North Carolina CPA Exam & License Requirements

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North Carolina requires 150 credit hours to earn a CPA license. Candidates can get approved to take the CPA exam prior to receiving their bachelor’s degree, if the concentration in accounting is already complete or is reasonably expected to be completed by the end of the school term within which the examination falls; and they expect to receive their bachelor’s degree within 120 days after the application is received by the Board. However, if the applicant fails to receive the degree within the specified time, the Exam grades will not be released.

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

  1. Minimum age: 18
  2. U.S. Residency Required (or having intent of becoming US citizen)
  3. State Residency NOT required

Education Requirements

A candidate is required to fulfill one of the following:

  1. Bachelor degree or above
  2. Accounting course requirement: 30 semester hours (30 credits)
  3. Allowed to count 1 Business Law class (3 credits) towards this 30-credit requirement

NC CPA License Requirements


  • Completion of 150 semester hours: including at least 30 semester hours in undergraduate accounting courses.
  • Of those 30, no more than six semester hours of accounting principles and no more than three semester hours of business law; or (2) at least 20 semester hours or the equivalent in quarter hours, of graduate accounting courses that are open exclusively to graduate students; or (3) a combination of undergraduate and graduate courses which would be equivalent to Subparagraph (1) or (2).
  • Please check North Carolina CPA rules for more details.

Work Experience

Must be completed prior to the date an individual applies for licensure. There are a number ways an applicant can meet these requirements:

• one (1) year experience in the public practice of accountancy under the direct supervision of a properly licensed CPA; or

• one (1) year experience in the field of accountancy under the direct supervision of a properly licensed CPA; or

• four (4) years experience in the field of accounting; or

• four (4) years experience teaching accounting in an accredited college or university; or

• four (4) years experience self-employed in accounting; or

• any combination of such experience determined by the Board to be substantially equivalent to the above.

In calculating work experience, one year of work experience is 52 weeks of full-time employment; full-time employment is defined as working at least 30 hours each week for at least one year. Experience affidavits for part-time work (less than 30 hours each week) must contain a record of the actual part-time hours the applicant performed accounting services only for each week of part-time employment. Actual part-time hours do not include hours paid for sick leave, vacation leave, attending CPE courses, or other time not spent directly performing accounting services. The applicant for certification must submit to the Board experience affidavits from all of the relevant employers.

Ethics Exam

  • Candidates’ are not required to take an ethics exam prior to sitting for the Uniform CPA Exam. However, to get your CPA license a candidate must, within one year prior to applying for certification, complete an eight-hour course on the North Carolina Accountancy Statutes and Rules, including the Rules of Professional Ethics and Conduct. The Board suggests that applicants meet the requirement within the last few months prior to applying for a certificate. The North Carolina Association of CPAs offers two qualifying courses: a one-day, group-study seminar, “Ethics Principles and Professional Responsibilities,” and an online self-study course, “North Carolina Law Course: Ethics, Principles, and Professional Responsibility for North Carolina License Applicants.

North Carolina CPA Exam Fees

The cost to take all four sections of the CPA exam in North Carolina is $729.08 plus the initial $230 application fee.  The re-examination application fee is $75.

**Important Note: You should not apply and pay for exam sections that will not be taken within six months because your Notice to Schedule (NTS) in North Carolina expires 6 months after issuance.

Additional CPA License Requirements

  1. Pass all 4 sections of the CPA exam with a score of 75% or higher
  2. Complete verified accounting work experience
  3. Fill out and submit all required CPA license application paperwork
  4. Pay the CPA license application fee

NC Exam Information and Resources

CPA Exam and License Requirements – official North Carolina Administrative Code

1101 Oberlin Road, Suite 104
PO Box 12827
Raleigh, NC 27605

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 919-733-4224
Fax: 919-733-4209

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!