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Post Designation Public Accounting (PDPA) program FAQs

General Questions

  • What is the PDPA program?

    The Post Designation Public Accounting (PDPA) program offers members an alternate path to licensure in Ontario, subject to certain exclusions. It comprises a mandatory education module and examination. In addition to successfully completing the PDPA program, participants must also meet the experience and remaining requirements of Regulation 9-1 in order to qualify for a public accounting licence in Ontario.

  • Why should I complete the PDPA program?

    The purpose of the PDPA program is to provide members with the option of qualifying for public accounting licensure by completing education and examination requirements post-certification. It also protects the public interest by ensuring that all members licensed to practice public accounting meet the profession’s competency standards. 

    Learn more about Public Accounting Licensing in Ontario, including when a licence is required.

  • How long will it take to qualify for public accounting licensure after certification?

    The post-designation path to public accounting licensure consists of the PDPA program and completion of prescribed practical experience and other licensing requirements. The PDPA program can be completed within four months, however, the practical experience, if not already completed, will take a minimum of two years. 

  • What are the fees for the PDPA program?

    The PDPA program fee is $1,000 + 13% HST. Please note that the module and examination cannot be purchased separately.

  • How do I enrol in the PDPA?

    The first part of the PDPA enrolment process asks you to submit a request for eligibility assessment. If CPA Ontario determines that you are eligible to enroll in the PDPA, you will be advised approximately two weeks from the date the request was received. You will then need to return to the PDPA enrolment site to complete the PDPA enrollment process. 

  • What do I do once I’ve completed the PDPA program? Am I automatically licensed?

    If you have successfully completed the PDPA program, you are not automatically licensed in Ontario. Upon successful completion of the PDPA program, please submit a completed Public Accounting Licence – New Application Package Form 9-1A to CPA Ontario in order to apply for a licence. If you have not already done so, you will also be required to complete prescribed practical experience requirements at an External Audit Pre-Approved Program and report this experience to CPA Ontario by completing the prescribed forms.

  • How often will the PDPA be offered?

    It is anticipated that the PDPA program will be offered annually, although the frequency of future PDPA offerings may change depending on demand.  

Eligibility Questions

  • Am I eligible for the PDPA program?

    The PDPA program is available to members in good standing who qualified without public accounting practice rights. Some exclusions apply, therefore, to determine your eligibility for the PDPA program, you must submit an eligibility assessment request to CPA Ontario on the PDPA enrolment site. CPA Ontario will advise you of your eligibility in writing.  

    Currently, per Regulation 9-1, section 2.10, the following members are not eligible for the PDPA program:

    • Admitted to membership upon completing a qualification program for faculty, instructors or facilitators associated with an academic institution; or
    • Admitted to membership upon completing any of the following: CMA Combined Master’s Program, CMA Accelerated program, CMA Executive program or Professional Advanced Standing Program; or
    • Admitted to membership through the Evaluation of Experience category; or
    • After having completed any of the CPA Preparatory Courses (PREP) as part of the academic prerequisites and has not at any point subsequently retaken the applicable academic prerequisites at an academic institution.
  • How long does the eligibility assessment take?

    You will be notified in writing of your PDPA eligibility status approximately two weeks from the date the request was received. In the event of a high volume of requests, processing timelines may be longer.   

  • If I am not eligible for the PDPA program is there an appeal process?

    There is no appeal process if it is determined that you are ineligible to take the PDPA program. However, your eligibility assessment results letter will outline the next steps, if applicable, that may allow you to take the PDPA program in the future. 

  • If I took a CPA Preparatory Course (PREP) course am I eligible to take the PDPA program?

    Currently, if you took a PREP course and have not subsequently retaken the applicable academic prerequisite at an academic institution, you are not eligible to take the PDPA program. We are currently working with the Public Accountants Council for the Province of Ontario (PAC) in order to have all of the preparatory courses approved. Once completed, we will update our websites and regulations, as appropriate.

  • If I obtained membership through the Evaluation of Experience (EvE) pathway, am I eligible to take the PDPA program?

    If you obtained membership through the EvE pathway, you are not eligible to take the PDPA program because you are not eligible to obtain a public accounting licence. This restriction was communicated to you during the EvE qualification process.

  • If I am a CPA who wrote the CFE, do I need to take this program to qualify for a public accounting licence?

