Accounting Schools in Pennsylvania
There are numerous accounting schools in Pennsylvania that can meet your need for quality accounting education. This guide to master’s in accounting schools in Pennsylvania provides you with the information you need to select the right school for your interests and desired career track, whether you wish to study general accounting or a specialty area. As an alternative to on-campus degree programs, online accounting programs may be a good fit. Continue reading to learn more about accounting schools in Pennsylvania with profiles of select schools, information for CPA candidates, and salary information for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in the state.
- There are 104 colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Pennsylvania.1
- 40 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.1
- 4 schools were ranked in Forbes’ Best Business Schools 2019.2
- 6 schools were ranked in the Princeton Review’s Great Schools for Accounting Majors.3
- 2 schools were ranked in the Public Accounting Report’s 2019 Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs.4
- 4 schools were ranked in US News & World Report’s Best MBA Accounting Programs 2021.5
- 11 schools had a 2018 CPA exam pass rate at or above the national average of 51.9%.6
- 21 universities and business schools are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.7
- 11 schools are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).8
- 7 schools are 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 Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania CPA Salary and Job Outlook
- Top Master’s in Accounting Programs in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison
- Select Schools in Pennsylvania with Master’s in Accounting Programs
- Additional Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Student Reviews
Steps to Become a CPA in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy (the Board) oversees the process for becoming a CPA in the state. There are five main steps to complete in order to earn a Pennsylvania CPA license.
- Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education in accounting.
- Accumulate the required hours of experience.
- Apply for a license.
- Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
- Receive a CPA license from the Board.
1. Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education in accounting.
To qualify for a CPA license in Pennsylvania, a candidate must have earned at least a bachelor’s degree and completed 150 semester hours of college education. The 150 semester hours must include at least 24 semester credits in accounting topics such as:
- Accounting and auditing
- Business law
2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.
All CPA candidates in Pennsylvania must complete at least 1,600 hours of experience in accounting that should be acquired over at least 12 months. The experience must be accumulated during the 60 months preceding the application date to qualify for a license. Experience may include areas such as attest, preparation of tax returns, financial advisory, management advisory, public accounting, and compilation. For more details on the experience requirement in Pennsylvania, visit the Board’s website. All work must be supervised by a currently licensed CPA to qualify.
3. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
The Board uses the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to administer the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Uniform CPA Exam application and testing process. Candidates who are qualified and prepared to take the exam may apply through the NASBA web portal. Pre-evaluation is also available for candidates who are not certain that their education qualifies to test. All four sections of the exam must be passed with a score of 75 or higher within an 18-month rolling period.
4. Apply for a license.
Once all other requirements have been met, candidates may submit the Certified Public Accountant Certification Application along with an application fee via the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS) portal. Verification of education and experience must be submitted as part of the application. Applicants must also submit state and federal criminal reference checks from any state where they have lived, studied, or worked in the past five years.
5. Receive a CPA license from the Board.
Applicants can check the status of their license application on the PALS portal. Once the Board has received and reviewed all required documentation, the license will be issued and will show up on the individual’s online PALS profile. Applicants cannot use the CPA title until the license is issued.
CPA License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Pennsylvania CPAs must renew their licenses on a two-year cycle beginning January 1 of even-numbered years until December 31 of odd-numbered years. Licenses can be renewed online up to 60 days prior to expiry. License renewal requires the completion of 80 hours of continuing education (CE), with at least 20 hours of CE in each calendar year. For individuals engaging in attest activity, a minimum of 24 hours of CE must be in the area of accounting and attest. All renewal applicants must complete at least four CE hours in professional ethics. You can find additional information about acceptable CE sources on the Board’s website.
