There are a variety of things to know about CPA exam requirements. Categories can be divided into college course needs, study preparations, and State stipulations. Let us describe each in further detail so you can enter the daunting examination days fully prepared.
It is State Determined
Each State has its own set of unique requirements candidates must fulfill before even applying for the CPA examination. It is important to contact your State Board of Accountancy and find out what these stipulations are.
States require certain forms of legal identification. It can be a state-issued driver's license, federally-issued social security number, or some other designated control number. Some states may require one or more. This information can be found in your State's Education Handbook, or other applicable document. Obtain a copy of this ever-important document and read it from front to back.
Some states, for instance, require a fifth year educational study program. Others only require a four-year degree. Each state will require candidates to have a set number of college semester hours. You must know what your State requires before proceeding further. Know that all states have a minimum 120-hour requirement to sit for the examination.
Educational Institution Matters
Where you obtain your formal education makes a difference. You must graduate from an accredited university, the National College, or other designated advanced learning facility. Before enrolling in any higher learning institution, make certain the facility is nationally or regionally accredited by an appropriate agency. This saves valuable time and frustration.
This is particular true for candidates who have earned college credits at community colleges. Not all courses are grandfathered in, or transferable, to accredited four-year universities. Before embarking on any community college program, be sure to discuss your undergraduate concerns and CPA goals with a trained counselor or other applicable professional. It is always better safe than sorry.
Accreditation ensures that the standards and process involved are substantially equivalent across all involved regulatory organizations. In Virginia, for instance, this information is discussed in detail at Code of Virginia.
College Curriculum Is Important
The CPA exam is a highly focused and in-depth testing format. Due to this, candidates must fulfill specific college course studies in order to satisfy application requirements. You may think you have taken all the needed subjects, but if you miss just one required course, you will not receive approval. You will have to wait for the next examination. Do not let this happen. Know what courses to take.
Many states require candidates have an accounting concentration or equivalent. Most state boards stipulate that basic accounting courses do not qualify in meeting this concentration requirement. Only more advanced level courses fulfill the minimum semester hour requirement. Courses in cost, financial, auditing, and business law will be required.
There will also be a number of other accounting courses required to fulfill application requirements. Courses can include nonprofit, governmental, taxes, forensic, fund, and assurance services.
International Students Can Apply
If you are an international student interested in becoming a U.S. CPA outside of the country and its properties, you must follow specific requirements in order to take the examination. You can obtain more information about CPA Exam requirements by visiting the National Board of Accountancy's useful site.
The Uniform CPA Exam requirements are set in place to help individuals succeed. Learning as much as possible about all facets involved will only lead to greater personal and professional development. Persevere, study, and succeed!