South Carolina CPA Requirements


Updated September 19, 2023

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Are you prepared to be a certified public accountant in South Carolina? In this guide, you can learn more about South Carolina's education and experience requirements for future CPAs. 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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Charleston, South Carolina, in the French Quarter at twilight. Credit: Sean Pavone / iStock / Getty Images Plus

South Carolina's warm climate and diverse landscape are just two reasons the state is a great place to work. The Palmetto State's beaches and golf courses draw tourists from around the world, helping drive its economic growth and job market. The state's top-ranked colleges and universities can help you get started on your journey to becoming a CPA in South Carolina.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants and auditors in South Carolina earned a median wage of $72,820 as of May 2022. This salary can go a long way given the state's low cost of living. Certified public accountants (CPAs), who often earn higher wages than other accountants, may find work in South Carolina's burgeoning education, healthcare, automotive, or manufacturing industries.

While the road to becoming a CPA is long and challenging, with the right plan in place, you can get the education and experience you need. Find out more about how to become a CPA in South Carolina.

Education Requirements for Becoming a CPA in South Carolina

Before you can sit for the Uniform CPA Exam, South Carolina requires you to complete 120 college credits, including a bachelor's degree. These credits must include four courses at the junior level or above — auditing, cost/managerial accounting, intermediate/financial accounting, and a U.S. tax course. You also need 24 credits of business courses.

After passing the exam, you need another 30 credits before you can apply for a license to practice as a public accountant. These credits need to include 36 semester hours of accounting and 36 hours of business courses.

While South Carolina does not require a master's degree for this career, enrolling in an accelerated bachelor's-to-master's program can help you meet these requirements quickly and efficiently.

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Concentrations, Credits, and Course Acceptance

To become a CPA, you do not need to major in accounting or business. It may help to choose one of these majors, however, since South Carolina CPA requirements include a specific list of courses students need to complete.

Prior to applying for the Uniform CPA Exam, South Carolina students must hold a bachelor's degree with 24 semester credits of accounting-specific courses, including third- or- fourth-year level courses in auditing, intermediate or financial accounting, cost or managerial accounting, and U.S. taxation. The state accepts up to 12 credits of lower-level courses. You also need 24 credits of business courses at any level.

Upon applying for a CPA license, you need 36 credits in accounting with 24 at the third-year level or above, and 36 credits in business. You may not count the same course toward both business and accounting credit requirements.

South Carolina does not accept credits earned through non-traditional methods such as prior learning assessment, work or life experience, placement credit, or exemption by exam. However, the state does recognize courses taken at the undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral levels from a regionally accredited school.

The courses listed below may help you meet South Carolina's educational requirements.

  • Financial accounting
  • Managerial accounting
  • Taxation
  • Auditing
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Finance
  • Business law

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South Carolina Experience Requirements

You must complete one year of qualifying accounting experience to apply for a South Carolina CPA license. What does the state consider qualifying accounting experience?

You can meet this requirement in one of three ways:

  • Spend 12 months serving under the direct supervision and review of a CPA or public accountant licensed in any state or the District of Columbia.
  • Teach accounting at the college or university level for five years. The institution where you teach must hold recognition from the South Carolina Board of Accountancy.
  • Any combination of experience that the board determines is substantial enough to meet this requirement.

The board expects applicants to complete their experience requirements only after finishing at least 24 credits in accounting education. These credits should include financial accounting, managerial accounting, taxation, and auditing at the junior level or above.

When applying for your CPA license, you must document your work using a verification of experience form. You will list the dates that you gained your experience, identify the CPA who verifies your work, and write a description of the tasks you performed. Both you and your supervising CPA will sign this document.

CPA Exam Requirements

Each state determines the education and experience required to become a licensed CPA in their jurisdiction. The single common factor among all the states, however, is the Uniform CPA Examination. While the exam is constant, the requirements surrounding it are not. Read on to discover South Carolina's eligibility requirements and application process.

Eligibility to Take the Exam

To take the CPA exam in South Carolina, you must be at least 18 years old and of good moral character. In this state, "good moral character" means you have no criminal convictions or your CPA license has not been revoked due to dishonesty or fraud. You do not need to hold U.S. citizenship or South Carolina residency, but you must have a social security number or lawful permanent residency number (green card).

