Rhode Island CPA Exam & License Requirements: How to Become a CPA in RI

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Are you considering a career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Rhode Island? If so, you’re not alone. According to the American Institute of CPAs, the accounting profession is growing, with over 650,000 CPAs in the United States. Rhode Island, though small, plays a significant role in this expanding field. But wait, there’s more to this journey than meets the eye.

Rhode Island has specific requirements for earning a CPA license, including 150 credit hours of education. However, you can sit for the CPA exam after completing your bachelor’s degree and the required accounting courses. But here’s the kicker: the work experience requirements in Rhode Island are quite standard, necessitating one year of public or non-public accounting, verified by an active US CPA.

Now, let’s dive deeper into what it takes to become a CPA in Rhode Island. From educational prerequisites to exam details, this article provides a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the path to becoming a CPA. So, are you ready to embark on this exciting journey? Let’s explore the steps you need to take to achieve your CPA dreams in Rhode Island.

Steps to Get a CPA License in Rhode Island

  • Fulfill the education requirements: 150 credit hours, including specific accounting and business courses.
  • Gain the necessary work experience: 1 year of public or non-public accounting, supervised and verified by an actively licensed United States CPA.
  • Pass all four sections of the CPA Exam. Consider enrolling in a CPA review course for comprehensive preparation.
  • Complete the AICPA Ethics Exam. The cost for the course is $320, or $250 for AICPA members.
  • Submit all required CPA license application paperwork.
  • Pay the CPA license application fee.

CPA Licensure Requirements in Rhode Island

General Requirements

Rhode Island offers a clear pathway for those aspiring to become Certified Public Accountants. The state mandates specific criteria that candidates must meet to obtain their CPA license. These requirements ensure that all licensed CPAs possess the necessary skills and knowledge to uphold the profession’s standards.

  • Minimum Age: Candidates must be at least 18 years old.
  • Residency: State residency is required for CPA licensure in Rhode Island.
  • Ethics Exam: Passing the AICPA Ethics Exam within two years of passing the CPA exam is a prerequisite.
  • Application Fees: Candidates must pay the relevant application fees during the licensure process.

Education Requirements

The educational prerequisites for CPA licensure in Rhode Island are designed to provide a comprehensive foundation in accounting and related fields.

  • Credit Hours: A total of 150 semester hours is required.
  • Degree: A bachelor’s degree or higher is necessary.
  • Accounting and Business Courses: Candidates must complete specific coursework in accounting and business. The requirements vary based on the level of degree attained:
    • For a graduate degree with a concentration in accounting: At least 21 semester hours in accounting, including courses in fundamental accounting, intermediate financial accounting and reporting, advanced financial accounting and reporting, tax accounting, and auditing.
    • For a graduate degree with a concentration in business: A minimum of 24 semester hours in accounting with similar course requirements as above.
    • For an undergraduate degree: 24 semester hours of accounting and 24 semester hours of business courses, including business law and economics.

Work Experience Requirements

Work experience is a crucial component of the CPA licensure process in Rhode Island, ensuring that candidates have practical skills to complement their academic knowledge.

  • Duration: One year of public or non-public accounting experience is required.
  • Supervision: This experience must be supervised and verified by an actively licensed United States CPA.

For more detailed information and specific guidelines, candidates are encouraged to refer to the Rhode Island Board of Accountancy or contact them directly for any queries or clarifications regarding the CPA licensure process in Rhode Island.

Ethics Exam Requirements in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, as in many other states, passing the AICPA Ethics Exam is a mandatory step in the CPA licensure process. This requirement underscores the importance of ethical standards in the accounting profession. The AICPA Ethics Exam is designed to ensure that all CPAs adhere to the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.

