Pennsylvania CPA Exam Requirements 2024: The Important Factors

Pennsylvania CPA Exam Requirements

Share This...

Pennsylvania CPA Exam Requirements

The Pennsylvania CPA Exam Requirements might be confusing. That’s why we gather all the information to make it easy. If you are an aspiring accountant in Pennsylvania, we are here to discuss what you need to become a successful CPA in Pennsylvania.

How to Save Yourself MONTHS of Time and Frustration
Keep in mind that the CPA exam is the one part of getting your CPA license that you can control how long it takes. The education and experience requirements take as long as they take, but the CPA exams can take you as little as 6 months, or as long as multiple years… depending on how effective your study process is from the beginning.
Learn how to study strategically so you can save yourself tons of time and retake fees with this free training…

Summary of Pennsylvania CPA Requirements

Credit Hours to sit for the CPA Exam120
Character References to sit for the CPA Exam3 Individuals including 1 CPA
Bachelor’s Degree to sit for the CPA ExamYes
Total Credits Hours of Accounting and Auditing, Business Law, Finance or Tax Subjects to sit for the CPA Exam24
Total Credit Hours to receive CPA License150
Work Experience required to receive a CPA License1,600 Hours

General Requirements

The three E’s of a licensed Pennsylvania CPA Exam Requirements are education, examination, and experience. Most states also need an ethics test, but the Keystone State does not have one. Instead, for accountants in Pennsylvania to be licensed as Certified Public Accountants, they would need to be at least 18 years old and have a Social Security number. You don’t have to be a US citizen to work as a certified public accountant. The state requires 150 semester hours for your CPA license but just 120 hours (including your bachelor’s degree) to sit for the CPA exam.

The State Board of Accountancy does not require the completion of specialized accounting courses. The Pennsylvania CPA exam requirements demand approaches in accounting, auditing, taxation, finance, and company law with content acceptable to the board. Only the board can decide which courses are good. Specific techniques are essential for exam preparation and should be taken, and the references to particular classes in the sections below represent our opinion of the required courses.

Educational Requirements for the CPA Exam in Pennsylvania

The academic criteria will qualify most of your time and effort in the licensing application. Before beginning a course of study, make sure you know the Pennsylvania CPA education requirements to be on track for licensing. You will require 150 semester hours to get complete licensing, including a bachelor’s degree, as in many other states. Your credits must also come from a national association organization recognized by the United States. Education Department If you hold a degree from a foreign university, you must have your work reviewed by one of the following organizations:

  • Foreign Academic Credentials Services, Inc.
  • Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc.
  • Josef Silny & Associates, Inc.
  • NASBA International Evaluation Services

Your coursework must also meet specific Pennsylvania CPA Exam Requirements. You cannot, for example, count any course credit analysis whose title includes the terms “money” or “banking.” Still, you may consist of any online, CLEP, or community college courses that transfer to a 4-year university accredited. You must also complete 24 hours of accounting coursework, which must contain the following topics:

  • Three hours of General Accounting
  • Three hours of Business Law, Auditing, or Finance
  • Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Tax subjects
  • Audit
  • Finance

Despite the fact that the Pennsylvania CPA exam requirement for credit hours to sit for the exam is only 120 hours, you should consider pursuing a master’s degree after completing your bachelor’s degree. Continue your accounting studies with a Master in Accountancy (MAcc) or a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree that includes enough accounting courses to satisfy the Pennsylvania board.

Additional Educational Programs to Meet Exam Requirements

Examination of credentials and reporting results has several options for meeting the Pennsylvania CPA Exam requirements. We cover four possibilities:

Option 1: Undergraduate Accounting Degree as First Degree Completed

Obtaining an undergraduate accounting degree is the clearest Pennsylvania CPA exam requirements preparation strategy. A student might fulfill the bulk of the needed credits at Penn State Harrisburg with an accounting degree. The extra credits could come from a graduate degree (e.g., MBA or master of science in accounting).

Option 2: Undergraduate Accounting Degree as Second Degree Completed

A student who returns to school with a degree in an area other than accounting may be able to pursue an accounting degree. This approach will most likely need at least four semesters. Additional management, marketing, economics, and non-business courses might add 30 credits.

