Interested in becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)? You have a few educational options to pursue this career, but a Master of Business Administration with a Specialization in Accounting should be at the top of your list.
Today’s business climate demands more of a well-rounded business education than ever before since CPAs work closely with multiple business departments. A CPA coupled with an MBA opens doors to high-level positions including controller and manager. The designation and degree combination also serves to maximize earnings potential in these and other leadership positions.
An additional benefit of the accounting-focused MBA is the opportunity to complete the graduate-level coursework required for CPA certification while earning the MBA.
What Is a CPA?
CPAs work with individual and business clients, providing guidance in financial and taxation matters. A CPA has higher standing than an accountant in the esteem of clients due to the extensive training required to obtain certification. CPAs are also held to a more stringent code of ethics than accountants without the designation. Because today’s CPAs typically have substantial business school training, they have become strategic business advisers and decision-makers within corporate structures.
Though each state has its own set of certification requirements, public accountants are typically required to complete 150 semester hours of postsecondary training, including graduate-level coursework. Crossing this threshold prepares an accountant to sit for and pass the four requisite certification exams within 18 months. After receiving the designation, CPAs must maintain certification by continuing to meet educational requirements.
The Path to Becoming a CPA
Aspiring CPAs usually accrue 120 of the required hours through a bachelor’s degree program and then 30 more in a master’s degree program. While a graduate degree is not required for a CPA license, it does enable students to meet the credit hour requirements. Students can complete a general MBA, a Master of Science in Accounting, a Master of Arts in Accounting, or an MBA with a specialization in accounting.
The MBA option enables the accounting professional to learn the language of business, close communication gaps between finance and other areas of leadership, and become stronger players in areas of business strategy. Most MBA programs, including the University of South Carolina Aiken online MBA with a Specialization in Accounting, do not test for prerequisite accounting knowledge or require candidates to have completed specific coursework in accounting as an admissions requirement. Master of Science and Master of Arts programs in Accounting commonly have varying levels of accounting knowledge expectations for candidates. Both types of programs typically require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
The field of accounting presents many rewarding opportunities for Certified Public Accountants. If your priorities include the most efficient and cost-effective route to earning your certification, while maximizing your prospects of working for corporations or high value clients, an MBA is your next step toward becoming a CPA.
Learn more about the USC Aiken online MBA program with a Specialization in Accounting.