Exam Details and Pricing

  • Cost: The AICPA Ethics Exam course, which includes the exam, is priced at $299. However, AICPA members can avail of a discounted rate of $245.
  • Content: The exam primarily focuses on the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, which outlines the ethical principles that CPAs must follow. It covers critical areas such as independence, integrity, objectivity, general standards, acts discreditable, and other aspects of ethical conduct in accounting.
  • Format: The exam also includes scenarios that require candidates to apply ethical principles to specific, real-world situations.

Study Resources

  • Official Course Material: The AICPA provides a comprehensive ethics course that serves as both a study guide and the primary source material for the exam. This self-study course includes a textbook and practice questions similar to those on the actual exam.
  • Additional Resources: Candidates can also explore online courses, webinars, and seminars offered by educational institutions and CPA review companies for further preparation.

Preparation Tips

  1. Understand the Code of Professional Conduct: Deeply understand the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, focusing on the principles behind the rules. This understanding is crucial for applying these principles to different scenarios.
  2. Practice Real-World Application: Practice applying ethical principles in real-world situations, using case studies or practice questions that mimic the exam format.
  3. Create a Study Schedule: Dedicate specific times for studying the course materials. Regular review and consistency are key to retaining the ethical standards and guidelines.
  4. Utilize Available Resources: Make full use of all available resources, including the AICPA’s official course materials, discussion forums, and additional reading materials for broader insights into professional ethics.
  5. Take Practice Tests: Regularly take practice tests to familiarize yourself with the exam format and question types. This practice will also help identify areas needing more focus.

Rhode Island CPA Licensure and Exam Fees

Education Evaluation Application: Before embarking on the journey to become a Certified Public Accountant in Rhode Island, the first step is to verify your eligibility for the CPA Exam. This is done through the Education Evaluation Application, which assesses if your educational background meets the specific requirements for the CPA Exam in Rhode Island.

  • Education Evaluation Application Fee: The fee for this initial evaluation is $90.00. This fee is necessary to process your application and determine your eligibility based on your educational qualifications.

Exam Section Application: Once your eligibility is confirmed, you can proceed to apply for specific sections of the CPA Exam. It’s important to note that you can apply for only one exam section per application. This step requires careful planning, as you should apply for an exam section only when you are fully prepared to take it.

  • Exam Section Application Fee: The fee for applying for each exam section is $344.80. This fee covers the cost of processing your application and scheduling the specific exam section.

Refund Policy: It’s crucial to understand the refund policy associated with the CPA Exam in Rhode Island. There are no provisions for withdrawing from the examination or requesting an extension of your current Notices to Schedule (NTS).

  • Non-Refundable Fees: Both the application and examination fees are non-refundable. Once you have applied for an exam section, you must take the exam within the validity period of your NTS. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the fees paid.
  • Exception to Policy: In cases of extreme circumstances, candidates may request an NTS extension or a partial refund of examination fees. This is done through the Exception to Policy Form, which is considered under specific conditions.

Licensure Fees: In addition to the application and exam fees, candidates seeking CPA licensure in Rhode Island should also be aware of any licensure fees. These fees are typically required when submitting your final application for licensure after passing the CPA Exam and meeting all other requirements. The specific amount and details regarding these licensure fees can be obtained from the Rhode Island Board of Accountancy.

Understanding these fees and policies is essential for CPA candidates in Rhode Island, ensuring a smooth and informed journey towards achieving CPA licensure.

CPA Evolution and Changes in 2024

The CPA Evolution is a significant transformation in the CPA licensure model that is set to take effect in 2024. 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 are equipped with the skills and knowledge required in a rapidly evolving business environment. The changes reflect the shifting landscape of the accounting profession, emphasizing technology, analytics, and a more comprehensive understanding of business.

The most notable change in the CPA Evolution is the restructuring of the CPA Exam. The new exam format will focus on core competencies in accounting, auditing, tax, and technology. Additionally, candidates will choose one of three disciplines to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge: Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR), Information Systems and Controls (ISC), or Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP).

  • Core Competencies: All candidates will be tested on a set of core competencies that are essential for all CPAs.
  • Discipline-Specific Skills: Candidates will have the opportunity to demonstrate deeper knowledge in one of the three disciplines, aligning their expertise with their career goals or interests.

The Journey to CPA Licensure in Rhode Island: Challenges and Rewards

Embarking on the path to becoming a CPA in Rhode Island is a journey filled with challenges, but it’s one that leads to significant professional rewards. The process, while demanding, is designed to prepare candidates for a successful career in the diverse and dynamic field of accounting.

Here is my grounded advice for those on this path to a CPA in Rhode Island:

Becoming a CPA in Rhode Island is no walk in the park, but it’s definitely worth the effort. The key is to keep your eyes on the prize and remember why you started this journey. Stick to your study plan, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and always keep learning. It’s a tough road, but when you finally get that license, you’ll realize it was one of the best decisions you ever made.

This sentiment is echoed in various forums where CPA candidates and professionals share their experiences. For instance, a Reddit thread dedicated to accounting professionals offers a wealth of first-hand accounts, tips, and support for CPA candidates. These discussions range from study strategies and exam experiences to career advice and moral support. Engaging with such communities can provide invaluable insights and encouragement, reminding candidates that they are not alone in their journey.

The process of becoming a CPA in Rhode Island, from meeting the educational and experience requirements to passing the rigorous exams, tests more than just accounting knowledge. It’s a test of determination, adaptability, and commitment to the highest professional standards. The rewards, however, are well worth the effort. Not only does achieving CPA licensure open doors to diverse career opportunities, but it also instills a sense of accomplishment and professional pride.

RI Exam Information and Resources


What are the educational requirements for CPA licensure in Rhode Island?

To be eligible for CPA licensure in Rhode Island, candidates must complete 150 semester hours of education, including a bachelor’s degree or higher. The coursework must include specific accounting and business courses, with the exact requirements varying based on the level of the degree attained.

Is work experience required for CPA licensure in Rhode Island?

Yes, Rhode Island requires candidates to have one year of public or non-public accounting experience. This experience must be supervised and verified by an actively licensed United States CPA.

How do I apply for the CPA Exam in Rhode Island?

To apply for the CPA Exam in Rhode Island, you must first submit an Education Evaluation Application to determine your eligibility. Once deemed eligible, you can apply for specific exam sections, paying the necessary fees for each section.

What is the cost of the CPA Exam and licensure in Rhode Island?

The Education Evaluation Application Fee is $90.00, and the Exam Section Application Fee is $344.80 per section. Additionally, there may be licensure fees upon completing all the requirements, including passing the CPA Exam.

Is the Ethics Exam required for CPA licensure in Rhode Island?

Yes, passing the AICPA Ethics Exam is a requirement for CPA licensure in Rhode Island. The course and exam cost $299, with a discounted rate of $245 for AICPA members.

Can I take the CPA Exam before completing my education and work experience requirements?

In Rhode Island, candidates may sit for the CPA Exam after completing their bachelor’s degree and the required accounting courses, even if they have not yet met the 150 semester hours or work experience requirements.

How long is the Notice to Schedule (NTS) for the CPA Exam valid in Rhode Island?

The NTS is valid for a limited time, and candidates must take the exam section listed on the NTS within this timeframe. The exact validity period can vary, so it’s important to plan your exam schedule accordingly.

What happens if I don’t pass a section of the CPA Exam?

If you do not pass a section of the CPA Exam, you can reapply to retake that section. However, keep in mind that additional fees will apply, and you should consider adjusting your study strategy to address any areas of weakness.

Are there any continuing education requirements after becoming a CPA in Rhode Island?

Yes, CPAs in Rhode Island are required to complete continuing professional education (CPE) to maintain their licensure.

Bryce Welker, CPA

Bryce Welker is a regular contributor to Forbes, Inc.com, YEC and Business Insider. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant license and created CrushTheCPAexam.com 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