Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
New Licensure Requirements
When do the new educational requirements for CPA licensure resulting from the passage of Senate Bill 819 take effect?
January 1, 2014.
If I submit my application by December 31, 2013, can I get licensed under the current pathways?
Yes, provided that by December 31, 2013 you have submitted your application and fee, and completed all requirements for licensure, including education and experience requirements.
What will be the educational requirements for CPA licensure beginning January 1, 2014?
Effective January 1, 2014, you will need to have met the following educational requirements to obtain a California CPA license:
- Baccalaureate degree or higher
- A total of 150 semester units including:
- - 24 semester units of accounting subjects
- - 24 semester units of business-related subjects
- - 20 semester units of accounting study
- - 10 semester units of ethics study
The 20 semester units of accounting study and 10 semester units of ethics study are new educational requirements effective January 1, 2014.
Where can I obtain information on the new educational requirements for CPA licensure beginning January 1, 2014?
The CBA has developed a webpage specific to providing up-to-date information on the new licensure requirements. You may access this page via the following link: http://www.dca.ca.gov/cba/applicants/lic_require.shtml. On this page you can find the guidelines for the 20 semester units of accounting study and 10 units of ethics study.
Do I need to meet the new educational requirements to qualify to take the Uniform CPA Examination?
No. The new requirements are only for CPA licensure. To sit for the Uniform CPA Examination you must have completed a baccalaureate degree or higher including 24 semester units each of accounting and business-related subjects.
If I pass all or part of the Uniform CPA Examination before January 1, 2014, will I be grandfathered into the existing requirements?
No. In order to be licensed under the current pathways you must pass the Uniform CPA Exam, complete all requirements for licensure, including the education and experience requirements, and apply for your CPA license by December 31, 2013.
If I apply for the Uniform CPA Examination now and do not pass the exam before January 1, 2014, will I be required to meet the new 150 hour requirement to continue sitting for the exam?
You will not be required to meet the new educational requirements to continue to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. You will be required to document completion of the new requirements at the time you apply for your CPA license.
If I get my final Uniform CPA Examination score in December 2013, do I have to wait until I get a pass letter before applying under the current pathways or can I apply as soon as I know my last score?
As soon as you know that you have passed all four parts of the Uniform CPA Examination you may apply for licensure; there is no need to wait for your pass letter.
I took a three semester unit Business, Society and Government course. Can the units be applied to the business-related subjects, accounting study, and ethics study requirements?
Units cannot be double counted. The units can all go to one of the aforementioned three educational requirements or be split between them. For example, all three units could go toward fulfillment of the ethics study requirement, or two units could go to the ethics study requirement and one unit could go to the business-related subjects requirement. When evaluating your transcript the California Board of Accountancy will make every effort to allocate the units in a manner that will assist you in meeting the educational requirements.
According to the tip sheet, if someone earns a Master of Accounting, Master of Taxation, or Master of Laws in Taxation it will satisfy the 20 semester units of accounting study requirement. My institution offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in accounting. Is that considered substantially equivalent to a Master of Accounting?
No, the California Board of Accountancy will not consider an MBA with a concentration in accounting as substantially equivalent to a Master of Accounting. The regulations only allow for the three specified master's degrees to qualify for the 20 units of accounting study.
I have earned a Master of Accounting. Will the courses I took as part of the master's degree program qualify toward the other educational areas?
Yes. The Master of Accounting degree will satisfy the 20 semester units of accounting study, while the units completed in the fulfillment of the master's degree can be counted toward the other three educational areas - 24 semester units of accounting subject, 24 semester units of business-related subjects, and 10 semester units of ethics study.
The accounting study regulations allow for a Master of Accounting to satisfy the requirement. Would a Master of Accountancy also qualify?
Yes. The California Board of Accountancy will allow for slight deviations to account for the fact that not all institutions designate their respective programs a Master of Accounting. Some other suitable deviations would also include a Master of Public Accounting and Master of Business Taxation.
The accounting study regulations require that a minimum of six semester units be completed in accounting study. Is this in addition to the 24 semester units of accounting subjects presently required?
Yes. At the time of licensure, if you do not possess one of the three specified master's degrees, an additional six semester units of accounting will be required bringing the total to 30 semester units.
The accounting study regulations indicate that the 20 semester units can come from accounting subjects, business-related subjects, and other academic work relevant to accounting and business. Do I have to have units from all three areas?
No. You will need to complete an additional six semester units in accounting subjects, but the remaining 14 semester units may be in additional accounting subjects or business-related subjects. You could also have up to nine semester units in other academic work relevant to accounting and business, but it is not required.
My college offers a course titled "Leading Organizations." Will this course qualify toward the 10 semester unit ethics study requirement?
No. Select words and terms from the list of specified course titles (such as Business Leadership and Management of Organizations) cannot be combined in order to satisfy the ethics study requirement.
I noticed that the guidelines for the ethics study allow for a course with the word "Ethics" in the title to qualify. My college offers a course titled "Professional and Ethical Issues." Will this qualify?
Yes. Although the statutory language does not provide for much flexibility, some slight deviation will be acceptable. In this case, the term "ethical" can substitute for "ethics." Some other deviations that would also be acceptable would be "morality" for "morals" and "fraudulent" for "fraud."
Do the units for the new requirements have to be upper division?
All course requirements can be satisfied at the lower division level with one exception. Beginning January 1, 2017, you must complete a minimum of 3 semester or 4 quarter units in accounting ethics or accountants' professional responsibilities, which must be completed at an upper division level or higher, unless it is completed at a community college.
Am I required to have a master's degree now?
No; you are not required to hold a master's degree.
How many units of financial statement auditing qualify for ethics study?
Presently, you may satisfy all 10 semester units of ethics study in financial statement auditing courses, if the course title contains the word "auditing." However, this will be reduced to 7 semester units on January 1, 2017, when the minimum of 3 semester or 4 quarter units in accounting ethics or accountants' professional responsibilities becomes effective.
Is there a list of pre-approved courses for ethics study?
The CBA does not pre-approve any courses. Please review the CBA's tipsheet for assistance in determining whether a particular course may qualify.
Effective January 1, 2014, will I need to meet the new educational requirements if I am licensed with general accounting experience and want to obtain licensure with the authority to sign attest reports?
No. You will only need to complete the required 500 hours of attest work and submit the appropriate documentation and fee to the CBA. Information regarding the process to convert your license from general to attest can be obtained at http://www.dca.ca.gov/cba/forms/cksht-f.pdf.
I obtained my license prior to January 1, 2014. Will I still be considered substantially equivalent by other states?
The California Legislature's passage of Senate Bill 819 ensured that California would maintain its National Association of State Boards of Accountancy's "substantially equivalent" designation. This designation applies to current and future licensees. Prior to practice in another jurisdiction, you should consult the individual regulatory body for more information.