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        Accounting, CPA

        How Will You Fulfill Your 150 Hour Requirement?

        August 10, 2017 By Colby Lakas

        Blog Details

        We often toss around the term of "the 150," but what exactly does that mean? To become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in most states, they require that you work under a CPA for 1-2 years AND fulfill 150 semester hours of education (including specific hours in accounting).

        Most public accounting firms won't hire you unless you have already fulfilled this 150 hour requirement when you walk in the door, so it's important to knock it out while you're still in school mode.  This education requirement can be met one of two ways, which I have outlined below.


        150 Hours

        Master of Accountancy (MAcc) + BSBA

        Why you would pursue this route?

        • You are not accepted to a MAcc Program (Auburn or otherwise)
        • You are under financial constraints to not afford a MAcc Program (but remember, there are assistantships available)
        • You need to start work immediately
        • Having an advanced degree is "career insurance" - your first job may not require it, but you will never regret having the higher credentials.
        • Your degree could affect promotions down the road, and you must have a master's degree to teach at the collegiate level.
        • Although the Auburn MAcc is THE BEST(!), there are many other MAcc programs across the country that are very good.

        Coursework involved

        • To reach your 150 hours, you will likely have to take one or two extra ACCT classes beyond your BSBA (see document linked to above in the heading) but can satisfy the remaining hours with anything.
        • Many people opt for a double major to get some additional value from the extra hours.
        • MAcc coursework is more discussion and project based, as opposed to lectures with copious amounts of homework. 
        • The MAcc will hone your analytical, written/oral communication & teamwork skillset
        • Some of the classes are also aimed to specifically prepare you for the CPA exam, such as Financial & Tax Research classes.  The CPA Exam contains "simulations" that test your research skills, so it's helpful to gain those prior to taking the Exam.


        • 150 hour candidates are still considered undergraduates, so the cost of the extra 27 hours to reach 150 (beyond the 123 hours necessary for a BSBA) will be the same as the undergraduate tuition at Auburn.
        • You can also fulfill the additional coursework at a university closer to home, if you are an out-of-state student.
        • The Auburn MAcc Program costs are HERE.  Keep in mind that competitive credentials are rewarded with Graduate Assistantships, which offer monthly stipends and tuition benefits.
        • Other MAcc programs will have different tuition structures, so you should research those websites if interested.

        Length of time to achieve CPA eligibility

        • Since you graduate with your BSBA with 123 hours, it will take an additional 27 hours (approximately 2 semesters) to complete your 150 hours.
        • A Master of Accountancy is a 30 semester hour program.  Auburn splits this 30 hours between 3 semesters (12, 12 & 6 hours) to allow time to sit for the CPA Exam while still enrolled in school
        • Other MAcc programs may condense the 30 hours into 2 semesters (but do not account for CPA studying during the program).

        Impact on Employment

        • Many firms use the 150 hour requirement as a bare minimum for employment.
        • They will not hire a student unless they are "CPA eligible," meaning they have completed the 150 hours.
        • If you pursue the 150 hours, it is in your best interest to sit for the CPA Exam BEFORE you start work, as not being certified is a hindrance for promotion.
        • Some of the larger firms have a strong preference that students have a MAcc, as it signals more in-depth knowledge of accounting subject matter.
        • Some firms pay a premium for MAccs, and will not promote anyone without a MAcc to Partner.
        • By far, the most instant benefit of doing your MAcc at Auburn is passing the CPA exam while still in school, which means you start work meeting the Educational & Exam requirements for the CPA license.