Which is harder passing CPA Exams or getting Masters in Accounting?

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  • #2520894
    4EverInDebt
    Participant

    I just finally passed my last section of the CPA Exam. It has been a long journey and tbh I didn't think I would pass and I was on the verge of losing credit of my first exam. So struggling through I never once considered grad school since I thought, well, why get myself in more debt if I'm not even going to pass. Well, I passed, so I was like, now what? Well, seeing how the exams expire in 3 years I have no choice but to apply for grad school. Or do I really want to start all over again? HECK NO!

    I already got accepted to one place and just waiting for my application to be reviewed at the other institution. Unfortunately, my third choice, my alma matter is being a little snobby and keeps telling me they'll review my application in a few weeks. The other two places and the people I have been in contact with have been great, super friendly, helpful, and quick to respond. I feel because my GPA and my CPA exam scores weren't in the top range, my alma matter is purposefully lingering in hopes I go somewhere else. Well, at least that's how I feel. In any case, their rigorous program (meeting twice a week at night for 4.5 hours and all day saturday 8-6pm) for one year is probably not best for me either. Plus the commute is horrible.

    The other two programs offer the 2 year completion of the program, which is more doable for me. But what I really want to know is if these graduate courses (advanced accounting etc) are much more difficult than what I had to study for the CPA? Are the homeworks, projects, term papers really difficult?

    I only passed AUD on my first try, REG, & BEC on my 2nd try, and FAR on my 3rd. That being said, I HAVE STRUGGLED. Perhaps it would've been easier had I gotten my masters first. But what can I say, live gets in the way, I can't look back but only forward.

    I feel so overwhelmed, have looked at two potential program's curriculum and syllabus of first courses and sounds like so much. So much more than studying for CPA.

    What has been your experience? I'd like to get answers from people that have struggled like I have. I've asked some people I know but the ones that got between 85 and 96 scores on their CPA exams on their very first try and passed all 4 in 6 months please do not reply.

    Also, I haven't worked as an accountant as most of the jobs I have held have been in accounts receivable, payable, and even interned with a CPA but he had me doing most of the tedious work entering data into quickbooks for all the clients, filling out some 1040s, print F/S and enter some journal entries. Other than that I have no experience and not sure if a professor expects one to write papers or do presentations based on work experience. What if you don't have that experience, is one still able to pass these courses?

    Sorry for all the questions. I'm new here so I just posted this.

    AUD - 76
    BEC - 78
    FAR - 78
    REG - 76
    4EverInDebt
    #2520981
    chandler
    Participant

    I realize that I fit the profile of who you requested not reply. Nonetheless, I would like to throw out my opinion is that you should get the hours in whatever the easiest/cheapest way possible. CPA certificate far outweighs a Masters in Accounting. Yes, grad programs are wider in material than CPA exams. Difficulty in comparison probably depends vastly on program chosen. Generally, professors will NOT expect you to have professional work experience since most masters are designed to be taken in conjunction with the bachelor's/before most would have FT experience.

    Chandler Priest

    Licensed TX CPA

    REG 01/27/18 - 98

    BEC 03/03/18 - 96

    AUD 04/07/18 - 91

    FAR 06/02/18 -96

    #2521023
    4EverInDebt
    Participant

    Appreciated Chandler. But I cannot get my CPA certification unless I meet all the requirements. I realize every state is different, but I am in FL so I have no choice but to complete the 150 credit hours by enrolling into a Masters Program. Most graduate programs are between 30 and 36 credit hours if you already have the undergraduate required courses. The one university I'm waiting on is one of the cheapest but still at 25K.

    AUD - 76
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    FAR - 78
    REG - 76
    4EverInDebt
    #2521221
    Daisy
    Participant

    You’re in Florida? Dude, you just need like 2 upper level accounting classes and maybe 1-2 upper level business classes, depending what school you went to in FL.

    The board just cares that you have 150 credit hours and 30 of them are upper level accounting and 36 are upper business level (and 1 class of business law). The rest of the credits can be anything else.

    Just use an accredited online school, take whatever classes you want. Just as long as you got the above. Don’t stress too hard.

    AUD - 87

    BEC - 92

    FAR - 87

    REG - 84

    Thank you Jeff/Ninja!

