the Transfer of Grades Request form.
  • Obtain a baccalaureate degree and at least 150 semester hours of education* from an accredited college/university, and complete one year of experience satisfactory to the Board. The 150 semester hours must include at least 30 hours in accounting (24 of which must be upper division) and 24 hours in general business.

*Education credentials must be approved through the Academic Credential Evaluation service of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).  Candidates should apply for an educational evaluation on NASBA’s Licensing Page. Once the evaluation process is complete, an eligibility letter is sent directly to the Tennessee Board.

  • Pass an ethics examination given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) with a score of 90% or better. The exam is available through AICPA or TSCPA.
  • Meet the Experience Requirement as outlined above.

When all requirements have been satisfied, the candidate will receive application instructions from the Board.

The fee for a Transfer of Grades CPA application is $100.00.

International Reciprocity

CPA Examination Services (CPAES), a NASBA division, administers the Uniform CPA Examination in 31 jurisdictions, including Tennessee. CPAES also administers the International Uniform CPA Qualification Examination (IQEX) to accounting professionals who are members of non-US professional associations that have entered into mutual recognition agreements with the US International Qualifications Appraisal Board (IQAB)

If you currently hold a license issued by one of the entities below, and are interested in applying for reciprocal license in Tennessee, please contact the Board:

Charted Accountant in Australia, Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA)
Legacy Chartered Accountants  of CPA Canada
Contador Publico Certificado (CPC) Mexico
Chartered Accountant in Ireland (CAI) (formerly the Irish Institute of Chartered Accountants)
Instituto Mexican de Contadores Publicos
New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants
Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants


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