Massachusetts CPA Exam & License Requirements: How to Become a CPA in MA

Updated: January 4, 2024 You’re our #1 priority.
100% of the time.

We believe everybody should be able to make online purchases with confidence. And while our website doesn’t feature every test prep company or review course in the universe, we’re proud that the advice we offer and the information we provide is accurate, truthful, objective - and entirely free.

So how do we actually make money? It’s simple, our partners compensate us. While this may influence which products we review and write about, and where they show up on the site, it absolutely does not influence our recommendations or guidance, which are formed by hundreds of hours of research and analysis. Check out our partners here.

What’s the bottom line? We’re on your team and are passionate about helping you achieve your career goals, even if it means we don’t make a dime.

In the midst of a CPA crisis, Massachusetts presents a golden opportunity for aspiring accountants. According to the Controllers Council, a staggering 75% of public accounting CPAs are expected to retire in the next 15 years, as reported in their article The Growing Shortage of Accountants and CPAs. This looming mass exodus of seasoned professionals is creating an unprecedented demand in the accounting field.

But here’s the thing: the CPA shortage isn’t just a crisis; it’s an opportunity, especially in Massachusetts. With such a significant portion of the workforce on the brink of retirement, the gap in the industry is widening, paving the way for new talent to step in. This isn’t just about filling positions; it’s about shaping the future of accounting.

Of course, the difficulty of the CPA exam reflects its importance— only approximately 50% of test takers end up passing the test and earning their license. You can be one of the few.

The current shortage means that there’s less competition for you as you embark on your licensing journey. What’s more, with the industry’s urgent need for new talent, your skills will be more valuable than ever. Think about it: you’re not just choosing a career; you’re stepping into a role that’s crucial for the industry’s survival.

So, why wait? The time to act is now. With the right training and determination, you could be part of the solution to this critical shortage. The path to becoming a CPA in Massachusetts is clear, and the industry is eagerly waiting for individuals like you to step up.

Steps to CPA Licensure in Massachusetts

  • Educational Requirements: Obtain a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in accounting or a related field and complete 150 semester hours of college education, including specific accounting and business courses.
  • CPA Exam: Successfully pass all sections of the Uniform CPA Examination by enrolling in a comprehensive CPA review course.
  • Experience Requirements: Accumulate one year of full-time, supervised work experience in public accounting, industry, government, or academia. This experience must be verified by a licensed CPA.
  • Application Process: Fill out and submit the CPA license application form specific to Massachusetts and ensure all educational and work experience documents are properly verified and attached.
  • Licensing Fee: Pay the required fee for CPA licensure in Massachusetts.

CPA Licensure Requirements in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy oversees the licensure of Certified Public Accountants in the state, ensuring that all accountants adhere to the specific requirements, rules, and regulations set forth. The Board’s mission is to guide licensees and protect consumers by evaluating candidates’ education, experience, and character during the application process. Below are the detailed requirements for CPA licensure in Massachusetts.

General Requirements

  • Licensure Authority: The Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy is responsible for issuing CPA licenses in the state.
  • License Issuance: Licensed CPAs in Massachusetts are authorized to issue independent reports on financial statements, provide management advisory and consulting services, prepare tax returns, and offer advice on tax matters and other accounting services.

Education Requirements

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in accounting or a related field.
  • Credit Hours: A total of 150 semester hours of college education is required, including specific coursework in accounting and business.
  • Accounting Courses: At least 21 credit hours must be in accounting.
  • Business Courses: A minimum of 9 credit hours must focus on business-related subjects.

Once you’ve completed your education requirements, you must send all of your transcripts to the NASBA CPA Examination Services (CPAES). This is done by filling out an Academic Evaluation for Certification Report (AECR), which requires you to attach a copy of your transcripts and pay a licensing fee.

Work Experience Requirements

  • Duration: Candidates must complete at least one year of full-time accounting work experience.
  • Supervision: The work experience must be completed under the supervision of a licensed CPA.
  • Workplace Flexibility: Experience can be gained in various settings, including government, private sector, or other relevant workplaces.

“Meeting the work experience requirements in Massachusetts is a crucial step in your journey to becoming a CPA. It’s not just about fulfilling a mandatory checklist; it’s an opportunity to apply your academic knowledge in real-world scenarios, under the guidance of experienced CPAs. This experience shapes your professional judgment and prepares you for the diverse challenges of the accounting profession. Embrace this phase as a learning curve where you can hone your skills, understand the nuances of the field, and build a foundation for a successful career in accounting.”

