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Is it hard to get a CPA or CFA in college if majoring in Accounting/Finance?

hopeful4cornellhopeful4cornell Posts: 378Registered User Member
edited April 2012 in Business Major
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Replies to: Is it hard to get a CPA or CFA in college if majoring in Accounting/Finance?

  • taxguytaxguy Posts: 6,571Registered User Senior Member
    No, in fact for a CPA, you should major in accounting!

    As for the CFA, there are schools, notably Towson University, that has a financial planning track associated with their accounting major.

    One good option would be to major in accounting and minor in finance.
  • kcirschkcirsch Posts: 2,265Registered User Senior Member
    What exactly is a CFA and what kind of things do they do?
  • 311Griff311Griff Posts: 1,586Registered User Senior Member
    It is hard, actually, to get a CPA while still in college (if even possible)...if you are in your undergrad program...because you most likely won't have completed education or experience requirements until you have graduated with at least an undergrad plus a little work experience under a CPA's supervision.

    As for question above about a CFA (chartered financial analyst), you can find out at:

    www.cfainstitute.org
  • hopeful4cornellhopeful4cornell Posts: 378Registered User Member
    Thanks for the info so far. I was trying to gauge the difficulty of the CPA and CFA exams to see if it was something I could study for over the summer (I won't be doing anything else productive as it's my summer before college and there are no meaningful summer interships available in the financial industry for recent hs grads). alrite, it seems like the CFA is not something i could pick up during a summer, or possibly two. i appreciate the help, though.
  • 311Griff311Griff Posts: 1,586Registered User Senior Member
    The CPA exam is (
    ) this much tougher than the CFA. So to get a head start would be smart. I suggest begin to study the GAAP book (which is like 800-1400 pages long). You can also go to www.aicpa.org to get some good information on the CPA exam. It's tough, that's all there is to it.
  • ryanbisryanbis Posts: 836Registered User Member
    In many states, you cannot even apply to sit for the CPA exam until you've completed all of the education requirements, which include taking a minimum of 150 credit hours. For the most part, then, you will not qualify to sit even after you complete your undergraduate education.

    Some states allow you to sit before you finish the educational requirements IF you are expected to complete them within a certain period (90 days, I believe).

    You do not need to complete the experience requirement before sitting for the exam (in most states).

    Also, to take the exam, you will most likely need to be an accounting major/concentrator (or have an MSA). If you aren't, you'll need to take most of the courses required to be one in order to sit.

    I am studying for the exam right now. It is not something you can take just to fill up some free time. It is a very comprehensive exam that tests you on just about everything you learn in business school (from financial accounting to partnership law to stock valuation). Pre-computerization, it had a 20% pass rate.
  • everythingeverything Posts: 109. Junior Member
    The CPA You need to have met the requirements before you can get it, which usually means not until after school.

    The CFA from everything I have heard is a lot harder than the CPA. I don't know where 311Griff gets that from, but My brother who is both a CPA and CFA said there is no comparison the CFA is much much tougher. I have heard that from many other people as well.

    If you don't know much about the CFA, it is something Harvard MBA's with 15 years of investment banking experience decide to get, and still have to study for hours a day for a couple of years to come close to passing. Most do not ever pass.

    The CPA you can pass if you study. It is definitly hard, It is on par with with the bar exam. I know two people with a JD and CPA one said the CPA was a lot harder than the bar, the other said they are pretty much the same in terms of toughnes to pass.

    With the CFA from what I understand some people know matter how much they study will not pass it. It's not as black and white as the CPA where you lmemorize rules and regulations. Some people even people who are already CPA's and MBA's can not understand it well enough to pass no matter how much they study. It has a lot more theory, analytital and quantitive than the CPA.
  • 311Griff311Griff Posts: 1,586Registered User Senior Member
    See, I've heard differently... I've heard, from a CFA, that the CPA exam is tougher.

    The CPA exam has many, many candidates who don't pass it ever, and most don't pass it, entirely, on the first try. The business world demands CPA's a lot more than CFA's, so a lot of (most) schools have tailored their accounting curriculum around the requirements of sitting for the CPA exam (in fact the AACSB accounting accreditation is centered around a schools ability to prepare students to become CPAs).

    Still, a big percentage fail their first attempt--no wonder the CPA exam is not something anybody can take (you have to fulfill certain educational requirements first, no exceptions!!).

    If the CFA was as in demand as the CPA, then schools would tailor their curriculum around it, making it more passable. But only a handful of schools in the U.S. have programs (albeit, graduate programs like the MS in finance) tailored to the CFA exam. Also, there are no specific educational requirements to sit for the CFA exam, and not as many people desire to obtain charterhood either.

