The Indiana Board of Accountancy approved a change Friday in its rules for renewing a CPA license, allowing competency-based education, as opposed to hours-based education, to count toward the requirement.

According to the Indiana CPA Society, Indiana is the first state in the country to approve competency-based education as a qualification. The rule change allows competency-based ethics education to count toward the CPE requirement.

CPAs in the Hoosier State will now have two new options to get the required ethics education that all CPAs licensed in Indiana must obtain every three years. The first is to take a competency-based course, with completion measured by participation, instead of the length of time it takes to complete. The second is to earn credit for experience serving in a non-compensated ethics capacity for a professional or trade organization. The traditional, four-hour classroom course will remain the third option.

With competency-based learning, CPAs can receive credit by showing a mastery of the subject, instead of needing to keep track of the hours they spend in the classroom. Competency-based education provides added flexibility, along with the ability to work at one’s own pace, and a more personalized approach.
Continuing professional education in the CPA profession has typically been hours-based since it became a requirement around 50 years ago, with CPE credits measured according to the number of hours spent in a classroom or listening to a webinar.

The Indiana CPA Society’s CPA Center of Excellence has been offering online competency-based courses on business skills for CPAs and other professionals since 2014. In anticipation of the rule change for the ethics requirement, it recently developed a competency-based, online interactive course on ethics that will soon be available to CPAs in Indiana.

“Today, July 15, is a watershed occasion for the CPA profession not only in Indiana, but nationally as well,” said Indiana CPA Society president and CEO Gary Bolinger in a statement. “While this is a significant first step in reforming the CPA license renewal process, we still have a lot to learn as we go forward to ensure relevant education options for CPAs and protection of the public. And make that education more useful, valuable and relevant not only for the CPAs themselves, but in serving their clients and employers."

The rule proposal was first introduced last August as a Notice of Intent and was subsequently approved last November by the Indiana Board of Accountancy. After the proposed change went through the rule promulgation process, it was adopted at a public hearing Friday. The final steps in the process will include approval by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office and it will be signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence, which is expected to occur within the next 30 to 45 days. Pence, however, was also named Friday by Donald Trump as his running mate for the 2016 presidential election, and will be at the Republican National Convention next week in Cleveland.

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