A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the highest standard of competence in the field of Accountancy across the globe. The US CPA exam is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), which is the world’s largest accounting body.  
To become a CPA in the United States, the candidate must sit for and pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (Uniform CPA Exam), which is set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy(NASBA)

All CPA candidates are expected to fulfill the following  requirements: Education, Exam and Experience.

Each state board has slightly different rules, but in general, the steps are:

  • Obtain a “standard” bachelor degree (in the US, this means 4 years or more), together with 150 credit hour of general higher education. Students typically get 30 credit hours in each academic year. This means state boards are looking for 5 years, but some of these can be from non-degree courses from US regionally accredited universities.
  • Pass the CPA exam. There are 4 parts to be completed within 18 months
  • Fulfill your experience requirement and get properly verified.
  • *Apply through DelawareFor years Delaware was the only state that recognizes “associate degree” including 3-year non-US bachelor degree. However, Delaware has changed its rules in August 2012.Nowadays no state board allows associate degree or 3-year degree holders to get the CPA license
  • *Apply through Colorado or MichiganColorado and Michigan used to recognize CA certificate as a prerequisite to sit for the exam, and many Indian candidates applied through them. However, they have since changed the interpretation of the rules in 2009 and 2012 respectively and it no longer works.
  • *Apply through a few states that recognize Indian Chartered AccountancyThe CA certificate is recognized as a 4-year bachelor equivalent in the US by some states (e.g. New Hampshire, Montana, Colorado). However, since 2012 they have also changed the interpretation of their rules.
  • *If you have B.COM only and are serious about getting your CPA qualification, I suggest that you take a 2-year master’s degree in accounting, e.g. MCOM.
  • *If  you have B.COM + CA, it may work*, but the process is complicated.

    The 150 Credit Hour Rule


    One year of university typically equals to 90 credit hours. For a 3-year B.COMdegree, you get 90 credit hours.

    In the past, a CA certificate gave you an additional of around 40 credit hours. With  90+40=130 credit hours you can get qualified for a few states. However, since 2012 chartered accountancy has been considered a “experience qualification” rather than an “academic qualification” and most state boards no longer grant credits towards the educational requirements.

  • *(a) BCOM + related master’s (e.g. MCOM or Master’s in Accounting or tax), it is counted as 3+2 years = 5 years. You are fine and can start the application process.(b) If you have BCOM + non-accounting master’s (e.g. MBA), you may need to take additional accounting courses to fulfill the minimum accounting requirements. To determine if this is necessary, get a credential evaluation report.(c) If you are BCOM + Indian CA, explore whether it’s worth the effort to get the US CPA. If the answer is yes, contact Leslie-Anne for assistance (link at the end of this page).

    (d) 4-year degree or equivalent (e.g. BCOM + 1 year of master’s), you can make up for the remaining 30 credit hours with non-degree courses. Click here for further instruction.

  • *

    Applying for the CPA Exam


  • If you are fine with 1A and 1B above, you should be able to find a state that you can qualify.Once a State Board is chosen, the next step is to send your Indian transcripts and marksheets to the foreign credential evaluation agency.Whether the evaluation is required depends on where you get the education, and not your nationality. For example, if you are an Indian international student graduated from a US university, no evaluation is needed. On the other hand, if you are a US citizen studying abroad for a year, then you need to submit an evaluation report for that year.

    The evaluators will normally send the report directly to state board (please double check with them). For the portion of education you may have obtained in the US, please arrange the transcript to be sent directly from your school to the state board.

  • *Which evaluator should I use?The State Board of your chosen state should indicate which evaluators you can pick from. Some allow you to choose anyone that is a member of the evaluator’s association, while others only recognizes one, e.g. NIES for New Hampshire.

    Taking the CPA Exam

    (a) Getting the NTS

    Once your application is approved, the state board will email/send out a Notice To Schedule (NTS) that allows you to schedule your exam at a chosen prometric center.

  • *The 4 sections of the CPA exam are as follows:
    • Auditing and Attestation (AUD),
    • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
    • Regulation (REG),
    • Business Environment Concepts (BEC)
  • These three exams are composed of 50% Multiple Choice Questions and 50% Task-Based Simulations. The Multiple Choice Questions are broken up into 2 individual testlets: 36 questions per testlet for AUD, 33 questions per testlet for FAR, 38 questions per testlet for REG
  • *Total CPA Exam Fees You Should Expect
    • CPA examination and application fees: $1,000.
    • CPA Exam review course fee (mid-range): $1,700.
    • CPA Ethics Exam: $130 (rounded up figure)
    • Licensing fees (mid-range): $150.
  • In recent years, Indian candidates are among the largest groups of international candidates who have traveled to the U.S. to take the CPA Exam. Opening the CPA Exam in the Middle East to Indian candidates increases their testing options. …Indian candidates may apply through one of the U.S. Boards of Accountancy
  • The CPA (US) and the CA exams are very different in approach. The US CPA exams are MCQ based unlike the CA exams which are theoretical. The CPA exams are modulated which means that the questions get harder if you answer them correctly and vice versa