Pennsylvania CPA Salary and Job Outlook
Pennsylvania is an excellent place to start a career in accounting, as there are many jobs available across the state offering an average annual salary close to the national average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 50,880 individuals are working as professional accountants and auditors in Pennsylvania with two of the country’s top 10 metropolitan areas (New York metro and Philadelphia metro) for accounting jobs located partially in the state.10,11 Accountants in Pennsylvania command an average salary of $76,720 per year.10 The projected job outlook for accountants and auditors in Pennsylvania is 6% through 2028 compared to the national projection of 6.4%, resulting in nearly 6,000 average annual openings over the same time period.12
Pennsylvania CPA Salary by Metro Area
|Metro Area||Number Employed10||Average Annual Salary10|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||120,490||$102,090|
Top-Ranked Schools with Master’s in Accounting Programs in Pennsylvania
Forbes’ Best Business Schools* 2019
- University of Pennsylvania (#5)
- Carnegie Mellon University (#17)
- Pennsylvania State University (#34)
- University of Pittsburgh (#37)
*With master’s in accounting programs.
Princeton Review’s Great Schools for Accounting Majors* 2020
- Drexel University
- Duquesne University
- Lehigh University
- Pennsylvania State University-University Park
- Temple University
- University of Pennsylvania
*With master’s in accounting programs.
Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs 2019
- Pennsylvania State University (#22)
- Villanova University (#28)
US News & World Report’s Best MBA Accounting Programs 2021
- University of Pennsylvania (#3)
- Carnegie Mellon University (#17 tie)
- Pennsylvania State University-University Park (#32 tie)
- University of Scranton (#32 tie)
Pennsylvania Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison
Below we have compiled a table including information about all not-for-profit Pennsylvania 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 Name||Accreditation||CPA Exam Pass Rate6||Master’s in Accounting Degree(s)||Acceptance Rate13||Grad Rate1||Online Options?||Tuition per Credit|
|Bloomsberg University of Pennsylvania||AACSB||N.Av.||Master of Accountancy (MAcc)||N.Av.||60%||Yes||$516|
|Cabrini University||ACBSP||N.Av.||Master of Accounting (MAcc)||N.Av.||55%||Yes||$705|
|California University of Pennsylvania||ACBSP||62.5%||Master of Accounting (M.Acc.);|
|Carnegie Mellon University||AACSB||N.Av.||MBA-Accounting||42.8%||90%||Yes||$3,500|
|Clarion University of Pennsylvania||AACSB||N.Av.||MS-Accounting||N.Av.||52%||Yes||$516|
|Delaware Valley University||ACBSP||N.Av.||MBA-Accounting||N.Av.||60%||Yes||$826|
|Holy Family University||ACBSP||N.Av.||Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA)||N.Av.||58%||—||$765|
|Indiana University of Pennsylvania||AACSB||81.8%||MBA-Accounting||100%||56%||Yes||$516|
|Juniata College||IACBE||42.9%||Master of Accountancy (MAcc)||N.Av.||78%||—||$775|
|Keystone College||IACBE||N.Av.||Master of Accountancy (MAcc)||N.Av.||47%||Yes||$650|
|La Roche University||ACBSP||N.Av.||MS-Accounting||N.Av.||55%||Yes||$785|
|La Salle University||AACSB||37.5%||MBA-Accounting||100%||66%||Yes||$1,080|
|Lebanon Valley College||ACBSP||N.Av.||MBA-Accounting||N.Av.||78%||Yes||$719|
MS-Accounting and Information Analysis (MSAIA)
|Mount Aloysius College||ACBSP||N.Av.||MBA-Accounting||N.Av.||48%||Yes||$850|
|Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus||AACSB||83.7%||Master of Accounting (MAcc)||22.9%||71%||—||$1,121|
|Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Erie-Behrend College||AACSB||N.Av.||Master of Professional Accounting (M.P.Acc)||N.Av.||N.Av.||Yes||$947|
|Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Great Valley||AACSB||N.Av.||Master of Public Accounting (MPA)||N.Av.||N.Av.||Yes||$1,065|
|Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Harrisburg||AACSB||41.7%||N.Av.||69.2%||N.Av.||—||$947|
|Pennsylvania State University-World Campus||AACSB||N.Av.||Master of Professional Accounting (MPA);|
|Robert Morris University||AACSB||27.3%||MS-Taxation||N.Av.||65%||—||$995|
|Saint Francis University||IACBE||N.Av.||MBA-Accounting||N.Av.||73%||Yes||$875|
|Saint Joseph’s University||AACSB||N.Av.||MBA-Accounting||N.Av.||81%||Yes||$1,107|
|Seton Hill University||IACBE||N.Av.||MBA-Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination||N.Av.||65%||Yes||$838|
|Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania||AACSB||55.6%||MBA-Accounting||39.6%||58%||Yes||$516|
|Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania||—||N.Av.||Master of Science in Accountancy (MAcc)||N.Av.||68%||Yes||$516|
|Temple University||AACSB||55.8%||Master of Accountancy (MAcc)||50%||74%||—||$1,114|
|University of Pennsylvania||AACSB||90.9%||MBA-Accounting||23.1%||96%||—||$1,961|
|University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus||AACSB||50.0%||MS-Accounting||38%||83%||—||$502|
|University of Scranton||AACSB||62.5%||Master of Accountancy (MAcc)|
|Villanova University||AACSB||58.3%||Master of Accounting with Data Analytics (MACDA)||N.Av.||90%||—||$1,435|
|York College of Pennsylvania||ACBSP||N.Av.||Master of Accounting (MAcc)||N.Av.||63%||Yes||$820|
- — indicates none.