– CPA Expert Bryce Welker

Ethics Requirement

One of the advantages of pursuing CPA licensure in Massachusetts is the streamlined approach to ethics requirements. Unlike many other states, Massachusetts does not mandate an Ethics Course and Exam as part of the initial CPA licensure process. This distinction can be seen as a significant benefit for those seeking licensure in the state, as it simplifies the path to becoming a CPA.

However, to ensure that ethical standards are maintained throughout their career, CPAs in Massachusetts are required to complete 4 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) in ethics as part of their ongoing license renewal process. This requirement is both manageable and practical, focusing on the continual development of ethical practices in the profession.

This approach not only eases the initial licensure process but also aligns with the state’s commitment to upholding high ethical standards in the accounting profession. By integrating ethics into the CPE requirements, Massachusetts ensures that its CPAs stay current with ethical guidelines and practices, fostering a culture of integrity and professionalism in the field.

CPA Exam Requirements

All CPA exam content is uniform across the United States. As a result, you don’t need to worry about state-specific content. In the past, you needed to pass the Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG) exams. However, recent changes in the CPA (CPA Evolution) have shifted this.

To learn more about this, read the section and take a look at the AICPA exam blueprints before studying to get an idea of what subjects you’ll need to understand for each section. After that, the best way to ensure you earn a passing grade on all four sections is to enroll in a CPA review course with a pass guarantee.

Exam Changes in the CPA Evolution

  • Updated CPA Exam: The CPA Exam is being revised to include a core section covering essential skills and knowledge for all CPAs, and a discipline-specific section allowing candidates to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge in one of several disciplines.
  • Focus on Technology and Analytics: The new model will place greater emphasis on technology and analytical skills, reflecting the evolving nature of the accounting profession.

Potential Impact on Massachusetts CPA Candidates

  • Adaptation to New Exam Structure: CPA candidates in Massachusetts will need to prepare for the updated exam format, which may require additional study materials and resources focusing on the new core and discipline-specific sections.
  • Enhanced Skill Set: The emphasis on technology and analytics in the new exam will likely necessitate candidates to acquire a broader skill set, including a deeper understanding of information systems, data analytics, and digital acumen.
  • Educational Curriculum Changes: Academic institutions in Massachusetts may revise their curricula to align with the new CPA licensure model, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for the updated exam.

Recommendations for Massachusetts CPA Candidates

  • Stay Informed: Candidates should regularly check for updates from the Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy and NASBA regarding the implementation of the CPA Evolution in Massachusetts.
  • Prepare for Changes: Begin adapting study plans and educational focus to include the areas emphasized in the new licensure model, particularly in technology and analytics.
  • Engage with Academic Advisors: Those currently in accounting programs should consult with their academic advisors to ensure their coursework aligns with the upcoming changes.

The CPA Evolution represents a significant shift in the CPA licensure process, aiming to better prepare accountants for the modern challenges of the profession. For CPA candidates in Massachusetts, staying informed and adaptable will be key to successfully navigating these changes. For the most current and detailed information, candidates should refer to the Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy and NASBA websites.

Massachusetts CPA Licensure and Exam Fees

For individuals pursuing CPA licensure in Massachusetts, understanding the fee structure associated with the licensure process is crucial. The process involves multiple steps, each with its own set of fees. Below is a breakdown of the fees that candidates will encounter on their path to becoming a CPA in Massachusetts.

Education Evaluation Application Fee

  • Purpose: Before applying for the CPA Exam, candidates must first be deemed eligible. The Education Evaluation Application assesses whether a candidate meets the educational requirements necessary to take the CPA Exam in Massachusetts.
  • Fee: The fee for the Education Evaluation Application is $130.00. This fee is required to process the application and determine the candidate’s eligibility based on their educational background.

Exam Section Application Fee

  • Application Process: Once a candidate is found eligible for the CPA Exam, they can apply for specific exam sections. It’s important to note that candidates can apply for only one exam section per application.
  • Advice for Candidates: Candidates are advised to apply for an exam section only if they are ready to take it. The Notice to Schedule (NTS) issued to candidates is valid for a limited period, and the exam must be taken within this timeframe. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the fees paid.
  • Initial Application Fee: The initial application fee for the CPA Exam in Massachusetts is $175.00.
  • Fee per Exam Section: Each exam section carries an application fee of $396.80. This fee is applicable for each section of the CPA Exam that the candidate applies for.

