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California Certified Public Accountant Courses and Programs

There are 45 schools in California offering accounting programs. Read an overview of the ten largest schools' programs, degree options and tuition info to make an informed education decision.

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Essential Information

Various public and private 4-year colleges and universities throughout California offer training to aspiring certified public accountants. Students may choose to complete the appropriate coursework at the undergraduate level, often through an accounting bachelor's degree program or a business program with an accounting specialization. Those with non-accounting bachelor's degrees may choose to pursue an advanced degree in accounting or taxation designed to prepare students for CPA licensure. Some schools also offer a dual bachelor's and master's degree program designed to be completed in five years.


California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo

In the suburb of San Luis Obispo, the California Polytechnic State University was founded in 1901. At the Orfalea College of Business, students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) with a concentration in accounting. Graduate students can choose the taxation or financial accounting concentration and have the opportunity to participate in California's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Undergraduate courses include topics such as accounting information systems, federal income tax, auditing and ethics. Relevant graduate courses cover trust and estate taxation, flow-through entities and corporate taxation.

California State Polytechnic University - Pomona

Pomona's California State Polytechnic University opened in 1938 as part of the San Luis Obispo campus. Through the College of Business Administration and the Department of Accounting, undergraduate students can pursue a BSBA with a concentration in accounting. Program coursework includes topics such as auditing, taxation and cost accounting, as well as supportive coursework in statistics and economics.

California State University - Fullerton

The Fullerton campus of the California State University became the system's 12th member in 1957. Undergraduate students can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration (BABA) with a concentration in accounting through the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics. Undergraduate coursework covers fraud, internal auditing and tax research. Graduate students can strengthen their CPA course requirements through the Master of Science (MS) in Accountancy, with courses on tax planning and management control systems, or the Master of Science in Taxation, which is designed for working professionals.

California State University - Los Angeles

Founded in 1947, this state university in Los Angeles houses the Department of Accounting in its College of Business and Economics. Undergraduate coursework in accounting includes topics such as business finance, financial reporting and cost accounting, all of which leads to a BSBA degree through the accounting track option. Graduate students can pursue a Master of Science (MS) in Accountancy with options in business taxation, information systems, financial accounting, and management accounting. A certificate program in accounting is also available.

California State University - Northridge

In the city of Northridge, California State University's campus was founded in 1958 as the San Fernando Valley State College. Through the College of Business and Economics, undergraduates can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, with program track options in professional accountancy or information systems. Undergraduate courses cover cost analysis, auditing, ethics, profit management, federal tax procedures and system analysis. Graduate students can pursue an MS in Accountancy with the same track options, along with courses on forensic accounting, income tax and government accounting. Students can also choose to pursue an MS in Taxation through the Tseng College for Graduate, International and Midcareer Education.

California State University - San Bernardino

California State University founded its campus in San Bernardino in 1960. The Department of Accounting and Finance offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Administration, in addition to minor and certificate options in accounting. Undergraduate courses include topics such as taxation, systems design and data structures, as well as required courses on managerial accounting, financial statement auditing and accounting law. Graduate students can pursue an MS in Accountancy with courses covering financial reporting, controllership, internal auditing and accounting information systems. This program will prepare students for professional certifications. Undergraduate students may also apply for the 5-year (3-year BA plus a 2-year MS) program.

National University

A private institution in the town of La Jolla, National University was founded in 1971 and became the second largest private university in California. The School of Business and Management offers a BS in Accountancy program with coursework covering quantitative methods, financial accounting, applied technology, managerial accounting and business taxation. Graduate students can pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in management accounting or a Master of Accountancy with program coursework covering auditing, cost accounting and accounting information systems. The Master of Accountancy program is available as an online course.

San Diego State University

San Diego's state university was founded in 1897 as a small teacher's college. Today, the College of Business Administration offers a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy. Graduate students can pursue an MS in Accountancy or apply for the 5-year BS/MS program. Graduate program courses cover international financial reporting, fraud examination, managerial analysis, assurance services and tax research. A certificate program in accounting is also available.

San Jose State University

The Bay Area city of San Jose is home to the state university, founded as a teacher's school in 1857. Through its business department, students can choose from a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with concentrations in either accounting, accounting information systems, or corporate accounting and finance. Certificates in accounting include advanced accounting topics and accounting fundamentals. Graduate students can choose to pursue an MS in Accountancy or an MS in Taxation.

University of Southern California

A large, private university in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California was founded in 1880. An offshoot of the Marshall School of Business, accounting programs are offered through the Leventhal School of Accounting. Undergraduate students can pursue a BS in Accounting, featuring coursework on external and internal reporting, taxation and accounting systems. Graduate programs include the Master of Accounting, with courses on topics such as professional responsibility, ethics, financial statement auditing and enterprise information systems. Students can also choose to pursue a Master of Business Taxation through a program with courses on tax research, corporate taxation and financial analysis, along with a course covering mergers and acquisitions. The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Accounting program covers topics such as financial regulation, earnings management and forecasting.

Career Requirements

In the state of California, prospective accounting professionals who wish to obtain a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license must complete a bachelor's degree program plus 24 academic units of accounting coursework, as well as 24 additional units in business or accounting, in order to be eligible for the Uniform CPA Exam. The following are the ten largest schools in California offering undergraduate and/or graduate degree programs in accounting or taxation.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Accounting Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)
California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo 4-year, public; small suburb Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an accounting concentration,
Master of Science in Accounting
$9,001 (in-state),
$20,161 (out-of-state)*
California State Polytechnic University - Pomona 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an accounting concentration $7,016 (in-state),
$18,176 (out-of-state)*
California State University - Fullerton 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with an accounting concentration,
Master of Science in Accountancy,
Master of Science in Taxation
$6,437 (in-state),
$17,597 (out-of-state)*
California State University - Los Angeles 4-year, public; large city Certificate Program in Accounting,
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an accounting concentration,
Master of Science in Accountancy
$6,355 (in-state),
$17,515 (out-of-state)*
California State University - Northridge 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Accountancy,
Master of Science in Accountancy,
Master of Science in Taxation
$6,569 (in-state),
$17,729 (out-of-state)*
California State University - San Bernardino 4-year, public; midsize city Accounting Certificate,
Certificate of Accounting,
Minor in Accounting,
Bachelor of Arts in Administration with an accounting concentration,
Master of Science in Accountancy
$6,577 (in-state),
$17,737 (out-of-state)*
National University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Science in Accountancy,
Master of Accountancy,
Master of Business Administration with an accounting specialization
$12,744*
San Diego State University 4-year, public; large city Certificate in Accounting,
Bachelor of Science in Accountancy,
Master of Science in Accountancy
$6,976 (in-state),
$18,136 (out-of-state)*
San Jose State University 4-year, public; large city Certificates in Advanced Accounting and Accounting Fundamentals,
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with accounting concentrations,
Master of Science in Accountancy or Taxation
$7,378 (in-state),
$18,538 (out-of-state)*
University of Southern California 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an accounting concentration,
Bachelor of Science in Accounting,
Master of Accounting,
Master of Business Taxation,
Doctor of Philosophy in Accounting
$50,277*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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