MCE Questions & Answers
(This page reflects changes brought about by Chapter 651 of the Laws of 2008.)
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)
All licensed CPAs and PAs engaged in the practice of public accountancy in New York State are required to meet continuing education requirements. The mandatory CPE requirements become effective in a licensee's second registration period. CPE is not required during a licensee's initial triennial registration period.
In each January 1 - December 31 CPE reporting year (except during the licensee's initial triennial registration period) the licensee may either:
- Complete a minimum of 40 contact hours of acceptable formal continuing education in any of the recognized subject areas, or
- Complete a minimum of 24 contact hours of acceptable formal continuing education concentrated in one subject area.
Additionally, for all licensees subject to mandatory CPE requirements, at least 4 of the contact hours taken during any registration period must be in professional ethics. These 4 credits may be counted toward the annual CPE requirement in the calendar year that they are completed. If the licensee is completing a concentration of 24 credits in one subject area, the 4 credits of ethics can be counted toward the concentration area, if and only if, the ethics course is specialized in the same concentration area.
The continuing education requirements 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 CPAs and PAs. It is not a substitute for reading the provisions of the applicable laws, rules and regulations.
- Who is required to take continuing education and how many hours must be completed?
If you are a licensed CPA or PA and you perform any accounting, tax, financial or management advisory work in New York State, including work you perform in a private industry, governmental, public accounting, a not-for-profit, or an educational employer, you are required to participate in Continuing Professional Education (CPE).
All NYS CPAs become subject to the CPE requirements on the first January 1 in their second registration period. Once subject to the requirement, during the January 1 - December 31 year, the licensee must complete either:
- a minimum of 40 contact hours of acceptable formal continuing education in any of the recognized subject areas, or
- a minimum of 24 contact hours of acceptable formal continuing education concentrated in one subject area.
Additionally, once subject to the CPE requirements, the licensee must also complete 4 credits of acceptable professional ethics CPE between the start date and end date of every registration period.
NOTE: Chapter 651 of the Laws of 2008 changed NYS' CPE reporting year from a September 1 - August 31 year to a January 1 - December 31 year, effective with the 2009 calendar year. Because 2009 is the year of transition, any relevant CPE credits completed from September 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009 will be accepted toward the 2009 calendar year reporting period.
- Who is exempt from continuing education requirements?
- All newly licensed CPAs (including endorsements from other licensing jurisdictions) are automatically exempted from meeting CPE requirements during their initial triennial registration period. CPE requirements do not take effect until the second registration period.
- Licensees who are not performing any type of accounting, tax, financial or management advisory work in New York State may request and receive an exemption from mandatory CPE requirements by filing a written statement with the Department. This statement can be filed in one of two ways - Check "No" and "will not be in public practice in NYS" to questions 5a and 5b respectively on your registration renewal document or e-mail a request to the State Board for Accountancy Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. That statement must include your full name as it appears on your license, your license number, a statement that you are familiar with the requirements of the new law and that you believe you are eligible for inactive status under those provisions. You must also provide your current job title and employer name and location with a brief explanation of why you are eligible for a waiver of the CPE requirement (e.g., an explanation of job duties or unpaid position).
- A licensee who is engaged in public practice may receive an exemption from CPE requirements if he or she is prevented from complying because of a health related problem as certified by a physician, extended active duty in the United States Armed Forces, or other situation that imposes extreme hardship. To obtain such a waiver the licensee must either check "No" and "in practice in NYS, but claiming a health exemption" on his or her registration form, or check "No" and submit a statement noting that you are not performing any of the work noted in the previous paragraph. A licensee claiming such an exemption must provide appropriate documentation to substantiate the claim upon request by the Education Department.
- When and how do I report completion of my required continuing education?
The CPE reporting year runs from January 1 to December 31, regardless of the start and end dates of your registration period. You are required to complete the appropriate number of CPE contact hours between January 1 and December 31 every year, beginning on the first January 1st in your second registration period. If your second registration period starts on January 1, you become subject to the CPE requirement on the first day of your second registration period. You do not need to report your CPE compliance on an annual basis. You are required, however to affirm whether you were in compliance with CPE requirements for the registration period that is ending on your registration renewal document.
You are responsible for maintaining a record of all the CPE hours you complete. Your records 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 New York ID number, the subject area, the number of CPE credits awarded, and the program date and location. You must keep documents supporting these records (e.g. CPE completion certificates for each program) for at least 5 years after the completion date of each program. These documents are held by the licensee, but must be made available to the Department upon request. The State Board for Public Accountancy office conducts regular random audits of licensee CPE records. Failure to produce comprehensive written records upon request is grounds for possible disciplinary action including suspension or revocation of a license and/or fines.
- I just received my NYS CPA license and am in my first triennial registration period. Do I need to complete the continuing education requirements completely?
No. Licensees in their first triennial registration period are not required to participate in mandatory continuing education. CPE is an annual requirement that must be fulfilled between January 1 and December 31. You will become subject to the CPE requirements on the first January 1st in your second registration period.
- 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?
If you reactivate your registration between February 1, 2009 and July 31, 2010 you will not be required to complete CPE before the registration is reactivated. You will, however, be required to complete the full annual mandatory CPE requirement in the calendar year that you reactivate your registration.
