Best Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Programs

Best Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Programs

There are over 665,000 CPAs in the United States as of August 2022. Becoming a CPA is a big deal and leads to many job options. You can work in areas like forensic accounting or audit. Getting your CPA boosts your salary and career options.

If you want to be a CPA, choosing the right program is key. This guide will help you pick the best one that fits your needs and the state’s rules. It covers what you need for the CPA exam and how to get started, whether you’ve just graduated or been working in accounting for some time.

Key Takeaways:

  • Obtaining a CPA certification can open doors to lucrative career opportunities in various accounting fields.
  • CPAs tend to earn higher salaries compared to non-certified accountants over their careers.
  • To become a CPA, individuals must meet specific requirements, including education, experience, and passing the CPA exam.
  • CPA programs should be chosen based on their alignment with state requirements and comprehensive exam preparation.
  • Effective study techniques, practice exams, and utilizing available resources are essential for exam success.

Why Get Certified as a CPA?

A CPA certification opens many doors for people in accounting. CPAs can work in many areas, like auditing or financial accounting. Their knowledge and credibility let them have great careers.

Expanding Career Possibilities

With a CPA, you can do many different jobs. You might become a financial planner, help with taxes, or advise companies on financial decisions. If you’re into math, being a business analyst could be your path. CPAs are also needed in insurance, checking risks and making financial plans.

Financial Rewards

Having a CPA often means you make more money. Statistics show CPAs earn more than those without the license. Over time, this can lead to a million dollars more in your wallet compared to uncertified accountants.

“The CPA certification serves as a professional milestone, recognizing individuals who have demonstrated advanced knowledge and skills in accounting. It not only enhances career opportunities but also instills confidence in clients and employers.”

– [Real Name], CPA

Advancement and Credibility

CPAs have more chances to move up in their careers. Their expertise is valued, so they’re often chosen for leadership roles. Plus, clients and employers see CPAs as reliable professionals who follow strict standards.

Earning a CPA certification has many advantages. It means more job options, higher salaries, and more trust from others. Whether you’re a generalist or specialize in a certain area, being a CPA can boost your career in accounting.

How Do You Qualify for CPA Certification?

To be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you need to meet specific standards in education, work experience, and tests. These rules make sure CPAs have the right skills and knowledge for their job.

CPA Certification Requirements

The rules for getting a CPA certification often differ by state. However, they mainly involve the same steps:

  • Education: A bachelor’s degree from a recognized school is needed.
  • Experience: You must have one year of work experience. This can be in public accounting, private companies, government work, or teaching.
  • Examinations: You have to pass the Uniform CPA Exam. It has four parts: AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG. Each part tests different areas of accounting knowledge.

Remember, the requirements for CPA certification can change based on the state. You should check with your state’s accountancy board for exact rules. This will make sure you’re eligible to become a CPA.

Requirement Description
Education At least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
Experience One year of relevant professional experience, typically gained through work in public accounting, private industry, government agencies, or academia.
Examinations Passing all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination: Auditing and attestation (AUD), Business environment and concepts (BEC), Financial accounting and reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG).

Meeting these requirements shows you’re serious about your accounting career. It sets you up for job growth, more earnings, and different accounting roles. Getting your CPA opens many doors in the accounting world.

Educational Requirements for CPA Certification

To be a CPA, you must follow specific educational rules set by each state. These rules make sure you know a lot about accounting and related fields. While you need a bachelor’s degree, the exact classes and hours can change from state to state. Let’s look at what most states want you to have for CPA certification.

Accounting Degree

Most states want CPA candidates to have a bachelor’s in accounting or something alike. This degree teaches students about things like financial reports, taxes, checking earnings, and tracking costs. It gives future accountants the tools they need to do well in their jobs.

Upper-Level Accounting Courses

Another rule is that you have to take some advanced accounting classes. These classes are in things like reading financial statements, detailed audits, and management accounting. They make sure you’re ready for a career in accounting with deep knowledge and skills.

Related Areas

States might also ask for credits in areas outside accounting, like economics or business. These classes help you see the big picture of business and not just the numbers. Understanding business in different ways makes CPAs better at interpreting money data and smart business choices.


Economics studies how money works in the world. It covers supply and demand, balancing markets, big and small economic principles. For CPAs, this knowledge is key to understanding financial info and spotting trends in business and money.


Finance teaches about managing money, analyzing investments, how businesses find funds, and global money markets. Knowing these finance basics lets CPAs evaluate business risks, make better money moves, and find opportunities.

Business Management

Business management looks at how companies work, how to lead, and to manage well. These skills help CPAs offer business guidance, build effective strategies, and add to a company’s success.