    Successful CFE writers may be required to complete the PDPA program. If you wrote the CFE and did not demonstrate depth of competency development in both Financial Reporting and Assurance, you will be required to complete the PDPA program in its entirety. As well, if you did not take and successfully complete the Taxation and Assurance electives during the CPA Certification Program, you will be required to complete the PDPA program in its entirety. To determine if you are required to complete the PDPA program, please submit an eligibility assessment request on the PDPA enrolment site.  The PDPA enrolment site will open on August 28, 2017.

  • If I am a CPA, CA who wrote the UFE, do I need to take this program to qualify for a public accounting licence?

    If you successfully completed the UFE and obtained the CPA, CA designation, you likely do not need to complete the PDPA program to be eligible for a public accounting licence. However, you will need to fulfil the prescribed practical experience as well as other licensing requirements. If you wish to apply for a public accounting licence, please complete the Public Accounting Licence – New Application Package Form 9-1A.

  • Do CPAs who took the Accounting Body Outside Canada – Specified pathway take the PDPA to get a public accounting licence?

    In addition to fulfilling other licensing requirements, members who qualified for membership pursuant to the Accounting Body Outside Canada – Specified pathway have two option licensing qualification routes:

    1. Successfully complete the Assurance and Taxation elective modules in the CPA Professional Education Program or the predecessor requirements and demonstrate in the Common Final Examination depth of competency development in both Financial Reporting and Assurance, in addition to demonstrated breadth of competency development as defined in The Chartered Professional Accountant Competency Map. In addition, the member must have completed a period of at least two years providing public accounting services.
    2. Successfully complete the PDPA program with a maximum of three attempts in a five-year period, successfully complete an approved university course in Canadian Business Law and have completed a period of at least two years providing public accounting services.

    Please note that the Accounting Body Outside Canada – Specified pathway refers to individuals who qualified for membership in CPA Ontario pursuant to the Memorandums of Understanding with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan.

Module Questions

  • I have enrolled in the PDPA program, how do I take it?

    The PDPA module is an online module that you will complete on your own through the Brightspace (Desire 2 Learn) platform. Upon enrollment, you will be sent an email with a link and login information. Module materials are expected to be available starting on October 21, 2017.

  • What content is covered in the PDPA module?

    The PDPA module covers the technical knowledge required for public accounting licensing, including assurance, financial reporting, taxation, finance, and strategy and governance. It is a self-study module that consists of reading resources, practice problems, and multiple-choice questions covering the CPA Competency Map at the elective level. There are no deadlines, assignment submissions or face-to-face components.

    The PDPA module is designed as a preparatory module and participants must complete it to be eligible to write the PDPA examination. Participants are provided with a suggested eight-week study schedule to assist with PDPA examination preparation. Participants should expect to spend at least 15 hours each week to complete the assigned learning resources.

  • Am I required to have specific equipment?

    Since all module materials are provided electronically, you should have a computer and internet connection to access learning resources. At least 1 GB of RAM, 100 MB of free hard-drive space and a free USB port are required to support software and applications used during the module. The PDPA examination is electronic, so a PC-based laptop that meets the above specifications will be required. There is information on the software needed and how to install it in the PDPA module.

  • How do I withdraw from the exam?

    The link to withdraw from the PDPA module and exam will be available in September. Refunds will not be granted after you have been given access to the PDPA module.

Examination Questions

  • I have enrolled in the PDPA examination, how do I take it?

    On December 20, 2017, the first PDPA examination will be offered in various testing locations across Ontario. You will be required to complete the examination using your laptop with specialized examination software. Instructions on how to install and use the software will be provided, by email, within the PDPA module.

  • How is technical knowledge tested on the PDPA examination?

    The PDPA examination is 4.5 hours and consists of a combination of multiple-choice questions and integrated case(s) testing your knowledge in the required technical knowledge for public accounting licensure. Please refer to the PDPA examination blueprint for more information.

  • In which cities are PDPA examinations held?

    The list of cities for the PDPA examinations will be available at the time of enrolment. Please indicate the city where you wish to attempt the PDPA examination at the time of enrolment.

  • When will I know my results in the program?

    Results of the PDPA examination will be released on February 2, 2018 at noon EST.

  • Can I defer the PDPA examination?

    No, the PDPA examination cannot be deferred. Individuals unable to write the PDPA examination, but still interested in attempting the PDPA program in the future will need to enrol and pay for the next offering of the PDPA program. Please note that the module and examination cannot be purchased separately. Refunds will not be granted after you have been given access to the PDPA module.

  • If I fail the program, can I take it again? Are there any limits to the amount of times I can try?

