Colorado requires that individuals seeking to become certified public accountants hold a bachelor’s degree. The state does not require that individuals be a U.S. citizen or a resident of Colorado. However, applicants are required to have a valid Social Security number. Individuals who meet these qualifications can take the first step to getting licensed by taking the Uniform CPA Examination. There is no age minimum to sit for the exam.
Step 1: CPA exam in Colorado
Candidates wishing to sit for the CPA exam in Colorado must hold a bachelor’s degree, which includes coursework in accounting and other business-related courses.
Education requirements in Colorado
Applicants must have bachelor’s degree from a nationally or regionally accredited U.S. degree-granting educational institution or the equivalent foreign education. Advanced degrees and professional training are not accepted in lieu of a bachelor’s degree.
The coursework includes:
- 27 semester hours in accounting (21 in specialized accounting courses)
- 21 semester hours in other business administration courses
Application and test fees
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) administers the exam. Applicants must arrange to have their educational transcripts sent to NASBA, showing proof of a bachelor’s degree.
The process to apply for the CPA exam starts with requesting and receiving authorization to take the test, followed by acknowledgement from the state and official notice to schedule (NTS) the exam. Once this process is completed, applicants can select a date to take the CPA exam. The NTS expires after six months, after which candidates must submit a new application. The exam is given the first two months of each calendar quarter.
State law requires that first-time applicants submit a $150 application fee and an examination fee for the sections of the exam that they are taking. Those who are retaking the exam are required to pay a $75 registration fee and an additional fee for each section they are taking.
In addition to the state’s application fee, there are substantial administrative costs that must be paid in advance to the NASBA.
The Uniform CPA Examination comprises four sections:
- Auditing and Attestation
- Financial Accounting and Reporting
- Business Environment and Concepts
Each section of the exam has a specified administration fee. Applicants may take one or more of the four required sections at a time. In addition to the administration fee for each section, CPA exam applicants are charged a separate fee for each testing session they take.
Taking, passing and retaking the CPA exam
The passing score for each of the four exam sections is 75. Applicants may take the sections individually and in any order, but are required to pass all four within a rolling 18-month period, which begins on the date the first examination section passed was taken.
Credit for any section passed shall be valid for 18 months from the actual date the examination sections were taken. Examination credit expires by section, and applicants will lose credit for each section passed outside the 18-month period.
Step 2: CPA license in Colorado
After successfully passing all four sections of the exam, applicants may then apply to become a certified public accountant in Colorado. Applicants must submit a licensure application to NASBA along with a $110 application fee.
In addition to passing the CPA exam, applicants must take and pass the AICPA Ethics Examination. Official verification, mailed directly from the AICPA, showing that the applicant passed the exam with a score of 90 or higher is required.
Education and experience requirements in Colorado
Education with experience: Bachelor’s degree from an accredited baccalaureate-granting college.
- 27 semester hours of non-duplicative accounting coursework at the undergraduate or graduate level, which must include:
- 21 semester hours in specialized accounting courses, including three semester hour courses concentrating on U.S. Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS)
- 21 semester hours of non-duplicative coursework in business administration at the undergraduate or graduate level, with no more than six semester hours in any single subject. The semester hours in excess of the 6-hour maximum may count toward the total 120 semester hour requirement.
Education only: A bachelor’s degree with 30 additional hours for a total of 150 semester hours from an accredited baccalaureate-granting college, OR a master’s degree, OR doctoral degree.
- 45 semester hours in accounting, which must include:
- 39 semester hours in specialized accounting courses
- 6 semester hours in auditing, including three semester hours or more in courses concentrating on U.S. GAAS.
- 36 semester hours in general business subjects with no more than 9 hours in any one subject.
Work experience in Colorado
Colorado requires candidates to have a minimum of 12 months of experience in public accounting under the direct supervision of a licensed CPA. The experience must have been received five years prior to or following passing the exam.
Out-of-state CPA licenses
Colorado allows CPAs in good standing and licensed in other states or U.S. jurisdictions to practice in the state. It also recognizes individuals who hold foreign CPA certificates of licensure, provided they meet the requirements of Colorado’s State Board of Public Accountancy.
Disclaimer: Requirements for Colorado CPA test-takers and license applicants are subject to change. Visit the state’s Board of Public Accountancy website to check for recent revisions to Colorado’s CPA requirements.
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