Colorado CPA requirements

Wondering how to become a Colorado CPA? The first thing you’ll want to do on the road to becoming an accountant in Colorado is to check the Colorado CPA requirements, as the Colorado board will ultimately license you. This page serves as a resource for how to become a CPA in Colorado and is current as of April 2022. Always consult with your state or jurisdiction's board of accountancy for the most current information.

Colorado CPA Exam

Getting a CPA in each state mandates different requirements for taking the CPA Exam and becoming a licensed CPA. In order to be eligible to take the CPA Exam in Colorado, the state requires candidates to meet certain education requirements.

Colorado CPA Exam requirements - Education

In order to take the CPA Exam in Colorado, you must meet a set of education requirements. First, you need to have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university. You must also have 120 semester units in designated course subjects.

Eligibility for examination 

Please refer to Rule 1.2 of the Colorado State Board of Accountancy Rules for the detailed education requirement. PLEASE NOTE: The educational requirements for licensure differ from that of the CPA exam.  Please refer to the rules linked above for licensure requirements.

To be eligible for the examination as a candidate of Colorado, you must have completed a Baccalaureate Degree or higher degree with at least 120 credit hours of higher education that includes the accounting and business courses listed below:

  • At least 27 semester hours of non-duplicative accounting coursework at the undergraduate or graduate level.
    • Within the 27 semester hours in accounting, 21 semester hours must exclude introductory accounting courses and cover subject areas such as:
      • Accounting Ethics
      • Accounting Information Systems
      • Accounting Research and Analysis
      • Accounting Theory
      • Auditing and Attestation Services
      • Financial Accounting and Reporting of Business Organizations
      • Financial Accounting and Reporting for Government and Not-for-Profit Entities
      • Financial Statement Analysis
      • Fraud Examination
      • Internal Controls and Risk Assessment
      • Managerial or Cost Accounting
      • Taxation
      • Tax Research and Analysis
      • Forensic Accounting
      • Tax Auditing
      • Other areas as approved by the Board
    • The 21 semester hours in accounting must include a 3 semester hour, or more, auditing course concentrating on U.S. GAAS. NOTE: “Concentrating on U.S. GAAS” means that any course content referencing non-U.S. standards is incidental to the course.
  • At least 21 semester hours of non-duplicative coursework in business administration at the undergraduate or graduate level that addresses subject areas such as:
    • Behavior of Organizations, Groups, and Persons
    • Business and Accounting Communication
    • Business Ethics
    • Business Law
    • Computer Information Systems
    • Economics
    • Finance
    • Legal and Social Environment of Business
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Quantitative Applications in Business
    • Statistics
    • Other areas as approved by the Board
  • Of the 21 semester hours, no more than 6 semester hours can be in any single subject area. But semester hours in excess of the 6-hour maximum may count toward the total 120 semester hour requirement.

If you do not have a baccalaureate degree, you may still qualify for the examination as a candidate of Colorado if you have completed at least 120 credit hours of higher education provided you are currently enrolled in a degree program at a college or university that: (1) requires a minimum 150 hours for graduation; and (2) does not offer a Baccalaureate Degree, but instead confers a Masters or higher degree, or offers a Baccalaureate Degree upon completion of a combined degree program.

Course Requirements 

  • All courses must be taken at an Accredited Baccalaureate Granting College or: (1) such a college must accept the courses by including them in its official transcript or verify to the Board that it would accept the courses for credit towards graduation; (2) the courses must be acceptable for transfer to such a college pursuant to a transfer articulation agreement approved or accepted by the Colorado Department of Higher Education or what the Board determines to be an equivalent regulatory agency of another jurisdiction; or (3) the Board may accept the findings of an academic credential evaluation provided pursuant to Rule 1.2(B).
  • “Introductory accounting courses” means courses such as principles of accounting, accounting and tax software courses, payroll accounting, and other basic accounting courses as determined by the Board. Such courses will not count towards the 21 hour requirement.
  • Commercial CPA review courses are not acceptable.
  • Community College, correspondence, online courses and CLEP credit are acceptable when you receive credit for the courses at a regionally accredited university. These courses must appear on an accredited baccalaureate granting college’s official transcript.

Colorado CPA license requirements

In order to earn a certified public accountant license in Colorado, you must meet the following requirements.

General education requirement 

  • Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited baccalaureate granting college. 
  • 150 semester hours of non-duplicative coursework at the undergraduate or graduate level. 

Specific accounting course requirement 

  • 33 semester hours of non-duplicative coursework at the undergraduate or graduate level as follows: 
  • All courses must be designated by an accounting program code or the applicant must otherwise demonstrate that the course work was in accounting; 
  • The 33 semester hours must include 27 semester hours of accounting courses, excluding introductory accounting courses, covering the subject areas below: 
    • Accounting ethics 
    • Accounting information systems 
    • Accounting research and analysis 
    • Accounting theory 
    • Auditing and attestation services 
    • Financial accounting and reporting of business organizations 
    • Financial accounting and reporting for government and not-for-profit entities 
    • Financial statement analysis 
    • Fraud examination 
    • Internal controls and risk assessment 
    • Managerial or cost accounting 
    • Taxation 
    • Tax research and analysis 
    • Other areas as approved by the board 
  • Of the 27 semester hours required above, a total of 6 semester hours must be in auditing, which must include a 3 semester hour, or more course concentrating on U.S GAAS. "Concentrating on U.S GAAS. means that any course content referencing non-U.S standards is incidental to the course. The remaining semester hours may be in advanced auditing or a subset of basic auditing such as fraud or information technology auditing
Colorado CPA work experience requirements

Colorado requires all applicants to complete 12 months of general accounting experience providing any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attestation, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax or consulting skills.

In addition to the Colorado CPA requirements for work experience, Colorado also requires: 

  • You need a Social Security number. If you are not a United States citizen, you'll need a Social Security Number Affidavit that affirms that you are applying for an accountancy license in Colorado. 
  • You must complete and pass the AICPA ethics exam.

CPA license renewals

Colorado requires CPA license renewals every two years. CPA licenses expire every other year at midnight on the last day of the licensees’ birth month.

Colorado CPA CPE requirements

The Colorado CPA continuing professional education requirements demand 80 hours of CPE for each licensing period.

Licensees who provide audit, review, other attestation services or who issue compiled financial statement reports must, during the two-year license renewal period, complete a minimum of 24 hours of qualifying continuing education in the area of accounting and auditing related to reporting on financial statements.

Fees

Initial Application

$250

Hard-copy fingerprint process

$49

Biennial license renewal

$120

Application for retired status

$75

Retired-to-active status

$50

Sources:

Colorado Board of Accountancy - Rules and Regulations

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