AB-298: California CPA Exam Education Changes

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Imagine you are just getting off work at your new accounting role and your coworkers are going out to relax and unwind. Instead of going out with your coworkers, you may be going home to begin a long night of studying to pass all four parts of the CPA Exam. However, this does not need to be your reality! A new bill in the state of California may make things a bit easier for CPA hopefuls who plan to take the CPA Exam in the state.

Assembly Bill 298, or AB-298, was recently passed and will allow California CPA Exam candidates to sit for the exam prior to graduation. AB-298 was authored to help make the licensure process for new accountants more efficient and secure. Let’s explore some of the key provisions of the bill, and how it may affect your CPA Exam timeline.

What is AB-298?

The new bill allows candidates in California to sit for the CPA Exam 180 days (6 months) prior to completing their education requirements if the candidate is enrolled in a degree-granting university, college, or other institution of learning. Within 240 days (8 months) of applying for the license, the candidate must provide the board with satisfactory evidence that they have completed the educational requirements. Failure to comply may result in the loss of any credit received for passage of any part of the CPA Exam before the requirement was met.

How does AB-298 affect the current CPA Exam education requirements in California?

In order to take the CPA Exam in California, you must meet a set of education requirements. Prior to AB-298, you needed to have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university and 150 semester units in designated course subjects including coursework in ethics, accountants’ professional responsibilities, auditing or fraud. 

However, with the enactment of AB-298, if you are within 180 days (6 months) of graduating from a Master of Accountancy program or earning a bachelor’s degree, and will have completed 150 semester units in designated course subjects upon graduation, you may be eligible to take the CPA Exam prior to graduation. So, you don’t need to have graduated already or earned 150 credits in order to test.

What is the timing of AB-298?

AB-298 was first introduced on January 25, 2021 and was signed into law on September 24, 2021. The provisions of AB-298 are effective starting January 1, 2022.

What are the benefits of studying and taking the CPA Exam prior to graduation?

Although it may seem tempting to put off taking the CPA Exam until you’ve graduated, you may find yourself in a busy new role (especially during busy season) or other personal situation, and you may not have as much time as you planned to study for the exam. Becker’s best advice is to take the CPA Exam as soon as possible, to get it out of the way and have one less thing to worry about.

What next steps should California CPA Exam candidates take?
  1. Check to ensure that you will meet the set of education requirements upon graduation, as mentioned in above.
  2. Refer to the California Board of Accountancy website to apply to take the CPA Exam. 

We hope that eligible CPA candidates in California can take advantage of this update and pass their CPA Exam earlier in their careers. However, no matter when you take the CPA Exam, Becker is here to help prepare you to pass.


Ready to take the leap and start studying? Explore Becker’s CPA Exam Review offerings.





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