Requirements to Become a CPA

Good Moral Character

Good moral character means the lack of a history of dishonest or felonious acts. The board may refuse to grant a certificate on the grounds of failure to satisfy this requirement only if there is a substantial connection between the lack of good moral character of the applicant and the professional responsibilities of a licensee and if the finding by the board of lack of good moral character is supported by clear and convincing evidence. When an applicant is found to be unqualified for a certificate because of a lack of good moral character, the board shall furnish the applicant a statement containing the findings of the board, a complete record of the evidence upon which the determination was based, and a notice of the applicant's right of appeal.

The Uniform CPA Exam

The examination required to be passed as a condition for the granting of a certificate must test the applicant's knowledge of the subjects of accounting and auditing. A grade of seventy-five percent is required in each subject to constitute a passing grade. The time for holding the examination must be fixed by the board and may be changed from time to time. The board may prescribe by rule the methods of applying for and conducting the examination, including methods for grading papers and determining a passing grade required of an applicant for a certificate provided that the board to the extent possible sees to it that the grading of the examination and the passing grade requirements are uniform with those applicable in all other states. The board may use all or any part of the uniform certified public accountant examination and advisory grading service of the American institute of certified public accountants and may contract with third parties to perform administrative services with respect to the examination it deems appropriate to assist it in performing its duties. The board may permit a candidate to take the examination if the board is satisfied that the candidate will complete the educational requirements of this section within six months after the candidate's application to take the examination.

The CPA Exam can be written at anytime there are no longer "windows" -- Beginning July 2020 NASBA granted continuous testing. An application packet can be obtained on forms section of the website. All application materials are to be submitted in one package. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications 30 days in advance of their target writing date. The four sections of the CPA Exam may be taken individually and in any order. An applicant shall retain conditional credit for any section passed, for 18 months after their test date. An applicant must pass all exam sections within a rolling 18 month period (starting the date they took the first section passed). An Exam section may not be retaken until scores are released for that section. If all Exam sections are not passed in the 18 month period, credit will expire for any section passed outside the 18 month period.

Completion of Professional Ethics: AICPA's Comprehensive Course

Applicants must provide proof of Completion of Professional Ethics: AICPA's Comprehensive Course.   You can purchase the exam through the North Dakota CPA Society Ethics


Rule 3-02-04-01   

Qualifying Experience.  The experience required for initial certification after December 31, 2000, must consist of at least two thousand hours gained within four or fewer calendar years, and must be verified to the satisfaction of the Board.  The majority of the experience must consist of providing some service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills.  Candidates may complete the required examinations before completing any of the experience required for initial certification.


After December 31, 2000, an applicant for initial issuance of a certificate under this section shall show that the applicant has had one year of experience. This experience must include providing any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills. This experience must be verified and must meet any other requirements prescribed by the Board by rule. This experience is acceptable if it was gained through employment in government, industry, academia, or public accounting. This experience requirement does not apply to those who received a certificate from this state prior to January 1, 2000.

Providing details of accounting credentials

Exam grades transfer

Candidates who have passed all or parts of the CPA exam elsewhere may transfer those grades providing credit would have been given under our then-applicable requirements if the exam had been taken in this state.

Reciprocal certification

CPAs, who hold a certificate from another state may obtain a reciprocal CPA certificate, provided their state extends similar reciprocity to North Dakota CPAs. An applicant for a reciprocal certificate must have passed the examination with grades that would have been passing grades in North Dakota at the time, must meet all requirements for a certificate (at the time of application or at the time of issuance of the other state certificate), and pay the applicable fees. There is also provision for obtaining a ND certificate without meeting all these requirements, if the applicant (or the state which issued their certificate) has attained substantial equivalency.

Substantial equivalency

An individual whose principal place of business is not in this state shall have all the privileges of certificate holders and licensees of this state without the need to obtain a certificate or permit, if the individual holds a valid certificate as a CPA from a state that has attained substantial equivalency, or if the individual's CPA qualifications are deemed to meet substantial equivalency. Contact our office to pursue this option.

Reciprocity for foreign credential holders

North Dakota's accounting law makes provision for issuing certificates to holders of foreign accounting credentials under certain conditions. Contact the Board for details.

Payment of Applicable Fees

CPA Exam Application          $120.00

Exam Grades Transfer          $140.00

Reciprocal Certification        $140.00

Substantial Equivalency       $140.00

Reinstatement                     $150.00


The required education is "... at least 150 semester hours of college education including a baccalaureate or higher degree or its equivalent conferred by a college or university acceptable to the board, the total educational program to include an accounting concentration or equivalent as determined by board rule to be appropriate." An acceptable college is one that is accredited by one of the regional accrediting associations listed at  . Unaccredited college credits are acceptable if accepted for transfer credit by an accredited school.

Foreign education

In order to write the exam as a North Dakota candidate, education completed at non-U.S. schools is to be evaluated for equivalency with U.S. standards. Obtain a course by course evaluation (at least for the concentration coursework). For evaluations, you may contact or

"Accounting concentrations means: 24 semester credits or equivalent of accounting courses, plus 24 credits of other business courses. Principles of accounting or equivalent courses do not count toward the required accounting or business courses. Up to 3 credits of economics credits may be included in the other business courses." The accounting portion may include classes with an accounting, audit, or tax rubric. The other-business portion may include classes with a rubric of business, management, finance or marketing. Additional accounting classes also qualify, and up to 3 Economics credits.

One quarter credit = 2/3 semester credit.