After an undergraduate degree focused on the principles of accounting, and after some years testing the waters in the corporate, public, or not-for-profit sector, you’re ready for something more. You’ve done the research, and you know your field — you know that earning your CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant) certification is the next logical step when it comes to job security and satisfaction, salary and benefits, personal growth and collegial respect.
But you also know that it’s never been a better time to earn an MBA (Master of Business Administration). Companies are hiring more MBA graduates each year since the recession-period slump, and mean salaries for MBAs are extremely encouraging. With your background in accounting, you know you’d make an excellent MBA — but that would mean delaying your CPA certification, and perhaps stalling your march toward that ideal accounting position. Having to choose between the two designations is a tough call, especially if you’re suited to both.
Thankfully, a growing number of top-tier post-secondary institutions are offering the chance to earn both an MBA and your CPA designation concurrently. This combination is especially appealing to prospective students who already hold full-time careers, but who realize that a graduate-level upgrade is essential for future growth. Great Canadian schools are now accepting applications for part-time, combined MBA and CPA programs, with classes held on alternating weekends through the fall, winter, and spring semesters —a schedule that gives you lots of breathing room for job, family, and other obligations.
If you’re keen on becoming the most skilled and knowledgeable accountant possible, you can also focus your MBA specialization to receive even more accountancy-related courses. While you’re learning how to be a true leader, team player, and negotiator, you can also double-down on financial and management accounting, financial reporting, statements, and information systems, and accounting theory. By the time you reach the CPA stage of your dual degree, you’ve passed several graduate-level accounting courses, further preparing you to sit for the Common Final Examination’s (CFE) Capstone I and II. Your MBA thus acts as an impressive notch on your resume, a holistic plunge into all aspects of business, and a great primer for your real passion for accounting.
With applied activities and case studies, an integrated core set of courses, and international case competitions, the MBA has a lot going for it. But the CPA is a different beast entirely, as it’s not merely a degree but something far more vocational. Becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant is a true profession and calling. Studies show that mean incomes for CPAs nearly double across a thirty-year career. This not only reflects the always high demand for excellent accountants, but also the ongoing professional development, skillset acquisition, and dedication to the field that comes with earning such a prestigious certification. It’s no wonder that so many business leaders today are accountants themselves. And with the (fairly recent) unification of the Chartered Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Certified General Accountant designations, the CPA now has one set of ethical guidelines, a linear and official code of conduct and inspection, and a common disciplinary process. Having a consolidated national body of colleagues and experts behind you gives you the kind of support and resources to motivate and sustain a long, rich, and satisfying career in the field.
If you possess the ambition, intelligence, and experience to be a true leader, find out more about how you can get your accounting designation with an MBA at one of Canada’s most celebrated institutions. Not all schools have such an exclusive part-time dual-designation—chief among the innovators in this field is Wilfrid Laurier University, which now offers an MBA with CPA option at its fabulous downtown Toronto campus, where you can surround yourself with business leaders and continue to work in the centre of Canadian commerce. Choose the right path by not having to choose at all — earn both designations at once, and accelerate your career!