Option 3: Undergraduate Degree in another Area, with Additional Coursework in Accounting

A student returning to school with a prior degree other than business might complete the 36 credit hours in accounting, finance, and business law. Because of the scheduling of accounting courses, this option is unlikely to be completed in fewer than four semesters. A student interested in this option can apply to Penn State Harrisburg as a non-degree or degree student.

Option 4: Graduate Courses

Undergraduates with an accounting degree who are not near the 150 credit hours required for certification may be an appealing choice for a master’s degree. Penn State World Campus is launching an online M.B.A. (master of business administration) or M.S. (master of science) program. (Master of Science) in accounting, Up to nine undergraduate credits that were not used to fulfill the criteria for the undergraduate degree may be added to the graduate degree.

CPA Exam Application

CPA Examination Services (CPAES), a division of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, Inc. (NASBA), has been contracted by the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy (Board) to handle application processing, credential evaluation, and score reporting.

First-time applications must be completed by candidates who:

  • I have never taken the Uniform CPA Examination as a candidate in this jurisdiction.
  • Have previously applied but were found ineligible or incomplete to take the examination as an applicant of this jurisdiction.
  • I have previously taken the Pennsylvania CPA exam requirements as an applicant of another jurisdiction but have not earned credit.
  • I have previously taken the examination as an applicant of another state and wish to transfer credit to this jurisdiction.
  • Have not completed the examination within five years

You will get a Notice to Schedule after your transcripts have been approved. You have six months from that moment to appear for the first portion of the exam—whichever component comes first is up to you. Prometric is the testing agency that helps with the Pennsylvania CPA exam requirements. In Pennsylvania, there are several testing facilities. You may find one in the following cities:

  • Clarks Summit
  • Harrisburg
  • Lancaster
  • Conshohocken
  • Allentown
  • Monroeville
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania CPA Exam Cost Breakdown

The Pennsylvania CPA exam cost consists of four main fees: an education evaluation application fee of $90 and $344.80 per CPA exam section totaling $1,379.20 for all four sections. As for licensing, the initial CPA registration will cost $60 and the biennial CPA license renewal fee is $100.

Education Evaluation Application Fee$90.00
Auditing and Attestation (AUD)$344.80
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)$344.80
Regulation (REG)$344.80
Disciplines (ISC, TCP, or BAR)$344.80
Total for all 4 CPA Exam Sections$1,379.20
Initial CPA License Fee$65.00
Biennial Renewal of License Fee$100.00

All first-time applicants are required to pay both an application fee and an examination fee upon submission of the first-time application. All re-examination applicants are required to pay both a registration fee and an examination fee at the time of re-exam registration.

Uniform CPA Examination

The CPA exam consists of the three core sections and candidates would need to select one of the three discipline to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge, allowing candidates to choose a specialization. There is no set order in which the exam portions must be completed. The components of the CPA test are as follows:

  • Auditing and Attestation. This exam section covers the basics of financial and attest services, such as audits, reviews, compilations, and preparing agreements.
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting. This exam section covers financial accounting topics for all business entities, including the government and nonprofits.
  • Regulation. This exam section covers federal taxation, tax services, professional ethics, and business law for individuals and business entities.
  • Disciplines
    • Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR): Focused on financial reporting, data analytics, and performance management. This area is suitable for those who are interested in financial analysis and reporting. An extension of FAR core.
    • Information Systems and Controls (ISC): Concentrates on IT governance, data security, and system controls. Ideal for individuals who wish to specialize in IT audits and information security. An extension of AUD core.
    • Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP): Centers on personal financial planning and tax compliance for individuals, businesses, and other entities. Suitable for those with a strong interest in taxation and financial planning. An extension of REG core.

You may take the required test sections in any order, but you must pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination within an 18-month period beginning on the date the first examination section completed was taken. All components must be passed within the 18-month term. Any exam taken outside of the 18-month timeframe will result in a loss of credit.

Pennsylvania Experience Requirements for the CPA License

After you’ve passed the Pennsylvania CPA exam requirements, you still must fulfill Pennsylvania CPA experience requirements to become a qualified, licensed CPA.

