You do not need a degree in accounting or prior work experience in the accounting industry to sit for the CPA Exam. Individuals with a variety of backgrounds have earned the CPA designation.
There are a many ways to meet the requirements to sit for the CPA Exam. The most direct path is to complete a bachelor's degree in Accounting and to continue with a Master’s of Accountancy. However, those with baccalaureates in English, math, science, etc. do not have to start over to sit for the CPA Exam. They can earn additional college credits to qualify and prepare for taking the CPA Exam. Regardless of your educational background or prior work experience, anyone can qualify to sit for the CPA Exam.
Note: Before beginning any program, consideration should be given to which option is the best fit for your long-term goals, financial abilities and time constraints.
The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation is recognized nationally and internationally. Employers know that individuals with the CPA designation have demonstrated a specific level of knowledge in the public accounting arena, typically in the areas of taxation and/or accounting and auditing.
The CPA designation creates a level playing field nationally and often leads to significant increases in starting salaries. According to the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), IMA members who earned their CPA earned on average $13,000 more than those without their CPA. Salaries for those with a graduate degree increased by $10,000.
Students interested in public accounting are encouraged to earn a bachelor's degree in Accounting and a Master’s of Accountancy (MAcc) before sitting for the Certified Public Accounting Exam. Pass rates on the CPA Exam are twice as high for those with a graduate degree.
Prerequisite Course Work at UTC*:
- ENGL 1020 - Rhetoric and Composition with a C or better
- MGT 1000 - Computers In Business with a C or better
- MATH 1830 - Calculus for Management, Life, and Social Sciences with a C or better
- ECON 1010 - Principles of Economics: Macroeconomics with a C or better
- ECON 1020 - Principles of Economics: Microeconomics with a C or better
- ACC 2010 - Principles of Accounting I with a B or better
- ACC 2020 - Principles of Accounting II with a B or better
- MGT 2130 - Statistics for Business with a C or better
- MGT 2140 - Data Modeling for Business with a C or better
Required Course Work*:
- ACC 3000 - Intermediate Accounting I with a C or better
- ACC 3010 - Intermediate Accounting II with a C or better
- ACC 3050 - Managerial Cost Accounting
- ACC 3070 - Federal Tax Accounting
- ACC 4010 - Advance Accounting
- ACC 4050 - Auditing
- ACC 4080 - Accounting Information Systems
Additional Recommended Course Work to Enter MAcc:
BUS 3350 - Legal Environment of Business (Requires a C or better for the MAcc)
6 hours chosen from (optional):
- ACC 3060 - Budgeting
- ACC 4010 - Advanced Accounting
- ACC 4060 - Advanced Managerial Accounting
- ACC 4070 - Governmental Accounting
- ACC 4110 - Taxation of Corporations and Partnerships
6 hours chosen from (optional):
- Any 3000 or 4000 level Finance course
- ECON 3240 - Intermediate Microeconomic Theory or ECON 3250 - Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory
- MGT 3560 - Management Science
- BUS 3360 - Business Law
- BUS 4120 - Taxation of Estates, Gifts and Trusts
- COURSE SEQUENCING (as of 2017)
ECON 1010 or 1020
ECON 1010 or 1020
*a B or higher is required for courses completed at an institution that is not AACSB accredited.
The Master’s of Accountancy (MAcc)
The Master’s of Accountancy degree (MAcc) goes beyond the theory learned in the undergraduate accounting degree and focuses on real-world application. Most courses are case-based and allow students to apply new knowledge to their current experiences. The Rollins College of Business’ MAcc program offers:
- Dual enrollment in the B.S.B.A. in Accounting and MAcc
- Potential to waive 12 hours of graduate course work
- Completion of MAcc in as little as one year
- Required courses offered year-around
- Elective courses outside of accounting
How to Sit For the CPA Exam
The requirements to sit for the CPA Exam vary by state. Please check your state’s “State Board” to learn more.
The requirements for the state of Tennessee are as follows:
- Minimum of 150 college credit hours from an accredited college or university
- An accredited baccalaureate degree, in any area of study
- 30 hours in Accounting course work (with 24 hours at the upper level)
- 24 hours in Business course work (with 12 hours at the upper level; additional hours of accounting will apply.)
- B.S.B.A. in Accounting (120 hours)
- Master's of Accountancy (30 hours)
The candidate must pass the Uniform CPA Examination and an ethics examination such as the exam given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
Information and an application to take the CPA Examination may be obtained by calling 1-800-CPA-EXAM or
The Uniform CPA Examination: https://www.aicpa.org/becomeacpa/cpaexam.html
One year of full-time accounting or at least 2,000 hours of part-time work experience in accounting acceptable to the Board over a one to three year period.
For More Information
For additional information on obtaining a CPA license or the CPA examination, please visit:
- National Association of State Boards of Accountancy: www.nasba.org
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA): www.aicpa.org
- Institute of management Accountants (IMA): www.imanet.org
- State Boards of Accountancy: