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CPA vs Master of Science in Accountancy

todo86todo86 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
edited December 2013 in Business School - MBA
Hello everyone,

I'm going to be a senior this year and am currently enrolled in the university program that will allow me to get my masters of science in accountancy 1 year after obtaining my undergrad. My dilemma is that I can take just 9 extra hours of accounting courses in order to satisfy the requirements for the exam.

The reason I am considering not doing the program and just to take the extra classes is because it will be financially better and leaves me with the opportunity to work right after obtaining my undergrad degree in accounting.

So my question is this: Is it more valuable in the long run to go ahead and get a masters and the CPA, or will just obtaining the CPA be adequate? I will appreciate any insight/opinions on this as I've searched and can not find an answer.
Post edited by todo86 on

Replies to: CPA vs Master of Science in Accountancy

  • Gravitas37Gravitas37 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    In my experience, getting a masters in accounting in addition to getting a CPA is not that much more valuable. The CPA certificate alone carries a lot of weight in the business world. Now getting an MBA in addition to the CPA is another story.
  • todo86todo86 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Thanks for the response. Do you think that coming out of college with a CPA and a masters will see the benefit of a salary increase vs just a CPA?
  • marine1300marine1300 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    I think the real answer depends on your career aspirations and backround. Masters in Accountancy will not get you much of a salary increase especially at the big 4. So the big question is can you get the job your looking for straight out of undergrad? If you can, then take it and finish those extra classes maybe in the summer after graduation and take the CPA. On the other hand, if you need another shot at job recruiting, the MSCA will provide you another chance to get into your ideal job. To me it would be worthwhile spending the extra year if it gave you the chance to get in with the big 4 for instance. CPA will not help you get hired initially so do whatever you have to do to get the best first job you can!
  • schor662schor662 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Also don't try to get a MBA right out of college. Wait at least a few years. With interviewing at many Big Four firms I learned that if they see an MBA, they want experience with it. Otherwise to them it's worthless. I've been told that the best advanced degree to get would be the Master's in Taxation. Having many graduate tax classes will help you reach above many other candidates who only have a CPA. This would also be the case for the MS in Accounting as well.
  • VectorWegaVectorWega Registered User Posts: 1,872 Senior Member
    As long as you can get your foot in the door with a big 4 firm, just take the necessary hours. Masters is not needed.
  • marine1300marine1300 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    The big 4 really don't care about masters degrees and MBA's. They could care less if your masters is in tax or accounting or no masters at all. The same goes for passing the CPA prior to getting hired. Regardless of what anyone else tells you, the recruiters who matter care only that you meet the requirements to sit for the exam, did well in school, and have the personality and work ethic that they are looking for. Any masters degree is essentially worthless in public accounting unless it is your only means of getting in. Sort of how investment banks don't seem to care what you majored in (think philosophy) but instead, whether you went to a top school and got good grades. Each career field has it's own system and in public accounting even having a CPA offers little advantage ( since so many have it) and essentially no pay increase for passing aside from bonus. In the real world of business, performance is going to be rated based on pure effort and ability to network(kiss ass), not on masters degrees and certifications.
  • todo86todo86 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    That's the idea that i was starting to get. Masters is not worth it as long as you are eligible to take the CPA. Thanks for all the insight. I believe I will just get the necessary hours to sit for the exam, and not go down the masters path.
  • StephenRStephenR Registered User Posts: 81 Junior Member
    "Masters is not worth it as long as you are eligible to take the CPA."

    That's true as long as licensing is not an issue.

