South Carolina requires that individuals seeking to become certified public accountants be 18 years old and hold a bachelor’s degree. The state does not require that individuals be a U.S. citizen or a resident of South Carolina. 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.
Step 1: CPA exam in South Carolina
Sitting for the CPA exam in South Carolina requires that candidates posses a bachelor’s degree, which includes coursework in accounting and other business-related courses. Applicants can sit for the exam when they have completed 120 hours of education.
Education requirements in South Carolina
Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Advanced degrees are accepted in lieu of a bachelor’s degree as long as the proper coursework has been completed.
The coursework includes:
- 24 semester hours of accounting in courses that are applicable to a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree and that cover:
- financial accounting, managerial accounting, taxation and auditing
- 24 semester hours of business courses that are applicable to a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree and that include:
- economics, finance, business law, management, computer science, statistics, ethics, marketing and accounting hours not counted in the previous list.
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 or higher from an accredited school.
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 in 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 an application fee of $135 plus exam fees. Those who are retaking the exam are required to pay a registration fee plus exam fees. The registration fees are $105 for four sections, $90 for three sections, $75 for two sections and $60 for one section.
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 section was taken. Examination credits expire by section, and applicants will lose credit for each section passed outside of the 18-month period.
Step 2: CPA license in South Carolina
After successfully passing all four sections of the exam, applicants may then apply to become a certified public accountant in South Carolina. Applicants must submit a licensure application to South Carolina along with a $150 application and licensing fee. Applicants are also required to submit a 2-inch by 2-inch photo along with transcripts and other supporting documentation.
In addition to passing the CPA exam, applicants must take 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 in South Carolina
South Carolina requires applicants to have completed 150 hours of education and hold a bachelor’s degree. Of the 150 hours, 36 must be in business, 24 must be in upper-level accounting and 12 must be in either financial accounting, managerial accounting, auditing or tax.
Work experience in South Carolina
One year of public accounting experience is required for licensing. Experience other than public accounting may count only as duties contributing to competence in public accounting. Five years of experience teaching accounting in a college or university recognized by the South Carolina State Board qualifies.
Out-of-state CPA licenses
South Carolina allows CPAs in good standing and licensed in other states or U.S. jurisdictions to practice in the state as long as the issuing state has been verified to be substantially equivalent to the NASBA’s Qualification Appraisal and the applicant has four years of experience. Applicants must also pass the ethics exam. South Carolina also recognizes individuals who hold foreign CPA certificates of licensure, provided they meet the requirements of South Carolina’s State Board of Public Accountancy.
Disclaimer: Requirements for South Carolina 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 South Carolina’s CPA requirements.
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