Full Form of CPA

Updated on March 22, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Full-Form of CPA (Certified Public Accountant)

Full form of CPA is Certified Public Accountant. It is a degree recognized all across the globe and the exams for the same are organized and conducted by AICPA (also known as American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) and aspirants pursuing this course can complete the same and attain the degree in a matter of just seven months to one year.

How to Become a CPA?

  • He or she must necessarily have a bachelors’ degree in the field of accounting.
  • He or she must have completed a total of one hundred and fifty semester hours of education. An aspirant can complete the required semester hours by earning a masters’ degree, or enrolling in a five-year program, or undergoing a graduate-level course along with an ongoing undergraduate course, double major, or etc.
  • Some employers these days seek to hire candidates who are a CPA as well as an MBA degree holder. Aspirants can pursue an MBA degree and fit the employers’ expectations as well as complete the mandatory 150 semester hours at the same time.
  • An aspirant will also have to pursue and qualify for the Uniform CPA Exam, which is organized by AICPA.
  • An aspirant will also need to apply and obtain licensure to become a Certified Public Accountant.
  • After obtaining licensure from the country’s Board of Accountancy, a Certified Public Accountant shall be required to continue their further education by actively participating in development opportunities so that they remain updated with the ever-changing requirements of the industry.
Full Form of CPA

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Education Requirement of CPA

The educational requirements of a Certified Public Accountant are a bachelors’ degree in accounting along with 150 semester hours, CPA certification (Uniform CPA Exam), and a minimum of two years experience in public accounting. This can also consider pursuing an MBA for fulfilling the 30 hours requirements.

Work Experience of Certified Public Accountant

The requirements for work experience for a CPA aspirant may differ from country to country. Some countries/ jurisdictions will require a minimum of 2 years of public accounting experience, while some countries/ jurisdictions are also fine with non-public accounting work experience. States with a tier-I system will make it mandatory for aspirants to qualify for the Certified Public Accountant exam and attain the relevant experience, too, for obtaining the CPA certificate as licensure. States with a tier-II system give the certification as soon as the student clears the CPA exam and allows them to fulfill relevant experience requirements after that.


Certified Public Accountant exams are single-level examinations and it consists of only four papers. It is an MCQ or multi-choice question examination. A candidate will have to appear for this single-level exam and will need to answer 4 exam papers, and these questions will be asked in the form of multi-choice questions or MCQs.

The exams in CPA are conducted on the following subjects-

  1. Financial Accounting and Reporting- Maximum time allotted 4 hours
  2. Auditing and Attestation- Maximum time allotted 4 hours
  3. Regulation- Maximum time allotted 3 hours
  4. Business Environment and Concepts- Maximum time allotted 3 hours.


The average salary of a CPA in the US is $119,000 as per the AICPA (Association of the International Certified Professional Accountants). The salary quoted above does not include bonuses or any sort of incentives. This can expect an average increment of 4 to 5 percent each year.


#1 – Global Recognition

CPA course is offered and organized by AICPA ((also known as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants), which happens to be the world’s largest accounting association. The course is therefore regarded as a perfect opportunity for professionals that have a CA, CS, ICWA, MBA in finance, LLB, B.Com, and M.Com degree and are seeking a certificate that is recognized all across the globe.

#2 – Immense Career Opportunities

This can apply to various types of organizations, irrespective of the industry they are operating in. CPAs can apply for jobs in a diverse range of industries like, research firms, private equity firms, investment banks, mutual funds, hedge funds, accounting firms, auditing firms, mergers, acquisitions, etc.

#3 – Lot of Ease and Flexibility

An aspirant pursuing CPA can complete the course within seven months to a one-year timeframe. It is an online exam conducted on a single level where the applicant will only need to clear 4 papers.

Difference Between CPA and CA

  • CPA is the short form used for Certified Public Accountants, whereas CA is the short form used for Chartered Accountant.
  • CPA is organized by AICPA, whereas CA is organized by ICAI.
  • CA is an Indian course, and individuals with this degree are not much recognized globally. CPA being an international course, receives recognition all across the globe.
  • CA takes an average minimum of 4 to 5 years for an aspirant to complete. On the other hand, an individual pursuing CPA can complete the degree in a minimum of 7 months to 1 year.
  • An aspirant willing to pursue CPA will necessarily need to have a B.Com degree, 150 semester hours, CPA certification (Uniform CPA Exam), and a minimum of two years of experience in public accounting. In the case of CA, an aspirant will not need to hold a bachelor’s degree. He or she can pursue CA right after completing his or her class 12 examinations.
  • The passing percentage in CA is hardly 5 percent, whereas the passing percentage in CPA is nearly 45 percent.


A Certified Public Accountant is the highest level of degree one can achieve in the field of accountancy. It is a globally recognized course, and an individual with this degree will have the advantage of serving diverse industries like accounting firms, auditing firms, mergers and acquisitions, hedge funds, research firms, private equity firms, investment banks, etc. A CPA degree is well-suited for professionals seeking international recognition and excellence in the field of accountancy.

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