To figure out exactly what you need in your state for a CPA certification, check with the state accountancy board. Meeting these educational rules shows you’re serious about your career. It ensures that CPAs are knowledgeable, skilled, and ready to succeed.

Required CPA Educational Requirements
1 Bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field
2 150 semester hours of college education
3 Upper-level accounting courses
4 Credits in related areas (economics, finance, business administration, or management)

Experience Requirements for CPA Certification

Getting a CPA certification means you need to have both education and experience. States often require one year of work. This amounts to 1,800-2,000 hours. This work is very important. It helps you use your knowledge in a real job. This makes sure you’re ready to be a great CPA.

Relevant professional experience

Certifying as a CPA asks for certain types of work. This work shows you know about key accounting areas. It includes tasks like:

  1. Attestation: Being part of audits or reviews to check financial statements.
  2. Auditing: Doing independent reviews to check a company’s finances are correct.
  3. Financial Statement Preparation: Making financial statements by the rules.
  4. Management Advisory Services: Giving financial advice to help companies make better choices.

In some states, teaching accounting at college also counts as this needed work.


“As a CPA candidate, audit experience has been key. It has sharpened my skills in understanding financial data. It has helped me find risks and make financial reports clearer and honest. Working in audits has taught me a lot about rules and controls. This helps prevent fraud. All of this has made me ready to be a top CPA.”

By blending what you learn with real work, CPA candidates meet many job needs. This mix makes sure CPAs can give right financial info. They help with decisions and add to a company’s success.

Experience Requirements for CPA Certification Examples
Attestation Participating in audit engagements to provide assurance on financial statements
Auditing Conducting independent audits to verify the accuracy of financial statements
Financial Statement Preparation Preparing financial statements in compliance with accounting standards
Management Advisory Services Providing recommendations on financial, operational, and strategic matters
Teaching Accounting Courses Teaching accounting courses at the postsecondary level

What Does the CPA Exam Cover?

The CPA Exam has four parts: AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG. Each one checks different accounting areas to ensure you’re ready for your career.

Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

This part tests your background in business. It includes corporate rules, economics, and management strategies. It also looks at financial and risk management in global settings.

Auditing and Attestation (AUD)

AUD looks at your knowledge of checking financial records, ethical rules, and the role of auditors. It covers things like how to plan an audit, internal rules, and inspecting evidence.

Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

FAR examines how well you understand financial statements. This means knowing how to show a company’s financial health on paper. You’ll also need to apply accounting rules (GAAP) to tricky situations.

Regulation (REG)

REG tests your understanding of tax, business laws, and ethics in your work. It includes tax for people and businesses, rules for buying and selling property, and accountant’s legal duties.

There’s a four-hour limit for each CPA section. You’ll face a mix of question types. It’s up to you in which order you take the parts, but you must pass all in a set time to become a CPA.

Getting ready for the CPA needs hard study and practice in each area. In the next section, we’ll talk about the best ways to prepare.

Scoring the CPA Exam

The CPA exam is a tough test that uses a special scoring system. It checks how well candidates know different subjects. By knowing how it’s scored, test-takers can better plan to do well.

Each part of the exam gets its own score from 0 to 99. You’ll find different question types like multiple-choice, tasks that mimic real jobs, and writing. Each of these has its own value in scoring.

More points come from tasks and written responses than from multiple-choice questions. This shows the test’s focus on real accounting work.

To pass, you need at least 75 on each section. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) sets this score. It might change over time.

Effective study starts with knowing the exam well. Use resources with practice questions. This can push your score up to the passing level.

Earning a high score also means understanding accounting deeply. This will help you be successful in your career after the exam.

CPA Exam Scoring Breakdown

Exam Section Multiple-Choice Questions Task-Based Simulations Written Response Questions
Auditing and Attestation (AUD) 50% 50% N/A
Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) 50% 35% 15%
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) 50% 50% N/A
Regulation (REG) 50% 50% N/A

Key takeaways:

  • The CPA exam uses a special scoring system.
  • It includes a variety of questions, including tasks and writing.
  • You need 75 in each section to pass.
  • Knowing how the test is scored can help with study planning.

Getting your CPA is more than just passing a test; it’s about knowing accounting fully and using it in your career. Study hard, stay focused, and keep growing professionally.

How Do You Register for the CPA Exam?

Registering for the CPA exam is key to becoming a certified public accountant. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) handles this. I’ll explain how to register and what you need:

1. Application and Approval

First, fill out an application for the exam with NASBA. This form checks if you’re qualified based on your schooling and work. Be careful to fill out the application right to avoid delays. After NASBA approves your application, they will send you a Notice to Schedule (NTS) by email or mail.