    If you are unsuccessful at the PDPA program, you may retake it, however, you have a maximum of three attempts in each five-year rolling period to successfully complete it.  

  • If I fail the PDPA examination, is there an appeal process?

    Requests for review/remark will be available to those who are not successful on the examination. Details will be provided at the time examination results are released.

Practical Experience Questions

  • Is there a practical experience requirement that must be met prior to applying for licensure?

    Yes, there is a practical experience requirement that must be met prior to applying for a public accounting licence. Pursuant to Regulation 9-1, you must satisfy the Qualifying Experience Requirement, which means the successful completion of a minimum of two years of prescribed public accounting experience in an Approved Training Office as defined in Regulation 6-4 or in an external audit pre-approved program pursuant to the current CPA Practical Experience Requirements (PER). The experience must be completed under the supervision of a member who is licensed to practise public accounting and experience must include at least:

    • 1,250 chargeable hours in assurance services, of which at least 625 chargeable hours shall be in the audit of historical financial information and 100 chargeable hours of review procedures in review and other assurance engagements;
    • 100 chargeable hours in taxation services; and
    • the competency requirements of the audit stream of the CPA Practical Experience Requirements (PER).

    For questions on practical experience and how to become or find an external audit pre-approved program, please email PracticalExperience@cpaontario.ca and visit the Practical Experience FAQs.

    You are also required to meet the Professional Experience Requirement as outlined in Regulation 9-1, section 1.13, which states:
    1.13 “Professional Experience Requirement” means that a Member participated in a recognized capacity in public accounting services and, within the immediate past five years, obtained a minimum of 2,500 hours consisting of: 

    1.13.1 a minimum of 1,250 eligible hours in public accounting services, excluding any hours for which a public accounting licence was required but not held; and
    1.13.2 up to 1,250 eligible hours in designated services;

    For a list of External Audit Pre-Approved Programs, refer to Directory of Pre-Approved Programs.  More information on general questions on practical experience and for firms interested in how to apply for an external audit pre-approved program is available by email at PracticalExperience@cpaontario.ca.

  • How do I report PDPA-related practical experience?

    PDPA-related practical experience will have to be reported to CPA Ontario by completing the prescribed forms. These forms will be provided to you after you enrol in the PDPA program.

  • Will CPA Ontario help me find a placement at an external audit pre-approved program?

    No, it is the responsibility of the PDPA participant to secure appropriate employment.  Please consult the Directory of Firms with Pre-Approved Programs in External Audit.

    Members and students are also encouraged to avail themselves of the career development services and peruse the job postings available through Career Services.

  • I am self-employed. Does experience at my own firm count for the Qualifying Experience Requirement?

    No. The Qualifying Experience Requirement can only be fulfilled by:

    • completing a minimum of 24 months in an External Audit Pre-Approved Program, under the overall supervision of a member licensed to practice public accounting;
    • obtaining a minimum number of chargeable hours in audit, review and taxation services engagements; and
    • developing requisite public accounting licensing competencies. 
  • Will experience in my employer’s External Audit Pre-Approved Program count towards the Qualifying Experience Requirement?

    Experience obtained at an External Audit Pre-Approved Program is eligible for recognition.

  • My employer is interested in offering an External Audit Pre-Approved Program. What are the requirements?

    The general requirements are:

    • senior-level ownership and oversight of the program by appointing a pre-approved program leader(s) who holds an active public accounting licence in Ontario;
    • a working environment that offers appropriate supervision, guidance and instruction through on-the-job training and progress reviews;
    • structured training positions with a sufficient range of progressively complex and diverse assignments, as well as increased responsibility;
    • provides trainees with opportunity to obtain minimum chargeable-hour requirements; and
    • provides trainees with opportunities to develop audit stream competencies.

    Email Employer Relations to find out more.

  • What other licensing requirements must be fulfilled to qualify for a licence?

    A new public accounting licence will only be granted to a member in good standing who has fulfilled all the licensing requirements set out in Regulation 9-1, Section 2.1.

    In addition to successfully completing the PDPA program and the Qualifying Experience Requirement, a member is also required to fulfil the following:     

    • Complete and submit Form 9-1A and pay the non-refundable application fee (plus HST);
    • Satisfy the Public Accounting Licensing Board of good character;
    • Complete the Continuing Professional Development Requirement;
    • Complete the Practice Inspection Requirement; and
    • Complete the Professional Experience Requirement.