Becoming a CPA

The requirements for CPA certification (i.e., obtaining an initial CPA license in Louisana) include education, examination, and experience requirements which are briefly summarized as follows:

Education:   In Louisiana, you must have 150 hours of college education with concentrations in accounting and business courses as described in detail below.  Accounting programs at Louisiana universities are generally designed so that graduates with degrees in accounting will have completed the necessary accounting and business concentrations to qualify as a Louisiana candidate, but you should check with your academic advisor.  If you are moving to another state to work after college, you should consider the education requirements in that state and/or consult with its board of accountancy before you finish your college education.  Examination:  After obtaining the required education, you must successfully complete the Uniform CPA examination.   Experience:  Experience is not required to sit for the CPA exam.  But, you must have the necessary one (1) year of qualifying experience verified by a licensed CPA in order to obtain your CPA certificate (license).  At least one year of experience must be confirmed by employers and verified by a licensed CPA who is in a position to know, that was within the four years preceding the date of the license application.  The experience must involve the use of accounting, attest, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills.  It must be of sufficient complexity and diversity, and be verified by a licensed CPA.  The experience may be from employment in public practice, private industry, non-profit, or government and must be at least one year of full-time or 2,000 hours part-time experience, or a combination of these.

CPA Examination Information for Louisiana Candidates

I.     Examination Application Requirements
II.    Residency Requirement
III.   Character Requirement
IV.   Educational Requirements
V.    Schools, Colleges, and Courses Recognized
VI.   CPA Examination Information
VII.  Attorneys
VIII. Transfer of Credits From Another State
IX.   Requirements for Issuance of a CPA Certificate
X.    Board Rules related to the CPA Examination -
Title 46 Professional and Occupational Standards Part XIX

  • Addendum: Acceptable Commercial Law Course Required to Sit for the CPA Exam in Louisiana
  • Attachment 1 Example


I. Examination Application Requirements

What are the requirements to take the Uniform CPA examination as a Louisiana candidate? You must:

• Be of good moral character; confirmed by personal references
• Meet the college educational requirements at the time of filing an application
• Meet the residency requirement
• File the current application form by the due date
• Pay application and  examination fees

Applications to take the Uniform CPA examination are available from:  CPA Examination Services (NASBA) at 1-800-CPA-EXAM (or 615-880-4250).  Website: www.nasba.org.  Contact the Louisiana Coordinator.

II. Residency Requirement

Is there a residency requirement to take the examination?

Yes.  Applicants must have maintained continuous residence (physical presence) in Louisiana for a period of not less than 120 days within the one year period preceding the date of the initial examination. Students are exempted provided they return home when not taking classes, e.g., summer, holidays, etc.

III. Character Requirement

How is a determination of a candidate’s good moral character made? 

By evaluation of the applicant’s character references and the candidate’s response to the question concerning conviction of a misdemeanor or felony.

Who can attest to an applicant’s character?

References should be from CPAs or substantial and representative business or professional individuals. They should NOT be submitted by the following individuals:

• More than one member of a household
• Relative of the applicant
• Roommate
• Students
• University or college instructor UNLESS they have had significant contact with the applicant outside the classroom
• Person having a financial or business investment with the applicant

Also, the Notary who signs the affidavit of the applicant may not be a character reference.

Must the character references be Louisiana residents?
Yes.  The reference must be a Louisiana resident who has known the applicant for a period of 12 or more months.  A minimum of 3 references is required.

Will the Board verify the character references and responses to the conviction question?
The Board, at its discretion, may contact the character reference for additional information.

May a person who has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor take the CPA exam?
Convictions do not automatically disqualify an applicant unless the offense relates directly to the professional responsibilities of a CPA. However, the Board makes the final decision.


IV. Educational Requirements (also see item V. for additional details)

What are the MINIMUM educational requirements to take the CPA examination?

After December 31, 1996:
• Have a baccalaureate degree.
• Have 150 semester hours of college credit earned as prescribed by Board Rules.
• Have successfully completed 24 hours (or 21 hrs. graduate level) of specific accounting and 24 hours of business courses (including an acceptable three hours of business law exclusively covering Uniform Commercial Code and forms of commercial transactions ).
• Candidates with a baccalaureate degree, and having a concentration of accounting, obtained prior to January 1, 1992 and conferred by a Louisiana college or university, may contact the Board to determine if they might qualify without the attainment of 150 hours of college credit.


