Accounting is an exciting field that offers many opportunities and spans all industry sectors. Accounting involves analyzing financial information and preparing financial reports to determine or maintain a record of assets, liabilities, profit and loss, tax liability, or other financial activities within an organization. For more information about the accounting profession, visit the California Career Zone

Becoming an Accountant

To become a certified public accountant (CPA), you must meet the requirements. The best information about accounting requirements comes from the California Board of Accountancy. Visit their site for information about licensing requirements. You can also download the Handbook for Initial Licensure to read about all requirements and conditions. A brief summary is in the table below:

Requirements to sit for exam Requirements to obtain licensure
36 quarter units in accounting studies
  • A baccalaureate degree or higher conferred by a degree-granting college or university (or foreign equivalent evaluated by a CBA-approved foreign academic credentials evaluation service) accredited by a United States regional institutional accrediting agency or national accrediting agency.
  • 180 total quarter units including 36 units of accounting subjects, 36 units of business-related subjects, 30 units of accounting study subjects, and 15 units of ethics study.
36 quarter units in business studies
  • Pass ethics exam
  • Experience Requirements:
    • One (1) year (12 months) experience
    • Licensed CPA must sign off

Notice there are different requirements to sit for the exam and to actually obtain your license. To sit and take the exam, you must fulfill the educational unit requirements. To obtain your license, you must have additional coursework as well as actual work experience.

Obtaining Enough Academic Units

UC Davis does not offer enough accounting classes to sit for the examination. Currently, UC Davis offers the following courses:

  • Management 11A - Elementary Accounting (Graduate School of Management). 4 units - open to undergraduates. This course is offered during fall and winter quarters.
  • Management 11B - Elementary Accounting (Graduate School of Management). 4 units - open to undergraduates. This course is offered spring quarter.
  • Management 100  - Introduction to Financial Accounting (Graduate School of Management).
  • ARE 118 - Tax Accounting (Ag. Resource Economics Course): 4 units (prerequisites are Management 11A & B). This course is offered spring quarter only

You must supplement your education with additional classes. You can:

  • Take courses (one per quarter) for free at CSU Sacramento (or any other CSU campus and some community colleges) to help satisfy your accounting requirements by submitting an Intersegmental Cross Enrollment Agreement. Some nearby community colleges are not eligible for the Intersegmental Cross Enrollment Agreement, so call your local community college to find out.
  • Enroll in and attend community colleges not supported by the Intersegmental Cross Enrollment Agreement. Before enrolling, check with the Registrar's office to make sure you can attend both institutions without repercussions. You may also want to check with your academic advisor to see if it is advisable. Keep in mind that you may not reduce your workload if you are receiving financial aid. Check with the financial aid office before taking any courses outside UC Davis.
  • Take accounting courses or the Certificate Program in Accounting from UC Davis Extension. Please note that these courses have an additional cost and are not covered by regular tuition.
  • Take courses at UC Berkeley (one per semester) under the Simultaneous Enrollment Agreement between UC Davis and UC Berkeley.
  • Attend an advanced degree program such as the Master of Professional Accountancy Program at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.

Download this self-assessment worksheet to see how many more courses you need.