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Certified Public Accountant


Licensed accounting professionals - called certified public accountants (CPAs) or public accountants (PAs) - prepare, evaluate, and attest to the accuracy and completeness of financial statements and related information. Only a licensed CPA or PA may perform the attest function in New York State. CPAs and PAs may also provide tax planning, financial advisory and management advisory services. These particular services may also be provided by unlicensed individuals in NYS. The term "public" in the CPA and PA titles typically refers to third-party reliance on the integrity of the financial information presented by the licensed accountant. However, CPAs and PAs may also be employed in private industry, government, not-for-profit and educational institutions where they apply their professional skills and knowledge to help ensure that the employing entities books, records, management and financial operations are maintained in a manner consistent with applicable standards.

Licensing Requirements

To be licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in New York State you must:

  • be of good moral character;
  • be at least 21 years of age;
  • meet education requirements;
  • meet examination requirements; and
  • meet experience requirements.

The specific requirements for licensure are contained in Title 8, Article 149, Section 7404 of New York's Education Law and Part 70 of the Commissioner's Regulations.

Education Requirements

150-Semester Hour Pathway

To fulfill the education requirement for licensure as a 150 semester hour pathway:

  • NYS Licensure Qualifying Registered Programs. You must complete an accounting program registered by the Department as licensure-qualifying or
  • AACSB Programs. You must complete an accounting program that is accredited by an accrediting body accepted by the Department. Currently, the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is accepted. The school must be accredited in business and accounting by AACSB. Receipt of a Master's degree in accounting from such a program will be deemed as meeting New York's 150 semester hour education requirements. For a listing of institutions accredited by AACSB in business and accounting, click here. Accounting and business approved schools will have checkmarks in both columns.
  • All other programs. You must meet the requirements that are determined by the Department to be equivalent to a NYS Licensure Qualifying Registered Program.

Requirements for equivalent programs for individuals who have not completed a NYS Registered Program or received a Master’s degree in accounting from an AACSB institution that is accredited in business and accounting:

  • A bachelors or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university and completion of 150 semester hours in the following content areas
  • 33 semester hours in accounting with at least one course in each of the following areas (1) to (4)
    1. financial accounting and reporting;
    2. cost or managerial accounting
    3. taxation; and
    4. auditing and attestation services;
    5. fraud examination;
    6. internal controls and risk assessment; and
    7. accounting information systems.
  • 36 semester hours in general business electives in any combination of the following areas:
    1. business statistics;
    2. business law;
    3. computer science;
    4. economics;
    5. finance;
    6. management;
    7. marketing;
    8. operations management;
    9. organizational behavior;
    10. business strategy;
    11. quantitative methods; and
    12. information technology and systems.
  • The curriculum must also include, either as stand-alone courses or integrated into other courses, the study of business or accounting communications, ethics and professional responsibility, and accounting research.

120-Semester Hour Pathway

  • Applicants Not Licensed in Another State. Applicants who are not licensed in another state as a CPA must have applied for licensure and completed their education prior to August 1, 2009 to be considered grandparented into this pathway. If the education was not approved under this pathway, it may be reviewed by the Department to determine eligibility. Applicants who did not satisfy both requirements by August 1, 2009 are required to file under the 150-semester hour pathway.
  • Applicants Licensed in Another State. Applicants who were licensed in another state prior to August 2009 and cannot certify 4 years of experience within the last 10 years may apply under the 120 Semester Hour Pathway regardless of when they apply. If an applicant was licensed after August 2009, they must file under the 150 Semester Hour Pathway or the Endorsement Pathway if they have been licensed for at least 4 years with the appropriate post-license experience.

NOTE: Applicants under the 120-semester hour pathway who have completed additional coursework may request to have their education re-evaluated to determine if they meet the 150-semester hour pathway.

Foreign Education

Applicants who completed any of their post-secondary (college) education outside of the United States and did not complete a NYS Licensure Qualifying Profession or an AACSB program as outline above will be required to have a full review of their education for licensure.

Experience Requirements

Acceptable experience may be earned in a public accounting firm, government, private industry or an educational institution. The experience can be in one of the following service areas: accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, taxation, or consulting skills. The experience must be gained under the supervision of a U.S. certified public accountant who is properly licensed and registered or authorized to practice in the jurisdiction of their principal place of business. If a CPA supervisor was not properly licensed or registered or authorized to practice in the state where they practiced, the experience cannot be accepted.

Examination Requirements

New York State recognizes the Uniform CPA Examination, prepared and graded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). In New York, the examination is administered by CPA Examination Services, a division of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

The examination is a computerized examination consisting of four parts:

  • Auditing & Attestation
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Regulation
  • Business Environment and Concepts

The passing score for each of the four examination parts is 75. An applicant must successfully pass all parts of the examination within a (rolling) eighteen (18) month window. The applicant may sit for parts individually, once during each calendar quarter.

Fees: (as of November 2, 2016)

The fee for licensure is $377.

Licenses Issued and Active

In 2014, there were 2,594 licenses issued for this occupation.
In 2013, there were 3,282 licenses issued for this occupation.

Licensing Authority

New York State Education Department
Office of the Professions
Division of Professional Licensing Services
CPA Unit
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12234
Phone: (518) 474-3817 Ext. 270

Standard Occupational Classification

13-2011 - Accountants
To learn more about this occupation search the Occupational Information Network (O*Net).


Fees stated and other information contained in this report are subject to change. Please contact the licensing authority listed above for the most current information.

This page was last updated on 11/10/16.

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