Time to Require a Master's Degree

By Grumet, Louis | The CPA Journal, November 2009 | Go to article overview

Time to Require a Master's Degree


Grumet, Louis, The CPA Journal


Medicine, law, psychology, leaching, engineering, architecture - all are noble professions, to be sure, and all require a master's degree or higher for certification.

The accounting profession should require a master's degree in order to become a CPA as well.

We are all familiar with the 150-credit-hour, or five-year, education requirement to sit for the CPA exam. Yet this standard does not require attaining a master's degree - -just an extra 30 hours of coursework on top of the four years, or 120 undergraduate hours, necessary for a bachelor's degree.

That extra 30 hours seems to be the most dubious part of this equation. My question is: If we're already requiring extra hours, why not simply make it a master's degree?

The time has come to take this step. Certainly, the profession of public accountancy is just as important and as noble as those that already require a postgraduate degree.

Is this credential just as vital as an engineer or a lawyer or a teacher? Absolutely.

Consider an interesting piece I recently read on accounting from Texas A&M University Professor Gary Giroux, who clearly has a passion for the profession. In discussing the historical context of the accounting profession, Giroux made the argument that some of the most seminal moments in world history might not have taken place without accountants and accounting procedures. The concept of double-entry bookkeeping, for instance, was central to the success of the trading skills of Italian merchants. Giroux asks. "Would the Renaissance have been possible without double entry?' He goes on to point out:

The Industrial Revolution depended on inventors and entrepreneurs. . . . The survival of their firms . . . required innovative accounting and, later, the development of a profession. Big business, particularly the railroads, required capital markets that depended on accurate and useful information. This was supplied by the expanding accounting profession. ("A Short History of Accounting and Business," September 1999, acct.tamu.edu/giroux/shorthistory.html)

Indeed, the empire that was constructed by Genghis Kahn relied upon a system of accounting that was the basis for peace among the four parts of an empire that stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean.

The CPA profes- sion took off in New York State in large part due to the eco- nomic Panic of 1893, which saw several of the country's big rail- roads - notably, the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, the Northern Pacific Railway, the Union Pacific Railroad, and the famed Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad - go bankrupt. …

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