South Carolina's academic requirements include earning 120 credits, including a bachelor's degree. Your transcript must include at least 24 credits in accounting-specific courses. These need to include courses in auditing, intermediate/financial accounting, cost/managerial accounting, and U.S. taxation at the junior level or higher.

South Carolina sets 12 credits as the maximum number of lower-level courses it will accept toward meeting its accounting-course requirement. Applicants also need 24 credits of business courses.

The state does not accept credits earned through non-traditional methods. For example, you cannot count credits you earned through placement credit, exemption by exam, or prior learning assessments.

Applying for and Scheduling the Exam

If you meet the educational and personal requirements to sit for the CPA exam in South Carolina, you can apply on the NASBA website. You'll need to create a username and password, and you can use your credit card to pay the $135 first-time applicant fee.

Contact the registrar at each school you have attended to ask them to send an official transcript directly to CPA Examination Services. This transcript should only include for-credit courses from accredited colleges or universities. These can include online courses, but commercial CPA preparation classes do not qualify.

If you earned your credits outside the U.S., you need to have them evaluated and submit the evaluation report to CPA Examination Services. Applicants with disabilities should submit their request for accommodations along with their applications.

You can apply to take up to four parts of the exam — auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting, or regulation. Each part of the exam costs $238.15. Examination fees are not refundable except under extraordinary circumstances.

Make sure you apply only for exam sections you plan to complete in the next six months. You need to complete all four sections within 18 months of passing the first exam.

After Passing the Exam

Once you pass all four parts of the CPA exam, you need to complete your educational, experience, and ethics requirements before applying for state licensure. Then, submit the online application through the South Carolina Board of Accountancy, or print a paper application from the site.

You'll need to pay your $50 application fee and send a copy of your state-issued ID, social security card, and passport-size photo. With your application, you can upload the certificate from a professional ethics course and evidence of your experience.

If you are applying to become certified by reciprocity, you will need to upload the Interstate Exchange of Examination form, which you can print from the board's website.

Maintaining Licensure

Once licensed, you must renew your license every year. The Board of Accountancy will send 3-5 emails reminding you of the expiration date, so it's important to keep the board current on your contact information.

To renew your license, complete 40 continuing professional education (CPE) credits in the calendar year, including two credits in ethics. As of 2022, South Carolina no longer requires a specific ethics course. Now, you may meet this criterion through any qualifying course in regulatory or behavioral ethics. The South Carolina Association of CPAs offers many CPE courses, including qualifying ethics courses.

You renew your license in two steps. First, complete the renewal form with the South Carolina Board of Accountancy and pay your $80 renewal fee. Then, submit proof of your continuing professional education credits using the annual continuing education report form and attach it to the renewal form.

You may carry over up to 20 CPE credits from one year to the next. You can report carryover credits as well as new credits on your report form. This form must be signed and accompanied by certificates of completion for any self-study courses.

Questions About CPAs in South Carolina

How do I become a CPA in South Carolina?

First, you should earn a bachelor's degree that includes at least 24 credits in accounting-related courses. Then, you need to pass the Uniform CPA Exam. Finally, you must complete one year of qualifying experience and earn an additional 30 college credits before applying for your CPA license.

Who can take the CPA licensure exam in South Carolina?

To take the CPA exam in South Carolina, you must be at least 18 years old, be of good moral character, and hold a bachelor's degree. Your degree should include 120 total credits and 24 credits in accounting-specific courses.

How long does it take in South Carolina to become a CPA?

Becoming a South Carolina CPA can take 6-10 years. You must complete a four-year degree plus an additional year of study, perform a full year of work experience, and study for and pass the exam.

Is getting a CPA license in South Carolina hard?

The road to becoming a CPA is long and includes many challenging requirements. To earn a South Carolina CPA license, you need to complete 150 higher education credits, perform one year of supervised experience, and pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

Does South Carolina have CPA reciprocity?

Yes, if you are a licensed CPA in another state, you can apply for a South Carolina license through reciprocity. You can find both an electronic and a paper application for a license on the South Carolina Board of Accountancy website.

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