CPA Licensure Requirements: Initial Application

In order to receive your initial California CPA License, you must complete the following:

Education Requirements:

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

150 total semester units including 24 semester units of accounting subjects, 24 semester units of business-related subjects, 20 semester units of accounting study subjects, and 10 semester units of ethics study. Specific subjects can be found on page 3 of CBA's CPA Licensing Applicant 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.

Experience Requirements:

Applicants must provide the CBA with satisfactory evidence of having completed a minimum of 12 months of general accounting experience. Specific guidelines on what kind of experience is accepted can be found on page 7 of the CPA Licensing Applicant Handbook.

Other Requirements:

Applicants must pass the following exams

  • Uniform CPA Exam in California. Information on the Exam can be found here.
  • The Professional Ethics for CPAs (PETH) exam. Information on the exam can be found here.

Possess a valid United States Social Security Number of Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

All applicants must have a criminal background check conducted by the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Once the CBA has received your application and fee, CBA staff will provide an acknowledgement email that includes instructions to complete the fingerprinting process.

You can find the CPA licensure and application fees on page 17 of the CPA Licensing Applicant Handbook.

Further information on the other requirements can be found on pages 12-15 of the CPA Licensing Applicant Handbook.

Additional Information on CPA Licensure in California

Got a licensure question? You can submit your own question.