CPA Requirements: The “4 E’s” of CPA Licensure

cpa requirements

In order to take the CPA Exam and obtain the CPA license, future CPAs must meet a series of very specific CPA requirements. Most state boards have four requirements for becoming a licensed CPA, and these are known as the four Es – Ethics, Experience, Education, and Examination. The Uniform CPA Examination is the only step that is uniform nationally and accepted by all state boards for CPA licensure. The remaining requirements vary by state board.

CPA Exam Requirements

In order to sit for the CPA Exam, most state boards have an education requirement of completing 120 credit hours (the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree).

CPA License Requirements


Passing the entire CPA Exam is required for CPA licensure, so candidates must complete and pass each of the four sections of the exam: Auditing (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG).


While experience requirements differ, the majority of state boards expect at least two years of public accounting experience from CPA candidates to become licensed. Some state boards may accept accounting experience in areas of industry or government but generally require a longer period.


The AICPA highly recommends that state boards adopt an education requirement of 150 credit hours. To satisfy the 150-hour rule, most state boards expect candidates to have a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in accounting, which contributes 120 hours, plus 30 hours covered by either a Master’s degree in accounting or taxation, an MBA, or additional undergraduate or graduate-level courses. Taking courses in a non-degree program is also an option.


To prove that you are an honest and respectable citizen who will uphold principles as a CPA, the majority of state boards of accountancy require you to pass an ethics exam. While some state boards administer their own ethics exam, many utilize the Professional Ethics Exam administered by the AICPA.

CPA State Boards

There are 55 different state boards that have contracted with the AICPA in order to use the Uniform CPA Examination for CPA licensure (all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

Motivation for Meeting CPA Requirements

While these CPA Exam requirements may seem strict, they are simply the steps that lead to your ideal accounting job, and you can finish them! To have the best chance at success with the CPA Exam, choose the CPA review that will prepare you better than any other course. Gleim CPA Review features SmartAdaptTM technology that adapts to you and uses proven learning techniques to help you study more efficiently. Test drive the adaptive technology of our new course today by accessing our free CPA demo.