Home2023 CPA Requirements by StateTennessee


Here are the requirements to become a CPA in Tennessee.

accounting classes

Accountancy is one of the world’s oldest professions. With the advent of higher mathematical and accounting methods, trade and commerce were able to flourish. Governments were able to grow as they learned to enact taxation on citizens. From that taxation grew universities, roads and much that we take for granted in the modern world. The field of accountancy is now prevalent in every sector of business and commerce, with Certified Public Accountants (CPA) at the forefront of the profession. Each state has its own criteria for CPAs. Keep reading to learn how to become a CPA in Tennessee.

Tennessee, like many states, requires that CPAs make the grade on the basis of education, the CPA exam results, ethics and experience. However, the state has particular guidelines that make the path to CPA unique to them. Though you will not need to be an in-state resident, a U.S. citizen or of any particular age to become a CPA in Tennessee, you will need a Social Security number. It may be possible to pursue your license if you have a Green Card or other form of taxpayer identification.

Academic Standards

To satisfy Tennessee’s academic requirements, first ensure that your school is properly accredited. You can discuss this with an admissions counselor or your academic advisor. The accrediting bodies that must certify your program are:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • AdvancED (formerly Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges

If you have credits from a non-U.S. college or university and wish for them to count towards licensure, you can have those transcripts evaluated by one of the following:

  • NASBA International Evaluation Services
  • Foreign Academic Credential Services, Inc.
  • Josef Silny & Associates, Inc.
  • World Education Services, Inc.
  • International Education Research Foundation, Inc.
  • International Consultants of Delaware, Inc.
  • Center for Applied Research, Evaluation and Education/International Evaluation
  • Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute

As you pursue an accounting degree, work with your advisor to ensure that you will satisfy the Tennessee State Board of Accountancy’s requirements. The Board requires 150 semester hours, inclusive of a bachelor’s degree, that meet the following criteria:

30 semester hours in accounting; 24 hours of which must be at the upper division level, including courses such as these:

  • Auditing
  • Financial Reporting
  • Taxation
  • Attest
  • Theories of Accounting

24 semester hours in general business courses that may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Business Law
  • Mathematics, including statistics and probability
  • Economics
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Management
  • Business Ethics
  • Business Communications

If you have taken CLEPs, online courses or have coursework from a community college, those credits will transfer, provided that your accredited alma mater accepted them as transfer credits.

Upon completion of the academic portion of the process, have official transcripts from every institution you have attended sent to:

CPA Examination Services – TN
P.O. Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219

CPA Examination

When your transcripts have been assessed and accepted, you will receive a Notice to Schedule for the CPA Exam. From that point, you will have six months to schedule a time to take the test. You can schedule any one of the test’s four parts that you choose, but if you miss the six month window, you will need to pay another application fee.

If you are living outside of the state, but wish to practice in Tennessee, you will be able to transfer exam scores from your current state. However, it may be easiest to take the test inside the state. There five Prometric testing centers in Tennessee to choose from:

  • Chattanooga
  • Clarksville
  • Nashville
  • Cordova
  • Knoxville

The test is very difficult and up to half of all takers must sit for at least one part multiple times. Please be well prepared, as this is one of the hardest professional examinations you can take. The four parts of the exam are as follows:

  • Financial Accounting and Reporting–This covers financial reporting frameworks from several industry experts. Candidates are asked to compare statements that reflect different reporting standards.
  • Auditing and Attestation–This section tests your knowledge of the International Standards of Auditing as well as U.S. standards.
  • Regulation–Your professional and legal responsibilities are covered in this part.
  • Business Environment and Concepts–This portion covers general business concepts and international business. Written skills are essential to successfully complete much of this test.

Ethics Examination

Once you have completed the CPA exam, you can order a self-study course from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for the Ethics Exam. The 11-hour course will prepare you to take the open-book ethics test. Though the test is not terribly difficult, you will need to pass with a minimum score of 90.


Once you have proven yourself on paper, you can move on and show the world that you know your stuff. Tennessee asks that you practice accountancy for no fewer than 2,000 hours within a maximum time frame of three years. During that time, you will need to document your experience providing some or all of the following services:

  • Attestation
  • Accounting
  • Financial advisory
  • Consultation–tax or otherwise

You may choose to work under a licensed CPA in either industry, government, public accountancy or academia.

Once you have your CPA license from the great state of Tennessee, your career is ready to reap the rewards of the profession. CPAs are well paid and there is always demand for a licensed accountant. To learn more about initial licensure, as well as renewals and other matters, visit the state board’s website: Tennessee State Board of Accountancy.