“Applying for the CPA exam was straightforward and efficient through NASBA. I received my approval within a few weeks and was ready to proceed with scheduling my exam.”

2. Notice to Schedule (NTS)

The NTS lets you pick when and where to take your exam. It tells you the available times and places for the test. You must schedule the exam before the NTS expires.

3. State-Specific Requirements

Every state might have its own rules for the CPA exam. These can include needing to be a U.S. citizen, live in the state, or have a social security number. Before you apply, check what your state requires to get your CPA license.

4. Application and Registration Fees

Registering for the CPA exam has several fees. You’ll pay for applying, registering, and for each exam section. The costs change based on where you’re taking the exam. It’s important to know the costs and be ready to pay them when needed.

“The registration fees were a necessary investment in my career. The value of the CPA certification outweighs the costs, and it opens up numerous opportunities in the accounting field.”

5. Scheduling and Exam Fees

With your NTS, you can schedule your exam. Pick a time and place that suits you best. Remember, the exam fees are not the same as the registration fees. You pay for each exam section you take.

Here is an indicative table for the CPA exam registration and associated fees:

Fee Amount
Application Fee $200 – $300 (depending on the state)
Registration Fee $50 – $200 (depending on the state)
Exam Fee (per section) $193.45 – $209.99 (depending on the state)

These costs can change, so make sure to look up your state’s current rates. Have the money for all the fees ready to make the process smooth.

Now you know how to sign up for the CPA exam. You’re on your way to a great career in accounting.

How Can You Prepare for the CPA Exam?

Preparing well is key to passing the CPA exam. Here’s some advice to help you succeed:

Familiarize Yourself with the Exam Format and Question Types

Understanding the exam’s format is crucial. Make sure you know the question types, like multiple choice and simulations. This will help you know what to expect.

Start Studying Early

Start your preparation early. This will give you enough time to learn everything and review. It’s important not to rush through studying.

Take Practice Exams

Practice exams are essential. They help you get used to the test’s format and timings. This way, you’ll know what to work on before the real test.

Identify Areas of Strength and Weakness

Regularly check your progress and find your weak spots. Then, focus on improving those areas with more study and practice. This will make you stronger overall.

Utilize Study Resources

There are many resources to help you study. The AICPA offers exam blueprints to guide you. Plus, third-party materials can give you more sample questions and tests to practice with.

Key Tips for CPA Exam Preparation
Start studying early
Familiarize yourself with the exam format and question types
Take practice exams
Identify areas of strength and weakness
Utilize study resources such as exam blueprints and practice materials


Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can open many doors in accounting and other fields. To get your CPA, you need to finish your education, get experience, and pass tough exams. This way, your skills in accounting get a big boost.

Earning your CPA makes it easier to get better jobs and higher pay. You can work as a financial planner, auditor, or in other exciting roles. It broadens the jobs you can apply for.

Choose a good CPA program carefully. It should meet your state’s standards. The right education will help you succeed in the exam and your career.

Pursuing a CPA takes a lot of hard work. But that effort can lead to a great accounting career. You’ll find better job offers and grow professionally.


What are the best certified public accountant (CPA) programs?

The top CPA programs are from well-known schools and accredited institutions. These are the best options for your education.

Why should I get certified as a CPA?

Getting your CPA means you’re highly skilled in accounting. This can boost your pay and career options. You can work in accounting, financial planning, or even business analysis.

What are the requirements to qualify for CPA certification?

You need a bachelor’s degree and 150 college credits to become a CPA. Also, one year of work experience is required. And, you must pass the CPA exam. These rules can differ based on the state.

What are the educational requirements for CPA certification?

To be a CPA, you must have a bachelor’s degree. You also need to take certain advanced accounting classes. Some states want you to study economics, finance, or management too.

What are the experience requirements for CPA certification?

You should have worked a year in jobs like auditing or making financial statements. Teaching accounting at a college level might also count.

What topics are covered in the CPA exam?

The CPA exam tests you in Auditing, Business concepts, Accounting laws, and financial reporting. It’s a comprehensive test of your accounting skills.

How is the CPA exam scored?

The CPA test scores go from 0 to 99. You need at least 75 to pass each section. The test includes different question types, and each is scored differently.

How do I register for the CPA exam?

To take the CPA exam, apply through the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Once approved, you’ll get to schedule your test. States can have extra rules.

How can I prepare for the CPA exam?

Start studying early and get to know the test’s format. Take practice tests and focus on weak areas. The AICPA and others offer study help for your test preparation.

What are the benefits of becoming a CPA?

Becoming a CPA makes you stand out with advanced accounting skills. It can bring better jobs and pay. Plus, you can work in different accounting roles with your certification.

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