Many college students want to get a jump start on their accounting careers, so they naturally wonder is it possible to take the CPA exam before graduating from college. In most states, the answer is yes you can.
Taking the CPA exam in college is a great idea because your college courses will still be fresh in your mind and will help you study for the exam. But before you qualify to take CPA exam as a college student, you must meet the state education requirements. Every different state has its own requirements, regulations, and criteria for the amount of college courses that you need to qualify for the exam.
Although it’s possible to sit for an exam section in college, you probably won’t be able to pass the entire CPA exam before you graduate. In this article, we’ll explore when and how you can take and pass the CPA exam in college.
Is It Possible To Take The CPA Exam in College?
Yes, it is possible to take the CPA exam in college as long as you are in the final semester of your Bachelor’s degree program and meet the state exam education requirements and qualifications.
As you begin to consider sitting for the CPA exam while in college, start by reading the requirements set by your state board for qualification thoroughly. A majority of states in the United States have laws requiring you to acquire a bachelor’s degree from college prior to actually appearing for even one section of the exam.
Then there are a few states that allow you to appear for an exam section before you’ve completed your graduation. Completing certain coursework and just having a couple of courses left in your graduation program are among the requirements. That is to say, if you are a senior in college with one or both semesters remaining, you are eligible to take the CPA exam in these states.
In some states, the CPA Exam does not require a degree in accounting or previous experience in the accounting field.
Keeping all of these in consideration, you can see how dynamic and different the board requirements are for CPA exams in each state. Hence, a careful read-through of the requirements, syllabus, and guidelines on the basis of states is highly recommended.
State CPA Exam Requirements for College Students
In order to appear for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examination, each state has its own requirements. US accountancy jurisdictions mandate state board examination requirements. These jurisdictions total 55 across the nation. Consequently, you have 55 options to choose from for the source of your CPA. Recently, the AICPA and NASBA have worked on coordinating the requirements across all jurisdictions.
The basic requirements for the CPA certification include:
- Education: Earn a four-year bachelor’s degree plus 150 general education credits
- Examination: passing the Uniform CPA Exam
- Experience: Have at least one year of work experience in the field of accounting
Keep in mind that these requirements aren’t constant in each and every state. There’s an additional E called Ethics – which means the Ethics examination – which may or may not be present in your state.
Several types of questions appear in the CPA Exam, presented as testlets, consisting of:
- Multiple-choice questions
- Task-based simulations
- Written communications
Candidates must pass all four sections of the exam within 18 months, and each section takes 4 hours of testing time.
Some states allow students to take the CPA exam during their senior year if they have completed all their required coursework and have only one semester left before their bachelor’s degree is completed.
Each candidate typically takes a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 15 months to complete the exam. Upon graduation from college after your senior year, it is unlikely that you will complete and earn the certification. If you qualify according to your state’s requirements, consider appearing for one section since it puts you ahead in several ways, and it is certainly doable.
To find out whether a bachelor’s degree is required to qualify for the exam, you will need to get in touch with your state board. The majority of states do not require that you have 150 credit hours. The 120 hours are usually required within a specific time frame, such as six months from receiving a bachelor’s degree or 15 credit hours from meeting the 120 hours.
Can I Apply for the CPA Exam Before Graduation?
Yes, most states allow college students to apply for the CPA exam before graduation. The CPA exam application process for college students is very similar to college graduates.
First, you will need to get approval from your State Board to apply to take the exam. They will need to review the college courses that you have taken thus far and approve your academic standings. Most states allow college students to sit for the CPA exam as long as they are in their final semester of college and have completed the necessary educational courses.
Once your state board approves your college credits, you will be allowed to go through the normal CPA exam application process and schedule your first CPA exam section through NASBA.
Advantages Of Taking The CPA Exam While In College
It’s a big help to schedule an exam date as soon as possible after graduation since most of the knowledge you need will already be familiar. The CPA Exam has shown to be the most difficult exam for recent college graduates, and recent college graduates even have the highest pass rates for first-timers of any group.
