Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Practitioner and Educator Preferences regarding Accounting Curriculm Meeting the 150-Hour Requirement

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Practitioner and Educator Preferences regarding Accounting Curriculm Meeting the 150-Hour Requirement

Article excerpt


Accounting education has been controversial for decades with elevated debate following the introduction and adoption of a 150-hour requirement among most of the 55 jurisdictions that regulate public accounting. Considerable flexibility exists for accounting programs as to coursework and level of education, along with little uniformity guiding the amount and type of experience required for certification and licensure. Such diverse conditions for entry into the profession prompted this study to focus on curricular components of content, program structure, and experiential requirements in accounting.

This study surveyed accounting practitioners and educators in an eleven state Midwest region of the United States that had adopted the 150-hour requirement. Findings reveal a 150-hour requirement that influences the time commitment and kind of educational structure preferred by practitioners and educators while garnering little support for specialization during the educational experience. Majorities from both accounting groups clearly prefer two years of experience prior to licensure for entry-level accountants. Significant differences between practitioners and educators as to appropriate subject/course offerings at both the undergraduate and graduate level are identified.


Education, experience, and examination have long been the mainstays of preparation for entry into the public accounting profession. Recognizing that examination for certification and licensure is important, the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination is a national standard that does not vary from state to state. Therefore, this study focused on the first two requirements - education and experience - noting the diversity among accounting programs and licensing jurisdictions in addition to the controversy that has developed from such disparate conditions. While some form of a 150-hour requirement is in place among most of the 55 jurisdictions, there are considerable differences regarding the amount and type of work experience that precedes licensure. Correspondingly, subjects and courses, as well as the level of education vary considerably from one accounting program to the next.

For decades, there have been calls for more research related to the structure of accounting programs (Rebele, 2002) with others (Allen & Woodland, 2006) questioning the academic content for inclusion in the 150-hours. The purpose of this study was to address such matters by comparing curricular preferences of CPAs working in public accounting with accounting educators who are preparing students for entry into practice. Acquiring information via an opinion survey from both practitioners and educators is appropriate in addressing concerns of curriculum developers and policy makers who deliberate academic studies and work experience for entry-level accountants. The specific preferences examined included program structure and time requirements with consideration given to the 150-hour requirement, program specialization, experiential requirements for licensure and appropriateness of subjects/courses at the undergraduate and graduate level.


Experience is complementary to formal education by promoting intellectual growth of the individual when introducing new problems for exploration (Dewey, 1938). The notion of relevant experience following formal education as the preferred method of educating accountants permeates accounting education literature (American Accounting Association, 1972; American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, 1969; Perry, 1955). Pragmatic underpinnings elicit input from both practitioners and educators resulting in a deliberate accounting curriculum tempered by self-imposed checks. However, the linkage between academic theory and accounting practice also creates considerable disagreement among stakeholders as to the preferred accounting curriculum.

Two foundation reports - Ford and Carnegie - recommended a liberal arts undergraduate education followed by additional graduate study focusing on the vocational direction of the student (Gordon & Howell, 1959; Pierson, 1959). …

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