If you’ve been researching how to become a CPA, you’ve probably already noticed that the exam requirements vary depending on your home state. Although the basic requirements to qualify for the exam are the same, there are slight differences between each of the 55 license-granting jurisdictions. These jurisdictions include the 50 states plus Washington, DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Mariana Islands. 

In the following article, we have made note of the states that are ‘special cases’. If you are still unsure about the CPA exam requirements for your specific state, it is a good idea to contact your state board of accountancy.  

CPA Requirements by State

We have in-depth guides on the rules and requirements for individual state.

Where to Write Your CPA Exam

The CPA is a uniform examination. This means that, most of the time, you are permitted to take the exam outside of your home state. In some cases, an applicant may have applied for the CPA exam with their home state but want to write the exam elsewhere. Once approved, most states will allow you to take the test at any Prometric center. In other cases, an applicant may want to apply for the exam in a state other than their home state. This might be because the specific requirements of a different state are better suited to the applicant. It is a great loophole, and could save you time and money! However, if you want to work as a CPA in your home state you will need to pay a $25 fee to transfer your test scores. 

Educational Requirements to Become a CPA 

First and foremost, to get your CPA license, all states require a bachelor’s degree with at least 150 credit hours of coursework. The 150 college credit rule has been in place since 2005. It was initiated by the AICPA and NASBA with the intention of better preparing prospective CPA’s for the fast-changing working world. 

Although every CPA needs to gather 150 credits eventually, some states will let you sit for the CPA examination with only 120 college credits. These states are listed below:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia

Some of these states are even more lenient and will let you take your CPA examination before you finish gathering your 120 college credits. 

For example: 

  • Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota and Maine will allow you to sit for the CPA exam if you are up to 90 days away from gathering 120 college credit hours. 
  • Vermont has a similar rule, but you have to be within 60 days of meeting your 120 credit requirement. 
  • In Alaska, you can be up to 18 credits away from completing your B.A. 

Most states also specify how many hours of accounting-related studies you need as part of their CPA Exam requirements. These credits make up a part of the total 150 college credits. 

For example: 

  • Illinois requires 30 hours in accounting-related subjects, including courses in auditing, financial accounting, managerial and taxes. 
  • Maine and California have more detailed accounting coursework requirements. This includes a prescribed minimum number of hours in upper-level accounting and business courses.

Let’s Look More Closely at California

To sit for a CPA examination in California, candidates must have: 24 credits from accounting subjects; 24 credits from business related subjects; 20 credits from accounting study; and 10 credits of ethics study. 

It is important to remember that all states necessitate that your college credits come from an accredited institution. This is especially vital to keep in mind when you are gathering your 30 extra college credits after your Bachelor’s (to make up the total 150).

CpaCredits offers online accounting courses for CPA credit in business and accounting specifically designed to cater to the needs of CPA candidates. 

Age Requirements to Become a CPA

Most states have no minimum age requirement to take the CPA Exam. In the jurisdictions that do, the minimum age is usually 18. 

In New York and Missouri, however, you must be 21 to be eligible for a CPA license. 

This is not a big deal, since most CPA candidates are usually at least 21 years old by the time they qualify for their license. 

Residential CPA Requirements for States

Fortunately, there are a number of states that allow nonresidents to take the CPA Exam. However, some states stipulate that a CPA candidate must be a resident for at least six months before sitting for the exam. Proof of residency is fulfilled by having a physical residence, permanent place of business or regular employment within the state.

In the following states you MUST be a resident to sit for the CPA exam: 

  • District of Columbia
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • U.S Virgin Islands
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Ethics State CPA Requirements

Most states expect candidates to write the AICPA ethics exam as a part of their CPA license requirements. The ethics exam is an open-book test covering topics from the AICPA Code of Conduct. Generally, you are required to write the ethics exam within a year or two of passing the CPA exam.

Read more: The AICPA Ethics Exam: What You Need to Know

While most relevant states require only the AICPA’s ethics exam, some prescribe an ethics exam unique to their jurisdictions. 

For example:

  • Virginia requires CPAs to complete an annual state-specific ethics course as part of their CPA license requirements. 
  • Ohio has mandated  a board-approved course in professional standards and responsibilities (PSR) that emphasizes their local accountancy law and board rules. 
  • Texas and Wisconsin also have their own state codes of professional conduct.

The states that do not include an ethics exam as part of their CPA requirements are the following

  • Arkansas
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S Virgin Islands
  • West Virginia
  • Pennsylvania
  • Kentucky
  • Georgia
  • Michigan

Social Security Number

Most states mandate that prospective CPAs have a social security number in order to apply and sit for the CPA examination. For most candidates, this isn’t really an issue. After all, the CPA is a US-based credential. Typically, candidates who are applying to take the exam are already US citizens with a social security number. 

If you want to apply for the CPA Exam but you do not have a social security number, don’t worry. There are a few states where you don’t have to have a social security number to take the exam. These states are: 

  • Wisconsin
  • Montana
  • Illinois
  • New York
  • South Dakota

International Applicants 

In most states you do not have to be a US citizen to qualify to take the CPA examination. As long as you have met the eligibility requirements in one of the 55 jurisdictions, you are good to go. The AICPA and NASBA offer the same services for international applicants as they do for the US program, and your exam and licensing process will look the same. It is also worth noting that international applicants must be able to take the CPA exam in English (it is not offered in any other language). 

As per usual, there are some exceptions. In the following states you do need to be a citizen in order to take the CPA examination: 

  • Alabama
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • North Carolina

NASBA has more information for international applicants on their websites. 

NTS Validation Period 

As we’ve outlined in the article How to Become a CPA Accountant, applying for the CPA exam is a little bit complicated. First, you will need an Authorisation to Test (ATT), and then you will receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS) from NASBA. 

All states have a six-month NTS validation period, except for the following jurisdictions:

  • California 9 months from NTS issue date
  • Hawaii 9 months from NTS issue date
  • Louisiana 9 months from NTS issue date
  • North Dakota 12 months from NTS issue date
  • South Dakota 12 months from NTS issue date
  • Texas 90 days from application date
  • Utah 9 months from NTS issue date
  • Virginia 12 months from NTS issue date