What Are the Standard Course Requirements for Becoming a CPA?


Quick Answer

One hundred and fifty hours of post-secondary education, including a minimum number of credits in accounting and business, are required to sit for the Certified Public Accountant examination in all United States jurisdictions except the U.S. Virgin Islands. This requirement is equivalent to a bachelor's and master's degree combined.

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Full Answer

The 150 credit hours, increased from the prior requirement of 120 hours, are met by combining a bachelor's degree in one field with a master's in accounting, completing a five-year combined bachelor's/master's program in accounting or completing both bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting. Taking the CPA exam soon after completing the credit hours is recommended so that the information is fresh. Exam review courses are also available.

The states' Boards of Accountancy are responsible for CPA educational and licensing requirements. Accordingly, the courses required within the 150 credit hours vary by state as do professional accounting experience requirements for licensing. Additional requirements, such as successfully completing an ethics requirement or exam prior to licensing, are common. Continuing professional education is usually required for license renewal.

Professionals in the field generally support the 150-credit educational requirement as the accounting profession increases in complexity, requiring high-level technical skills and strong communication and interpersonal skills.

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