1. Complete the appropriate experiential Pennsylvania CPA Exam Requirements for the degree you hold. The Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy requires you to have one year (1600 hours) of experience in either private enterprise or federal, state, or local government. This job experience must be accomplished within five years of the date you apply for a Pennsylvania CPA Certificate. A certified CPA must validate your knowledge.

2. Claim any type of employment except the following:

  • Self-employment
  • Work you performed as a partner in a partnership
  • Work you performed under the supervision ion of an unlicensed CPA
  • Work you performed for another independent accounting firm not listed as your direct supervisor

Competencies that should be incorporated into your practical experience include:

  • Audits of financial statements
  • Operational and compliance audits
  • Independent internal audits
  • Compiling financial statements
  • Attestation engagements
  • Preparing income and non-profit tax returns
  • Tax research
  • Financial projections, analyses, and forecasts
  • Management advisory services

Responsibilities of the Verifying CPA

  • The CPA must have held a current license during the applicant’s work experience
  • The CPA must have personally evaluated the applicant’s work experience.
  • The CPA must have either employed the applicant or been employed with the applicant at the same firm.
  • The CPA must document appropriate knowledge to the proper categories on the Verification of Experience Form.
  • The CPA must enter the applicant’s dates of employment.
  • The CPA must sign the form and provide their license number (if a license is from out-of-state, enclose a copy of the current request)
  • The CPA must return the completed form directly to the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy

A baccalaureate or higher degree from a college or university accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education (includes regional and national accrediting agencies) and having completed a total of 150-semester credits of post-secondary education, including at least 24-semester credits of accounting and auditing, business law, finance, or tax subjects of a content satisfactory to the board and an additional:

  • At least 1,600 hours of qualifying experience in the 60 months it was preceding the application date, which included providing any service or advice involving the use of accounting, attestation, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax subjects, or consulting skills gained through employment in government, industry, academia, or public practice.
  • The 1,600 hours of qualifying experience must be accumulated over 12 months.
  • 12 semester hours in accounting, auditing, and tax subjects of acceptable substance to the board, not necessarily as part of your undergraduate or graduate studies

The state requires you to complete 1,600 hours demonstrating skill in any combination of the following areas:

  • Attestation
  • Audits
  • Operational Audits
  • Compiling financial statements
  • Tax research
  • Financial projections and analysis
  • Management advisory

Candidates may submit the Certified Public Accountant Certification Application, along with an application fee, through the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS) site once all other Pennsylvania CPA exam requirements have been satisfied. Education and experience verification must be supplied as part of the application. In addition, applicants must complete state and federal criminal reference checks from every state where they have lived, studied or worked in the last five years.

Apply for Your Pennsylvania CPA License

While most states require ethics before licensing, Pennsylvania candidates can become a CPA without it as there are no Pennsylvania CPA ethics exam requirements. However, part of the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirement is to attend 4 hours of acceptable professional ethics.

After passing the Uniform CPA Exam and meeting Pennsylvania’s work experience requirement, you will be certified and licensed to practice in the state. Use this checklist to see if you’ve done every one of the required tasks so far:

1. Checklist

  • Complete 150 semester hours of education and receive a bachelor’s degree or higher with 24 semester hours in accounting.
  • Apply and take the Uniform CPA Examination
  • Fulfill the necessary practical work experience requirements of 1600 hours (one year) of work experience
  • Complete the Verification of Experience Form, give it to your supervising CPA to complete, and make sure your supervising CPA . mails the form to the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy

2. Submit the Pennsylvania Certification Application.

Before this document may be submitted, all conditions listed above must be met. Begin by obtaining the Certified Public Accountant Certification Application from the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy website. The state of Pennsylvania refers to obtaining a CPA license as “certification.” Once certification is obtained by meeting all of the state’s requirements and completing this form, licensure is accepted.

Continue Professional Education in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy has a set number of continuing professional education (CPE) hours that must be completed every two years.

