What is CPA? Course Details, Syllabus & Eligibility | Ze

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      What is CPA? Find Out Course Details, Fees, Syllabus, & Eligibility

      Last Update On 23rd May 2024
      Duration: 8 Mins Read

      As an accounting student, you must have come across the term CPA several times. You also may have heard from your faculty members and peers about how becoming a CPA opens industry doors that have been closed for the un-licensed accountants. As exciting as that sounds, the perks of becoming a CPA is something to look forward to. From an increased earning potential to the opportunity to travel, CPAs truly get to have it all. If you’re already willing to embark on this career pathway, here’s everything you need to know.

      What is a CPA Course?

      In the United States, CPA or the Certified Public Accountant is the highest designation in accounting and finance that one can achieve, and it also promises global recognition for all the right reasons. 

      Eligibility for the CPA Exam

      The American Institute of Certified Professional Accountants, or AICPA, conducts the CPA exam. But as mentioned, the CPA license is considered the highest professional degree in accounting or finance in the United States. This fact changes the eligibility for Indian students to pursue the CPA exam because a bachelor’s degree in India is equivalent to 90 credits while that of the US is equivalent to 120 credits which is the required number of credits for appearing in the CPA exam. Thus, an Indian student needs to bridge the gap between the number of credits required to appear for the CPA exam. Each state board has different qualification requirements that an aspirant needs to meet in order to compete for the CPA exam in the US.  

      Not sure how you can qualify for the CPA examination? Here are some insights that will help you understand what you exactly need. 

      • If you are appearing for the CPA exam, you must have already completed 120 credits. However, you will need 150 credit hours to become certified and get your full US CPA license which leaves a 30 credit gap that you need to fill. You have the option of getting two bachelor’s degrees or one bachelor’s degree and one master’s degree to fill the gap. If you already have a graduation degree and don’t feel the need to pursue another one, you can join as a non-degree pursuing student at a community college or university and get the 30 credits done. 
      • If you are a Chartered Accountant, you can get some credits from the state boards to appear for the CPA exam. 
      • You can also appear for the CPA exam if you are an international CPA candidate from India and a first division graduate in any three-year commerce degree from NAAC-A-rated universities. 
      • Another crucial requirement for international students is hands-on experience in accounting or finance. 

      Please Note: Unless the applicant gets a CPA license within three years of passing the CPA tests, the standard CPA exam credits for examinations completed in international regions (such as India or the Middle East) will terminate.

      how to become a cpa

      CPA Course Fees

      Taking the CPA exam is considered expensive, but when you consider the title and job opportunities it brings you, it does make for a good option. Earlier, the cost also included the travelling and accommodation costs as aspirants had to travel to the United States to appear for the CPA exam. But from 2020 onwards, students can opt to give the CPA test in India itself. The CPA Exam is conducted in India at 8 Prometric test locations: Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, New Delhi, and Trivandrum. Before you schedule for the Prometric, you need to pay additional fees for administration for each of the 4 exam sections, and this fee is non-refundable. 

      The table below explains the approximate fees required at each step of giving the CPA exam:

      Description Fees (INR)
      Application Fees 14,600
      Evaluation Fees 16,425
      International Testing Fees (4 exams) 1,09,500
      Exam Fees (4 exams) 73,000
      Total Fees 2,13,525

      CPA Exam Syllabus and Subjects

      You need to prepare for 4 sections in the CPA exam. Also, brushing up on the basic concepts related to accounting or finance will surely help polish your concepts. Each section has different concepts, so make sure to prepare well for each one to give your best performance in the exam. Given below are the four subjects that an aspirant needs to know before appearing for the main exam: 

      (90 questions from each of these subjects are asked.)

      • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) 
      • Auditing and Attestation (AUD) 

      (72 questions from each of these subjects are asked.)

      • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) 
      • Regulation (REG)

      How can one get an exemption in CPA?

      • The final year CA/CMA students who have scored more than 50 marks in their final examination can easily get paper by paper exemption for the CPA course. If you hold a CA/CMA accounting degree, you get complete exemption in CPA. 
      • If you are an intermediate CA/CMA student, you can get an exemption in the first two subjects, AFAE and BRLC. 
      • If you are a fully qualified CS, you can get exemption from giving taxation laws and business laws exams. 
      • After passing specific tests on Indian Taxation Laws, Business Laws, and Indian GAAPs, ACCA Advanced diploma holders or affiliates/ Affiliates can receive the CPA/ CTPr Award.

      CPA Admission Process

      The whole application procedure for the CPA exam is a complicated and tiresome process; however, to ease that out, below is a step-by-step process that you can follow to enrol for the CPA exam successfully. 

      Step 1: Check for your eligibility

      The most important and foremost step should be to check if you are eligible to appear for the CPA course. Once you confirm this, you can move on to the next step of the admission process. 

      Step 2: Send transcripts beforehand 

      Many applicants choose to fill out the application form first and then send the transcripts to their state board of accountancy. This results in a wastage of time because the students have to wait to hear back from the state board of accountancy. Thus, to save time, send all of your transcripts to the state board first so they can review them and wait for your application. 

      Step 3: Fill out the form

      After you have sent your transcripts for verification, you are ready to fill out the actual form of the CPA course. It is not a lengthy form; you just need to fill in some personal details and answer educational questions. The application fee differs from state to state, but it is approximately 150 USD; thus, submit the fee and wait for your ATT (Authorization To Test).

