Illinois CPA Exam and License Requirements

Updated on April 22, 2024
Article byHimani Bhatt
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is Illinois CPA Exam And License Requirements?

Illinois CPA (Certified Public Accountant) License is a state-board issued accounting credential offered in the Land of Lincoln. The state mandates the Illinois Board of Examiners (ILBOE) to lay down the education, exam, and other requirements to acquire the CPA license.

Illinois CPA Exam & License Requirements

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However, please note that the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is the CPA License issuing authority, while the ILBOE confers the CPA Certificate. Being a two-tier state, Illinois requires candidates to apply for the CPA Certificate after qualifying the CPA Exam and the Ethics Exam. Thereafter, the certificate holders must fulfill the experience and other conditions to receive the license from the IDFPR. 

Illinois CPA Exam And License Requirements Explained

The CPA License is the official permit that confers all rights and privileges to practice public accounting in the state. On the other hand, the CPA Certificate just allows you to use the designation. Know that the U.S. province also participates in the International Examination Program.

Now, let’s examine the Illinois CPA exam and license requirements closely. 

Minimum ageNone
U.S. CitizenshipNot required
Illinois residencyNot required
Social Security number (SSN)Required for CPA license (not for certificate)
Education requirement for CPA ExamA bachelor’s degree with 150 semester hours
Education requirement for licensureA bachelor’s degree with 150 semester hours
Experience requirement for licensure1 year of full-time experience
Ethics examAICPA Professional Ethics Exam

Here is the Illinois CPA licensure process.

Illinois CPA licensure process

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Illinois CPA Exam Requirements

Ethics Requirements

CPA Certification Process

Illinois CPA License Requirements

Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

Illinois Exam Information & Resources

Illinois CPA Exam Requirements

The computerized Uniform CPA Examination incorporates four sections. It tests different facets of the accounting profession to assess your capability and professionalism as an entry-level CPA.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) maintains, scores, and develops the exam in collaboration with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). 

You must score 75 points on a scale of 0-99 in each of the following sections to qualify the exam:

Each of these sections consists of five testlets to be finished in four hours. The exam has three types of questions: multiple-choice questions (MCQs), task-based simulations (sims), and written communication tasks (WCTs). You have 18 months from the date you pass the first section to finish the exam.

Please note that AUD, FAR, and REG consists of only MCQs and sims. At the same time, BEC includes WCTs along with MCQs and sims. 

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Eligibility Requirements

Illinois exam applicants must earn at least 150 semester hours (225 quarter hours) from a regional academic institute that is:

  • A member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
  • Accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP)

The applicants may acquire the required education through one of the following ways:

ParticularsPathway 1Pathway 2Pathway 3
DegreeGraduate degree in accountingGraduate degree in businessBaccalaureate degree with any major or graduate degree in subjects other than accounting or business
Academic InstituteMember of CHEA and accredited by AACSB or ACBSPMember of CHEA and accredited by AACSB or ACBSPMember of CHEA
Total Hours150 semester hours150 semester hours150 semester hours
Accounting Hours30 semester credit hours in accounting in the following subjects:30 semester credit hours in accounting in the following subjects:
Managerial AccountingManagerial Accounting
Financial AccountingFinancial Accounting
Business Hours24 semester credit hours in business, including:
2 semester hours of Business Communication
3 semester hours of Business Ethics

Applicants may also get life experience and internship credits for accounting and business requirements. However, the credits must not exceed the following limits:

  • Maximum 3 semester hours toward 30-semester hour accounting requirement
  • Maximum 3 semester hours toward 24-semester hour business requirement


Candidates testing at U.S. Prometric centers:

CPA Exam SectionsExam Fees (per section)Total Exam Fees (all sections)Application FeesTotal Fees
4 exam sections$226.15$904.6$120$1024.6
3 exam sections$226.15$678.45$108$786.45
2 exam sections$226.15$452.3$76$528.3
1 exam sections$226.15$226.15$40$266.15

Candidates testing at International Prometric Centers:

CPA Exam SectionsExam Fees (per section)Total Exam Fees (all sections)Registration FeesTotal Fees
4 exam sections$356.55$1426.2$120$1,546.2
3 exam sections$356.55$ 1,069.65$108$ 1,177.65
2 exam sections$356.55$ 713.1$76$ 789.1
1 exam sections$356.55$356.55$40$ 396.55

Remember to pay the examination fees via the NASBA Payment Coupon within the expiration period, i.e., 90 days. Also, you must take up the selected section(s) within six months of the Notice to Schedule (NTS) expiry period.

Required Documents

Below-mentioned is the list of the required documents.

Illinois CPA Exam Required Documents

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Please note that official transcript(s) may also be submitted electronically directly from the academic institution to [email protected].

Here are the credential evaluation charges:

Service Fees
Domestic Credential Evaluation $200
Pre-evaluation Application $50

Application Process

Before applying for the CPA Exam, you must create an online account with ILBOE and submit a domestic credential evaluation application and fee. The evaluation result release may take 6-8 weeks. Note that you can proceed to submit your initial exam application and fee before or after getting your evaluation results. However, the exam application will be accepted only after the approval of your evaluation.

On acceptance of your application, you may proceed to create a NASBA Online account and pay the exam fees. After that, NASBA issues the NTS through which you can schedule and take the desired exam sections.

Here is the Illinois CPA examination process.

Illinois CPA examination process

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Ethics Requirements

Illinois also requires you to pass an Ethics Exam to obtain the CPA Certificate. Then, you may proceed toward fulfilling the licensure requirements. 

Ensure to complete the AICPA self-study course named “Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course.” Take the online test at the end of the course and obtain a minimum of 90% to pass. 

