The CPA Program is made up of three key components:
The subjects component relates to education, and is a semester-based, distance-learning program. You’ll have access to a range of learning resources including printed and online materials to assist your studies.
To complete the CPA Program, you must hold a degree that is comparable to an Australian Bachelors degree level, or at least 8 standard units (one year full time) Australian postgraduate degree level.
Everyone's journey to becoming an Associate member is different. Whether you completed your degree before you joined CPA Australia, or you're planning to study alongside the CPA Program, you'll need to have a degree level qualification recognised by CPA Australia to become a fully qualified CPA.
To complete the CPA program and become a CPA, you must hold a degree that is comparable to Australian Bachelors degree level, or at least 8 standard units (one year full-time) Australian postgraduate degree level.
Having a relevant degree in a complementary field such as 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 start your CPA Program studies.
If you haven’t completed a relevant degree, you can complete Foundation exams to cover any knowledge gaps before you begin the CPA Program.
- We recommend enrolling in one subject per semester, however you can enrol in a maximum of three subjects per semester if you wish. Keep in mind, each subject will require 10 to 15 hours of study per week.
- You have six years to complete the CPA Program from the date you become an Associate member.
- 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 your prior academic study did not cover off all the core knowledge areas required to start the CPA Program, foundation exams are a flexible way to cover any gaps before you become an Associate member.
You may be required to study some, or all foundation subjects, depending on your previous study history.
These six subjects are:
- Economics and Markets
- Foundations of Accounting
- Fundamentals of Business Law
- Business Finance
- Financial Accounting and 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 re-marked under any circumstances.
Your Experience Requirement
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 experience must include at least one technical skill from our skills list to be considered relevant experience. Your 36 months can be from one role or multiple roles.
- 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.
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. You will need someone who is a fully qualified CPA or full member of an IFAC member body to sign off your experience claim form.
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 our Recognised Partner Program
Membership pathways and Mutual Recognition Agreements
- Whilst we no longer have a MRA and/or Membership Pathways Agreement with a listed professional body, we may offer a pathway to Associate or CPA membership under the stipulated conditions.
- 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 and also some MPAs which have this specific condition outlined in the MPA.
- Yes. Members admitted to CPA Australia under an MRA or MPA will be able to maintain their membership even if the agreement expires.
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.