Do you aspire to become a certified public accountant (CPA)? Henderson State University’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Accounting program is designed primarily for professionals who wish to take the exam to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The curriculum prepares you for professional accounting certification as you learn theoretical foundations of accounting principles, accounting for business and management, advanced auditing and contemporary taxation. The program is taught by supportive faculty members, many of whom hold Ph.D.s. In addition, the curriculum examines real-world applications of ethical leadership and data analysis to achieve business objectives.
As part of the required concentration curriculum, the Professional Accounting Certification course utilizes one of the national review preparation programs. Students in the course prepare for professional accounting certification, such as those leading to CPA or CMA status, and develop an understanding of the concepts and theories underpinning professional accounting issues.
What Is the CPA Exam?
The path to becoming a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) includes meeting education, experience and exam requirements, known as the “Three Es.” Prospective CPA candidates must pass the rigorous and respected Uniform CPA Examination (CPA Exam) to apply for a CPA license, the only license for accounting professionals. Because precision and expertise are vital in accounting, the exam assures employers that the CPA is fully qualified and can be relied upon with confidence to execute a wide range of accounting duties.
The test breaks down into four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). There are 55 license-granting jurisdictions (50 states plus Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands), each with its own CPA license requirements. All 55 jurisdictions require passing the Uniform CPA Exam, though education and experience qualifications may vary for each state or jurisdiction. Several jurisdictions also require an ethics exam (a fourth “E”) for CPA licensure.
The exam is developed and scored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), which grades each section on a scale of zero to 99.3. Exam takers must score at least 75 on each section to achieve a total passing grade.
Types of Questions on the Exam
According to Investopedia, the four sections in the CPA exam include a total of “276 multiple-choice questions, 28 task-based simulations and three writing portions.” The Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) section consists of multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations and written communication tasks. In the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) section, multiple-choice questions, real-life work situations and task-based simulations challenge your knowledge of government entities and the financial reporting framework used in business. These include financial statements and reporting to government agencies and other organizations. The Auditing and Attestation (AUD) section includes multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations covering subjects like planning engagements, obtaining documenting information and internal controls. Finally, the Regulation (REG) section, which covers professional responsibility and ethics, business law and tax procedures, also comprises multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations.
Educational Requirements to Take the Exam and Become a CPA
All license-granting jurisdictions require a bachelor’s degree with at least 150 credit hours of coursework to become a licensed CPA. In some jurisdictions, you may be able to sit for the exam after 120 credit hours, but you cannot apply for licensure until you reach 150 hours. Each jurisdiction specifies the number of hours of accounting-specific courses required to sit for the exam.
In Arkansas, aspiring CPAs must meet certain education and experience requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree
- 30 hours of upper-level accounting courses, completed with at least a “C” grade
- 30 hours in business courses other than accounting, completed with at least a “C” grade
Regardless of the state or jurisdiction you wish to practice in, the accounting classes must cover financial accounting, governmental accounting, management accounting, auditing and attestation, federal taxation and accounting information systems. While all jurisdictions require the CPA Exam, other requirements may vary and can change over time. Each jurisdiction has its own Board of Accountancy that provides full requirement details.
The path to earning a CPA license will stimulate your mind and challenge your intellect. Graduating from your degree program and passing the CPA exam makes the effort more than worthwhile with rewarding work, compensation and prestige.