      Step 4: Get your ATT

      You receive your ATT only after your state has approved your application. The ATT makes you eligible to appear for one of the CPA exam sections in your state. Please note that this ATT is valid only for 90 days. Thus, you need to decide which section you want to appear for within this period, or you will have to pay the same application fee again to continue your application. 

      Step 5: Pay for the exam sections

      After you are done deciding which exam section you want to appear for in the next six months, you can pay the fees by logging into your NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) account. Once paid, you need to wait for your NTS (Notice to Schedule). Fees for the exam section differ from state to state, but the fee usually ranges from 180-250 USD for each section. 

      Important Note: Many students make the mistake of choosing all the exam sections when they log in to the NASBA account. However, you need to understand that receiving your NTS may take a lot of time, and if you fail to schedule your exam in the next six months (the period for which the NTS is valid), your exam fees will be invalid again, and you will have to repay it. Thus, choose wisely and pay the fees only for the exam section you want to appear for in six months. 

      Step 6: Get your NTS

      The NTS is an important document that gives you the eligibility to appear for the CPA exam in your respective state. Within 4 weeks, you will receive your NTS via mail. Through the NTS, you can schedule your exam by logging into the Prometric website. 

      For scheduling the exam through the Prometric website, you need to follow the below-mentioned steps:

      • Log in to the Prometric test center website.
      • Fill in the exam section ID mentioned on your NTS and choose a test center. 
      • Choose the test date wisely because rescheduling will incur additional charges. 

      That is all, you have scheduled your exam successfully!

      Step 7: Appear for the exam

      Carry your NTS and two valid forms of ID to the test center. Try going to the exam center a day before to get an idea of the traffic and location. While appearing for the exam, focus on solving the questions and don’t worry about the end result. If you perform well, the result will take care of itself. 

      CPA Job Responsibilities

      A certified public accountant helps organizations, companies, and individuals arrange their taxes and financial statements. Their task is to supervise firm personnel and ensure that they follow proper accounting procedures and respond to financial reporting queries.

      CPAs are responsible for:
      • Analyzing financial data, producing tax forms, and supervising audits
      • Organizing and updating accounting records (both digital and physical)
      • Creating and analyzing transaction reports
      • Conducting rigorous audits regularly to check the correctness of financial documentation, expenditures, and investments

      CPA Salary Expectation

      The CPA Salary you get after completing the CPA course is worth every effort you put into the process. The average salary of a certified public accountant in India is 693,985 INR pa. However, your salary also depends upon your experience, job location, the organization or business you work for.

      Career after CPA Course 

      After completing the course and becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you can choose from various job roles based on your interest. Some of them have been mentioned below. 

      1. Financial Advisor

      There are so many options for investments, taking a loan, and there are numerous bank policies in today’s world. With a plethora of them, it gets difficult to choose, and this is where people need professional advice. CPAs can become financial advisors and help organizations or individuals make wise and well-informed financial decisions. 

      2. Corporate Accountant

      Corporates hire CPAs to get help with audits, accounting, finances, etc. They are regarded as the organization’s key business partners. They also operate as Internal Auditors, reviewing risk management concerns, financial data and operations, and control processes to contribute to its operations.

      3. Finance Director

      A CPA-qualified professional can apply for the position of Finance Director. A Finance Director is in charge of a company’s financial statements and long-term growth strategy. They are incredibly advantageous to a business since they aid in long-term financial prosperity. They are also responsible for overseeing all areas of its financial health. They have a group of employees who report on incoming and outgoing expenditures.

      4. Academia

      A CPA can easily get hired as accounting faculty in various institutes or schools. In addition to teaching, CPA educators perform research to extend the corpus of accounting knowledge and write books as well as papers on accounting theory.

      The US CPA qualification is recognised worldwide and can open doors to opportunities in Europe, Asia and North America. If you are an accounting professional looking to boost your career or just curious to learn about the course, we suggest you check out our Certified Public Accountant (CPA) course to learn more. To advance your portfolio and build professional skills, try Zell Education’s interactive courses that offer flexible training timings. Get in touch at +91 7208885600 or email us at [email protected]


      How is a CA different from a CPA?
      If we talk about the expense, pursuing a CPA course would cost you more than pursuing chartered accountancy. However, after completing the course, a CPA earns pretty more than a CA. Completing the CPA course is easier than clearing CA with respect to the difficulty level. You can choose what you want to pursue according to your interests.

      Is CPA difficult to pass?
      A CPA course is no rocket science. However, the real hurdle lies in passing all four exam sections in 18 months to qualify CPA. If you are diligent, determined, and passionate about clearing it, you can succeed. You need to work hard consistently by following a smart strategy and plan.

      How should I prepare for the CPA Exam?
      The sooner you start, the better it is! Begin by utilizing free resources on the internet. Once you are comfortable with the basics, opt for an online course that teaches you the entire curriculum in an organized way. Make a wise study schedule, follow a strategy, and above all, believe in your abilities. With strong determination and consistent efforts, you will be able to crack it.


      Satyamedh Nandedkar, a seasoned finance professional, holds ACCA, CA, US CMA & CS credentials. With 10+ years of experience, he’s a master ACCA tutor, IFRS trainer, adept in global financial standards, and a trusted advisor in navigating complex financial landscapes.

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