Pennsylvania CPA Exam & License Requirements

Updated: May 23, 2023 You’re our #1 priority.
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Navigating the journey to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Pennsylvania is more than just a pursuit of professional accreditation; it’s a step towards becoming a part of a community that values not only financial expertise but also societal contribution. As highlighted in a recent article by retired CPA James Sullivan (published in the Journal of Accountancy), CPA firms must offer accessible, positive, and stigma-free services, underscoring the idea that the role of a CPA extends far beyond numbers.

This is a profession deeply intertwined with human experiences, where the ability to lay the groundwork for sensitive discussions, like those surrounding Alzheimer’s diagnosis, begins well before the actual diagnosis​​.

As we delve into the specifics of acquiring a CPA license in Pennsylvania, remember that this guide is not just about meeting educational and examination requirements. It’s about preparing you to be a versatile professional who not only excels in accounting but also possesses the empathy and skills to make a real difference in people’s lives. Let’s explore the steps to achieve this esteemed designation and understand how it positions you not just as an accounting expert but as a valued contributor to the broader community.

PA CPA Licensure Snapshot

When preparing for CPA licensure, CPA expert Bryce Welker suggests the following steps to CPA licensure:

  1. Meet Education and Verified Work Requirements: Fulfill Pennsylvania CPA licensure’s educational and work experience prerequisites for CPA licensure.
  2. Pass the CPA Exam: Successfully complete all sections of the CPA Exam. Considering the challenging nature of the exam, where nearly 50% of candidates may not pass on their first attempt, a CPA review course is highly recommended. This is often the key to passing the exam.
  3. Complete the AICPA Ethics Exam: This is a mandatory step in the licensure process.
  4. Submit CPA License Application Paperwork: Accurately fill out and submit all required documentation for the CPA license application.
  5. Pay the CPA License Application Fee: Ensure payment of the necessary fees associated with the application.

As you embark on your CPA journey, no matter the state, remember that the CPA exam isn’t something you can just wing. It demands dedication and a solid prep strategy. Think of it like training for a marathon; you wouldn’t just show up on race day without any preparation. The CPA exam is no different. Every state has its nuances in licensure, but the exam’s challenge is universal. So, lace up your study shoes and prepare to hit the books hard.

Bryce Welker, renowned CPA exam expert

PA CPA Licensure Guidelines 


  1. For CPA Exam Eligibility:
    • Minimum Education: Candidates must have completed at least 120 semester credits of post-secondary education from an accredited college or university. This education must include at least 24 semester credits in accounting, auditing, business law, finance, technology, or tax subjects satisfactory to the Board​​.
  2. For CPA Licensure:
    • Degree Requirement: Candidates need a baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited college or university.
    • Credit Requirement: A total of 150 semester credits are required, including at least 24 semester credits in accounting and auditing, business law, economics, technology, finance, or tax subjects satisfactory to the Board. Additionally, 12 semester credits in accounting, auditing, or tax subjects are required, not necessarily as part of the individual’s undergraduate or graduate work​​.

Work History

  1. Experience Requirement:
    • Duration and Hours: Candidates must have completed at least 12 full months and no less than 1,600 hours of qualifying experience within the 60-month period immediately preceding the application date.
    • Nature of Work: The experience can be in public or non-public accounting and must involve the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills. This experience should be gained through employment in government, industry, academia, or public practice​​.

Additional Requirements

  • Pass the Uniform CPA Examination: Candidates must successfully pass the Uniform CPA Examination. Scheduling for this exam is done through the National Association of State Boards of Accounting (NASBA)​​.
  • Continuing Education for License Renewal: Upon renewing the license, a CPA must complete 80 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) hours in relevant subject areas, within the 2-year period before the filing date of the application. Note that new licensees are not required to complete CPE hours in the biennium in which they passed the CPA Exam​​.

These guidelines provide a comprehensive overview of the steps and requirements for CPA licensure in Pennsylvania, including both educational and work history components.

Ethics Exam

Pennsylvania’s approach to CPA licensure notably differs from many other states, particularly in its handling of the AICPA ethics course and examination. Unlike several states that require CPA candidates to complete the AICPA ethics course and pass a related exam, an ethics course and/or exam are not required in PA. This distinction underscores a unique aspect of Pennsylvania’s CPA licensure process, reflecting its distinct stance on the role of ethics training in the professional development of accountants.

Pennsylvania CPA Exam Fees

The journey to obtaining CPA licensure in Pennsylvania encompasses a variety of fees, categorized into those related to the CPA exam and those specific to licensure. Below is an outline of these fees:

CPA Exam Fees

  1. Education Evaluation Application Fee: Before applying for any exam section, candidates must first be deemed eligible for the CPA Exam. This eligibility is determined by an Education Evaluation Application, costing $90.00.
  2. Initial CPA Exam Application Fee: An initial application fee of $105 is required when applying for the CPA exam in Pennsylvania.
  3. Registration Fee: In addition to the initial application fee, there’s also a registration fee of $105.
  4. Exam Section Application Fees:
    • Auditing and Attestation (AUD): $344.80
    • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): $344.80
    • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): $344.80
    • Regulation (REG): $344.80
    • The total cost for taking all four sections of the CPA Exam is $1,379.20 (4 sections x $344.80 each).

CPA Licensure Fees

  1. Initial Licensing Fee: The fee for initial licensing as a CPA in Pennsylvania is $65.00.
  2. Licensure Renewal Fee: The biennial renewal fee for the CPA license in Pennsylvania is $100.00.

These fees are an integral part of the CPA licensure process in Pennsylvania. Candidates need to be cognizant of these costs and plan their journey toward CPA certification accordingly.

PA Exam Information and Resources

For more information, please contact:

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 717-783-1404
Fax: 717-705-5540


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!