150-Hour Requirement

BY BEA SANDERS

Forty-eight states/jurisdictions have changed their laws to require 150 hours of education for CPA certification. The law is currently in effect in 39 states and will be enacted in 45 states by 2004.

Questions have been raised about the impact of the higher education requirement on accounting enrollments and graduates over the past several years. Results of research with students ( www.aicpa.org/members/div/career/edu/taylor.htm ) provide compelling evidence they are not deterred from pursuing accounting careers because of the education requirement. An overwhelming majority of students believe that 150 hours of education to become a CPA is fair. Other studies show that growing percentages of college freshman plan to attend graduate school.

Academics and practitioners agree the most significant reasons for the decline in accounting students are lower starting salaries in accounting compared with other business majors, the availability of more attractive career alternatives, the willingness of students to choose other majors and the lack of information about what accountants do. The profession is addressing these issues. Changes in the economy the past year appear to be motivating students to consider accounting. The most recent study on the numbers of accounting degrees awarded showed an upturn in those graduating with master’s degrees ( www.aicpa.org/members/div/career/edu/sagdpar.htm ).

—Bea Sanders, director, academic and career development, AICPA

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