Pennsylvania CPA Requirements on Exam and Licensing

Pennsylvania cpa requirementsPennsylvania is one of the states that does not require 150 semester hours of educational requirements to sit for the exam, but the full 150 hours are needed to obtain the CPA license.

PA is one of the few states that specifically asks for auditing in the experience requirements.

Pennsylvania CPA Requirements

1. Education Requirements to Sit for the Exam

  • Bachelor degree or above.
  • 24 semester hours of accounting courses, including accounting and auditing, business law, finance or tax subjects of a content satisfactory to the board, not necessarily as a part of your undergraduate work.

2. Additional Pennsylvania CPA Requirements to Get the License

Education

  • 150 semester units from an accredited university or educational institution.
  • 24 semester credits of accounting and auditing, business law, finance or tax subjects of a content satisfactory to the board.
  • additional 24 semester credits in accounting, auditing and tax subjects of a content satisfactory to the board, not necessarily as part of the individual’s undergraduate or graduate work.

Special note: the PA State board refers the CPA license as the “CPA certificate”. This is not to be confused with the CPA certificates available in two-tier states.

Work Experience

(Based on the amended requirements “Act 15″ effective August 2013)

  • 150-credit candidates must complete one year (1,600 hours) of work experience through employment in government, industry, academia, or public practice within 5 years of the date of certification application.
  • 120-credit candidates must complete 2 years (3,200 hours) of work experience through employment in government, industry, academia, or public practice within 10 years of the date of certification application.
  • The experience must be verified by an individual who is currently licensed to practice public accounting as a CPA in Pennsylvania or another state.

Ethics Qualification

  • None required.

3. Pennsylvania CPA Requirements on Residency & Age

  • US citizenship not required but Social security number is required
  • State residency: none
  • Minimum age: 18

4. Fees

  • First-timers: $723 (4 CPA exam fees) + $95 (initial application fee) + $95 registration fee for each part of the exam.

5. Continuing Education

CPE is required for license holders. Please click here for Pennsylvania CPA CPE requirements.

6. Other Useful Information

7. Contact

Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy
2601 North Third St.
Harrisburg, PA 17110

  • Email: ST-ACCOUNTANCY@state.pa.us, cpaes-pa@nasba.org
  • Phone: 717-783-1404
  • Fax: 717-705-5540

Can’t Get Qualified in Pennsylvania?

Don’t give up, as you may well be qualified to register through other states and sit for the same CPA exam — check out the other states’ CPA exam & licensing requirements here.

What if the Pennsylvania CPA Requirements Don’t Work for Me?

how to pass the cpa exam bookI wrote a step-by-step guide on how to get qualified for the CPA exam for international candidates. Chapter 3 has 26 pages dedicated to tips on how you can sieve through the maze of rules in different jurisdiction in order to find a workable path, together with study tips and test taking strategies that you’ll need afterwards.

The book is published by Wiley and is now available in major bookstores, including Amazon.com.

Free Mini e-Course

You can also sign up to my free e-course to learn about the CPA exam process here:

* 1 semester = 1.5 quarters; photograph courtesy of stuseeger

Comments

  1. Subbarao Seethamsetty says

    Hello,

    I live in PA (for the last 1.5 years) but have a travelling job. Where can I get the eligibility requirements for PA CPA license.

    I also do not have 150 credit hours and have an engineering degree with very little accounting. My job now is all finance and accounting.

    Appreciate any advise on how I should go about it. Also, NY is very accessible to me and also Canada because of my job.

    • Stephanie says

      Hello, I have included more info on PA California CPA exam requirements that you may find helpful.
      First of all, are you a resident? (I am asking because you seem to be travelling a lot). PA only allows residents to get their CPA license.

      But good news for you is that they don’t require the 150 credit hours but you’ll have to have 2 years of accounting experience (by the time you finish the exam, should reach the 2 years). Please do check whether your boss can verify your experience, i.e. whether they are ACTIVE CPA licensee (see difference between CPA certificate vs license).

