5 Steps to Becoming a CPA in Minnesota

The Land of 10,000 Lakes is also the land of 25,000 accountants and auditors. According to O*Net, a U.S. Department of Labor-sponsored resource, that number is going to see an increase of 7 percent in the ten years leading up to 2028, faster than the overall rate of job growth in the state.

That means opportunity for people with the training and experience it takes to earn a CPA license here. Target, Best Buy, and Supervalu are all headquartered in Minnesota, so CPAs with a lot of experience in inventory, payroll, and logistics are always in demand. According to IBISWorld, manufacturing is actually the largest part of Minnesota’s GDP, dominated by 3M, but healthcare is the fastest growing part of the economy.

Major corporations like Ecolab, Medtronic, and UnitedHealthGroup are other viable options for qualified CPAs eager to ply their trade in the healthcare industry. Or, you have the option of looking for work at more traditional accountancies, either big outfits like CliftonLarsonAllen or Deloitte in the Twin Cities, or smaller firms scattered through cities from Rochester to Moorhead.

Once you figure out how to become a CPA in Minnesota, all your options open up. The following 5 steps will start you on your path to getting your hands on that valuable license.

  1. Get your Education in Minnesota
  2. Take the Uniform CPA Exam in Minnesota
  3. Gain the Necessary Experience in Minnesota
  4. Get your Minnesota CPA License
  5. Continuing Education in Minnesota


1. Get Your Education

a. Request information from Minnesota colleges and universities that house accounting departments. The Minnesota Board of Accountancy requires all certified public accountants to have 150 semester hours of credit and at least a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in accounting.

With the standard bachelor’s degree in accounting consisting of just 120 semester hours, going on to earn a post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s in accounting represents the most tried and tested way to get those 30 additional credits. Many of these programs are available entirely online. You can also find specialized five-year CPA track programs that offer a blended bachelor’s and master’s curriculum to give you the 150 semester hours you need to meet CPA requirements in Minnesota.

b. Meet Minnesota’s residency requirement. In order to take the Uniform CPA Exam in Minnesota, you must meet one of the following qualifications:

  • Be a resident of Minnesota
  • Be regularly employed in Minnesota
  • Be working in Minnesota to obtain qualifying experience
  • Will be working in Minnesota within 90 days of completing the Uniform CPA exam

c. Make sure that the school you choose is accredited. Under Minnesota Board of Accountancy rules, in order to be recognized, your university or college must be accredited in one of the following ways:

  • Level 1 Accreditation: The college or university is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency listed with the U.S. Department of Education
  • Level 2 Accreditation: The college of business or business school is accredited by a national accrediting agency listed with the U.S. Department of Education
  • Level 3 Accreditation: The accounting program or department is accredited by a national accrediting agency listed with the U.S. Department of Education
  • Reference the U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to determine program, college, or department accreditation
  • If you attend a foreign college or university, NASBA International Evaluation Services or Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. must assess your academic credits. Contact the agency to request an evaluation, which will be submitted to CPA Examination Services.
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d. Meet Minnesota CPA degree and curriculum requirements. Under Board rules, you can meet your education requirements with one of the following pathways:

    • Degree Pathway 1: Earn a graduate degree with a concentration in accounting from a Level 3 accredited accounting program with at least 150 total undergraduate and graduate level credits
    • Degree Pathway 2: Earn a graduate degree from a Level 2 accredited business program with at least 150 total undergraduate and graduate level credits, including:
      • 24 undergraduate semester hours in accounting courses, or
      • 15 graduate semester hours in accounting courses
      • These courses must include the following:
        • Auditing
        • Financial accounting
        • Taxation
        • Management accounting
    • Degree Pathway 3: Earn a bachelor degree from a Level 2 accredited business program supplemented with a minor, certificate or other courses, that combined, total at least 150 credits, and include:
      • 24 undergraduate or graduate semester hours in accounting courses that includes courses in:
        • Auditing
        • Financial accounting
        • Taxation
        • Management accounting
      • 24 undergraduate or graduate semester hours in business related or accounting courses
    • Degree Pathway 4: Earn a bachelor’s degree from a Level 1 accredited school supplemented with a minor, certificate or other courses, that combined, total at least 150 credits, and include:
      • 24 upper-level undergraduate or graduate semester hours in accounting courses that includes courses in:
        • Auditing
        • Financial accounting
        • Taxation
        • Management accounting


