MCE Questions & Answers

Introduction – The Requirement | General Information | Mandatory Ethics Requirement | Continuing Education Hours | Continuing Education Courses and Educational Activities – Acceptable Activities, Subject Areas and Providers | Information for CPE Providers | Application for Continuing Education Sponsor Agreement (PDF)

Introduction – The Requirement

Continuing education requirements are in place in several professions to support continuing professional competency and ensure the highest quality professional services for the public. The continuing education requirements for the profession of Public Accountancy are covered in Section 7409 of the New York State Education Law and Section 70.9 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. This information is designed to respond to frequently asked questions about the CPE requirements for NYS licensed Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and Public Accountants (PAs). It is not a substitute for reading the provisions of the applicable laws, rules and regulations.

General Information

  1. Who is required to complete continuing education?

    Licensed CPAs and PAs, performing any accounting, tax, financial or management advisory work in New York State, including work performed in private industry, government agencies, public accounting firms, not-for-profits, or an academia employer, are required to meet the continuing professional education requirements.

  2. When do newly licensed CPAs begin taking continuing education?

    Newly licensed NY State CPAs become subject to the continuing education requirements on the January 1st immediately following the last day of their initial registration period. The requirements apply to the first full calendar-year in their second registration period.

    Examples for newly licensed CPAs:

    Initial Registration Period Second Registration Period Year MCE Required
    1/1/2012 – 12/31/2014 1/1/2015 – 12/31/2017 Jan 1, 2015
    6/1/2012 – 5/31/2015 6/1/2015 – 5/31/2018 Jan 1, 2016
    12/1/2012 – 11/30/2015 12/1/2015 – 11/30/2018 Jan 1, 2016
    1/1/2013 – 12/31/2015 1/1/2016 – 12/31/2018 Jan 1, 2016

  3. How many hours of CPE must be completed?

    NY Certified Public Accountants are subject to the requirements in A and B:

    1. Either 24 or 40 contact hours of acceptable formal continuing education completed from January 1st through December 31st of each calendar-year (24 if concentrated in one of the recognized subject areas or 40 if in any combination of recognized subject areas); and
    2. 4 contact hours of acceptable professional ethics completed during every three calendar years. These 4 credits of ethics may be counted toward your 24 or 40 CPE credits in the calendar year that you actually complete the ethics course.

    See below for more detailed information on these requirements.

  4. Who is exempt from continuing education requirements?

    CPAs who are not in their initial registration period must have Board approval prior to being exempted from the continuing education requirements.

    1. All newly licensed CPAs (including endorsements from other licensing jurisdictions) are automatically exempted from meeting CPE requirements during their initial triennial registration period. A new licensee shall become subject to the mandatory continuing education requirements on January 1st immediately following the last day of the initial registration period. See examples in Question 2.
    2. Licensees who are not performing within the scope of practice in New York State or for New York State clients may request an exemption from mandatory CPE requirements by filing a written statement with the Department. This statement can be filed in one of two ways:
      1. On your registration renewal document, check "No" and "will not be in public practice in NYS" to questions; or
      2. E-mail a request to the State Board for Accountancy Office at That statement must include:
        1. Your full name as it appears on your license,
        2. Your license number,
        3. You must also provide your current job title, employer name, work location, and an explanation of job duties.
        4. You must provide a statement that you are familiar with the requirements of the law and that you are not working within the scope of practice and believe you are eligible for an exemption under those provisions.

      You are not exempt from continuing education until formally approved by the Board. If you are granted an exemption, you are not allowed to use the ‘CPA’ designation and you are not allowed to practice public accountancy in New York until such exemption is lifted.

    3. A licensee who claims a medical, military or other hardship exemption may request an exemption from CPE requirements if he or she is prevented from practicing. Medical related problems must be certified by a physician. Military exemptions require current military orders. Extreme hardship cases are handled on a case-by-case basis. If you are granted a medical, military or hardship exemption, you are not allowed to practice public accountancy until such exemption is lifted and you are not allowed to use the ‘CPA’ designation.

