It's graduation season for many of you and that means sending in CPA exam applications, starting CPA review, and preparing to begin your careers in public accounting this fall. But for some of you, getting your bachelor's degree is just the start and you'll be heading into Masters programs.
But is it worth it?
Many CPA exam candidates consider a Masters in Accountancy the best route to fulfill most states' 150 hour requirement but the usefulness of this degree depends on a lot of unforeseen factors such as the future job market, one's GPA throughout undergraduate school, and a candidate's career plans after passing the CPA exam. For some, a few years in public accounting is not a goal but merely a temporary, necessary move required for CPA licensure. For others, grades and skills matter.
In a tough economy, pursuing a Masters may be wise if you can afford it. For many recent graduates, additional education can fill the gap after graduation and set the candidate apart from other accounting students who stopped at a bachelor's degree fighting for a position in public accounting. Unless you managed high grades all throughout school, this may be the only way to get a qualified foot in the door when work is harder to find.
A Masters in accounting may or may not better prepare you for the CPA exam depending on your school's Masters coursework. For some candidates who simply want to get their CPA and move into something other public accounting for the remainder of their careers, it may be wiser to simply take additional undergrad units to meet the 150 hour requirement and find a good review course to do the CPA exam preparation for you.
We spoke to P.C. Haring, an accountant who went into an MBA program immediately after completing his undergrad and hasn't regretted it for a second. "It's hard to quantify, obviously, but from my own perspective I know that it's allowed me to earn more money in my current role, which is always nice," he told us. He insists that his MBA offers him a competitive edge in the job market without pigeon-holing him in only accounting, as might be the case with an MaCC.
Joe Kristan, a renowned tax technician and blogger for Roth & Company out of Des Moines, IA reminded us that in this job market, it helps to be as competitive as possible. "I think if you have good grades otherwise, a M.Acc can give you an edge in getting hired, especially with big firms. For me it gave me a huge edge - my M.Acc beats my B.A. in history with CPA firms everywhere."
In the end, it's up to you if you want to spend the time, money, and effort into getting a Masters. You can always go back to school later but remember, the longer you've been out of school, the harder it is to get back into the swing of studying.