One of the three E’s CPA candidates need to complete before they become a Certified Public Accountant is the exam. However, before you can sit for the Uniform CPA Examination, you need to make sure you’re eligible. Nobody wants to send in their application only to have it rejected because they didn’t meet one of the eligibility requirements or didn’t apply for the exam correctly.
If becoming a CPA is in your near future, you need to know what you need to do in order to sit for the CPA Exam. Requirements and procedures vary from state to state, so you’ll need to check with your state board of accountancy before finalizing any plans to become eligible. You can also view our listing of CPA state requirements at the bottom of this page.
Despite the differences between states, there are several exam eligibility and application consistencies across the board. Watch this video or read below to find out about these consistencies so you can start to prepare yourself to take the CPA Exam.
CPA Exam qualifications
Every state except Alabama, Louisiana, Hawaii and North Carolina requires you to be or become a U.S. citizen before you can take the exam. The CPA Exam is a U.S.-based designation, and most candidates planning to take the exam will already be U.S. citizens.
If you are an international candidate, you are still eligible to take the exam in the four states mentioned above: Alabama, Louisiana, Hawaii and North Carolina. Since these states don’t require U.S. citizenship to take the exam, you’re eligible to apply for and take the exam in each state.
Social Security ID
Most states require you have a social security number in order to apply and sit for the CPA Exam. Similar to the citizenship requirements, this isn’t an issue for most candidates since the CPA is a U.S.-based designation and most candidates who are applying to take the exam are already U.S. citizens with a social security number.
If you want to apply for the CPA Exam but do not have a social security number, don’t worry. Wisconsin, Montana, Illinois, New York and South Dakota allow you to take the CPA Exam even if you don’t have a social security number.
All 50 states and five jurisdictions require a candidate to be at least 18 years of age before sitting for the CPA Exam. If you were planning on starting your CPA journey earlier, you’ll have to wait until you’re a legal adult. Luckily, there’s no rule saying you can’t start studying and learning now in order to be as prepared as possible when you do turn 18.
When it comes to CPA Exam eligibility, most people want to know about education requirements. Most candidates are U.S. citizens, have a social security number and are over the age of 18, but there are particular education requirements you have to meet according to your state in order to sit for the CPA Exam.
While specific education requirements vary from state to state (see CPA Exam requirements by state below), there are a few constants. All states require at least a bachelor’s degree or 120 semester hours from an accredited college or university to be eligible. Only a handful of states allow candidates to become CPAs without an accounting degree; these are Hawaii, Maine, Alaska, Massachusetts and Georgia. In all other states, you’ll have to have at least your Bachelor’s of Accounting.
All states require some specific number of semester hours in accounting courses, as well as a usually smaller number of semester hours in business courses. Also, all credit hours must be taken at an accredited institution. If you didn’t attend a college or university in the United States, you’ll have to check with your state board of accountancy to see if your credit hours will count toward your educational requirements.
Some states now require 150 semester hours or a master’s degree in order to take the exam, and many states have the 150 hour rule in place for licensure. Check with your state board of accountancy as early as possible to see what your particular educational requirements might be.
In most states, you have to have graduated from an accredited college or university in order to be eligible to take the exam. This fulfills the 120 hours education requirement. However, some states will allow you to take the exam before you graduate if you’re on track to graduate with 120 hours, have completed certain classes and only have a few courses left in your degree program. Again, check with your state board of accountancy to see if you can get ahead of the curve.
No U.S. state or territory requires any work experience before you can sit for the CPA Exam. However, you do have to meet certain work experience requirements to get your CPA license.
How do the requirements vary from state to state?
You’ll want to view our state CPA state requirements below or check your state board of accountancy’s website for the following differences between states:
- Whether or not you have to be a U.S. citizen
- Whether or not you need state residency
- Whether or not you need a social security number
- The number of education hours to sit for the CPA Exam
- The specific credit hour makeup of the required education hours
- The exam application process and prices
- Where to take the CPA Exam
How to apply for the CPA Exam
Once you’ve determined that you’re eligible to take the CPA Exam, it’s time to apply for and schedule your first exam section. The application process does vary from state to state, as well as the price of each exam, but there are a few general basic steps:
- Apply to sit for the CPA Exam through NASBA
- Submit your application, transcripts and application fee
- Decide which exams you’d like to apply for
- Receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS)
- Schedule your exam at a Prometric Testing Center
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CPA Exam requirements by state
Ready to figure out exactly what you need to do in order to sit for the CPA Exam in your state? Use the links to each state below to view your state board of accountancy’s requirements for CPA Exam eligibility.