CPA Requirements

General Information

All 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.

Career Connection is here to assist with answering questions about the CPA and help students meet the set requirements for licensure. This page is meant to be a guide for UCSB students, but should not be the only point of reference for the CPA. 

NEW: If you would like to track your progress with the CPA requirements we now offer CPA checks and advising via Zoom. Click here to request a Zoom meeting

For Frequently Asked Questions about the CPA please see this page.

To learn about getting your CPA outside of UCSB please see this page.

Requirements in the below areas need to be completed in order to become a licensed CPA.



  • Baccalaureate Degree
  • 225 units of coursework
  • 117 of the 225 must be in ​required areas


  • Apply to sit for the CPA exam after graduating
  • Pass all 4 parts of the exam with 75% or higher
  • Finish all 4 parts of the exam within 18 months of passing the first one


  • One year of accounting-related experience under an actively licensed CPA
  • Experience begins after graduation (internships do not count)


In order to become licensed in the state of California you must meet the following educational criteria:

  • Baccalaureate degree or higher

  • A total of 225 quarter units including:

  1. 36 quarter units of Accounting Subjects
  2. 36 quarter units of Business-Related Subjects
  3. 30 quarter units of Accounting Study
  4. 15 quarter units of Ethics Study 

Career Connection encourages students to periodically do CPA checks throughout their coursework. Use one of the following sheets to help you see where you stand in your CPA requirements: 

CPA Sheet Blank FORM

CPA Sheet Full Major FORM

CPA Sheet Transfer FORM


In order to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam, students must have the following portion of their CPA requirements completed:

  • Baccalaureate degree or higher

  • 36 quarter units of Accounting Subjects

  • 36 quarter units of Business-Related Subjects

Those students who ​start at UCSB as freshmen and complete the Economics and Accounting major will most likely have ​the credits required to sit for the exam completed upon graduation. Transfer students may need additional units.

Please note: taking Econ 189 or Econ 185 as an accounting elective does not count toward the 36 units needed for the Accounting Subjects section.

While this is all you need to sit for the CPA Exam, most firms want you to have the total 225 units completed before you start working - either before graduation or by the following fall.

All students who plan to sit for the CPA exam upon graduation must send official transcripts, from every institution they attended, to the California Board of Accountancy (CBA). 

Seniors Graduating in June: ​to be automatically added to the rush degree awarding list without having to contact the Office of the Registrar:

- Place a transcript order via GOLD to go to the CPA Board.
- Place the order on hold, to be released once your degree has been awarded.

Complete instructions from the CBA on how to apply for the exams can be found in the CPA Exam Handbook (where to send transcripts can be found on page 5).


In order to get a CPA license, you must have a full 12 months of experience under an actively licensed CPA. This "experience" begins after graduation, and so internships do not count towards the total 12 months experience. More information and specifications about experience can be found on the CBA's website.

Additional Programs to Fulfill the 225 Unit Requirement

In order to graduate from UCSB, students need a minimum of 180 quarter units.  Based on that requirement, students need an additional 45 units in specific areas to fulfill the ​CPA requirements.  While it is possible to get 225 units at UCSB, the Economics Department has ​put two programs in place to help you fulfill the requirement.

Strategic Business Program

The Strategic Business Program (SBP)  gives students the opportunity to receive additional units, most notably units that will can count towards the Accounting Ethics ​section. More information about SBP can be found here.

Professional Preparation Program in Accounting

This unique program is offered during the first 10 weeks of summer. The Professional Preparation Program for Accounting is designed to help you meet the California requirements for CPA Licensure, gaining you 24 quarter units while reviewing for the CPA Exam.

Courses are offered in an intense, high-quality sequence, designed to provide the detailed knowledge and skills desirable in a professional accountant. Courses cover professionally based material that expands upon the academic accounting curriculum offered by the UCSB Economics Department.

For more information regarding the Professional Preparation Program in Accounting please visit this page on the UCSB Extension website.

Masters in Accountancy

While UCSB does not offer a masters program in Accounting, getting a masters is another great way to get more units and gain a higher understanding of accounting concepts. Please see our Graduate ​School page for more information.

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