Is it possible to become a CPA without a degree in Accounting? Yes, it is possible for non-accountants and non-accounting majors to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). It’s just getting a lot harder than it used to be.
Let’s take a look at how you can become a CPA if you are not an accounting major and don’t have an accounting degree. It’s a little tricky, but it can still be done.
Non-Accountants’ Guide to Becoming a CPA
- 1.Becker CPA Review Course Endorsed by Big 4 Accounting Firms
- 2.Surgent CPA Prep Course Best Technology + Save $1,100
- 3.Gleim CPA Review Course Most Task-Based Simulations
- 4.Roger CPA Review Courses Best for Engaging Video Lectures
CPA Educational Requirements for Non-Accounting Majors
Minimum Accounting Education Requirements
I’m sure you know by now that the CPA credential is regulated by individual states. This means that each state sets its own requirements and rules for the certification process. Here’s a general guideline for how these CPA requirements typically work.
Most states require that CPA candidates have a bachelor’s degree in accounting in order to sit for the exam, but not all of them. This means that you have to sit for the exam in one of these states.
At the moment Maine, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Alaska don’t require you to have an accounting degree. Keep in mind that you don’t actually have to take the exam in the state that you are planning to become certified. You can take the exam at any Prometric testing center in the country regardless of whether it is in your state or not.
All four of these states have slightly different requirements, however. Some are better than others. Let’s go through the list.
Maine only requires 15 credits of accounting classes, but it also has much more stringent experience requirements. Candidates must fulfill at least 4,000 hours of relevant work supervised by a CPA before they can become certified.
Hawaii requires 18 credit hours of accounting coursework and has relatively loose experience requirements.
Massachusetts requires 21 credit hours of accounting classes and has extra rules about which courses must be included in these 21 credit hours.
Georgia requires 20 credit hours of accounting courses and 18 credit hours of which have to be deemed upper-level classes. This means that remedial courses like accounting 101 and 102 don’t count toward the 18 credit hours.
Alaska is probably the most friendly non-accounting major state because it requires less than 15 credit hours of accounting as long as the candidate can earn 1 year of work experience before he or she is certified.
Update: Confused about your accounting experience requirements? NASBA has a feature on their website called Experience Verification that allows you to more easily track your progress completing this requirement!
Fulfilling the 150 Credit Requirement
Most states have adopted the 150-college credit hour rule that requires candidates to earn at least 150 college credit hours before they can be certified. This is actually a good thing for non-accounting majors because it gives them a chance to earn some of the accounting requirements that they didn’t earn in their undergraduate degree program.
If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, you should use these additional college credits needed to reach the 150-rule to get all of your accounting classes finished.
There are two good ways to do this. You can either simply take more accounting classes at the undergraduate level or you can apply for a graduate-level business degree like an MBA. Once in the graduate program, simply take as many applicable accounting courses as you can.
CPA for Non-Accountants – Work Experience Requirements
Gaining the necessary accounting experience for candidates who don’t have an accounting degree and have never worked as an accountant can be kind of difficult. I would recommend that you check with your state board to see what they accept as work experience.
You would be surprised. Some states are very lenient when it comes to work experience while others are really strict. The lenient ones will allow you to work any job in an accounting firm and some will even allow you to work in academia or the government. The more strict states often require that you work directly under a licensed and practicing CPA doing audit work.
Check with your state board to see what will pass as experience and try to find a job doing that.
Get Discounts On CPA Review Courses!
Save $1,100 off Surgent CPA Ultimate Pass!
Gleim CPA Premium Review Discount – Save $400
Save $310 – Fast Forward Academy CPA Discount
SAVE $165 On Yaeger CPA Review
Crush Exclusive: Save $200 off Universal CPA Review
Roger CPA Review Save $570 off Premier!
Roger CPA Review Save $300 off Premier!
Lambers CPE: 20% off 2-Year & 10% off 1-Year
Surgent EA Ultimate Pass Review Coupon Code – Save
Surgent EA Premier Pass Review Coupon Code – Save
$340 off Surgent CMA Ultimate Pass Review!
Gleim CMA Premium Review Discount – Save $160
Save 15% OFF PPI2PASS SE Review Material Discount Code
Save 15% OFF PPI2PASS PE Review Material Discount Code
Save 15% OFF PPI2PASS FE Review Material Discount Code
Save 25% OFF Aceable Agent Real Estate School
Save 40% off The CE Shop Real Estate
Save 20% OFF Prep Agent Real Estate Course!
