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September 29, 2023

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Accounting Degree, No Problem!

In this week’s accounting issue, we're going to examine the void between requirements in a public university’s accounting program and their state’s CPA requirements. The equation should look a little like this:

Seems simple enough; CPA requirements are set by the given state board of accountancy. Universities set their program curriculums. 

One might assume, of all curriculums in particular, accounting degrees should mirror, identically, their state’s CPA requirements. Never has the old adage, “assumption: the mother of all fuck-ups” been more appropriately used.  Maybe the above equation should look more like this:

We need to preface any further discussion by stating this issue is most applicable to two specific sets of would-be CPAs:

  1. Double majors who declared a first major and subsequently added accounting for the purpose of obtaining a CPA
  2. Anyone who obtained a non-accounting degree who decided1 to go back to school to obtain the courses necessary to sit for the CPA

This void has become a prevalent conversation topic for me over the years, as I found myself within the confines of one of the two above listed groups. As luck would have it, I was able to complete my state’s CPA accounting coursework requirement, begin sitting for the CPA exams, passed the exams and was awarded a CPA certificate.

What you will not find anywhere on my C.V. or transcripts, however, is a degree in accounting.  This has led to a few bizarrely-awkward conversations, not unlike the following:

Boss: So where did you get your accounting degree?

Me: Well, technically speaking…I don’t have an accounting degree.  I do have a degree in finance?2

Boss: But you’re a CPA3?

Me: Yes, I am.  My university set an arbitrary accounting course curriculum that included a handful of accounting classes that were nowhere to be found on the state’s CPA accounting course requirements.  So I didn’t take them; and the university refused to award me a degree in accounting.

Boss: So the university refused to award you a degree in a field of study where the very state regulator deemed you perfectly fit to sit for the certification exam, where you ultimately passed and were awarded that very certificate by the state regulatory body?

Me: Exactly.

Boss: That is fucking bullshit.

Me: Exactly.

Stay tuned for the rest of this story later this week. We are going to examine actual requirements, still currently in place by both the state in which I was licensed and the university I attended. In the meantime, we would love to hear from you if you too took this untraditional path to the CPA.  Please share the university and related state board of accountancy.

1 Horrible, horrible decision here guys

2 Boss mumbles: “Why the fuck can’t you just give me a simple answer here?” – Me: I blame the universities!

3 Boss: (expressing high degree of skepticism)



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