Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in California is a rewarding career choice, but it requires meeting specific education requirements. Understanding these requirements and the steps involved can help you navigate the process smoothly. In this guide, we’ll provide a step-by-step overview of how to fulfill the education requirements for becoming a CPA in California. So, let’s get started on your journey to becoming a CPA!

Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting or Related Field

The first step towards becoming a CPA in California is to complete a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. This degree provides you with the necessary foundational knowledge in subjects such as auditing, financial accounting, taxation, and managerial accounting. If you haven’t yet taken these courses, no worries, you can take them quickly and affordably at Yes, all of the courses offered through are provided by a regionally accredited college and accepted by all state boards.

If you are interested in learning more about accounting programs, please check out the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) for information on accounting programs:

Step 2: Ensure Your Education Plan Meets California’s Specific Requirements

Although earning a bachelor’s degree is crucial, California has specific education requirements for CPA licensure. It’s important to ensure your education plan aligns with these requirements. You must complete at least 150 semester units of coursework, including specific accounting and business-related subjects. In California, 24 credits in accounting and 24 credits in business are required. In addition, California has an ethics requirement of 10 credits including a course in audit. Please check out this link for more info:

Step 3: Complete Additional Units to Reach the 150 Semester Unit Requirement

If your bachelor’s degree alone does not fulfill the 150-semester unit requirement, you’ll need to complete additional coursework. This can be done through post-baccalaureate programs, community college courses, or online courses like those offered by Ensure the courses you choose are accredited and meet the specific subject requirements.

Step 4: Consider Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Accounting

While not mandatory, pursuing a Master’s in Accounting can be beneficial. It can further enhance your knowledge and skills in the field, making you more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a master’s degree can help fulfill any remaining unit requirements. That being said, a master’s degree also takes a year of additional schooling, is usually quite expensive, and requires you to take the full curriculum and not just the courses you need to fulfill your requirements. Therefore, for many students, it may be a better idea to simply take the courses they need to fulfill their requirements and save the extra time and money. If you are not sure what courses you need to fulfill your requirements, offers free transcript evaluations.

Step 5: Ensure Your Courses Include Ethics and Accounting Research

California requires candidates to complete ethics and accounting research coursework. These courses help you develop a strong understanding of professional ethics and research methodologies relevant to the accounting profession. Be sure to include these courses in your education plan.

Step 6: Get Your Education Documents Evaluated

To ensure your education meets California’s requirements, you’ll need to have your academic transcripts evaluated by the California Board of Accountancy (CBA). They will determine if your coursework fulfills the necessary unit and subject requirements, and provide you with an evaluation report. Before you do this, you may want to use the resource linked above to determine which courses you may need to fulfill the CBA’s requirements.

Step 7: Register for the Uniform CPA Exam

Once you have met the education requirements, it’s time to register for the Uniform CPA Exam administered by the California Board of Accountancy. This exam consists of four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG).

To register for the CPA Exam:

Step 8: Gain Relevant Work Experience

In addition to education, California requires CPA candidates to gain relevant work experience. You must accumulate at least 2,000 hours of qualifying work experience, which should be completed under the supervision of a licensed CPA. This experience is crucial for developing the necessary skills and competencies required in the field.

Step 9: Submit Your Application for CPA Licensure

Once you have fulfilled the education and work experience requirements, you can submit your application for CPA licensure to the California Board of Accountancy. This application includes providing your education evaluation, work experience details, and passing scores on the CPA Exam.


Becoming a CPA in California is an exciting journey that requires careful planning and dedication. By following this step-by-step guide, you can successfully fulfill the education requirements and take a significant stride towards achieving your career goals. Remember to consult the California Board of Accountancy and utilize reputable resources like to ensure you stay informed throughout the process. Good luck on your path to becoming a CPA in California!