North Carolina CPA requirements

Wondering how to become a certified public accountant (CPA) in North Carolina? The first thing you’ll want to do on the road to becoming a CPA is to check North Carolina’s state requirements, as North Carolina will ultimately license you. 

North Carolina CPA Exam requirements

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, the following requirements must be met.

All candidates must submit three references of good moral character. These references must sign the Uniform CPA Exam Certificate of Moral Character, which is provided by the board.

North Carolina CPA requirements for education

Before taking the CPA Exam in North Carolina, you must meet a set of education requirements. First, you need a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university. You must also have 120 semester hours, including a concentration in accounting. 

(a) A concentration in accounting includes:

(1) at least 30 semester hours, or the equivalent in quarter hours, of undergraduate accountancy courses which shall include no more than six semester hours of accounting principles and no more than three semester hours of business law; or

(2) at least 20 semester hours or the equivalent in quarter hours, of graduate accounting courses that are open exclusively to graduate students; or

(3) a combination of undergraduate and graduate courses which would be equivalent to Subparagraph (1) or (2).

(b) In recognition of differences in the level of graduate and undergraduate courses, one semester (or quarter) hour of graduate study in accounting is considered the equivalent of one and one-half semester (or quarter) hours of undergraduate study in accounting.

(c) Up to four semester hours, or the equivalent in quarter hours, of graduate income tax courses completed in law schools may count toward the semester hour requirement of Paragraph (a) of this Rule.

(d) Where, in the Board’s determination, an accounting course duplicates another course previously taken, only the semester (or quarter) hours of one of the courses shall be counted in determining if the applicant has a concentration in accounting.

(e) Accounting courses include such courses as principles courses at the elementary, intermediate and advanced levels; managerial accounting; business law; cost accounting; fund accounting; auditing; and taxation

The Board may approve an application to take the CPA Exam before the receipt of a bachelor’s degree if the concentration in accounting is already complete or is reasonably expected to be completed by the end of the school term within which the Examination falls, and an applicant reasonably expects to receive the bachelor’s degree within 120 days after the application is received by the Board. However, if the applicant fails to receive the degree within the specified time, the Examination grades will not be released.

North Carolina CPA license requirements

In order to become licensed in North Carolina, you must meet the requirement of 150 semester hours of coursework. The 150 semester hours required include a concentration in accounting, and 24 semester hours of coursework which include one three-semester hour course from at least eight of the following 10 fields of study:

  • communications;
  • computer technology;
  • economics;
  • ethics;
  • finance;
  • humanities/social science;
  • international environment;
  • law;
  • management; or
  • Statistics

Anyone applying for CPA certification (licensure) who holds a Master’s or more advanced degree in accounting, tax law, economics, finance, business administration, or a law degree from an accredited college or university is in compliance.

North Carolina requires all CPA candidates to complete a designated amount of work experience in the field of accounting. This work experience must include one of the following:

  • One year’s experience in the field of accounting under the direct supervision of a certified public accountant who currently holds a valid license in any state or territory of the United States; OR
  • Four years of experience teaching accounting in a four-year college or university accredited by one of the regional accrediting associations or in a college or university determined by the Board to have standards substantially equivalent to a regionally accredited institution; OR
  • Four years of experience in the field of accounting; OR
  • Four years of experience teaching college transfer accounting courses at a community college or technical institute accredited by one of the regional accrediting associations.

Any combination of such experience above must be determined by the Board to be substantially equivalent to the foregoing.

Requirements for ethics exam:

Within one year prior to applying for licensure, all applicants must complete an eight-hour course on the North Carolina Accountancy Statutes and Rules, including the Rules of Professional Ethics and Conduct.

North Carolina CPA license renewals and CPE requirements

North Carolina CPA licenses are renewed yearly, from January 1 to December 31.

All licensed CPAs in North Carolina must complete 40 hours of general continuing professional education (CPE) per year, including at least 50 minutes of regulatory or behavioral professional ethics and conduct.

If a CPA completes more than the required number of CPE hours in one calendar year, the extra hours may be carried over and treated as hours earned in the following year. The carry over total cannot exceed 20 hours. Carried hours cannot be used to meet the ethics requirement.


North Carolina State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners

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