      The other 2 states that allow <150 semester hours are: California and Delaware (see links above)

      For the issue with little accounting, you can get it via community colleges (which thankfully PA allows) or even online courses — but there might be restriction on online courses so please check.

      By the way, if your goal is NOT to become an auditor in PA (like, just to enhance your credentials, since you are in the finance field), then you are free to register in other states but still take the exam in PA.

      One last point: I think you can forget about Canada because apparently you need to work in a public accounting firm to be qualified for the Chartered Accountants.

      Hope it helps — please post again if I can be of further assistance. stephanie

    • Stephanie says

      Hi Mili,
      Am I correct that H4 visa holders don’t have a social security number? Generally there is no problem sitting for the exam, BUT you’ll need to double check whether the licensing requires a social security number. For example, for California, you must have a SSN to get the license.

      Even though you live in PA you can register the CPA exam through other states. So please see which states suit you and you can always come back for further questions. Stephanie

  2. Kinjan says

    Hi Stephanie,
    I been through all your comments and answers, everything is really helpful. I am planning to give my CPA exam for PA.

    I have following questions, i would really appreciate your help:

    1) PA requires 24 accounting credits, does that mean any account subjects will be consider or i have to have 24 credits from each accounting, tax, finance, auditing subjects?

    2) I have confusion with CPA scores certificate, Once i pass the CPA Exam and get the CPA scores certificate. Does CPA scores certificate equal to CPA certificate?

    Looking forward for your response back.
    Thank you ,
    Kinjan

    • Stephanie says

      Hi Kinjan,
      Thanks for your kind note! According to the CPA exam application form for PA, for the 24 credit hours of general accounting, you will need:
      * 3 semester hours in general accounting, and
      * 3 semester hours in either auditing, business law, finance or taxation.
      * the remaining eighteen (18) semester hours may include any combination of accounting, audit, tax,
      business law and finance.

      I assume that you have a bachelor degree. For master’s degree please refer to the application form p. 2 (click the link above for access)

      Not sure if you mean by “score certificate”… if you mean the congratulatory letter or the email/note that tells you the score, no this is NOT equal to the CPA certificate. You will have to fulfill the working requirements (see Point 2 above) to get the CPA license.

      Cheers, Stephanie

  3. Manu says

    I am on H4 visa and cleared 4 papers of CPA exam from New Hamshire board of Accountancy. I want to know the following for NH …
    1) As i am on H4 visa and not allowed to work. Is my voluntary work to any public accounting company taken as CPA Candidates Public Accounting Experience Reporting Form Reference RSA 309-B 5 IX ( as per their website).
    2) As i am on H4 visa what to do to meet the requirement to write CPA after my name?

    • Stephanie says

      Hi Manu,
      How many credit hours do you get? If you have 150+ hours it might be better to transfer your credits to Illinois to save the hassle on the working experience requirement. They allow non-SSN holders to get the CPA certificate.

      I actually don’t know whether voluntary work will count in New Hampshire but I can check it for you. For general New Hampshire CPA licensing requirements please click on the link. Stephanie

  4. Alex says

    Hi, Stephanie, I would like to know,
    1. PA requires 3 Moral Character References, 1 CPA, other 2 not CPA, who needs to know me for the past 3 years. I just moved here in 2009. I have not known a CPA, and all my co-workers only know me for 2 year. Can I write a statement for the situation and still be qualified to take the exam?

    2. If I have a Master Degree (24 credits) and pass the exams. Do I still need to meet the 150 credit requirement for getting the license?

    3. For the work experence requirement. Is there a time limit for it? My current supervisor is not CPA, in the following 3-5 years, I may not change job. If I did not meet the work experience in a certain time, does it mean my passed exam will expire and I need to take them again?

    Thank you so much.

