CPA Canada Professional Education Program (CPA PEP): Frequently asked questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions about Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada)’s Professional Education Program (CPA PEP) on your journey to become a Canadian CPA.

Do I need an accounting degree to enroll in the CPA certification program?

No, an accounting degree is not an entrance requirement. The academic prerequisite for admission to the CPA certification program is a university degree in any discipline (undergraduate or post-graduate) from a recognized post-secondary institution and at least 120 credit hours (equivalent to four years of full-time study). The 120 credit hours can be satisfied by a four-year degree or a three-year degree with 30 additional credit hours. CPA Canada preparatory courses qualify for credit hours.

Complete the application for admission and transcript evaluation to determine if you have completed all the specific accounting and business prerequisites needed to enter the CPA PEP or whether you first need to enroll in CPA preparatory courses (formerly CPA PREP) to obtain access to the courses you require

Do I have to work in an accounting firm to earn the Canadian CPA designation?

There is no requirement to be employed at all during the course of your studies, though the vast majority of candidates do tend to be working full time.

You will need to gain 30 months of relevant practical experience with an employer (in any sector) within seven years of starting the CPA PEP. The key is to gain relevant, paid employment that is progressively challenging so as to develop as a professional accountant with appropriate supervision and mentorship. Read more about the Canadian CPA practical experience requirements.

Do I need a job to enroll in CPA PEP?

No, you do not need to be employed to enroll in the CPA PEP. In order to earn the Canadian CPA designation, however, you do need to both complete the academic program and earn 30 months of relevant practical experience. You are permitted to take longer than the time enrolled in the academic modules to earn the full 30 months of relevant practical experience. Once enrolled in the CPA PEP, you have a time limit of six years to complete all of the academic requirements and seven years to complete the practical experience requirements.

What are the prerequisites for admission to the CPA PEP?

You must have completed a recognized undergraduate or master’s degree, and specific subject area coverage. If you lack some (or all) of the prerequisite topics for entry in the CPA PEP, you can complete these topics through the CPA preparatory courses.

A minimum average of 65 per cent is required across all prerequisite core courses.

How is CPA PEP structured?

  • Modules 1-2: Core modules covering the six technical competencies (Financial Reporting, Strategy and Governance, Management Accounting, Audit and Assurance, Finance and Taxation)
  • Modules 3-4: Candidates choose two elective modules to develop deeper skills in their areas of career interest. The elective options are Assurance, Performance Management, Taxation and Finance.
  • Modules 5-6: All candidates must take the two final modules — a Capstone integrative module (that focuses on the development of the enabling competencies such as leadership and professional skills and the integration of core competencies) and a Capstone examination preparation module (that prepares Canadian CPA students for the Common Final Examination [CFE]). The integration module includes a team-based evaluation. 
How long does the CPA PEP take to complete?

The nationally developed, regionally delivered program is designed to be delivered on a part-time basis over two years while you gain relevant practical experience. You will have a maximum of six years from the date of registration to complete the CPA PEP.

How are the CPA PEP modules offered?

The modules are delivered using a blended learning model, combining online learning, self-study, classroom learning and teamwork.

Where will the classroom portions of the CPA PEP be held?

The mandatory in-class workshops, found within every CPA PEP module, will be held in Barbados (subject to sufficient enrolment numbers, with additional locations being added as student demand dictates). You are expected to travel to Barbados for this purpose. On a rare occasion, travel to a Canadian province may be required.

Are there examinations after the core and elective modules in the CPA PEP?

Yes. There is a module-end examination after each of the core and elective modules. These exams will be offered locally; travel to Barbados or Canada to sit the exams will not be required.

Where are the CPA PEP module-end exams held?

Exam accommodations are arranged in the region where you reside.

Is there a common final examination?

Yes. The CPA certification program includes a three-day Common Final Examination (CFE). You take the CFE after completion of CPA PEP modules.

What is the current schedule for CPA PEP offerings?

Please review the CPA PEP module schedule to view a current schedule of modules being offered.

What happens if I fail an examination?

Candidates are allowed three attempts to pass each core or elective module. If candidates exhaust three attempts in one module, they will be expelled from the program. If you fail a module-end examination twice, you will be required to retake the next available offering of the module before attempting the examination again.

When does Module Zero need to be completed?

Module Zero is applicable only to legacy CA, CGA and CMA students who are transitioning into the CPA certification program. Module Zero, when required, should be completed prior to the start of Core 1 but must be completed prior to challenging the Core 1 module-end examination.