Can Non-Accounting Majors Take the CPA Exam?

Navigating the CPA Exam as a Non-Accounting Major

non-accounting-majors-can-take-the-cpa-examYes, non-accounting majors can qualify to take the CPA exam. It’s a common misconception that this path is exclusively reserved for accounting majors.

In reality, non-accounting majors can indeed take the CPA exam, provided they meet the necessary requirements and are willing to put in the extra effort to fill in the knowledge gaps.

In this article, we will delve into how non-accounting majors can approach the CPA exam, the additional steps they may need to take, and why this path might be the right choice for them.

Pathways for Non-Accounting Majors to Qualify for the CPA Exam

If you’re passionate about diving into the world of finance and numbers but didn’t major in accounting, you might be wondering if the CPA door is still open to you.

The good news is that it is. Non-accounting majors can embark on various pathways to meet the educational prerequisites for the CPA exam, albeit with some extra steps.

Understanding the CPA Exam Eligibility Criteria

First, students need to understand the eligibility criteria for taking the CPA exam. These qualifications are set by individual state boards of accountancy, and they typically include specific educational and credit hour requirements. Most states require candidates to have completed 150 credit hours of college education, with a certain number of those hours dedicated to accounting and business courses.

Non-accounting majors may find that they need to take additional courses to meet these requirements, which could extend their preparation time and incur additional educational expenses.

How non-accounting majors can meet the educational prerequisites

Second, it’s essential to understand the CPA exam’s educational prerequisites. Generally, these include a minimum number of credit hours in accounting and business-related subjects, often culminating in 150 total college credits. As a non-accounting major, you’ll likely need to bridge the gap between your completed coursework and these requirements.

This is where additional coursework comes into play. You can enroll in accounting and business classes to not only meet the credit hour requirements but also to arm yourself with the knowledge necessary for the CPA exam.

Many educational institutions offer individual classes that can be taken without enrolling in a full degree program. This can be an efficient way to target the specific areas you need for CPA eligibility.

Take Additional coursework: Accounting and Business classes

For a more structured approach, consider post-baccalaureate certificates in accounting. These are designed for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field and are looking to transition into accounting.

Such certificates typically cover key areas like financial accounting, managerial accounting, auditing, and taxation – core subjects of the CPA exam.

Post-baccalaureate Certificates and Bridge programs

Moreover, there are bridge programs, which serve as a comprehensive fast-track to bring non-accountants up to speed. These intensive programs cover a broad range of accounting principles and practices, ensuring a well-rounded preparation for the CPA exam.

They often cater to the 150-credit hour requirement as well, enabling you to fulfill both the educational and knowledge prerequisites simultaneously.

No matter which pathway you choose, the key is to ensure that the additional coursework or programs are accredited and recognized by the state board of accountancy where you plan to take the exam.

With dedication and strategic planning, non-accounting majors can successfully navigate their way to sitting for the CPA exam, opening the door to a rewarding career in the field of accountancy.

Steps for Non-Accounting Majors to Take the CPA Exam

Evaluate existing credits and educational gaps

One of the biggest challenges for non-accounting majors is bridging the knowledge gap in accounting principles and practices. The CPA exam covers a wide range of accounting topics, and candidates are expected to have a strong grasp of these concepts.

Non-accounting majors can address this challenge by enrolling in additional accounting courses, seeking out relevant work experience, and investing time in comprehensive exam preparation materials.

Seek Academic Advising or CPA exam coaching

This journey is not one to undertake alone. Seeking out academic advising is crucial. Advisors can help navigate the complex terrain of CPA requirements. Additionally, CPA exam coaching can provide focused support, offering study strategies, and a deep dive into the exam’s content areas.

Exam Preparation Strategies

Successfully preparing for the CPA exam requires a strategic approach, especially for non-accounting majors. Candidates should focus on understanding the exam format, identifying their areas of weakness, and dedicating sufficient time to study.

Utilizing review courses, practice exams, and study groups can also be beneficial in reinforcing accounting knowledge and building confidence.

Overcome the Mental Hurdles

It’s common for non-accounting majors to feel overwhelmed or unsure about their ability to pass the CPA exam. However, it’s important to remember that with determination, proper preparation, and a willingness to learn, success is attainable.

Embracing a growth mindset, seeking support from mentors or peers, and staying motivated throughout the preparation process can help overcome these mental hurdles.

Leverage Work Experience

Gaining relevant work experience in accounting can be a valuable asset for non-accounting majors looking to take the CPA exam.

This experience provides practical insights into accounting practices, enhances understanding of accounting concepts, and can contribute to meeting the experience requirements set by state boards for CPA licensure.

Plan Your Educational Pathway

Non-accounting majors interested in taking the CPA exam should carefully plan their educational pathway to ensure they meet the necessary requirements.

This may involve taking additional accounting courses, pursuing a master’s degree in accounting, or exploring other educational options to acquire the required credit hours and accounting knowledge.

Additional Resources and Support

There are numerous resources and support networks available to help non-accounting majors navigate the CPA exam process. Joining professional accounting organizations, participating in online forums, and connecting with CPA mentors can provide valuable guidance, insights, and encouragement.

Invest in Your Future

While the journey to becoming a CPA as a non-accounting major may require additional time, effort, and financial investment, it is an investment in your future that can yield substantial rewards.

The CPA license is highly respected and opens doors to diverse career opportunities, making it a worthwhile pursuit for those willing to rise to the challenge.

The Benefits of Pursuing the CPA License

Despite the additional challenges, there are several benefits to pursuing the CPA license as a non-accounting major.

Having a CPA license can significantly enhance career prospects, increase earning potential, and provide a competitive edge in the job market. It also demonstrates a commitment to the accounting profession and a mastery of accounting principles, which can be appealing to employers.

Success Stories and Case Studies

Countless non-accounting majors have successfully charted a path to CPA licensure. These success stories include individuals who, with determination and strategic planning, have completed additional studies and passed the CPA exam.

Their varied educational backgrounds contribute to a diverse and dynamic accounting profession.

State Board Variances

It’s crucial to recognize that CPA exam requirements are not monolithic; they vary by state.

Prospective candidates must consult their specific state board’s regulations to ensure they meet all the requirements for licensure in their intended state of practice.


In conclusion, non-accounting majors can indeed take the CPA exam and become licensed CPAs, provided they are willing to invest the necessary time and effort to meet the eligibility requirements and prepare for the exam.

By understanding the challenges, leveraging available resources, and maintaining a positive and determined mindset, non-accounting majors can successfully navigate this path and reap the benefits of holding a CPA license.

Frequently Asked Questions

What additional courses might a non-accounting major need to take to qualify for the CPA exam?

Non-accounting majors may need to take additional courses in accounting, business, and ethics to meet the specific credit hour requirements set by their state board of accountancy.

How much additional time might it take for a non-accounting major to prepare for the CPA exam?

The additional preparation time will vary depending on the individual’s prior knowledge, the number of additional courses needed, and the amount of time dedicated to studying, but it could extend the preparation process by several months.

Are there specific review courses or resources recommended for non-accounting majors taking the CPA exam?

Yes, there are numerous CPA review courses available that cater to candidates with varying levels of accounting knowledge, including those tailored for non-accounting majors.

Can a non-accounting major become a successful CPA?

Absolutely, with dedication, proper preparation, and a willingness to learn, non-accounting majors have the potential to become successful CPAs and excel in their accounting careers.