10% Off AYPO Real Estate
10% OFF 360training Real Estate Pre-License and Exam Prep
10% goleansixsigma.com Discount (Black,Yellow,Green,White,Lean)
Save $725 off Surgent CPA Premier Pass!
Save $350 off Surgent CPA Essential Pass!
PM PrepCast CAPM Discount
$240 off Surgent CMA Review Premier Pass
$100 off Surgent CIA Review Course
Get 20% OFF CMA Exam Academy!
Save 10% on Grey Campus Self-Learning Courses
Save 10% on Grey Campus Live-Online and Live
The Agile PrepCast Elite for PMI-ACP Discount
Surgent EA Premier Pass Review Coupon Code – Save
Save $31 Gleim EA Review
Save $300 & Get 1-Year FREE Continuing Education of
Get 1-Year FREE Continuing Education of Enrolled Agent Review
Brain Sensei $25 OFF PMP Course!
Brain Sensei $17.50 OFF CAPM Course!
$50 off Exams PM Live Course
Save $50 off LSATMax Prep Course
Save $400 with LSATmax 10 hour Tutoring Package
Alpha Score LSAT Coupon Code
Princeton Review Ultimate LSAT Test Prep Promo Code –
Save $150 On Kaplan LSAT
$74 Off Sybex Platinum PMP Review Course!
10% OFF ExamsPM Offer (PMP or CAPM Certification)
Save 10% off Bar Prep Hero Bar Review Products!
Save 10% or up to $100 off Quimbee Bar
Princeton Review Ultimate GMAT Test Prep Promo Code –
Save up to $200 on Kaplan DAT
Take 10% OFF AdaptPrep CFA® Level 1, 2, and
Princeton Review CFA® Test Prep Promo Code – Save
$48 Off Gleim CIA Review Discount
Save 10% off Series Exam Prep at Securities Institute
Roger CPA Financing Offer
Got CPA Exam Questions? Get Answers!
Princeton Review Ultimate DAT Test Prep Promo Code –
(PMBOK)Project Management Certification. Save 30%
Save $50 OFF AdaptPrep CFA® Review
$200 Off Prep Expert SAT Courses!
$200 Off Prep Expert ACT Review Course!
20% off OnCourse Learning Mortgage Education
Can Economics and Finance Majors Become CPAs?
Yes, people with Economics and Finance degrees can become CPAs if they meet the minimum educational and work experience requirements that we talked about above, but it’s not easy.
The hardest part for these candidates to get certified is their accounting education. Most Econ and Finance majors don’t take many accounting classes in college. Thus, they will need to go back and pick up the minimum amount of hours in order to meet the exam requirements.
Both Econ and Finance majors are probably best off getting an MBA to fulfill these requirements. This will also help their careers in the long run anyway. Econ/Finance degree + MBA + CBA = mad cash.
Any Accounting Certification Alternatives to the CPA?
Yes, non-accounting majors have a few other options for accounting certifications if they don’t want to go through the requirements of becoming a CPA. The two main CPA alternatives that they can pursue are the CFA and CMA designations.
Chartered Financial Analysts typically work in the finance and investment industry determining where hedge funds should invest their capital. An alternative route to consider if this isn’t your cup of tea is getting a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. You’ll want to make sure you understand the different requirements between an MBA vs CFA before you choose.
Certified Management Accountants are internal controllers who run the operations and financials of a company. These professionals typically fulfill the role of the COO or CFO in a company.
Keep in mind that neither of these designations takes the place of the CPA certification. Neither can perform audit or tax functions that a CPA can.
Become a CPA without an Accounting Degree
My recommendation is to go for it. It’s not easy to get your CPA license without an accounting degree, but it is completely doable. Plus, it’s never going to be easier. Eventually, all states will require a bachelor’s degree in accounting to sit for the exam. A word to the wise– get it while you can. You won’t regret it.
If you are seriously considering getting your CPA license, you will need to prepare for the exam. The best way to get prepared is to get a proper CPA review course. I’ve used and reviewed all the top courses and analyzed which one will work for you based on your study style, budget, and schedule. Here’s a list. Check them out to see which one will work for you.