CPA Requirements

FREE eBook:
CPA Exam Game Plan

Your 1-stop-shop to CPA requirements, exam content & structure, plus tips to pass!

One of the first things to consider when working towards the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential is what your State Board of Accountancy’s requirements are to become a CPA. Every state has different requirements that must be met to sit for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA Exam) and become a licensed CPA in that state. It’s important to ensure that you’re fulfilling your state’s requirements, so it is recommended that you reach out to your State Board of Accountancy early in the CPA process.

What Are the Requirements to Become a CPA?

To become a CPA, you must meet all the requirements to sit for the CPA exam and satisfy the CPA licensing requirements. There are quite a few differences between the requirements for sitting for the CPA Exam versus the requirements for CPA certification and licensing. In order to sit for the CPA Exam, you must meet the educational, age and residency requirements. Once you have passed the CPA Exam, you must meet other requirements to obtain CPA licensure. Those requirements include taking the ethics exam, where required, and obtaining work experience.

What are the CPA Exam Requirements?

While passing the CPA Exam is the key requirement to gain CPA licensure, there are several requirements one must fulfill to sit for the CPA Exam. CPA Exam requirements vary per state, however, there are several general prerequisites that most states adhere to, including educational, age, and residency requirements.

Educational Requirements

Generally, most state boards require a total of 150 semester or 225 quarter units from a state accredited college or university to sit for the CPA Exam. Many colleges and universities try to meet this unit’s requirement by offering bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in accounting. These requirements vary state-to-state, but typically require the following criteria be met:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree
  • 150 semester units or 225 quarter units (some states allow you to sit for the exam with 120 hours, then require the full 150 for licensure.)
  • At least 24 semester units in accounting

Keep in mind that some states, known as provisionary states, allow you to sit for the CPA Exam several months before you have met all the educational requirements.

Age Requirements

There are only a few states and jurisdictions that have an age requirement to sit for the CPA Exam. Those states and jurisdiction require CPA candidates to be at least 18 years of age before scheduling the CPA Exam.

Residency Requirements

There are only a few states and jurisdictions that require a CPA candidate to be a resident of that state before sitting for the CPA Exam. Those states are Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.

What are the CPA License Requirements?

The CPA license, administered by the 55 US State Boards of Accountancy, is the certification required to practice public accounting. The certification is the gold standard in the accounting profession and helps support the professional standards required of CPAs in the accounting industry.
Ethics Requirements

Most states require a CPA applicant to complete an ethics course or ethics exam before licensure. Be sure to check with your State Board of Accountancy as you work towards the CPA credential.

Work Experience Requirements

Most states require at least one to two years of public accounting experience. While non-public accounting experience is also widely accepted, the number of required years is generally higher. Work experience from before, during, or after passing the CPA Exam will count if it was done under the management of a licensed CPA.

Continued Education

Once you have obtained CPA licensure and to maintain your CPA license, most State Boards of Accountancy require CPAs to take a specified number of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) hours within a certain period. Check your State Board for more information.

International Candidates

International candidates may become US CPAs as long as they meet all of the requirements for one of the State Boards of Accountancy. Most US states and jurisdictions do not require international candidates to be US citizens. The states and jurisdictions that do require US citizenship are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, and Puerto Rico.

Note: International CPA candidates must be able to take the CPA Exam in English. For more information about CPA Requirements for International Candidates, visit our international candidates resource page.

You have one goal—to pass the CPA Exam.

That’s our goal too. Our course will help you pass. It’s that simple.

How to Apply for the CPA Exam?

It might seem that applying for the CPA Exam is more difficult than the CPA Exam. After all, there are many different facets to the application which can make the process a bit confusing. This is especially true since CPA Exam requirements vary by state. One thing to keep in mind is that there are two routes CPA Exam candidates can go through when they’re applying to the CPA Exam: State Boards of Accountancy, or NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy). Find out more about applying for and scheduling the CPA Exam below.

CPA Requirements by State

Each US state and jurisdiction has its own CPA Exam and licensing requirements. Choose a state from the list below to see each state’s requirements.

Which route you take to apply for the CPA Exam depends entirely on the state you’re obtaining your CPA license in. If you’re applying to any of the states below, you will be applying through CPAES (CPA Examination Services), a part of NASBA which provides a comprehensive array of services to state boards of accountancy related to the CPA Exam. The CPAES includes application processing, credential evaluations, and score reporting. If you are not applying to any of the below states, your application will be handled and processed directly through your State Board of Accountancy.

Applying for the CPA Exam in Independent States

Every state has its own decision as to whether they would like to be a part of NASBA’s CPAES jurisdiction. States that decide to remain independent do so for several reasons, such as being able to control their own fees and giving candidates a wider range to choose from when it comes to third party companies/organizations that handle credential evaluations and other administrative services. This means that CPA Exam costs will vary more widely within these states, especially when it comes to initial application and registration/re-examination fees.

