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Should I get Masters after I take the CPA exam?

I have a BSBA in Small Business and Entrepreneurship from a private university. I want to take the CPA exam, so I was going to go straight for a Masters in Accounting and skip a BBA in Accounting. Since I am now at a public university, there are about 17 prerequisites I must take before being eligible for the Masters program. For financial aid and time reasons (there are only a few classes between just fulfilling my prerequisites and actually getting a BBA, so I'm just going for it), I am going to get a BBA in Accounting and then take the CPA. Should I still shoot for a Masters after I take the CPA? I've been told by some people that a Masters is irrelevant and some have said a Masters is the new Bachelors since "everyone" is getting a Bachelors degree now.

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Carla’s Answer

If you've met your hours requirements to sit for the CPA exam, then there is not usually significant value in obtaining additional degrees. On the job learning will be really beneficial in helping you grow and progress as a professional; so, unless you have a specific desire for an additional degree, I suggest starting your career.

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John’s Answer

I would focus on getting your CPA first, obtain some work experience then you can see if you want to go the master's route. You might find working for a few years gives yourself a better idea of what areas you want to specialize in your future career - accounting, audit, tax? I also find if you can leverage some work experience with additional education you'll get better results. Real world practical experience plus a master's degree is likely to pay off more.

I agree with John, focus on getting your CPA first. You can use your CPA as a way to navigate public accounting to find what aspect of accounting you like most and make a career of. As for the master's degree, I've been told getting your master's degree is a great way to pivot your career to something else if you're not happy with what you're currently doing. Work experience, a CPA, and a Master's degree will find you a job anywhere. Christopher McCown

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Katie’s Answer

Hi Kimberli!


Good question! I think the answer is that it depends on what you want to do in your career. I did not get my masters but took the CPA right after I finished my undergrad degree. I now work for one of the big four accounting firms and am not the only one with out a masters. Most of the people I work with either do not have their masters or only did it to complete the 150 hour requirement to become a CPA. And, there is no requirement to have your masters to advance within the firm, so it definitely doesn't hurt if you do not have one within public accounting. If you do not have your 150 hour requirement met, then you should do the masters program, however if not, then it might not be necessary. Check with this website to see what your state's requirements to see what educational requirements you might still need to complete (https://www.thiswaytocpa.com/exam-licensure/state-requirements/).


With this said, a masters degree never hurts especially if you want to specialize in a certain area. It will only make you more qualified, even if it is not required. However, you can always complete your masters at a later date after you are more established.


Hope this helps!

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Hillary’s Answer

I believe it is much more crucial to obtain the CPA license instead of pursuing the MBA. The CPA distinction is highly sought after and will set you apart much more than an MBA would as they are now very common. I know that at my company we were only hiring CPAs that had worked in public accounting for a period of time. In my opinion, it is better to begin your career and start building wealth especially when you have the CPA license. Also, many companies will pay for classes to obtain your Master's degree so it may be better to wait and pursue it on their dime.

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Morgan’s Answer

I suggest getting your masters degree if you do not have the 150 credits to qualify as a CPA. By getting your masters, you can become eligible to become a CPA as well as get a masters degree. The extra year of school is also a great time to study for examination as well. However, if you have achieved the 150 credits through extra classes or AP credits, then I do not suggest going for a Masters degree. You can see in your career path if you think later on pursuing a masters degree would be worth it.

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Geoff’s Answer

Think everyone previously added great points. I just wanted to add one more from a monetary perspective. Going for your CPA is most likely cheaper than obtaining a Master's Degree. If you get your CPA, you'll have a better chance of landing a job. Then once you start your career, see if the company you work for offers financial support for advanced degrees. I know the company I work for offers $10k a year in financial aid for approved classes and programs. Good luck!
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John’s Answer

I would focus on getting your CPA first, obtain some work experience then you can see if you want to go the master's route. You might find working for a few years gives yourself a better idea of what areas you want to specialize in your future career - accounting, audit, tax? I also find if you can leverage some work experience with additional education you'll get better results. Real world practical experience plus a master's degree is likely to pay off more.
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Justin’s Answer

Hi Kimberli, I would build on what everyone else said and suggest that if you have the required hours to sit for the CPA exam I wouldn't worry about a Master's program. I have a Master's degree and didn't feel that it helped me so much that I wouldn't be able to pass it without it.

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Ryan’s Answer

Kimberli,

I obtained my MBA in professional accountancy prior to taking the CPA exam - but I would say that the actual degree isn't necessary when it comes to working in the industry, the CPA exam is much more important. I used the extra year in grad school to study and take the CPA exams and get to the 150 credit threshold I needed. If you have the credits need, I would say just focus on the CPA exam.

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Rebecca’s Answer

If you plan to go into public accounting, I don't necessarily see the need to get your masters on top of your CPA exam. I personally did not go to grad school to get my masters because I already had 150 hours as an undergrad and could sit for the CPA.

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Graeme’s Answer

Hi Kimberli,

As someone who has their Masters degree in accounting, I would say that it is not necessary in most cases. A lot of masters programs are geared towards fulfilling CPA education requirements. Many, if not the majority, of the people who I work with (Big 4 accounting firm) graduated within the last year but only a few have a masters in accounting, and we all make the same amount of money and have the same amount of responsibilities.


Where it might help you, but I can't guarantee it, is if you wanted to go into teaching someday.

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Femi’s Answer

Hi Kimberli,


This is a great question and I think Katie has provided some great insight to answer your question. Adding onto her response, I agree that getting a Master degree after the CPA is heavily dependent on your career trajectory.

My situation is very similar to that of Katie's. I do not have a Master's degree either as I was able to get the 150 credit hours requirement without it. In order to get the CPA, you'll need to meet certain requirements which differ depending on the state you plan on sitting for the exam. I would recommend you speak to an academic advisor in your school to know if you will be able to get the 150 credits without going for masters( in my school we had an academic advisor who would put through on the specific requirements for your state). I think obtaining a master's degree will become important if you're unable to get to that 150 credit requirement without it.

I also believe getting a Master's degree will always help and not hurt you- "Knowledge is Power" as they say. I think it's another great way to set yourself apart is the job market. If you have an interest in other subject areas within business, it could also be beneficial to pursue a Master's in that field.


I hope this answer helps you!


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Rachel’s Answer

Hi Kimberli!

It would be nice to get the CPA done first if you have enough credits for the exams. It is easier to find more time studying while you at school. I wouldn't rush into getting a master degree if you don't have some work experience to know what do you want to specialize in your future career as you might want to study a different field after working for several years.

Good luck!

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Adam’s Answer

Hi Kimberli,


Great question and congratulations on all you have accomplished already! I currently work at PwC, and decided not to pursue a Master's degree after completing my bachelors degree. Instead, I decided to take other courses I was interested in at my University to complete my 150 credits in order to sit for the CPA.


I personally do not feel a Masters in accounting is needed to be successful at an accounting firm. It will help build time for completing your CPA, but it is very expensive and I found I had plenty of time to study for the CPA during the summer between graduation/employment and during my first few months with the firm. After graduation, I would suggest working on your CPA exam and if possible to complete a section or two over the summer you will be in great shape.


I don't feel recruiters view candidates differently based on having a Masters degree, but rather a key piece is your progress towards your CPA exam, so make sure to prioritize this upon graduation. I think if you were to get a Masters degree, it would be best to obtain an MBA as this can open the door to many careers, vs a Masters in accounting which is more specialized.


Hope this helps!

Adam


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