District of Columbia CPA License Requirements and Exams

The District of Columbia requires that individuals seeking to become certified public accountants be 18 years of age and hold a bachelor’s degree. Candidates do not have to be a U.S. citizen but do have to reside in Washington, D.C. Applicants are also 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 Washington, D.C.

Sitting for the CPA exam in the District of Columbia requires that candidates hold a bachelor’s degree and have 150 hours of education, which includes coursework in accounting and other accounting-related courses.

Education requirements

Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and must have 150 hours of education. Applicants can sit for the exam when they are within 90 days of obtaining their degree.

The coursework includes:

  • 15 semester hours in accounting that include the following:
    • commercial law, financial accounting, auditing, cost accounting and federal income taxes
  • 12 semester hours in accounting-related subjects, such as finance

Application and test fees

Pearson VUE manages the application process for the District of Columbia. Applicants must arrange to have their educational transcripts sent to Pearson VUE, showing proof of a bachelor’s degree along with a 2-inch by 2-inch photo.

The process to apply for the CPA exam starts with requesting and receiving authorization to take the test, followed by acknowledgement from the district 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 computer-based exam is available during the first two months of each calendar quarter.

District law requires that first-time applicants submit exam fees, which also include a $65 application fee and a $110 licensing fee. The application and licensing fees must be paid together upfront. Those who are retaking the exam are required to pay the same fees. Each section of the exam has a specified administration fee. Applicants may take one or more of the four required sections at a time.

The Uniform CPA Examination comprises four sections:

  • Auditing and Attestation
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Regulation
  • Business Environment and Concepts

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 is 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 Washington, D.C.

After successfully passing all four sections of the exam, applicants may then apply to become a certified public accountant in Washington, D.C. Applicants must submit a licensure application with the District of Columbia.

Education in Washington, D.C.

The District of Columbia requires applicants to have completed 150 hours of education and hold a bachelor’s degree. At a minimum, courses must consist of the following:

  • 27 semester hours in accounting courses covering some or all of the following:
    • 3 semester of commercial law
    • 24 semester hours in financial accounting, auditing, cost accounting and federal income taxes

Work experience

One year of experience is required for licensing, which can be fulfilled in government, industry, academia or public practice.

Out-of-district CPA licenses

The District of Columbia allows CPAs in good standing and licensed in other states or U.S. jurisdictions to practice in the district as long as the issuing state has been verified to be substantially equivalent to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s Qualification Appraisal. The District of Columbia recognizes individuals who hold foreign CPA certificates of licensure, provided they meet the requirements of the District of Columbia Board of Public Accountancy.

Disclaimer: Requirements for District of Columbia CPA test-takers and license applicants are subject to change. Visit the district’s Board of Public Accountancy website to check for recent revisions to the District of Columbia’s CPA requirements.


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