Post Designation Public Accounting Program

The Post Designation Public Accounting (PDPA) program provides CPA Ontario members an option to qualify for a public accounting licence (PAL). Participants complete the mandatory education and examination requirements. The PDPA program is available to members, with exceptions, in good standing who are without public accounting practice rights.

The PDPA program is offered annually, although the frequency of future PDPA offerings may change depending on demand. PDPA participants will have a maximum of three attempts in a rolling five-year period to pass the PDPA examination.

To apply for a PAL, participants will need to both successfully complete the PDPA program and meet specific experience requirements.

PDPA program dates

PDPA Program Dates
PDPA eligibility assessment requestsApril 19 – May 19, 2024

Submit a request for eligibility assessment between these dates.

PDPA enrolmentMay 15 – July 19, 2024

You can enrol within these dates.

New PDPA module materials*May 18, 2024

The new module materials became available on this date.

Module availableMay 18 – September 26, 2024

You must complete the module within these dates.

PDPA examinationSeptember 26, 2024

The PDPA examination will be offered in various testing locations across Ontario. A list of cities are available on the enrolment site.

PDPA examination results releaseDecember 13, 2024

Results will be emailed to all participants.

*If you paid for last year’s module and exam and are planning on only taking the exam this year, you will continue to have access to last year’s module content. If you would like access to this year’s content, you will need to enrol in the exam and module.

PDPA Deferral Policy

Module + exam: No refund once you receive access to module. You are eligible to defer your exam with no fee if it is more than 6 weeks before the exam date. Exam deferrals within 6 weeks of the exam are subject to a fee of $200. Deferral requests must be completed prior to the scheduled start time of the exam. Writers may only defer the PDPA exam once per attempt. If you do not attempt the examination at the next offering, you will be unsuccessful, and an attempt is charged.

Exam only: 80% refund up until the schedule start time of the exam.

Steps to Public Accounting Licensing (PAL) through PDPA

Submit an eligibility assessment

We require members to submit an eligibility assessment request to CPA Ontario. Log in to My Portal, select Obligations and Requests ► Member Requests ► New Requests ► Post Designation Public Accounting Program (PDPA).

Currently, per Regulation 17-1, section 3, you are not eligible for the PDPA program if you were:

  • admitted to membership upon completing a qualification program for faculty, instructors or facilitators associated with an academic institution
  • admitted to membership upon completing any CMA Combined Master’s Program, CMA Accelerated program, CMA Executive program or received Professional Advanced Standing in the CMA Program
  • admitted to membership through the Evaluation of Experience category

There is no fee associated with an eligibility assessment request. If you are eligible to enter the program, proceed to Step 2. If not, CPA Ontario will advise you of the next steps, if applicable, that may allow you to take the PDPA in the future.

You will be advised on your eligibility in writing approximately three weeks from the date the request was received.

Enrol in the PDPA program

Complete the PDPA enrolment process and pay the enrolment fee. If this is your first attempt at the PDPA program, you will be required to complete both the module and examination. The total cost of the program is $1300 + HST.

If you previously attempted the PDPA program, you have the option to purchase both the module and examination or just the examination. If you wish to only purchase the examination, the total cost is $1000 + HST.

Complete the module and examination

The PDPA program includes a mandatory online education module and an in-person examination in assurance, financial reporting, taxation, finance and strategy and governance.

Upon enrolment, you will be sent an email with a link and login information. The PDPA is a preparatory module that consists of reading resources, practice problems and multiple-choice questions. You will be provided with a suggested eight-week self-study schedule to help prepare you for the PDPA examination. You must complete the PDPA module to be eligible to write the PDPA examination.

The PDPA examination is 4.5 hours and includes a combination of multiple choice questions and an integrated case that test you on the technical knowledge for public accounting licensure. Please refer to the PDPA examination blueprint for more information. At the exam, you will be provided a CPA-issued laptop. A mouse will not be provided so, if you prefer, you will need to bring your own wired mouse. Visit CPA Canada's page on bridging requirements for more information on the examination.

Unsuccessful writers may request for review/re-mark. Details will be provided at the time examination results are released.

Complete your practical experience

Participants must also complete practical experience requirements to obtain a PAL. The practical experience requirement, which is the Qualifying Experience Requirement, if not already fulfilled through your work experience, will take a minimum of 30 months. It will need to take place within an Approved Training Office as defined in Regulation 9-2 or in an External Audit Pre-Approved Program under the CPA Ontario Practical Experience Requirements.

As set out in Regulation 17-1, the Qualifying Experience Requirement must include:

  • a minimum of 2,500 Chargeable Hours in the Practice of Public Accounting and other accounting services including:
    • 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
    • 1,150 Eligible Hours in either the Practice of Public Accounting or Designated Services
  • a minimum of two years’ experience in the Practice of Public Accounting under the supervision of a Member who holds a valid and current Public Accounting Licence, or a member of a Provincial Body who holds a valid and equivalent licence, certificate or other form of authorization to practice public accounting granted by the Provincial Body
  • a limit of six months spent on secondment assignments
  • completion of all chargeable hour and competency requirements not more than five years before the External Audit Pre‑Approved Program completion date

This experience can be reported to CPA Ontario by completing the Schedule C - Qualifying Experience Requirement Form.

For a list of External Audit Pre-Approved Programs, refer to Directory of Pre-Approved Programs. If you would like more information on these practical experience requirements for you or your employer, review public accountant licence page or email our Practical Experience team.

Apply for a PAL

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

  • satisfy the Public Accounting Licensing Board of good character
  • complete the Continuing Professional Development
  • complete the practice inspection requirement required for a PAL
  • complete the Professional Experience Requirement in a recognized capacity in the practice of public accounting and, in the immediate past five years, obtained a minimum of 2,500 hours including:
    • minimum of 1,250 eligible hours in the practice of public accounting, excluding any hours for which a PAL was required but not held
    • up to 1,250 eligible hours in designated services

Upon successful completion of all requirement, log in to My Portal, select Obligations and Requests ► Applications ► Start New Application ► PAL Application.

Learn more about Public Accounting Licensing.