CPA Requirements

Requirements to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) are set by the California Board of Accountancy (CBA). Requirement approval is completely and autonomously up to the CBA. The requirements mentioned on this page only apply to California. If you are applying to be a CPA in another state, please review the specific requirements for that state.

If you would like to track your progress with the CPA requirements, please bring a copy of your course history from GOLD to the Career Connection Office.

Please note that the Accounting elective courses ECON 189 and ECON 185 do not count towards meeting your CPA unit requirements.

Prerequisites for CPA Exam

To sit for the CPA exam, students must have:

  • Baccalaureate degree
  • At least 72 quarter units of coursework
  • 36 quarter units in Accounting subjects
  • 36 quarter units in Business-Related subjects

Students who start at UCSB as Freshmen and complete the Economics & Accounting Major should have the credits required to sit for the exam upon graduation. However, please check prior to graduation, especially if you are a transfer student.

Taking the CPA Exam

Please refer to the CPA Exam Handbook in the sidebar for information on how to apply for CPA Exams.

All students who plan to sit for the CPA exam upon graduation must send official transcripts from every institution they have attended. Refer to the CPA Exam Handbook for where to send transcripts.

Students can send their UCSB transcripts by contacting the Office of Registrar. To send transcripts without having to contact the Registrar, students can add themselves to the rush degree award list by:

  • Placing a transcript order via GOLD to the CPA Board
  • Placing the order on hold, to be released after your degree has been awarded
Programs to Complete your CPA Units

While only 72 units are required to sit for the CPA Exam, licensure will require 225 total units of coursework. Most employers will want you to have completed the required 225 units before working.

In order to graduate from UCSB, students need a minimum of 180 quarter units. To fulfill CPA requirements, students will need an additional 45 units in Accounting Study or Ethics Study. While it is possible to complete all 225 units at UCSB, the Department has established additional programs to help students fulfill their unit requirements for the CPA:

Outside Programs to Complete your CPA Units

Although the Economics & Accounting Major is the best way to get your units for the CPA at UCSB, we also understand that it’s sometimes not the right fit. The following are some outside resources to help get your CPA certification:

Licensure Requirements

To officially receive your license and start working, students must have:


  • Baccalaureate degree
  • 225 total quarter units of coursework
  • 36 units must be in Accounting subjects
  • 36 units must be in Business-Related subjects
  • 30 units must be in Accounting Study
  • 15 units must be in Ethics Study


  • Pass all four sections of the CPA exam with a 75% or higher
  • Finish all four sections of the exam within 18 months of passing the first section


  • One year of accounting-related experience under an actively licensed CPA. The experience must begin after graduation (internships do not count towards this requirement)

CPA Frequently Asked Questions

To view frequently asked questions regarding the CPA Exam, please visit the Career Connection's FAQ page.

CPA Worksheets

Contact Us

Office Hours

Monday to Friday
Drop-in advising: 9:00am-12:00pm
By appointment: 1:00pm-4:00pm

Please bring a printed copy of anything you would like reviewed