Arkansas CPA Exam & License Requirements: How to Become a CPA in Arkansas

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In the midst of a CPA crisis, there’s a silver lining for aspiring accountants in Arkansas. According to a report by Arkansas Business, the Arkansas Society of CPAs has observed a significant drop in accounting degree enrollments, with a more than 6.5% decline between 2019 and 2021 – the largest in over half a century. But here’s the twist: this decline comes at a time when the demand for staff accountants and CPAs is surging, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of federal aid dollars.

Now, you might be wondering: Why does this matter to you?

Well, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a robust 6% annual growth in accountancy employment over the next decade, translating to over 136,000 job openings each year. This presents a unique opportunity for those considering the CPA path in Arkansas. Despite the overall decline, the state has experienced a less severe drop in active CPAs, with only a 2% decrease in the last six years.

But there’s more to this story.

The journey to becoming a licensed CPA in Arkansas, like in other states, requires 150 hours of undergraduate credit, which is 30 hours more than most bachelor’s degrees. This additional requirement, along with misconceptions about the accounting profession, might be deterring potential candidates. However, the industry is actively working to change these perceptions and highlight the diverse and dynamic nature of a career in accounting.

So, what’s the bottom line?

With the current market conditions and the proactive steps being taken by the industry, there’s never been a better time to pursue a CPA license in Arkansas. The state not only offers a promising landscape for budding accountants but also a chance to be part of an evolving and essential field. Let’s look at the details.

Steps to Get a CPA License in Arkansas

  • Meet Education Requirements: Obtain at least 150 semester hours of college education, including a baccalaureate or higher degree with an accounting concentration.
  • Pass the Uniform CPA Examination: Successfully complete all four sections of the CPA Exam. Consider enrolling in a CPA review course for better preparation.
  • Fulfill Experience Requirement: Gain relevant work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA.
  • Complete the AICPA Ethics Exam: This is a self-study course and exam focusing on professional ethics in accounting.
  • Submit CPA License Application: Ensure all necessary paperwork is accurately filled out and submitted.
  • Pay the CPA License Application Fee: This fee is required as part of the licensure process.

CPA Licensure Requirements in Arkansas

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Arkansas is a structured process, governed by specific requirements outlined by the Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy. These requirements fall into several categories, including general prerequisites, educational qualifications, and work experience.

General Prerequisites

  • State Residency: There is no requirement for state residency in Arkansas to obtain a CPA license.
  • Age Limit: Arkansas does not impose a minimum age requirement for CPA exam candidates.
  • Citizenship: Non-U.S. citizens are eligible to become CPAs in Arkansas.
  • Social Security Number: Applicants must provide a Social Security Number.

Educational Qualifications

The educational pathway to CPA licensure in Arkansas involves:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required.
  • Credit Hours Before CPA Exam: Candidates must complete 120 semester hours prior to sitting for the CPA exam.
  • Additional Credit Hours for Licensure: An additional 30 semester hours are required within 3 years of passing the CPA exam, bringing the total to 150 semester hours.
  • Accounting Courses: At least 30 semester units in accounting courses are needed, with a minimum grade of “C” in each course. This is important since as this Reddit thread discusses, many CPA hopefuls wonder if grades matter when it comes to credits.
  • Business Courses: Completion of 30 semester units in business courses is mandatory.

Work Experience Requirements

  • Supervised Experience: Candidates must gain relevant work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA.
  • Duration: The required duration of work experience is typically one year (2000 hours) of full-time employment.
  • Nature of Experience: The experience should involve the use of accounting, attest, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills.
  • Verification: This experience must be verified by a licensed CPA and should meet the standards set by the Arkansas State Board.

“As a CPA expert, I often emphasize the importance of gaining experience hours before earning the CPA designation. This phase is not just a procedural step; it’s a foundational period where aspiring CPAs transform theoretical knowledge into practical skills. In the real world, accounting is more than numbers and regulations; it’s about understanding complex financial landscapes, making ethical decisions, and providing strategic advice. These experience hours offer a unique opportunity to observe and participate in the multifaceted nature of accounting, under the mentorship of seasoned professionals. By the time candidates earn their CPA designation, they are not just passing an exam; they are emerging as well-rounded, experienced professionals ready to make a significant impact in the field.”

– Bryce Welker, CPA

CPA Ethics Requirement

Unlike some states, Arkansas DOES NOT require candidates to pass a separate ethics exam as part of the CPA licensure process. However, this does not diminish the importance of ethics in the profession. CPAs are expected to uphold high ethical standards, which are integral to their role in the business and financial sectors.

