There are many reasons why you might be interested in pursuing a CPA title. Two main reasons could be that it offers prestige, and it has a reputation for paying well relative to other professions. So, it is no wonder that so many analytically inclined people are interested in pursuing it. However, many people might struggle with deciding on how to go about accomplishing this; do they travel the normal Bachelor’s degree and Master’s path, or do they try the faster path? The answer will of course depend on the person. Someone who can handle the stress of packing in as many courses as possible into their schedule will obviously be more inclined to a more time-efficient strategy than someone who wants to take their time enjoying their college experience and ensuring that they do not over-extend themselves. Of course, personal finances and logistics will also play a role in this decision.
How do I choose the courses for my CPA license?
This depends on the approach that you are taking and which country or state you are planning on applying from and to. Each state has its own specifications for the educational and credit requirements needed to sit for their board exam. Of course, regardless of whether the state stipulates 120 or 150 credits, you will still need to meet the 150-college credit requirement to apply for the CPA license itself. They also differ in that some only accept credits from colleges and universities that are approved by their state board, while others are more lenient and will accept accreditation recognized by NASBA including CLEP, AP and other methods, and even transcripts that have been approved by a credit-evaluation service.
College or University
The most dependable method is arguably to attend a board-approved college, as their accountancy curriculum will be sure to meet the board’s educational requirements. If you are still in high school, it might be worthwhile to approach your guidance counselor or local college to see whether there are any courses that you could take to earn credits towards your board course requirements before you graduate.
If the colleges in your area do not have any AP, Dual-Enrolment, or similar options available, it is worth looking into the Accountancy course lists of your local colleges. By drawing a comparison, you will be able to see which courses they have in common. This will help you in deciding which CLEP, International Baccalaureate or online courses will be most helpful towards fulfilling your state requirements or at least filling in the knowledge that will help you out later when you are writing your CPA Exam.
All states have accountancy and business course credit requirements. Usually these are between 24-50 accountancy and around 24-30 business credit requirements. Some go further to state exactly which type of each course should be taken. State boards also sometimes provide a list of the courses that are also necessary to complete each credit category. You should also be careful to meet any ethics credit or exam requirements.
Below, we have brought examples of the requirements from six states. Most also specify that the accountancy courses should be upper level, but some also require the business courses to be upper level as well. Based on the table, it seems that some good choices would be Accounting and Auditing, Business Law, Taxation, Finance and Business courses. For less risk, it would be best to stick with US-based laws and subjects where possible. It is also good to bear in mind that this is a small sample, so it is best to double-check with your state board.
|Accounting – 24
|Accounting – 24 (Upper-Division)
|Accounting – 27
|Accountancy – 30
|Accounting – 30
|Business – 24
|Auditing and Cost Accounting
|Business – 12
|Accounting and Auditing
|Business – 24
|Accounting Studies -24
|US-Based Financial Accounting – 3
|Ethics – 4
|Ethics – 10
|US-Based Taxation – 3
|Financial Accounting and Reporting
|General Business -21
|Research and Analysis
|US-Based Business Law – 3
|Business – 24
|Or Tax subjects of a content satisfactory to the board
|Accounting And Auditing or Tax -24
What other courses will be useful to a CPA?
It is important to note that no state requires an 100% accountancy and business course load. While it is tempting (and logical) to just take ‘easy credits,’ it is also a good idea to look into credits that will provide you with useful skills for both your exam and your career. Writing, speech, computer and software skills, data reading, stats and similar courses will likely be useful in the long run. If you are a second-language English speaker, taking an English language course will be useful, and if you are a US citizen planning on living in a state with a large Spanish-speaking population, then you might consider taking a Spanish course. Look at your weaknesses and see which would be worth addressing sooner rather than later.