How to Become a CPA Without a Degree in Accounting

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Are you interested in pursuing a career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), but don’t have a degree in accounting? You may be surprised to learn that there are alternative paths to becoming a CPA that don’t require a traditional accounting degree. In this article, we will explore how you can achieve your goal of becoming a CPA without a degree in accounting and discuss the steps you can take to make it happen.

Requirements for Becoming a CPA

Before we delve into the alternative paths, it’s important to understand the typical requirements for becoming a CPA. Traditionally, a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is a common prerequisite. This educational foundation provides a strong knowledge base in subjects such as financial accounting, taxation, and auditing, which are crucial for a successful accounting career.

Alternative Paths to Becoming a CPA

While an accounting degree is the conventional route to becoming a CPA, there are alternative options for those without a degree in accounting. These alternative paths can offer a chance to gain the necessary skills and knowledge required to pursue a CPA career. Let’s explore some of these alternatives:

  1. Post-Baccalaureate Programs: Many universities offer post-baccalaureate programs specifically designed for individuals who hold a degree in a non-accounting field. These programs provide the necessary accounting coursework to meet the educational requirements for the CPA exam.

  2. Master’s in Accounting: Pursuing a Master’s in Accounting can be an effective way to gain the required knowledge and skills for a CPA career. Some universities offer specialized programs tailored for non-accounting graduates, allowing them to bridge the gap and meet the educational requirements.

  3. Online Education: Online education platforms offer a flexible and accessible way to gain accounting knowledge. Various online courses and programs provide comprehensive accounting training, allowing you to acquire the necessary skills at your own pace.

  4. Work Experience: While a degree is important, gaining relevant work experience in the accounting field can compensate for the lack of an accounting degree. Many states have experience requirements to become a CPA, so working in an accounting role under the supervision of a licensed CPA can help fulfill this requirement.

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Steps to Becoming a CPA without a Degree in Accounting

Now that we’ve explored the alternative paths, let’s outline the steps you can follow to become a CPA without a degree in accounting:

Step 1: Research State Requirements: Begin by researching the specific requirements for becoming a CPA in the state where you intend to practice. Each state has its own set of requirements, including education, work experience, and passing the CPA exam.

Step 2: Choose an Alternative Path: Select the alternative path that best suits your circumstances and goals. Whether it’s a post-baccalaureate program, a Master’s in Accounting, or gaining work experience, align your choice with the requirements of your state.

Step 3: Complete the Required Education: Enroll in the chosen program or courses to fulfill the educational requirements. Be diligent in your studies and focus on mastering the core accounting concepts and principles.

Step 4: Gain Work Experience: If work experience is a requirement in your state, secure a position in an accounting role under the supervision of a licensed CPA. This will help you accumulate the necessary experience while learning practical skills.

Step 5: Prepare for the CPA Exam: The CPA exam consists of multiple sections, and thorough preparation is crucial for success. Utilize study materials, review courses, and practice exams to familiarize yourself with the exam format and content.

Step 6: Take the CPA Exam: Once you feel adequately prepared, register for and take the CPA exam. It’s important to adhere to the exam schedule and allocate sufficient time for each section. Stay focused, manage your time wisely, and aim for a passing score.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: Can I become a CPA without an accounting degree?
Yes, it is possible to become a CPA without an accounting degree. There are alternative paths available, such as post-baccalaureate programs, Master’s in Accounting programs, and gaining work experience.

Q2: Will I face any challenges pursuing a CPA career without an accounting degree?
While there may be challenges, such as meeting state requirements and competing with candidates with traditional accounting degrees, alternative paths can provide a viable route to becoming a CPA.

Q3: How long does it take to become a CPA without an accounting degree?
The time required to become a CPA without an accounting degree will vary depending on the alternative path chosen and individual circumstances. It may take longer than the traditional route, but with dedication and effort, it is achievable.


Becoming a CPA without a degree in accounting is possible through alternative paths that provide the necessary education and experience. By researching state requirements, choosing the right alternative path, completing the required education, gaining work experience, and successfully passing the CPA exam, you can achieve your goal of becoming a CPA. Embrace the opportunities available to you and embark on a fulfilling accounting career, even without a traditional accounting degree.

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