Accounting Graduate Programs in California

Dec 12, 2018

Accounting graduate programs are offered throughout California and typically prepare students to take the Certified Professional Accountant exam. Here we discuss some of the program options in depth, including graduation and admission requirements.

Graduate degree programs in accounting in the state of California are typically available at the master's level and may offer flexible courses in the evenings for working professionals. These programs may offer additional concentrations and can usually be completed in about 1 to 1.5 years. Compare the similarities and differences between some of the different accounting programs in the state.

Schools in California with Graduate Degree Programs in Accounting

San Francisco State University

San Francisco State University in San Francisco offers a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) that allows students to enroll full- or part-time. Courses are also offered in the late afternoon and evening for flexibility and the program requires 30 to 51 units, depending on a student's background education. The program also requires a culminating experience where students take a course that explores the various issues in accounting, as well as ethics in the field. Core courses for the program discuss topics in financial accounting, federal tax, management and professional responsibilities.

California State University-Long Beach

California State University-Long Beach has an MSA program that requires 30 units and prepares students for state licensure as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The program even offers a CPT Test preparation opportunity and the entire program can be completed in 11 months. Students in the program complete a culminating experience in the form of an auditing project. The program also includes coursework in topics like forensic accounting, financial reporting, non-profit taxation and corporation taxation.

University of California-Davis

The University of California-Davis provides a Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) that can be completed in 9 months. According to the school's website, close to 60% of students receive scholarships for the program and graduates of the program have one of the top CPA pass rates in the state. Students that have a background in financial accounting are able to choose two concentrations out of the available concentrations of financial accounting, tax accounting or analysis, while students who do not must take financial accounting as one of the concentrations. Required courses for the program cover topics in auditing services, accounting communications, tax reporting, ethics and more.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles has a Master of Accounting (MAcc) degree program that can be completed in 1 year. The full-time program totals 30 units and requires a communications course in addition to core courses in accounting and multiple electives. Core course topics include ethics, accounting responsibilities, fair value accounting, enterprise systems and auditing. Students in the program may also choose to take an elective called Global Accounting Experience where they study the global perspectives of accounting, participate in hands-on learning and have the opportunity to travel to the United Kingdom or China.

San Diego State University

San Diego State University in San Diego offers an MSA program that totals 30 credits. Most courses are in the late afternoon or evening for flexibility and students can usually complete the program in 12 to 18 months. Students can choose from specializations in taxation, accounting information systems or financial reporting and graduates will have fulfilled the accounting requirements for the state's CPA exam. Each specialization prepares students for additional exams besides the CPA exam, such as the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam and the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam for the financial reporting specialization.

Common Entrance Requirements

Students wishing to pursue a graduate degree program in accounting in the state of California must hold a bachelor's degree and some programs may require a minimum GPA around a 2.75 or 3.0. Although the bachelor's degree can usually be in any subject, several programs require students to have prerequisite coursework in subjects such as financial accounting, statistics, managerial accounting and economics. Generally, these programs accept the GRE or GMAT scores and some programs may have specific test scores that need to be met for admittance into the program. Applicants to these programs can expect to include their official transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, resume and personal statement with their application. Some programs may also require an admissions video and/or interview process.

Students in California can pursue an MSA, MPAc or MAcc degree program to prepare for licensure as a CPA. These programs usually offer additional specializations and may include a culminating experience of some sort.

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