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Accounting undergrad vs MS

danorddanord Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
edited September 2011 in Business Major
Does anyone have any thoughts on attending a prestigious university as an econ major and then completing a one year accounting MS program vs attending a less prestigious university and majoring accounting? Both are with a goal of attending law school. Does it even make a difference at all, since in both cases I would end up as a CPA?
Post edited by danord on

Replies to: Accounting undergrad vs MS

  • AsTranAsTran Registered User Posts: 372 Member
    You want to become a CPA but your goal is to attend law school?
  • mossmoss Registered User Posts: 678 Member
    Honestly, get your foot in the door at any public accounting firm and work your way up if you plan to be a CPA. We've been hiring a bunch of JD's for our specialty tax groups and while you do earn more than your counterparts, a high performer with an undergraduate degree can surpass your higher starting salary in just a few years. Considering they are not carrying the debt burden you will be carrying with a JD, the ROI will be much more in your favor. In addition, a JD may not necessarily help you in your role at the public accounting firm. I've talked to JD's at my firm and the consensus appears to be that law school does not prepare them for public accounting. If you are going to go to law school, go practice law.

    Public accounting values experience more than advanced education. Practice is your education. The only thing that really matters in public accounting is how many years you've been in the game.
  • danorddanord Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Thanks for the responses, but I think I need to clarify my question.

    When I say I would end up with a CPA, I mean that both the undergrad and masters programs are designed with the end result of the student being a CPA, which i'm assuming that I would do since it is just a test. My goal is to practice specialized accounting-related law, and im wondering it it makes a difference in the hiring process whether my accounting degree is gained from a one year masters or from 4 year undergrad?
  • jhanleyjhanley Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    I'd just major in accounting and go straight to law school, assuming that the bachelors in accounting will give you the required business/accounting credits needed to become a CPA in your state, and the additional 30 credits needed for the 150 credit requirement can be earned through law school courses.

    Law schools don't care about the masters and I doubt public accounting firms care either if you have a law degree and meet the CPA education requirements. If you do major in econ, there are likely several bridging courses that you'll have to complete before you can even start the MAcc program, so it'll take longer than one year to complete the masters. How much "less prestigious" is the school that offers the accounting major? Is it AACSB accredited?

    And it's not as simple as just passing a test. You also have to meet the work experience requirement in your state, which could take a year depending on your state.
  • LazyKidLazyKid - Posts: 758 Member
    Does anyone have any thoughts on attending a prestigious university as an econ major and then completing a one year accounting MS program vs attending a less prestigious university and majoring accounting? Both are with a goal of attending law school. Does it even make a difference at all, since in both cases I would end up as a CPA?

    I am a recent Ivy grad with degree in Economics, who's headed to a top 6 law school next year. (or the year after) As someone who is also interested in practicing law related to tax group at a law firm, perhaps I can answer some of your questions.

    From my observation, your CPA credential pre-law school may boost your application when you are interviewing for those tax-related groups at top NYC law firms, but only slightly. Regardless of what area of law you intend to practice, when you are interviewing with law firms, the most important criteria are: 1) the rank of your law school, 2) your class rank at your law school, 3) your interviewing skills/ personality, 4) resume/ work experience, in that order. In short, where you go to law school and what grades you attain at your law school far outweigh the fact that you studied accounting at college - even for tax attorney positions.

    As a result, I wouldn't worry about 1) trying to attend a 'prestigious' college majoring in Econ, or 2) trying to go to masters of accounting program, with the specific intent of boosting your credential as a future tax attorney. Instead, you should focus on scoring as high as you can on LSAT and jacking up your college GPA in order to position yourself for getting into a top law school. I would recommend studying accounting/CPA only if you intend to practice accounting as a CPA.

    Lastly, I'd say forget about law school unless you can crack top 10 (or at least top 15) law school acceptance. Your chances of landing a lucrative law job outside top 10 is extremely low. Hence, my advice? Do NOT place all your hopes on law school or becoming a lawyer.
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