Hello all.  My name is David.  I am a sophomore in college and an accounting major.  To be eligible for the CPA, I will need 150 credits, and my accounting major only puts me at 136.

How could I best attain those credits?

Also, I would appreciate any general advice for how to be a good accountant- I'm really just a young sprout lol, I don't know too much yet.

Thanks much,


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Grad School.  A few of our MBA's are CPAs getting more credits.  Also just go to grad school for finance. 

Thats exactly what I'm trying to find out.  I'm fluent in Spanish- more classes with that won't help.  I've actually taken logic too- it was a fun class.  Might you know of any minors that would make the CPA stand out?

Since the CPA is actually a state board certification rather than an academic item, you'll likely need a combination of work experience and "Continuing Education Credits (CE)" and then pass the test (sort of like the bar exam for lawyers).  I'm not an accountant (nor do I play one on TV), but I did manage to Google CPA and found the above. Taking the academic CPA coursework at university still means you have to get the required work experience before you can take the certifying exam to obtain the CPA certification.  You don't need a Master's degree, just the appropriate post college CE course work.  Most of the CE Credit courses I've seen are one or one and a half unit courses that take a day or two on a weekend. Which would fit fairly well into a work schedule, and likely be a lot cheaper than university tuition (and take less time.) 

Besides, you really don't want to be one of those notorious MBA types whose total real world experience with anything is a couple of summer internships.  (And I've met more than a couple of those types on the job.)


Many business schools have an MS Accounting program set up to get the extra credits you need to sit for the CPA exam. That would be my first stop. You can also consider an MS Finance, but those are less common and only recommended if you are thinking of crossing over from accounting jobs to finance jobs.

I adamantly argue against the MBA if you have a business undergrad. You will get much more mileage from a specialist master's degree and/or professional certification.

Would an MSA be that more specialized master's degree?  I've been warned by lots of people not to get an MBA before having some work experience, would the MSA be a different animal?


Yes, an MSA (or MSF for that matter) is different. It is designed to be an immediate entry post-graduate degree. Most people will have little full-time work experience. Internships will be about it. The original purpose of the MSA was to get students enough credits to sit for the CPA. 

Now, MSA will be a little different from school to school, but have a lot in common. And it will be a specialist degree. You will concentrate on accounting, and won't do the nonsense management courses of an MBA. The MBA is on its way out.

I was having a similar discussion with my husband just this morning.  He has a MBA.  I'm a lawyer.  Neither of us are accountants, but we work with accountants a lot, and I'd like to get my CPA some day.

We're in a huge metro area, and we have ads on the radio all the time about evening/weekend programs to go from an associates or unrelated bachelor's degree to a CPA license.  That's where I'd start in your position.  Also with for-profit colleges.  They're best at teeing people up for certification exams with minimal course work.  Also with the career counselors at your college.  Answering questions like yours is their job.

I'd avoid graduate work.  It's a huge pain to apply.  It's expensive.  If they get a whif you're only interested in a few credits, they won't admit you any way, 'cause drop-outs wreck their graduation rates.  And, unless you want the master's degree, why put in 2+ years of work when you only need about 1 semester of credits?

My father was, too.  OP:  If you can take graduate classes without taking the GRE, special applications, special fees, etc., by all means, do.

The same college where I'm earning my undergrad offers an MSA program, and I could go right into that without taking the GRE or any other tests.  Do you think that could be worth doing?  The downside is that its much more expensive than just getting the 150 credits with community college courses, and I don't know if it would add too much to the CPA.

Accounting generally: 

As an individual client with sometimes-complicated income taxes, I'm surprised by how hard it is for non-1%ers to get forward-looking tax advice.  Stuff like the guy on AoM a few weeks back whose wife was going to have cash income from baby-sitting.  Stuff about retirement accounts and buying first homes comes up a lot for my husband and I and millions like us, but we have to research it ourselves or pay a tax attorney to advise us.  So, if you go into income tax, I'd definitely offer a service in the non-busy season to all your clients about planning, rather than filing.

As a lawyer who has represented accountants in malpractice actions, unfortunately, I find the size of the business needs to be proportional to the size of accounting firm.  It seems my clients got into trouble when they were dealing with businesses bigger than they usually handled - even if they didn't truly make mistakes, it was hard to convince a jury that the city's smallest accounting practice could handle the city's biggest business.

As a friend of accountants, if you go into auditing, as a young CPA, you'll be dealing with managers perhaps twice your age on something of an equal level.  They say getting managers to respect them is the hard part of their job, not the stuff they actually teach you in school.  [and, no, dressing well and carrying yourself with confidence aren't enough to bridge that gap]

OP should talk to lots of accountants to get an idea of different career paths.  Forensic accountants aren't my favorite accountants to interact with, but it may be OP's thing, especially if he likes working with law enforcement and/or lawyers.

Thank you all for commenting.  It seems like I have three main options for how to get the credits:

1.  Stay in college a fifth year to get the MSA. (However, I'm concerned this may make me too overqualified as a new grad).

2.  Minor in something.  (However, I don't know of any minors that would add much to a CPA.)

3.  Take community college classes in anything. (much cheaper, this is what I'm leaning towards.) 

Any advice about what community college courses would be best?  Maybe a couple programming courses? 

Thanks much!



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