If you reactivate your registration after July 31, 2010, you will need to certify that you completed 24 hours of acceptable CPE in the 12 month period immediately prior to the date you file for reactivation of the registration. You will not need to take an ethics course as part of these 24 credits to re-activate your registration. The 24 credits needed to reactivate your registration can be taken in any one or a combination of the acceptable subject areas.
- I have an active registration in New York State, but claimed an exemption from the CPE requirement because I have not been in public practice in NYS. I plan to return to public practice. What do I need to do?
You must notify the State Board for Public Accountancy in writing of your intent to return to public practice before you begin that practice. If you resume practice prior to July 31, 2010, you will not be required to complete any CPE before the exemption can be lifted and you can resume practice. You will, however, be required to complete the full annual CPE requirement for the calendar year in which you remove the exemption.
If you return to practice after July 31, 2010 you will be required to provide documentation (sponsor certificates) showing that you completed 24 credits of acceptable CPE in the 12 months immediately prior to the date that you notify the Board of your intention to resume public practice. You may mail , fax or e-mail your notification and documentation to:
NY State Education Department
Office of the Professions
State Board for Public Accountancy
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12234-1000
- Who is required to meet the mandatory ethics requirement?
Any licensed CPA or PA who is subject to the mandatory CPE requirement (see question 1, above) must take at least 4 credits of professional ethics course work during every registration period. If you meet your annual CPE requirement by completing 40 CPE credits in a combination of subject areas, these 4 credits of ethics may be counted toward your 40 CPE credits in the calendar year that you actually complete the ethics course. If you meet your annual CPE requirement by completing a concentration of 24 credits in one subject area, then you may count the 4 credits of ethics toward your concentration if the ethics course is specialized in the same concentration area.
- I am licensed in multiple jurisdictions; do I have to take a NYS-specific ethics course?
An individual who is licensed in multiple jurisdictions and whose principal place of business is outside of New York can meet New York's ethics requirement by taking 4 CPE credits of ethics specific to the primary state of practice within every registration period. An individual who is licensed solely in New York must take a New York State specific ethics course.
- 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.
If you are taking any New York State-specific ethics course then the course provider must be registered with the New York State Education Department to deliver NYS ethics CPE. If you take a non-New York State-specific ethics course, then the provider must be approved to provide ethics by the Board of Accountancy of the jurisdiction in which the course is given.
- 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.
- 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, but are not included within the education requirements for licensure. When you complete college-level course work for CPE credit, one-semester hour of college-level work equals 15 CPE contact hours and one-quarter credit hour of college-level course work equals 10 contact hours. A copy of an official transcript is acceptable documentation of this course work for CPE credit.
- How is credit awarded for self-study courses? What are "50 minute hours" and "100 minute hours"?
Effective July 26, 2009, NYS makes no distinction in CPE credits recognized for interactive vs. non-interactive self-study courses. Credit for any self-study course may be awarded and recognized based on a 50-minute hour.
- If I complete more hours of continuing education than is 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, with the exception of the 2009 calendar year. Because 2009 is the year of transition from a September 1 - August 31 CPE reporting year to a January 1 - December 31 reporting year, Section 7409 of the State Education Law provides an exception that allows any relevant CPE credits completed from September 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009 to be counted toward the 2009 calendar year reporting period.
Continuing Education Courses and Educational Activities – Acceptable Activities, Subject Areas and Providers
- What are acceptable continuing education activities?
Acceptable continuing education activities include:
- Taking a live CPE course in NYS, in one or more of the approved subject areas, from a NYS-registered CPE provider when the course is held in NYS.
- Taking a live CPE course outside of NYS, in one or more of the approved subject areas, from a NYS-registered or NASBA-approved CPE provider or a provider approved by the licensing body in that state.
- Taking a self-study CPE course, in one or more of the approved subject areas, from a NYS-registered sponsor,
- 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 college course 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 course must be delivered for academic credit at a regionally accredited college or university. The content area of the course must fall within the approved subject areas. However you may not claim CPE credit for teaching any one of the accounting courses that is required for licensure as a CPA. CPE credit for teaching a college course is recognized based on 15 CPE credits per credit hour of course delivery. Thus teaching a 3 credit college course would be worth 45 CPE credits.
Authoring an article published in a peer-refereed journal or publishing a book in one of the approved subject areas. Credit for course preparation and teaching and publishing shall not exceed half of the total number of contact hours claimed during any registration period.
- What are the approved continuing education subject areas?
The six approved subject areas are specified in the State Education Law §7409(4). They are:
- Advisory Services
- Specialized knowledge and applications related to specialized industries
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.
- How can I find an approved CPE provider?
If you take a live course in New York State or any self-study course, regardless of where you are located, you must take it from a New York State-registered CPE provider.
If you are taking a live course outside of New York State, you may take it from a New York State-registered CPE provider or a CPE provider who has registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).
- 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
- Can a CPE Provider that is not registered in New York State offer CPE to New York State CPAs?
New York State CPAs can take live CPE courses from a National Association of State Board for Public Accountancy (NASBA)-registered provider only if the course is offered outside of New York State. Self-study courses, regardless of physical location, and live courses in New York State must always be taken from a New York State-registered sponsor. Live webcasts or webinars are considered to be live courses offered in NYS if the program originates from a location in NYS. They are considered to be live courses offered outside of NYS if the program originates from a location outside of NYS.
- 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.
- 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.