Certified public accountant certification and exam requirements

Many accountants strive for the certified public accountant (CPA) designation to further their careers. The Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business accounting curriculum helps students form a solid foundation and skill set to prepare them for success, including passing the CPA exam.

The requirements to sit for the CPA Exam are separate from the requirements to become a licensed CPA in the State of Michigan. Details for each are listed below.

Michigan CPA exam requirements

  • Baccalaureate degree with a minimum of 120 credit hours from an accredited institution, with the following required subjects:
    • 24 credits of General Business, other than accounting which may include the following subjects: business communications, business ethics, business law, economics, finance, management, marketing, information systems or technology, quantitative methods, statistics and other subjects approved by department.
    • 24 credits of Accounting that must include the following areas: accounting information systems, auditing and attestation services, cost or managerial accounting, financial accounting and reporting, governmental or fund accounting, U.S. taxation.
  • Baccalaureate degree in another discipline, provided student has taken at least 24 semester hours of accounting subjects, including Auditing, Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Accounting Systems and Controls, Governmental/fund accounting, and U.S. taxation, but not more than 6 semester hours of taxation, AND at least 24 semester hours of general business subjects.
  • The following courses at WSU will meet the accounting content requirements to sit for the CPA exam:
    • Auditing: ACC 5996 or ACC 7180
    • Financial Accounting: ACC 5100 and ACC 5110 and ACC 5115, or ACC 7100.
    • Managerial Accounting: ACC 5160 or BA 7000
    • Accounting Systems and Controls: ACC 5130 or ACC 7145
    • Governmental/fund accounting: ACC 5180 or ACC 7188
    • U.S. Taxation Introduction: ACC 5170 or ACC 7120
  • Although not specifically required to be eligible to sit for the exam, it is recommended that students planning to sit for the exam also consider taking the following courses:
    • Students who take ACC 7100 should consider also taking ACC 7115.
    • Advanced Accounting I: ACC 5120 or ACC 7122
    • Cost Accounting, Control & Analysis: ACC 7130
    • Corporate Tax: ACC 5270 or ACC 7320
    • Business Law II: ACC 5190 or ACC 7220
  • Internship for credit, ACC 5890 and ACC 7990, count toward the 150 credits but do not count as either accounting credits or general business credits.
  • Educational requirements must be completed within 30 days following the day of the examination for which the candidate sits.
  • For more exam information, visit NASBA International Evaluation Services.
  • Candidates with foreign education credentials MUST have the credentials evaluated by either NASBA International Evaluation Services or by a member of the National Association of Credentials Evaluation Services. Visit those sites to learn more about how to obtain evaluation of educational credentials.

Michigan CPA licensure requirements

  • Effective July 1, 2003, certificate applicants must have completed 150 semester hours of college education, passed the uniform CPA exam, and obtained one year of qualifying accounting experience.
  • The 150 semester hours of college education must include:
    • 30 semester hours of accounting subjects, including not more than six semester hours of taxation, and
    • 39 semester hours in general business courses, including a minimum of 3 semester hours, but not more than 12 semester hours, in at least five of the following areas: Business Law, Economics, Ethics, Finance, Management, Marketing, Taxation, Statistics, and Business Policy.
    • If you have a master's degree with a concentration in accounting, you must simply have at least 150 semester hours of college credit. There are no further educational requirements beyond those to sit for the CPA exam, namely 24 credits in accounting and 24 credits in other business subjects.
  • A concentration in accounting is defined as twelve semester credits of graduate accounting courses, excluding information systems and tax classes.
  • Applicants must have passed all four parts of the uniform CPA exam within a rolling 30-month period.

CPA exam administration

The CPA exam is administered via computer and the four parts of the exam may be taken separately. The CPA exam consists of three core sections: Accounting (FAR), Audit (AUD) and Tax (REG) and one of the following discipline sections: Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR), OR Tax Compliances (TCP), OR Information Systems and Controls (ISC).

More information on the computerized exam is available from the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

Experience qualification

Applicants must also have a minimum of 2,000 hours of qualifying experience must be accumulated within a span not less than one calendar year but not exceeding five calendar years.

Qualifying experience can be acquired through employment in government, industry, academia, or the public sector.

Does the qualifying experience need to be verified?

The experience needs to be verified by a certified public accountant (CPA). Any questions concerning the work experience requirements should be directed to the Michigan State Board of Accountancy, Tel: 517-241-9249 or www.nasba.org. 

Additional resources