CPA in Jamaica: How much does it cost?

Aspiring Accountants in Jamaica have largely two main options (namely ACCA and US CPA) in seeking professional qualification, my previous post covers an overview of them, including a cost analysis of ACCA.

Embarking on the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA) in Jamaica can be a daunting task as the regulations for registering for the exam and licensure change frequency and vary for each US state relative to the process for ACCA that is comparatively straightforward. There are six stages to becoming a licensed CPA if you have Jamaican education:

  1. Evaluation of Education
    1. Transcripts – Overseas Examination Council (CAPE)
    2. Transcripts – University of the West Indies / University of Technology
  2. Registering for the Examination
  3. Paying for Exams
  4. Fulfil 150 Credit Hours
  5. Work Experience Requirements
  6. Ethics Course Requirements

In this post I will largely be speaking about the first three steps and the costs associated with them.

Evaluation of Education (UWI/UTECH and CAPE certificates)

The first stage of registering for the CPA in Jamaica is to determine eligibility for the examination. Most states require that you have 120 credit hours in order to qualify for the examination.  Jamaica (UWI) however, uses the British system of a 90 credit three year bachelor’s degree, a candidate would be deficient in about 30 credit hours (three credit hours generally constitute a  course  for social sciences at UWI). To mitigate this, the candidate would submit Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) certificates to be evaluated alongside an accounting university degree as this is generally equivalent to four years of US undergraduate study.

The next step is to determine which state you want to register for the exam through (which does not have to be the same state you intend to do the exam). As of July 2015, based on the information I have obtained from research and my colleagues, Alaska & Iowa are the only states that UWI students can apply to do the  exam through (New Hampshire is no longer an option because they require 30 hours of upper division accounting courses see NH Board of Accountancy website).

The state you choose will determine which evaluation agency can be used to evaluate your Jamaican education. NASBA’s foreign evaluation evaluates the most jurisdictions (over 50 according to their website) and they are normally the agency that is given your exams scores (see CPA Candidate Bulletin for an explanation of the process), so it is generally easier to evaluate with them. However, based on my experience UWI students who did CAPE accounting I & II who also did the equivalent courses at UWI in first year will have those courses counted as duplicate and cancelled out. Resulting from this and assuming a UWI student is majoring in accounting, did accounting courses for all the degree electives they would receive 110 credit hours based on the evaluation that I received from NASBA, however, Iowa and Alaska only require 24 hours in upper division accounting (years two & year three at UWI) and a bachelor’s degree (I received 27 hours).

The Process

Evaluation

Applying for the evaluation would entail going on the NASBA website and filling out the application form; after which 200 USD (Regular Application) or 300 USD (Undecided Jurisdiction) would be paid depending on whether the candidate knows which state they will be eligible to do the exam under or not. If undecided, the agency will select three best states that the candidate will be able to get the most credits to in order to do the examination.

After paying the evaluation fee the candidate would then go to the Overseas Examination Council (google map location) to pay for a transcript, fill out their transcript request form, then request that it be sent directly to NASBA (NB: they don’t issue transcripts to students).  The next step is to submit the UWI transcript which can be done online. However, due to NASBA requiring you to sign a waiver and send a photo ID, it is better to collect the UWI transcript and send all supplemental NASBA and UWI transcripts via courier (see table below – items in green represent cheapest option).

Table showing the total evaluation costs for a Jamaican doing an evaluation for the cpa exam

Table showing the total evaluation costs for a Jamaican doing an evaluation for the cpa exam

On completion of the evaluation you should receive an evaluation report in your email (pdf) with a detailed breakdown of the courses and the credits received. The report should also give an overall equivalency statement. For example, “The combination of the Caribbean Advanced Placement Examinations (CAPE) and the Bachelor of Science is equivalent to a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university in the United States. Mr. Miller completed a total of 110 semester credits”.

Registering for the Examination

When NASBA deems your Jamaican education to be equivalent to the US then the process of registering begins. This process begins with the paying of an application fee and Examination fees (see below).

Table showing the costs for registering for the cpa examination

Table showing the costs for registering for the cpa examination

After the registering and paying for the examinations, the candidate will receive a Notice to Schedule, this means that you can now select a date and book the actual examination in any state that has a prometric centre (remember that it is not possible to do the CPA exam in Jamaica).

