How to Become a CPA in Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s economy supports and is supported by four Fortune 500 companies in the Ocean State. These companies are CVS Corporation ranked 7th and headquartered in Woonsocket, Textron aerospace company, ranked at 208 and headquartered in Providence, United Natural Foods ranked 319, also with headquarters in Providence, and finally Citizens Financial Group, at the rank of 435. Citizens Group also operates out of the capital city of Providence. Of these four, two are retail companies, one is manufacturing, and the other is finance, but it is finance that makes up the most revenues in the little state. A Certified Public Accountant would do quite well for themselves in this state. This industry accounted for 26.1% of the gross domestic product for Rhode Island. This was the largest income for any one industry in the state.

You probably did not know that the full name of the state of Rhode Island is actually State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. This gem of a New England state is the smallest state in the union, and the 7th least populated. Bordered by Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean, it’s state capital is Providence, the most densely populated city in the state. Rhode Island got it’s official nickname, “The Ocean State,” as a result of its bay and inlets that account for 14 percent of the state’s total area. In 1776, the colony of Rhode Island was the 13th colony to renounce its commitment to the British Crown. Soon after, in 1787, they boycotted the convention that drafted the Constitution for the United States. Rhode Island’s flag has a yellow anchor at its center, which is surrounded by 13 stars. Beneath it is a blue ribbon that says HOPE, which is the state’s motto.

Rhode Island Accounting Programs

In the Ocean State, the University of Rhode Island College of Business Administration is the only accounting program that has earned AACSB accreditation. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is the international body that oversees many of the best business and accounting programs in the country. For more than 100 years, the AACSB has been a trusted name and a seal of approval for business and accounting programs that prioritize excellence. They have headquarters at three international sites, each that oversees accreditation of college and university business school of that region. These sites are Tampa, Florida, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Singapore, responsible for North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and the Asian Pacific respectively.

The program that has taken the steps to achieve the status of being AACSB accredited in Rhode Island is the University of Rhode Island and its College of Business Administration. This program located in the city of Kingston is a perfect example of a program that is dedicated to the level of excellence that the AACSB would recognize. Both the College of Business and the Accounting Program have been accredited, the former since 1972 and the latter, both the undergraduate and graduate levels since 1994. Because fewer than 15% of business or accounting schools have this accreditation, students, faculty, and employers alike look for the AACSB seal when making hard decisions.

Becoming A Rhode Island CPA

The education requirements for accountants in Rhode Island are similar to those in many other states. Applicants must have completed a graduate degree with a concentration in accounting. Unique to the Ocean State, the graduate degree must be from a school that is accredited in business, as The University of Rhode Island is, for instance. Applicants must also have achieved either 24 semester hours in on-campus or online undergraduate accounting or 15 semester hours in residential online graduate school accounting coursework. In special circumstances, the applicant may apply a combination of these to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam. To sit for the CPA exam, the applicant must have obtained an undergraduate degree. Before that applicant can be licensed fully, however, they must have earned 150 hours, 30 more than the bachelor’s degree.

More of the CPA exam requirements in Rhode Island include that applicants do not have to be citizens of the U.S. as in many states. To become licensed in Rhode Island, the applicant must have established residency in the state. Usually, this simply requires living in the state more than one year or owning property and dwelling there more than halftime. Applicants must have a valid social security number. Rhode Island applicants who are from other countries than the U.S. are able to apply their International Examination Program credits to the education requirements for licensure in Rhode Island.

To become licensed in any state, CPAs must have achieved a state-specific number of hours of experience in accounting. The experience requirements in Rhode Island are 1 year of experience or 2,000 work hours. These hours can be gained through employment in government, industry, public practice, academia or other outlets of education or a combination of each of these. Applicants must pass an ethics exam that is administered by the AICPA prior to initial licensure.

If you are a podcast fan and you live in Rhode Island, there is no doubt that you have heard season one of the podcast Crimetown. It is a fascinating look into local government dirty dealings featuring a Providence, Rhode Island Mayor, scandal, death, theft, and a moral to every story. If you are a podcast fan and you are also studying to become a CPA, maybe you have time to listen to the 50 best accounting podcasts for accountants. What you learn might actually surprise you. Not that Forensic Accountants would not be surprised by the money laundering techniques featured in Crimetown, but I digress.

Rhode Island Post Licensure Requirements for CPAs

Each state has their own requirements for maintaining a current CPA license. Basically, the national licensing bodies realized that in order to stay up to date on the ever-evolving finance, accounting and tax profession, CPAs have to take educational courses throughout their careers. In the Accounting field, this is called Continued Professional Education or CPE units. Rhode Island requires 120 hours to be reported every 3 years. The license renewal date is on June 30 of each three-year sequence. Six of the 120 hours must be in subjects that focus on professional ethics. More specifically, these ethics courses must be programs devoted to the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct. They may also relate to the professional, legal, or ethical codes of any accounting professional organization.

Those CPAs who are academic are also able to claim CPE units for their role in teaching accounting. The maximum credit in Rhode Island for instructors or discussion leaders is 60 of the 120 hours over the three year reporting period. The hours that can be credited can equal presentation time plus preparation time for the course they are teaching. Preparation time can only be twice that of presentation time. For those CPAs who do research to contribute to personal development or marketing for an accounting business, these units are limited 24 credits per reporting period. Credits for self-study in Accounting must be approved by the Quality Management Systems International course review system. These credits are limited to 80 hours each 3 years. For CPAs who take CPE coursework through National Registry sponsors, Rhode Island supports all of these.

CPAs who are not licensed in Rhode Island, but are practicing there, meeting the CPE requirement for R.I. means meeting both the licensed state CPE requirements and those outlined above. They must also sign a statement indicating that the state they are licensed in, and the state they are hoping to practice in.