Here lie all the details. 

Particulars Requirements
Course Title Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course
Course Provider AICPA
Vendor AICPA
Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS)
Format Self-study course
Open-book exam
Passing Score 90%
Score Expiration Date No expiry
Exam Mode Online
Fees AICPA Members $189
Non-AICPA Members $245
Illinois CPA Society Members $99
Course Level Basic
When to take up the course? Any time before certification
Steps to Follow Buy the course from AICPA or ICPAS
Go through the study material
Take up the Exam
Get the result immediately
Course Content Integrity, Objectivity, & Professional Conduct
Independence Requirements
Ethics Interpretations
Conceptual Framework
AICPA Code of Professional Conduct
Activities defaming the CPA profession

Certification Process

The details below provides an overview of the method of obtaining the certificate and the license application method.

Once your ILBOE online account reflects your CPA Exam and Ethics Exam score, the ILBOE begins the certification process. You will receive a certification letter listing your certification number and certification date through email. The ILBOE sends this information to the IDFPR.

You may apply to IDFPR for the license after the second week of receiving the certification letter via email. You will receive a hard copy certificate six weeks from the certification letter’s date.

Please note that candidates can also receive the CPA Certificate after successfully passing the International Qualifications Exam (IQEX) with a minimum of 75 points. They must submit their examination score to the ILBOE. 

Illinois CPA License Requirements

Now that you know the CPA exam requisites, let’s look into the requirements for obtaining the Illinois CPA License. Applicants must fulfill the following licensure preconditions:

  • Obtain Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Meet 150 semester hours of education
  • Pass the Uniform CPA Exam with at least 75 points in each section
  • Pass the AICPA Professional Ethics Examination
  • Gain one year of relevant work experience

There is no minimum age, U.S. citizenship, or state residency requisites to be fulfilled for licensure. Note that if the candidates apply for a license after four years of receiving the CPA Certificate, they must also meet the following requirements:

  • 90 hours of continuing professional education (CPE), including:
    • 4 hours of professional ethics
    • 1 hour of sexual harassment training (from an IDFPR-approved provider)

Candidates must meet the CPE requirement within three years immediately before the licensure application date. Apply for your license with the non-refundable fees ($120) and transcripts to IDFPR. For information on the complete process, please check the IDFPR official portal. Also, look at CPEs for CPA

Education Requirements

Illinois CPA aspirants must complete 150 semester hours with at least a bachelor’s or graduate degree from an accredited academic institute. For more information, kindly visit the Eligibility Requirements section. 

Exam Requirements

Applicants must pass the four-part licensure test within a rolling 18-month period. Ensure to score at least 75 points in each section. Refer to the Illinois Exam Requirements section for complete details. 

Experience Requirements

Below-mentioned is the checklist for experience requirements. 

Illinois CPA Experience Requirements

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Note that it is not essential to acquire the experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. 

Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

Given below are the license renewal requirements and the career opportunities it offers.

The Illinois CPA License requires renewal every three years with 120 CPE credit hours. Moreover, you must obtain the necessary hours only through programs offered by the NASBA National Registry of Sponsors.

Let’s take a look at all the details.

Particulars Requirements
Date to Renew License September 30 (Triennially)
CPE Reporting Interval January 10-September 30 (Triennially)
Required CPE Hours 120 hours
Ethics Hours 4 hours
Other CPE Requirement 1 hour in Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
Credit Limitations Instruction Maximum 60 hours
Non-verifiable CPE Maximum 60 hours
Personal Development Maximum 24 hours
Published Materials Maximum 30 hours
Self-Study Maximum 80 hours
Non-interactive Self-Study Maximum 60 hours
CPE Credit Calculation Instruction Credit = Presentation plus preparation
Partial Credit Half credits are allowed after the first hour
Non-interactive Self-Study 1/2 CPE hour for every full hour earned
University/College 1 semester hour = 15 CPE hours
1 quarter hour = 10 CPE hours
Other State Policies Program sponsors must be members of NASBA’s National Registry or Board approved
Non-Illinois residents are considered compliant with CPE requirements (excluding 1-hour Sexual Harassment Prevention Training) if found compliant with their state’s CPE requirements

Illinois is an exceptional state to hold the most reputed accounting license. It offers you the best of both worlds. You may grasp countless opportunities in big cities or work in the calming yet resourceful small towns.  

The IDFPR, ILBOE, and ICPAS websites offer access to timely information about changes to the Illinois CPA exam and license requirements. Moreover, you may also participate in their virtual fairs and avail several accounting jobs or internships. 

Illinois Exam Information & Resources

Given below are some important data and resource regarding the examination which will help anyone who wish to apply for it.

1. Illinois Board of Examiners (https://www.ilboe.org/)

1120 E. Diehl Rd Suite 107,
Naperville, IL. 60563

Phone: 815-753-8900

Fax: 815-753-8953

[email protected]

2. Illinois CPA Society (https://www.icpas.org/)

ICPAS (Chicago)

550 W. Jackson, Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60661-5742

P: 312.993.0407 or 800.993.0407 (IL only)

F: 312.993.9432

ICPAS (Springfield)

524 South 2nd, Suite 504, Springfield, IL 62701-1705

P: 217.789.7914 or 800.572.9870 (IL only)

F: 217.789.7924

3. Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (https://www.idfpr.com/)

Chicago Office
555 West Monroe Street, 5th Floor
Chicago, IL 60661
Springfield Office
320 West Washington Street, 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL 62786

Phone: 1 (888) 473-4858

4. NASBA (https://nasba.org/)

150 Fourth Ave. North

Suite 700

Nashville, TN 37219-2417

Tel: 615-880-4200

Fax: 615-880-4290

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