Do You Need a Bachelor in Accounting to Become a CPA?


It is a common mistake for students and business professionals to connect career fields with one set of educational requirements and assume that no other degrees will work. For example, many people pursuing a career in the field of accounting might assume that a Bachelor in Accounting is the only degree that prepares them for a position in accounting. The real answer to this question is that no degree is truly perfect in preparing individuals for a career as an accountant, and more specifically as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Simply put, a number of degree programs will help qualify individuals for a career as an accounting and to take the CPA exam. According to, the Bachelor in Accounting is not the only degree required to become a CPA. While the Bachelor in Accounting is a top choice among many individuals who find themselves working in the field of accounting, it is not the only degree that is acceptable.

Related business degree programs such as business management, business administration, finance, and economics are all acceptable undergraduate degrees for future CPAs to hold. Simply holding an undergraduate degree however is not enough to become a CPA in many cases.

Becoming a CPA

Each of the 50 U.S. States and five U.S. jurisdictions (District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam) have their own specific qualifications to become a CPA, but on the whole the average minimum educational requirement is 150 credit hours in school.

According to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the average undergraduate program provides students with only 120 credits, meaning that those looking to sit for the CPA licensure exam will need added coursework in order to qualify for the exam.

The solution to this problem for many students is to pursue a Master’s degree. The AICPA notes that a Master’s isn’t necessary, but it is the best way to reach the 150 credit hours needed. The most common Master’s degrees among students sitting for the CPA exam are the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Accounting (MACC), and Master of Science in Taxation (MST).

What’s the Answer?

The answer to the question posed earlier is that a Bachelor in Accounting isn’t necessary, but is helpful in the trek to become a CPA. According to, a Bachelor in Accounting is the best bet for those looking to gain entry level employment as an accountant.

It is important for each individual to analyze their future career options when deciding upon which undergraduate degree they want to pursue. Again, a Bachelor in Accounting is a good choice but it is not the only choice for those wishing to pursue accounting positions. There are employers that will hire entry level accountants who have degrees in finance, economics, or other business fields. Teaming that degree with a Master’s program such as an MBA, MACC, or MST may help qualify an individual to sit for CPA exams.

Ready to learn more? Explore online accounting degrees at AIU.