V. Schools, Colleges, and Courses Recognized

What schools are recognized by this Board?
Regionally “accredited” institutions that confer bachelor’s degrees, that is, those accredited by one of the six regional associations of colleges and schools.  Hours transferred to a “four year” university from a regionally accredited community college (or “two year” junior college) can be counted toward the 150 hours.  For additional information, contact the board’s office. 

What constitutes the rating of “accredited”?
Those universities or colleges accredited one of the six major regional associations, for example,  by the “Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges” (SACS) or by any one of the five other regional associations accrediting bodies.  The six regional associations are:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (formerly known as Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (formerly known as Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Will the Board recognize colleges and universities that are outside of the United States?
Arrangements have been made with Foreign Academic Credentials Service, Inc. (FACS) –whose website is FACSUSA.com] to review foreign educational documents.  This firm will provide the candidate, NASBA, and the Board with an evaluation as to the degree and the accounting courses.  This evaluation must be made well in advance of the time for filing an application to take the CPA examination.  There is a fee charged for this service.  Refer to www.facsusa.com for more information.

Which courses are required as accounting and business courses? (see also Rule §503)
After December 31, 1996:

• Accounting Courses (24 hours undergraduate -or- 21 hrs. graduate level -or- in combination):

 Undergraduate Semester Hours

  • Intermediate – 6 hours
  • Cost accounting – 3 hours
  • Income Tax – 3 hours
  • Auditing [related to external reporting] – 3 hours
  • 9 hours of accounting electives [see below *]
  • Total Accounting Courses (Undergraduate) – 24 hours

 Graduate Semester Hours

  • Intermediate – 3 hours
  • Cost – 3 hours
  • Income Tax – 3 hours
  • Auditing – 3 hours
  • 9 hours of accounting electives [see below *]
  • Total Accounting Courses (Graduate) – 21 hours

* Accounting Elective Hours

  • 3 semester hours from one of the following:
    • Advanced Financial Accounting
    • Not-for-Profit (or Govt,) Accounting/Auditing
    • Accounting Theory
  • 6 semester hours in accounting above the basic and beyond the elementary/principles or introductory level
  • Business courses (24 hours — not inclusive of Accounting courses):
  • Including at least 3 semester hours in Commercial Law, as it affects accountancy for CPA examination candidates*
  • Total Business Courses Undergraduate – 24 hours -or- Graduate – 24 hours [or a combination of undergrad & grad of 24 hours)

* See addendum regarding the law requirement.

[The first law course offered by most universities does not satisfy this requirement. Usually the first law course is a requirement of the university; the second course at most universities is the acceptable course to take the CPA examination. However, please review the course syllabus to determine if you must take both courses.]

The specified 24 hours (or 21 graduate level) of accounting courses and at least 24 hours of qualifying business courses must be earned by either personal class attendance or in correspondence/distance course credits earned at an accredited university.

Introductory “management” accounting courses (which typically emphasize management accounting principles and decision-making for internal managers) at the undergraduate or graduate level will not qualify toward satisfying the nine (9) semester hours of accounting electives within the 24 hours of required accounting hours.  And, such courses will not count toward the 24 hours of required business courses.

Furthermore, a student who has credit in both undergraduate and graduate level for the introductory “management” accounting course will only receive credit for one of the courses in satisfying the 150 hour requirement.  In addition, such courses do not substitute for the required financial reporting related “Cost” or “Managerial Cost” accounting course which is required for accounting majors and which emphasizes cost accounting and financial reporting of inventories for manufacturers, production activities, processors and related topics.

Graduate level “introductory” accounting, such as a course designed for MBA students who have not taken undergraduate level introductory accounting principles, will count toward the 150 hour requirement, but does not qualify toward satisfying the nine (9) semester hours of accounting electives that are within the 24 hours of required accounting hours. And, such courses will not count toward the 24 hours of required business courses.

For course work other than the required 24 hours of accounting and 24 hours of business:

Advanced placement credit, ACT, CLEP, and college or departmental examination credit for courses required by the student’s degree program, or for courses that are necessary in order to graduate, will qualify as credit toward the 150 hour educational requirement, if such credit appears as credit earned on the official transcript.  For example, these types of credit earned for “core” curriculum courses (such as, courses required of all freshmen, such as, English or mathematics) will count.

“Remedial” or “developmental” course work required of students by the College or University as a prerequisite to the required curriculum which appears as credit earned on the official transcript will qualify as credit toward the 150 hour educational requirement.

Credit obtained from accredited “junior”, “community”, or “two-year” colleges prior to, or concurrently with, the enrollment at a four-year institution, will be recognized to the extent it is recognized by the four-year institution and transferred to its official transcript as credit earned. Credit obtained at junior, community, or two-year colleges after the completion of course work at a four-year institution will not be accepted unless the candidate received advance approval by the Board (contact our office for more information).

