California CPA Requirements


Education Requirements Other Requirements
Hours Required for Exam:
Baccalaureate degree or higher with 24 semester hours in accounting subjects above the introductory level and 24 semester hours in business-related courses

Residency Requirements:None.

A valid social security number is required for licensure, but not for the exam.

Hours Required for Licensure:
Licensure candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree consisting of 150 semester hours or more.

Minimum Age: None
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Degree Required:
Bachelor's

Application Fee:

$100 for first-time exam candidates; $50 for re-exam candidates. $250.00 for licensing candidates (out-of-state candidates must pay an additional $51 for fingerprinting)

Additional Requirements:

Licensees must pass California Professional Ethics Exam.

Additional Notes:

In order to be eligible for a CPA license, candidates must complete two years of general accounting experience under a licensed CPA.

Note: only one year of accounting experience will be required for licensees after January 1, 2014

Please note that California’s education and experience requirements for licensure will change for those who apply on or after January 1, 2014. In addition to the current education requirements, licensees must complete specific course credits in accounting study and ethics study. The experience requirement is reduced from two years to one with 500 hours of attest experience required for those who wish to sign attest reports.

The Certified Public Accountant certification is one of the most prestigious professional certifications available. It indicates that the accountant has satisfied a demanding set of educational, professional, and ethical standards. In addition, candidates must pass the rigorous CPA exam in order to earn the distinction of this credential.

Before candidates can sit for the exam, they must satisfy their state’s requirements and qualifications. Each state has its own set of eligibility requirements for the CPA exam, which should not be confused with licensing requirements.

California CPA Exam Eligibility Requirements

In order to qualify to take the CPA exam in California, candidates must meet minimum educational requirements, which includes a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university with 24 semester units of accounting subjects and 24 semester units of business-related subjects.

Candidates must satisfy all educational requirements before applying to take the exam and all educational requirements must be documented with official transcripts sent directly to the California Board of Accountancy (CBA).

First-Time and Retake Candidates

First-time California exam candidates must create a client account with the CBA. Once the account is active, candidates can submit an application and remit the required $100 application fee. Re-exam candidates do not need to create a new client account, but they must remit a $50 re-exam application fee each time they reapply. All application fees are nonrefundable and must be paid by check or money order directly to the CBA.

Application Process and Required Forms, Fees, and Transcripts

Candidates can apply any time online at www.cba.ca.gov/cba/ or by calling (916) 561-1703 to request a paper application. Along with the application and the fee, first-time candidates must submit official transcript(s) to the CBA that show the educational requirements have been met. Re-exam candidates only need to submit the re-exam application fee. Candidates can check the status of their application by accessing their client account through the CBA website.

Once the application has been approved, exam candidates can select the CPA exam section(s) using their online client account. The CBA will then submit an Authorization to Test (ATT) request to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Once processing is complete, NASBA will send the candidate a payment coupon, which is valid for 90 days.  After 90 days, the ATT and payment coupon will expire if payment has not been remitted.

Once payment is remitted to NASBA, candidates cannot add or remove exam sections. Candidates who wish to take additional sections must submit another application and the $50 re-exam application fee. Change requests made prior to remitting payment to NASBA must be made at least five days before the ATT expires. Candidates should complete and submit a Uniform CPA Exam Applicant Section Change Request Form available online at www.cba.ca.gov.

If the candidate does not make any exam section selections with one year from the date that the CBA approves the application, the application is considered abandoned and the fee is forfeited.

CPA Exam Fees

Candidates can take one or more sections of the exam at a time and must pay the following fees to NASBA:

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD):  $190.35
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): $171.25
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): $190.35
  • Regulation (REG): $171.25

Scheduling the Exam

Once NASBA has received payment, candidates will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS), which is valid for nine months. If the candidate does not take the exam within nine months, the NTS will expire and all fees are forfeited. Once candidates receive their NTS, they can then contact Prometric to schedule the examination. 

Candidates may schedule and take each section of the CPA Exam only once during a testing window. Testing windows are as follows:

  • January 1 through February 29
  • April 1 through May 31
  • July 1 through August 31
  • October 1 through November 30

Before Scheduing your exam(s), prepare with:

Receiving Scores

NASBA releases scores following the first month of the testing window, with subsequent score releases every two weeks for the remainder of the window. The CBA processes and releases scores for individual sections in the order they are received from NASBA. Scores are available only through the candidate’s online client account.

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