One of the requirements to obtain a CPA license is meeting the educational requirements. The educational requirements for the CPA license are determined separately by every State Board of Accountancy.
So, before starting your CPA licensure journey, contact your State Board of Accountancy to determine their educational requirements. For your state’s specific requirements, click here. You will want to contact them early in the process so that you’re not missing requirements that are preventing you from moving forward toward your CPA credential.
Most jurisdictions require that CPA candidates complete at least 150 educational credits or units before sitting for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Exam or CPA Exam. This requirement is sometimes termed the 150-hour rule.
Many candidates are able to get this through taking extra business and accounting courses over their normal bachelor’s degree requirements. They can also decide to further their education by working towards and completing a master’s degree in accounting.
It is important to figure out the 150-Hour Rule early in your academic career. So, the first thing you’ll want to do after reaching out to your State Board of Accountancy to see if they require 150 credit hours to sit for the CPA Exam, is to calculate the eligible college credit you have taken and are going to take.
If you find that you don’t have enough academic credit, then consider the following ways to meet the 150-Hour Rule:
1. Use your Advanced Placement (AP) classes to your advantage. If you took AP classes in high school and your academic institution offers academic credit for AP Exams, you might be able to use those credits toward your 150 hours.
Work with your academic advisor and request that they submit your AP Exam scores for credit on your official school transcript. If you have completed this step, then check your transcript because they might already be noted there.
2. Consider taking extra accounting courses at a community college or two-year academic institution. Many community colleges understand the need of accounting students working toward their CPA to take 150 hours of academic credit.
If you don’t want to work on your master’s degree in accounting, find a community college that offers extra accounting courses and take the courses you need to fulfill the 150-hour requirement. Don’t forget to send your State Board of Accountancy the community college transcripts once your courses are completed.
3. Get a master’s degree in accounting (MAcc). Many academic institutions encourage their accounting students to continue their accounting education by obtaining a master’s degree in accounting. Not only will this help you get the credits needed to sit for the CPA Exam, but the extra courses needed in a master’s degree in accounting will help advance your knowledge in more advanced accounting concepts and principles.
Although trying to find ways to get the extra hours needed to meet the CPA license educational requirements might seem daunting at first, obtaining them is very doable. Consider taking courses in the summer while you’re working on your bachelor’s degree. That way, when you graduate, you’ll have all the hours you need to meet the requirements.
Another good reason to work toward obtaining the extra accounting course credits is that when you graduate, having more accounting credits on your resume will help recruiters take notice of your desire to complete the 150 credit hours – letting them know you are serious about taking the CPA Exam sooner rather than later.