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Does MBA in accounting help when you are also trying to get a CPA?

I will start college in September with a major in Accounting and possibly a minor in something. I want to get my CPA and I'm not sure if I should get my MBA in accounting too. Please share your journey of getting your CPA or CPA and MBA. Please include the degree level that you graduated with.
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John’s Answer

An MBA in accounting can be beneficial for someone who is also trying to become a CPA. The MBA program can provide students with a broad understanding of business principles and practices, while the accounting focus can give them a more in-depth understanding of accounting concepts and practices.

An MBA in accounting can provide an individual with a solid understanding of financial management and accounting, which can be useful for a CPA. It can also help them develop the analytical and problem-solving skills needed to be successful in the field. However, it's important to note that the requirements for becoming a CPA vary by state, and some states require additional coursework or experience beyond an MBA in accounting. It's always best to check with your state board of accountancy to know the specific requirements.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, John! Ivana
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Megan’s Answer

Hi! Sometimes designations vary by university, so my follow-up question to you is: is this a masters in accounting or is this an MBA with additional accounting electives?

When I was in college, I did a 5-year accounting program to obtain 150 credit hours for CPA eligibility. This resulted in obtaining my BBA in Accounting (bachelors of business administration) and my MS in Accountancy (masters of accountancy).

Some institutions call the MS in Accountancy I got an MBA in Accounting to be more attractive to employers, so it's important to get an idea of what the degree plan looks like and how the credit hours are categorized. Others call it an MBA in Accounting because you take MBA coursework with a few extra accounting electives to demonstrate a specialization.

I typically see managers/leaders at companies obtain their MBA after a few years of work experience. Most public accounting professionals like myself don't have an MBA because the CPA license is more popular and more applicable to the type of work we do. Hope this helps!
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the response. Well my school has an option called "b.s./m.b.a in accounting," which " combines the B.S. in Business Administration with a major in accounting and the M.B.A. in Accounting, develops a strong foundation in financial and forensic accounting, auditing, and taxation while developing the skills associated with superior managerial performance." The second option is "MBA in Accounting" which "is a 36-credit program with courses ranging from leadership and managerial development to advanced auditing. The courses include eight graduate management courses and four graduate accounting courses." Thanks again for your response. Ivana
Thank you comment icon Hi Ivana! It sounds like your BS/MBA in Accounting may be equivalent to my BBA/MS in Accounting from my university -- essentially a 5-year accounting program. If the goal of your program is CPA eligibility, then that's just what you need. Best of luck! Megan Nerad, CPA
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Chandler’s Answer

Hi Ivana. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science with a double major in Accounting and Finance. I chose finance as I felt that it would give me a more holistic view of the business world. It was my choice to do 150 credits in 4 years as I wanted to get into the workforce right after college so I decided a double major was the best way to achieve that especially since I wanted to sit for my CPA exam in the summer post college. Also, my professor/mentor actually advised me not to get a Masters in Accounting as it would be the same "material" as studying for the CPA exam and to do 150 hours in 4 years. This is another reason why I did 150 within undergrad as I did not want to duplicate my efforts since the CPA is such a heavy study lift. Now there is nothing wrong with a Masters in Accounting as there are many concentrations that are super helpful, but this was the best path for me. Now 8 years in the workforce, I am almost done with my MBA. 4 more courses to go! I decided to get my MBA as I wanted to go back to school and learn because I missed that a bit. I am working to achieve a concentration in Data Analytics as that is a crucial part of my job and potential future job. Good luck with your journey!
Thank you comment icon Wow thanks, it sounds like your journey was fun. I heard data analytics is a great concentration paired with accounting. Ivana
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Jonathan G.’s Answer

First focus on getting your accounting degree and graduating, then I would focus on getting your CPA, I would put that as a priority over your MBA, for your MBA a lot of companies will pay for your courses, so something to consider, you might want to start your career first before seeking your MBA, a lot of good MBA programs also require it. For your CPA, most states, if not all now, require 150 college credit hours, so either a 1 year masters in accountancy or your MBA are two options there, but you can actually sit for your CPA before your have the credit hours requirement.
Thank you comment icon I appreciate this, thank you for the advice. Ivana
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Jacqueline’s Answer

Congratulations on starting your college journey. Accounting was my major and I loved it. To become a CPA there is a requirement to obtain 150 credit hours so many people decided to pursue a 5th year with an MBA/Masters in Accountancy. I choose to not take that route because I had interests in other areas. I obtained my additional credits by getting a Masters of Science in Education and I am so happy that I took that route. I encourage you and others to seek out your passions while you are in college and from there decide if you should go further into accounting or pursue something else to obtain the additional credits. After I finished my program in education I still went on to become a CPA and now I utilize my teaching degree to mentor people, host training sessions and be great at my job.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the advice. Ivana
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Victoria’s Answer

Hi Ivana!

I majored in accounting at the University of Maryland and entered into their 4+1 program (a program where you can simultaneously work toward both your bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting and graduate with both degrees in 4 or 5 years). I also minored in Spanish. For most states, in order to get your CPA license you need a total of 150 college credits (a typical bachelor's degree only requires you to have 120 credits to graduate, so most CPAs that I know either double majored in college, got a minor degree in something they are interested in, or got their master's in accounting like me!).

I came into college with 21 AP credits and took classes over summer and winter breaks during college, so I was able to actually get my bachelor's degree in 3 years and then I spent by fourth year at university finishing my master's program and studying for the CPA exam. I would totally recommend pursuing an MS in Accounting (and I would also see if your college offers any sort of dual degree program where you can take some graduate level classes and receive credit toward both your bachelor's and master's degrees). My MS in Accounting program really prepared me for the CPA exam and made studying for the CPA exam a lot less daunting than I think it would have been if I didn't have this extra year of accounting knowledge!

Many of my colleagues who went back to school for an MS degree or MBA after starting their career have told me that they regret not getting a master's degree immediately after getting their bachelor's degree (it can be hard to transition back into school after beginning your career, and also having your master's degree before starting your career can potentially even help you secure a higher salary depending on where you wind up working).
Thank you comment icon I appreciate you taking the time to answer this. Ivana
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Rebecca’s Answer

Thank you for your question. I am glad to hear that you will start in Accounting major soon and plan to take a MBA.
To be in accounting field, CPA is an important milestone to achieve. It is a professional qualification required in key accounting firm or large corporation. It may take a few years to achieve this. Usually, many people would complete the CPA examination on part time basis after graduation.
For MBA, the course would involve a lot of business case studies and discussion. You would benefit most if taking it after having a few years working experience.
Given the CPA exam is usually done on part time basis as well, I suggest you can consider to continue to study the MBA on part time basis after achieving CPA.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Rebecca! Ivana
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