CPA Exam and Licensure

While professional accountants can serve in many capacities, many accounting majors go on to become licensed Certified Public Accountants (CPA). The BSAc and MAcc degrees do an excellent job preparing students for the accounting profession in general, but students interested in becoming a CPA should consult the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy for information regarding CPA exam and licensure eligibility for all states and jurisdictions.

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. For basic information on accounting careers outside of public accounting, visit What Can I Do With This Major, or log in to HIREWarrington to make an appointment with a Career Coach.

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.
  • Regardless of whether they want to become CPAs, most accounting majors are seeking additional accounting education beyond the foundation provided by an undergraduate degree and go on to complete a graduate degree in accounting. A graduate degree can be a way of obtaining additional credits to meet CPA educational requirements while earning an additional credential, but students should verify the completion of their intended graduate degree, combined with their undergraduate degree, will meet the CPA educational requirements in the jurisdiction in which they plan to practice.
  • 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.
  • It is your responsibility to understand the requirements for the state or jurisdiction where you plan to practice.

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.

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. Students interested in this option should review the CPA requirements in the jurisdiction in which they plan to practice, and 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.

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. If you are taking the exam for Florida, additional information can be found here.