2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam

Under Minnesota’s Early Examination rule, you may apply for the Uniform CPA Exam once you are within 180 days of completing one of the degree pathways described in Step 1. Once your application is accepted, you would be allowed to schedule to sit for the exam within 90 days of the date you expect to complete your education requirements. If you opt to sit for the exam early, you would have 150 days to furnish the Board with proof that you met the education requirements.

a. Go to the CPA Examination Services (CPAES) website where you may register online or download application forms.

b. Collect the necessary supporting documentation, based upon your educational status at the time of the exam:

  • If you are still enrolled in college request official transcript(s) from all colleges attended and submit along with:
    • Certificate of Enrollment form, filled out by college official, stating that all courses will be completed within 120 days of taking the exam
    • Passport-sized photo of yourself
    • Payment via certified check or money order payable to CPA Examination Services or via credit card
  • If you have graduated college request official transcript(s) from all colleges attended and submit along with:
    • Passport-sized photo of yourself
    • Payment via certified check or money order payable to CPA Examination Services or via credit card

c. Mail all of the above to:

CPA Examination Services – Minnesota Coordinator
P.O. Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219-8469

d. Receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS)the Uniform CPA Exam from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) by mail, fax or email (depending upon the method you chose when you submitted your application)

e. Go to Prometric’s website to schedule your examination at a Minnesota Prometric location.

f. Show up at your chosen testing site on exam day one hour before test time.

g. Access your scores online 48 hours after you have taken the exam. They will also be mailed to you once tabulated.

If you need to coordinate disability accommodations for testing or require more information, call the Minnesota Coordinator of CPA Examination Services at 800-CPA-EXAM.

For detailed information on the Uniform CPA Exam, click here.


3. Gain The Necessary Experience

Now that you have passed the Uniform CPA Exam, you must fulfill the work experience requirement in accordance with the Uniform Accountancy Act and as maintained by the Minnesota Board of Accountancy.

a. Prior to commencing the experience portion of the licensing process, you must take and pass the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)’s Home Study Course on Professional Ethics. You may order course materials here.

b. Contact your college’s career center to help you find suitable experience. The Board requires that you have one year (2000 hours) of full- or part-time accounting experience. This experience must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be not less than one year and not longer than three years in duration
  • Involve providing any of the following services:
    • Attestation
    • Accounting
    • Management advisory
    • Compilation
    • Consulting
    • Tax
    • Financial advisory
  • Be in one of the following fields:
    • Public practice
    • Academia
    • Government
    • Industry
  • Be verified by a licensed CPA

c. Have your supervising CPA(s) fill out the CPA Experience Verification Form. Set this aside, as it will be submitted with your Application for Certificate later.


4. Get Your Minnesota CPA License

Now that you’ve passed the exam and completed the practical work experience requirement, you’re ready for licensure. Here’s a checklist of everything you should have done up to this point:

a. Checklist

  • Complete 150 semester hours of college and earn a minimum of a bachelor’s degree
  • Pass the Uniform CPA Exam.
  • Pass the AICPA Ethics Exam
  • Complete the Board’s experience requirement of one year (2000 hours)
  • Have each of your supervising CPAs complete the CPA Experience Verification form(s)

b. Apply for your Minnesota CPA Certificate.

  • Download an Application for Minnesota CPA Certificate
  • Include your completed, signed CPA Experience Verification form(s)
  • Complete the top portion of the three Personal Reference Forms found within the application packet. Give them to your references, who should complete the forms and mail them directly to the Board.
  • Attach a final official college transcript showing completion of 150 semester hours
  • Contact the AICPA to send proof that you passed the Ethics Exam directly to the Board
  • If you passed the Uniform CPA Exam more than four years prior to your Application for Minnesota CPA Certificate, you must provide documentation showing 120 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) taken within the last three years
  • Include your application fee of $150 payable to the Minnesota Board of Accountancy
  • Mail all of the above to: Minnesota Board of Accountancy, 85 East Seventh Place, Suite 125, St. Paul, MN 55101-2143

c. After the Exam and Credentialing Committee of the Board has reviewed all necessary documents, your application will be reviewed at the next regular Board meeting. You will be contacted when it is approved.

