CPA Exam and Licensure
**** Be aware that the CPA exam is currently undergoing changes that are expected to go into effect in January 2024. Visit CPA Evolution for more information.
Most accounting majors are interested in becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The BSAc and MAcc degrees do an excellent job preparing students for the accounting profession, but students are cautioned that the BSAc alone will not meet the educational requirements for CPA licensure in Florida. This page is intended to provide you with basic information and resources for pursuing CPA licensure. Students are encouraged to research these and other resources. The Fisher School of Accounting does not advise on specific CPA exam/licensure requirements or application procedures.
First, here are some basic pieces of information you should understand:
- CPA requirements vary from state to state. For information on requirements in all states, visit that state’s Board of Accountancy. In all jurisdictions, a minimum of 150 credits is required for CPA licensure, but specific subjects to be covered, and the number of accounting or other types of courses, can vary.
- In general, you will find there are two sets of requirements: one for sitting for the CPA exam; and one for becoming licensed as a CPA. Make sure you understand the difference, as you typically need more classes to be licensed than you do to sit for the exam. This is so that you can start taking the exam prior to completing all your classes.
- Completion of the UF BSAc and MAcc will meet the educational requirements for CPA licensure in Florida, but requirements in all states constantly change. It is your responsibility to understand the requirements for the state where you plan to practice.
- We have not made a determination as to whether the MAcc program combined with any other undergraduate program meets CPA educational requirements in Florida. We have not made a determination whether the MAcc program, with or without the UF BSAc, meets educational requirements in any other state or jurisdiction.
Frequently Asked Questions
The CPA exam is divided into four parts, each of which can be taken separately. The American Institute of CPAs provides detailed information about the exam. Note that the exam is expected to change in 2024. If you are taking the exam in or after 2024, you’ll want to learn more about the CPA Evolution.
If you are completing the BSAc without the MAcc, you will not earn enough credits to be licensed as a CPA in Florida. However, you will earn enough credits to take the CPA exam in Florida, IF you take the graduate versions of Tax and Audit. If you take the undergraduate versions, you will only have 22 credits of upper-division accounting courses.
You will need to make sure you meet all requirements for sitting for the CPA exam prior to your first exam. Visit your state’s board of accountancy for requirements. Aside from that, when to take each section of the exam is a personal decision that varies widely from student to student. Here are some things to consider:
- Many public accounting positions do not start until late Summer or Fall, so if you graduate in Spring, you will likely have some time to take some of the sections after graduation.
- It is strongly recommended, however, that you complete all sections prior to starting full-time employment. Often, people who don’t do this find they get too busy with work (and life) to study properly for the exam.
- You will want to build in a lot of time to study for each section. Consider how many classes you’ll be taking each semester/module. Also consider work or other extracurricular activities that you may be busy with during certain parts of the year. The amount of time required to study varies a lot from student to student.
- Note that you must pass all four sections within 18 months. The calculation of when the 18-month timeframe begins varies by jurisdiction. Check with your board of accountancy for details.
- We don’t know for sure when UF students typically take the exam, but in speaking to our MAcc students, we believe many start the exam by the Fall of the 5th year, but some wait until Spring, or even after graduation. Our survey of graduating MAcc students indicate that the average number of sections students plan to complete before graduating is just over two, with about one out of five not completing any, and one out of five completing all four, prior to graduation. As we said, this is an individual decision, and varies greatly from student to student.
In the 3/2 program, students are admitted to graduate school prior to completing all BSAc requirements. The BSAc and MAcc are awarded concurrently after requirements for both degrees have been met. In Florida, you can take the CPA exam while in the 3/2 program, as long as you have met all requirements for sitting for the exam, even if you have not yet earned your bachelor degree. However, some states require a bachelor’s degree to be awarded prior to sitting for the exam. Many of these states will accept a letter from our office describing the 3/2 program and confirming that you have met the BSAc requirements but have not yet been awarded the degree. However, some states may not accept such a letter, and will only allow you to sit for the CPA after your degree has been posted to your transcript.
If you are in the 3/2 program, have met all BSAc requirements, and are applying to sit for the CPA exam in a state that requires a bachelor’s degree, you may submit a form to request a letter to submit to your state’s board of accountancy.
Some students who do not complete the MAcc at UF go on to complete a MAcc at another university, or another graduate degree that may offer the opportunity to take additional credits. Note that at UF, in general only MAcc students may take MAcc courses. See below for an exception for MS-ISOM students. Also note that in Florida, introductory accounting courses such as those taught in UF’s MBA program, even though taken at the graduate level, will not be considered “upper-division” for CPA exam/licensure purposes.
If you are not going to earn the credit via a graduate program, you should research schools that offer a non-degree option to take classes. The Fisher School of Accounting does not permit non-degree students to take accounting classes, but some schools do. Some may also offer certificate programs. We do not maintain a list of such schools, so we encourage you to research them. Be sure to verify the school meets accreditation requirements for the board of accountancy in the state you’ll be seeking to sit for the exam or seek licensure. For example, Florida lists accrediting associations on this website.
Maybe. The Fisher School offers a graduate minor in Auditing to students enrolled in the MS-ISOM program. This is a “special minor,” which means the requirements vary from student to student. If students plan their coursework properly, it is possible to earn the BSAc and the MS-ISOM with the Auditing minor and complete the educational requirements for CPA licensure in Florida. Students interested in this option should meet with an undergraduate advisor before taking Tax and Audit to discuss their plans. Also, note that MS-ISOM students in the Business Analytics track will likely have to extend their time in the program to complete the Auditing minor.
Following is a brief overview of the exam scheduling process. As you approach the year in which you plan to begin taking the exam, we strongly recommend you review the latest CPA Exam Candidate Guide, which is available on the NASBA website.
Step 1) Be sure you meet the educational requirements. Check the CPA Exam requirements for the jurisdiction where you intend to practice. You do not have to physically take the exam in that state, but you must choose that state when you apply to take the exam.
Step 2) Apply to take the exam. If applying to take the exam for Florida, you will start here. You may apply online, but for an overview of what will be required, you can click the “Apply Using Printable Application” link and review the instructions. Your Notice to Schedule (see below) is only valid for six months (some states may be different). Therefore, you should not apply for a section of the exam until you are ready to take it.
For other states, visit their Board of Accountancy for instructions.
Step 3) Set up your CPA Portal Account. After receiving email notification that your application has been approved, you should receive another email 2-5 business days later with your Jurisdiction ID. Once you have that, you should set up your CPA Portal account. More information can be found here. This process may be somewhat different for other jurisdictions.
Be sure to check your junk mail regularly for such emails!
Step 4) Receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS). Once it is determined you are eligible to take the exam, and all fees have been paid, you will receive an email from NASBA with instructions on viewing and printing your Notice to Schedule. You must bring your NTS with you to take the exam, and the information on the NTS must match the information on the identification documents you will bring with you.
Step 5) Schedule your exams. You will take the exam online at a Prometric test center. Your NTS will have instructions on how to schedule your exam. NASBA recommends scheduling your exam as soon as possible after you receive your NTS, but no later than 45 days before your desired test date, to have the best chance of obtaining your desired location and date. Exams must be scheduled at least five days prior to the desired test date in most locations.
Only schedule exams you will be prepared to take. Changing or cancelling an exam could result in additional fees or loss of fees paid.