Criteria for Board–Approved Distance Education Ethics Course to Take the CPA Examination
Board Rule 511.58(c) requires that applicants taking the CPA Examination must have completed a Board-approved ethics course prior to taking the exam.
Universities that offer a Board-approved ethics course in a face-to-face, traditional delivery format may now consider expanding their delivery options to distance education, using the following guidelines. Information outlined in the Standards of this document should be sent to the Board office for evaluation. Questions or requests for clarification may be directed to Donna Hiller, Director of Qualifications for the Board, at 512-305-7818.
Delivery - A Board-approved ethics course taught by distance education may be offered to students through one of the following delivery methods.
- Interactive web-based application – students watch and listen to the instructor using a standard Windows PC and interact with the instructor and one another using the applications’ audio and text chat features.
- Live video streaming – a common method for distributing live or stored video over the Internet. The instructor’s lectures or presentations are digitally encoded and distributed over the network in real time. Class members can watch and listen to the instructor using a networked computer and media player software. Some video-streaming classes have a toll-free telephone number so students can call in with questions. Live-streaming classes adhere to a fixed meeting schedule.
- Interactive video conferencing – allows students and faculty at multiple locations to see, hear, and interact with one another. Because these courses require access to specialized equipment, students must go to a videoconferencing site.
The Board considered the following delivery methods and approved them in conjunction with a blended curriculum encompassing one or more modes of delivery. The blended curriculum must have a minimum of 51% of class time in a traditional setting with the students and instructor present. The remaining 49% may include one or more of the following delivery modes.
- Audioconferencing – students participate in class by teleconference. This may be coupled with live video streaming; however, this is not a requirement. Audioconferencing gives students the ability to participate in class discussions and hear instructional presentation without the benefit of a physical presence in the classroom.
- Cable/public television – classes are broadcast on local cable systems and/or public television channels, generally on regularly scheduled days and times on a designated channel.
- Computer CD-ROM/disk – classes are offered on computer disks, CD-ROMs, or more recently, DVDs. The disks and study materials are mailed to the student.
- Internet – courses delivered over the Internet often, but not always, use the World Wide Web. They may include material to read online, exercises to complete online using interactive forms, discussion forums to exchange ideas with the instructor and other students in the class, and many other types of instructional activities. Most Internet courses are asynchronous, meaning there are no live sessions or fixed meeting times.
- Live video streaming
- Videotape – a videotape is shipped to the student’s mailing address. To participate the students needs access to a television with a VCR.
The Board considered and did not approve print/correspondence as a delivery method.
Standards - The university is required to meet the following standards for all Board-approved ethics courses offered by distance education:
- Each time the ethics course is taught in a distance education format it must be taught simultaneously in a face-to-face traditional format
- Benchmark the distance education course against the corresponding face-to-face, traditional course
- Assign the same faculty member to teach the distance education course as well as the face-to-face, traditional course
- Develop and use the same material for both the distance education and the face-to-face, traditional course
- Cover the same topics at the same content percentages in both courses
- Adhere to the same academic rigor
- Establish the same learning outcomes appropriate to the credit awarded
- Utilize the best available technology and pedagogy to create and provide a high quality educational experience for students
- Require a minimum level of student-to-student and student-to-faculty interaction in the distance education course, with a minimum of 25% of a student’s grade based on course participation
- Include regular communication and feedback to students
- Maintain a current and responsive environment for student feedback with a timely response - “within two (2) days”
- Require a minimum of two monitored tests/assignments in determining the student’s grade
- Require evaluation of the course by the students of the distance education course at the end of each semester in a manner commensurate with the evaluation of the face-to-face, traditional course
Board evaluation - The Board will evaluate each distance education ethics course submitted by a university and either approve the course, request additional information or clarification, or deny approval. The following information is required for each Course submitted for evaluation.
- Title and course number of the distance education class
- Name of instructor
- Title, course number, and name of instructor of the corresponding traditional on-campus course
- Method of delivery
- Semester in which the class will first be offered
- Completion of Board’s ethics matrix
- Syllabus for the class that includes:
- Grading policy
- Scholastic honesty policy
- Detailed daily class schedule – include information concerning the accounting and business case analyses and moral dilemmas that will be presented and how they may be incorporated into the discussion of ethics topics and textbook concepts
- Coverage of the AICPA, SEC and Texas Board’s ethics rules
Courses offered or taken prior to Board approval may not be used to meet the ethics course requirements for CPA Examination purposes.
Terms of approval - A distance education ethics course that receives Board approval may be offered during each semester for 18 months from the date of approval. When the course has been offered for 12 months of the 18-month period, the following information, based on Standards, should be submitted to the Board for evaluation.
- Comprehensive report of student evaluations of the course
- Instructor’s report on the strengths and weaknesses of the distance education and traditional on-campus courses along with course modifications, if recommended
- Evaluation of the course by the university detailing the effectiveness of the course based on benchmarking with the traditional on-campus ethics course
Based on the reassessment of the distance education course, the Board may extend the approval of the course for three years or remove its approval at the end of the original 18-month period.