- N.Av. indicates no data available.
Select Schools in Pennsylvania with Master’s in Accounting Programs
Pennsylvania State University, often known simply as Penn State, offers a one-year, AACSB-accredited Master of Accounting (MAcc) program for students who have earned an undergraduate degree in any subject. The degree normally takes one year of full-time study, although applicants without an undergraduate degree in accounting may need to complete additional coursework and can graduate in as little as 15 months. This program focuses on preparing students to earn their CPA license and is recommended for students interested in CPA careers. The program starts in August and offers courses such as Accounting Information Systems; Forensic Accounting & Litigation Support; Taxes and Business Planning; and Topics in Financial Reporting. Students take a full-time course load during the fall and summer semesters and an internship during the spring semester that exposes students to accounting practice during one of the busiest times of the year for accounting professionals. Students benefit from a variety of activities that promote student-faculty interaction as well as the school’s expansive corporate connections and partnerships. An Integrated Master’s program for Penn State undergraduate students is also available, which enables students to complete both a bachelor’s degree and the MAcc degree in five years of full-time study.
Temple University’s Fox School of Business offers a comprehensive, AACSB-accredited Master of Accountancy (MAcc) comprised of 30 credits. The intensive one-year, full-time program thoroughly prepares students to pass the Uniform CPA exam and achieve CPA certification. Enrollment is open to students of all undergraduate academic backgrounds, though students who did not major in accounting must take six prerequisite courses prior to beginning graduate coursework. The curriculum includes courses in Advanced Studies in Financial Reporting; Advanced Auditing & Assurance Services; Colloquium on Current Issues in Accounting Practice; and Advanced Federal Taxation. The program boasts a high job placement rate for graduates as well as a competitive pass rate on the CPA exam. Temple University also offers an AACSB-accredited Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting. This full-time program is designed to prepare graduates for academic careers in business and accounting departments or in accounting research institutions.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an Accounting major that gives students a comprehensive background in business and accounting. The curriculum is comprised of 19 credit units (CUs) and has a uniquely flexible structure, integrating traditional classes, internships, business ventures, and other activities to reinforce graduate-level learning and experiences. Accounting majors may select from courses such as Fundamentals of Financial Accounting; Accounting for Mergers, Acquisitions and Complex Financial Structures; and Cost Management. Students may also complete a double major, choosing from concentrations such as Insurance and Risk Management, Finance, Strategic Management, and various other options to complement the accounting major. Multiple joint degree programs are also available, such as MBA/Juris Doctor (JD), as well as national and international study opportunities in San Francisco, China, Israel, among other countries.
Online and Hybrid Programs
Cabrini University is a Catholic institution located in Radnor. At Cabrini University, graduate students can complete an ACBSP-accredited Master of Accountancy (MAcc) online in as little as 12 months of full-time study or 15 months of part-time study. The flexible format is designed for recent bachelor’s degree graduates, individuals making a career change, and working professionals and can be applied towards the 150-hour coursework requirements to take the CPA exam in Pennsylvania. The 30-credit curriculum comprises 10 required courses with no electives. Examples of foundational courses include Advanced Financial Accounting and Reporting; Taxes and Business Planning; and Accounting Information Systems. The curriculum also includes unique topics such as forensic accounting and organizational leadership. Students must also complete an internship, study abroad experience, or independent study project to gain applied experience. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for fall and spring start dates.
