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Accounting Schools in Montana

This overview of graduate-level accounting schools in Montana provides prospective students with in-depth information on top accounting programs in the state. Online accounting options offered in Montana may be a good match for students who want to earn an accounting degree but need greater flexibility than that offered by traditional accounting programs. Since there are only a few schools with master’s in accounting in Montana, students may wish to look at online programs from around the country as well as programs in neighboring states like Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming. Keep reading to find profiles of top accounting programs in Montana, how to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state, and salary and employment information for Montana accountants.

Quick Facts

  • There are 14 colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Montana.1
  • 4 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.1
  • No schools were ranked in Forbes’ Best Business Schools 2019.2
  • No schools were ranked in the Princeton Review’s Great Schools for Accounting Majors 2020.3
  • No schools were ranked in Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs 2019.4
  • No schools were ranked in US News & World Report’s Best MBA Accounting Programs 2020.5
  • 1 school had a 2018 CPA exam pass rate at or above the national average of 51.9%.6
  • 2 universities and business schools are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.7
  • No schools are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).8
  • 1 school is accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).9

For not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs.

Table of Contents
Steps to Become a CPA in Montana
Montana CPA Salary and Job Outlook
Montana Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison
Select Schools in Montana with Master’s in Accounting Programs
Additional Resources
Frequently Asked Questions
Student Reviews

Steps to Become a CPA in Montana

The Montana Board of Public Accountants (the Board) regulates licensed accountants and oversees the process for becoming a CPA in the state. There are six main steps to complete in order to earn a CPA license in Montana.

  1. Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education in accounting.
  2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.
  3. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.
  4. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
  5. Apply for a license.
  6. Receive a CPA license.

1. Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education in accounting.

Candidates for CPA licensure in Montana must complete at least 150 semester hours of college education that includes the award of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally- or AACSB-accredited school. In addition, courses counted within the 150 hours must include the following:

24 semester hours (36 quarter hours) of accounting subjects above the introductory level, with at least one course in each of the following subjects:

  • Auditing
  • Financial accounting
  • Management accounting
  • Taxation

24 semester hours (36 quarter hours) in non-accounting business subjects, such as:

  • Business law
  • Communication
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Ethics
  • Information systems
  • Marketing
  • Organizational behavior
  • Quantitative applications in business

2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.

Before applying for licensure, Montana CPA candidates must earn at least one year (2,000 hours) of accounting and auditing experience. The experience must be earned within three years of applying for a license and may be accumulated through work in private, government, academic, or public accounting practice. Experience must be verified by an individual who holds an active permit to practice.

3. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.

The Board has selected the AICPA self-study ethics course and exam to fulfill ethics requirements for CPA licensure in the state. A score of 90% or higher is required and the course must be completed within one year from the date of purchase. Candidates can order all course materials through the AICPA website.

4. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Uniform CPA Exam is a requirement for CPA licensure in all 50 states and is administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Montana candidates should apply to the exam through the NASBA website. All four sections of the exam must be passed with a score of at least 75 within a rolling 18-month period.

5. Apply for a license.

The Board uses the NASBA online licensing portal for new CPA applications as well as for license renewals. First-time applicants should visit the portal and register for an account to begin the application process after completing all license requirements detailed above.

6. Receive a CPA license.

After paying the fee and submitting the application on the NASBA portal, applicants will receive a confirmation of receipt. Applications are added to the Board’s agenda if they are received 15 or more days before a regularly scheduled Board meeting and usually take up to two weeks to process.

CPA License Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Once licensed, CPAs in Montana must complete 120 hours of continuing professional education (CPE), to include at least two hours of ethics, during each rolling three-year period. At least 50% (60 hours) of the 120 CPE hours must be in the following technical subjects: accounting, including governmental accounting; auditing, including governmental auditing; taxation; management services; information technology; statistics; economics; business law; finance; specialized knowledge; and ethics. Licenses must be renewed annually by the December 31 deadline. Additional information can be found on the Board’s website.

