CPA Program FAQs
The CPA Program is made up of two key components:
The subjects component relates to education, and is a semester-based, distance-learning program at a post-graduate level. You’ll have access to a range of learning resources including printed and online materials to assist your studies.
Having a relevant degree in a complimentary field, like accounting, is not a prerequisite to begin the CPA Program. However, a relevant degree will help provide the base knowledge and competencies required to commence your study as an Associate member.
If you haven’t studied a relevant degree, you may be required to complete foundation exams before you can commence the CPA Program.
- Please refer to the important dates section on our website for key dates in the upcoming semester.
- We recommend candidates enrol in one subject per semester, however you can enrol in a maximum of three subjects per semester.
- You have six years to complete the program from the date you become an Associate member, however extensions may be granted upon application.
- There is no set order, though many candidates elect to study Ethics and Governance first. Please note, you can’t enrol in Global Strategy and Leadership until you’ve completed all other compulsory subjects.
- We recommend you study 10-15 hours per subject, per week over the course of the semester.
- We have a number of membership pathway arrangements with leading accounting bodies all around the world, so your designation could be recognised in part or in full. See if your accounting body is listed.
If you have a degree qualification that’s not in accounting, and want to pursue a career as a CPA, you may be required to complete foundation exams as an alternative entry point into the CPA Program.
Consisting of six subjects, foundation exams cover the base knowledge and competencies required to begin the CPA Program. You may be required to study some, or all foundation subjects, depending on your previous study history.
These six subjects are:
- Economics & Markets
- Foundations of Accounting
- Fundamentals of Business Law
- Business Finance
- Financial Accounting & Reporting
- Management Accounting
Please note, if you’re undertaking foundation exams, you aren’t yet a member of CPA Australia.
- You have 10 years from your first enrolment to complete the required foundation exams. Extensions are available upon request.
After you complete your membership application and receive a foundation outcome, you can then enrol in your foundation exam subjects at any time.
Please note that some countries are facing greater COVID-19 impacts than others, which means scheduling your exam will vary depending on exam centre availability.
- You can enrol in all six foundation exam subjects (if applicable) at the same time.
- You can only fail a subject three times, which means you have four attempts. If you’ve failed the same exam three times, you’ll need to complete a subject within an accredited/recognised degree to meet the core knowledge requirements for this subject.
- The only grades provided for foundation level are pass and fail. After you’ve completed your exam, you’ll receive a feedback report which tells you if you’ve passed or not.
- No, results are final and are not re-examined or remarked under any circumstances.
In addition to the study-based component of the CPA Program, you’re required to complete 36 months of relevant experience. Within this experience, you must demonstrate a minimum of 10 skills from our skills list, across four different categories:
- Personal effectiveness
Your role/experience must include at least one skill from our skills list to be considered relevant experience.
- You’ll need to review the technical areas of work in the Your Experience – Skills List to ensure you can achieve at least one skill in the role.
- Yes, you can accumulate the 36 months of work experience before, during and throughout the next six years from the time you commence the CPA Program.
- No, you don’t. Work experience may help you develop knowledge and competencies that’ll help your studies, but it isn’t mandatory. You have six years from the time you commence the CPA Program to claim your experience.
- In extenuating circumstances, we’re able to grant an extension to this deadline. If you’re ineligible for an extension and unable to complete the section, you won’t able to advance to CPA status.
You can claim any length of experience with any number of employers. We encourage you to submit a form once per year, at a time of your choosing.
If you change jobs frequently, we recommend you regularly have your experience signed-off by a CPA, FCPA or IFAC member.
- Engaging a mentor is encouraged, but not required. Although we don’t have a formal mentoring program for Associate members, mentors add value to your career progression and can provide additional support.
Recognised Employer Partners have demonstrated to us that they provide their employees with access to learning and development opportunities that satisfy our ‘Your Experience’ requirements.
If you’re working for a Recognised Employer Partner, you’ll benefit from:
- recognition of ‘Your Experience’ with a streamlined application
- a supportive relationship with an assigned mentor
- working for an organisation committed to career development
- simplified maintenance and recording of your continuing professional development.
Find out more about the Recognised Partner Program
'Your Experience' Requirement
- No, you will not need to complete additional continuing professional development (CPD) hours. However, you will need to report your CPD hours to CPA Australia and your professional membership body. You'll need to meet your 120-hour requirement over the triennium (minimum of 20 hours each year) as stipulated by the International Federation of Accountants.
- Yes. Maintaining dual membership is a requirement of any MRA.
- Yes. Members admitted to CPA Australia under an MRA will be able to maintain their membership even if the MRA expires. Members must maintain the membership subscription payments to both bodies.
No. Members wishing to sign audited financial statements, conduct public accounting services and act as a tax agent in Australia or New Zealand must obtain a public practice certificate to meet the additional requirements.
If you have migrated to Australia within the last five years, you must also complete Australian-specific company law and taxation law subjects from a recognised university. You must do this before you are eligible to apply for a public practice certificate.
If you are in New Zealand, you must also complete specific New Zealand company law and taxation law subjects before you are eligible to apply for a public practice certificate.
- CPA Australia accepts membership applications throughout the year. If you become a member after 31 March, you will only need to pay half the annual membership fee for that calendar year.
- Membership pathway agreements are not recognised for migration skills assessments. Your migration assessment outcome may advise you to complete additional study that isn't required for membership.