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Become a CPA With an MBA in Accounting

A Master of Business Administration in Accounting is a sought-after graduate business degree that equips accounting professionals with the educational qualifications to become a CPA.

An MBA’s broad range of business topics like finance, accounting, marketing, information technology and operations prepares you for a greater choice of career opportunities.

Individuals who hold both an MBA and a CPA can work as management consultants, financial controllers or chief financial officers, to name a few options. Some finance professionals opt for an accounting-focused MBA to enhance their promotability, according to job site These opportunities for advancement typically come with higher salaries.

CPA Test Requirements Vary

The CPA designation is issued by each individual state. It is not a federal license. Some states require you to have 150 hours of education before you can sit for the CPA exam, but that can vary depending on the state. In some states, but not all, you are allowed to count your MBA and undergraduate degree toward that total. Check with your state board of accountancy for specific requirements.

Typically, CPA candidates must have at least 24 college credit hours in accounting, auditing and taxation as well as 30 credit hours of business-related courses such as finance, business law and management. Once you have completed your educational requirements, your state board of accountancy must verify them. After that happens, you can apply to take the CPA exam. Once your application is accepted, you will be issued a Notice to Schedule (NTS). That notice allows you to schedule a time to take a section of the CPA exam. You are required to get a new NTS for each of the four test sections.

You can take the four sections of the exam during four different test windows throughout the year. You also have the option of taking all four sections at one time. However, taking one or two sections per testing window is recommended for the level of preparation it allows.

You must pass all four exam sections in 18 months. If you pass the first section, but fail to pass the remaining three in the required time, your first passed exam will expire and you will have to retake it. You are not allowed to retake the same section multiple times during one testing window. If you don’t pass it, you will have to wait until the next window to take that section again.

After you have passed all four sections of the CPA exam, you may be required, depending on your state, to take a short ethics exam administered by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). You’ll need to sign up for the test, which you can take online. You will be mailed a textbook that describes the ethical duties and obligations that CPAs are required to uphold.

Passing the CPA exam is a big accomplishment and a key step in earning your CPA license. Gaining the required work experience is the other step. All states have different work experience requirements, ranging from six months to two years, under direct supervision of a CPA. Some states have additional requirements, such as requiring candidates to have a year of auditing experience. Others allow substitution of auditing with a different required set of duties.

You’ll receive your CPA license in the mail after you have gained the necessary work experience and paid your state board the licensure fees.

The CPA/MBA Combo

BBA in accounting graduates with 124 credit hours have the option of completing Pittsburg State University’s MBA in Accounting program to satisfy the 150-hour requirement that enables them to sit for the CPA exam. By completing the MBA program, they can add enough credits to be able to take the CPA exam, while also equipping themselves with a versatile, career-enhancing graduate degree.

The fully online format of Pittsburg State’s MBA in Accounting makes it possible for students to keep working while they earn the MBA. They can fit studies around busy work schedules and progress toward CPA certification and their MBA at the same time.

Learn more about Pittsburg State University’s online MBA in Accounting program.


Monster: CPA or MBA?

CPA Accounting Institute for Success: CPA Vs. MBA | Which Is Better for Your Career, Salary, and Wallet?

CPA Accounting Institute for Success: How to Become a CPA in the USA: A Step-by-Step Guide Take It From a Former Public Accountant: Having a CPA/MBA Makes Sense

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