The total costs up to the first sitting of the exam (assuming that you are doing two exams at a time) is shown below, which totals to about $2,180.77 USD and 11,640 JMD (items invoiced in USD will cost more as the Jamaican dollar continues to depreciate against the USD).

Paying for Exams

Table showing the costs for the 1st sitting of the examination

Table showing the costs for the 1st sitting of the examination

The costs for sitting for the second examination are slightly cheaper as the candidate would not be paying for an evaluation (see below).

Table showing the costs for the 2nd sitting of the examination

Table showing the costs for the 2nd sitting of the examination

The total approximate costs are summarised below. One of the easiest ways to lower the cost is to get cheaper flights, know which state to register in and to evaluate your education from UWI and the Overseas Examination Council using the longest (cheapest) methods. This is only a rough estimate of the costs that you may face so only use it as a guide. It is steeped in reality as all of the costs and processes I (Shane Andre Miller) have gone through myself.

Table summarising the total costs

Table summarising the total costs

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Shane Miller

Auditor / Musician / Graphic Designer
Business Man & Knowledge Googler by Day, Graphic Designer by morning & Musician by night.

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50 Responses

  1. Tameka says:

    Hi Mr Miller. Thanks for the wealth of knowledge you shared. I needed it. I’m about to start the process to get my cpa done . However, u have made made mention that the exam and licensing is different . What’s are the steps in getting licensed after I have done the exam??

    • Hello Tameka,
      After you pass the exam you have to fulfil, work experience requirement (generally 1-2 years depending on the state), 150 credit hour requirement (courses at post-graduate level or higher, i.e. if you got 120 credits when qualifying for the exam then you would need 30 to get the license and some states require you to do an ethics exam. Refer to ipasstheCpaExam.com

  2. Shantal Brown says:

    Hi Shane, did you see my question?

  3. Shantal Brown says:

    I have a Bachelors in Accounting from UWI and in my last 2 years I chose all major accounting courses. However, my CAPE exams were not in accounting. In CAPE I did Law, Sociology, History, Caribbean and Communication Studies. Do you think NASBA will count my credits from CAPE even though they were not in accounting?

    • Hey Shantal, yes they will count them, however they will likely be counted under “General” or similar category i.e. they won’t count towards the accounting credits and they will also add to the total number of credits you have. You should be able to do the exam since you have a Bsc in accounting and CAPE, based on what other persons have gotten through with (note however this doing the exam and getting licensed is not the same thing).
      All the best!

      • Shantal Brown says:

        Thank you for Your response! The evaluation is now completed and I got a total of 138 credits for my CAPE and UWI accounting degree, I also got all the necessary accounting and business credits even though I did not do accounting in CAPE. so I’m excited about that. Hope this helps someone with a similar concern.

  4. Camoy says:

    Hi Shane,

    Is there a way the cpa exam can be done in Jamaica and I don’t have to go to the US to do the exam?

  5. Gemel Walters says:

    Good morning Shane,

    Thanks very much for the information. I have scoured numerous sites including accounting institutions locally attempting to gather information on the process and they have not been very informative.I have a few questions I’m hoping you can assist with:

    1. I have a Bsc in Computer Science not accounting. How would you recommend proceeding if I wish to to do the CPA exam.

    2. Given the above might it be a better option to consider the ACCA given the entry requirements aren’t as demanding.

    • Good afternoon Gemel,
      You are welcome.
      1. Its difficult to do CPA without having the minimum required accounting courses. Since you indicated that you did a CS degree its unlikely you would have enough accounting and general business credits to do the CPA. However the only way to know for sure is to do an evaluation, however it’s likely a waste of money based on your particular circumstances (see link http://ipassthecpaexam.com/alaska-cpa-exam-requirements/.
      2. ACCA allows you to start at a lower level but you would have to do more exams, despite this in your case it may be more time/cost efficient to do ACCA if you have no bias towards either one of the qualifications.
      Hope this helps.

      • Gemel Walters says:

        Thanks for your insight Shane. I have no bias towards either so I will be self studying for the knowledge level of the ACCA in December. Seeing as the ACCA will require doing at least 14 exams I’m aiming to do 4 papers per sitting where possible.