VI. CPA Examination – Questions & Answers 

The following questions and answers pertain to Louisiana candidates and they may be updated periodically as more information becomes available.

1.  How many ‘sections’ (or parts) are there to the CPA examination?

The Uniform CPA Examination consists of four sections:

Section Titles

  

Abbreviated Titles Auditing & Attestation AUD Business Environment and Concepts BEC Financial Accounting & Reporting FAR Regulation REG

2.  How long is the CPA examination and how may candiates know what is covered under each exam section?
The four sections total 14 hours.  Candidates should review the Candidate Bulletin at www.nasba.org for additional details.  Important information on the examination sections’ content is available at www.AICPA.org.  In additon, candidates should review the Content and Skill Specification Outlines, and complete the exam tutorial and practice test formats at www.aicpa.org prior to taking the exam.

3.  Are there essay questions on the CPA examination?
A variation of short essays (i.e., “constructed responses”) are incorporated into some problems. These only appear in the BEC section.

4.  Where can I find the fees for taking the CPA examination?
The fees are published at www.nasba.org – refer to the Louisiana Exam Information page.  The fees consist of NASBA, AICPA and Prometic charges for the application review and processing, candidate database functions, examination preparation, scoring, and test center computer security and “seat time”.

5.  Is there a “deadline for filing an application for the Uniform CPA Examination?
Applications for the CPA exam are available year round.  I may take several days or a couple of weeks to process the first-time application.  Re-exam applications take only days to process.  Applications can be submitted online. 

6.  Where is the CPA exam given in Louisiana?
At Prometric Test Centers in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Bossier City, and Metairie.  Louisiana residents, depending on their locale, may also wish to consider the proximity of test centers in Jackson, MS and in the Beaumont and Houston, TX areas, and test there if more convenient.

7.  Are special accommodations offered to candidates with disabilities?
Yes.  Obtain a “Request for Modification in the Administration of the Uniform CPA Examination” from CPA Examination Services.

8.  Does a candidate have to sit for all sections of the CPA examination at once?
No.  Candidates may apply for exam sections and make appointments on different dates.  A candidate may take each section separately in the same or in a different testing window.  Candidates are able to take the exam in four “testing windows” annually.

9.  What is considered a passing grade on the examination?
A grade of 75 or better on each section is considered passing, conditioned upon time requirements for passing the other sections.

10. How long will a person have to complete all sections of the examination?
Once candidates pass any section of the examination, they will have 18 months from the date of that exam section to pass the remaining sections in order to retain credit on the passed section.

11.  What is a “testing window”?
A testing window is a three-month period comprised of two months in which the examination can be taken, and one month in which the examination is not offered while periodic maintenance is performed and the item bank is updated.

Testing Windows available:
• January – February
• April -  May
• July - August
• October – November

12.  Must candidates take exam sections in any particular order?
No.

13.  Must a candidate pass one exam section of the CPA exam prior to applying to take another?
No.  However, candidates are not be permitted to retake a failed exam section(s) within the same testing window.

14.  If I conditionally pass one or more sections of the examination, how long do I have to pass the remaining sections?
The qualifying period for completion of the CPA exam is 18 months.  Once a candidate has passed any section of the examination, he or she has 18 months to pass the remaining sections in order to retain credit on the first passed section.  Therefore, candidates must pass all four sections of the exam within a “rolling” 18  month period that begins on the date a passed section was taken.  In the event the remaining sections are not all passed within a single qualifying period, credit for the section passed first in that period expires.  The term “rolling” qualifying period is used because it can be measured from the date any section of the exam is passed, and if all four sections are passed in such time, the exam is successfully completed.

15.  How often may a candidate take the CPA examination?
Candidates may take each exam section of the examination up to four times a year. Candidates may take any or all of the four sections of the examination during any testing window.  Candidates are not be allowed to take the same section more than once during any given testing window.

16. May unsuccessful candidates apply to take the CPA examination again?
Yes.

17. Once I apply to take the CPA examination, how long before I can actually take the examination?
First-time applicants must have educational eligibility determined, so the process may take several days or a couple of weeks. Re-examination applicants should be able to re-apply and be sent a “Notice to Schedule”(NTS) the examination within a few days.