    Quite certainly the CFA exam could be tougher, but I don't think it's a matter of people trying to get their CFA, and not being able to, so settling for the CPA. I'm sure that many CFA's don't hold graduate degrees. I'm also sure that there are many CFA's who don't hold bachelor's degrees either.
  • everythingeverything Posts: 109. Junior Member
    You have to realize that the CPA and CFA are not remotely related. nobody went for the CFA and settled for the CPA. There is very little in common between the two.

    I'm going to assume you already have a good idea about the CPA.

    Four years of acceptable professional work experience are required before the CFA charter can be awarded.

    acceptable work experience includes evaluating or applying financial, economic and/or statistical data as part of the investment decision-making process involving securities or similar investments, which includes, but is not limited to, publicly traded and privately placed stocks, bonds and mortgages and their derivatives; commodity-based derivatives and mutual funds; and other investment assets, such as real estate and commodities, if these other investment assets are held as part of a diversified, securities-oriented investment portfolio.

    The CPA is for accountants. The CFA is for people who wish to become mutual fund or hedge fund managers, or something in that area. They are not related at all
  • everythingeverything Posts: 109. Junior Member
    Oh I forgot to mention that a college degree is required
  • aurovonaurovon Posts: 77Registered User Junior Member
    So basically you're saying one does not have to know anything about CPA if they want to get a CFA
  • ryanbisryanbis Posts: 836Registered User Member
    There's some content overlap on the exams, but the two designations are for two very different purposes. Few get both and there's rarely a reason to do so.
  • sparty419sparty419 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    i got a question..i am in a serious dilemma..i am a senior majoring in finance...also taking accounting classes....

    i want to get the cfa certificate..and i am really confused on how to go about it.. i am taking accounting classes also because i want to keep my options open in both finance and accounting fields..(p.s. i want to get into wealth management/portfolio management/investment banking..all finance related )

    since i eventually want to get the cfa...what is the best way to go for it??

    1) I can go ahead with a masters in accounting..and then start working full time and prepare for the cfa at the same time..thus keeping my options open for both accounting and finance fields since i've herd there are more jobs in accounting than finance...just in case i dont get any job in the finance field?
    this way, i can get a cfa..and also be meeting the 150 credits required for the CPA exam..

    2) Go ahead with a full time right after graduation, and directly start preparing for the cfa ...

    so, i am confused with which path to take to get my cfa..and which pat would be more beneficial...
    One more question i have a doubt abiout is....whether i can take the cpa after getting my cfa degree...i.e. is getting a cfa meeting the requirement for writing a cpa exam? this way, i wouldn't have to do my masters in accounting, and directly go ahead with a full time job after my undergraduation...

    thanks
  • sparty419sparty419 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    Cfa


    i got a question..i am in a serious dilemma..i am a senior majoring in finance...also taking accounting classes....

    i want to get the cfa certificate..and i am really confused on how to go about it.. i am taking accounting classes also because i want to keep my options open in both finance and accounting fields..(p.s. i want to get into wealth management/portfolio management/investment banking..all finance related )

    since i eventually want to get the cfa...what is the best way to go for it??

    1) I can go ahead with a masters in accounting..and then start working full time and prepare for the cfa at the same time..thus keeping my options open for both accounting and finance fields since i've herd there are more jobs in accounting than finance...just in case i dont get any job in the finance field?
    this way, i can get a cfa..and also be meeting the 150 credits required for the CPA exam..

    2) Go ahead with a full time right after graduation, and directly start preparing for the cfa ...

    so, i am confused with which path to take to get my cfa..and which pat would be more beneficial...
    One more question i have a doubt abiout is....whether i can take the cpa after getting my cfa degree...i.e. is getting a cfa meeting the requirement for writing a cpa exam? this way, i wouldn't have to do my masters in accounting, and directly go ahead with a full time job after my undergraduation...

    thanks
  • everythingeverything Posts: 109. Junior Member
    I can't really give you much advice as for what you should do, but I'm not sure if you realize the CFA is not something many people get out of college. It is something using attained by middle aged people with many years of wall street experience.

    I can't imagine being able to study for the CFA while working in public accounting and studying for the CPA. Both will require lots of time, and you would probably be working 50-80 hours depending on the season in public accounting.

    Why are you so dead set on a CFA? It doesn't sound like you really know much about it.

    Heres the path my brother took, he has both a CPA and CFA.

    Went into public accounting after undergrad (this was pre 2001 150hr requirement) got his CPA while in public accounting. After 4 years of public accounting, he went back to school to get an MBA. After his MBA he went into investment banking and was an associate for 3 years before leaving to work for a hedge fund. While at the fund he studied for the CFA about 20-30 hours a week for I think about a year or year and a half or so. Then he passed the exam I think in different sittings.

    Since I'm on it he has since started his own Hedge fund with 3 other partners and associates.
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