Montana CPA Salary and Job Outlook

Accountants in Montana earn an average salary of $66,170 per year, less than the national average of $79,520.10,11 The Great Falls area has the highest average annual salary for accountants in Montana, at $81,020 per year.10 The southwest Montana nonmetropolitan area has one of the highest concentrations of accountants nationwide at 9.98 per 1,000 jobs or 1,370 total.11 Accountant and auditor positions are projected to grow by 11.5% through 2028 in the state, higher than the national average of 6.4%.12

Montana CPA Salary by Metro Area

Metro AreaNumber Employed10Average Annual Salary10
Billings610$68,180
Great Falls190$81,020
Missoula480$68,200
Southwest Montana nonmetropolitan area1,330$63,300
West Montana nonmetropolitan area360$71,240
East-Central Montana nonmetropolitan area400$58,410

Montana Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison

Below we have compiled a table including information about all not-for-profit Montana colleges and universities offering a master’s degree in accounting. The graduation rate is for first-time undergraduates seeking a bachelor’s degree, but since it is widely considered to be an indicator of a school’s overall success, we have included it for comparison. Also please note that tuition per credit is based on in-state, on-campus tuition; per-credit rates may vary for out-of-state and online students.

School NameAccreditationCPA Exam Pass Rate6Master’s in Accounting Degree(s)Acceptance Rate13Grad Rate1Online Options?Tuition per Credit
Carroll CollegeIACBEN.Av.Master of Accountancy (MAcc);
3+1 Program*
N.Av.63%Yes$564
Montana State UniversityAACSBN.Av.Master of Professional Accountancy Program (MPAc)N.Av.57%$386
Rocky Mountain College57.1%Master of Accountancy;
Master of Accountancy with a BS in Business Management (3+2 Program)*
N.Av.49%$1,249
University of MontanaAACSB28.6%Master of Accountancy (MAcct)N.Av.45%$262

  • * indicates combined program.
  • — indicates none.
  • N.Av. indicates no data available.

Select Schools in Montana with Master’s in Accounting Programs

Traditional Programs

Montana State University

Montana State University’s (MSU) Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship offers a Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) for students who wish to pursue a career in accounting. The personalized curriculum can include electives such as Professional Services Management; Tax Research and Planning; and Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting. Students who hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting can complete the program in one year or two to three semesters of full-time study, though a part-time course load is permitted. Students with a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than accounting will need to complete additional foundational courses, so the MPAc will take two and a half years to earn. Graduates of Montana State University’s MPAc have historically performed well on the Uniform CPA Exam and many students pass the exam before graduation. The school boasts 100% employment rates of MPAc graduates and graduate teaching assistantships include a partial tuition waiver and a small monthly stipend. All students meet with the MPAc Director in their first year to determine how the program can best serve their career interests and to formulate a course plan. Students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 throughout the program.

Rocky Mountain College

Rocky Mountain College(RMC) offers a 30-hour Master’s of Accountancy (MAcc) program to prepare students for careers in public, governmental, industrial, and nonprofit accounting. Students graduate with technical accounting knowledge, an understanding of the role of accountants in organizations, and an ability to follow ethical standards while creating value in the profession. The two-year program is grounded in the liberal arts and includes study in statistics and economics as well as accounting fundamentals such as research, risk analysis, and decision modeling. The MAcc core includes courses such as Taxation of Estates and Trusts, Advanced Financial Management, Cost Accounting, and Auditing. Undergraduates have the option of majoring in Business Management and earning the MAcc degree in five years through the 45-semester hour 3+2 program. Students complete three years of undergraduate-level courses, one year in undergraduate accounting courses, and one year in MAcc courses. In both programs, students must maintain a GPA of at least 2.25.

University of Montana

The University of Montana (UMT) offers an AACSB-accredited Master of Accountancy (MAcct) program which focuses on developing the knowledge needed for ethical and informed decision making in accounting. To meet this goal, students study auditing, taxation, and business in addition to accounting. The curriculum also includes elements of leadership, communication, and development and integrates teamwork and case studies to prepare students to become well-rounded accounting professionals. The 30-credit hour program encompasses an 18-credit hour core and 12 credit hours of electives that can be taken once foundational course prerequisites are completed. The core courses include Accounting Theory; Advanced Financial Topics; and Accounting Law and Ethics. All students must pass an exit exam before graduating the program. The School of Business Administration, in which the Master of Accountancy program is housed, offers various competitive scholarships for graduate students. Graduate assistantships are also available to well-qualified students. Graduates of the program are prepared for successful careers at the top accounting firms in the US and graduates have a historically high pass rate on the Uniform CPA Exam.