  5. What is required under the Attest and Compilation Competency Rules? How many CPE hours are required?

    Attest and Compilation Competency Rules: Any licensee who supervises attest services or signs or authorizes someone to sign an accountant's report on the financial statements of a client for attest services must be in compliance with A, B, and C, and for compilation services be in compliance with B and C:

      1. have at least 1,000 hours of experience within the previous five years in providing attest services or reporting on financial statements gained through employment in government, private industry, public practice or an educational institution satisfactory to the State Board for Public Accountancy; or
      2. be employed by a firm registered with the Department pursuant to section 70.8 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education that has undergone a peer review satisfactory to the Department which indicates that the firm has received a rating of pass or pass with deficiencies; and
    2. have completed at least 40 hours of continuing education in the area of accounting, auditing or attest during the prior three calendar years or in the calendar year in which the service is performed; and
    3. C.have maintained the level of education, experience and professional conduct required by generally accepted professional standards, relating to the attest and/or compilations services performed.

  6. When and how do I report completion of my required continuing education?

    You do not need to report your CPE compliance on an annual basis. However, on your registration renewal document, you are required to affirm your compliance during the most recently past registration period.

    Pursuant to Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, you are responsible for maintaining a record of all the CPE hours you complete. Your records must include the Certificates of Completion as issued by the CPE provider. The certificates must include the following information for each program for which you are claiming CPE credit: your name, the program title, the program sponsor's name, the program sponsor ID number, the subject area, the number of CPE credits awarded, the delivery method, and the program date and location. You must keep these certificates for at least 5 years and they must be made available to the Department upon request.

    Monthly, the State Board for Public Accountancy office conducts random audits of licensee CPE records. Failure to produce comprehensive records in a timely manner is grounds for disciplinary action including suspension or revocation of a license and/or fines.

  7. I am licensed in New York State, but my registration is inactive. Do I need to complete continuing education before I can reactivate my registration and return to practice?

    Yes. To reactivate your registration you will need to certify at a minimum that you completed 24 hours of acceptable CPE in the 12 month period immediately prior to the date you file to reactivate the registration. If you were practicing during the period while you were registered inactive, you may need to complete additional CPE. To return to practice contact the Board at

Mandatory Ethics Requirement

  1. Who is required to meet the mandatory ethics requirement?

    Any licensed CPA or PA who is subject to the Mandatory Continuing Education requirement (see Questions 1 and 3).

  2. I am licensed in multiple jurisdictions; do I have to take a NYS-specific ethics course?

    An individual who is licensed in multiple jurisdictions is required to meet the ethic’s requirement as mandated by the State in which their principal place of business is located. A licensee who is licensed in multiple jurisdictions and whose principal place of business is New York must take a New York State specific ethics course.

  3. How do I know if the ethics course I want to take will meet the New York requirement?

    To be acceptable, the ethics course must focus on professional ethics. New York State will not accept behavioral ethics as a substitute for professional ethics. Behavioral ethics will be categorized in the Advisory Services subject area.

    If NY State is your principal place of business, only an ethics course that is approved by NYSED is acceptable.

    If you are only licensed in NY State, only an ethics course that is approved by NYSED is acceptable.

    If your principal place of business is outside NY State, and you are licensed in that state, an ethics course that is provided by any of the following will meet this requirement:

    1. A NY State-registered CPE sponsor that is approved to provide ethics courses.
    2. A NASBA-approved CPE sponsor.
    3. A sponsor that is approved by the licensing authority of the state which is your principal place of business.

Continuing Education Hours

  1. What is an hour of continuing education?

    An hour of continuing education credit is awarded for one contact hour of at least 50 minutes in duration. CPE providers inform participants of the recommended CPE credit for each particular program and provide formal completion certificates awarding the appropriate number of credits to each program attendee.

  2. I have taken college courses to complete my CPE requirements. How much CPE credit do I receive for a college course?

    CPE credit may be claimed for college-level courses that are within the allowable CPE subject areas. If the college has 15 week semesters, one semester credit equals 15 CPE hours. If the college has 10 week semesters (trimesters or quarters), one credit equals 10 CPE hours. A copy of an official transcript is acceptable documentation of this course work for CPE credit.

  3. If I complete more hours of continuing education than are required in one year, can I use them toward the hours required in a subsequent year?

    No. Section 7409 of the State Education Law clearly states that the CPE requirement is to be met on an annual basis and that no credits may be transferred from one year to a subsequent year. CPE tracking and reporting runs on a standard January 1 - December 31 year.

Continuing Education Courses and Educational Activities – Acceptable Activities, Subject Areas and Providers

  1. What are acceptable continuing education activities?

    Acceptable continuing education activities include:

    • Taking a CPE course from a NYS-registered CPE provider.
    • Taking a CPE course from a NASBA-registered CPE provider.
    • Taking a CPE course from a CPE provider registered by the State Board for Accountancy in the state in which the course is taken.

    The three methods below are only eligible to earn half your annual CPE requirement. (Annually, the maximum CPE you can earn from the three methods below is 12 or 20 hours, depending on whether you are meeting the 24 or 40 contact hours, respectively.)

    • Preparing and teaching a formal CPE course offered by a NYS approved CPE provider, provided that you have not taught the course before. You can claim credit for teaching a course you have taught before only if you significantly revise the information and material you present. You can claim 1 hour of CPE credit for each hour of the actual presentation plus actual preparation time of up to 2 hours of preparation time for each one hour taught.
    • Preparing and teaching a credit-bearing course at a regionally or nationally accredited college or university provided that you have not taught the course before. You may claim credit for teaching a course you have taught before only if you significantly revise the information and material you present. The content area of the course must fall within the approved subject areas. If the college has 15 week semesters, one-semester hour of college-level work equals 15 CPE hours. If the college has 10 week semesters (trimesters), one-trimester hour of college-level course work equals 10 CPE hours.
    • Authoring an article published in a peer-refereed journal or publishing a book in one of the approved subject areas. CPE will be awarded based on article preparation time.

  2. What are the approved continuing education subject areas?

    The seven approved subject areas are specified in the State Education Law §7409(4). They are:

    1. Accounting
      1. Fraud
      2. Internal Controls
      3. Risk Assessment
    2. Auditing
    3. Attestation
    4. Taxation
    5. Advisory Services
      1. Administrative Practice
      2. Behavioral Ethics
      3. Business Law
      4. Business Management & Organization
      5. Communications
      6. Computer Science
      7. Economics
      8. Finance
      9. Management Advisory Services
      10. Marketing: NOTE: Reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Promotional marketing is not accepted
      11. Personal Development
      12. Production
      13. Social Environment of Business
      14. Statistics
    6. Specialized Knowledge and Applications Related to Specialized Industries
      1. Personnel/HR
      2. Special Knowledge and Applications
    7. Professional Ethics
      1. Regulatory Ethics
      2. Ethics and Professional Conduct
      3. State specific ethics

    In order to be eligible for CPE credit, regardless of the subject area, a course must contribute to the development or maintenance of professional knowledge. Credit will not be given for courses that focus on the marketing of professional services or improving the profitability of an accounting firm or practice.

    Click here for a Detailed Description of CPE Subject Areas. Click here for a NASBA-NYS crosswalk of subject areas.

  3. How can I find an approved CPE provider?

    The Board maintains a list of NYS approved sponsors: Click here to the listing of New York State-registered CPE providers.

    NASBA maintains their own list of approved providers: Click here for the listing of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) registered CPE providers. Other State Boards maintain their own listings.

Information for CPE Providers

  1. Who is eligible to become a New York State-registered CPE provider?

    The New York State Education Department will register:

    • A regionally accredited or Regents-approved University or College or division thereof
    • A widely recognized national or state accounting organization, a local chapter thereof, or an educational foundation thereof
    • An accounting firm registered with the Department and presenting in-house programs
    • A group of accounting firms, each of which is registered with the Department, that presents programs offered within the group
    • Another type of organization that provides satisfactory evidence that it has adequate resources and administrative procedures to conduct a formal continuing education program relevant to the practice of public accountancy

  2. Can a CPE Provider that is not registered in New York State offer live CPE in New York State?

    If a provider is a NASBA approved provider, they may offer live courses in NY.

  3. How does my firm or organization register as a New York State-approved CPE Provider?

    You must complete the Application for Continuing Education Sponsor Agreement and return it with the application fee to the State Board for Public Accountancy for review. The responsibilities of the registered CPE provider are outlined on the Form CPA 60 included in the application packet.

  4. How long is the registration period for a CPE Provider?

    A CPE Provider is registered for an initial 1 year period. Subsequent registration periods are for 3 years
Last Updated: January 16, 2015