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So, What Are the Requirements to Take the CPA exam?

You must meet certain education, age, residency, and graduation requirements to sit for the CPA exam.

CPA Educational Requirements

In general, education requirements to become a certified public accountant usually consist of a four-year bachelor’s degree with a concentration in accounting (not necessarily an accounting degree) plus an extra year of study (which can be either at an undergraduate or graduate level).

The “150-Hour Rule” (the requirement for five years full-time equivalent study) has been adopted by almost all state boards of accountancy. An important distinction should be made between requirements to sit for the exam and requirements to become licensed.

Many states allow candidates with a bachelor’s degree with specific credits in accounting and business courses, like auditing and business law, to sit for the CPA exam. These semester hours can be attained through a master’s degree or other advanced degree programs if you choose.

New York

Some states, like New York, only require a 120-hour bachelor’s degree to sit for the CPA exam while other states allow you to sit if you are within a certain timeframe of completing all education requirements.

For example, in North Dakota, you can sit for the CPA exam if you are within 6 months of completing all education requirements. In all states and jurisdictions except the U.S. Virgin Islands, CPA licensure requires 150 credit hours.

CPA Age Requirements

Some states have a minimum age requirement to sit for the CPA exam, but most don’t. The states with the highest minimum age requirements are Missouri and New York with a minimum age of 21 to become CPA certified.

See the map under “State CPA Requirements” to check the age requirement where you plan to take the exam.

CPA Residency Requirements

Residency requirements to sit for the CPA exam also vary by state. Most states do not require residency, but some states like Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, and Maryland do.

If a state does require residency for CPA certification, this can usually be fulfilled by proving residency of at least six months through having a physical address or regular employment within the state.

CPA Graduation Requirements

In most states you must graduate from an accredited college for your education to count towards your CPA eligibility requirements. Also, most states do adhere to the 150-Hour Rule, but many states will let you sit for the CPA exam before completing the entire 150 hours of additional coursework, including Arizona, California, and New York.

Not an accounting major? Find out how you can earn your CPA.

CPA Ethics Requirements

Some states require CPA candidates to take an ethics exam, either state-specific or comprehensive, as part of their CPA requirements. And even if an ethics exam is not required, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) encourages all CPAs to take the comprehensive ethics exam.

The ethics exams, in general, are short, take-home tests that supplement the full CPA exam to ensure you understand the rules and regulations governing accountancy. Some states that don’t require ethics exams to become a licensed CPA include Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, and New York.

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CPA License Requirements

In order to become licensed as a CPA, you must pass the Uniform CPA Exam and meet certain experience and other requirements that vary by state or jurisdiction.

Each of the 55 states or jurisdictions of the United States has its own board of accountancy (or equivalent body) that establishes the requirements to sit for all 4 CPA exam sections in that state as well as the experience and other requirements for licensure. Some states issue certificates as well as the licenses needed to practice.

Below you will find everything you need to know about CPA licensure requirements including the requirements to sit for the exam, CPA requirements by state, and your CPA eligibility.

CPA Work Experience Requirements

Most states require 1-2 years of relevant and verified experience as part of their CPA requirements. Eligible experience includes employment in government, industry, academia or public practice involving the use of accounting, attest, management advisory, financial advisory, tax or consulting skills.

Are you ready to take the CPA exam?

See where you stand by taking Wiley’s Free CPA Practice Exam. It’ll help you understand the strengths you already have and where you can improve.

How Do CPA Requirements Vary from State to State?

CPA requirements stay similar, but they do vary from state to state. Some of the varying requirements include:

Education requirements
Work experience requirements
Ethics exam requirements
Citizenship requirements
Residency requirements
Social security number requirements

State CPA Requirements

You can review your state’s CPA exam requirements by selecting it from the map below. Each state has different CPA exam requirements and CPA licensure requirements.

Select a state below to see the necessary state CPA requirements:


State Selection for International Candidates

The U.S. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation is one of the world’s most recognized credentials, offering international candidates opportunities for career advancement, increased salary, and recognition as a North American accounting professional.

Wiley offers a free service to international CPA students to assist with their U.S. CPA designation goal.

Frequently Asked Questions About CPA Requirements

  • Anyone who meets the CPA exam requirements is eligible to take the exam. Those requirements include education as well as age and residency that vary by state.
  • There are 3 “e’s” that cover the main requirements necessary to become a CPA, which are education, exam, and experience:

    1. Education – Earn a 4-year bachelor’s degree with a focus in accounting or business plus additional semester hours for a total of 150.

    2. Exam – Pass all 4 parts of the Uniform CPA Examination.

    3. Experience – Complete 1-2 years of relevant and verified accounting and accounting-related experience.

    You may also encounter a fourth “e” and be required to pass an ethics exam (depending on which state you are getting certified in.).

  • No, there is no GPA requirement to take the CPA exam or get your CPA license—you just need to meet the education requirements and obtain a 4-year degree plus additional credit hours.

    However, if you have dreams of working for The Big 4, you’ll want to maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher.

    Want to land a job with The Big 4? Learn how to increase your chances of getting hired.

  • If you want to take the CPA exam as early as possible with fewer requirements, Alaska is a good state to get your CPA license in because it allows candidates to sit while completing an undergraduate degree if within 18 hours of meeting bachelor’s degree requirements.

    There are no citizenship, residency, age, or social security number requirements. Alaska does, however, require completion of the 150 hours, two years of work experience and an ethics exam for licensure.

  • The only state or jurisdiction that does not require 150 hours of education as a CPA license requirement is the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • No, the 150-hour requirement is only applicable to those who took the CPA exam and applied for licensure after 2000 when the change took effect.
  • As with most other CPA exam requirements, it depends on the jurisdiction. Some states will allow candidates to sit for the CPA exam with less than 150 hours, but they require an Academic Credential Evaluation application be submitted through National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to determine if they meet the state’s education requirements.

Are you ready to take the CPA exam?

See where you stand by taking Wiley’s Free CPA Practice Exam. It’ll help you understand the strengths you already have and where you can improve.