How to Become a CPA in Massachusetts


Published June 30, 2023

Learn about specific Massachusetts CPA requirements and what it takes to access this growing field in the Bay State with this helpful guide. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Known for its numerous and prestigious universities, Massachusetts ranks among the most educated states in the nation. The Bay State hosts a productive labor market and one of the country's most concentrated financial services sectors.

Massachusetts' financial services industry comprises 15% of the state economy, with over 200,000 professionals — including certified public accountants (CPAs). These advanced accounting professionals have the skills and training to manage complex financial challenges.

Prospective professionals can consider many accounting programs in Massachusetts. On this page, explore Massachusetts' CPA requirements. Learn the specifics of the licensure process, including the education, examination, and experience needed.

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Education Requirements for Becoming a CPA in Massachusetts

According to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), each CPA candidate in Massachusetts needs a bachelor's degree with at least 120 credits to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination. These credits must adequately cover accounting and business coursework.

For state licensure, a candidate needs 150 total credits, including a bachelor's degree at minimum. They also need an appropriate amount of accounting and business credits. For the 30 additional post-bachelor's credits, CPA candidates may take standalone courses, complete a graduate degree, or pursue a bachelor's-to-master's program.

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Concentrations, Credits, and Course Acceptance

To meet the Massachusetts CPA requirements, you need a bachelor's degree and 120 credits for the exam and 150 credits in total for licensure. The 120 credits must feature at least 21 credits in accounting and nine credits in business.

Accounting courses must cover:

  • Auditing
  • Financial accounting
  • Management or cost accounting
  • Taxation

Business courses must cover:

  • Business law and U.S. Uniform Commercial Code
  • Finance
  • Information systems

For licensure, the 150 credits must include at least 30 credits in accounting and 24 credits in business.

Accounting courses must cover:

  • Auditing
  • Management accounting
  • Taxation

Business courses must cover:

  • Business law and U.S. Uniform Commercial Code
  • Finance
  • Information systems
  • Business organizations, communication, economics, or professional ethics

For the 150 credit requirement, candidates can use 18 graduate accounting credits and 18 graduate business credits instead of undergraduate credits. Internship credits may count toward accounting electives but not specific subject requirements. Personal finance courses do not qualify as finance courses.

CLEP and CPA review courses can count toward the 150 credit requirement if taken at an accredited college or university. Correspondence and commercial review courses do not qualify.

Every credit must be represented on an official transcript, making transfer credits ineligible. All degrees and courses must come from an accredited U.S. school or an institution evaluated by the NASBA International Evaluation Services.

Massachusetts Experience Requirements

According to the Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy, a CPA candidate needs at least 2,000 hours of accounting experience to qualify for state licensure. The experience must be supervised by an active CPA in a public accounting firm or non-public accounting settings like academia or the government.

The experience can be part time or full time, as long as it falls within 1-3 years of public accounting or a 3-9 year timeframe in non-public accounting. Candidates must have supervised experience verified with an experience/employment letter.

As a one-tier state since 2017, Massachusetts lets CPA candidates complete their experience before or after taking the CPA examination. The following list highlights the services and skills that qualify as professional accounting experience.

  • Accounting
  • Attest
  • Compilation
  • Consulting
  • Financial advisory
  • Management advisory
  • Tax

CPA Exam Requirements

CPA candidates in Massachusetts take the Uniform CPA Exam through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Regardless of the location, every CPA exam has the same four sections:

Since the steps to qualify and apply for the exam vary by state, the following sections explore the specifics of Massachusetts' CPA requirements.

Eligibility to Take the Exam

To sit for the CPA exam in Massachusetts, a candidate must have completed a bachelor's degree and 120 credits or be on track to complete the requirements within 90 days of taking the exam. The 120 credits must include 21 accounting and nine business credits, as well.

Massachusetts has no expiration dates on credits, so candidates can take the exam at any time after graduation. Each applicant must be 18 years old and have a Social Security number, but citizenship and residency are not required. Massachusetts does not require CPA candidates to pass an ethics exam.

Applying for and Scheduling the Exam

In Massachusetts, individuals apply through CPA Central. First-time applications cost $195.00.

Applicants must send official transcripts directly from each school attended. Candidates who are currently enrolled need to submit a signed Certificate of Enrollment verifying they will complete the requirements within 90 days. Incomplete applications will result in voided exam scores and forfeited fees.

When submitting an application, candidates pay a fee of $238.15 for each section. Test-takers can take more than one section at a time if they finish them within a six-month testing window.

After submitting payment and receiving approval, candidates receive a Notice to Schedule. Test-takers must pass all four sections within 18 months in whatever order they choose. Failed tests can be retaken, just not in the same test window. Reexaminations cost $117 for one section and $20 for each additional section.

After Passing the Exam

Since exam results do not expire, candidates can apply for licensure at any point after completing the requirements.

To apply for state licensure, you must submit applications through the Board of Public Accountancy's ePlace Portal. Complete applications must include:

CPA licenses can be checked and verified on the Division of Occupational Licensure's database.

Maintaining Licensure

CPA licenses expire every two years in Massachusetts. CPAs will receive a renewal notice about 60 days before expiration. Expired licenses incur a late fee, but after 20 months, the license will require a reinstatement application.

To renew, a CPA needs to complete 80 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) every two years. First-time renewals may require fewer credits depending on the date of licensure. Each CPA pays a $161 renewal fee.

Eligible CPE hours come from the following:

An out-of-state CPA can practice in Massachusetts if they hold a valid license from a state with substantially equivalent requirements. Reciprocal licenses are available for CPAs from other states with more than four years of experience. Professionals can own accounting firms in Massachusetts as long as 50% of the ownership has state licensure.

Questions About CPAs in Massachusetts

How do I become a CPA in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts' CPA requirements include a minimum of a bachelor's degree, 150 credits, a passing grade on the CPA exam, and one year of supervised public accounting experience.

What are the educational requirements for a CPA in Massachusetts?

The educational requirements for CPAs in Massachusetts have two stages: examination and licensure. To qualify for the examination, candidates need a bachelor's degree and 120 credits, including 21 accounting credits and nine business credits. To qualify for licensure, candidates need a bachelor's degree and 150 credits, including 30 accounting credits and 24 business credits.

How long does it take in Massachusetts to become a CPA?

The length of time required to become a CPA in Massachusetts can vary. It typically takes four years to complete the bachelor's degree, one year to complete the additional 30 credits, 18 months to complete the examination, and one year to complete the experience. In total, that works out to 7.5 years.

Is getting a CPA license in Massachusetts hard?

Meeting Massachusetts' CPA requirements can be challenging and time consuming. Prospective CPAs need to complete the extensive educational requirements and pass the CPA exam. According to AICPA, the pass rates for the exam fall between 44% and 60%, depending on the section.

What are the three requirements to obtain a CPA license in Massachusetts?

To become a CPA in Massachusetts, each candidate must meet education, examination, and experience requirements. For education, they need a bachelor's degree and 150 credits. For the examination, they need to pass the CPA Uniform Exam. For experience, they need at least one year of public accounting experience.

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