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National CPE Curriculum

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) CPE Division has created a national curriculum for all CPE courses.

The goal of this structured and combined curriculum is two-fold:

  • To provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with assistance in program selection through the use of an overall framework of specified knowledge and skills.
  • To supply course developers with a guide to aid them in development of comprehensive CPE programs.

More than 100 members of the profession contributed to the curriculum project. Representatives from more than 40 states (including members of small, regional and national firms; federal, state and local governments; industry; academia; and state societies) volunteered a total of more than 1,000 working days to the project. After carefully analyzing the tasks and activities performed by accountants in their work, seven task forces identified the knowledge and skills to be acquired by CPAs.

To address the CPE needs of the three major segments of the profession CPAs in public practice, industry and government C the initial curriculum framework is organized by six fields of study. These fields of study are: accounting and auditing, advisory services, management, specialized knowledge and applications, personal development and taxation.

To maximize the usefulness of the curriculum, each CPE program is also designed to meet individual training needs at various levels of professional development and particular segments of the profession. Refer to the prerequisite and the level of knowledge within the course description to best understand the classification of these designations.

Fields of Study

Accounting and auditing includes accounting and financial reporting subjects, the body of knowledge dealing with pronouncements of authoritative accounting principles issued by the standard setting bodies, as well as other related subjects generally classified within the accounting discipline. It also includes auditing subjects related to the examination of financial statements, operations, systems and programs; the review of internal and management controls; the reporting on the results of audit findings; and the compilation and review. This curriculum covers the needs of professionals in public practice, industry and government.

Advisory services deals with management, personal financial planning and other services. This curriculum also covers an organization's various systems and the services provided by consultant practitioners. Systems include those dealing with planning, organizing and controlling any phase of business activity. Services provided cover those from management, such as designing, implementing and evaluating operating systems for organizations For the most part, this curriculum is for consultants in public practice, but consultants in industry who are employed by large organizations will find these courses of interest.

Management emphasizes the specific management needs of accountants. Courses concentrate on the practice management of the public practitioner, such as organizational structures, marketing services and human-resource management. For accountants in industry, there are courses dealing with the financial management of an organization, including information systems, budgeting and asset management.

Specialized knowledge and applications comprises subjects relating to specialized industries, such as health care, banking and Nonprofit organizations. An industry is defined as specialized if it has unusual forms of organization, economic structure, sources of financing, legislative or regulatory requirements, marketing or distribution systems, terminology or technology and if it employs unique accounting principles and practices, unique tax problems, a need for unique advisory services, or faces unique audit issues.

Personal development is designed to assist participants in becoming a competent manager of people by covering such skills as communications, managing the group process, and dealing effectively with others in interviewing, counseling, and career planning. Public relations and professional ethics are also treated.

Taxation includes courses dealing with tax compliance and tax planning. Compliance covers tax return preparation and review, as well as IRS examinations, ruling requests and protests. Tax planning focuses on applying tax law to prospective transactions and understanding the tax implications of unusual or complex transactions. Recognizing alternative tax treatments and advising the client on tax-saving opportunities are also part of tax planning. Although the main topical coverage of this curriculum is for the practitioner, tax professionals in industry will also be interested in many of these courses.


The Virginia Society of CPAs (VSCPA) is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: NASBARegistry.org.

For more information regarding refund, complaint, program cancellation or other policies, visit vscpa.com/CPEPolicies or call (800) 733-8272.