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Online CPA Courses

The very thought of taking the CPA exam can be nerve-racking. The preparation and the exam itself are both highly challenging tasks. However, successfully passing the CPA exam can be one of the most rewarding experiences in terms of career advancement for accountants. And if you do it with the right amount of effort and investment of time, you might be able to excel more than you imagine.

To help students on their path to becoming CPAs, online CPA courses are widely available. These comprehensive courses are designed to give aspiring CPAs an in-depth understanding of public accounting and related topics. Let’s take a look at the kind of courses that are now being offered, however before we talk about the preparation required for a CPA exam, it is important to take a look at what the exam comprises of and what broad areas need to be covered.

Parts of a CPA Exam

The CPA exam comprises of four main sections that are:

  • Auditing & Attestations (AUD)
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR)
  • Regulation (REG)
  • Business Environment & Concepts (BEC)

Online CPA courses are designed to cover these four components of the exam in extensive detail.

Online CPA Courses

CPA courses can be completed in an online format. However, you must keep in mind that you cannot take the CPA exam online; it can only be taken at a registered testing center.

To prepare for your CPA exam online, you may enroll yourself in a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. This four year program would help you fulfill the credit hours criteria you need to meet to be able to sit for the exam. Bear in mind that if you are doing an accounting degree with a CPA perspective, it will be tougher than a standard accounting degree. You will need more credit hours than a normal degree to graduate for one simple reason – the amount of detail involved for aspiring CPA professionals is much higher.

After you have graduated, you may enroll in a CPA preparation program online. Most such programs would have certain pre-requisites involving an understanding of basic level accounting and business concepts. Some programs may even require a minimum score on your GRE or GMAT exams for admission.

Enrolling in a preparation program is not compulsory. If you can prepare on your own, you may directly apply to sit for the CPA exam. However, enrolling in such a program is recommended. Theseprograms will not only help you revise the major concepts required for the CPA exam, but will also give you an overview of the time, formatting and the method of attempting the exam. If you are unable to find such a program, you can always check for online resources or printed books that can help.

Tips for CPAonline courses: If you are opting for online courses, keeping a few things in mind might be able to make the experience more worthwhile.

  • Determine a pace for yourself and study according to it. Following a pre-set timetable will help you achieve more instead of cramming a lot of concepts into your mind in a small amount of time
  • Make sure your family/friends are aware of your study schedule so that you are able to completely devote your time to it, without any distractions
  • Get in touch with other students taking similar courses and discuss concepts you find hard to understand. Peer interaction can really help in online and self-study cases

Typical Coursework

When looking for online courses, make sure the following areas are comprehensively covered in the preparatory program:

  • Advanced Accounting
  • Tax Policy and its Issues
  • Cost Accounting
  • Corporate Taxation
  • Estate and Gift Taxation
  • Tax Research and Planning
  • Government and Non-Profit Accounting
  • Principles of Auditing
  • Accounting Systems and Data Processing
  • International Accounting and Taxation
  • Analysis of Financial Statements
  • Advance Income Tax

Ethics Exam

After successfully passing the CPA exam, and before getting your license issued from the state board, you might be required to fulfill an ethics requirement. This would most likely involve the completion of an ethics exam or an ethics course. State requirements for this vary, so make sure you know whether this is compulsory in your state.

CPA License Requirements

You will be required to apply for your CPA license after you have passed the exam. The application will be made to your state’s board of accountancy. Once you become a CPA, you will need to renew your CPA license yearly or biannually, depending on your state’s relevant laws.

State Wise Variations in CPA Requirements

Educational requirements for the CPA exam vary state wise along with licensing requirements. For instance, a lot of states require 120 semester credit hours from candidates to be eligible to sit for the exam, and an additional 30 hours are required to become licensed. This 150 credit hour requirement roughly translates to 40 courses, amounting up to 120 hours, along with an additional 10 courses, which amount up to 30 more credit hours.

Another thing to note is that many state boards allow candidates to take the exam before finishing their education. Wisconsin is one such state.

Even though the CPA exam itself is same across the country, the licensing and certification requirements vary according to the state you are in. Differences in state requirements are basically in the categories of:

  • Education
  • Experience

In general, all state boards require the candidates to hold at least a bachelor’s degree and must have completed a certain number of accounting and business courses.

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