As the accounting world changed, so did the path to become a CPA. No longer are the days of choosing between the CA, CGA or CMA routes. There is a new option – to either enroll in a Masters at a qualified University or complete the CPA Professional Education Program (PEP). Those considering the CPA path are likely asking: what is the difference and which is the best option for me?
Masters of Accounting
Variety: The program requires students to take courses in all four electives – tax, audit, performance management and finance – on top of the PEP’s core modules and Integration I and II. This allows a more holistic view of CPA required content and provides the student the opportunity to experience a variety of streams within the accounting industry.
Teaching: Many teaching positions, including colleges, now require instructors to have a master’s degree. If teaching accounting is in your future, this is an ideal degree to add to your resume.
Job Support: Staff offers help and support in finding students a 4-month work term. This is a great way for students to get experience in an accounting firm or financial institution of interest to them and could potential be a future career.
Mentors: Full time professors are available face to face, in class and after hours to help student each step of the way. Often the professors go above and beyond their call of duty, providing extra help and review for the CFE.
Money: Master’s programs can cost $15,000 or more. Often public accounting firms are willing to cover the costs of the PEP modules but may be less willing to pay the premium on the masters.
Time Commitment: The program can take 16 months full-time if or 24 months if part time.
The Right Background: An undergraduate degree in commerce/accounting or related field is a minimum requirement.
Flexibility: The CPA PEP courses are offered online and can be taken at the pace of the student. If you’re working full time, this a great method of learning that allows for a lot of flexibility.
Any Background: The PREP modules can be taken prior to the PEP and replace an undergraduate degree. This is an added benefit for those deciding to become CPA with a background outside of accounting.
Choose Your Own Path: CPA PEP requires the students to choose two of the four electives available. It is not necessary to take all four electives; however assurance and taxation must be chosen by the public accounting candidates.
Pay at Your Own Pace: Fees are paid on a per course basis.
Not a Degree: This is not considered a degree.
Time Limit: The courses, including writing the CFE, must be completed within six years from the date the PEP is started.
Teach Yourself: There are no specific case courses included in the program. Students must practice for the case structure in preparation for the CFE.
Ultimately, the Master of Accounting is great for those who want extra support and a more full-time immersive schedule. But, you have to be willing to pay extra both in time commitment and money. PEP is an excellent route for those who may come from a unique background, or who wish to structure their studies around their life.
For either option, the end result is to gain the knowledge and experience required to pass the CFE. The CPA still requires a number of hours to be completed before obtaining the CPA designation and neither path is wrong the one.
Hopefully this post has given you some idea as to the option that is best suited for you and your career.