Potential sponsors of continuing professional education (CPE) in accounting who need to receive accreditation in multiple states should plan to become listed on the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy's (NASBA) National Registry of CPE Sponsors.
The application process for being listed on the National Registry requires a substantial commitment of time and effort, and course content and materials are subject to rigorous review, but the Registry enables sponsors to receive approval for CPE offerings on a national basis without having to apply to individual boards of accountancy. Authorized CPE providers are permitted to use the National Registry of CPE Sponsors' logo and approved CPE program sponsor language in all marketing materials.
CPE program sponsors listed in the Registry conduct programs in compliance with uniform standards for continuing education in the accounting profession, established jointly by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), NASBA, and state accountancy boards' requirements. Existing sponsors must apply to NASBA for each new course.
Boards of accountancy in all fifty states accept the listing of approximately 1,500 continuing education program sponsors. Some states have additional requirements in certain areas, and sponsors of courses in those areas must apply directly to the states for approval.
Preparing for initial application
CPE course or program material must be designed to be in compliance with the Standards and Program Sponsor Requirements approved by the AICPA and NASBA. There are 18 standards. General requirements are that programs must be current, technically accurate, and effectively designed. The courses should meet the needs of participants.
Programs offered must fall within 23 CPE subject areas: The detailed outline of the 23 CPE Subject Areas should be consulted during the application process.
CPE program sponsors must have offered continuing professional education programs at least once in order to be considered for membership.
Required forms and materials
NASBA's National Registry site lists the materials that must be presented with the initial application form. These include resumes of presenters, and all program materials distributed to participants. There are links to sample promotional materials, evaluation forms, and attendance forms.
According to NASBA, CPE program sponsors applying for membership in the National Registry of CPE Sponsors must submit the following materials regardless of the delivery method the sponsor is seeking:
- Completed National Registry of CPE Sponsors Initial Application form which includes the signed sponsor agreement.
- Appropriate initial application fee.
- A Program List of all programs that reflects program title, delivery method, number of recommended CPE credits and field of study.
- A written statement of policies governing record retention, refunds, program cancellation and complaint resolution (including the name and telephone number of the person handling grievances/complaints).
- A written policy statement outlining the measures taken by the sponsor to bring program content up-to-date on a regular basis and to ensure that it is and continues to remain technically accurate.
- For EACH delivery method (group-live, group internet-based and self-study) applied for, submit ONE program outline/agenda and the following items:
- Resumes or biographies of instructors/program writers (No more than six need to be submitted.
- Promotional materials, program catalogues, invitations, or other descriptive items distributed to prospective participants in advance of the program.
- All other program materials distributed to participants and used by presenters.
- Evaluation form to be used in programs
- Certificate of attendance/completion to be issued after program.
NASBA's CPE Compliances Services staff review applications on an ongoing basis and approve organizations to offer continuing professional education for CPAs. Compliance services staff will communicate with sponsors during the application process.
First time or "Initial" applicants should expect the review process to take 6 to 16 weeks depending on the delivery method chosen.
Review times for Group Live courses are 6- 10 weeks, for group Internet based study are 8 - 16 weeks and for self study are 10-26 weeks.
According to the National Registry site, processing times can vary based on the availability of pilot testers, reviewer's schedule, and the responsiveness of the applicant to NASBA's inquiries.