Accounting Schools in Washington DC

This summary of schools that offer graduate-level accounting programs in Washington DC provides key information on all the universities and colleges offering such programs in the district. These schools offer flexible schedules to meet the diverse educational needs of students. Since there are only a few schools that offer master’s in accounting degrees in Washington DC, students may wish to look at online and distance programs from around the country as well as programs in neighboring states like Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland. Continue reading to learn more about accounting schools in Washington DC, how to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state, and career opportunities for accounting graduates in Washington DC.

Quick Facts

  • There are 8 colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Washington DC.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 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
  • 3 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
  • No 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 Washington DC

The District of Columbia Board of Accountancy (the Board) oversees the process for becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state and regulates licensed accountants. There are five main steps to complete in order to earn a CPA license in Washington DC.

  1. Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education in accounting.
  2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.
  3. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
  4. Apply for a license.
  5. Receive a CPA license from the Board.

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

Candidates for a CPA license in Washington DC must complete 150 semester hours of postsecondary education that includes the award of a bachelor’s degree or higher and an accounting concentration or the equivalent. The 150 semester hours must include a minimum of 27 hours of accounting-related subjects, including:

  • Auditing (three hours)
  • Commercial (business) law (three hours)
  • Cost (managerial) accounting (three hours)
  • Federal income taxes (three hours)
  • Financial accounting (three hours)

2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.

Washington DC CPA candidates must complete at least 2,000 hours of experience, which may be earned full- or part-time. The experience must take place over at least one calendar year but not more than three years and should include performing services and providing advice in accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, and consulting. Experience gained in government, industry, academia, or public practice qualifies to meet the experience requirement and must be verified by a licensed CPA.

3. 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). Applicants may sit for the exam after completing 120 hours of undergraduate semester hours from a college or university that has been accredited by the DC Education Licensure Commission or was a member of a regional accrediting agency recognized by the Board when the applicant’s degree was awarded. Candidates must use the online portal on the Board’s website to apply to take the exam. Once an application has been approved, candidates will receive further instructions on scheduling and taking the exam. All four sections of the exam must be passed with a score of at least 75 within an 18-month rolling period.

4. Apply for a license.

After meeting all licensure requirements, the CPA candidate’s application must be submitted through the online portal on the Board’s website. Note that all fees are required at the time that the application for licensure is completed. Candidates must also be prepared to upload a recent passport-type photo and government-issued identification to support the application. If desired, candidates may complete the licensing application at the same time as applying to the Uniform CPA Exam.

5. Receive a CPA license.

After the application has been approved by the Board and Uniform CPA Exam scores have been received, a license will be issued to applicants and they can begin practicing as CPAs.

CPA License Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Once licensed, CPAs in Washington DC must complete at least 80 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) each two-year renewal period, including at least four hours of professional ethics instruction. Acceptable subjects include accounting and auditing; taxation; management; computer science; communication arts; mathematics; statistics; probability and quantitative applications in business; economics; business law; functional fields of business; specialized areas of industry; administrative practice; and professional ethics. You can find additional information on the Board’s website.

Washington DC CPA Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants in Washington DC earn an average annual salary of $103,930, the highest average in the US and far above the national average of $79,520.10,11 With 10,660 accountants employed, more accountants and auditors are employed per thousand jobs in Washington DC compared to all states in the country, indicating high demand for such professionals in this district.10,11 Projections Central expects this number to rise by 8.1% through 2028, faster than the national average of 6.4%.12

Washington DC Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison

Below we have compiled a table including information about all not-for-profit Washington DC 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. Tuition per credit is based on in-state, on-campus tuition; per-credit rates may vary for out-of-state and online students. The reported CPA Exam Pass Rate is from the 2018 test series. In 2019, NASBA paused releasing statistical Candidate Performance reports until 2025 due to a new exam and licensing structure. Check with schools for more recent data.

School NameAccreditationCPA Exam Pass Rate6Master’s in Accounting Degree(s)Acceptance Rate13Grad Rate1Online Options?Tuition per Credit
American UniversityAACSB45.5%MS-Accounting (MS);
MS-Taxation (MS)
Catholic University of AmericaN.Av.MS-Accounting (MS)N.Av.72%$1,910
George Washington UniversityAACSB74.7%Master of Accountancy (MAccy);
BS-Accy or BBA & MAccy 4+1 Program*
Howard UniversityAACSBN.Av.Master of Accountancy (MACC)41.9%65%$1,333

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

Select Schools in Washington DC with Master’s in Accounting Programs

Traditional Programs

American University

American University (AU) offers two master’s degrees to students seeking careers in accounting through its AACSB-accredited Kogod School of Business. The Master of Science (MS) in Accounting program prepares students for all aspects of an accounting career from auditing to reporting and consulting. Full-time students can complete the program in one and a half years while part-time students typically complete the program in no less than two years. The degree consists of 30 to 37.5 credit hours depending on prior academic accounting experience and includes such courses as Contemporary Assurance and Audit Services; Corporate Financial Reporting: Financial Transactions; and Applied Managerial Statistics. Beyond the 15-credit hour core, students complete an additional 15 credit hours of electives in interest areas related to business and accounting and may choose an optional specialization in Financial Reporting and Assurance, Taxation, or Forensic Accounting. The Kogod School of Business also offers a 30-credit hour MS in Taxation. The program requires 21 credit hours of taxation courses, including two required courses: Tax Planning for Individuals and Tax Research and Procedure. Merit-based scholarships are available for high performing graduate students in both programs.

