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Masters degree in accounting: Is it right for you?

Masters degree in accounting: Is it right for you?

To pursue the masters in accounting degree, or to go directly into the workforce... that is the question. Is a masters in accounting worth it?

This is a question all accounting students inevitably ask themselves. I considered a masters in accounting about 7 years ago, and I assume some of you are considering the same right now.  Instead of going in blind, like me, I want to help make this decision as easy as possible for you.

Deciding whether a Masters of Accounting is right for you: 6 things to consider

Do you need a masters to be a CPA? While it’s not required, students should consider getting a masters in accounting degree for a few main reasons:

  1. Meet state CPA requirements

All states require a bachelor’s degree in accounting with at least 150 credit hours of coursework to become a licensed CPA. Additionally, many states require a certain number of hours in accounting-specific courses. Specific requirements on a state by state basis can be found here.

While the criteria for obtaining your CPA license is mostly uniform across all 50 states, there are certain nuances to pay attention to. In Georgia, where I was first licensed, you are allowed to sit for the CPA Exam after only taking 120 credit hours - meaning I was able to sit for the CPA exams while enrolled in my accounting masters program. Other states require 150 credit hours. This is an important factor to know when deciding whether to get your masters degree in accounting.

The primary methods of achieving the 150-hour requirement is to double major or get a minor, enroll in additional courses at a community college or obtain a masters in accounting degree.

  1. Time commitment

Unlike other masters programs, the masters in accounting degree usually takes less than a year to complete.

  1. Advanced degree on your resume

Having a masters degree on your resume can pay off over the long run and make you stand out against a candidate who doesn’t have an advanced degree.

  1. Double dip on your studying

You have the ability to line up your graduate courses in accounting with which CPA Exam you are taking. For example, I elected to take the Audit CPA Exam at the same time as I was taking an audit course in my masters in accounting – which helped big time with studying efficiently! Using a CPA Exam review provider to study also helped me tremendously.

  1. Knock out the CPA exams prior to starting work full-time

If you’re in a state that allows you to sit for the CPA exams during your masters program, this is a huge benefit. Many professionals work late nights during busy season and go home only to study for hours for the CPA exams. It is a major relief to enter the workforce with the CPA exams behind you.

  1. Another campus recruiting cycle

If you don’t have a job offer in your hand and are nearing college graduation, pursuing a masters degree in accounting gives you the opportunity to go through your campus recruiting cycle again – and hopefully land a job prior to completing the masters degree!

There are so many added benefits to pursuing a masters in accounting degree. As I sit here writing, seven years from entering the workforce, I will never regret the additional investment that I made in my education on my journey to becoming a CPA.

I would love this series to be a dialogue, so if you have any additional advice to add or questions send me a message on @Lets_Get_Fiscal on Instagram.

This piece is Chapter 4 in “The Life of an Accountant Series” by Kristin Lofgren of @Lets_Get_Fiscal. Read more of her posts:

The Life of an Accountant series: Prologue

5 truths to consider when deciding to major in accounting: Chapter 1

Why attending a Big Four leadership conference is key for accounting students: Chapter 2

How to secure a public accounting internship: Chapter 3