Online and Hybrid Programs

Carroll College

Carroll College offers an online Master of Accountancy (MACC) program for students who require a flexible advanced degree option. The virtual program can be completed full time in one year, but students may elect to attend the program part time as well. The MACC incorporates a focus on social awareness through courses that explore the nonprofit sector while also emphasizing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting. Students are challenged to work on teams to solve technical accounting problems and use the principles they learn to craft solutions. The program helps graduates meet the 150-hour education requirement to sit for the CPA exam. Undergraduate students may elect to earn both their bachelor’s in accounting and MACC in four years through the accelerated 3+1 program. Core courses include Professional Ethics & Legal Issues for Accountants, Advanced Auditing, and Forensic Accounting & Data Analytics. Carroll College accounting majors with a GPA of at least 3.25 and professionals with five or more years of experience do not need to complete the GMAT or GRE.

Additional Resources

Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Montana

  • Anderson ZurMuehlen: Founded in 1957 in Helena and with seven Montana offices, this is the largest CPA and advisory firm headquartered in Montana.
  • Wipfli LLP: One of the largest CPA firms across Idaho and Montana, Wipfli services clients across the Mountain West.
  • JCCS: One of the largest firms in the Mountain West, JCCS has six locations across Montana.

Montana Accounting Associations

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the experience requirement for applying for CPA licensure?

CPAs in Montana must earn at least one year or 2,000 hours of accounting and auditing experience. The experience must be verified by a CPA with an active permit and may be in private, government, academic, or public accounting practice.

How much do CPAs make in Montana?

According to BLS, CPAs in Montana earn an average of $66,170 annually.10

Do I need to pass an ethics exam before taking the CPA exam?

Yes. All candidates for licensure must take the AICPA self-study ethics course and exam to fulfill ethics requirements for CPA licensure in the state. A score of at least 90% is required and the course must be completed within one year from the date of purchase. Course materials can be ordered through the AICPA website.

How do I register for the CPA exam in Montana?

After meeting the education, ethics, and experience requirements detailed above, candidates for licensure in Montana must apply to the exam through the NASBA website. All four sections of the exam must be passed with a score of at least 75 within a rolling 18-month period.

Student Reviews

Note: Student Reviews are based on the experiences of a few individuals and it is unlikely that you will have similar results. Please review the “Data, Student Reviews and Other Information” section in our Terms of Use and Disclaimers.

University of Montana
32 Campus Dr
Missoula, MT 59812
(406) 243-0211
http://www.umt.edu/

Student Review: “My accounting education at The University of Montana was an incredibly demanding, yet worthwhile experience. The rigorous curriculum placed a strong emphasis on both accounting theory and practice, leaving me well prepared to transition from life as a student to life as a professional. I found the faculty to be supportive and encouraging as I worked my way through the program. Most came to the classroom with several years of public accounting experience, so they could easily translate conceptual material into practical class work. The broad curriculum offered a great deal of variety in my accounting education and I found the auditing and accounting information systems courses to be particularly enlightening. My only criticism of the program would be the lack of flexibility in course scheduling. The program did not offer any courses online and most required courses were only offered once per academic year. This often made scheduling exceptionally challenging. However, even with this minor criticism, I would again happily make the decision to complete a degree in accounting at The University of Montana.” -Ryan H., student at University of Montana
stars-4

References:
1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Forbes Best Business Schools 2019: https://www.forbes.com/business-schools/list/2/
3. The Princeton Review. The Best 385 Colleges, 2020 Edition. The Princeton Review, 2019.
4. Public Accounting Report 2019 Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs: https://wpcarey.asu.edu/sites/default/files/par-grad-2019.pdf
5. US News & World Report Best Accounting Programs 2020: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/accounting-rankings
6. National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. The NASBA Report on the CPA Exam: Candidate Performance on the Uniform CPA Examination, 2018 Edition. National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, Inc., 2019.
7. Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International: https://www.aacsb.edu/about
8. Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP): https://acbsp.org/
9. International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE): https://iacbe.org/
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2019 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Montana: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mt.htm
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2019 Occupational Employment and Wages, Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm
12. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
13. US News & World Report Best Business Schools 2020: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools