AICPA’s CPExpress brings a strong course catalog and a large number of webinars, along with micro-certifications and a compliance tracker to the table. Downsides are that each of those must be paid for separately, which can add up to more than $1,000 annually (not including micro-certifications) unless you take lesser options in the form of bundles, making it one of the most expensive platforms we’ve seen. There are very few course reviews (most courses have none at all) and no way to communicate with instructors if you have questions, and there’s no mobile-optimized interface or app, so it’s a bit thin on features.
The AICPA is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession, which is why many people turn to their accounting CPE offerings without a second thought. The platform provides a solid option with a strong on-demand course library and an abundance of live webinars, as well as micro-certifications, and additional add-on options.
Courses/CPE – Great Variety
The platform currently has over 500 on-demand courses available. These courses aren’t in one consistent format. Some are repurposed webinars, some are full courses with custom created videos and content, and others are more traditional PDF reading style with up to hundreds of pages to read prior to taking the exam. Their webinar options are extensive, with multiple webinars running almost every business day. That gets them to nearly 500 webinars a year, which is great if you can take advantage (it can be tough to take prime time during the day for webinars). They offer a good variety of CPE for: CPA, EA, and YB. They do have some on-demand ethics courses, but they are “general” ethics and not specific for state needs (many states require their own, pre-approved, state-specific ethics content).
Platform/Features – Uneven
The platform is fairly easy to use, with multiple ways to sort and filter courses and webcasts. While both courses and webcasts feature a product rating and review option, most don’t actually have any ratings or reviews. There is not an option for direct instructor Q&A for courses, and very few (okay, we couldn’t actually find any) vetted 3rd party platform reviews. We also couldn't find instructor bios for courses or webinars. There is a CPE compliance tracking option called Compliance Manager, but only if you’re willing to pay an extra $49 a year ($39 if you’re an AICPA member). The platform is not mobile friendly for on-demand courses — you have to be on an actual computer or use the desktop version of their website on your cell phone which is not a pleasant experience. There are a handful of free on-demand courses but there isn’t a free trial of webcast package. It would be nice to have a limited option to try before you buy the full packages. They offer 23 micro-certifications on topics like blockchain, robotic process automation, COSO, employee benefits, and forensic accounting. Some certificates are available in self-study, while others are in webcast or in-person “conference” format.
UX - Not Ideal
The platform isn’t ideal for user experience. Navigating to your purchased courses can be done a few different ways, though none are totally intuitive. And as we mentioned in the platform/features section, CPExpress only works on desktops or laptops. Actually, you can use it on your phone or tablet, but it does not work well! Though using the platform on your desktop or laptop isn’t that easy, either. While the platform supports the latest versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple macOS Safari, it does require you to jump through a few hoops to make sure everything is working properly. The CPEexpress website explicitly states “Online courses will open in a new browser window. Please allow pop-up windows in your browser settings and wait for a couple of minutes before closing the course browser window after you complete the course to ensure that your completion is recorded.” We’ve found that if you don’t follow their directions, you might notice that the course you just completed doesn’t show as completed. And make sure you don’t have a pop-up blocking software (or that you’ve deactivated it), otherwise, you won’t be able to access your course at all.
Cost - Steep Investment
The platform has a number of purchase options, from limited courses to all courses (no webinars) to unlimited courses and unlimited webinars. Individual courses run from ~$50-$1000, depending on the course – an incredibly big range. You can sign up for unlimited on-demand courses with CPExpress for $459 a year ($275 for AICPA members). If you want access to unlimited webcasts (Annual Webcast Pass) it’s $659 a year ($499 for AICPA members). AICPA membership runs roughly $300 to $500 per year depending on your current professional status/role. There is no discount for buying both packages, so if you want to have unlimited on-demand courses and unlimited webcasts, it’s a grand total of $1,118! If you want to add in that CPE Manager to track your courses, it’s a total of $1,167. This makes it one of the most expensive online CPE platforms on the market.
Team/Firm Capability – Limited
The platform offers firm solutions with group rates and has in-person training options, but other firm options seem limited. It doesn’t note allowing for things like corporate LMS integration and SSO (single sign-on), user management or reporting, or custom user groups. It also doesn’t mention offering custom curriculum, internal (client) course creation and CPE, or creation and calendaring of internal CPE events/webinars, or not that we could find any mention of on the site.
AICPA’s CPExpress has been around for a long time and has a strong reputation. It offers a healthy number of on-demand courses, more webcasts than you could possibly attend in one year, micro-certifications, and a compliance tracker. Unfortunately, you’ll be paying for each ‘class’ of content separately, and it’s more than $1,000 annually for unlimited on-demand courses and webcasts, as well as an additional fee for the CPE Manager. That’s a pretty steep price for a platform with minimal ratings and reviews, an uneven on-demand course experience, no mobile-friendly option, and no contact with instructors. But there are discounts if you are an AICPA member, which might make it more palatable for those who have already made that investment.