For a Continuing Professional Education (CPE) course to be approved for use by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), program sponsors must meet requirements detailed out in The Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education Programs (The Standards), which are jointly issued by NASBA and the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).  Article Three of The Standards details out eleven responsibilities of course sponsors to meet to offer an approved CPE course.

The Standards

The standards define both general and specific requirements for developing a CPE program

Standard No 1

Standard No. 1 defines the general responsibilities of CPE program sponsors.  This standard states that program sponsors are responsible for compliance with all of the applicable requirements of The Standards as well as any requirements by state licensing boards, governmental entities, membership associations and other professional organizations.

Standard No 2

This standard states that the learning objectives and outcomes of the course specifically define the level of competence that should be achieved by taking the course.  A knowledge level must be assigned to the course (basic, intermediate, advanced, update or overview).  The content and learning objectives should also be specified so that a participant can make sure that the course aligns with his or her needs.

Standard No 3

All learning activities in a CPE course must align with the assigned knowledge level of the course and the prerequisites required of the potential participants.  For knowledge levels of intermediate, advanced or update, the prerequisite education, experience, and advance preparation required must be defined in detail.  For courses labeled basic or overview, any prerequisites must be noted, and if there are no prerequisites then ‘none’ must be included with the course description.

Standard No 4

This standard addresses the course documentation requirements so that the activities, materials, and delivery systems are current, accurate, and effectively designed.  For courses on subjects with frequent changes, the course must be verified for accuracy once a year by a subject matter expert.  Other courses require verification every two years.

Standard No 5

A review of all group, self study, nano learning and blended learning programs must be conducted by an outside content reviewer to ensure the programs are accurate, current and address the specific learning objectives.  For auditing and accounting courses, at least one licensed CPA is required in the development of a course.  For tax courses, at least one CPA, tax attorney or IRS enrolled agent must be involved in the development of the course.  This standard also addresses the purchase of CPE content from another entity.  

Standard No 6

This standard lists the requirements for being an independent study sponsor. 


Standard No 7-11

These standards define the requirements for each CPE course type.  The five types identified in these standards are: group live programs, group internet-based programs, self-study programs, nano learning programs, and blended learning programs.For group live programs, there must be clearly defined learning objectives, guidance for the participant through a program of learning, and elements of engagement.  Group internet-based programs, self-study programs, and nano learning programs also require clearly defined learning objectives and participant guidance.  However, instead of requiring elements of engagement, there must be evidence of satisfactory completion of the course.  Blended learning programs also require clearly defined learning objectives and guidance for the participant through a program of learning.  Additionally these courses have pre-program, post-program, and homework assignments to enhance the learning experience and relate back to the learning objectives.

Standards Provide Assurance

CPE program sponsors have many requirements to meet before offering a NASBA- approved CPE course.  The Standard provides assurance that CPAs are receiving the quality continuing education courses needed to maintain their professional licenses.