CPA Exam and Licensing Fees in Arkansas

Navigating the fee structure for the CPA exam and licensure in Arkansas is an important step in your CPA journey. Here’s a breakdown of the costs involved:

  1. Initial Exam Application Fee: The journey begins with an initial application fee of $50. This fee is required when you first apply to take the CPA exam in Arkansas.
  2. CPA Exam Section Fees: Each section of the CPA exam incurs a fee of $348.80. Since the CPA exam comprises four sections, this fee applies to each section you attempt.
  3. Application-Section Fees: Depending on the number of exam sections you plan to take, there are additional application-section fees. These fees vary based on the number of sections you are applying for and are in addition to the per-section exam fees.
  4. Initial Licensing Fee: Once you have passed the CPA exam and met all other licensure requirements, there is an initial licensing fee of $50 to obtain your CPA license in Arkansas.
  5. Annual License Fee: To maintain your CPA license in Arkansas, there is an annual license renewal fee of $110. This recurring fee is essential to keep your licensure active and in good standing.

Understanding and planning for these fees is crucial as you embark on your path to becoming a CPA in Arkansas. Each fee represents a step in the process, from your initial application to maintaining your licensure as a practicing CPA.

Understanding the CPA Evolution and Changes to the CPA Exam in 2024

The CPA profession is undergoing a significant transformation known as the CPA Evolution. This initiative, a joint effort by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), aims to ensure that CPAs continue to meet the rapidly changing demands of the business world. As part of this evolution, the CPA Exam will undergo major changes in 2024, applicable both in Arkansas and nationwide.

Key Aspects of the CPA Evolution

  • Adaptation to Emerging Trends: The CPA Evolution is a response to the rapidly evolving business environment, technological advancements, and the increasing complexity of the accounting profession.
  • Focus on Skills and Competencies: The new structure emphasizes the skills and competencies required for CPAs in today’s digital age, including data analytics, technology, and business acumen.

Changes to the CPA Exam in 2024

  • Core and Discipline Structure: The exam will be structured differently with a combination of core competencies and specialized disciplines.
    • Core Sections: These will cover essential skills and knowledge that all CPAs need, regardless of their career path. The core areas include Accounting, Auditing, Taxation, and Technology.
    • Discipline Sections: Candidates will choose one of several disciplines in which to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge. These disciplines reflect the diverse career paths in the accounting profession.
  • Updated Content: The exam content will be updated to include more current and relevant topics, particularly in areas like technology and data analytics.
  • Flexible Exam Pathways: The new structure allows for more flexibility, enabling candidates to tailor their learning and examination to their desired career path.

CPA Resources and Local Organizations in Arkansas

Contact For More Information:

Arkansas State Board of Accountancy
101 East Capitol, Suite 450
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: 501-682-1520
Fax: 501-682-5538
Email: [email protected]


What Are the Educational Requirements to Sit for the CPA Exam in Arkansas?

To be eligible for the CPA exam in Arkansas, candidates must have completed 120 semester hours of college education, including specific accounting and business courses. A bachelor’s degree is typically required.

Is Work Experience Necessary for CPA Licensure in Arkansas?

Yes, candidates must acquire relevant work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. This typically involves one year (2000 hours) of full-time employment in a role that utilizes accounting, attest, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills.

How Many Sections Does the CPA Exam Have and What Are the Costs?

The CPA exam consists of four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). Each section costs $348.80 in Arkansas.

What Are the Total Costs for CPA Licensure in Arkansas?

The costs include a $50 initial exam application fee, $348.80 per exam section, variable application-section fees depending on the number of sections taken, a $50 initial licensing fee, and a $110 annual license renewal fee.

Can Non-U.S. Citizens Become CPAs in Arkansas?

Yes, non-U.S. citizens are eligible to become CPAs in Arkansas, provided they meet all other licensure requirements, including education and experience.

Is There a Continuing Education Requirement for CPAs in Arkansas?

Yes, to maintain CPA licensure in Arkansas, CPAs must complete continuing professional education (CPE) hours annually. The specific requirements can vary, so it’s important to check with the Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy for current standards.

How Do I Maintain My CPA License in Arkansas?

Maintaining your CPA license in Arkansas involves paying an annual renewal fee of $110 and fulfilling the state’s CPE requirements. It’s also important to adhere to professional conduct and ethics standards set by the Board.

Are There Any Special Requirements for CPA Licensure for Graduate Degree Holders?

Graduate degree holders may have different requirements, particularly regarding the number of accounting and business credit hours. It’s advisable to consult the Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy for specific details.

What Happens If I Don’t Complete the CPA Exam Within the Required Time Frame?

If you don’t complete all four sections of the CPA exam within the allotted time frame, you may need to retake some sections. The Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy provides guidelines on the validity period of passed exam sections.

Can I Transfer My CPA License to Arkansas from Another State?

Yes, CPAs licensed in other states can apply for licensure in Arkansas through reciprocity. However, they must meet Arkansas’s licensure requirements, which may include additional education, experience, or examination components.

Bryce Welker, CPA

Bryce Welker is a regular contributor to Forbes,, YEC and Business Insider. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant license and created to share his knowledge and experience to help other accountants become CPAs too. Bryce was named one of Accounting Today’s “Accountants To Watch” among other accolades.   As Seen On Forbes