CPA Australia VS CPA US: Which one should you choose?

CPA Australia VS CPA US Which one is better course details eligibility

CPA Australia VS CPA US

There are a lot of students who are confused about whether to go for the CPA Australia or CPA US qualification.

So in this article, let’s dig into each and every point and compare these two courses.

We’ll understand everything, from scope to eligibility criteria, exam structure, duration, etc.


CPA Australia is a course that is widely recognised in Australia and which gives a license to individuals to pursue their career as practising accountants.


Let’s first discuss CPA Australia. To apply for the CPA Australia certification exam, candidates must fulfil some requirements specified by The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). These eligibility criteria are:

  • A Bachelor’s degree from a recognized University or institution in an approved accounting or management specialization. 
  • Candidates from diverse backgrounds are also eligible to apply, but they would have to clear the CPA Foundation Program before they can apply for the CPA Program.


Now, let’s understand which subjects you need to study if you are planning to enrol yourself for the CPA Australia course. Knowing the syllabus will help you decide how to plan your studies for good marks.

There are 6 subjects that are included in the curriculum; four of them are compulsory and the other two are elective subjects.

Exams are scheduled twice a year, i.e., half-yearly.

Questions are generally objective-based (Multiple Choice Questions), or Case Study based.

Which subjects do you need to study if you are willing to pursue CPA Australia?

  1. Ethics and Governance: This subject provides you with the analytical skills and knowledge to identify and resolve professional and ethical issues.
  2. Strategic Management Accounting: Strategic Management Accounting is a key component of the overall skills base of today’s professional accountant.
  3. Financial Reporting: This subject covers financial reporting, technical accounting, skills and values that are applicable to global business.
  4. Global Strategy and Leadership: The capstone subject for the CPA Program comprising ethics, financial reporting and strategic management accounting.

There are two elective papers also. Here is the list of subjects from which you have to pick two subjects as electives, though there are some conditions to choosing the elective.

If you’ve already completed recognised studies in tax and auditing, you’re free to choose any elective.

If you haven’t completed recognised studies in tax, and tax is a compulsory subject in your CPA program, you must take the subject of Australia Taxation, Australia Taxation - Advanced, or a local variant available in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

If you haven’t completed recognised studies in audit, and audit is a compulsory subject in your CPA program, you must take the subject of Advanced Audit and Assurance.

So here are some subjects among which you need to choose any two:

  • Advanced Audit and Assurance
  • Contemporary Business Issues
  • Financial Risk management
  • Digital Finance
  • Australia taxation
  • Australia Taxation-Advanced
  • Hong Kong Taxation
  • Malaysia Taxation
  • New Zealand Taxation
  • Singapore Taxation


You need 36 months of relevant working experience where you will gain skills in four key areas:

  1. Technical                                                       
  2. Personal Effectiveness
  3. Business
  4. Leadership

You can complete these before, concurrently, or after completing your CPA Program.


Unlike CPA Australia, CPA US has only 4 subjects. Previously, the CPA exams were conducted four times a year, but in 2020, that changed. It will now be conducted year-round.

In the United States, CPA is a license that you have to acquire to provide accounting services to the public. It is awarded by each of their 50 states for practising in that state.

Additionally, almost every state (49 out of 50) has passed mobility laws to allow CPAs from other states to practice in their state.


To appear for the CPA USA Examination, the candidates must have any of the below qualifications:

  • Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
  • Member of the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India
  • Member of the Institue of Company Secretaries of India
  • Master of Commerce
  • Master of Business Administration

Quite a few US states also accept Indian CAs with B.Com qualification. However, the exact criteria will vary from state to state.


This exam, broken down into Four sections are as follows:

  1. Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR)
  2. Auditing & Attestation (AUD)
  3. Regulation (REG)
  4. Business Environmental & Concepts (BEC)

Let’s dive deep into this and discuss what you will learn in these subjects one by one.

1. Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR)

  • Conceptual Framework, Stand-Setting and Financial Reporting 25-35%
  • Financial Statement Accounts 30-40%
  • Transactions 20-30%
  • State and Local Governments

2. Auditing and Attestation

  • Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and General Principles 15-25%
  • Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response 20-30%
  • Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence 30-40%
  • Forming Conclusions and Reporting 15-25%

3. Regulation (REG)

  • Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and Federal Tax Procedures 10-20%
  • Business Law 10-20%
  • Federation Taxation of Property Transactions 12-22%
  • Federal Taxation of Individuals 15-25%
  • Federal Taxation of Entities 28-38%

3. Business Environmental & Concepts (BEC)

  • Corporate Governance 17-27%
  • Economic Concepts and Analysis 17-27%
  • Financial Management 11-21%
  • Information Technology 15-25%
  • Operations Management 15-25%

How do you decide between CPA US or CPA Australia?

Another thing which is most important to discuss now is which course is easy to crack and which course has better global recognition.

The answer is US CPA.

We are not saying that there won’t be enough opportunities for you if you pursue CPA Australia, but if we roughly draw a comparison by considering all the areas, then we can conclude that US CPA has a wider scope than CPA Australia.

As per the facts, with worldwide recognition, a US CPA can find the best opportunity in a big MNC with an average salary of 30-40% more than other accounting and financial professionals.

Now the question that popped into your mind is, “In which case, doing CPA Australia will be worth it?”

So if you are holding PR (Permanent Residency), have a visa to Australia or planning to relocate to Australia, or  you are interested in working in Australia, then you should pursue the Australia CPA program. It’s a prestigious and highly respected designation that prepares you for an accounting career in Australia.

This is because CPA Australia involves descriptive questions whereas CPA US is purely objective-based-examination.

Betty D’souza is a qualified Chartered Accountant who immigrated to Australia in 2015 with her family and started all over again.

Her son wanted to study in Australia due to the varied choices available.

“Since I am a CA from India and decided to clear CPA only after moving to Australia (as CPA holds a higher value than the Indian degree) I had to give just 2 subjects.” said Betty.

If  you ask “Which exam among these two will be the most difficult?” Then CPA Australia is the answer.

CPA Australia’s Passing Percentage is also generally lesser than CPA US. CPA Australia’s results are generally somewhere between 30-40%.

If you are interested in working as an accountant in the U.S., it’s best to pursue the CPA US course. You will learn U.S. GAAP and prepare yourself for a career in America. It’s also quicker and more cost-effective.

CA Maulik Mehta had the dream of, ‘living in the USA’ from a very young age. By January 2012, he was promoted to Senior Associate at KPMG Mumbai but no matter how hard he tried, it was difficult to get an intra-company transfer to KPMG US.

“Taking a career break and going for a CPA certification seemed like the most sensible thing at that moment.” says Maulik.


Did you know that both of these courses have MRA (Mutual Recognition Agreement) between National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)?

This means that if you cleared US CPA, then through this MRA, you’ll also be eligible to get the designation of CPA Australia. However, you need to take the exam in only one paper, i.e., Ethics and Governance for that.

Also, Members of CPA Australia seeking to obtain the US CPA credential via this agreement can visit the NASBA website for specific eligibility requirements.

So before taking any decision, understand where you want to work and consider your long-term goals. Do pay attention to the DEMAND of that degree in your country.

Consider all these factors and then enrol yourself accordingly into any course.


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