College Credits for CPA Candidates

Navigating College Credits for Aspiring CPAs: A Comprehensive Guide

college-credits-for-cpa-candidatesStarting your CPA journey is college can be a nerve racking one. Trying to figure out which classes to take and how many credits you need to qualify for the exam can be complicated.

One of the critical components of this process is ensuring you have the necessary college credits to meet the licensure requirements.

That’s why in this article, we’ll demystify the role of college credits in the CPA licensure process, so you can maximize your college CPA credits effectively.

Let’s jump in!

How many credits do I need to become a CPA?

Every U.S. state has its own Board of Accountancy which sets specific education requirements for CPA candidates. While these vary, a common requirement is completing a certain number of college credits, typically 150 semester hours, with a focus on accounting and business courses.

This surpasses the standard 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree, encouraging many candidates to pursue additional education.

General Educational Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree: A candidate typically needs to have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

150 Semester Hours: Most states require that candidates complete 150 semester hours of college education. This is equivalent to five years of higher education, which is more than the typical four-year bachelor’s degree.

Accounting and Business Coursework: Within the 150 semester hours, states usually require a certain number of semester hours in accounting and business courses. For example, a common requirement might be 24 semester hours in accounting, including courses in auditing and taxation, and 24 semester hours in general business courses.

Do I need 150 Credits for the CPA Exam?

The 150-credit requirement aims to ensure that CPA candidates possess a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of accounting principles and practices.

This additional education prepares you for the complexity of the CPA Exam and the demands of an accounting career, enhancing your knowledge, skills, and employability.

Strategies to Accumulate CPA Credits to Qualify for the CPA Exam

There are several common strategies that college students who want to sit for the CPA exam use to meet the 150-credit hour rule. Let’s take a look at the main four:

1. Bachelor’s Plus Master’s: Many students opt to complete a bachelor’s degree in accounting and then pursue a master’s in accounting or business administration to reach the 150-credit requirement.

2. Double Major or Minor: Another strategy is to double major in accounting and a related field like finance or business, or to add a minor that complements your accounting major.

3. Community College or Online Courses: You can also accumulate credits by taking courses at a community college or through accredited online platforms, which can be a cost-effective and flexible option.

4. CPA Review Courses: Some states allow credits from CPA review courses to count toward the 150-credit requirement, providing a dual benefit as you prepare for the CPA Exam.

Importance of Accreditation

Ensure that the college or university where you earn your credits is regionally accredited, as most state boards require credits from accredited institutions.

This ensures the quality and legitimacy of your education, aligning with the high standards expected of CPA candidates.

Planning Your College Courses for the CPA Exam

1. Focus on Accounting: Make sure a significant portion of your credits are in accounting. State boards typically require a specific number of accounting credits, often around 24 to 30 semester hours.

2. Include Business Courses: In addition to accounting credits, you will need credits in general business courses. The required amount varies by state but is commonly around 24 semester hours.

3. Check Specific State Requirements: Each state’s Board of Accountancy provides detailed information on required courses and credits. Review your specific state’s requirements early in your educational journey to plan your coursework accordingly.

Beyond College Credits: Preparing for the CPA Exam

Acquiring the necessary college credits is a significant milestone, but it is also crucial to start preparing for the CPA Exam early.

Don’t think that your college courses will adequately prepare you for the CPA exam. They won’t! Although the exam is an academic test with little to do with the real world of accounting, there is far too much information covered on the exam for college classes to cover.

Utilize CPA review courses, practice exams, and study materials tailored to the exam’s content and structure to prepare for it.

Leveraging Your Education in Your Career

The education and knowledge you gain while earning your college credits are invaluable assets in your accounting career.

Employers value the dedication and expertise that come with meeting the CPA licensure requirements, positioning you as a competitive and highly qualified professional in the field.


Navigating college credits is a vital step in your CPA journey, requiring careful planning, dedication, and a focus on quality education. By understanding the requirements, exploring various avenues to accumulate credits, and ensuring your courses align with state-specific needs, you set yourself on a path to success.

Embrace this educational journey, leverage the knowledge gained, and step confidently toward achieving your goal of becoming a CPA.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use credits from any college or university toward my CPA licensure?

To ensure that your college credits are accepted for CPA licensure, choose courses from regionally accredited institutions, as most state boards require this level of accreditation.

Is it necessary to earn a master’s degree to meet the 150-credit requirement?

While earning a master’s degree is a common path to fulfilling the 150-credit requirement, you can also explore other options such as a double major, a minor, or taking additional courses at a community college or through accredited online platforms.

Can CPA review courses count toward my college credit requirements?

Some state boards allow credits from CPA review courses to count toward the 150-credit requirement. Check with your specific state board to confirm their policy on this matter.

How early should I start planning my coursework for CPA licensure?

It is advisable to start planning your coursework as early as possible in your college career, ensuring that you meet both the credit and specific course requirements for CPA licensure in your state.