Understanding the CPA Evolution

Certified Public Accountant working

Like all things, the accounting profession must evolve with the times. The accounting profession has certainly evolved over the last few decades. Accountants are not just “crunching numbers” but are using data to provide valuable information to client organizations. To address the diverse nature of the services that Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) provide, the Uniform CPA Exam is being significantly modified as of January 2024.1 The process of updating the CPA Exam is referred to as the CPA Evolution.

In This Article:

How Do I Become a CPA?

To become a CPA, you will need to become licensed in a state or jurisdiction of the United States, candidates must meet educational and experience requirements set by that licensing board. However, all states and jurisdictions mandate that candidates successfully pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

The current model of the CPA Exam has four required parts:

  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  • Regulation (REG)
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

There are two fundamental changes to the CPA Exam format as part of the CPA Exam Evolution. Firstly, data analytics is now threaded throughout all sections of the Exam. Secondly, there are now three required "core" sections of the exam, and candidates must choose the fourth section they will take from three available "discipline" sections.

The BEC section is being replaced by the disciplines. The three Discipline sections of the CPA Exam include Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR), Information Systems and Controls (ISC) and Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP). Despite the variation among the discipline sections of the Uniform CPA Exam, candidates will be awarded the same CPA license regardless of the discipline section that was passed.

CPA Evolution Model Curriculum

There is plenty of information available on the content that will be covered through the new Uniform CPA exam. CPA candidates will benefit from reviewing the Uniform CPA Examination Blueprints that were released by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) on January 3, 2023. Throughout the process of revising the CPA exam, there have been several versions of the blueprints to summarize in which section exam content will be tested. The most recent version of the blueprints can be found at can be found by visiting The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. The blueprint document should be used as an overview of the CPA exam content, in order to prepare for the exam.

More detailed information on the Uniform CPA Exam under the CPA Exam Evolution is also available. The CPA Evolution Model Curriculum provides a detailed outline of content covered on each section of the exam and learning objectives to be met. The CPA Evolution Model Curriculum has been made public by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). This information was prepared to help faculty develop course curriculum that addresses the content on the CPA Evolution version of the CPA Exam. However, CPA candidates will also benefit from reviewing the CPA Evolution Model Curriculum. 

What Are the Requirements for the CPA?

To be able to pass the CPA exam under the new model, you will have to carefully plan what coursework to take as you complete the 150-credit hours required by most jurisdictions for licensure. Since you now have to choose which Discipline you will test in, you will have to customize your coursework to include the necessary content for your chosen area of specialization. If you do not pass a specific discipline section of the CPA exam may opt to take a different discipline section in a subsequent testing window. However, you cannot take two discipline sections of the CPA exam at the same time.

Oftentimes, change is not easy. However, the accounting profession has changed over the decades. Automation has allowed accountants to increasingly become interpreters of data, rather than simply compilers of financial information. The CPA evolution reflects the accountant’s important role in impacting the organization and influencing its success. For more information on the Uniform CPA Exam effective in January of 2024, please visit NASBA.

Specific courses in data analytics are typically in both the undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and data analytics concepts are practiced in various classes. Most undergraduate programs focus on the core sections of the Uniform CPA Exam, and graduate courses prepare students for the discipline sections. The MSA degree for the Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR) discipline section of the CPA exam is currently running, and a program to prepare students for the Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP) discipline section will be available in the fall of 2023.

Grand Canyon University (GCU) can help become a CPA under the new CPA evolution model. GCU has carefully planned a sequence of courses that will prepare students for the CPA evolution, as part of their Bachelor of Science in Accounting with an Emphasis in Public Accounting and Master of Science in Accountancy programs. Students are encouraged to take both the bachelor's and master's degree programs in succession in order to cover most content that is on the CPA evolution version of the Uniform CPA exam. 

Find Your Purpose With an Accounting Program at GCU

A unique aspect of the GCU accounting program is the inclusion of CPA exam review content. Through the Master of Science in Accounting program at GCU, you will take review courses to prepare for each of the core sections of the CPA exam, as well as the desired discipline section. The review courses are strategically placed throughout the course sequence so that you can take the CPA exam while they are completing your master’s degree. For more information on GCU’s accounting programs, learn more about the Colangelo College of Business. Fill out the form on this page to be contacted by a university counselor who can answer your questions.


1National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. (n.d.). CPA Exam’s Future: Key Tentative Dates Announced. Retrieved April 6, 2023.


Approved by the associate professor of accounting for the Colangelo College of Business on March 30, 2023.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.


Scroll back to top