Those interested in accounting can pursue degrees and certificates from the associate to the doctoral levels.
- Accounting Certificates: These are often post-baccalaureate programs designed for students who are ready to take licensing exams. Certificate programs add semester or quarter hours to students’ portfolios, bringing the total up to the 150 required to take the CPA exam by most states.
- Bachelor’s Degrees: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers prefer that potential employees have earned at least a bachelor’s in accounting or a related field. This is also the lowest degree accounting students can hold if they wish to become licensed.
- Graduate Degrees: Pursuing a graduate-level accounting degree also qualifies students to take credentialing exams. Many master’s and doctoral programs focus on accounting theory and research.
Since state CPA education requirements vary, the AICPA recommends students pursue a minimum of 150 semester hours at the undergraduate or graduate levels of study in order to meet their state licensing requirements; 30 hours more than a typical bachelor’s program. These extra semester hours can be earned by taking additional undergraduate, graduate or professional courses on top of a bachelor’s degree. Over 40 states have adopted this academic benchmark, making the 150 hours a worthwhile investment.