Tennessee CPA Requirements
Exam and License Requirements To Become a CPA

Tennessee CPA Requirements

See what you need to become a CPA in Tennessee.
Do you want to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Tennessee? Wise move, as Tennessee is one of the fastest growing states by GDP. Attaining your Tennessee CPA licensure opens the door to numerous career prospects. To help you on your journey, here’s all you need to know to become a CPA in Tennessee. We will review the exam and license requirements, the steps to becoming a CPA, and everything related to it.

Semester Units

Hours of Experience
In Application Fees
Residency or Citizenship
Mandatory State Ethics Exam
Participates​ in International
Exam Program

Semester Units

Hours of Experience
In Application Fees
Residency or Citizenship
Mandatory State Ethics Exam
Participates​ in International
Exam Program

Tennessee CPA Requirements

Tennessee has specific CPA requirements that you must meet in order to apply for the initial license from the state. These requirements include passing the CPA Exam, meeting education and experience requirements, and passing the ethics exam. The Tennessee State Board of Accountancy is the state-governing body that issues CPA licenses to eligible candidates. The board collaborates with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to facilitate the CPA Exam and licensing process.

Social Security Requirement Yes
Age, Citizenship, and Residency Requirements
  • Minimum of 18 years old
  • No requirement of U.S. citizenship
  • No state residency requirement
Good Moral Character Yes
Education Requirement for Licensure 150 hours (including a B.A.)
Pass the Exam Requires a minimum score of 75 in each section
Work Experience One year of full-time experience in accounting
Ethics Exam Requirements Yes
International CPA Examination Program Yes
Social Security Number Requirement

Your Social Security number is mandatory for fulfilling Tennessee CPA licensure requirements. It helps ascertain your compliance with the tax laws of the land.

Citizenship, Age, and Residency Requirements
  • It is not required for you to be a U.S. citizen to apply for a CPA license in Tennessee.
  • You must be at least 18 years of age.
  • You need not be a resident of Tennessee to apply for state CPA licensure.

Educational Requirements

All CPA candidates must meet the educational requirements of Tennessee to sit for the CPA Exam. This includes subject-specific requirements that candidates must obtain upon completion of their four-year bachelor's degree, accredited by one of the following bodies. Note that there is a difference between the educational requirements for the CPA Exam and licensure.

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • AdvancED (formerly Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges

To sit for the CPA Exam, a candidate must obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher with a focus in accounting. The degree should include at least

  • 18 hours of accounting education at the upper division level (junior level courses or higher). Note that internship semester hours will not count toward this requirement.

Candidates may apply for the CPA Exam while their education is in progress, but they must fulfill the educational requirements before sitting for any exam section.

To obtain CPA licensure, candidates must complete a total of 150 semester hours, out of which the following are required:

  • 30 semester hours in accounting, including 24 semester hours at the upper division (a maximum of 6 semester hours may be included from internship programs).
  • 24 semester hours in general business courses, such as algebra, business communication, business law, economics, ethics, finance, management, marketing, and information systems.
Pass the Exam

The CPA Exam has four sections, each requiring a minimum score of 75 to pass the exam and qualify for the Tennessee CPA license requirements. Please note that all sections must be completed within an 18-month window.

Work Experience Requirements

Tennessee mandates that CPA licensure candidates gain one year of full-time work experience (2,000 hours) in a period of one to three years. This experience must be completed within the ten years preceding their license application date, and must be endorsed by a licensed CPA. Candidates may work in government, industry, academia, or the public sector in one of the following areas:

  • Accounting
  • Attest
  • Management advisory
  • Financial advisory
  • Tax
  • Consulting skills
CPA Ethical Exam Requirements

The Tennessee CPA license requirements mandate that candidates pass the Professional Ethics exam with a score of 90% or above. This is a self-study course from the AICPA that covers the basic tenets of ethical and professional conduct for CPAs.