Additional CPA Licensure Fees

  • Initial Licensure Fee: Upon successful completion of all exam sections and fulfillment of other licensure requirements, candidates must pay a fee for the issuance of their initial CPA license. Currently, this fee is $175.
  • Renewal Fees: Massachusetts charges $175 for the initial license fee, but you’ll also need to pay a renewal fee of $161 every 2 years. Bear in mind that there may be additional fees attached to your license. For instance, late renewal adds an extra $57 to the cost. Make sure to submit your renewal early to avoid extra fees!

Continuing Education in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has a fairly strict set of requirements for continuing professional education. For starters, the deadline for every CPA to complete their biennial renewal is June 30th. You must have completed 80 hours of continuing education every 2 years, with at least 4 hours of those being in ethics. Unfortunately, Massachusetts doesn’t allow carry over credit, so you’ll have to meet this requirement in the same period.

Massachusetts Exam Information and Resources

For more details, please contact:

Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy

1000 Washington Street, Suite 710
Boston,  MA  02118-6100
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 617-727-1806
Fax: 617-727-2197


How long does it take to become a CPA in Massachusetts?

The journey to becoming a CPA in Massachusetts typically spans around 6 years. This includes completing a 4-year bachelor’s degree, acquiring the additional 30 semester hours to meet the 150-hour requirement (often taking an additional year), and then passing all four sections of the CPA Exam. After meeting the educational requirements, candidates must also gain relevant work experience under a licensed CPA, which generally takes about a year. The timeline can vary based on individual circumstances, such as the time taken to pass the CPA Exam and the duration of work experience.

How many CPAs are there in Massachusetts?

According to the Massachusetts Society of CPAs, the state boasts over 11,000 active CPAs. This number reflects the vibrant and dynamic accounting profession in Massachusetts, with professionals working across various industries including public accounting, corporate finance, government, and education.

How do I renew my CPA license in MA?

CPA license renewal in Massachusetts is a biennial process, occurring every two years on June 30th. To renew, you must complete 80 hours of Continuing Education (CE) credits within this two-year period, including a minimum of 4 hours in ethics. The renewal fee is $161, and there’s an additional late fee of $57 for applications submitted after the deadline. It’s important to plan your CE well in advance to ensure timely completion and avoid late fees.

What are the educational requirements for CPA licensure in Massachusetts?

To qualify for CPA licensure in Massachusetts, candidates must complete 150 semester hours of education, including a bachelor’s degree. This typically involves a mix of accounting and business-related courses. Specifically, candidates must complete 21 semester hours in accounting and 9 semester hours in business courses. This rigorous educational requirement ensures that CPAs in Massachusetts are well-prepared for the diverse challenges of the profession.

Can I take the CPA Exam before completing my education requirements?

In Massachusetts, candidates are allowed to sit for the CPA Exam after completing 120 semester hours of their education, including specific accounting and business courses. However, they must complete the full 150-hour requirement before they can be licensed as CPAs. This flexibility allows candidates to start tackling the CPA Exam while still completing their educational requirements.

What is the format of the CPA Exam in Massachusetts?

The CPA Exam in Massachusetts, like in other states, consists of four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). Each section is a four-hour computer-based test comprising multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations, and written communication tasks (for BEC). Candidates must pass all four sections with a score of 75 or higher within an 18-month window.

Are there any residency requirements for taking the CPA Exam in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts does not impose residency requirements for taking the CPA Exam. Candidates from other states or countries can apply to take the exam in Massachusetts, provided they meet the educational and other eligibility requirements set by the Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy.

What happens if I fail a section of the CPA Exam in Massachusetts?

If you fail a section of the CPA Exam in Massachusetts, you can retake that section in a subsequent testing window. There is no limit to the number of times you can retake a failed section, but you must pass all four sections within an 18-month rolling period. It’s important to review the areas of weakness identified in your score report and prepare accordingly for the retake.

Bryce Welker, CPA

Bryce Welker is a regular contributor to Forbes,, YEC and Business Insider. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant license and created to share his knowledge and experience to help other accountants become CPAs too. Bryce was named one of Accounting Today’s “Accountants To Watch” among other accolades.   As Seen On Forbes