Closing the gap: how to meet the 150 hour requirement

How will you earn your 150 hours?

The math isn’t that hard for a budding accountant: you need 150 credit hours to qualify for your CPA, but you only need 120 credit hours for an undergraduate degree. That leaves a 30 hour gap that you need to fill, but how and where you do it is up to you.

Degree-ing it up

Since you’ll soon be taking an accounting-based exam, it might make sense to jump into a graduate-level program focused on that very subject. MAcc’s (Master’s of Accounting) and MST’s (Master’s of Science in Taxation) focus on technical accounting skills, so everything you’ll be learning will be applicable to the CPA Exam or your future career.

An MBA (Master’s of Business Administration) is another graduate-level degree that can get you to the 150 hour mark. Many MBAs provide a concentration in accounting, which can give you a good mix of general business and accounting skills. Some, however, just give a general overview that won’t prepare you for an accounting career like a MAcc or MST would. Just make sure that regardless of the letters you choose (MBA, MST, MAcc, and so on), the classes you’ve taken will allow you to get licensed down the road.

Double majoring

Getting two bachelor’s degrees can be a great option for a lot of reasons. First, you get the classes and credit hours you need all at one time and you don’t have to pay graduate school tuition (Bonus! You qualify for a ton of scholarships as an undergrad). Second, you can take a lot of courses in another field that complements accounting and/or makes you more well-rounded. Third, you sound really smart when you say that you had two majors.

Taking more classes (without the degree fees)

If you’ve already graduated once and don’t want to pay for another degree, you might consider taking classes at a community college or university as a non-degree seeking student. If you have a BS in Accounting, you may have most of your specific requirements out of the way (but, we can’t say it enough, check with your state board to make sure). If your background isn’t in accounting, you’ll need those required accounting and business credit hours. Check what you need and make sure you get it.

Not all schools allow this option, so make sure it’s available to you before you commit to it. You should also be aware that some schools charge a higher tuition if you aren’t working toward a degree or if you are attending less than full-time. So, do your homework, in all senses of the phrase.

Get involved with your community (college)

While community colleges may be best known for their classes a la carte, some community colleges offer a specialized curriculum to prepare students for the CPA Exam (including reaching the 150 hour requirement). A few even offer a for-credit CPA review course if you want to work on two necessities at once. Tuition at community college is typically lower, so you can save your pennies to pay for the CPA Exam. But be sure that your community college of choice is accredited so that you don’t take courses that won’t be counted by your state board.

However you decide to earn your 150 credit hours, make sure you meet all the requirements for sitting for the CPA Exam and for completing your state’s education requirement.

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