Santa Clara University

CPA Exam Educational Requirements

 

Candidates who plan to take the CPA exam in California must meet the educational requirements described in the California Board of Accountancy website. California law currently gives CPA candidates two options for entering the profession. Students need to understand the educational requirements for these two options.



Pathway 1 requirements


Pathway 1 is designed for individuals who plan to practice accounting only in California. The requirements for CPA licensure under Pathway 1 are as follows:


  • A Bachelor’s degree
  • 36 quarter units in accounting-related subjects
  • 36 quarter units in business-related subjects (accounting subjects beyond the 36 required units may apply toward the business units)
  • Passing the Uniform CPA Exam
  • Two years of general accounting experience supervised by a CPA with an active license
  • Passing an ethics course

Pathway 2 requirements

Pathway 2 is designed for individuals who may need to practice accounting in another state. If you are licensed under this pathway, the majority of other states will recognize your license. If you think that someday you might want to practice in another state, Pathway 2 may provide you the professional mobility that you desire. The requirements for CPA licensure under Pathway 2 are as follows:

  • A Bachelor’s degree
  • 36 quarter units in accounting-related subjects
  • 36 quarter units in business-related subjects (accounting subjects beyond the 36 required units may apply toward the business units)225 quarter units (or 150 semester units) of education
  • Passing the Uniform CPA Exam
  • One year of general accounting experience supervised by a CPA with an active license
  • Passing an ethics course

Comparing Pathway 1 and Pathway 2

All students who graduate with an accounting major from SCU are qualified to take the CPA exam in California under Pathway 1. However, most SCU students plan to qualify for their CPA license under Pathway 2 because it provides greater career flexibility. SCU students obtain the additional units by taking additional classes at SCU and other accredited institutions. California does not require candidates to take the additional units at four-year universities.


CPA exam educational requirements for other states

Because other states may require additional courses or advanced degrees to take the CPA exam, students who plan to take the CPA exam in other states may need to take additional courses to take the exam in those states. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) website provides links to the Board of Accountancy websites for all jurisdictions. The Becker and Gleim websites also show the eligibility requirements for all 50 states.

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