In addition to the Tips for all College of Management Majors, here are a few specific to Accounting.

  • There are no accounting internships.
  • Upper division required accounting courses fill quickly even though there frequently are two or more sections offered.
  • If you plan to sit for the CPA exam you may want to add BLAW 310: Business Law UCC and Contracts to your academic program.
  • Contact the accounting faculty if you have questions about CPA certification or accounting careers.
  • More information about requirements for CPAs see the "About CPAs" section below.
  • For information on the CMA exam, see "About CMAs" below.

Accounting Alternatives

Students completing their first baccalaureate degree who plan to sit for the CPA exam should do an accounting major. However, students who already have a bachelor's degree have two options:

  1. Complete an MBA degree with an accounting concentration and take additional required accounting courses, or
  2. Complete a second undergraduate degree, as an accounting major.  

Each option should provide the breadth and depth needed by a business professional, as well as preparing students for the content of the exams.

Questions to ask yourself

Do you want to work for a CPA firm, in industry, or in the government/not-for-profit sector?

  • If you want to work for a CPA firm, consider an undergraduate accounting major. Accounting is an excellent academic base for career development and for movement into corporate management. Upon completion of the accounting major, a graduate meets the academic qualifications to take the examination for Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and, in Minnesota, the examination for Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The accounting degree program is also excellent preparation for students planning to study law, particularly if they intend to practice in taxation or corporate law.
  • If you want to work in industry or government/not-for-profit consider the MBA. The MBA offers broader career options than an undergraduate degree in accounting.

Where do you want to work?

  • CPA firm - Only if CPA; ("active" certificate, 40 hours a year of continuing professional education; or "inactive").
  • Industry - As of July 2006, 1 year experience counts toward CPA.

Have you researched all your options?

  • Effective July 2006, in order to sit for the CPA exam in Minnesota, everyone needs a bachelor's degree with an accounting major or "equivalent." An MBA, with the additional required accounting courses, can provide that equivalent.
  • In most cases, an MBA provides a stronger credential than a second bachelor's degree. By choosing the two accounting electives carefully and taking three to four additional accounting courses, you may be able to complete an MBA and prepare for the CPA exam as quickly as a second bachelor's degree with an accounting major.
  • See Accounting Alternatives Course List to compare course requirements for the MBA versus the undergraduate accounting major at Metropolitan State University, and preparation requirements for the CPA and CMA exams. Undergraduate program "Foundation" courses and the "MBA Prerequisite" courses are similar. Content covered by the "Business Core and Capstone" courses parallels "MBA Program Phase I & III" courses, but the material is covered more intensively at the graduate level. To sit for the CMA exam, a student needs a bachelor's degree in any field. However, a candidate must know the content of the courses indicated on the chart to be successful on the exams. 

Two Sets of Rules

  1. To sit for the CPA exam in Minnesota requires a bachelor's or higher degree that includes or is supplemented by at least 24 semester hours of accounting at the upper division level or graduate level, including coverage of, but not necessarily separate courses in financial accounting, auditing, taxation and management accounting.
    College of Management courses (24 hours): Acct 310, Acct 340, Acct 510, Acct 512, Acct 520, and Acct 530 (all courses have prerequisites)
  2. To become certified in Minnesota requires passing the CPA exam and a total of 150 semester hours, which must include at least the following:
  • 24 semester hours in upper division undergraduate or graduate level courses in business-related subjects. 
  • No more than 6 of the 48 hours may be from internships or life experience. Note: Additional internship hours over 6 allowed within the accounting and business concentration can be applied toward the 150 hours. 
  • One year of accounting experience in industry, government, education, or public accounting.

My Accounting Career  CMA or CPA?

The accounting major provides students with a strong foundation for a career in various aspects of today’s business environment. An education in accounting enables the detailed understanding of business transactions and the impact of transactions on company financial results. This understanding applies to all functional areas or aspects within a business. Learning the accounting discipline can enable one to understand and articulate business activities to help a company's long-term viability, as well as provide a solid career path for degreed individuals.

Upon completion of the undergraduate accounting major, one may want to add to this education with certification. Two types of accounting certification are available: the CPA or Certified Public Accountant and the CMA or Certified Management Accountant.

About CPAs

"CPAs provide a wide range of services and are employed in public accounting and other professional services firms, business and industry, government and education. CPAs in public practice are engaged by their clients for a variety of services including accounting, auditing, tax, forensic accounting, personal financial planning, technology, consulting and business valuation. CPAs employed in business, industry and government are likewise responsible for activities from accounting and financial reporting, implementing and managing internal controls and information systems, to compliance with tax and other laws and regulations and other areas of business and financial management." Source: AICPA

About CMAs

"Management accounting is the internal business building role of accounting and finance professionals who work inside organizations. These professionals are involved in designing and evaluating business processes, budgeting and forecasting, implementing and monitoring internal controls, and analyzing, synthesizing, and aggregating information—to help drive economic value." Source:  The Institute of Management Accountants

Financial Accounting vs. Management Accounting

Financial accounting is primarily concerned with communicating historical, objective and transparent information to external users of financial statements. Public accounting is involved in the preparation, auditing, and presentation of financial statements. Managerial accounting primarily provides information that is future-oriented and used internally by management of the company. Both financial and management accounting focus on ensuring the information they communicate is accurate, relevant, and ethically applied.

CMA & CPA: Things in Common

Both the management accountant and financial accountant are responsible for the accuracy of financial reports, whether the reports are used internally by management or externally by investors, government regulators, creditors and other external stakeholders. Both of these accountants work to ensure strong internal controls and the safeguarding of company assets. Both the CMA and CPA certifications require an undergraduate degree, passing a four-part exam and industry experience. Both provide the framework for a strong career in business.