A State By State Accounting Guide
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5 Steps to Becoming a CPA in North Dakota

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

1. Get Your Education

a. Request information from North Dakota colleges and universities that offer programs in accounting. The North Dakota State Board of Accountancy states that all certified public accountants need 150 semester hours of college credit and at least a bachelor’s degree.

b. Confirm that the North Dakota State Board of Accountancy approves your college. The program you choose must be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and listed in their Database of accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs database of accredited colleges.

If you attended a school outside of the United States or its jurisdictions, you must have your credits evaluated by a member agency of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services. Contact one of the agencies directly to request an evaluation.

c. Enroll in classes that will count for credit with the Board. You must earn 150 semester hours of college credit and a bachelor’s degree. Your education must meet the following criteria:

  • 24 semester hours of accounting courses (may not include courses such as principles of accounting or equivalent)
    • Up to 3 semester hours of business law may be claimed in satisfying this requirement
  • 24 semester hours of other business courses
    • Up to 3 semester hours of economics may be claimed in satisfying this requirement

2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam

If you are within six months of completing the North Dakota education requirement, you are eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam.

a. Download the North Dakota State Board of Accountancy CPA Exam Application. If you prefer to pick up a hard copy of the exam, the following local North Dakota and surrounding area college accounting departments have them available:

  • Mayville State University, Mayville
  • Jamestown College, Jamestown
  • University of Mary, Bismarck
  • University of North Dakota, Grand Forks
  • North Dakota State University, Fargo
  • Minot State University, Minot
  • Valley City State University, Valley City
  • Dickinson State University, Dickinson
  • Minnesota State University, Moorhead, MN
  • Concordia College, Moorhead, MN

b. Give a Reference Form (included within application packet) to three non-relatives and non-students who know you and can attest to your moral character. These references must return the completed forms to you in sealed envelopes to be submitted with your exam application

c. Include an official copy of your college transcript, with school seal and degree conferred. If you are still enrolled in college, make sure that is reflected on the transcript.

d. Enclose a check or money order for $120 application fee payable to NDSBA (North Dakota State Board of Accountancy).

e. Mail all of the above to: North Dakota State Board of Accountancy, 2701 S. Columbia Rd., Grand Forks, ND 58201-6029.

f. Wait to receive authorization to test. When all items have been received by the Board and your application approved, you will be sent an Authorization to Test from the Board, which will also be sent to National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Upon receipt of your Authorization to Test, NASBA will issue a payment coupon to pay examination fees here (select payment coupon)

g. Wait to receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS) the Uniform CPA Exam from NASBA. This will arrive via by mail, fax or email (depending upon the method of notification you chose when you applied).

h. Access Prometric’s website to schedule your examination at a North Dakota testing site. Sites are available in Bismarck and Grand Forks.

i. Arrive at the correct testing site early on examination day ready to test.

j. Your exam scores will be mailed or emailed (based on your selected method) to you once they have been tabulated.

If you need to arrange any testing accommodations or wish further information, contact the North Dakota State Board of Accountancy at (800) 532-5904.

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


3. Gain The Necessary Experience

The North Dakota State Board of Accountancy requires all applicants for initial CPA licensure to complete one year of experience.

a. Before beginning this process, the Board also requires that you pass Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course. Materials for this course may be ordered here.

b. Ask for help from your college’s career center in finding acceptable experience. You must have one year (2000 hours) of accounting experience prior to licensure.

  • Experience may be in public accounting, government accounting, industry or academia
  • Experience must include providing any of the following services, or a combination thereof:
    • Attestation
    • Accounting
    • Management advisory
    • Consulting
    • Tax
    • Financial advisory
  • Experience must be verified by a licensed CPA
  • Experience must have occurred within a period no longer than four years

c. Ask your supervising CPA to complete a Certificate of Experience verifying your work experience.

