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    Would New York Ever Require a Master’s Degree to Become a CPA?

    By | May 13, 2014

    What's this, now? Two CPA exam questions in one week? Must be our lucky day! If you have a question, or just need to vent, or want to compliment me on my hair, get in touch and we'll do our best not to screw your life up.

    Hey Adrienne,

    Is it true the NY is considering mandating a Master’s Degree to sit or be eligible for the CPA?

    I graduated in December of 2010. I worked for a Big 4 for close to 3 years and have escaped to a 9-5 working in Internal Audit. I meet the 150 credit requirement.  Today, I had lunch with my colleague who mentioned that he heard that NY is considering requiring a Master’s Degree soon to be eligible to qualify for the cpa? I have pushed off taking the exam for several years now and finally am motivated to study and pass the exam. I still haven’t submitted any forms to New York State for Licensure or submitted an Application to Nasba. I was going to wait until I felt I was at least halfway ready to take one of the exams… Please let me know if you heard of anything and perhaps could advise if I should apply now so that I could at least be grand fathered in.


    Considering New York City is my home away from home (OK, that's a lie, I just rescue cats there), you'd think I would know someone over at the state board. In lieu of a source on the inside, I asked my AWeb counterpart Richard — who used to work for the NYSSCPA — if he'd heard anything. He hadn't.

    So I tweeted the society; surely they would know if there were anything to know. 

    Okay, so it's safe to say that New York won't be requiring a Master's to become a CPA any time soon but Francine McKenna caught wind of us pestering the society and gave us her $0.02 on mandatory Master's degrees:

    That's interesting. As we know, the words "elite" and "accountant" parted ways some time ago but could it be that the Big 4 are laying the groundwork to change all that. 

    Do we need to talk about this? 

    • guest

      Make it a PhD, 250 credit hours, a 12 part / 4 hour per part exam and 6 years experience. The harder the credentialing, the better my certification.

      • ManagerMan

        Sure, as long as I get grandfathered in

    • AcctNerd

      It is an interesting take that they would go through CPA licensing requirements to increase the preftige of the credential to protect their business. As far as I know the Big4 were already pretty much requiring a masters for employment. I don’t know many people that were hired in without a masters.

      • Guest

        It’s not a requirement to have a masters to work at the Big 4, it’s just a result of okay schools going to a masters degree for the 5th year.

      • It’s been awhile since I was in CPA review (3 years?) but a large chunk of our California students did not have Master’s degrees. Not sure if that’s changed since California changed their requirements (Master’s is still not required).

        • PrivateIndustry

          Masters is not required in CA. The requirements starting in 2014 require 150 eligible units for the CPA license. Most people find it convenient to just get a MAcc or MS in Taxation. A person could get an MBA or take individual courses to fulfill the 150 units, but they have to pick their courses carefully to meet the CA’s CBA requirements.


        • AcctNerd

          Maybe I didn’t word my comment sufficiently. By “pretty much requiring” I meant that in my experience everyone I worked with had a masters degree and when presented with a candidate not holding a masters it was often commented, “Why couldn’t they get into a masters program?”

          So it was a defacto requirement here in Atlanta especially since most of the schools have the 5 year program.

          It isn’t required for the license and it isn’t technically required for employment, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you the name of anyone that didn’t have a masters that was hired with or after me in 2004.

        • Guest

          In TX it seems like most have their Masters. This might be more closely related to whether the traditional feeder schools push the MAcc programs. At least at my school being 5 year program was somewhat necessary to get in on the on-campus interviews.

      • cool story brah

        Is this a real comment? B4 requiring a masters? This has to be a troll

        • hahahahaha

          Almost every new hire I know has one. Really.

          • cool story brah

            Which region do you work in

            • hahahahaha

              Midwest. At McG

        • Pianist

          Requirement is taking it too far, but most people I know that were hired b4 has a masters.

    • Guest

      Typical FM. Who mentioned anything about any of the firms pushing for this? Of course, since global warming and every other problem under the sun is the fault of the Big 4 in her mind, might as well assume they are pushing for it.

    • My ship just came in

      It’s on the interwebs so it has to be true…which is also why I’m quitting today to make 7000 dollars a month working from home.

    • guest

      What difference does it make? Half of the First Year Associates don’t even know Dr./(Cr.) any longer. Scary. That’s where the profession is going.

      • Pianist

        You dont have to know CR. (DR)(;)) if you have a masters.

    • Pianist

      Im sure the tipper will be grandfathered in (graduated in 2010). Especially since it will take 10 years to decide on this.

    • Bloviator

      In terms of time and effort, a master’s degree requirement wouldn’t be such a big change. The 150-hour mandate already requires most would-be CPAs to take courses beyond the bachelors degree. The courses have to cover specific subjects per state boards of accountancy, and those subjects determine the curricula in M.Acc. programs.

      The difference is cost. A M.Acc.costs a lot more than 10 courses at a community college. The upside is fewer people are willing to shell out for a M.Acc., which would help keep the supply of CPAs in check. The downside is CPA candidates would take on more student-loan debt like law students. If there was ever a CPA glut, we might see a lot of debt-saddled accountants-turned-baristas like our brethren in the law.

      • guest2222

        In New York community college classes usually don’t count anyways.

        A master is already de facto required.

        • CPA

          What this guy said. I’m sure that was the source of the original comment that led to the post in the first place. It’s already the state of affairs that NY gotta have a master’s. No need to cry or gnash teeth.

    • IndenturedServant

      Why would anybody spend 30-40k and an extra year in college to make 50-60k in public accounting? The cost benefit just does not add up.

      Sure, plenty of people do this right now. That does not mean it is a smart move by any measure of the word.

      • Guest

        Immerse yourself in the theory of nudging. Nudging has been very successful in the poor communities. Now it is at your door step. Enjoy. . . . . .

        ” Nudging alters the decision maker’s behavior without limiting her/his choice options and without significantly altering the decision maker’s incentives, in terms of payoffs- and utility increase.”

        source: http://2013.ict4s.org/wp-content/uploads/04.Heinz-Gutscher_130213-WRF-ICT4S-HNDT.pdf