California CPA Exam & License Requirements

Updated: January 1, 2021 You’re our #1 priority.
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California CPA candidates are subject to the 150 hour rule beginning January 1, 2014. This means they will now be required to fulfill 150 semester hours along with 1 year of work experience to obtain a CPA license (prior to 2o14, 120 semester hours and 2 years work experience was accepted). In order to get a California CPA license you are required to have a social security number.

To be eligible to sit for the CPA exam students must first fulfill these qualifications and education requirements:

  1. No minimum age requirement
  2. Bachelor’s degree or higher
  3. 24 semester hours in accounting subjects above the intro level and 24 semester hours in business-related courses (see list of qualifying subjects)
  4. US Citizenship NOT required
  5. California residency NOT required
  6. Social Security Number Required

Additional Requirements for Licensure

*Non-public accounting work qualifies but must be under the supervision of an active US CPA licensee. Also, at least 500 attest hours are required for anyone who wants to sign attest reports.

California Exam Fees

The cost to take all four sections of the CPA exam in California is $873.80 plus the initial $100 application fee.  The re-examination application fee is $25 plus the exam fees.

California Professional Ethics Exam (PETH)

  1. Pass the CA Professional Ethics Exam with a score of 90% or higher
  2. Cost of course materials and online test is $150. You get a 20% discount if you sign up as a CALCPA member – 1st year free for recently graduated accounting majors
  3. There are 50 multiple-choice questions
  4. The exam must be completed within one year from the date of purchase
  5. Your test results are valid for two years as you complete all of your licensing requirements for the California Board of Accountancy

*Important Note: You will have three attempts to pass the exam with a grade of 90% or better. If you fail your first three attempts you can call them at 1 (800) 922-5272 and they will give you access to 3 more ethics exams for free. If you fail these 3 attempts they will sell you 3 more for 50% of the original purchase price ($75).

Additional CPA Requirements

  1. Pass all 4 sections of the CPA exam with a score of 75 or higher
  2. Pass the California Professional Ethics Exam (PETH) with a score of 90 percent or higher
  3. Pay the $120 annual fee for your permit to practice
  4. Pay the $250 application fee
  5. Get your fingerprints taken and sent by a notary ($65)
  6. Fill out and submit all required paperwork

CA Exam Information and Resources

  1. California CPA Exam CandidatesCPA License Requirements
  2. CA CPA Examination FAQ

For more information please visit:

  1. California Board of Accountancy


2000 Evergreen Street, Suite 250
Sacramento, CA 95815-3832

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 916-561-1703

What’s Next?

Now that you have started the CPA exam application process, your next step is to find the right CPA review course that best fits your budget, learning style and schedule.

It can take several weeks for your application to be processed so don’t waste that valuable time waiting to hear back from your state board.  If you start studying now you will get a nice jump start on the material and will be better prepared to pass your first CPA exam!