In their "Spirit of Accounting" column, "D

The CPA profession has advocated 150 hours of education for examination and licensure for more than 50 years, and the American Institute of CPAs board of directors recently re-affirmed its support. The guiding principle is to ensure that prospective members of the profession have the skills to support life-long careers in accounting, create well-rounded business professionals, promote intellectual curiosity, and develop critical-thinking and decision-making faculties that support professional judgment.

The 150-hour rule simply means a four-year college degree and 30 additional credit hours. The American Accounting Association, which represents 8,000 college professors, fully supports 150 hours. Out of 55 licensing bodies, 53 require 150 hours of education for licensure as a CPA. There's a good reason: They all believe, correctly, that more education strengthens the CPA's singular responsibility to protect the public interest. It bolsters the competence of the CPA as a professional and the quality of the CPA's work for clients and employers. Reducing the number of educational hours is emphatically the wrong answer.

The 150-hour rule isn't an impediment.

More people are entering accounting than ever before. The AICPA's 2009 Trends report, which surveyed accounting programs at colleges and universities, reported 66,000 people graduating with Bachelor's and Master's degrees in accounting in the 2007-2008 school year. That is the largest number of graduates since 1972, the year the AICPA began tracking the data.

As for the CPA Exam, 93,000 candidates sat for it in 2009, another historic number. Moreover, last year marked 1 million administrations of the computerized exam. Interestingly, the volume of exam-takers is highest in the states that require 150 hours for examination and licensure.

The data Miller and Bahnson quote is 10 years old. I would have expected that professors teaching our future professionals would not rely on outdated figures.


Robert R. Harris, CPA/CFF

Chairman, AICPA

Managing director, Harris Cotherman Jones Price & Associates CPAs Chtd.

Vero Beach, Fla.


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