    #2521233
    Recked
    Participant

    I'm also in the group you don't want to hear from but I, like you, assumed that I would need a masters to get the 150 credits.
    Based on the stories of other posters on this forum, you don't need an MBA or masters, you can fulfill the education through other cheaper options.
    I'd research florida's actual requirements a little more indepth before dropping $25k+ on more schooling you really don't need.

    Memento Mori - Kingston NY CPA & EA (SUNY Albany 2002)

    FAR-93 11/9/17 (10wks, 250 hrs, Roger 1800+ MCQs, Gleim TB 600+MCQs, SIMs)
    AUD-88 12/7/17 (3 wks, 85 hrs, Roger 1000 MCQs no SIMs hail mary)
    REG-96 1/18/18 (6 wks, 110 hrs, 1400 MCQs, no SIMs)
    BEC-91 2/16/18 (4wks, 90 hrs, 1240 MCQs)

    #2521332
    4EverInDebt
    Participant

    Thanks for the input but if one graduates from undergrad with the usual 120 credit hours, how is one supposed to get 30 additional credits by any other means than enrolling in a master's program? I mean if I'm going to take that many credit hours to reach 150 credit hours, then I should get a damn degree after for the hard work. I guess I haven't researched what other ways to do it. I'm assuming taking classes as a non-degree seeking student but idk if that's going to be cheaper or in the end be more or less the same.

    I was hoping to get an answer on my original questions as far as work load and difficulty of a masters's program, compared to having studied for the CPA exam. What was the hardest thing?

    But I do appreciate your advises and suggestions. Just not sure I want to make such a decision when I'm days away from committing to it. Classes start next month so it's not like I have more time to decide. I just don't want to make a decision I will regret later. But if enrolling, and getting those first courses in is enough to get my certification then that's another option. Better to have my foot in the door than reject it and then not be able to take any courses.

    AUD - 76
    BEC - 78
    FAR - 78
    REG - 76
    4EverInDebt
    #2521338
    74phoenix
    Participant

    Hi – I achieved my 150 credits without a master's degree. Depends on how you want to schedule your llfe, I guess. My undergrad was PACKED. I never had any AP credits from high school so I went in at zero credits. Graduated with 136 credits. I took summer classes, and loaded up every semester. I also worked part time jobs and lived on campus.

    My first summer after graduation I took a few more classes to get 150 credits. I barely noticed the classes while I was working – they were not hard online classes.

    I think if I could go back now, I would take the extra year to do a masters. Just because i wish I had more time to appreciate being an undergrad…..I still had a wonderful experience but I could have relaxed more.

    AUD - 80
    BEC - 77
    FAR - 79
    REG - 77
    Finally free of the CPA cloud hanging over my head. Moving on.....
    #2521350
    74phoenix
    Participant

    I have heard from my colleagues that their masters classes were hard, but manageable, and more geared towards passing the CPA so it helped and was worth it. Personally I would have gone to a cheap state school for my masters just to give me that extra time to study/knowledge for CPA.

    AUD - 80
    BEC - 77
    FAR - 79
    REG - 77
    Finally free of the CPA cloud hanging over my head. Moving on.....
    #2521431
    Recked
    Participant

    My 2 cents. The local state school did not offer a masters in tax. The only thing they could offer was a MBA with a focus on accounting. They reviewed my transcripts from CC and another state university and told me I would need 36 credits at $500/credit just for the hours, not counting books and fees etc.
    Generally undergrad credits are cheaper, and online credits even cheaper.
    NY only requires a bachelors and total of 150 credits, with a certain amount in accounting and business. Probably more cost effective to not take all graduate level courses just to meet the 150 unless you have a desire or need for the masters, or possibly need networking/recruiting. You'll have to do your own cost benefit analysis.
    I'll leave this thread back to your original questions. I know someone that did an online Masters in Tax and they did not describe the workload as overly difficult or challenging. They were working full time so the course load was probably stretched out a little more than you are looking at.

