CPA Requirements

General Information

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 (2119 North Hall).  You can access your course history by selecting “academic history” on the left side bar and then clicking on the “course history” tab. 

Even though 225 quarter-units are equivalent to 5 years of coursework, students can and do achieve the unit requirement by in a variety of ways. For more information regarding the CPA requirements and the programs that the university has in place, please review our CPA at UCSB informational flier.

In addition, the Career Connection office has created helpful worksheets to assist students with tracking their progress towards meeting the CPA requirements:

2017 requirements, blank

2017 requirements, major classes listed 

CPA Exam 

To be eligible to sit for the CPA exam, UCSB students must have an undergraduate degree and 36 units completed in Accounting Subjects and 36 units completed in Business-Related Subjects.  Those students who complete the Economics and Accounting major will most likely have those two credit requirements completed upon graduation.

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. Students will need to take an additional accounting course to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam.

The California Board of Accountancy has an extensive website,  with all of the necessary information for registering for the CPA Exam. In addition, they have a very helpful Uniform CPA Handbook.

To sign-up for the exams please visit:

Transcript requests for the CPA Exam
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). Complete instructions on how to order the transcripts and have them sent to the board can be found here.


CPA Licensing

The California Board of Accountancy has changed the requirements necessary for becoming licensed in the state. These requirements ONLY apply to California. If you are interested in becoming licensed in a different state, please refer to their board of accountancy page for their specific requirements.

The licensing requirements:

2017 – all students who plan to be licensed AFTER January 1, 2017

In addition to the tip sheets provided by the CBA, the department has prepared  worksheets for students to track their progress.

2017 – Education requirements worksheet

2017 – Educational requirement worksheet, with major class filled in

In order to become licensed in the state of California you must meet the following 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
  • Pass all portions of the CPA exam

  • One year of work experience under a licensed CPA

Programs to Fulfill the 225 unit requirement

Students need at least 180 units to graduate.  Based upon that requirement, students need an additional 45 units in specific areas to fulfill the new requirements.  Students can take more than 180 units while at UCSB.  However, if you choose not to there are two departmental programs in place to help you fulfill the new requirement.

Strategic Business Program

The Strategic Business Program (SBP)  gives students the opportunity to receive at least 16 additional units.  Currently, 9 ethics courses are offered, which would leave students with having to get 6 additional ethics units.  The educational requirement worksheets (above) list all SBP and UCSB courses that can be used to fulfill the requirements.  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 session.  The Professional Preparation Program for Accounting is designed to help you meet the California requirements for CPA Licensure. You can fulfill 24 quarter units toward CPA (Certified Public Accountant) Licensure in only 10 weeks. All 24 units of this program, can be applied to the 30 quarter units needed for accounting study.

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. Courses provide information that broadens student understanding and knowledge of modern business methods and environments. Taken together, the four courses in the sequence also cover topics included in the CPA examination.

For more information regarding the Professional Preparation Program in Accounting please visit the extension website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  Do I have to complete the total 225 units required for licensure before graduation?

A.  No. With the Economics & Accounting major you should have the 36 quarter units of Accounting Subjects and 36 quarter units of Business-Related Subjects upon graduation, allowing you to sit for the exams. Most firms want you to have the 225 required for licensure before you begin working for them.

Q.  If I study abroad during my time at UCSB, will those credits count towards the CPA?

A.  Yes. Courses that you take during a study abroad program that is run through UCSB will show up on your official UCSB transcript and as long as the course titles meet the CPA requirements, they will apply. Most commonly, students can find classes that count toward their Business-Related Subjects (Economics), or towards the total 225 units needed for licensure.

Q. Do classes taken on a Pass/No Pass basis count toward the CPA course requirements?

A.  Yes, they do count as long as you Pass. We advise that all of your Accounting courses are taken for a letter grade, as this is what firms want to see.

Q.  Do both upper division and lower division classes count toward the CPA course requirements?

A.  Yes, both levels of coursework count. There are currently no requirements that any of the courses be upper division courses.

Q.  Can I list a class more than once on the planning worksheet?

A.  No, course can only be listed once.

Q.  Do courses taken through the UCSB Extension meet the CPA course requirements?

A. Yes, they do count towards your total 225, and may count towards specific requirements if they have the appropriate course title.

Q. If I have taken the same class at two different institutions (like a Community College and UCSB), will all of the units count toward the requirements?

A. Yes. Because ​the Community College coursework will be documented on a separate transcript from the UCSB transcript, you are allowed to count all of the units (make sure if it's a semester institution that you convert the units to quarter units by multiplying by 1.5). If you repeat the same course at the same school, however, you cannot count the units twice.

Q. Do Advanced Placement (AP) credits that I took in high school count toward the CPA?

A. Yes, these AP credits will count towards the total 225 credits that you need for licensure, however, these credit will not meet the specific Accounting, Business-Related, or Ethics requirements.

Q. Even with planning and taking the Extension CPA Prep Program, I am going to fall short of the CPA course requirements by one or two courses. What should I do?

A.  Many students are in this situation. We recommend that students consider taking classes at local Community Colleges or UCSB Extension in the summer and fall after graduation. Many of these classes are offered online and can be flexible to meet your post-graduation schedule.

Q. Do I have to be in the Economics & Accounting major to get my CPA?

A.  Not necessarily. We advise that the best way to get your requirements for the CPA at UCSB is to be in the Economics & Accounting major at CPA. You will not be able to take Upper Division Accounting Courses at UCSB unless you are in the major, so if you are not in the major you will need to find another way to get your Accounting Subjects and Accounting Study requirements fulfilled. You can do the UCSB Extension Professional Accounting Program, UCSB Extension Strategic Business Program, and the UCSB ​Professional Preparation Program for Accounting, or you can take classes at another college or university. Another option is to go for a Masters in Accountancy, which UCSB does not offer, but other schools like like Cal Poly or USC do.


Looking for a job or internship? FOLLOW OUR BLOG!

This is where we post all of our opportunities (vetted by Career Connection).