The Exam

Educational Requirements

CPA Exam Eligibility

What are the eligibility criteria to sit for the CPA Exam as a Massachusetts candidate if I don’t yet comply with the educational requirements to become certified as a CPA?

To be eligible to sit for the Exam, you must:

  1. Be at least 18 years old;
  2. Have earned a Bachelor's degree or your testing date must be within 90 days of your degree conferral date. Your degree must consist of a minimum of 120 semester hours (or 180 quarter hours)* of credits earned from a nationally or regionally-accredited college or university. Associate degrees or community college courses are accepted without transfer into a Bachelor's degree as long as the course content is not repeated at the four-year college or university;
  3. Have the equivalent of 21 undergraduate accounting credits**, including coverage in:
    • Financial accounting;
    • Audit;
    • Management accounting; and
    • Taxation; and
  4. Have the equivalent of nine undergraduate business credits, including coverage in:
    • Business law;
    • Finance; and
    • Information Systems.

Note:

*To convert quarter hours to semester hours, multiply total quarter hours X 2/3. To convert semester hours to quarter hours, multiply total semester hours X 3/2.

**Introductory or elementary courses can be counted toward the 21 credits.

What if I am not sure if I meet the educational requirements to take the Exam?

The MSCPA does not evaluate transcripts; however, CPA Exam Services (CPAES) will review your transcript of past and current courses to identify academic deficiencies. The fee is $100 for this advisory review.

Visit cpacentral.nasba.org where you will need to create a CPA Central user account.

What if I am an international candidate who earned educational credits at a school outside of the U.S.?

You will need to have your educational credentials evaluated by the Center for Educational Documentation or NASBA. These are the only evaluation services accepted. This evaluation is not necessary if you studied a semester abroad as part of your program at a U.S. accredited college.

What if I took both undergraduate and graduate courses to satisfy my accounting and business credit requirement?

If you combine undergrad and graduate credits to arrive at the required 21 accounting credits, one graduate credit equals 5/3 of an undergraduate credit. Therefore, a three-credit grad course is worth five undergrad credits. Conversely, one undergrad credit equals 3/5 of a grad credit.

If you combine undergrad and graduate credits to arrive at the required 24 business credits, each grad credit equals 4/3 of an undergrad credit. Therefore, a three-credit grad course is worth four undergrad credits. Conversely, undergrad credit equals 3/4 of a grad credit.

Is there a difference between the educational requirements to sit for the Exam and those to obtain CPA certification?

Yes, you need 150 educational credits for CPA certification in Massachusetts. Specific coursework depends on the highest degree you obtain.

What if I take the Exam before I meet all of the Exam educational requirements?

In addition to your application, you will be required to complete a Certificate of Enrollment (COE) form as evidence that you are enrolled and that all course and/or graduation requirements will be completed within 90 days of sitting for the Exam.

Once the educational requirements have been met, an official transcript must again be submitted to CPA Exam Services (CPAES) to confirm degree conferral and/or satisfactory completion of courses. Failure to do so will result in the loss of any credit received for any part of the Exam passed prior to providing the final official transcript.

Before you apply for your CPA license, you will need to submit an Academic Evaluation for Certification Report to NASBA ($100 fee) for verification that you meet the 150- hour requirement.

Is there a time limit to meet the 150-hour certification requirement if I pass the Exam before attaining 150 credits?

No, there is no longer a time limit to meet the educational requirements for CPA certification.

Is there a time limit for passing all four Exam sections?

Yes, you must pass all four Exam sections within a rolling 18-month period that begins on the testing date the first Exam section is passed. If you do not pass all four Exam sections within this time period, you will lose credit for each section passed outside the 18 months.

How should I select my accounting and business elective courses?

It's a good idea to review the Examination Blueprints published by the AICPA to insure that your courses will cover all of the subject matter tested on the Exam. Check out the CPA exam pages under “Become a CPA” on the AICPA website. Courses in advanced excel, data analytics and oral and written communications are valued by accounting firms.

Can I use credits earned as Independent Study to meet the accounting credit requirement?

Yes, as long as your college categorizes the course as an accounting course on your transcript. The credits cannot be used to meet any of the four required areas of coverage, i.e. audit, taxation, management accounting or financial accounting.

Can I earn credits at a community college?

Yes, and these credits do not need to transfer into a four-year college. You will be required to provide a transcript from your community college when you apply for the Exam.

Please note that you will not be awarded credits for courses repeated at a four-year school; therefore, we recommend that you fulfill your general education requirements at the community college level, e.g., language, science, math requirements. It is also a good idea to check with your future four-year college to review your plan for community college coursework so they can advise you accordingly.

Can I take credits online?

Yes, however, the online course must be taken at a regionally-accredited college or university and upon completion the college must provide you with a transcript specifying the credits earned.

Can I use internship credits to meet the accounting/business requirements?

Yes, if the credits are recorded as semester hours on your college transcript. None of the required subject area coverages, i.e., audit, tax, financial accounting and management accounting can be accomplished by an internship; formal course instruction is necessary.

Do I need to earn a minimum grade for my credits to count?

No, and credits earned in courses graded by pass/fail are accepted.

How do I know if some of the accounting and business courses I took meet the requirements? The course titles are a bit different.

If a course title does not clearly relate to the coverage area, you may need to submit a course catalogue, syllabus or letter from a professor detailing the coverage.



Kibrom Hidru

International Candidates

CPA exam and licensure candidates who have completed any education outside the U.S. (excluding approved college semester abroad programs) must have their credentials evaluated by the Center for Educational Documentation or NASBA.