Early Success Reported for Program to Ease Attainment of 150-Hour CPA Education Rule

A pilot program to help accounting graduates earn the required academic credits for CPA licensure has earned positive reviews in limited feedback from students and the accounting firms that employ them.

The program, developed by the AICPA and NASBA, is looking to recruit more students for upcoming semesters.

Thirty-eight students are now enrolled in the Experience, Learn & Earn (ELE) program, as a flexible and affordable way for accounting graduates to complete the CPA licensure requirement of an extra 30 academic credits beyond a typical bachelor’s program. Online classes, offered through Tulane University’s School of Professional Advancement, began in January.

Accounting graduates are recruited into the program by accounting firms (businesses and government entities can also sponsor candidates), which agree to employ them. ELE combines online study with early work experience, so accounting graduates can work toward their CPA license while earning a paycheck.

Tulane offers more than a dozen classes at a cost of $150 per credit hour, with some firms picking up the tab for their employees. More courses are expected to be added.

More than 250 firms of all sizes have expressed interest in the program, which is now open for enrollments for the summer and fall sessions. Milwaukee-based Wipfli (FY23 net revenue of $546.2 million) has five candidates – all from different locations nationwide.

Maureen Pistone, who heads human resources for Wipfli, said the experiment has been a success so far and the firm is looking to expand its number of enrolled recruits. The firm picks up the entire cost of the program for its participants. “The feedback from the five has been that they appreciate the flexibility and affordability,” she said.

The program is soliciting input from students, firms and educators on potential improvements.

“We plan to continue to fine tune and strengthen the ELE,” said NASBA President and CEO Ken Bishop. “The ELE program addresses two important pipeline issues. The cost of the fifth year of college can be a barrier for some potential CPA candidates and the ability for firms to attract, hire and retain new CPA professionals has been challenging, particularly for smaller firms. The early results are promising, and we want to build on that success.”

To learn more about ELE, please visit experiencelearnearn.org. The site includes information for students, educators, firms and other organizations that want to sponsor candidates.


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