The exam requirement in California is rather simple: Bachelor degree with 24 credit hours of accounting together with 24 hours of business courses.
When it comes to licensure, it gets more complicated with 2 pathways — you can choose to complete the full 150 credit hours ,or 120 credit hours with one extra year of experience.
*Important*: While a Social Security Number (SSN) is not required to sit for the exam, in order to ultimately get the CPA license from California, you need to have a SSN.
California CPA Exam Requirements Overview
1. Education Requirements To Sit For The Exam:
- Bachelor degree or above
- Accounting courses: 24 semester units
- Business courses: 24 semester units
Note To ACCA Holders
Please note that California is the only state I identify that *MAY*accept some ACCA coursework. California State Board (CBA) is kind enough to clarify the situation upon my email inquiry (Aug 2012):
“We will consider coursework from the ACCA, to the extent that the ACCA program is equivalent to coursework for academic credit at a U.S. nationally or regionally accredited degree granting institution. However, the ACCA syllabus itself is subject to change over time.”
CBA reminds my readers that they have to go through the evaluation agencies that is accepted by CBA before applying for the CPA exam.
Note To BCOM + CA Holders
Here is CBA’s reply regarding the CA certificate:
“In response to your question, the evaluation of foreign education is conducted by a case-by-case basis and the CBA relies heavily on the U.S. equivalency determinations made by the CBA-approved foreign credential evaluation services. If a candidate has a question regarding the U.S. equivalency of specific education they should be advised to contact one of the CBA-approved services. The CBA does not provide a blanket acceptance of any education.”
In other words, you have to go through the evaluation agencies to find out. For next step, you have two choices:
(1) apply to the agencies knowing that you may not get a favorable result; (2) contact my friend Leslie-Ann at CPAexcel for assistance (with a fee). She could still find a way to help you get through the application process as a BCOM + CA.
More information can be found here for Indian candidates.
2. Additional Requirements To Get CPA License:
Candidates can choose either Pathway 1 or Pathway 2 : Pathway 1 requires more “experience- heavy” with at least 2 years of experience, while Pathway 1 is “education-heavy” requiring 150 semester credit hours.
Please note that Pathway
2 1 will be eliminated effective Jan 1, 2014. In other words, CA state board will no longer accept 120 credit hours. You will need 150 credit hours + 1 year of experience to get the license after this date.
(Many thanks to Reed for spotting the error)
- Pathway 1: 120 semester units (i.e. a bachelor degree)
- Pathway 2: 150 semester units
- You have to complete the education requirement before getting qualified to sit for the exam.
- Pathway 1: 2 years of general experience
- Pathway 2: 1 year of general experience
- For both pathways, 500+ attest hours are needed for those who want to sign attest reports.
- Non-public accounting work is accept but it has to be verified by an active US CPA licensee. If public accounting work, it can possibly be verified by CPA equivalent (e.g. Chartered Accountants). For details please check with the CA CPA Exam Handbook for licensing as well as the CA State Board.
- The CA State Board only accepts the California course in Professional Ethics for CPAs (PETH) available from the California CPA Education Foundation.
- The exam has to be taken within 2 years after the submission of the license application.
- Fingerprinting is required for licensure.
3. Residency & Age Requirements:
- US citizenship not required
- California residency not required
- Minimum age: none
- Social security number is not required to sit for the exam, but is required to obtain the license
- First-timers: standard exam fees + $100 initial application fee
- Repeaters: exam fees + $50 repeat application fees
*** Special note on NTS***
Please note that unlike most states, NTS approved by California State Board is valid for 9 months counting from the date of NTS issuance. For details, please refer to the CPA exam handbook below.
5. Continuing Education Requirement
CPE is required for license holders. Please click here for California CPA CPE requirements.
6. Other Useful Information:
California Board of Accountancy
2000 Evergreen Street, Suite 250
Sacramento, CA 95815-3832
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 916-561-1703
- Fax: 916-263-367
Got A Question?
The best way to get help is to join my new forum where fellow candidates in similar situations can share notes and help each other out. I am actively involved over there to answer any question that you may have.
* Note: 1 semester = 1.5 quarters. Photograph courtesy of Pascal Bovet @ flickr