How to Obtain 150 Credit Hours and Stand Out from the Competition

by Mitchell Franklin, CPA, Ph.D, Madden School of Business at LeMoyne College – January 29, 2018
How to Obtain 150 Credit Hours and Stand Out from the Competition

As an educator, I have witnessed that students too often assume that they must obtain a Master’s Degree in Accounting or an MBA to satisfy the 150-hour requirement. It is important to note that one can earn 150 hours to qualify for licensure through means other than the traditional MBA/ MSA paths. The education requirements for New York1 and New Jersey2, like many states, clearly do not require a graduate degree, but simply require 150 credit hours with a minimum number of accounting and business courses that can be taken at the graduate or undergraduate level to meet requirements.

The 150-hour requirement has been significantly debated as to the value added it provides to firms. In many cases, academic research has shown that typical pathways to satisfy the requirement have not added significant value to firms and have not provided graduates with the salary differential to justify the increased cost of the additional schooling. When one explores non-traditional routes to earn 150 hours, there is data to show that a student can earn a degree that has increased earnings potential and can add value to a firm from the start.

Most firms also do not have a preference for how a student earns the 150 hours; they simply want a college graduate with 150 hours. The following are two alternative ways that a student can earn 150 hours and present a strong resume to future employers other than the traditional MBA or MS:

Study Abroad and Take a Marketable Minor

As we are in a more globalized society, more firms are placing value on interna­tional experience. Spending a semester abroad can be a great way to demonstrate an understanding of globalization. But this can make satisfaction of BSA and MBA requirements in a five-year time-frame challenging due to tight program requirements and overseas course work that cannot count towards many of these requirements. Though the courses abroad may not count towards 150-hour program requirements, they will count towards the license as long as business and accounting credit hour requirements are satisfied for the respective state. A great solution is to earn a Bachelors in Accounting, combined with a minor in a related field such as information systems or analytics. The minor is not 30 credits, but the minor will typically, with proper planning, satisfy the business requirements, and, in conjunc­tion with the credits abroad, satisfy the 150-hour requirement. The student does not have a graduate degree, but has inter­national experience that can significantly outweigh the benefit of a graduate degree, as well as a background in analytics or another business related field3.

Get a Graduate Degree in a Trendy Field

Firms and companies have an increasing need for professionals with a background in both accounting and information systems, and projected growth is significant through 20244. As an alternative to the MBA or MSA, earning a graduate degree in a field such as information systems not only opens significant long-term opportu­nities, but also can increase the market­ability out of college beyond the typical entry-level accounting positions in the private and public sector. As is the case with information systems, master’s degrees in other fields such as data analytics can also have a similar positive impact on graduates. The student can earn their 150 hours with a specialty that can increase marketability, and later in their career return to school to earn an MBA when they possess experience to maximize value from the courses.

Educators need to work with firms, as well as states, to discuss ways in which the 150-hour requirement can increase the value added of graduates to the profession, not just show that the graduate has more credits than a traditional bachelor’s degree recipient.

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Mitchell A. Franklin

Mitchell Franklin, CPA, Ph.D., is program director and assistant professor of accounting at the Madden School of Business at LeMoyne College. He is a member of the NJCPA Content Advisory Board.

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This article appeared in the Jarnuary/February 2018 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.