CPA license requirements by state

CPA requirements by state

What are the requirements to become a CPA?

Part of your preparation for the CPA Exam involves understanding the CPA requirements by state. Each of the 55 license-granting jurisdictions (the 50 states plus Washington, DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Mariana Islands) maintains its own CPA license requirements, which you’ll have to meet for the jurisdiction you wish to be licensed in.

This page summarizes the requirements to become a CPA for each jurisdiction and provides resources to help you manage the application process. We’ve outlined the major categories below and explained some of the key differences you’ll come across. But each jurisdiction has its own nuances that you’ll need to understand before taking the exam.

Educational requirements to become a CPA

All 50 states require a bachelor’s degree with at least 150 credit hours of coursework to become a licensed CPA. Some states will let you sit for the CPA Exam with 120 hours of study, though you still must complete 150 hours before you can apply for a license (these are called two-tier states). Minnesota, for example, allows provisional approval to take the exam if you have 120 credit hours or are within 90 days of meeting this threshold.

The states also specify how many hours of accounting-specific studies you need as part of their CPA Exam requirements. Illinois, for example, requires 30 hours in accounting-related subjects, including courses in auditing, financial accounting, managerial and taxes. Other states, such as Maine and California, have more detailed accounting coursework requirements, including minimum total hours in upper-level accounting and business courses.

Age requirements to become a CPA

Most states and territories don’t have minimum age requirements to take the CPA Exam. In the jurisdictions that do, the minimum age is typically 18, though you must be 21 in New York and Missouri to eligible for a CPA license.

Residency requirements to become a CPA

While most states allow nonresidents to take the CPA Exam, some stipulate that you must be a resident for at least six months, which can be fulfilled by having a physical residence, permanent place of business or regular employment within the state.

Ethics requirements to become a CPA

Most states require candidates to take an ethics exam covering topics from the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct as part of their CPA license requirements. It’s an open-book CPE program that emphasizes self-study. In most cases, you’re required to pass the ethics exam (usually with a score of at least 90%) within a year of two of passing the CPA Exam.

While many states require only the AICPA’s ethics exam, some also mandate an ethics exam unique to their jurisdictions. Virginia, for instance, requires CPAs to complete an annual state-specific ethics course as part of their CPA license requirements. Ohio requires CPAs to complete a board-approved course in professional standards and responsibilities (PSR) that emphasizes Ohio accountancy law and board rules. Texas and Wisconsin also have their own state codes of professional conduct.

Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Georgia and Michigan are among the states that don’t include an ethics exam as part of their CPA license requirements.

Select a state:

Understanding the CPA Exam and license requirements for the state you’re interested in as early as possible can help you better prepare for the exam. To determine the specific exam application requirements for a particular jurisdiction, please click on the specific state or territory below.

Additional resources on CPA Exam requirements

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