California CPA Exam Requirements

California CPA Exam Requirements
Educational Hours Required for Exam 150 Semester Hours
Educational Hours Required for Licensure 180 Hours
Residency Required No
Degree Required Bachelor's
Minimum Age None
Application Fee $100.00
Additional Requirements
  • 24 semester hours of accounting education at the upper division level.
  • 24 semester in general  business education.
Additional Note Licensees must pass the California Professional Ethics Exam.

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About California CPA Exam Requirements

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. Below we will be discussing the requirements for the state of California.   California CPA exam requirements do not include criteria for age, state residency or US. citizenship to sit for the exam. Candidates are not required to submit a Social Security number to sit for the CPA exam, but they must have one to receive a California license.   The state requires a bachelor’s degree or higher from a nationally or regionally accredited U.S. degree-granting educational institution or the equivalent foreign education. Prospective CPA exam candidates must provide transcripts showing that they have earned 150 semester hours of education from an accredited institution, which should include 24 semester hours in accounting subjects and 24 hours in business-related subjects.   California requires one year of work experience to obtain a CPA license including 500 hours of attest experience for those who wish to sign attest reports. Licensees must complete specific course credits in accounting study and ethics study.

Preparing for the Exam

Currently, the average pass rate for any given section of the exam is about 50 percent, which is a great indicator of the exam's difficulty. This is where a great CPA Review Course is instrumental. Review Courses have been preparing accounting professionals to pass the exam for years. Just about every accountant who has become a CPA utilized a review program. In other words, they are a worthy investment. The CPAExam.com CPA Review Course Comparison Chartcan help you select the best course for you. =

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.

Scheduling the Exam

Upon successful state application, candidates will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS), which is valid for one testing event or six months, whichever comes first. The NTS lists the section(s) that the candidate is approved to take, as well as the deadline for testing. An examination appointment cannot be scheduled without a valid NTS. Once candidates receive their NTS, they can then contact Prometric to schedule the examination. All scheduling, rescheduling, or cancellation of testing appointments is done through Prometric. 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

CPA Exam Fees

Candidates can take one or more sections of the exam at a time and must pay the following fees to CPA Examination Services at the time of application:
  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD):  $208.40
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): $208.40
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): $208.40
  • Regulation (REG): $208.40

Receiving Scores

Upon completing each section of the exam, candidates can obtain their scores online once NASBA has released the information. They can also elect to have exam scores mailed to them. See CPA Exam Score Release for more information.

CPA Review Courses

Disclosure: CPAexam.com has advertising/affiliate relationships with the CPA Review courses on this page. Courses listed in order of retail price.

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