    Memento Mori - Kingston NY CPA & EA (SUNY Albany 2002)

    FAR-93 11/9/17 (10wks, 250 hrs, Roger 1800+ MCQs, Gleim TB 600+MCQs, SIMs)
    AUD-88 12/7/17 (3 wks, 85 hrs, Roger 1000 MCQs no SIMs hail mary)
    REG-96 1/18/18 (6 wks, 110 hrs, 1400 MCQs, no SIMs)
    BEC-91 2/16/18 (4wks, 90 hrs, 1240 MCQs)

    #2521677
    turo9992000
    Participant

    I live in CA, and I just took a bunch of art classes and music classes while getting my undergrad. I graduated in 5 years rather than 5, but I learned a lot about art stuff that's really useful in my everyday life.

    AUD - 64, 80 Passed on 10/09/17

    BEC - 75 Passed on 12/09/17

    FAR - 69, 71, 73, 83 Passed on 06/10/18

    REG - 81 Passed on 09/10/17

    #2521848
    Tyler
    Participant

    Almost everyone I have talked to who has a Masters in Accounting says it is pointless, other than just getting the credits needed to get 150 and to help prep for the CPA Exam. Since you have already passed, the latter statement doesn't apply. I personally was able to get 150 in undergrad (I took online Grad level courses through my school in the summer for cheap).

    If I were you, I would just find the cheapest community college or online school around. CPA far out ways a Masters in Accounting – coming from a CPA without a MAcc 🙂

    AUD - 92
    BEC - 84
    FAR - 77
    REG - 90
    MDS CPA Review
    #2522490
    MaLoTu
    Participant

    The MBA and or MSA will require nothing close to what the CPA takes. I wager to say that since you have finished the exam everything will be relatively easy when it comes to accounting. I finished my MBA and MSA within about 15 months (combined electives and core classes). I wouldn’t opt for the course that requires 15 hours in class a week.
    I also agree with Tyler, the only thing the MBA or MSA are good for are getting the credit. Employers like it but the CPA means more.

    Almost always from my phone... please excuse my typos!

    All 4 passed - 2016

    CA CPA

    #2524248
    Mi Chan
    Participant

    I am in FL too we might be in the same program…

    AUD - NINJA in Training
    BEC - 64
    FAR - NINJA in Training
    REG - NINJA in Training
    #2524269
    iwantthiscpa
    Participant

    You don't need to complete a whole degree if your concern is CPA license. You can just get the additional credits needed. For me, the CPA was way harder than the degree. It is easier to pass a grad class than to pass a CPA exam.
    I got my masters before I even decided I'd take the exam, so luckily I didn't have to deal with that after I passed. I dont think having the masters really helps/helped me, and even moreso now after I passed the CPA exams, since employers care more about CPA than masters.
    Get the credits, don't worry about the whole degree if you don't want it, it'll be a waste of time and money.

    FAR: 67, 69, 74, 81
    AUD: 72, 74, 78
    REG: 77
    BEC: 70, 77
    #2524431
    4EverInDebt
    Participant

    74phoenix, thanks for sharing. So did you become a CPA? As for the master classes, I'm sure they will be manageable. One of my flaws is that I start stressing about stuff way in advanced and start getting anxious. I know I can do this, I'm just going through this process.

    Recked, thanks too for the input. Btw those are really admirable scores! I wish I was that smart. I remember taking AUD and I had studied so much (of all AUD is what I like most) I even finished the exam 30 mins before and I felt so confident I was getting above an 85 or even thought I could get a 90. I was so confident. I get my score back and I got a 78!! My confidence dropped so much, I felt like a total failure. I've struggled ever since. No matter how much I study and stuff I know, come exam time, it's like a blur. But I got those out of the way so I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my life.

    Turo9992000, good you did that. I love sciences and wish I could've taken more but just couldn't afford to nor had the time.

    Tyler, I mostly hear from people, at least the ones that are currently doing a masters that it's so worth it because it will look good for their careers and for future jobs. At least down here in FL it's so competitive. Most people I know in the field that are certified all have their masters and if they don't they are working or will be working towards that degree.

    MaLoTu, thanks, I hope that too. That since I passed all 4 exams that going through the master courses will be easier.

    MiChan, I'm in South Florida. But I haven't responded to the university that accepted me (private). I'm waiting for the other one (public) to then make my choice. I think I will get accepted, and if I do, I really don't know which one to go with. You would think I should pick the cheaper one, but for some reason I keep thinking that I like the private program better. They both have more or less the same but idk why I'm leaning more towards the most expensive one. Ugh, decisions, decisions…I don't want to regret this after.