    Is Texas a four year state or a five year state? California schools give out a masters in exchange for doing year five which makes graduates eligible for licensing in states that have already adopted a five year college requirement. California hasn't adopted it yet but I believe that most other states have. If it hasn't been or won't be adopted by Texas before you get your license there's not much incentive to get it as long as you are sure you won't want to practice in some other state.
  • openedskittlesopenedskittles Registered User Posts: 954 Member
    Texas has a 150 hour minimum. 150 hours is typically 5 years of college, but if you can do it in 4 years and still have all the required classes, you can graduate early.
  • ReflexReflex Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    You response / answer to a viewers question is inaccurate. Persons seeking a career in acccounting & finance should obtain both their M.S. in Accounting as well as their CPA, if they want to pursue an accounting role whether in the private or public domains. Now, if they want to pursue a management position within the private domain overseeing accounting, BI or providing consulting, only then would a structured MBA be preferrable over the M.S.; however, a person in this role must have both the M.S. as well as the MBA: a person without both their M.S. in Accounting as well as their MBA should not be employed at the Director / V.P. level without both...no exceptions.
  • kp1812kp1812 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    I fulfill the credit requirement for CPA exams. But I want to do MS- Accounting. I am assuming that MS courses will help me prepare for CPA studies.
    This way I will get two things in one shot
    1. MS DEGREE
    2. CPA exam preparation

    Am I assuming right?

    Please advise

  • bund44bund44 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    I recently got my MBA with a concentration in Finance and am a point where I am considering doing the necessary steps for becoming a CPA as well.

    My problem is that I am not able to move around much so I have considered the following options.

    1. Take enough undergrad or grad accounting class to be able to sit for the exam
    2. Pursue a MS in Accounting since some MBA class will minimize how many classes I may have to take
    3. Just hope the MBA is enough.

    I'm 27 years old so it's early enough in my career to do any, but I have already taken on $75k in debt, but my goal is to try and get a Big 4 job and convince my wife it is wise to move.

    As for the original question I think it would have paid to wait and if you are not geographically tied than I would do an MBA from a top school. If you are tied to an area that is not a major hot bed (i.e. NY, Boston, Atlanta, etc) a CPA should open more doors in that type of area.

    Just one mans opinion but I'm going through the same dilemma. In hind sight I would have tried to go to the best MBA school and have a concentration in Accounting which could help you sit for the exam depending on your undergrad degree.
  • MaccyTaxationMaccyTaxation Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    In most states you need 150 hours of education to get LICENSED as a CPA. This does not mean that you can't sit for the CPA with less than 150 hours. You can take the exam and get a passing score as long as you have taken the required 24-35 credit hours of undergraduate class work.

    The first thing I would do is pass the test, get your passing score.

    Most accounting firms don't really care whether or not you have an MBA, MSAccy or MST. The one and only thing they care about is whether or not your a CPA or have passed the test. These days most large to mid sized firms are less willing to pay to train and licenses someone to become a CPA. My best advice would be to do what is necessary to pass the CPA exam get licensed. CPA firms also like internships and one or two years of low level accounting experience such as book keeping, daily reporting and tax preparation.

    Regarding a graduate degree; Getting graduate degrees such as MBA's or MSA's is more important down the road once you are employed with an accounting firm or company because most firms, companies and government entities want highly trained and educated senior accountants. Most firms will offer an annual tuition benefit of $5,250 per year or some will pay for all of your tuition. Once your employed don't waste your annual benefit, get your graduate degree. Getting a graduate degree in accounting or taxation will enable you to do a lot more once you have your CPA with a good amount of work experience.

    Between the MS in accounting and MS in Taxation, I would think the MS in Taxation would offer the ability to specialize in something such as tax accounting, tax auditing and IRS tax procedure and policy.

    FYI: One of the best things you could do is become a CPA and get experience working as an Internal Revenue Agent. Almost all accounting firms love former IRS employees simply because IRS agents are highly technical and know the IRS tax procedures and you can't teach this experience in any class room.
  • TayselTaysel Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    A lot of people have responded concerning having an MSA and working in the Big 4, but can anyone give any insight in not having the MSA but having the CPA and working for the federal government? I realize that I will start out at a lower paygrade, but will there be any other negative side effects from not having the MSA?
  • smith415smith415 Registered User Posts: 636 Member
    I want to reiterate what marine1300 said. A masters degree is not pointless. It will get you in front of recruiters. Its really hard to get an interview with the top accounting firms unless you go through their campus recruitment process that they do in undergrad and masters programs.

    A few years ago I was at UCLA undergrad and barely even took accounting classes but I was able to get invited to a social hosted by KPMG. I wasn't interested in accounting at the time, but there's no way I can get my foot in the door like that now that I'm college graduate.

    I might get a masters in accounting just so I can get face time with recruiters again.
This discussion has been closed.