    • Stephanie says

      Hi Alex,
      I saw your other follow-up post – does it mean that you have got the answers? If not just let me know. Cheers, Stephanie

  5. Laura says

    Hi,

    I was just wondering what happens if your work experience is spread across two different firms? How do you indicate that in the experience verification application?

    Thanks,
    Laura

    • Stephanie says

      Hi Laura,
      This is not a problem at all — in the working experience verification form there are spaces for you to fill in multiple firms. You will just need to ask the respective supervisors to endorse it for you and you are go to good. Cheers, Stephanie

  6. Amy says

    Hello,

    I live in NJ and graduated college in PA. I also do not have 150 credit hours and have an Information System degree with accounting minor.

    In order for me to sit CPA exam for PA, I need to take 6 more semester hours of accounting classes. Can I take online courses from U Of Phoenix to complete the requirements or school must be from PA?

    • Stephanie says

      Hi Amy,
      If you click on the link “Pennsylvania CPA exam application form and procedure for first-timers” above, you will see on p.3 that online courses anywhere are allowed as long as they are accredited. So school not necessarily from PA.

      UoP is good to go. I have also written an article on getting extra credit. Please see if it is of any help.

      Regards,
      Stephanie

  7. Alex says

    Hi, Stephanie,

    Thank you for your follow up. Sorry for the late reply. Recently, too busy to buy all the testbooks and other things like that. Yes, I find the answer to my questions. I would like to list them below in order to help anyone who has same questions as I do. Stephanie, please correct me if I am wrong:

    1. For the 3 references: the agent told me that a statement with reasonal explaination is acceptable, according to our conversation, seems that they care more about the education requirement. As long as you have 3 references, and a reasonable statement explainning why you do not have a CPA reference or why they know you less than 3 years. (In my case, I just moved here two years ago)

    2. For the 150 credits for license: as long as I passed one exam before 2012.01.01, not required, a qualified master degree is enough for getting the license.

    3. For the work experience: 1 or 2 years experience (the education background varies) supervised by a CPA in the following 10 years is OK, ONLY IF I pass at least one exam before 2012.01.01. If no exam is passed before 2012.01.01, then the time range changes from the following 10 years to the following 5 years.

    I sent out the application by the end of Sep. Not get the NTS yet, but I hope it is just a matter of time. Stephanie, please let us know whether all the information above is correct.

    • Stephanie says

      Hi Alex,
      Thanks very much for taking the time to share your finding with all of us. Very kind of you! Yes the info looks correct to me.

      By the way, typically it takes 4-8 weeks (mostly 6 weeks) for state boards to send the NTS to candidates. So no worries you are still within the waiting period so to speak… all the best to your exam! stephanie

  8. Grazyna says

    “The experience can be in public or non-public accounting but has to be supervised and verfied by an active CPA licensee.”
    Stephanie, does above statement apply to PA? where can I veify that info? I’m am ready to sit for the CPA, have a lot of corporate accounting experience (supervised under active CPA licensee) but never worked for a public accounting firm.

    • Stephanie says

      Hello Grazyna,
      This page is specifically for PA so yes, non-public accounting experience should work. For your own double checking you can click on the link “PA CPA licensing form and information” above.

      Cheers,
      Stephanie

  9. Satpal says

    Hello Stephnie,
    I have BS in computer sci and MBA. I did learn that for CPA candidate should have 24 semester hrs of Accounting. I have accounting one, Managerial accounting, int’l business law and Finance managment in healthcare. but have no courses in Tax or Auditing. Can I sit for CPA.

    • Stephanie says

      Hi Satpal,
      I would think tax at least is a must for the qualification. You can still sit for the CPA exam by either taking extra courses somewhere, or try another state.
      Just let me know if you have further questions. Stephanie

  10. Alex says

    Hi, Stephanie,

    Long time no see. I took the BEC on 11/30/10, which means all the application information I provide should be correct. Hope that it helps future fellows.