  • Complete sections A and B of the form yourself
  • Forward the form to your supervisor to complete and return to the Board at:

North Dakota State Board of Accountancy
2701 S. Columbia Rd.
Grand Forks, ND 58201-6029

(provide an addressed, stamped envelope to make this process easier for your supervisor)


4. Get Your North Dakota CPA License

If you have completed the North Dakota State Board of Accountancy’s education requirement, passed the Uniform CPA Exam, passed the AICPA Professional Ethics course, and completed one year of experience, you are ready to apply for a North Dakota CPA Certificate.

a. Contact the North Dakota State Board of Accountancy at (800) 532-5904 or by email at ndsba@state.nd.us to request an Initial CPA Certificate application, as these forms are not posted on their website.

b.Mail the completed application with the required supporting documents to:

North Dakota State Board of Accountancy
2701 S. Columbia Rd.
Grand Forks, ND 58201-6029

c. Wait for notification. You will be notified by the Board when your application is approved and certificate granted (this may take as long as eight weeks depending upon the timing of your application and Board meetings)

Interstate Reciprocal Certificate

If you hold a CPA license or certificate in another state, you have two options for pursuing a reciprocal North Dakota CPA certificate:

  • Option 1: If you hold a CPA certificate/license from a state deemed “substantially equivalent” to North Dakota’s CPA requirements, requirements (as of July 2014, all states/jurisdictions except the Virgin Islands are considered to be substantially equivalent), you must:
    • Complete parts A, B and D of North Dakota’s Application for Reciprocity
    • Complete the Authorization for Exchange of Information (included within application packet) and send it to the state Board that holds your CPA license
    • Enclose a processing fee for $140
    • Send the application and all attachments to: North Dakota State Board of Accountancy, 2701 S. Columbia Rd., Grand Forks, ND 58201-6029
  • Option 2: If you hold a CPA license from another state that is not substantially equivalent but recognizes the North Dakota CPA certificate as reciprocal, you must meet all North Dakota requirements for a CPA certificate (or the requirements that were in effect at the time you received your CPA license/certificate from the other state).
    • Complete the entire North Dakota Application for Reciprocity
    • Enclose an original, official college transcript
    • Complete the Authorization for Exchange of Information (included within application packet) and send it to the state Board that holds your CPA license
    • If you received your certificate or license after December 31, 2000, complete the Certificate of Experience verifying one year of experience.
    • Send proof of passing the AICPA Professional Ethics course
    • Obtain three references using the Reference Form (included within application packet). Give these to three non-relatives and non-students who know you and can attest to your moral character. These references must return the completed forms to you in sealed envelopes to be submitted with your application
    • Enclose a fee for $140 payable to the North Dakota State Board of Accountancy
    • Mail all of the above to: North Dakota State Board of Accountancy, 2701 S. Columbia Rd., Grand Forks, ND 58201-6029

International Reciprocal Certificate

The North Dakota State Board of Accountancy will reciprocate licensure for holders of CPA equivalent licenses from the following international jurisdictions:

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA)
  • Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA)
  • Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI)
  • Instituto Mexicano de Contadores Públicos (IMCP)
  • New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)
  • Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA)

Chartered Accountants from these international jurisdictions are required to pass the International Qualification Examination (IQEX).


5. Stay Current Through Continuing Professional Education in North Dakota

The North Dakota State Board of Accountancy requires all CPAs to complete a certain number of continuing professional education (CPE) hours yearly to maintain licensure.

a. If in your position as a CPA you perform any of the following services, you must accomplish 120 CPE hours every three years/at least 20 CPE hours each year:

  • Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Management or financial advisory
  • Consulting
  • Bookkeeping
  • Tax services

If in your position as a CPA you do not perform any of the above services, you must accomplish 60 CPE hours every three years/at least 16 CPE hours per year.

b. Sign up for the following approved CPE programs:

  • Self study
  • College classes
    • Credit courses: one semester hour = 15 CPE hours
    • Noncredit courses: one semester hour = 1 CPE hour
  • Group programs
  • Serving as a discussion leader or lecturer for the first time (not repetitive)
  • Teaching a college-level accounting course for the first time (not repetitive)

Find approved CPE programs through:

c. Maintain CPE program/course documentation for a minimum of five years. This should include:

  • Course sponsor
  • Course title
  • Dates of course
  • Times of course
  • Location of course
  • Instructor of course
  • Certificates of completion received for course
  • Number of CPE hours claimed for course

Now that you're a CPA in North Dakota

Great job! You have worked hard to become a licensed CPA in North Dakota! Think about becoming a member of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). This national professional accounting organization offers its members continuing professional education, networking and development opportunities, and professional advice and guidance. You may also want to consider joining the local Society of North Dakota CPAs.

Are you interested in a specialization within the field of accounting? Go for it! Possibilities for specialized positions for certified public accountants in North Dakota are numerous, and include technology consultant, business consultant, personal financial planner, finance manager, internal auditor, and tax specialist.

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