My site covers the US CPA exam, but since I get lots of questions on the new CPA Canada designation, I decided to write a short post on the basics.
Special thanks to “Noname” for explaining the basic steps to my readers in the comment section before this page is written.
Similar to the states in the US, Canada has provinces, and each province has its own regional accounting body. Canada has taken a bold move by merging its accounting qualifications (CA, CMA and CGA) into one big “CPA “designation. The process has been completed with much success.
In order to get started, candidates should follow the rules applicable to their status.
This is the default route to become CPA in Canada. If qualified, you will be admitted to the CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP).
Here is the prerequisite for CPA PEP:
Shown on the right is an extract of the CPA Competency Map. You can get more info and download the full version here.
Those who are not qualified for CPA PEP will get into the CPA Prerequisite Education Program (CPA PREP). This may include non-accounting majors and international candidates.
This is a bridging program developed on a nationally basis to help students make up for the missing accounting courses. The courses are offered part-time, through distance learning or in classroom setting.
If you have completed the respected course of your CA, CGA or CMA designation on or before September 2015, then you don’t need to do anything but to wait for the legislation to pass in your jurisdiction (Update: this should have been completed in all provinces).
If you are half way in the course, you will enter the appropriate point in either the CPA PEP or CPA PREP to complete the program.
You will also need to complete the experience requirements in your original designation in order to become a CPA in Canada. You can get more information from the links at the bottom of this page.
CPA PEP is a 2-year part-time program designed for accounting professionals who work full time. It consists of six modules:
2 core modules
1 capstone integrative module
1 capstone exam prep mode
Each module ends in an examination. CPA candidates must pass each module examination to proceed to the next module. The Common Final Examination is a 3-day test to complete the whole process.
CPA PEP is developed on a national basis but the program is delivered on a provincial basis. You can register for the CPA PEP through your provincial or regional CPA body. There are also schools that run across the provinces.
You will have to sit for 6 exams (Core 1 and 2), 2 exams (Elective1 and 2) plus 2 learning modules (Capstone 1 and 2) and a final three days exams to complete the exam part of the program.
The CPA PREP consists of 14 modules. The sequence in which you take modules 1-10 is important as some modules are prerequisites for others. Modules 11 and 12 are self-study an can be taken at any time, subject to availability. You only have to complete the ones you require. Each module ends with an examination.
For information about the module fees and scheduling, please contact your provincial body.
Once you complete CPA PREP, you are qualified for CPA PEP.
Since September 2015, the provinces have standardized the requirements. There are two routes:
Students can choose one route or take a combination of the two.
There isn’t a simple answer to that. I understand that the US state boards still allow legacy CA members to take IQEX and get a faster route to become a CPA in the US.
CMA Canada used to have numerous agreements with other management accounting bodies, and I am not sure how that turns out. You may want to check with your current provincial accounting body for details.
As the unification is completed, there may be a new round of negotiation with other accounting bodies around the world and new reciprocal agreements will be made then.
I don’t cover them for now, but heard from friends that Prepformula, Densmore and Pass are the bigger providers.
This is my attempt to provide a basic understanding on how to become a CPA in Canada. I have never gone through the process myself, and definitely not an expert. Because of this, I will likely not able to answer specific questions that you may have. Please call the accounting body in your province for assistance.
Good luck to your path towards the Canadian CPA!
I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley), and I also passed all 4 sections of the CPA Exam on my first try. Additionally, I have led webinars, such as for the Institute of Management Accountants, authored featured articles on websites like Going Concern and AccountingWeb, and I'm also the CFO for the charity New Sight. Finally, I have created other accounting certification websites to help mentor non-CPA candidates. I have already mentored thousands of CPA, CMA, CIA, EA, and CFA candidates, and I can help you too!