California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U) offers two online options for aspiring accountants. The Master of Accountancy (M.Acc) is a 30-credit degree that takes approximately four semesters to complete full-time, although part-time study is also permitted. This AACSB-accredited degree can be completed fully online and admits new students in the fall, spring, and summer terms. Students in the M.Acc program learn the skills necessary to take the CPA exam in Pennsylvania and can apply their coursework towards the 150-hour requirement to take the exam. Applicants without a bachelor’s degree in accounting may need to take nine credits of prerequisite courses before beginning the graduate program. Cal U also offers an AACSB-accredited, 36-credit MBA with a concentration in Accounting with an online or hybrid format. Students can take all required courses online or may combine online classes with classes at the California campus. The MBA degree has a broader focus than the M.Acc with more required coursework in other business functions.
Pennsylvania State University’s World Campus (Penn State-World Campus) offers an AACSB-accredited, fully-online Master of Public Accounting (MPA) designed for students with undergraduate experience in accounting. This degree prepares graduates to become CPAs in public, corporate, and nonprofit organizations. The degree requires 30 credits, including Auditing Theory and Practice; Accounting Information and Decision Systems; and a capstone course that enables students to apply key concepts to a case study. Applicants can apply directly to the MPA program or to the 12-credit Graduate Certificate in Accounting Foundations program, which can be applied towards the MPA requirements. An AACSB-accredited online MBA is also offered with concentrations in Accounting Foundations or Advanced Accounting. This 48-credit degree provides a broader range of coursework in business and finance and includes a five-day residency at the University Park campus. The core curriculum includes 39 credits, such as Financial Accounting, Data Analysis for Decision Making, and Economics for Business Strategy. MBA students can also participate in a global immersion experience to learn about international business practices.
Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Pennsylvania
- McKonly & Asbury LLP: One of the largest accounting firms in Pennsylvania and a top CPA firm in the Mid-Atlantic, McKonly & Asbury LLP offers consulting, audit, assurance, and tax assistance to its clients .
- Boyer & Ritter LLC: With offices in Camp Hill, Carlisle, Chambersburg, and State College, Boyer and Ritter is a leader in tax, accounting, and consulting services.
- BBD LLP: An independent, boutique accounting firm serving the greater Philadelphia area,. BBD prides itself on developing personal relationships with clients and a high level of partner and manager involvement.
Pennsylvania Accounting Associations
- Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA): A professional organization with over 20,000 members across 11 regional chapters in the state, PICPA supports licensed and aspiring CPAs with exam support, continuing education opportunities, and numerous networking and leadership events throughout the year.
- Pennsylvania Society of Tax & Accounting Professionals (PSTAP): A professional resource organization designed specifically for small tax and accounting practices in Pennsylvania, PSTAP develops practical resources and toolkits for its members and publishes the PA Accountant magazine and eNewsletter.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much to accountants make in Pennsylvania?
According to the BLS, the average salary for accountants and auditors is $76,720, which is comparable to the national average salary of $79,520.10,11 However, salaries vary across the state with the average annual salary for accountants in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington around $12,890 more per year than that of accountants in Pittsburgh.10
Is a master’s degree required to become a CPA in Pennsylvania?
The Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy does not require CPA candidates to have a master’s degree to become licensed; however, courses taken during graduate study can be counted towards the 150 semester hours requirement and the 24 credits of accounting, business, and related coursework requirements.
How long does it take to become a CPA in Pennsylvania?
Aspiring CPAs must complete a bachelor’s degree, which generally takes four years of full-time study. Since a bachelor’s degree is typically 120 semester hours and Pennsylvania CPA licensure requires 150 hours, additional time will likely be needed to accumulate the extra 30 semester hours, whether those are earned through additional coursework in the bachelor’s degree, a certificate, a master’s degree, or a combination. After the educational requirement has been met, applicants must accrue 1,600 hours of experience in not less than 12 months. Applicants must also pass all four sections of the CPA exam. The exams can be taken any time after completing at least 120 college-level credits and earning a bachelor’s degree and all sections must be passed in an 18-month rolling period. Once all education, experience, and exam requirements are met, applicants must then send all supporting documentation to the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy for processing, which can take several weeks. The entire process of meeting the CPA licensure requirements takes not less than five years and will likely take closer to six or seven years for most applicants.
