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Public Accounting and CPA Licensure in Pennsylvania

Public accounting opportunities range from the "Big 4" international CPA firms to large regional and small local firms.  Such firms provide an array of professional accounting services to clients, including assurance (auditing and review) and tax services.  In addition, most offer business advisory services, including cutting edge information technology and network security consulting.  While large or regional public accounting firms tend to provide comprehensive business services, small firms often specialize within a certain practice area, such as tax and personal financial planning.  Public accounting firms generally require professionals to obtain CPA licensure within the first few years of employment.

Education & Experience Requirements

On July 10, 2008, Gov. Edward Rendell signed Senate Bill 838 into law. moving Pennsylvania to the national education standard of 150 credit hours for CPA licensure.  Beginning January 1, 2012, CPA candidates in Pennsylvania must complete 150 hours of education, pass the CPA Exam, and obtain one year (1,600 hours) of experience, including 400 hours of attest or assurance activity to obtain CPA licensure.  Candidates may sit for the CPA Exam after they graduate with a bachelor's degree and complete at least 24 semester-credit hours in accounting subjects.  However, a total of 150 credit hours, including 36 semester credit hours in accounting and auditing, business law, finance, and tax subjects, will be required before a CPA license is granted.

Options for Students to Fulfill the 150 Credit Hour Requirement for CPA licensure in Pennsylvania

  • Take all undergraduate or a mix of undergraduate and graduate courses
  • Earn a more specialized Masters in Taxation or Masters in Accounting degree
  • Earn an MBA degree. The MBA degree is preferred in many cases because it broadens the CPA's management education and business understanding, and thus better prepares the CPA for higher-level business positions

Clarion University's Bachelor's in Accounting plus MBA

Accounting graduates can qualify for corporate and governmental positions as well as other accounting certifications (e.g., Certified Management Accountant) by completing a four-year, 120 credit-hour accounting program.   However, for those students interested in entering public accounting and obtaining CPA licensure, or creating a greater business opportunities, Clarion University offers a five-year course of study.  This integrated program first requires completion of the Bachelors in Accounting and then the Masters of Business Administration (one additional year). The Clarion MBA program fulfills the 150 credit hour requirement for CPA licensure in Pennsylvania.  Students have flexibility to pursue either a four-year degree only, or qualified students may pursue a five-year undergraduate/graduate course of study (Click here for information on the Early Start MBA).

The Clarion MBA Difference

  • AACSB International Accredited
  • 33 credit hours (foundation courses may be additional and are available through Clarion)
  • Fulfills 150 credit hour requirement for CPA licensure
  • Provides at least 6 additional credits in accounting and finance to achieve 36 credit hour minimum
  • Offered in three different formats to meet the varied needs of students
    • Three-semester, 11 month program
    • On campus program (blending face to face and online instruction)
    • Part-time online program for those seeking a fully accredited, on-line M.B.A.
  • Return on Investment - accredited, affordable, and available on-line
  • Value that's Hard to Beat! Compare Clarion's tuition and fees to other AACSB-accredited programs


For additional information, please contact Clarion's MBA office at 814-393-2605 or