      • Gemel Walters says:

        If you have any additional advice pertaining to the ACCA and its processes that would also be appreciated.

  6. Kay says:

    Good Morning Shane,

    I did not do any CAPE course. I completed CAT (ACCA Level 1) at Montego Bay Community College in 2006. I previously completed Bsc Management Studies (Accounts major) at UWI.
    Do you know if I will receive any credit hours for the CAT course that was completed?

  7. Renate Jordan says:

    Good day Shane,

    Thank you for the articles, they are comprehensive and informative. Wish you all the best.

    I have and MBA from a UK university and a BSc. from UWI, Cave Hill. I have reviewed your material and the visited the sites you linked. I would like some suggestions on which state to chose.

    • Good afternoon Renate,
      You are welcome, thanks for visiting the site. You didn’t mention if you had an accounting degree or not. For Alaska they require you to have 24 hours of accounting credits for a degree with a concentration in accounting (e.g. Management Studies (Accounting)) or 15 hours of accounting with a Major in accounting. I would recommend that you go with Alaska as most Jamaicans who went to UWI or UTECH got though with that state (sorry I don’t have any information specific to Cavehill).

      Another option is that you would go as “undecided” (which is $100 more than choosing a state) and they would give you 3 states that you can apply to (if you are eligible) compared to If you choose one state they will only evaluate you towards that one state.

      The bottom line is that if you majored in accounting you should be ok with going to Alaska but to be honest with you my experience is that they are not always consistent with the evaluations, but I think going with “undecided” is the least risky. Personally, I had chosen undecided and they gave me “Iowa, New Mexico and Pennsylvania” – I chose Iowa, however this was when I was doing it on my own; as I mentioned earlier most UWI Jamaicans ((with accounting degrees) choose Alaska and they get through.

      Hope this helps.

  8. Tishawna says:

    Good day sir.. I am currently in 5th form and I would like to be a CPA.. I am planning to do lower and upper six and then go to utech do four years to get my bachelors in accounting and a one year to get my masters in accounting.Do you think that’s the best way to go? And what do I do after completing those five years to be a CPA

    • Good morning Tishawna,
      In order to be a CPA you need to have 150 credits, generally the combination you suggested should allow you to get the credits required (4 year BSc. + 1 year masters).

      However, assuming you do accounts at the CAPE level consider getting exemptions (without credit is better so you can still have the space to do other courses to increase your credit count) for your CAPE I and CAPE II accounting when you start UTECH. When I got evaluated by NASBA (the association that serves the state boards and evaluates most states) they indicated on my evaluation that the CAPE I and CAPE II accounting I have was duplicated by the year one UWI courses, so I only got 110 credits instead of the normal 120 credits (I am still able to do the exam). What I have noticed, however is that NASBA evaluations are inconsistent as they have not done this for all candidates and it seems to depend who at NASBA evaluates you.

      If you get the exemptions for CAPE and replace them with accounting courses it is likely you would have/ surpassed the 150 as I received 32 credits for my CAPE exams (BSc. would add another 120 credits). The key thing is to do as much upper level accounting courses as possible (or ensure you have enough for a state you are interested in getting licensed in), a lot of the states want you to have a certain number of credit hours in advanced accounting (not foundation/beginner accounting courses).

      It is unlikely you will need to do a masters as you will likely have the amount of credits at the end of your BSc., (UWI students are normally short as we would have 1 year less of education), other general requirements are:
      1 or 2 years of public accounting experience depending on the state (you will need to get into a big 4 auditing firm (PwC, KPMG or EY) or a medium tier (BDO) the key thing is to find an auditing firm that has a CPA that can certify your experience.

  9. Vanessa Simpson-Campbell says:

    Good day,

    I have completed a BSC in Business Administration with a double major in Finance and Banking and Production and Operations Management at UTECH. Withing the degree, I did some accounting courses however, such as management accounts and financial accounts. I also have AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) Level 2 NVQ in Accounting. I am interested in doing the CPA but have a few questions.

