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Frequently Asked Questions
A CPA is a Certified Public Accountant who is licensed by the state. A CPA license grants access to a wide variety of high-level accounting professions in every branch of the field. Not all accountants are CPAs, but a CPA license opens a door to additional career opportunities.
UCSD students who plan ahead can meet the educational requirements for CPA licensure by the time of graduation. The California Board of Accountancy website provides full details about the requirements for first-time applicants:CPA Exam Applicant Handbook
CPA Licensing Applicant Handbook
The CPA Educational Requirement is split into four categories:Accounting Subjects - 36 Quarter Units
Business-related Subjects - 36 Quarter Units
Accounting Study- 30 Quarter Unit
Ethics Study - 15 Quarter Units
In addition to fulfilling the four educational requirement categories, students need a total of 225 quarter units of education. Along with the Education Requirement, students will also need:1 Year Work Experience Under a Licensed CPA
Pass CPA Exam (four separate exams)
The California Board of Accountancy developed an online tool to help students determine if they have met the educational requirements for the CPA license. It's called the "Self Assessment Worksheet." You can find this tool on the CBA link below. Additionally, Rady has developed a similar tool to help students assess their progress.Developed by the California Board of Accountancy:CBA Self-Assessment Worksheet
Developed for UCSD Students:
Self Assessment Tool for UCSD Students - Excel Worksheet
Example of Completed Self Assessment Tool for UCSD Students - Excel Worksheet
CBA Tip Sheet with Notes for UCSD Students
Find specific information about what courses are required on the CPA Board's Tip Sheet. Review the Tip Sheet while you read the information below.Semester and quarter units are weighted differently (semester units x 1.5 = quarter units).
The "Accounting Subjects" and "Business Related Subjects" sections must be completed before you are eligible to sit for the first CPA exam.
The "Accounting Study" and "Ethics Study" sections do not need to be completed before you take the CPA Exam. However, you must complete them before you apply for your CPA License.
Helpful CalCPA Guide
How UCSD Students Can Meet CPA Educational Requirements
Quick Guide to CPA Licensure
Accounting Subjects: 36 units = 9 Accounting courses (Accounting Minor + 2 additional Accounting Electives)Complete the accounting minor required courses (7 classes) AND
Complete the 2 of the optional accounting electives (MGT133, MGT134, MGT137, MGT139, MGT147)
Business Related Subjects: 36 units = 9 Business-related courses (i.e. ECON, MATH, CSE, MGT)Many students will fulfill this requirement with their major studies courses.
common Majors for students pursuing a CPA License are:Economics
International Studies - International Business
International Studies - Economics
Accounting Study: 30 Units = 3 accounting courses + 5 business-related courses
Rady Undergraduate Programs has many optional accounting electives. Students should take 3 more optional accounting courses (cannot overlap with accounting minor) at UCSD. The optional accounting elective classes are:MGT 133: Advanced Cost Accounting
MGT 134: Federal Taxation- Individuals
MGT 137: Financial Statement Analysis
MGT 139: Accounting Information Systems
MGT 147: Not-for-profit and Government Accounting
MGT 146: Ethics in Accounting (should apply this class to ethics requirement)
PLUS - 5 additional Business Related courses (ECON, MATH, MGT, CSE, etc.)
Students can also take these classes at another school, in a Master's in Accounting degree program, at a community college, at another university, or at a continuing education program such as UCSD Extension. The remaining units for this section may be additional business and General Education classes.
Ethics Study: 15 Units = 4 Ethics CoursesOne accounting ethics or accountants' professional responsibilities course
Two courses from recommended list below:MGT16: Personal Ethics at Work
MGT164: Business and Organizational Leadership
MGT166: Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility
MGT117: Business Law
One course in introductory Theology, Religion or Philosophy
Please review the Educational Requirement Sheet for a complete list of subjects
An accounting minor prepares students for an entry-level job in accounting or an accounting-related field. Not all accountants are CPAs, and there is a wide range of rewarding career options out there for non-CPAs, including managerial accounting, banking, financial analysis, information systems accounting or even small business ownership.
Some of these professions may have their own professional designations obtained through a combination of examination and experience requirements similar to the Uniform CPA Examination. Popular specialties include Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Chartered Financial Analystt (CFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), to name a few. Each specialty requires its own unique set of skills; however, all are built on a solid foundation of accounting.
Additionally, students who have work authorization through DACA or have concerns about their eligibility to work or hold an accounting internship in the U.S. should feel free to contact the Undocumented Student Services Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the Undocumented Student Services website for more resources.
Unfortunately, Rady is not able to complete an audit for you. However, we would be happy to review your self-assessment sheet and answer any questions or concerns about the courses in our program. For classes taken outside of UCSD, we are unable to evaluate whether a certain class can count or not. For more information about how to complete a self-assessment, visit our Self- Assessment Resource page.
Review our Career Resources for Undergraduates Guide for more information on preparation for a career in Accounting.