Is certification as beneficial to your career as people claim? When it comes to accounting, the answer is a resounding “yes.”
Certified public accountants (CPAs) earn higher salaries—10 to 15% more than unlicensed accountants—according to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). In New York City, the average public accountant earns $70,000 annually, while the average CPA earns $82,786. CPAs also tend to receive higher pay increases and are seen as more qualified for leadership positions than other accountants.
The process to become a CPA in New York State requires preparation, education, and experience. In this article, we’ll detail the New York CPA requirements and exam information to help you prepare for a career as one of the state’s top accountants.
Table of Contents
- Summary of NYS CPA License Requirements
- Education Requirements
- Experience Requirements
- CPA Exam Details
- More Information
Summary of New York CPA License Requirements
To become a certified public accountant in New York State, you must:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Meet the education requirements outlined by the New York State Education Department (NYSED)
- Meet the experience requirements outlined by the NYSED
- Pass the CPA Exam
- Pay the $427 fee for licensure
- Be of good moral character
You don’t necessarily have to meet these requirements in a specific order—in fact, you may take the exam before completing your education or experience requirements. However, you will not earn your license until you meet all of the requirements.
New York CPA Requirements: Education
150-Semester Hour Pathway
Today, most accountants applying for licensure in the state of New York will do so under the 150-Semester Hour Pathway. Essentially, you must have at least 150 semester hours worth of appropriate college education. There are two primary ways to meet this requirement:
- Complete an accounting program registered by the NYSED as licensure-qualifying OR;
- Complete a program accredited in business and accounting by the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
The Lubin School of Business at Pace University is one of 2 percent of schools in the world to meet the second requirement. Graduating from the Pace online Master of Science in Accounting program is a hassle-free way to fulfill the education portion of the New York CPA license requirements.
A third, more complicated option is to earn a postsecondary education equivalent to that of a NYS Licensure Qualifying Registered Program. The NYSED will determine if you qualify based on your official transcripts which must, at minimum, show that:
- You have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from a university accredited by an NYSED-approved agency AND;
- You have completed 150 semester hours, with at least 33 being in accounting and 36 in general business electives applicable to the field.
- Financial accounting and reporting
- Cost or managerial accounting
- Auditing and attestation services
- Complete a 150-semester hour program accredited in business and accounting by the AACSB OR;
- Complete a 150-hour program registered as licensure-qualifying by the NYSED OR;
- Complete 150-hour post-secondary program equivalent to that of a New York State Licensure Qualifying Registered Program.
- Have an active license issued from a state with comparable licensing requirements AND;
- Be able to certify at least four years of post-licensure experience under supervision of a CPA within the past decade.
- Have an active license issued before August 1, 2009 from a state with comparable licensing requirements AND;
- Be unable to certify 4 years of post-certification experience under supervision of a CPA within the past decade AND;
- Complete 120 semester hours of education.
- Completed your education requirement prior to August 1, 2009 AND;
- Applied for licensure prior to August 1, 2009 AND;
- Are not licensed in another state.
- Have 15 years of experience under the direct supervision of a US CPA.
- Auditing and attestation
- Financial advisory
- Management advisory
- Auditing and attestation
- Business environment and concepts
- Financial accounting and reporting
Note that accounting or CPA exam review courses taken for academic credit, such as Wiley CPAExcel or Becker’s CPA Exam Review, do not count toward the 33 semester hour accounting course work requirement. However, they may count toward business electives or overall course requirements.
Although 150 credits of education is required for licensing, you do not have to wait that long to take the CPA exams. In NYS, you can sit for the CPA exam as soon as you complete 120 credits with at least one course completed in each of the the following areas:
If you’ve already earned your CPA license in another state, or you have a significant amount of accounting experience already, you may qualify for one of the following pathways, which may fulfill your education requirement.
Licensure by Endorsement
Applicants with an active CPA license issued in another state with significantly comparable licensing requirements to New York may be able to earn their NYS license by endorsement. In addition to having an active license, applicants must be able to certify at least 4 years of acceptable post-licensure experience (i.e. 4 years working under direct supervision of a US CPA) within the last decade. If you cannot certify your experience, you may qualify for the 120-Semester Hour Pathway.
The Licensure by Endorsement pathway fulfills both the education and experience requirements for New York CPA licensure.
120-Semester Hour Pathway
New York CPA applicants with an active out-of-state license issued prior to August 1, 2009, who cannot certify 4 years of acceptable experience, can qualify for their New York CPA license with only 120 hours of education. As with the Licensure by Endorsement Pathway, the issuing state must have licensing requirements comparable to New York’s. Those with a license issued after August 1, 2009 must apply for the New York license under the 150-Hour Pathway or the Endorsement Pathway.
In addition, applicants who have applied for licensure and completed their education prior to August 1, 2009 and are not licensed in another state may be grandparented into this pathway.
15-Year Experience Pathway
Applicants who can verify at least 15 years of accounting experience under the direct supervision of a US certified public accountant may be approved to sit for the CPA exam under this pathway.
