Accounting Degree Vs. Certificate ?
Q: I've been looking into going back to school to get an accounting degree and ultimately get my CPA license. However, I've noticed that many universities are offering accounting certificate programs which they say will allow you to sit for the CPA exam.?
My question is, is it better to pursue a degree, or is an accounting certification program adequate?
A:do you already have a college degree ? What is it in ? Accounting certificate programs have been started up at several schools around the country. I believe most of them are people who already have a college degree in another field and who are looking for a career change into the field of accounting. You don't have to major in accounting to sit for the CPA exam. You could major in just about anything. But you MUST have a certain amount of courses in accounting to sit for the CPA exam. A certificate program, that is set up to satisfy the CPA requirements, will give you coursework that you need to sit for the CPA exam. What certificate programs basically are ( and they are a good idea ), is a course of study that provides all the ACCOUNTING courses that a normal accounting major would have to take LESS everything else that an accounting degree normally includes. For someone going back to school to go into accounting for the purpose of becoming a CPA ( assuming of course the person already has a college degree in something else ), a certificate makes the most sense. And since becoming a CPA means you need 150 credit hours, adding the credits from a certificate program to a college degree already earned should put the person over the 150 credit mark. And completing a certificate program will take a lot less time than a 4-year degree. A lot less hassle too. I believe most accounting certificate programs also don't make students take useless classes that will never be used in an accounting career. Calculus being one of them. I know of a school that makes every single business major ( 4 year degree programs ) take calculus as a requirement for graduation. Never mind the fact that an accountant will NEVER use what is taught in a calculus class. I even talked to one of the accounting professors at this school once and questioned him as to WHY accounting majors must take and pass a calculus class. He told me straight out that students would NEVER use it in an accounting job. " So why then are they required to take it " I asked him. " Because we like our students to have a good mathematical background " he told me. On closer inspection though, I figured out why ALL business majors in the school were forced to take a calculus class. This college had a very big and bloated math department made up of many professors. Calculus was made a requirement for business majors to help justify the need for this math department and give these professors something to do. Lots of college DEGREE programs are actually set up that way. Not so much for the benefit of what the student NEEDS to know, but for the benefit of the faculty. So if you already have a college degree in something else, then just go for the accounting certificate. Don't worry about going back and getting an accounting degree. Once you have all the accounting courses you need for the CPA exam, you are then just as good as an accounting degree holder. And if an employer doesn't realize this, they are not worth working for. So, I'd vote for the certificate. One last piece of advice. Can you link us to the actual accounting certificate program that you're considering. I'd like to check it over. And don't be afraid to take a few other courses from the college that you think will be helpful to you even if these courses aren't required by your particular certificate program. An introductory finance course would be a course to take. If they offer business writing you might want to check that out as well. And if there are accounting courses offered by the college that are NOT required by your accounting certificate program, you might want to take those anyway. For instance, what should you do if corporate income tax, non-profit accounting, or advanced federal income tax courses are NOT require by your certificate program but they are still offered by the college ? My advice is to take them anyway. And if you are lucky enough to be at a college that offers a course where students get to work with accounting programs like QUICKBOOKS, and PEACHTREE, then take that course whether it's required by your certificate program or not. That course will be very useful to you. I do have a degree in Political Science and English Literature. I went to law school after I graduated, but hated it and decided to drop out. Since that time, I briefly worked as a law clerk, writing legal briefs, found my way into marketing during the dot com boom, and now find myself working temp jobs. Initially, I planned on getting into an MBA program, but am instead looking into entering an accounting certificate program and then, perhaps, get an MB
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