Interstate Reciprocal License

If you hold a valid CPA certificate or license from a state or jurisdiction with CPA licensing requirements substantially equivalent to Minnesota’s, you do not have to apply for a Minnesota certificate, or even notify the Board before practicing in the state. Right now, only Virgin Islands has been deemed to be not substantially equivalent to Minnesota.

If your license is from a non-substantially equivalent state, you may receive a Minnesota certificate if you meet the state’s requirements of examination, education and experience, have completed 120 hours of CPE within the past three years, and have completed the AICPA Ethics Exam.

  • You must complete the Application for Minnesota CPA Certificate by Non-Minnesota CPA Examination Candidate.
    • Complete the Authorization for Interstate Exchange of Information and Certificate Information included in the application packet and send it to the Board that holds your license
    • Include your completed, signed CPA Experience Verification form(s)
    • Complete the top portion of the three Personal Reference Forms found within the application packet. Give them to your references, who should complete the forms and mail them directly to the Board.
    • Attach a final official college transcript showing completion of 150 semester hours
    • Contact the AICPA to send proof of your passing the Ethics Exam to the Board
  • Complete a CPE Reporting Form if you passed the Uniform CPA Exam more than three years prior to the application

Mail the application to: Minnesota Board of Accountancy, 85 East Seventh Place, Suite 125, St. Paul, MN 55101-2143

International Reciprocal License

If you hold a CPA equivalent credential or license from one of the following international jurisdictions, you are eligible for a reciprocal certificate in Minnesota:

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA)
  • CPA Australia (CPAA)
  • Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA)
  • Instituto Mexicano De Contadores Publicos (IMCP)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
  • New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)
  • Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA)

As a CPA or CA in one of these jurisdictions you only need to pass the International Qualification Exam (IQEX) in order to receive a reciprocal license. Accountants from all other jurisdictions must meet the following criteria:

  • Have your credits evaluated by Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. or NASBA International Evaluation Services
  • Your international jurisdiction must recognize a Minnesota license as reciprocal to theirs
  • Your international license was issued on the basis of education, examination and experience
  • Your international license entitles you to issue reports on financial statements
  • You have completed an experience requirement within the last 10 years that mirrors Minnesota’s experience requirement
  • You must pass the Uniform CPA Exam

Contact the Board at (651) 296-7938 with questions regarding international reciprocity and how to begin the process of licensure in Minnesota


5. Stay Current Through Continuing Professional Education in Minnesota

In order to maintain your CPA certificate, Minnesota requires you to fulfill continuing professional education (CPE) hours.

a. Complete 120 CPE hours every three years

  • You must complete at least 20 CPE hours each year
  • CPE hours may not be carried over to the next license renewal period
  • 8 CPE hours must be in behavioral or regulatory ethics
  • No more than 60 CPE hours can come from instructing or lecturing
  • No more than 60 CPE hours can come from authoring or publishing
  • At least 24 CPE hours must come from instructor-led training
  • No more than 24 CPE hours can come from personal development
  • At least 72 CPE hours must be delivered through an approved sponsor

b. Enroll in programs that qualify for CPE credit offered by:

c. Maintain your CPE documentation for at least five years, including:

  • Certificate of attendance from program sponsor that includes:
    • Program name
    • Content description
    • Dates of attendance
    • Name and contact info for sponsor
    • Location of program
    • Number of CPE hours claimed
  • Copy of a detailed program agenda
  • Biography of program developer and program presenter
  • Statement by you describing how this program contributes to your professional competence

d. Report your CPE hours at the time of license renewal
using the online CPE Reporting tool.

Now that you’re a CPA in Minnesota

Nice job! Through hard work your plans have come to fruition and you are now a CPA in Minnesota! Now is the time to think about joining professional accounting organizations such as the national American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and/or the local Minnesota Society of CPAs. Both organizations can help you with your professional development through networking opportunities, providing continuing education programs and offering professional guidance and advice.

Think about specializing! There are many sub-fields within accounting that are popular in Minnesota, such as information technology auditing, financial reporting, tax, project coordinating and compliance.

Last Modified July 17, 2021 by AccountingEDU Staff