1. Fulfill 80 hours of CPE every two years, with a minimum of 20 credit hours taken in one year. Included within these hours must be:

  • 16 hours in accounting and attest
  • 8 hours in tax subjects
  • 4 hours of professional ethics

2. To qualify, programs must meet the following requirements:

  • The parameters of each CPE program must fall within the areas of advisory services, accounting and auditing, professional skills development, management, taxation, and specialized knowledge and applications
  • One hour of credit will be given for every 50 minutes of CPE class time
  • Non-interactive individual study programs will qualify for half CPE credit
  • Interactive individual study programs will be eligible for full CPE credit
  • Unique study programs must account for no more than 40 hours of the total 80 hours of CPE every two years
  • Publications, articles, and books may qualify for CPE if they relate directly to a CPA’s professional competence. Every 50 minutes of study time will be eligible for 25% of CPE credit. These materials may not account for more than 40 hours of the total 80 hours of CPE every two years
  • As of January 1, 2012, CPE credit will not be given for publications, articles, and books. If you plan to use a publication for CPE credit, it must be published before January 1, 2012.

3. After completing the course, you must keep records of the CPE you received for at least five years. This documentation must include: a certificate of completion, course material, and attendance verification if no certificate was issued, a certified transcript for college credit courses, a statement of hours completed in non-credit college courses signed by the instructor, publication information for any publications used for CPE credit, documentation of leadership or instruction of any discussion courses claimed for CPE credit, and documentation of supervision or instruction of any discussion courses claimed for CPE credit.


Becoming a CPA may improve your work opportunities and stand in the corporate community. You can expect to earn up to 15% more than the average accountant. Because each state has its requirements for an initial CPA license, it is critical to research on a state-by-state basis. However, these steps made it easier for you to earn your Certified Public Accountant license in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania CPA Exam F.A.Q.s

Here are some commonly asked questions regarding Pennsylvania’s CPA exam and CPA license requirements.

What Are the Requirements to Sit for the CPA Exam in Pennsylvania?

To sit for the CPA exam in Pennsylvania, you must be at least 18 years old, be of good moral character, and meet the education requirements which require at least 120 semester hours of college, a bachelor’s degree, as well as paying the applicable exam fees.

How Much Does It Cost to Take the CPA Exam in Pennsylvania?

The total cost of the CPA exam for an aspiring CPA in Pennsylvania is $1,469.20, this is considering that you pass all exams on the first try. The breakdown of the cost is $90 for the education evaluation application fee and $1,379.20 for all four sections of the exam ($344.80 per section).

How Do I Register to Take the CPA Exam in Pennsylvania?

For examination application contact: CPA Examination Services, P.O. Box 198689, Nashville, TN 37219-8689. Phone 1-800-272-3926. Completed applications are submitted directly to CPA Examination Services.

Do CPA Scores Expire in Pennsylvania?

Regardless of the state, once a CPA candidate passes their first CPA exam section, they then have 18 months to pass the remaining three CPA exam sections to complete the Uniform CPA Examination. Once a CPA candidate has passed the Uniform CPA Examination, their scores never expire in Pennsylvania.

How Long Does It Take to Get the CPA License in Pennsylvania?

While you can sit for the CPA exam once you have 120 semester hours, you will still need to attain the full 150 semester hours required nationwide. This is roughly five years of education, then one year to take and pass the CPA exam, and then one year to meet the experience requirement. That makes a total of 6-7 years to get your CPA license. Once you have met all the requirements and have submitted your application to receive your CPA license from the Pennsylvania State Board of Public Accountancy, if approved you will receive your license in the mail within 3-4 weeks.

How Many Accounting Credits Do you Need to Sit for the CPA License in Pennsylvania?

You must complete 24 hours of accounting coursework, which must contain three hours of general accounting, three hours of business law, auditing, or finance, and any combination of accounting, business law, tax, audit or finance for the remaining 18 semester hours.

Does Pennsylvania Require an Ethics Exam for the CPA?

No, the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy does not require an ethics exam to become a CPA but the CPE requirement for renewal every 2 years will require four hours of professional ethics.

Other Posts You'll Like...

Want to Pass as Fast as Possible?

(and avoid failing sections?)

Watch one of our free "Study Hacks" trainings for a free walkthrough of the SuperfastCPA study methods that have helped so many candidates pass their sections faster and avoid failing scores...