    1. Would I get any form of exemption given that i didn’t major in accounting?

    2. Which state is most suitable for me to apply to get my qualifications assessed and to do the exams?

    3. How long does it take to complete the course and how many exams do you have to do overseas?

    4. Are there payment plans available?

    5. Which schools in Jamaica can I pursue the CPA course?

    6. Which is better, CPA or ACCA?

    • 1. Would I get any form of exemption given that I didn’t major in accounting?
      CPA is not like the ACCA, they don’t give exemptions.

      2. Which state is most suitable for me to apply to get my qualifications assessed and to do the exams?
      Most persons registering now register with Alaska, however I did my evaluation (undecided jurisdiction service) and I chose IOWA, I would recommend that if you use NASBA as your evaluator you go undecided so you can get 3 states to choose from.

      3. How long does it take to complete the course and how many exams do you have to do overseas?
      There are 4 exams, and you can take the exam in the first two months of each quarter, i.e. Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
      You have to complete everything in a rolling 18 months, i.e. pass all exams within 18 months. It is possible to complete it in 1 year if you pass all on first attempt.

      4. Are there payment plans available?
      No, you have to pay upfront to the state board/NASBA online.

      5. Which schools in Jamaica can I pursue the CPA course?
      Duane’s CPA review Course at B&B University
      Global Accounting College

      6. Which is better, CPA or ACCA?
      See my other post , it depends on where you want to go, if you want to go to North America CPA is more recognised, if you are interested in the commonwealth/ UK/ Europe then ACCA is better.
      CPA has less papers so its possible to finish it quicker but getting licensed is more complicated.
      CPA is a computerised exam of multiple choice questions, task based simulations (roughly equivalent to standard working out questions) while ACCA is a written exam.
      Pass rates are similar.

  10. Pete says:

    For the nasba evaluation. What did you receive for one level in one subject for CAPE? Was it 3 credits? I did Pure Math Level 1.. how much credit wold I receive from NASBA?

  11. Lorraine Israel says:

    I completed a Bachelor Degree in Management at University of Technology in 2004. I migrated to U.S. in 2014 and wish to pursue a career in accounting, hence CPA.

    What Do I need to do?

    Greatly appreciate your assistance.

    • Good morning Lorraine,
      The first thing you would need to do is to get evaluated by NASBA or any other agency that is recognised by your CPA’s state board. After this is done you will know if you are eligible to sit for the exam and if not what courses you would need to do in order to qualify.
      – All the best.

    • Knox says:

      With a masters in Accounting you be able to sit in any state.

  12. Shaniek says:

    I am migrating to CT in 3 years. I started ACCA but with work constraints I haven’t gotten very far. I have CAPE qualifications as well as a BSC. However nothing in accounting. Is it possible for me to still apply for the CPA. I work in the audit department at my current job which I have been doing for the last 3 years.

    • Good afternoon Shaniek,
      Yes you can, however you will likely be short the 24 credits required for Connecticut (“You are a graduate of a regionally-accredited college or university approved by the Board with a bachelor’s degree, with at least 46 semester hours in the study of accounting and related subjects, including, but not limited to … of which 24 semester hours shall be in the study of accounting). In order to fulfil that requirement you will likely have to do some accounting courses in order to fulfil that gap.

      Consider doing an advisory evaluation from NASBA so you know exactly how much credits and courses you need to become eligible.

  13. Nika McClure says:

    I am in my last semester at UWI and I want to do the CPA exams. However, I am not a Accounting major but a Accounting minor which mean I only have 15 credits. I did the pre-requisites for the accounting minor which would be equivalent to CAPE Accounts. My major is International Relations. I want to know if I am eligible to do the CPA exams and if which state(s)?

  14. shernette wilson says:

    I would like to do the CPA. i went to utech for 4 yrs 2009-2013, but september 2016 when i went to complete the final three subjects. i was told that my time have expire (seven years). i am currently doing over the degree. its too long a process.

    question.

    can my transcript be use to do the cpa seeing its credits they go by. my final three subjects was company law, external audit and business ethics. i have already done the major accounting coarse. i started the degree in 2009-2012 December. associate degree in accounting 2005, cccj body. what do you advise i do and the school i should go. i am living in portmore. should i do cape accounting etc. Your urgent response would be appreciated.