18. How will I schedule an examination appointment at a Prometric Test Center?
After you have been determined eligible to sit for the computer based examination, you will be sent a “Notice to Schedule” (NTS).  You will then contact Prometric to schedule appointments.  The NTS may remain valid for nine (9) months.  That means you will have 9 months from the date the NTS is issued to schedule, make appointment(s), and take the examination section(s) for which you have applied.

19.  What if a conflict arises after I have made an appointment at a Test Center?
You may reschedule at no charge if you reschedule at least 30 days in advance. If you reschedule between 5 and 30 days in advance, a fee is payable to Prometric. If you reschedule within 5 days, the fee will be much higher and will be equal to the portion of the exam fee that the Prometric test center charges for that exam section.

20.  May I request a grade review and/or appeal a score?
Yes. But candidates should be aware that there are very extensive controls and checks of grades before initial release. The likelihood of a grade being changed based on a review or appeal is negligible.

21. Will I see how I scored immediately after completing the computer based examination?
No.

22.  May I as a Louisiana candidate take the examination outside of Louisiana?
Yes.  You will be able to schedule your examination at Prometric Test Centers in other states, unless the particular site has been disapproved by the Louisiana Board.

23.  May a person residing in a state other than Louisiana apply as a Louisiana candidate to the Louisiana Board to take the examination?
Yes, if the person satisfies the Louisiana requirement of 120 days of continuous residency in Louisiana in the year preceding the initial examination.

24.  Are there any other restrictions on Louisiana candidates taking the CPA exam outside the state?
One of the benefits of the computer-based examination is that a testing center outside of the state may be much closer to a candidate who lives near a state border than a test center within the state. However, a person may not be a candidate from more than one state at the same time and will not be able to circumvent Louisiana’s educational or licensing requirements by taking the examination outside of the state.

25.  I live in Louisiana and have the educational requirements EXCEPT for having 150 semester hours of college credit, but my education would be accepted by another state as qualifying me to take the CPA examination.  May I take the CPA exam as a candidate of another state and, subsequently, after obtaining the additional hours to attain 150 hours, transfer my grades to Louisiana or obtain a reciprocal CPA certificate in Louisiana?
Candidates who desire to become Louisiana CPAs may not circumvent Louisiana rules.  Only residents of those few states which do not have the 150 hour requirement who took the CPA examination in such state may take additional college hours after taking the CPA examination.  This is only allowed so that those individuals who may transfer here may ultimately become certified here.  Board Rule §505(E)(6)(a) states that applicants must have met the Louisiana educational requirements prior to taking the exam and that an exception is provided for a “bona fide resident of another state who took the exam in his state of residency which did not have the 150 hour requirement.”

26.  Where can I find more information on the CPA examination?
Information about the CPA examinaiton is at www.aicpa.org. and www.nasba.org. You may also call CPA Examination Services at 1-800-CPA-EXAM, or the Louisiana Board’s office to obtain additional information. In preparing for the exam, candidates are responsible for becoming familiar with the “Candidate Bulletin” that is posted at the NASBA.org website and should refer to the Content Specifications, the Exam tutorial, and practice questions at the AICPA.org website.

VII. Attorneys

Must an attorney take the commercial law courses required to sit for the examination?
No. Credit for the Commercial Law courses will be given provided the applicant has a J.D. degree. Credit will also be allowed for the Income Tax course taken.

Must an attorney take each section of the examination?
Yes.

VIII. Transfer of Credits From Another State

May a person from another state transfer CPA examination credits to Louisiana?
Yes, provided that the applicant is not a CPA and meets all of the educational, residency and passing requirements of a Louisiana candidate other than he/she sat for the exam in another state.

IX. Requirements for Issuance of a CPA Certificate (license)

What is the next step after passing the examination?
Successful exam candidates will receive applications for the CPA certificate after they have passed all sections of the examination. A successful exam candidate may not use the certified public accountant or CPA title until the certificate (license) application has been approved by the Board.

• Successfully complete the Uniform CPA examination
• Good moral character
• Satisfy the one year experience requirement as verified by a licensed CPA in a position to know *
• Submit the application form required by the Board
• Pay the certificate application fee of $100
• Execute an oath prescribed by the Board

* Review the FAQ or contact our office for additional information on the work experience required to become licensed.


