Whether your goal is to become a bookkeeper or your eyes are set on the CPA license, admission into the best accounting programs can be competitive.
So here’s what you need to know:
This brief overview of admission requirements should help you get an idea of what to expect. Then, you can focus on what matters: studying!
Associate’s Degree in Accounting
A two-year Associate’s degree in accounting can prepare you for an entry-level job as a clerk, bookkeeper, or for further study of accounting principles. If you want to be admitted into such a degree program, you need to hold a high school diploma or equivalent.
Certain schools may ask for a GPA of at least 2.0 in high school, as well as completion of necessary general education courses such as Algebra and English.
Depending on the college, you may also need to have scored above a certain value in ACT or SAT math, reading, and English. To verify this information, the school will need to see your transcripts alongside the application form and fee. Be sure to learn about the best ACT prep courses and SAT courses to ensure you get the highest possible score.
If you do not fulfill all the accounting associate degree requirements, you may be able to attend supplemental courses during your degree. The college may also require you to maintain a certain GPA throughout your studies in order to be granted a degree.
Just like in any other application process, post-secondary credits and experience gained through volunteering, internships, or paid work may put you at an advantage. Enthusiasm for the subject and an excellent record can go a long way in securing your place at a good college.
Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting
If your goal is to start a public accounting career and possibly become a licensed CPA, you will need to complete at least a Bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field.
Entry Requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting
To gain entry into a relevant program, you’ll need a high school diploma or something equivalent. Furthermore, most schools will expect you to hold a GPA of 3.0 or better.
The best programs also require candidates to have passed the ACT and/or SAT exams with certain minimum scores. You’re expected to have excellent math and communication skills. Consequently, completing these relevant courses will be an asset.
An Associate’s degree can help you gain admission to a Bachelor’s degree. Additionally, Associate’s graduates are considered to have fulfilled the high school education requirement.
Any additional accounting experience through volunteering, internships, or paid employment will help your chances of enrolling into a top program. You’re expected to have strong analytic skills and knowledge of math as an aspiring accountant. Furthermore, you’ll also be expected to have a track record that proves hard work and determination.
Additional courses in statistics and business will put you at an advantage. Competitive programs may have a set of prerequisite courses spanning a variety of areas. In addition, certain universities may require you to pass an entrance exam before being able to choose an accounting major.
Accounting is a competitive field from the get-go, so it’s never too early to start preparing: undergraduate-level courses and real-world experience can show an admissions committee that you are a motivated student who can make it in this challenging field.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Requirements
If your goal is to become a licensed CPA, you will need to complete 150 credits in most states. This is more than the 120 credit hours normally required for a Bachelor’s degree. You may complete the additional credits by earning a Master’s degree, by double-majoring, or by undertaking additional coursework within your school.
Once you have fulfilled your state’s CPA educational requirements (including compulsory courses), you will have to pass the CPA exam. Additionally, you may need to pass an ethics examination as well to receive licensure in some states. Furthermore, you’ll have to acquire a certain amount of accountancy experience (1-2 years) before becoming a licensed CPA.
An alternative certification that you can obtain is CFP (Certified Financial Planner). To achieve this, you will need to hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher and to pass the CFP exam, which requires knowledge of a wide range of financial planning topics. You must also acquire three years of professional experience in financial planning. Student’s who use a top CFP review course definitely have an advantage and leg up on their peers.
If you hold any other CFP-board approved designation (including Ph.D. in business and CPA) you are entitled to sit for the CFP exam regardless of other requirements.
Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Requirements
To become licensed as a Certified Management Accountant, you will need to hold a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, as well as two years of professional experience.
Knowledge of economics, statistics, and financial accounting are also necessary in order to pass the CMA exam.
Master’s Degree in Accounting or Taxation
One of the most popular ways of completing the coursework required for CPA certification is to earn a Master’s Degree in Accounting or Taxation. A Master’s degree shows determination and self-reliance and offers in-depth knowledge. Consequently, it can help your prospects when applying for high-paying jobs in cost accounting, managerial accounting, or as an internal auditor.
So how do you enroll?
You will need a Bachelor’s degree in order to meet the requirements for a Master’s Degree in Accounting. In many cases, this will need to be accounting or business-related, although some universities may allow you to use a Master’s in Accounting as a means of changing careers.
Many competitive Master’s level programs require an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.5, as well as high scores on the GRE or GMAT exams. You will also be required to write a convincing personal statement outlining your career goals and your suitability for the course; reference letters may also be needed.
This step of the Master’s accounting degree requirement is important for a specific reason. Ultimately, you need to show motivation and reveal yourself as a well-rounded person through essays, recommendation letters, and interviews. Consequently, this may be the most important part of the application process.
Many courses will also expect candidates to have completed high-level math courses and other prerequisites; however, those with an unrelated previous degree may have the opportunity of taking supplemental courses. Top programs may expect students to maintain a high GPA throughout their graduate studies.
A BBA or BSBA at the undergraduate level and an MBA at the graduate level are often viable choices. These are excellent accounting degree programs for individuals who still want to keep their options open. An MBA is a common choice for Accounting graduates who do not need to complete more advanced accounting courses to satisfy CPA requirements.
Prerequisites for some business law and business administration degrees are similar to accounting admission requirements. Courses in statistics, calculus, business, and economics may be required prior to enrolment on a BBA/BSBA. The minimum GPA accepted for a school of business can range between 2.5 and 3.5, while certain minimum SAT scores may also be required.
Students applying for an MBA program will also need to face a competitive application process. Applicants will often need to have a GPA of at least 3.0 or even 3.5, with GMAT scores above 500 and GRE scores required by certain programs.
A Bachelor’s degree is required when applying for graduate study and a three-year Bachelor’s degree may not be sufficient; in this case, students may need to complete a pre-Master’s program to qualify for MBA admission.
Just like the Master’s in Accounting, an MBA application will entail transcripts showing an excellent academic record as well as essays, reference letters and an interview which will allow candidates to shine out.
Extra-curricular activities and real-world experience are extremely helpful. If you engage in these, you’ll reveal yourself as a mature, motivated student ready to take on the challenges of graduate study!
Ph.D. in Accounting
If you’re looking to enter the academic world, a Ph.D. in Accounting may be a necessary stepping stone. Unfortunately, admission to doctoral programs is highly competitive. Hence, you’ll need to hold at least a Bachelor’s degree and often a Master’s degree or relevant accounting experience.
High scores on the GRE or GMAT exams will also be expected. Like any other graduate degree, you will also need to provide a personal statement and reference letters. To maximize your chances, you will need to have completed a core set of advanced courses and to demonstrate a long-standing interest in accounting and research.
Whatever your career goal, you will be facing a competitive job market. Hence, you’ll need more than a degree to stand out. In order to make the most of your education, you will have to demonstrate motivation and genuine passion for the field. This can be done through extracurricular activities, independent study, field experience, and an excellent academic record.
Every additional accounting-related experience will bring you one step closer to a great education, and consequently, a great job. Therefore, you should seize every opportunity and don’t wait until you graduate to start your career!
When applying for admission to top programs as an undergraduate or graduate, you’ll need to demonstrate more than your qualifications. Instead, you’ll have to demonstrate that the program will open the gate to achieving your most important goals. Nothing worthwhile comes easily, especially in accounting. Consequently, be prepared to show that you’re able to take on a challenge and achieve great things!