Online Master of Science in Accountancy

CPA Exam Information

While not all accounting professionals become certified, there are some key reasons to get a CPA license. For example, Certified Public Accountants earn higher salaries on average when compared to accountants in general. The average salary for entry-level accountants is $46,000, and senior accountants without CPA licenses can expect just a little over $90,000. For comparison, entry-level CPAs make an average of $58,000, and senior-level CPAs have an average salary of $110,000. For more salary information, see our accounting careers page.

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There are also certain duties that accountants must be certified to perform legally, including:

  • Filing reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Auditing and attestation

When deciding whether you should take the CPA exam, it’s important to consider your long-term career goals. For example, do you see yourself as a generalist or more of an accounting specialist? If you wanted to focus on a particular area of accounting, like auditing, CPA licensure is likely the best path for you.

How Do You Become a CPA?

CPAs become licensed through their respective state boards of accountancy. Although licensure is granted by individual states and some jurisdictions, all 50 states adhere to the same core requirements.

These include:

  • Bachelor’s degree and 150 semester hours of credit
  • Transcript review by a state board of accountancy
  • Schedule and pass the Uniform CPA Exam in your state

It is important to note that most bachelor’s programs do not meet the semester hour requirement. Students who have less than 150 semester hours will need to pursue additional education beyond their undergraduate degree, either through a master’s degree in accountancy or graduate certificate program.

How Hard is the CPA Exam?

The Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination is a 16-hour exam that’s split into four sections, each taken individually:

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  • Regulation (REG)

To successfully complete the CPA exam requirements, you must pass all four sections within an 18-month period. Each section is split into five testlets, consisting of multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations. The BEC section also features three written communication items. Test-takers have 4.5 hours to finish a section, including a 15-minute break.

Comprehensive course coverage is a necessity to passing the exam successfully. The DePaul online MSA is designed to equip graduates with the advanced knowledge they need to succeed on the CPA exam. The first-time pass rate for the CPA exam nationally is 50% in 2019. By comparison, 58% of DePaul MSA graduates pass their first section within one year of graduation.

If you have any questions about the CPA exam, feel free to contact one of our advisors, and we would be glad to help you find resources for your state.

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