To become a CPA, an accountant must meet specific education and experience requirements. The additional education requirements beyond those needed for a bachelor's degree are commonly referred to as the student's "fifth year" of study.
Options to Pursue Required Credits
According to the Washington State Board of Accountancy, to qualify for the CPA exam, you must complete 150 semester (225 quarter) hours of college education including a baccalaureate degree or higher in any field with a concentration in accounting.
- A concentration in accounting consists of 24 semester (36 quarter) hours in accounting subjects of which 15 semester (22.5 quarter) hours must be at the upper or graduate level and 24 semester (36 quarter) hours in business administration subjects.
When considering your options for earning additional credits, think about it from the perspective of your future employer:
Earn your MPAcc at Western.
The Master of Professional Accounting is designed with two options: A 3+2 Integrated MPAcc and a 4+1 Traditional MPAcc.
The Accelerated one-year MBA program, for people with a bachelor's degree in business, is 52 credits and is completed in four quarters (summer, fall, winter, & spring). Western also offers a traditional two-year full-time MBA (84 credits) and an evening part-time MBA (52-68 credits).
Earn a Second Major
Choose a second major within the College of Business and Economics or another college within Western.
Study for an MPAcc (Master of Professional Accounting), MBA (Master of Business Administration) or other masters' degree at another university.
Count all your community college credits. While only 105 community college credits may "count" toward your Western degree, the Washington State Board of Accountancy will allow you to count additional college-level credits that were earned beyond the 105 that were transferred to Western.
If you are not sure that you want to be a CPA, you may choose to wait until you get some professional experience before you pursue the additional education requirements.
For more information on professional examinations, these external organizations serve as an excellent resource:
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examination information is available from the Washington State Board of Accountancy, from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), and from the AICPA'sThis Way to CPA website. The Washington State Board of Accountancy website also provides information on CPA education and experience requirements.
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA) examination information is available from the Institute of Management Accountants.
- Corporate Financial Management (CFM) examination information is available from the Institute of Management Accountants. Information on other professional financial certifications can be found at Advancing Government Accountability and the CFA Institute.
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) examination information is available from the Institute of Internal Auditors.