Academic journal article Academy of Accounting and Financial Studies Journal

CPA Licensing Requirements

Academic journal article Academy of Accounting and Financial Studies Journal

CPA Licensing Requirements

Article excerpt


This paper examines the necessary requirements to becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the fifty states of the United States of America and also the jurisdictions which include Guam, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands. Generally, there are four major requirements to become a CPA in the United States with each of the State Board of Accountancy and jurisdictions setting their own preferential requirements. The paper discusses the Education requirements and the minimum 150 semester hours rule to qualify for the CPA examination. This part also evaluate foreign educational requirements (individuals with education obtained outside the United States) to sit for the CPA exam. Additionally, the paper discusses the uniform CPA Exam, set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) including the major components and sections of the exam. Also, the paper evaluates the different Experience requirement which varies from state to state. What is more, the paper accesses the Ethics examination requirement as a test of an understanding of proper conducts in the accounting arena. Put them together - the four E's. Finally, the paper revisits the application process itself.


Becoming a CPA is a long arduous process and while CPA' s may not be as glamorous as attorneys, doctors or movie actors, their career can be equally rewarding (Johnston, 2007). Here is the arduous journey:


A majority of the states/jurisdictions require a minimum of one hundred and fifty semester hours of education (approved by the AICPA in 1 988 requiring full execution from its members after the year 2000) from an accredited college or university as a prerequisite to CPA certification or their equivalent (state specific) (Raghunandan, Read, & Brown, 2005). This rule has inherently set additional college coursework comprising of general degree requirements of a bachelor's degree (presumably four years) plus additional specific credit hours. The 1 50-hour requirement has become necessary in order to prepare students for careers as CPA' s, to expose students to a vast array of business issues, and also to maintain a new curriculum that addresses the new developments in the field of accounting and technology (Albrecht & Sack, 2006). The new developments include increases in official accounting and auditing pronouncements and the proliferation of new tax laws, and so on (Johnston, 2007).

There are a variety of ways to meet the education requirement. Here are some ways: A baccalaureate degree in accounting from a four-year college or university majoring in accounting accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB). With the accounting education major, subjects must include an introductory to accounting courses, auditing, cost accounting, financial accounting, managerial accounting, and U.S. federal income tax (AICPA, 2006). The minimum semester hours in an accounting major (state specific) should be earned together with other business courses such as finance, economics, business administration, marketing, statistics and business law. Most states will accept the one hundred and fifty hour semester requirement by providing a Master of Business coursework. The rest may be earned through general education courses.

In some states the education requirement can also be satisfied with a non-business or nonaccounting undergraduate degree combined with an MS in accounting or an MBA in accounting provided all the requisite (vital, mandatory) accounting and business coursework needed to take the CPA exam is met (AICPA, 2007).

Candidates with accounting degrees from other Countries

The academic credentials of applicants who have earned their degrees outside the United States (from foreign colleges and universities), must have their educational credentials evaluated for equivalency to U. …

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