Depending upon the program and the type of certified public accounting (CPA) work that an individual intends to pursue, there are several CPA required courses that he or she must take at an accredited college or university. Generally, these courses must cover a number of subjects related to accounting practices and business management, but some specialties will require courses with a narrower focus. Some CPA required courses can be taken on an elective basis, which means that the specific course is not required but that a certain number of units in a particular area of study must be successfully completed.
In most cases, an accounting student must complete at least 48 credit hours of basic accounting, finance, and business administration classes at the undergraduate level. An accounting student must already possess a bachelor's degree. Though the degree may be in any academic discipline, a bachelor's degree in finance, business administration, or accounting will streamline the process of becoming a CPA. Some states, such as California, require a student to evenly split the course load of those 48 credit hours between accounting and business administration courses, successfully completing 24 credit hours of each. After the coursework is complete, the student must pass the CPA exam of the state in which the CPA license is sought.
Basic accounting CPA required courses include Introduction to Accounting Practices, which provides a foundation for the requirements of the accounting field, as well as intermediate and advanced accounting courses. Other courses that are required in the accounting segment include analyzing a financial statements, international accounting practices, accounting for management, as well as several CPA required courses on performing audits for various types of organizations.
For the required business courses, the student must complete an introductory course on business administration that covers the basics of profit, loss, capitalization, and other management issues. Other required courses include business law, Business ethics and Business finance. Depending upon the state, Statistics for Business Applications may be required. For example, Massachusetts requires this course before a candidate may sit for the CPA exam.
The remaining CPA required courses include qualifying electives in both accounting and business. If you intend to use your CPA license to work for an established accounting firm, focus the electives on ancillary accounting coursework. If you intend to work as an account for another type of business, focus the electives on business practices or on a field that is related to the type of business that you want to work for.