3141 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Student Review: “Drexel’s Accounting program is a mixed bag. In general, I found all of Drexel’s business classes to be far too easy and didn’t really feel like I was getting much out of it. All of the classes are strictly lecture-based with the professor rattling off powerpoint presentations. In all of the classes the professor handed out review exams just before an exam so as long as a student could keep up with homework (if there even was any), he or she could just go to the class session before the exam, get the answers to the review exam, and now they have a carbon copy of almost everything that would be on the exam. As long as you’re reasonably intelligent you can put in next to no work and get an A in any accounting class at Drexel. With so many colleges offering accounting and finance degrees, one should be choosy about the program they’re going to take. In my experience, Drexel’s program is sub-par. What good is an easy program if you didn’t really learn anything? You’re going to have to work your butt off to pass the CPA exam later.” -Carl B., student at Drexel University
Pennsylvania State University
201 Old Main, University Park
Pennsylvania, PA 16802
Student Review: “Penn State is famous for football and partying but it is so much more than just its social assets. As an accounting major in the Smeal College of Business, I’ve seen firsthand why it’s ranked among the top ten business schools in the USA. From the beginning, Smeal encouraged my peers and I to join any of the 38 different student-run business organizations, and over 900 other clubs within the university. Smeal hosts events all year (including a bi-annual career fair, regular meet-and-greets with important people in the corporate world, and major-specific career/Internship fairs) that allow students to network with Fortune 500 companies and to learn what their careers will eventually entail. Smeal’s student organizations also set up similar events to increase opportunities for their members. All of my accounting classes were small and intimate; the professors were always very helpful, and knowledgeable. They and their teaching assistants always made themselves available. I didn’t find any classes overly difficult, but they were challenging enough to be interesting. The worst thing about Smeal is that it’s full of overachievers. You really need to work hard, get great grades, be a leader, and hold an internship!” -Stephanie Y., student at Pennsylvania State University
Student Review: “The accounting program at Penn State has many great professors that were former professionals in the field that can also teach. Having this combination, classes are fun and interesting. Although not always easy, the teachers make the classes worthwhile. Furthermore, coupled with this great education, there are always recruiters coming to the accounting classes looking to hire students. I was able to obtain an internship and from this was offered a full-time job before my last year of school even started! Overall, the accounting program at Penn State teaches you the knowledge you need and helps you obtain full-time employment before you graduate. These two aspects put together make it a great program” -Student at Pennsylvania State University
Slippery Rock University
1 Morrow Way
Slippery Rock, PA 16057
Student Review: “The Slippery Rock University accounting experience was a wonderful thing. Although the curriculum was not challenging to me, it was very challenging to other students in my major. The only issue I had with this curriculum was the people that were teaching some of the classes. Although basically all of the professors were extremely nice and approachable, some of them did not seem like they really knew what they were talking about. These professors still managed to teach the material well. Other than that, the program was great. There were many opportunities to network which made finding a job really easy.” -Student at Slippery Rock University
University of Pittsburgh
4200 Fifth Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Student Review: “The University of Pittsburgh accounting program truly prepared me for the challenges that I’ve experienced in the business world. The variety of mandated courses gives students a taste of many areas of business to ensure they’re on the right path. I like how there’s a focus on preparing for the CPA exam which is what a majority of students are striving toward. Mandated classes include, but are not limited to auditing, analyzing financial statements and finance. Pitt takes advantage of 21st-century technologies offering most if not all class notes online if you’re ill and can’t make class. Most professors do a great job of applying textbook concepts to real-world situations. They’re also easily approachable in office hours. I disliked how a lot of the teaching assistants were hard to understand and work with and were just generally less available.” -Student at University of Pittsburgh
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 MBA Accounting Programs 2021: 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/
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, Pennsylvania: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_pa.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.com/projections/longterm
13. US News & World Report Best Business Schools 2021: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools