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EY Is Helping Its Broke Interns Get Their 150 Credits

In the war for talent, it’s not (imaginary) prestige or ping-pong tables that will win the battle but cold hard cash. Or, in this case, a little help with what is often a costly and time-intensive venture for future CPAs.

Last week, EY announced their new Career Path Accelerator, the TL;DR of which is an affordable way for interns not going the master’s route to meet the 150-hour requirement for licensure.

From the press release:

The EY Career Path Accelerator is designed for students on track to become eligible for CPA licensure who are not pursuing a master’s degree. It provides a series of virtual courses administered by Hult International Business School and hands-on learning through the EY internship program, enabling participants to receive the guidance they need to be successful and equipping them with the future-focused skills and subject matter knowledge that they’ll need upon entering the workforce.

The EY Career Path Accelerator provides students with accredited business and elective courses that can be applied to the 150-credit hour CPA licensure requirement. These additional credits such as data visualization, digital learning and others made available through the EY Career Path Accelerator can be earned on a schedule that is compatible with students’ work or family obligations.

It will cost between $1,500 to $2,500 for up to 20 credit hours through the program. By comparison, the cheapest MAcc I found after three entire seconds of Googling was $8,728.92 at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. Helping further, the Ernst & Young Foundation gave $100,000 in need-based financial aid to 75% of the 60 EY US interns who make up the inaugural EY Career Path Accelerator cohort.

Critics of the 150-hour rule believe that it is a direct and aggressive barrier to entry that prevents diverse candidates from pursuing CPA licensure (academics have shown this), and EY agrees.

“While there are several different pathways for students to meet the requirements to be eligible for CPA licensure, time and financial resources can limit the choices or feasibility for a significant number of students, particularly those from marginalized or socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Ginnie Carlier, EY Americas Vice Chair – Talent. “With this program we’re not only helping students jumpstart their accounting careers earlier, but we also hope to attract the next generation of transformative leaders, while equipping them with relevant, future-focused skills and the mentorship necessary to succeed.”

According to a LinkedIn post by the EY Talent brain trust, 55% of EY’s CPA track recruits come through master’s programs with the remainder piecing together 150 units however they can:

The other 45% of our aspiring CPAs find other ways to earn the extra credit hours. They tend to leverage a combination of Advanced Placement (AP) credits, summer semesters, heavy course loads during the academic year, community college classes and post-baccalaureate course work to obtain the additional credits needed for CPA licensure.

Deloitte and PwC already have similar programs in place, which means the Big 4 is 75% done solving the 150-hour problem for its undergraduates.