New York CPA Educational Requirements FAQ
Here are answers to three common questions to help you determine how to meet the educational requirements for New York CPA licensure.
What Pathway Do I Qualify For?
If you do not have an active CPA license, have never been certified in New York or any other state, or you earned your CPA license in another state after August 1, 2009, you will need to follow the 150-Semester Hour Pathway.
Can I Become a CPA with a Graduate Certificate in Accounting?
Unless the program consists of 150 semester hours and meets the accreditation and course requirements, a graduate certificate in accounting does not qualify you for CPA licensure in New York.
Can I Become a New York-Licensed CPA with an International Education?
In some cases, yes. The NASBA’s International Evaluation Service will need to review your official transcripts to determine if your education is equivalent to New York’s 150-Hour Pathway requirement.
New York CPA Educational Requirements Summary
|150 Semester Hours||
|Licensure by Endorsement||
|120 Semester Hours||
|120 Semester Hours (Grandparented)||
New York CPA Requirements: Experience
Adequate professional experience is the second major factor to becoming a licensed CPA in New York. You can obtain your experience in the following practice areas:
Depending on your pathway, you will need a certain amount of full-time experience, which is defined as working at least 35 hours per week. Working two part-time jobs (defined as 20 to 34 hours per week) simultaneously counts as full-time experience. Working one part-time job accounts for half of the experience and thus doubles the amount of time needed to fulfill this requirement.
While you don’t need to earn all of your experience at the same location, you and your supervisor(s) must be employed by the same organization(s), whether that’s a public accounting firm, private practice, government office, or in education. Keep in mind that working as a contractor or consultant does not adequately meet the experience requirement.
If you are applying under the 150-Hour Pathway, you’ll need at least one year’s worth of full-time experience under the direct supervision of a licensed, US certified public accountant who is authorized to practice within their jurisdiction in order to meet this requirement.
If you are being grandparented into the 120-Hour Pathway, you’ll need two year’s worth of full-time experience under a US CPA. You also have the option of taking additional courses to meet the 150-Hour Pathway requirements, thereby reducing your necessary experience to one year.
If you are applying for licensure via the 15-Year Experience or Licensure by Endorsement pathways, your professional experience is already accounted for.
New York CPA Exam Details
The CPA exam is a significant part of earning your CPA license. Many accounting master’s programs, including the Pace online MS in Accounting, incorporate exam prep into their coursework.
New York uses the Uniform CPA exam, prepared and graded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). This takes place on a computer and consists of four parts:
You will be given 4 hours of testing time for each part, plus 30 additional minutes to log in, complete the exam survey, and take a standardized break.
When to Take the Exam
You may take one part of the exam per calendar quarter and must complete all four parts within a rolling 18-month window. Any exam portions taken outside of this window will have their scores invalidated and must be retaken.
If you’re applying under the 150-hour pathway, you can take the exam before finishing your degree program as long as you have completed at least 120 semester credit hours. However, you will not receive your license until you complete the required 150 semester hours of education.
Fees, Scores, and Licensure
First-time applicants will need to pay one exam application fee of $170 plus an examination fee of $226.15 for each section of the exam.
To pass the CPA exam, you’ll need to score a minimum of 75 on each part. You can expect to receive your score(s) from the AICPA on a rolling timeline. Once you pass all four sections, your scores do not expire and you can complete your educational and/or experience requirements on your own time.
For More Information about CPA Requirements in New York
For information about specific details related to earning your CPA license in New York, including forms and continuing education requirements, visit the NYSED Office of the Professions websites for Public Accountancy and CPA Initial License.
About the Online Master of Science in Accounting at Pace University
The online Master of Science in Accounting prepares working professionals to excel in accounting roles at all levels of their organizations. The program blends real-world use cases with theory-based coursework, providing students with relevant job skills. The online MS in Accounting also helps prepare students for the CPA exam and other professional examinations.
For over a century, Pace University’s Lubin School of Business has been preparing professionals for fulfilling careers in business. From responsive professor communication to hands-on, project-based learning, we do everything we can to help students succeed.
The Lubin School of Business and its Accounting Department are dual-accredited in business and accounting by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International. This elite distinction is shared by fewer than 2% of business schools in the world. Pace is also the #1 private university in the nation for upward economic mobility of students according to Harvard University’s Opportunity Insight, which is evidence of the transformative education the university provides.
With graduates thriving in companies like the Big 4 accounting firms starting with AIG, Nickelodeon, L’Oreal, Tesla, leading accounting firms (e.g., Deloitte, KPMG, PwC, and E&Y) and financial institutions (e.g., Goldman Sachs, JPM Chase), and many others, Pace equips students with vital accounting knowledge while also creating the innovative thinkers that companies want.
To learn more about online Master of Science in Accounting, fill out the fields in this form to download a free brochure. If you have any questions at any time, please contact an admission advisor at (866) 864-2577.