Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Saunders College of Business at RIT provides advising and courses for students to support the educational requirements for the New York State Certified Public Accountancy (CPA) exam. CPA certification is managed through the American Institute of CPAs. For more information please visit the AICPA website or the New York State Education Department for information related to the NYS CPA Exam.

While the CPA license is not required to work in the field of accounting it is highly recommended for students to pursue it. Those who choose not to pursue to certification are still able to find employment in corporate offices working under the direction of CPAs. Additionally, Saunders programs also help students prepare for other certifications in addition to the CPA.

CPA Exam Requirements

Accounting degrees earned from Saunders College of Business are valid in every state, however, CPA licensing is determined by each individual state. You may become certified in NY but may need to become recertified if you should choose to relocate to another state.

Please review the information compiled below to assist with your questions regarding CPA Exam requirements, or see the CPA REQUIREMENTS OVERVIEW PowerPoint Presentation from Department Chair Bill Dresnack, CPA for additional details. Official details can be found on the cpa-exam.org website.

General Requirements of the CPA Exam

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 (See Below)
  • Meet examination requirements
  • Meet experience requirements
Education Requirements

According to the New York State Education Department (and subject to changes), to fulfill the education requirement for licensure, you must:

  • Present satisfactory evidence of completion of a baccalaureate or higher degree program in accountancy that is registered by the Department, or a baccalaureate or higher degree program in accountancy that is accredited by an acceptable accrediting agency, or a baccalaureate or higher degree program, or its foreign equivalent, that is deemed to be the substantial equivalent of a registered or accredited program, as determined by the Department after a review of official transcripts, and
  • Satisfactorily complete a curriculum of at least 150 semester hours in a program, or
  • Have 15 years of public accounting experience acceptable to the State Board for Public Accountancy


Saunders College is accredited by the AACSB. To fulfill the education requirements, Saunders students will need a Master’s degree in accounting and completion of 150 semester hours in the following content areas, including the following:

  • 33 semester hours in accounting with at least one course in each of the following areas:
    • financial accounting and reporting
    • cost or managerial accounting
    • taxation
    • auditing and attestation services
  • 36 semester hours in general business electives, and
  • The curriculum must also include, either as standalone courses or integrated into other courses, the study of business or accounting communications, ethics and professional responsibility, and accounting research.

Saunders College of Business currently provides undergraduate and graduate degree programs in accounting.

150-Hour Education Requirements

After completing a four-year degree from Saunders College following our CPA course track, you are not immediately eligible to become a licensed CPA, but you may be eligible to begin taking the New York State CPA exam. You may enroll in the MBA in Accounting or MS in Accounting graduate program to complete the remaining educational requirements for entrance into the NYS CPA exam.

It is required to take at least one course in specific content areas in order to fulfill the CPA exam education requirement. The following lists the required content areas and typical Saunders College course titles that may fulfill each required area.

Content Areas

Typical Course Titles

Financial Accounting and Reporting
Credit for advanced accounting must be earned from the upper division (junior or senior) or graduate level

  • Principles of accounting
  • Accounting Principles
  • Intermediate accounting
  • Advanced accounting
  • Accounting theory
  • Financial accounting
  • Financial reporting
  • Financial statement analysis
  • Corporate financial reporting
  • Accounting for governmental and non-for-profit entities

Cost or Managerial Accounting

  • Cost accounting
  • Managerial accounting
  • Cost management
  • Advanced cost management


  • Corporate taxation
  • Individual taxation
  • Taxation of business entities
  • Business taxation
  • Basic taxation
  • Advanced taxation
  • International taxation

Auditing and Attestation Services
Credit must be earned from the upper division (junior or senior) or graduate level

  • Auditing
  • Auditing and attestation
  • Auditing and assurance services
  • Principles of auditing
  • Advanced auditing

Ethics & Professional Responsibilities
Ethics courses may be taken from the Liberal Arts Department

  • Auditing
  • Business law
  • Commercial law
  • Business ethics

Business and Accounting Communications
Communications (written or oral) courses may be taken from the Liberal Arts Department

  • Intermediate accounting
  • Advanced accounting
  • Auditing
  • Taxation
  • Accounting communications
  • Business communications
  • Business writing
  • International business communications
  • Managerial communications
  • Professional Speaking

Accounting Research

  • Accounting Theory
  • Auditing
  • Corporate taxation
  • Individual taxation
  • Accounting research
  • Tax research


  1. Internships in accounting may be counted toward the accounting content requirement or the general business content area (maximum 6 credit hours).
  2. Personal finance courses are not acceptable.
  3. Risk and insurance courses may be counted toward the finance or business & accounting elective

The examination is a computerized, 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. You must successfully pass all four parts to complete the examination requirement.  All parts of the examination must be successfully completed within a rolling eighteen-month window.

Admission Requirements
Effective August 1, 2009, New York will allow applicants who are required to meet the 150 semester hour education requirements for licensure to sit for the exam when they have completed 120 semester hours of course work, including one course in each of the four required accounting content areas: financial accounting and reporting; cost or management accounting, taxation; and auditing. The license, however, will not be issued until the applicant has met New York's 150 semester hour requirements.

Other Resources
  • Start Here Go Places is a great resource for students who are thinking of becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
  • This Way to CPA is another great resource as you begin to begin your education and work towards an Accounting Degree.
  • Surgent CPA Review can help you determine your CPA Exam readiness.

These websites have all the resources you need as you:

  • Begin your education
  • Declare your major in Accounting
  • Think about Graduation
  • Begin studying for the CPA Licensing Exam
  • Pass the Exam-What Next?

CPA Candidate Bulletin
The CPA Candidate Bulletin is the official handbook for individuals who plan to take the CPA Exam. It covers topics such as how to apply, how and when to schedule the examination, what rules are in effect at test centers, when to expect scores, and what topics are covered on the Exam. The Bulletin and other information, can be found on the AICPA's Uniform CPA Examination website. The AICPA develops and grades the CPA Exam.To see more visit cpa-exam.org.

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA)
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) serves as a forum for the nation's state boards of accountancy, which administer the Uniform CPA Examination, license certified public accountants and regulate the practice of public accountancy in the United States. To see more visit nasba.org.

Prometric Testing Centers
The CPA Exam can be taken at Prometric testing centers in each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions: District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Prometric is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ETS. To see more visit prometric.com/cpa.

CPA Presentations

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