August 10, 2022

Can Pennsylvania CPA Exam Candidates Take Underwater Basketweaving to Meet the 150 Hour Requirement?

Oh you precocious little CPA exam candidates, I'm so glad to be getting emails from you guys again. I'm serious about that, I was worried for a minute there when y'all got quiet around November that you didn't like me anymore. I'm sensitive, don't let the venom tongue fool you.

ANYWAY, today's predicament revolves around Pennsylvania's 150 hour rule. As always, my first and most important recommendation is to PICK UP THE PHONE and call the state board. Even if the advice I give you is correct, it takes 5 minutes to verify so do it, the rules change all the time and I sometimes write these posts drunk so I can't promise that you won't ruin your life by following my advice. Even if I was stone cold sober, you should never do anything related to your long-term career prospects without checking with the source before making any moves.

Adrienne,

I am wondering if you could be of a huge assistance and answer this simple question that I simply can not find anywhere online or get a definitive answer on the phone. I am graduating from Villanova University this May with 141 credits. As it is not cost-effective for me to get my master's through Villanova's MAC program, I want to take community college courses and bang out the last 9 credits by the end of June 2012. This community college is a two year accredited colelge.

When talking to Becker, I was told that as long as the school is accredited I can take any courses at this community college (i.e. basket weaving and keyboarding). When talking to a colleague at school, she was told it must be a four-year accredited college/university, not two-year. My question is, can I take these community college courses even though its not a four-year university?

Number one: NEVER listen to "a friend" or "a colleague" or "that guy you really don't like from your office but who allegedly got 98s on every CPA exam section" when seeking CPA exam advice. I understand that it is difficult for you guys to track down the actual information you need (trust me, I'm good with Google and was paid to do this for 4 years and still can't find the info I need all the time) but as previously stated, your first point of contact should always be the state board. If they are useless, talk to NASBA.

So, here's what I got from the PA Board of Accountancy FAQ (I bolded the parts you should care about for convenience sake 'cuz I'm so nice):

Before an individual may take the examination, the Board shall be satisfied that the individual: (1) has attained eighteen years of age; (2) is of good moral character; and (3) has graduated with a baccalaureate or Master’s degree from a college or university that at the time of graduation was accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. The baccalaureate or higher degree candidate must have completed a total of one hundred fifty semester credits of post-secondary education, including at least a total of twenty-four semester credits of accounting and auditing, business law, finance or tax subjects of a content satisfactory to the Board and an additional twelve semester credits in accounting, auditing and tax subjects of a content satisfactory to the Board, not necessarily as part of the individual’s undergraduate or graduate work. The baccalaureate degree candidate must have completed at least a total of twenty- four semester credits, which credits shall be in accounting and auditing, business law, finance or tax subjects of a content that is satisfactory to the Board, not necessarily as a part of his undergraduate work. The Master’s degree or other post-graduate degree candidate must have completed at least a total of twenty-four semester credits, which credits shall be in accounting and auditing, business law, finance or tax subjects of a content that is satisfactory to the Board, not necessarily as part of his undergraduate or graduate work. Before an individual who takes the examination as a baccalaureate degree candidate or Master’s degree candidate may be issued a certificate, the individual must obtain one hundred fifty semester credits of post-secondary education including at least a total of twenty-four semester credits of accounting and auditing, business law, finance or tax subjects of a content satisfactory to the Board and an additional twelve semester credits in accounting, auditing and tax subjects of a content satisfactory to the Board, not necessarily as part of the individual’s undergraduate or graduate work. Under Act 73, a candidate for a CPA certificate must have completed 150 semester hours of post-secondary education, possessing at least a bachelor’s degree, with 36 semester hours in accounting-related subjects. This requirement does not apply to a candidate who passed at least one part of the CPA Examination before December 31, 2011. As in the past, a candidate for the CPA Examination must possess at least a bachelor’s degree and have completed 24 semester hours in accounting-related subjects.

Now, I barely speak State Board of Accountancy parlance but to me, that says you can absolutely get your units from a community college, as long as it is a recognized institution in your state and not some scam some dude is running out of his basement. Post-secondary education is defined simply as anything you do beyond high school, and community colleges are included in that definition. Don't believe me? For real (from the Free Dictionary):

Study beyond the level of secondary education. Institutions of higher education include not only colleges and universities but also professional schools in such fields as law, theology, medicine, business, music, and art. They also include teacher-training schools, community colleges and institutes of technology. At the end of a prescribed course of study, a degree, diploma, or certificate is awarded.

So, are we clear? Good. Next step is to dial (717) 783-1404 and ask the pleasant Pennsylvania State Board employee on the other line to confirm that you can get your additional units from a community college licensed in the state.

Then sign up for some art classes, bang some creative chicks, and go on to live your dreams as a high-flying, bad ass… uh… CPA. Yeah!

Semi-related: Because I've been nerding out on CPA stats this week (I have absolutely no life), let's see how Villanova did on the 2010 CPA exam. 288 candidates took 850 exams (first-time and repeat) for a pass rate of 56.7%. They had an average score of 75.2. They took the most BEC exams at 225. Villanova candidates passed 129 of those BEC exams.

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