    Iwantthiscpa, so even after completing your masters you found the CPA exams harder? I just thought it would make it easier rather than harder.

    Thanks again everyone for the input.

    AUD - 76
    BEC - 78
    FAR - 78
    REG - 76
    4EverInDebt
    #2524542
    Jay
    Participant

    I have a masters in accountancy and a CPA. I would go for a MBA instead of accountancy if your undergrad is accounting. My undergrad was in IT. Just make sure you meet you state board requirements. A CPA is the cake and a masters is the icing on the cake.

    The CPA was much harder then grad school. I studied very little in grad school compared to the CPA. I did not go to an ivy league grad school though.

    AUD - 78
    BEC - 77
    FAR - 76
    REG - 82
    All the sleepless nights were worth it.
    #2525319
    Biff Tannen
    Participant

    The masters program at my school was a joke! The professor would pass out extra credit points just for showing up to class. It was so damn easy that I ended up not registering for more classes once I reached he 150 credit hours needed to sit for the exam; it was a complete waste of money. My undergraduate program was definitely much more difficult, especially the weed out courses like intermediate accounting.

    I’m currently studying for the CPA and putting in minimum 20 hour weeks of study. I would say the CPA study process is much more grueling.

    AUD - 78
    BEC - 84
    FAR - 79
    REG - 85
    “An investment in knowledge pays the best dividends” - Benjamin Franklin
    #2525421
    jenpen
    Participant

    FWIW – I did my MBA online and it was super easy. Like, I don't even want to admit that I have an MBA because I don't really feel like I earned it. And IMO school doesn't compare at all to the CPA exam.

    That being said, it was simply a means to an end. I didn't have an accounting undergrad, so I found the cheapest and easiest way to get to my goal of the CPA exam. I needed to fulfill not only the 150 hours, but also the accounting/business credit requirements. I did an MBA with an accounting concentration, and then took the electives for my program as accounting courses to get closer to my hours. After I was done, I was still 2 classes short, so I took those at the undergrad level because it was cheaper and one wasn't offered at the graduate level. I went so far as to email the Board in my state to make sure that my program would qualify and that I understood all the requirements I needed to meet. They were extremely helpful, and even reviewed course descriptions to see if certain classes would fulfill the requirements.

    If you truly only have 120 hours, then some sort of masters might be beneficial to get for the requirements in your state. But if you aren't planning on having it do anything to help your career, then I suggest just finding the easiest and cheapest route to get it done. My MBA hasn't helped me at all, but my CPA sure has.

    AUD - 85
    BEC - 84
    FAR - 82
    REG - 78
    Ethics - 95
    Licensed in IL & MO
    #2526300
    Ne’O
    Participant

    Hardest: getting past the CPA exams
    Hard: getting Florida DBPR to accept 150 of my hours as satisfactory for their various hurdles. I had around 177 hours after a postbacc and Masters in Accountancy.
    Laborious but not hard: Masters in Accountancy

    As per the DBPR reference, I am in Florida though I did my Masters with SUNY.

    -Yes it's Ne'O.

    AUD:  72, 89

    FAR:  71, 80

    BEC:  83

    REG: 82

    #2526726
    yfz
    Participant

    I passed all 4 exams in 4 months, but my scores range from 75 to 88. So I guess I'm not the type of people you request not to reply.

    I think it depends on what you want to do with your career in the long-run. I did accounting for my bachelor, and I am doing an MBA instead of MSA because I see myself in a managerial position in the long run. I don't see there is a point of doing an MSA, especially because you have already passed all 4 CPA exams. Well, if any of MSA programs are willing to give you a scholarship that completely pays off your tuition, it's a different story.

    In terms of difficulty, my MBA class is like a joke comparing to my undergrad (I finished 2 degrees in 4 years, accounting, and finance). I didn't go to a top-ranked MBA program though. But I did gain certain exposure to some interesting subjects like data analytics and project management through the MBA program. And many people in my MBA class don't pay for the class, as their employer has a tuition reimbursement policy.

