One of the primary reasons that accounting degree graduates return to school to earn Master’s in Accounting (MAcc) degrees is to complete the educational requirements that are needed to earn their certified public accounting (CPA) licenses after successfully passing the CPA exam. A CPA license opens numerous doors for professional accountants who want to work in private businesses, government agencies, academia and non profit organizations. Eligibility requirements to take the CPA test vary by state, but most requirements begin with undergraduate degrees in accounting from accredited schools.

Resource: Top 30 Online Master’s in Accounting Degree Programs

Although a CPA candidate is not normally required to have a MAcc degree to take the CPA test, the courses within this advanced degree program can still help prepare aspiring accountants for the challenging test. In fact, some states have recorded pass rates that are twice as high for MAcc graduates than for those with only undergraduate accounting degrees. Here are some requirements that accountants must consider before attempting to take the CPA test as well as some typical MAcc courses that are useful for test preparation.

Accounting Semester Hours

Nearly all states require that accountants have 150 semester hours of accounting and business education to gain their CPA license, but most do not require CPA candidates to have the complete 150 hours before taking the test. Illinois and Texas are two exceptions to that rule. CPA test takers in Illinois must either gain additional undergraduate credits or earn an advanced business degree like a MAcc. Texas CPA testers must have 150 semester hours, and 30 of those hours must be in advanced accounting topics. Many other states like Delaware and Maryland require that test takers have an undergraduate degree and have taken up to 27 semester hours in accounting topics.

Business Course Semester Hours

Other business related topics provide context for accounting activities and problem solving, and most academic programs in accounting include these topics as electives. These elective topics in economics, management, marketing, human resources and finance are considered very important by the state boards that issue CPA licenses, and it is a common requirement that CPAs in all states must take a certain number of business courses prior to licensure. Both Illinois and Texas require CPA test takers to have 24 semester hours of business courses; at least two of the hours must be in business communication, and three of the hours has to be in business ethics. Those who take the CPA exam in Maryland must have at least 21 semester hours of business credits, and three of those hours has to be in business ethics. The business course requirements help to prepare CPA test takers for the Business Environment and Concepts as well as the Regulation sections of the CPA test.

Master’s in Accounting Courses for CPA Test Preparation

Most MAcc programs have challenging, fast paced curricula that skip the basics and allow students to dive right in to the application of advanced concepts through case studies and experiential learning opportunities. Major sections of the CPA test focus on auditing, the regulatory environment and financial accounting. Some MAcc course topics that offer the most help to CPA test candidates include advanced auditing concepts, tax research and financial reporting issues.

Typically, an accounting graduate is more than prepared to sit for the CPA examination after getting a MAcc degree. The degree normally covers advanced accounting topics that can only enhance one’s knowledge of CPA test categories. One reason why a person would not be able to sit for the CPA exam after getting a Master’s in Accounting is if they do not have enough accounting or business credits because they earned an undergraduate degree in a discipline that is not related to accounting or business.

Additional Resource: Top 10 Best Online Accounting Degree Programs