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,

David

Tags: Accounting, CPA

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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. 

Start an MBA program or work on a masters in accounting.

Think about what industries are likely to be of importance to you during your career and select classes that would relate to those.  I work with retirement plans, no accounting class in college taught that.  Some colleges that have a law program have classes on ERISA law.  First year auditors always get thrown onto retirement plan audits in the summer months and rarely know what they are doing.

My favorite elective course was Logic, it will teach you how to argue effectively.  Pick a language and take those classes, always looks good to have that on a resume.  In general, pick courses that will boost your resume and show you will be more than just an accounting grad with a CPA.  Everyone that will be applying for the CPA jobs you want out of college will have the same credentials.  What is going to make you stand out?

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?

Ask your professors. You may not need to get a Masters as you'll only need 14 more credits (4 or 5 more classes). They may have undergrad courses to suggest, which are less expensive than grad courses. An alternative is to take grad courses in you Senior year to 'fill' out the requirements.
An MBA is not supposed to be an 'entry' degree, it was designed for people with a few years of experience in the work force. The biggest complaints from professors and some of the older students was that many of the younger students didn't have experience and a lot of their work was 'rote' and it affected the team grades.

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.)

David,

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?

David,

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?

He may be able to take graduate courses while still an undergrad in his senior year, I was able to do this.

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.

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