The International CPA Examination Program

Tennessee participates in the International CPA Examination Program that facilitates non-U.S. citizens to become CPA license holders in the United States. Candidates must have their credentials evaluated by NASBA-approved authorities before applying for the CPA Exam. CPA Examination Services (CPAES), a NASBA division, administers the International Uniform CPA Qualification Examination (IQEX) for accounting professionals who are members of non-U.S. professional associations. After passing the IQEX examination, eligible candidates can apply for CPA licensure in the state.

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Tennessee CPA Exam & Licensing - Cost and Fees

Tennessee has one of the highest CPA Exam application fees at $170. The fee for each section is $238.15.

Tennessee CPA Exam Fees
Initial Application Fee $170.00
Auditing and Attestation (AUD) $238.15
Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) $238.15
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) $238.15
Regulation (REG) $238.15
Total $1,122.60

Candidates who need to retake exam sections have an additional fee that varies by the number of required sections.

Tennessee CPA Re-Examination Fees
1 Section $75.00
2 Sections $100
3 Sections $125
4 Sections $150

The Tennessee State Board of Accountancy is responsible for issuing CPA licenses to successful candidates who have fulfilled the CPA requirements. The initial licensing fee is $100.

Tennessee CPA License Renewal Requirements

The CPA license issued by the Tennessee Board is valid for two years and requires renewal every two years. The state renews odd-numbered licenses in odd-numbered years and even-numbered licenses in even-numbered years. The board sends a notice to licensees to renew their licenses with a fee of $110, provided they meet the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements.

Tennessee CPA Continuing Education Requirements

CPE is one of the ways the AICPA and state boards ensure licensed CPAs continue to implement the latest and best practices in the profession. As per Tennessee CPA requirements, license holders must complete 80 approved hours of CPE every two years, with a minimum of 20 hours each year.

Out of the 80 hours, at least 40 hours must be in technical subjects. If you are providing attest services, 20 of the 40 technical hours must be in accounting and auditing. If you provide expert witness testimony, at least 20 hours must be in the general area the court deems you an expert (e.g. tax or auditing).

  • First Renewal Exceptions: New CPA licensees who have held the license for over a year, but less than a complete two-year reporting cycle, must earn a minimum of 40 hours, including 20 technical hours and two hours of board-approved state ethics.
  • Carryover rule: If you have earned more hours than required for the reporting cycle, you may apply a portion of the overage to the next renewal. Be informed that it will only count toward overall hours, not yearly minimums, technical CPE, or other mandatory benchmarks. You may carry up to 24 hours to the next reporting cycle (12 hours for the first renewal).

The Tennessee State Board of Accountancy audits 10% of the renewing license candidates for CPE requirements. If you are chosen for an audit, you must submit your CPE credit documentation from the previous two-year reporting cycle. Notifications are sent in early May each year.

Tennessee CPA Exam: Dates, Score Release, and Scheduling

The CPA Exam is conducted year-round with multiple testing dates and locations. This makes it easier for candidates to schedule the exam based on their preferred date and location. Look at the CPA Exam score release dates to understand the timeline better.

After meeting the Tennessee CPA Exam requirements, you can proceed with the application process and schedule your exam accordingly. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you in the application process:

  1. Submission of the CPA Exam Application

    CPA Central is NASBA's online application portal. You must fill out all the required information and ensure that your educational transcripts are sent directly to NASBA from your institution/university. The initial application fee is $170.

  2. Obtain Authorization to Test (ATT)

    The Tennessee State Board of Accountancy determines your eligibility and will send you an Authorization to Test (ATT) which allows you to take the CPA Exam.

  3. Notice to Schedule (NTS)

    Once you have obtained your ATT, you will receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS) to schedule your CPA Exam. It will be made available three to six weeks after your application date. It is a mandatory document to enter the Prometric testing center, without which you will not be allowed to take the exam.

  4. Schedule Your Exam With Prometric

    NASBA uses Prometric to help candidates schedule their CPA Exams. Once logged in, you can choose your preferred date and testing center.

  5. Pass the Exam

    Candidates are required to score a minimum of 75 in each section to pass the full CPA Exam. All sections must be passed within an 18-month period.

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