You should consider the following inter-related questions if you wish to take the CPA exam:
- In which state do I intend to take the exam?
- What are the requirements of that state, in particular:
- What are the specific course requirements of that state?
- Does the state require me to complete a fifth year of study (the “150-hour” rule)?
- Do I plan to be a practicing accountant, or do I only wish to pass the exam to obtain a credential?
- If I plan to practice, which firm do I wish to work for?
If you plan to take the exam, you must contact the state board to learn that state’s particular requirements. A general summary of the states’ requirements can be obtained at Gleim’s CPA Information Page. A summary of the states’ requirements and links to details of individual state requirements can be found at NASBA. Note that while most states require a fifth year of study (the “150-hour rule”), a few states do not (e.g., California and New York).
Make sure that you understand the state’s requirements and that you take the undergraduate or graduate accounting courses and other courses that are required to sit for the exam. For example (and note that these requirements vary by state), you normally will need to take all of the accounting courses required for the concentration, and Accounting 7180 (auditing), and Legal Studies 8020 and 8130. In addition, you are strongly encouraged to take Accounting 7430, which covers about 20% of the Financial Accounting and Reporting section of the Exam.
For comprehensive general information about the CPA Exam, see the Uniform CPA Examination Web site.
For a useful summary of the steps to take when preparing for the CPA exam, see Gleim’s CPA Review Site .
In addition, you should seek the advice of your future employer. Some firms will reimburse you for the costs of a fifth year of school or will give you time off to get a masters in accounting.