George Washington University

The George Washington University (GW) School of Business offers an AACSB-accredited Master of Accountancy (MAccy) degree program meant to develop students’ skills in high-quality accounting research. Ethical leadership is emphasized in the program, as are the principles of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. The 30-credit hour program can be completed full time in as little as nine months, though students without prior academic experience in accounting may need to take additional prerequisite foundational courses. The flexible program can be completed part time in 21-60 months and day and night classes are available for working students. Students can enroll in courses that are 14 weeks long for three credit hours or seven-week classes for one and a half credit hours. Courses within each core area of study are designed to help students prepare and qualify for all four parts of the Uniform CPA exam and include such courses as Contemporary Auditing Theory, Accounting for Internal Decision Making, and Advanced Strategic Cost Management. The 4+1 Program provides an option for students earning a bachelor’s in accounting to begin taking graduate-level courses in their final year of undergraduate learning. Students may take up to six credits of graduate coursework as part of the 120 hours required undergraduate hours which double count toward the MAccy. Students who did not earn at least “B-” in core business topics must take the graduate-level equivalent, thus increasing the number of credit hours required.

Howard University

At Howard University’s (HU) AACSB-accredited School of Business, students can pursue a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) degree that equips students with the specialized skills necessary for successful careers in auditing and accounting. The intensive 30-credit hour program consists of nine credit hours of required core courses, 21 credit hours of required accounting courses, and optional electives for students who have already satisfied required courses in their undergraduate studies. Courses include Corporate Financial Reporting, Modern Financial Analysis Topics, and Seminar in Accounting. Undergraduate Howard students may opt to complete up to six credit hours of graduate-level accounting courses in their final undergraduate semester. HU boasts small class sizes for more individualized instruction and offers the Center for Accounting Education (CAE) as a resource for African American students seeking accounting careers. Merit-based scholarships and graduate assistantships are available to high-performing students and internships are encouraged. All students must begin the program in the summer semester and only 20 students are accepted into the program each academic year.

The Catholic University of America

The Catholic University of America (CUA) offers a Master of Science (MS) in Accounting that prepares students for accounting and auditing careers in a global business context. The 30-credit hour program is designed for students with a background in accounting and requires either an undergraduate degree in accounting or a minor in accounting. Through small class sizes, faculty serve as dedicated mentors and provide student placement. The curriculum focuses on accounting, auditing, taxation, and business forensics with an emphasis on ethical business practices. The degree can be pursued full time for one-year completion or part time for completion in five semesters. Fifteen credit hours in advanced accounting courses are required as well as 15 credit hours of electives. Students may benefit from a wide variety of funding opportunities including graduate teaching assistantships, on-campus employment, and research opportunities. The state-of-the-art campus holds seven different libraries, 22 research centers, and up-to-date laboratories with specialized equipment to meet the academic and research needs of its students.

Additional Resources

Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Washington DC

Washington DC Accounting Associations

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements to become an accountant in Washington DC?

To become a Washington DC CPA, you will need at least 150 semester hours of education with coursework requirements in accounting. You will also need to accumulate 2,000 hours of supervised experience and pass the Uniform CPA Examination before being eligible for your CPA license.

How much do accountants in Washington DC typically make?

Accountants in Washington DC earn an average annual salary of $98,130, according to the BLS.11 This is higher than the national annual average of $78,820.10

How long does it take to become an accountant in Washington DC?

To become a certified public accountant (CPA) in Washington DC, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree, which typically takes four years of full-time study. Since bachelor’s degrees comprise at least 120 credit hours, an additional 30 hours of study will need to be completed to meet Washington DC’s 150-hour requirement. This could take around a year depending on the method you choose. In addition, one year of supervised experience is required, during which time you will likely study for and take the CPA exam. From the start of your post-secondary education, becoming a CPA in Washington DC will probably take around six years of full-time study and experience.

What are the CPE requirements for accountants in Washington DC?

Licensed CPAs in Washington DC must complete a minimum of 80 hours of CPE every two years, including at least four hours of professional ethics instruction.

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/documents/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 Occupational Employment and Wages, Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2019 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Washington DC: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_dc.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