How to become a CPA without a Business Degree

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Are you thinking of becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) but didn’t major in business in university? Fret not, as there’s a clear path for you to achieve this prestigious designation. Here is what you need to know about the CPA pre-certification program, its requirements, and how you can open doors to new career opportunities, even without a business degree.

Entry Requirements

To be eligible for the CPA Professional Education Program, you need either a 120-credit hour degree or eight years of relevant work experience. The remarkable thing is that your degree doesn’t have to be in business. Whether it’s engineering, nursing, or folklore, you can still pursue the CPA program. If you lack a degree, you might be eligible based on your eight years of work experience, but keep in mind that there’s a separate pathway for those without a degree.

In addition to the degree or work experience, there are 14 prerequisite courses required for entry into the CPA Professional Education Program. You may receive exemptions for some courses if you’ve previously completed equivalent coursework. For example, if you took a statistics course as part of an engineering degree or studied business law while pursuing a law degree, you could be exempt from those specific preparatory courses.

If you need to take prerequisite courses, there are flexible options, including taking online CPA preparatory courses through the CPA Atlantic School of Business or through partnerships with French-speaking universities.

Preparatory Courses

The preparatory courses fall into two categories: non-core and core. The non-core courses cover general business topics, such as Introductory Financial Accounting and Introductory Management Accounting.

The core courses cover accounting topics, such as Taxation and Audit and Assurance. The core courses have more structured schedules and are offered four times a year. While many students opt to take one course per semester, there are options for faster progression, depending on your circumstances.

The Professional Education Program

Once you meet the degree requirement and complete the 14 prerequisite courses, you can enter the Professional Education Program, offered in both French and English.

This part-time online program is designed for working professionals. It includes six 8-week modules with mandatory weekend workshops, CPA-trained facilitators, instructors, and mentors. After finishing the modules, you’ll take the common final examination.

Career Opportunities

Gaining your CPA can significantly boost your career. Even without a business background, adding your eligibility to your resume can help secure interviews and relevant employment. Sharing your progression plan with potential employers can lead to promotions and job satisfaction.

If you’re already working while studying, your experience during the CPA program may count towards your practical work experience requirements. Up to 12 months of prior work experience can be applied to fulfill the 30 months of practical work experience required to become a CPA.

Ready to get started?

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Becoming a CPA without a business degree is entirely feasible. With the right resources and determination, you can embark on a fulfilling career in accounting, enjoy financial stability, and experience the growth of opportunities within the field.


While this article provides a comprehensive overview, we recommend watching the video for a more detailed explanation of your CPA journey. Click here to access the video and get started on your path to becoming a CPA without a business degree!

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