CPA Exam Requirements

To qualify to take the CPA Exam, you must meet the following minimum requirements in order to apply to take the exam:

Educational Requirements:

A baccalaureate degree or higher conferred by a degree-granting college or university (or foreign equivalent evaluated by a California Board of Accountancy-approved foreign academic credentials evaluation service) accredited by a United States regional institutional accrediting agency or national accrediting agency.

24 semester units of accounting subjects; 24 semester units of business-related subjects. Specific subjects can be found on page 4 and 5 of CBA's CPA Exam Handbook.

Quarter Unit Conversion:

Courses earned at college and universities on a quarter unit calendar must be multiplied by a factor of 2/3 to convert to semester units. For example, 4 quarter units is equivalent to 2 and 2/3 semester units.

Complete the CBA Exam Application:

Have all transcripts from all U.S. colleges or universities attended and/or evaluation of foreign credentials.

Create your personal Client Account via the California Board of Accountancy (CBA) website found here.

Mail signed Application Remittance Form (given to you when you create an account) and payment to the CBA.

  • $100 Fee for First-Time Applicants- To be paid if you are applying to sit for the CPA Exam as a California candidate for the first time.
  • $100 Fee for Transfer Applicants- To be paid if you are applying to sit for the CPA Exam as a California candidate for the first time, but previously applied and was qualified as a candidate of another state or jurisdiction.
  • $50 Fee for Repeat Applicants - To be paid if you were previously qualified to sit for the CPA Exam as a California candidate.

Complete CPA Exam Application-Qualification Checklist for First-Time Applicants.

***UPDATE***

CBA has provided resources that address the new version of the Uniform CPA Exam. Please go here for Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to the new format of the exam.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I have more than 24 semester units of accounting units; can I use these towards the business-related subjects?
A: Yes, you can use excess accounting units towards the business-related subject requirement.

Q: Can I use a particular class to fulfill more than one education requirement?
A: No, you cannot double count units.

Q:I have taken all the classes I need to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam, but I have not received my bachelors degree yet, can I sit for the Uniform CPA Exams?
A: No, you must have a bachelor’s degree as well as meet the education requirements to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. The only exception is if you are in a special program.

Q: My school is on the quarter system. How do I count the quarter units into semester units?
A: A quarter unit is multiplied by .66 to equal a semester unit. 4 Quarter Units = 2.64 Semester Units.  

Q: Can I just send an unofficial transcript to the California Board of Accountancy?
A: No. The California Board of Accountancy will only accept official transcripts from degree granting colleges and universities that are accredited by a U.S. regional or national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. A full list of recognized accrediting agencies can be found on page 15 of the CBA’s Handbook for Initial Licensure.

Q: Will the California Board of Accountancy review my transcript prior to me applying to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam?
A: No. The California Board of Accountancy does not review transcripts prior to the submission of an application. If you are still unsure about a specific course, you may want to check with the California Board of Accountancy directly for guidance on how to best count it. You can find the contact information for the Initial Licensing Unit on the California Board of Accountancy Website.

Q: I earned some of my education units a long time ago. Does this matter?
A: No. Your education units do not expire as long as they are evident on an official transcript.

Q: I have passed all sections of the Uniform CPA Exam, but will need some time to find a placement to earn my work experience. Will my exam credits expire?
A: No. Once you have passed all four sections of the Uniform CPA exam, your exam credits do not expire. However, the ethics examination expires within 24 months of passing, so it is recommended that you take that examination close to the time you are ready to apply for licensure.