How to Become a CPA in Massachusetts

As is the case in most states, Massachusetts requires individuals interested in working as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) to complete a certain number of school credits at an accredited learning institution, after which an examination is required for licensing. An official request to the state licensing board is required to determine eligibility for the licensing exam, and the state offers specific guidelines for the type of classes required. Practical work experience is also required before the state grants full licensing status.

State Required Examination

The state of Massachusetts has an official licensing exam for CPA candidates, and this exam is called the Uniform CPA Examination for the State of Massachusetts. General eligibility for this examination requires that an individual be at least 18-years-old and that the test taker has a bachelor’s degree. At least 120 hours of college courses are required, although credits for classes outside those required for an accounting degree do count toward this required total.

The state provides the opportunity for individuals with a degree outside the accounting profession to sit for the exam, although a number of specific coursework requirements must be satisfied in such circumstances. For example, an individual with a graduate degree in Business Administration (MBA) or Finance (MSF) may take additional courses in accounting to become eligible for the test.

Relevant Coursework Required for Examination

Working from within the Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation, the Massachusetts board of Public Accountancy sets the guidelines for examination eligibility and requires test takers to have completed at least 21 semester hours of accounting courses. Subjects covered in those courses must include a variety of topics:

1. Audit
2. Financial accounting
3. Management accounting
4. Taxation

In addition, the Board requires at least 9 semester hours have been taken within the scope of business education, and required coursework includes:

1. Business law
2. Finance
3. Information systems

Obtaining Practical Experience

In addition to a degree, relevant coursework, and a passing grade on the official CPA test, individuals who wish to become fully licensed CPAs in Massachusetts must also complete required work experience. This work experience is loosely defined as full-time work in public accounting.

A person currently working as a licensed CPA in the state must verify the applicant’s practical work experience by sending signed verification to the state board. It is important to note that graduate degree holders do not need to complete practical work experience.

After Successful Licensing

Upon becoming a licensed CPA in Massachusetts, individuals will be required to complete continuing professional education credits every few years. Becoming a part of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is also recommended along with membership in various Massachusetts-based accounting groups.