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Education requirements

The following requirements must be met to be eligible to take the CPA exam in Virginia. All requirements are also explained in the VBOA Education Handbook.

Exam candidates must obtain from one or more accredited institutions:

  • At least 120 semester hours of education
  • Baccalaureate or higher degree with an accounting concentration or equivalent

An accounting concentration or equivalent is comprised of:

  • 24 semester hours of accounting courses above the introductory/foundational level: including courses in auditing, financial accounting, managerial/cost accounting and taxation
  • 24 semester hours of business courses: no more than six semester hours of what could be considered upper-level accounting courses

The course number or name does not always dictate whether a course is considered an introductory or foundational accounting course. For quarter hours earned, divide the total number of quarter hours by 1.5 to calculate the accurate semester hours.

The VBOA will accept any course taken as Pass/Fail as long as the student receives earned semester hours for the successful completion of the course. The completed course must be on an official transcript from an appropriately accredited university, college or community college.

Core Accounting Courses

Course subjects required are:

  • Financial Courses that meet this requirement include, but are not limited to: Intermediate Accounting, Financial Statement Analysis, Intermediate Accounting I and II
  • Auditing
  • Taxation
  • Cost or Managerial

Examples of other accounting courses accepted toward the accounting requirement include, but are not limited to:

  • Federal Taxation
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Government/Not For-Profit Accounting
  • Fund Accounting
  • Accounting Internship
  • Accounting Seminar
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Accounting Systems and Control
  • Government Accounting and Reporting
  • Accounting Theory
  • Assurance Services
  • Accounting Analytics
  • Information Systems Assurance and Advisory

Business courses

Business course examples accepted toward the business requirement:

  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Statistics
  • Management
  • Business Information Systems

Examples of other business courses accepted toward the business requirement include, but are not limited to:

  • Business Law
  • Commercial Law
  • Legal Environment of Business
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Financial Management
  • Investments
  • Insurance
  • Personal Financial Planning

No more than six semester hours of accounting courses (excluding introductory/foundational accounting courses) can be considered business courses toward meeting the 48 minimum number of semester hours required for an accounting concentration or equivalent.

Candidates are encouraged to use the Education Handbook to evaluate the education needed to qualify for the CPA exam.

Accredited institutions

The VBOA recognizes institutions accredited by one of the following accrediting agencies or their successors:

  1. Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  2. New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  3. The Higher Learning Commission
  4. Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  5. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  6. Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  7. Any institution accredited by an accrediting organization recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or its successor.

If an accrediting organization is not listed above, it may be approved by the VBOA after it demonstrates its accreditation process and standards are substantially equivalent to the accreditation process and standards of the above major regional accrediting organizations.

The accrediting agency website should list accredited institutions. Contact an unlisted institution directly to determine if it is accredited through one of the recognized accrediting agencies. Many institutions list the accreditation on the back of their transcripts.

Education earned outside the United States

The VBOA will consider a degree or coursework earned at a non-accredited institution located outside of the United States, once the degree or coursework is evaluated by an education evaluation firm.

Please note: As of July 1, 2022, the VBOA will no longer accept credits or credentials issued by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and similar accounting professional organizations. All evaluation of foreign education must be from properly accredited colleges or universities.

Virginia state law requires CPA applicants be graduates of accredited educational institutions or institutions whose accreditation is substantially equivalent to those of American institutions. Educational institutions are usually colleges or universities.

Online institutions

The VBOA recognizes an online institution if it is accredited through one of the recognized accrediting agencies.