Accounting Faculty

The Future of Accounting Education

In-Demand Skills, Workplace Readiness, the 150-Hour Requirement, MAcc Programs, and the CPA Exam

By Mark C. Dawkins, Ph.D., Michael Dugan, DBA, Steven Mezzio, Ph.D., and Jerry E. Trapnell, Ph.D.

This article appeared in September 2020 in The CPA Journal: https://www.cpajournal.com/2020/11/11/icymi-the-future-of-accounting-education/

Changing educational requirements to sit for the CPA Exam are throwing the future of accounting education into doubt. In the years since the 150-hour requirement has been established, it is questionable whether its original intent is still operative. This is evidenced by declining enrollment in Master of Accountancy programs, a trend that should raise concerns about the future. The future of work means that the skills demanded of entry-level accountants are changing and will continue to do so. This article examines these current trends and poses questions as to what the future of accounting education will look like.

The future of accounting education is currently being impacted on several critical dimensions: The educational requirements to take the CPA exam keep changing. Candidates may take the CPA exam with only an undergraduate degree, thus weakening the original intent of the 150-hour educational requirement. Finally, enrollments in Master of Accountancy (MAcc) programs and MBA programs with a concentration in accounting continue to decrease. These trends raise concerns for both the current and future state of masters’ level accounting education.

In recent years, almost all state boards of accountancy have relaxed the 150-hour requirement to permit accounting undergraduate degree holders to immediately sit for the CPA exam (subject to the satisfaction of specific accounting course requirements) upon completion of their baccalaureate degree and then require the additional hours or an experience requirement to obtain licensure. As a result of these changes, increasing numbers of students are now foregoing a MAcc program and completing the requisite additional hours on a part-time basis while concurrently employed in an accounting position on a full-time basis.

For the full analysis and exhibits, go to the CPA Journal.