X. Board Rules
Click here to access the Board’s Rules related to the CPA examination.

Addendum

Acceptable Commercial Law course required to sit for the CPA Examination in Louisiana

Excerpt from September 18, 1992 letter to All Louisiana Colleges and Universities:

We have encountered a problem with Louisiana applicants who had enrolled at universities as non-degree students and took only one Commercial law course, specifically Commercial law I. Before stating the Board’s current position, it is prudent to review the background affecting the law course requirement.  Initially the Board required 6 semester hours of Commercial law to sit for the CPA examination. Universities titled these courses Commercial law, Business law, or Legal Environment of Business. In early 1985 the Board was advised the American Assembly of Collegiate Standards Board (AACSB) issued requirements that, for accreditation, the first law course offered by universities must emphasize the regulatory environment and stress consumer protection, and that material related to the CPA examination be reduced or omitted. By letter of September 4, 1985, the Board advised all universities of its position.

Universities addressed the problem in several ways:

A third Commercial law course was required to satisfy the AACSB
Universities that were not AACSB accredited did not change their course content.  Some tentatively ignored the directive from AACSB.

This confusion required the Board to request, from applicants for the CPA examination, a syllabus of the Commercial law courses claimed. This was not a satisfactory solution. Accordingly, after meeting with Louisiana university representatives, the Board amended its Rules to reduce the required hours of Commercial law to 3 semester hours, but the acceptable course must be one that is specifically for accounting majors. It was understood that the first law course could contain the AACSB requirements and that course would be a requirement of the University (as English, Math, etc.). The second law course would satisfy the Board’s requirement.

With the exception of one Louisiana university, we have not encountered problems with students enrolled in the degree programs, they take the two Commercial law courses. The same is not true with the non-degree students. These students are providing transcripts with only the first law course. This brings the Board back to the evaluation problem. To accept the first law course requires the Board to reevaluate the law syllabus of Commercial law I each semester to reconfirm that unacceptable topics were not included; e.g., the legal system, tort liability, products liability, unfair competition, consumer protection, debtor/creditor law (collections and billing practices), employment related problems, criminal law (theft, fraud, anti-trust, securities, organizational responsibilities, administrative sanctions (deceptive advertising, zoning)). This listing is certainly not all-inclusive. An example as to why the first law course will not qualify is enclosed for your review (Attachment 1). We believe you will agree that this is not an acceptable solution, it is unfair to the applicant and excessively burdensome to the board’s limited staff.

In summary, the Board does not wish to disqualify applicants when they apply to sit for the CPA examination; nor, however, was it the intent of the Board in modifying its rules, to reduce materially the law subject matter required to be studied.  It believed a compromise was reached with the Louisiana universities that would require the candidate to take 6 semester hours of law, 3 semester hours required by the university, the content of which could include the AACSB requirements or any other requirement, and 3 semester hours required by the Board, the contents of which would include only the CPA examination requirements; i.e. the first course would be the requirement of the school, the second course would satisfy this Board’s requirement. Therefore, if a student elects to take only one law course, it must be the second law course to satisfy the Board’s educational requirement.

ATTACHMENT 1

Example

• Section A is 27% of the course
• 3 semester hours x 27% = .81
3.00 – .81 equates to 2.19 qualifying semester hours
• This course will not meet the 3 semester requirement for Business Law

CONTENT OUTLINE – Business Law

The Law and its Relationship to Society

• Law and Law Enforcement Agencies
• Law as an Expression of Social Force
• Business Crimes and Business Torts
• Government Regulation
• Administrative Agencies
• Environmental Law and Community Planning
• Consumer Protection

Contracts

• Nature and Classes of Contracts
• The Agreement
• Contractual Capacity
• Genuineness of Assent
• Consideration
• Legality and Public Policy
• Form of Contract
• Interpretation of Contracts
• Third Persons and Contracts
• Discharge of Contracts
• Breach of Contracts and Remedies

Personal Property and Bailments

• Personal Property
• Bailments
• Special Bailments and Documents of Title

Sales

• Nature and Form of Sales
• Risk and Property Rights
• Obligations and Performances
• Warranties and Other Product Liabilities
• Remedies for Breach of Sales Contract

INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS

• Lecture
• Discussion
• Case Studies

NOTICE TO CANDIDATES APPLYING FOR THE CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT EXAMINATION

The State Board of Certified Public Accountants of Louisiana, (the Board), has arranged for NASBA’s CPA Examination Services to administer the CPA Examination.
Louisiana Candidates are to contact CPA Examination Services directly with questions, for obtaining applications, and for requests for special accommodations for candidates with disabilities. The address, telephone numbers, and website are:

Address:
CPA Examination Services
Louisiana Coordinator
Post Office Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219-8469

Telephone:
800-CPA-EXAM (800-272-3926) or
615-880-4250

Website:
www.nasba.org

Candidates remain subject to the Louisiana educational, filing, grading, and residency requirements as recorded in the Rules and Statutes of the Board.