    Regards,
    Alex

  11. yumi says

    I live in PA now. I passed the CPA exam through the Maine state.
    I don’t have any experience yet and I have H4 visa now. I wanna transfer to Pennsylvania. Actually, Maine state was not required about any accounting credits. So, I don’t have accounting credits. But I have Master degree and +150 credits in chemistry and biology. How can I do transfer to PA?

  12. Linda says

    Stephanie – I obtained my Accounting Degree (undergrad) in Dec 1989. I sat for the exam a few times, but never completed it due to heavy travel. It is now 20+ years of experience and I’m thinking of going for it again. I know that I can not use the parts passed previously and I must start over again, but does it also mean the whole “1st time” application process?

  13. Hemali Shah says

    Hi Stephanie,

    I have done my Chartered Accountancy (CA) and have Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA) from India.

    I am shifting to PA in Feb 2011 on H4 visa. I am planning to appear for CPA from PA. Can you please suggest if I should apply from PA or any other state? Also need your guidance on which is the best evaluation agency.

    Thanking you in anticipation of your prompt response.

    Hemali

  14. Moe says

    I’m looking for guidance on what qualifies as a “Finance” credit in the PA CPA exam process. I am planning on returning to the work force next year and taking the first exam next fall (to get in under the deadline for changing requirements). In preparation, I have been busy refreshing my 15 year old acounting courses. I will probably be a couple credits shy of the required 24 credit hr at the end of this semester. So I’ve been scouring my BA transcripts to see what, if anything, will fill the gap. I have Intro to Finance credits from my first degree (under grad business school). Would this qualify? I’ve searched all the PA board sites, to no avail. Can you point me in the right direction??

    Thanks in advance for your help.
    Moe

  15. Satpal Singh says

    Hello Stephanie,
    I live in PA state and thinking to take CPA exam from Ohio state. Is there be any problem to get a job or practice in PA? Please educate me in this matter.
    Thanks

  16. Satpal Singh says

    Hello Stephanie,
    I am just learning about CPA Licensing. There are 4 parts. I believe I read here that someone can take all these 4 parts in steps. Am I right that once a person pass all 4 parts then he/she will get the license ?What is the best approach to study. Please guide me. Thanks

  17. Ryan B says

    Hello. I am a recent grad with an accounting degree. I only have 11 months of accounting experience but was thinking about taking the CPA exam before the rules change in 2012…… I was wondering how long after I pass the CPA exam do I have to fufill the work experience requirements????

    Thank You

  18. Meghan says

    Hello! I’m working on sitting for my CPA exams now and going on interviews for accounting jobs. Am I able to work for a non-accounting firm that does accounting, and work for a CPA somewhere else at the same time to meet the work experience requirements, or does this affect independence? I would prefer to just work for CPA firm but few are hiring around here at the moment; I figured working in an accounting department will help me gain some experience to get hired at one later.

  19. Stephanie says

    Hi Meghan,

    Smart idea!

    Not sure which state you are going to / have applied for the CPa exam, but I would say at least half of the states recognize non-public accounting experience — so your non-accounting firm that does accounting is perfectly fine (e.g. Pennsylvania is fine with that), as long as **important** that you work under a licensed CPA.

    Even for states that only recognizes public accounting…

    Well, I think most states recognize “part time” working experience but they might have a clause that states something like you have to get X number of hours within X years. So you will have to see if that would work.

    And please note that some state only recognizes full time working experience in which case this strategy won’t work as well.

    Hope i help to point you to the right direction. Good luck! Stephanie

    • Stephanie says

      Dear all,
      I order to make this comment section more useful to the rest of the readers, I would like to redirect your questions to these pages:

      1. For state specific questions (including specific state’ qualification and licensing rules):
      Please go to CPA exam requirements by state, click on the state you are interested in, and add a comment there.

      2. For general questions from international candidates:
      Please check out this page written for you first, and click away / leave comments from there!

      Finally, if you have a question specifically for Pennsylvania CPA exam requirements, then please scroll back up and find the heading “Your comments are most welcome” and drop a note for me there. Thanks!

      Stephanie