    FAR - PASSED ON 12/19/2018

    REG - PASSED ON 2/5/2019

    AUD - PASSED ON 3/19/2019

    BEC - PASSED ON 5/7/2019

    #2527161
    iwantthiscpa
    Participant

    Yup CPA is harder than grad. CPA is just more… heartless and soul sucking.
    If you're done with your CPA exams… the rest is a breeze. Don't stress about grad school! Remember, you only need the credits, so you don't even need to get an amazing GPA, if that helps at all lol

    FAR: 67, 69, 74, 81
    AUD: 72, 74, 78
    REG: 77
    BEC: 70, 77
    #2527656
    4EverInDebt
    Participant

    @Jay, I prefer accounting thought than MBA. But thanks for letting me know grad school was easier than studying for CPA

    @RollForwardSpecialist, was this for masters in accountancy or an MBA?



    @Jennifer
    , I actually have more than 120 credit hours. Looks like all I need is a couple of courses and that's it. I'm still thinking of accepting my acceptance into grad school though. I figured in the end, I'll owe more money but hopefully I'll be getting paid more where I can bring my debt down. But in the event that I change my mind, I don't have to complete my degree but still be able to get my CPA license.

    @Ne'O, what kind of hurdles if you already had 177 credit hours? how long did it take for you to get certified from the time you applied? Based on what a lot of people on here and elsewhere have mentioned, looks like grad school is just a lot more work but not harder than studying for CPA.

    @Yfz, yeah I hear that a lot that, there's no point if I already passed CPA exams but idk I think my best bet right now is to enroll in the first couple of courses and then decide from there if I want to continue and actually finish it or just be done with it after the first semester.

    Iwantthiscpa,”heartless soul sucking” LOL FR!! Thanks for letting me know that CPA studying is harder than grad school.

    AUD - 76
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    FAR - 78
    REG - 76
    4EverInDebt
    #2527764
    Mi Chan
    Participant

    4EverInDebt To be honest the cheaper one has a very good program and near 100% job placement rate (i think you get which school I'm talking about). A lot of people got employed by the Big 4.I didn't think it was worth it to do private for an accounting degree….I mean all you really care is if it's a target school, and the CPA. In my Master's program you have to write a lot of papers and do presentations but that's basically every business program. In my opinion the CPA exam is the hardest exam I've ever studied for due to the amount of material. You basically have to cram everything you learned in undergrad in a short period of time. However, the program is pretty challenging, it's no joke. You have to study very hard to get good grades.

    AUD - NINJA in Training
    BEC - 64
    FAR - NINJA in Training
    REG - NINJA in Training
    #3020901
    4EverInDebt
    Participant

    Hello to anyone out there with the same sort of worries as I had when I first posted this question.

    Just wanted to give an update as I'm almost done with my first year doing a masters in accounting. And I will say that it has been EASIER than my bachelors and WAY EASIER than studying for the CPA. Lots of writing though in a few courses but I've gotten better with time and have gotten better grades writing long essays or papers that involve research. I've always hated group projects, but so far have had great team members, and the discussions on Canvas have been great as well. Some courses have exams or quizzes but also have been really easy. FR, many times I find myself asking is this for a masters program?! lmao. It's not an ivy league school so perhaps that's why it's easier but still a good school in terms of business and accounting in South Florida.

    So for anyone out there unsure about doing a Masters in Accounting because you think it may be too hard, go for it, you'll be surprised!

    p.s. good luck studying for the CPA exams and stay safe!

    AUD - 76
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    4EverInDebt
    #3020946

    Thanks for your follow-up.

    What's the target ROI for getting a MAcc after passing the CPA Exam?

    Do you feel like the efforts would be better applied toward something like a CMA that will have more of a tangible benefit?

     
    Jeff Elliott, CPA (KS)
    NINJA CPA Review
    #3022806
    Anthony
    Participant

    Lol CPA exam is way more difficult than a MS degree in accounting. Hell, it's nothing more than an extension to undergrad in many schools.

    Unlike the CPA exam, you are not under as much pressure as taking a course. I never came across a person who flunk out of an MS degree in accounting, but I know several people who couldn't stomach or gave up on the CPA exam.

    AUD - 82
    BEC - 80
    FAR - 81
    REG - 82
    FAR - 74 first attempt
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