    • can my transcript be use to do the cpa seeing its credits they go by.
      1. Based on the fact that you have to do over the degree, its likely that those courses won’t show up on your transcript. However, they also require that you were conferred (received) the degree so whether or not the courses showed up would not matter.

      associate degree in accounting 2005
      Quotation for the requirements for the state of New Hampshire:
      At least a baccalaureate degree which includes 120 semester hours of education from a recognized, accredited university or college.
      A minimum of 30 semester hours in accounting subjects which must include coverage in financial accounting, management accounting, auditing and taxation.
      A minimum of 24 semester hours in business subjects other than accounting.
      2. You definitely need to get a degree at the bachelors level, if you go with UTECH that would be equivalent, however if you go with a 3 year degree (e.g. UWI) you need UWI degree + 2 years CAPE to make the 120 hours.

      what do you advise i do and the school i should go.
      3. Honestly, it very difficult to recommend somewhere for you to go. However, depending on why you want the CPA you also need to bear the following in mind
      a. You need 150 credits to become licensed (Bsc. from UTECH is equivalent to 120 credits roughly), so even after doing the degree if you want to get the letters CPA behind your name or practice in the US you would those extra credits.
      b. You also need 1 year of public practice (auditing), however if you just want to do you exam then you need to get the equivalent of a US 4 year degree (see above for requirements).

      Also see: New Hampshire CPA Requirements

  15. trishan says:

    would someone from excelsior community college be able to sit the CPA? being an accounts major.

  16. oneil says:

    which one is the best one to do, theACCA or CPA?

    • Depends. Which country do you every see yourself going? USA/Canada: CPA; Europe / United Kingdom: ACCA. Time = CPA you have 18 months to complete 4 papers. ACCA you have 7 years to complete all professional papers, however total papers is between 7-14 depending on exemptions (view

  17. Bradryan says:

    Have you ever heard about B&B university college?

    • Yes, they offer CPA and other professional courses and they use the Wiley Excel. I believe you also have Global Accountancy in New Kingston, however they are newer and they use the Gleim system.

      • Mr. Miller, you are correct.
        Global Accountancy Institute Inc. is a Global Tuition Provider which provides Educational Support Services to enhance the academic experiences of Accountancy Students who are studying for professional qualifications including: Association of Chartered Certified Accountants(ACCA),Foundations in Accountancy(FIA),Certified Accounting Technician(CAT),Certified Public Accountant (CPA),Certified Management Accountant(CMA),Diploma in International Financial Reporting (DipIFR),Chartered Institute of Management Accountants(CIMA) and Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA)

    • We pioneered CPA tuition in Jamaica in 1995 and have been the leaders and dominant force for Jamaicans who wish to attain the CPA. Try us and you will realize why no one else can coach CPA concepts better than us in Jamaica.

  18. Joan says:

    Please let me know if ncu bsc graduates of business administration with emphasis in accounting, also I didnt go six form, qualifies for this exam

    • Hello Joan, you would most likely qualify for the exam as the requirement is generally the equivalent of a four year degree with an emphasis in accounting. I don’t know anyone from NCU who did the exam so I don’t know definitively how much credits you would receive however.

      • Joan says:

        91 credits for strictly business and accounting, 37 based on college requirement subjects for example spanish, computer, religious courses etc. Research Northern Caribbean University.

        • Thanks, for the info Joan, are you able to sit for the exam?

        • Alfred Graham says:

          Mr Miller,
          I have successfully completed ACCA F1 – F9 and then gained a number of exemptions and completed a B.A Accounting anf Finance with the University of Derby in the UK. How will these be assessed for CPA purposes?

        • Mr. Graham,
          The B.A will be assessed without the ACCA, note that the CPA does not recognise the ACCA for CPA exam eligibility purposes (they class it as professional exams).

          Sitting Requirements
          Since UK degrees are setup similarly to Jamaican degrees (3 years) you will likely need 1 additional year of post secondary level study, most people have fulfilled this if they did CAPE/A Level exams. Note that the US system is a 4 year degree system so they access everyone to their system (hence why UTECH – 4 year degree persons don’t need to do CAPE).

          Licensing Exams
          However, I believe there are states that allow you to sit the examination with only a first degree, however you would not be able to be licensed until you meet the additional credit hour requirements (I.e. 150 credit hours). A 3 year degree + CAPE is normally = 120 hours, persons normally do a masters for the other 30.

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