Massachusetts requires that individuals seeking to become certified public accountants hold a bachelor’s degree and be at least 18 years of age. Applicants are not required to be a U.S. citizen. However, applicants must be a resident of Massachusetts and hold 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 Massachusetts
Sitting for the CPA exam in Massachusetts requires that candidates possess a bachelor’s degree, which includes coursework in accounting and general business courses.
Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and must have 120 hours of education.
The coursework includes:
- 21 credits in accounting to include coverage in financial accounting, audit, management accounting and taxation
- 9 credits in business to include information systems, finance and business law
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 from an accredited school. Applicants are also required to submit a 2-inch by 2-inch photo taken within three months of submitting the application.
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 $195 plus exam fees. Those who are retaking the exam are required to pay a registration fee per section plus exam fees. Registration fees are $177 for four sections, $157 for three sections, $137 for two sections and $117 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 Massachusetts
After successfully passing all four sections of the CPA exam and obtaining the required work experience, applicants may then apply to become a certified public accountant in Massachusetts. Applicants must submit a licensure application to Massachusetts along with a $175 fee.
In addition to a bachelor’s degree, Massachusetts requires applicants to have completed 150 hours of education. The 150 hours must include the following:
- 18 graduate credits or 30 undergraduate credits or a combination thereof, to include financial accounting, audit, taxation and management accounting
- 18 graduate credits or 24 undergraduate credits in business
Work experience in Massachusetts
To qualify for a full report license, one year of public accounting experience is required, which includes 1,000 hours in the report function on full disclosure financial statements, of which not more than 300 hours may consist of full disclosure compilations. One year of governmental field audit work may be accepted at the discretion of the board for a full report license.
For a non-report license, one year of public accounting experience or three years of nonpublic accounting experience is required in a position that is substantially equivalent to public accounting. Nonpublic accounting experience must be beyond entry level and under the supervision of a CPA. Applicants with a graduate degree in accounting, business administration or law qualify for a non-report license.
Out-of-state CPA licenses
Massachusetts allows CPAs in good standing and licensed in other states or U.S. jurisdictions to practice in the state as long as they pay a licensing fee and the issuing state has been verified to be substantially equivalent to the NASBA’s Qualification Appraisal. Massachusetts also recognizes individuals who hold Canadian CPA certificates of licensure, provided they meet the requirements of the Massachusetts State Board of Public Accountancy. All other foreign CPA licensure requests are handled on a case-by-case basis.
Disclaimer: Requirements for Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts’ CPA requirements.
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