California CPA Exam & License Requirements

California CPA Exam & License Requirements

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.

Auditing and Attestation (AUD)$193.45
Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)$193.45
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)$193.45
Regulation (REG)$193.45
Application Fee:$100

*Important Note: You should not apply and pay for exam sections that will not be taken within nine months because California’s  “Notice to Schedule” expires 9 months after issuance.

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

California CPA Exam Candidates

CPA License Requirements

CA CPA Examination FAQ

For more information, please visit:

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 a CPA review course that 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!

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10 Comments
  • ScottyB
    Posted at 18 May, 2017 21:27 PM Reply

    So I applied to take only REG (I wasn't sure when I would be able to pay for the others and was hesitant to sign up for them in case I didn't have the money to pay for them within the required window after getting approval). I now can afford to take the others (it's been less than a year since I applied). Am I going to have to pay the $100 application fee again? It was unclear that I needed to sign up for all 4 at once and I really don't want to have to pay an extra $100 just because they don't explain things clearly (or because I was dumb, I realize there is probably at least a little fault with me).

    • BWelk
      Posted at 22 May, 2017 17:36 PM Reply

      Actually, you are doing the smart thing by signing up one at a time! I always tell people to register for one or two sections at a time because signing up for all four at once ends up costing you more money.It might seem like signing up for all four would save you money, but in reality, it doesn't. This is a clever trick by NASBA to make more money from fees. Your Notice to Schedule (NTS) has a validation period in which you must take the exams you paid for (most expire in 6 months, but check your state for specifics). If the sections you signed up for are not taken within that 6 month period, your NTS and fees for those sections will be forfeited and you'll have to pay again.So unless you plan on taking all 4 exams within a 6 month period, I would highly suggest that you stick to what you have right now and reapply for the next sections when you’re ready.Good luck on REG and the rest of your exam! You're going to crush it!Bryce

    • Aref Elgaali
      Posted at 28 April, 2016 00:52 AM Reply

      Hi Guys I am an old graduate, back in 1996 with Master Degree from India - Pune Unv. in Advance accounting and i have work experience of more that 15+, i am working as CFO out of USA, now i have come to California - San Francisco last month and i would like to do my CPA, So i need your help to direct me from where i should start.Thanks Aref Elgaali

      • Teresa
        Posted at 9 January, 2016 08:39 AM Reply

        Hello i have a few questions: i live in California and am interested in taking the CPA exam i currently have a bachelors degree in business administration option in finance. Upon reviewing my transcripts ive realized i need 6 more accounting units to qualify for taking the test. My questions are the folllowing :1. Should i purchase the CPA review programs conccurently with taking the 2 accounting classes ( 3 units each) and start my preparations? Or should i apply for the exam first get their green light pay for all 4 sections then purchase the prep material and start studying? 2. After reading all your reviews i am leaning towards Rogers elite package and only Wileys test bank for additional questions. Should i study for one section at a time, pass the test and then move on to next section??? In which order do you recommend someone taking the exam?3. I see that youve mentioned in order to be licensed after passing the CPA exam, one must have 150 semester hours in accounting (another place you said semester units? So is it the same?) 4. is this 150 semester units combined with all units taken in college and university? Do accounting 101 and 102 classes (first level) not count towards this requirement as youve mentioned in another place that they cannot be entry level classes?5. The 1 year work experience can it be volunteer experience signed off by the CPA? Or does it have to be paid ?I know this was lengthy but i would appreciate all your answers. Thank you!

        • BWelk
          Posted at 15 January, 2016 04:00 AM Reply

          Hi Teresa,1) I would suggest starting your CPA studies right away if you have time in your schedule.2) Yes, study for one section at a time. Read this article to help you choose the order of sections to take: 3)Yes they mean the same4) Those classes count towards your 150 semester hours, just make sure you have all the required accounting classes covered as well.5) I'm not sure here, never heard of anyone doing this before but definitely worth calling the CA BOA and finding outCheers,Bryce

        • Michael Mills
          Posted at 3 August, 2015 16:46 PM Reply

          When you say "24 semester hours in accounting subjects above the intro level", what qualifies as being above the "intro level"? Will my 8 semester units in lower-division Financial and Managerial Accounting count towards this requirement?

          • Jackie
            Posted at 17 March, 2015 16:17 PM Reply

            Just an FYI...they changed the re-examination application fee to $25.

            • BWelk
              Posted at 22 March, 2015 23:41 PM Reply

              Thanks for the update Jackie! I have edited the page to show the new price.Cheers,Bryce

            • John
              Posted at 9 January, 2015 01:17 AM Reply

              Does this mean I can sit in for the CPA exam before I get the 150 units (meaning I fulfilled the 24 Accounting and Business Unit requirement?

              • dave
                Posted at 24 February, 2015 19:08 PM Reply

                yes that is correct