Studying for the CPA exam While in Grad School
One of the biggest benefits to taking the CPA exam in college is being able to study for the exam while studying for your college classes. Many grad school accounting courses cover the topics on the CPA exam, so studying for exam while in graduate school is easy.
You can study your college textbooks and reinforce the concepts with a CPA exam prep course. It’s recommended to start studying for your first CPA exam section while you are in grad school.
Here are some other excellent reasons to take the CPA exam while in college:
- Getting it done early will give you a head start as you begin to work for a big firm
- Employers will give you preference when you highlight passing the CPA exam
- You have fresh knowledge from college and time to prepare
In order to meet the educational requirements for the CPA Exam, students need an average of 120 school credits in most states. Do check with your state board requirement and consider the assistance from a CPA review course to pass the coveted exam.
College Students Can Get CPA Exam Scholarships
In case you’re concerned about the expense of taking the CPA exam, you can put the negative thoughts to rest. As a college student, you have access to a variety of scholarships and financing options to help you pay for the CPA exam.
Scholarships for taking the exam are widely available on campus and online from organizations such as AICPA, CPA societies, and state boards. Consider checking with these boards, organizations, and societies to see what scholarships are available.
CPA review courses are also available to help you study and prepare for the examination as a college student. There are huge discounts in your place that you can avail yourself of to meet the expenses for the courses.
This is a bonus because sitting for the examination is not even necessary to get these discounts. Generally, you must have at least a 3.0 GPA in an accounting-related major to qualify for these scholarships. They are available to full-time undergraduate and master’s students only.
Should I take the CPA exam right after college?
Yes, you should take the CPA exam as soon as possible after you graduate from college. The CPA exam is an academic test that has little real-world application. Thus, the sooner you take the exam after college, the more knowledge from your college courses will be fresh in your memory.
Obviously, questions that have applications in the real world will be asked, but the majority of the test is based on things you learn in college. You theoretically will do much better on the exam right after your college accounting courses than several years later.
Make sure to check if that state allows candidates such as yourself to appear and qualify for the CPA examination before you graduate. After you’ve chosen the state where you will appear for the CPA examination, you can sign up to take the test. You should apply to take the CPA exam around the time you graduate from college, according to experts, mentors, and experienced candidates.
You will be able to perform better if you take the test early since you already remember the content you learned in college. Therefore, you won’t need to repeat any chapters in order to prepare for the test. The reviews can simply be reviewed, even with the assistance of a CPA review course. It will get increasingly difficult to retain the entirety of
academic concepts when you pass out from college with your graduation degree for a long time. That is why it is always advisable to take the test as soon as possible.
College Students should sit CPA Exam Sections as soon as possible
If you are fortunate enough to be able to take an exam section while still in college, don’t hold back and wait for the next section. Get them out of your path towards success as fast as possible because they stand as hurdles in your way the longer you wait.
There’s an 18-month testing window in between, and you need to take the exams back-to-back before your time expires. Taking an auditing course in college will better prepare you for the auditing section -Auditing & Attestation (AUD)- of the CPA Exam.
You can then begin completing BEC, REG, and FAR during the 18-month period that follows. REG is an excellent choice to start with if you are interested in business law.
Should You Take The CPA Exam While In College?
You should definitely consider taking the CPA examination while in college if your choice of state allows it. Getting it done early is always a good idea because it gives you a head start in the professional world of accounting. The longer you wait, the more chances of successfully passing the examination in record time become difficult. Hence, gear up your preparation and start looking through state board requirements at the earliest.
Can I Get my CPA while in college?
Yes, most states allow college students to pass the CPA exam while in college. Although it would be difficult to complete the entire 4-part CPA exam in college, it is possible to become a certified public accounting before you graduate college.
Should I study for CPA in college?
Yes, the best time to start studying for the CPA exam is before you graduate college. Your college courses will be fresh in your mind and you will have a much easier time passing the CPA exam right after you graduate college if you start studying beforehand.