For these states, candidates will also contact their State Board of Accountancy directly to determine whether they’re eligible to sit for the CPA Exam. The only part where State Boards of Accountancy interact with NASBA is for processing fees and issuing Notices to Schedule (NTS).

Applying for the CPA Exam in CPA Exam Services States

For states that are a part of NASBA’s CPAES jurisdiction, the application process is much more streamlined. States that decide to utilize NASBA and CPAES do so to make the application process for candidates more simplified. Candidates applying through CPAES will find that there are no third-party companies/organizations used to help evaluate credentials or process their application. This means that CPA Exam costs have less variation from state to state. Initial application, individual CPA Exam sections, and registration/re-examination fees remain relatively the same.

For these states, candidates go directly through CPAES to learn more about what requirements they need to meet to be eligible to sit for the CPA Exam. CPAES works with the State Board of Accountancy to determine this. The only other time CPAES interacts with State Boards of Accountancy are when candidates are issued their actual CPA license.

Many international candidates apply to states under NASBA’s CPAES jurisdiction since the application process can be more efficient and simpler, offering in-house credential evaluation services as well as other resources that tailor to their unique circumstances.

Ready to conquer the CPA Exam?
Master the concepts easier with effective answer explanations and visuals
Images of UWorld Roger CPA Answer Explanations
Images of UWorld Roger CPA Answer Explanations
Images of UWorld Roger CPA Answer Explanations

CPA Requirements FAQs

Many states enforce as a requirement for CPA candidacy to successfully complete 150 educational credit hours or units before sitting for the CPA Exam. Other Ways to Meet the 150-credit Hour Educational Requirement​

  • Calculate all the eligible college semester hours you have. Your hours from your undergraduate institution will probably be your main source credit, but that doesn’t mean that they are the only ones you can count. 
  • Remember those AP classes from high school? If your college offers units for AP exams, you can use these units towards the 150-unit requirement if the AP credit units are listed on your transcript.
  • Have you taken any community college courses? Community college courses count towards your 150 credit hours, so send your community college transcripts to the Board of Accountancy when you apply for licensure.

There are some states, called provisional states, that allow CPA candidates to sit for the CPA Exam with only 120-hours of academic credit. Those states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New YOrk, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

Taking additional courses in the summer or during the school year will help you reach the 150-unit requirement once you graduate. Also, finishing the 150-unit requirement by the time you graduate with a bachelor’s degree will give you an edge in recruiting, since many firms look for candidates who have completed or will soon complete 150 units. Finally, consider getting a master’s degree in accounting (MAcc) to obtain the 150-credit hours required to become a CPA.

Finding the best state to become a CPA depends upon your career goals. Each state has their own requirements to become a CPA and benefits of obtaining a CPA license in one state might outweigh the benefits of another state. Check with the different State Boards of Accountancy to see which state works best for you.

There are various ways to meet the experience requirement to become a CPA. Most states will count part-time work and internships for the experience requirements. Experience requirements can also be met in non-public accounting firms. Check with your State Board of Accountancy to see how you can meet their requirements.

The reciprocity rule between states allows CPA the ability to work in different states even if they are only licensed in one. The importance of the reciprocity rule is that CPAs have more flexibility to work with other clients in different geographical locations. NASBA started an initiative to work with the State Boards of Accountancy to have all states pass laws that would allow a CPA to be licensed in one state but able to temporarily work in another.

Read more about the CPA Review Exam

UWorld Roger CPA Review provides CPA candidates with all the study materials and resources needed to prepare and successfully pass the US Uniform CPA Exam online.

UWorld Roger CPA Review offers the only US Certified Public Accountant Prep Courses with a proven 94% CPA Exam pass rate. Find out how to pass the CPA Exam quickly and efficiently.
The CPA Exam is divided into four separate sections – AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG. Find out which section is considered the easiest and what order you should take the section to pass the CPA Exam.
Research has shown that creating a study guide for the CPA Exam sets CPA candidates up for success. Get guidance on how to build the best study guide to pass the CPA Exam the first time.
Scroll to Top
Get Your eBook Today!

Fill out this form to have our eBook sent directly to your email address.

Get Your eBook Today!

Fill out this form to have our eBook sent directly to your email address.

Renewal Instructions

  •   Please purchase a renewal using the "Renew" option from the My Account page
  •   To qualify for renewal pricing, course must be renewed before it expires
  •   All renewals are effective from the current expiration date and cannot be deferred
  •   Test information cannot be reset (deleted) with renewal unless eligibility criteria is met (see Help page)