Accounting @ Berkeley

Center for Financial Reporting & Management

How Do I Become an Accountant?

That depends on where you want your career to take you. You can apply the strong foundation in quantitative analysis, core business skills, and business ethics that Accounting @ Berkeley provides to launch a career working in any business sector, in management consulting, at a public accounting firm, or in government–and that's just a few of the more obvious examples.

Accounting Professional

Every business large or small, in every sector, relies on accounting professionals–that includes leading technology firms, manufacturers, and retailers, health care companies, banks, and consulting firms. Taking our accounting coursework prepares you to step into the world of CFOs, auditors, controllers, and corporate treasurers.

Certified Public Accountant

There are three steps to becoming a CPA, and Accounting @ Berkeley can help you prepare for and accomplish all three.

The rules for becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) are set by the State of California, and the sooner you start planning your coursework, the easier your pathway will be. The Center for Financial Reporting and Management offers workshops on coursework requirements, and academic and career counseling to help you make the best choices to reach your destination.

We recommend you participate in a CPA exam preparation program. Berkeley Extension has an exceptional program. Follow this link to learn more.

Step One: Education

The California Board of Accountancy (CBA) requires a bachelor's degree and 150 semester units; 78 of those units must be in the following areas:

  • 24 semester units in accounting subjects, which includes: Accounting, Financial Reporting, Auditing, and Taxation.
  • 24 semester units in business-related subjects, which includes: Business Administration, Economics, Marketing, Finance, and Statistics.
  • 20 semester units in accounting study, which includes a combination of the following: a minimum of 6 semester units in accounting subjects; a maximum of 14 semester units in business-related subjects; a maximum of 9 units in skills-based coursework, such as foreign languages/cultural & ethical studies, or industry-based courses; a maximum of 4 semester units in internships/independent studies in accounting and/or business-related subjects.
  • 10 semester units in ethics study, which includes: Auditing, Organizational Behavior, Business Law, and Corporate Social Responsibility. A maximum of 3 semester units can come from philosophy, theology, or religion.

Step Two: CPA Exam

Once you have completed your undergraduate degree, you can apply to the California Board of Accountancy to take the CPA exam. It typically takes 12 to 18 months to complete this four-part exam. The accounting classes you take here will prepare you for this state exam.

Step Three: Experience

California requires a year of accounting-related work experience before granting a CPA license. This experience can be at a public accounting firm, or in a finance or accounting role at a company, nonprofit, or in the public sector.

Contact to discuss a coursework plan that will work for you.


Following are several useful tools to help you consider and prepare for a career in Accounting, including information on studying Accounting at Berkeley and the requirements for becoming a CPA.

  • What Does It Take to Become a CPA?
  • Meeting California CPA Requirements
  • UC Berkeley Accounting Student FAQ
  • California Board of Accountancy Educational Requirements
  • Haas Courses for CPA Licensure
  • CPA Requirements: Self Assessment Worksheet