Home2023 CPA Requirements by StateIllinois


If you are planning to become a Certified Public Accountant, Illinois is a great choice.


Illinois is home to Chicago, which has one of the strongest financial services markets in the nation. If you are planning to become a Certified Public Accountant, Illinois is a great choice. If the hustle of a big city is not for you, there are also many small and mid-sized towns in which to practice. Since the CPA license is one of the most prized in all of the business world, it’s time to acquaint yourself with the laws and regulations about how to become a CPA in Illinois.

General Requirements

Illinois, like many states, does not have a state residency requirement for its CPA licensees. Nor does the state require that you be a U.S. Citizen and a Social Security number is optional. The state does have specific requirements for education, ethics, and experience—and for the CPA exam. Make sure that you study these standards prior to starting your journey towards achieving the top accountancy license.


Many states require 150 semester hours, inclusive of a bachelor’s degree, in their licensure standards. Some also require that only 120 of those (including the degree) be completed for you to sit for the uniform CPA exam. Illinois, on the other hand, asks that you complete all 150 prior to sitting for the exam. After you have completed your undergraduate degree, you could continue taking upper-level undergraduate credits or move on to a graduate degree and Illinois offers multiple options for completing the education requirement.

Option 1 – Undergraduate degree with any major

Accounting Courses

30 baccalaureate hours that include the following coursework:

  • Financial Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Taxation
  • Management Accounting
  • Two hours performing research and analysis of accounting theories
  • Maximum of three hours from internships or other accounting experience

24 baccalaureate hours in business courses:

  • Economics
  • Business Law
  • Business Ethics
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Statistics
  • Information Systems
  • Quantitative Methods

Option 2 – Undergraduate degree in accounting from a regionally accredited institution

Complete the required coursework to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Option 3 – Graduate degree in business including 30 hours in accounting

  • Managerial Accountancy
  • Taxation
  • Financial Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Two hours of Research and Analysis

It is imperative that your college or university have full accreditation from a regional authority that meets the standards of the Illinois board. To check that your school’s accreditation is acceptable, its accrediting body must be a member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and either AACSB or ACBSP. Discuss this with your college advisor if you have questions. If your primary school is accredited but you choose to take a summer accounting course from an online or community college, make sure that they have also earned the necessary accreditation.

When you have completed all of your coursework, you will need to request official transcripts from your college registrar’s office. If you have them sent to your residence, keep them in their original sealed envelope. You can also have the transcripts sent directly to the Illinois board for inclusion in your application folder.

Uniform CPA Examination

With your coursework out of the way, you can move on to applying for the uniform CPA examination offered by the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA.) This is a 4-part exam that is considered one of the most difficult professional exams to pass. Once you pass it, however, you will have the immediate esteem of anyone in the business community. In fact, many pass it and only opt for an Illinois CPA certificate rather than a full license. Lawyers or financial professionals may opt for this route in case they have no need or desire to pursue an exclusively accountancy practice.

The four parts of the exam are:

  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)–Tests your knowledge of the financial reporting frameworks from several industry experts. You will be asked to compare statements that reflect different reporting standards.
  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)–A test of your knowledge of the International Standards of Auditing as well as U.S. standards.
  • Regulation (REG)–Your professional and legal duties are covered in this test.
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)–This portion covers general business concepts and international business. Written communication skills are vital to complete much of the test.

When you initially apply for any part of the exam, you will have six months to take and pass that portion or else you will need to reapply and remit more money for application fees. Once you have passed your first section, you will have 18 rolling months to pass all four parts.

Ethics Examination

The last test you will need to take for licensure is the AICPA Ethics Examination. This is part of an 11-hour self-study course that you can order from the AICPA website. It will come on a CD-ROM you can use in your PC or Mac. It includes multiple choice questions for study and review. The final exam is considered rather easy and is an open-book exam. However, you must pass with a score of at least 90, so be diligent in your preparation.


Finally, you must complete one year of experience under the mentor ship of a licensed CPA. You may work in government, public accountancy, private accountancy, or as a professor in academia. Working experience must cover one or more of the following areas:

  • Accounting
  • Attestation
  • Management Advisory
  • Financial Advisory
  • Tax Consultation

Whether you take up an office in Chicago or work as a sole proprietor in Niles, a career as an Illinois CPA is bound to be rewarding. Take a look at the Illinois Board’s website for all up-to-date information regarding licensure: Illinois Board of Examiners.