Accounting Resources

Here is a brief overview of the journey to Certified Public Accountant licensure!

Click the images to access Accounting Resources documents. 


Frequently Asked Questions 


What is a CPA?

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.

How Do I Become a CPA?

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:

What are the CPA Educational Requirements?

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)

What resources are available to me as a UCSD student?

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.

How can I meet the CPA requirements at UC San Diego?

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
    • Management Science
    • International Studies - International Business
    • International Studies - Economics
    • Math
    • Joint Math-Econ
    • Computer Science

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 Courses

  • One 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

What are alternatives to being a CPA?

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.

Do you have concerns about your eligibility to work or hold an accounting internship in the U.S.?

International students can ask the UCSD International Students & Programs Office and the UCSD Career Services Center about pursuing a career in the U.S. after graduation.

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, visit the Undocumented Student Services website for more resources.

Can Rady perform an audit for CPA requirements?

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.