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Accounting Schools in Washington

This guide to accounting schools in Washington provides key information to help you decide on the right school at which to pursue your master’s degree in accounting. On this page, you will find information on the licensure requirements for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), Washington accountant salary and job outlook, and a comparison of graduate-level accounting programs in the state. You will also find profiles of select traditional and online programs and information about well-known accounting firms and organizations in Washington.

Quick Facts

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

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

Steps to Become a CPA in Washington

The Washington Board of Accountancy (the Board) oversees the process for becoming a CPA in the state. There are seven main steps to complete in order to obtain a CPA license in Washington.

  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. Complete the Washington State Ethics & Regulations course.
  5. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
  6. Apply for a license.
  7. Receive a license.

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

CPA candidates in Washington State must first complete 150 semester hours of education that include the award of a bachelor’s degree or higher with either a major or a concentration in accounting. The Board defines a major or concentration in accounting as a program with at least 24 semester hours in accounting subjects, 15 semester hours of which must be at the upper or graduate level, and 24 semester hours in business administration subjects.

2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.

The Board requires prospective licensees to acquire at least one year of experience totaling 2,000 work hours. Candidates may gain experience through full- or part-time work in public accounting, industry, or government. In some cases, experience in academia may qualify. Candidates may gain experience under one or more employers in both paid and unpaid positions. All work counted towards the experience requirement must be verified by a licensed CPA and utilize the candidate’s business, accounting, and auditing skills.

3. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.

As part of the Washington State ethics requirements, prospective CPAs must complete the AICPA Professional Ethics course with a score of at least 90%. Information about the course can be found on the Board’s website. Candidates must submit verification of a passing grade with their CPA license application.

4. Complete the Washington State Ethics & Regulations course.

In addition to the AICPA exam, Washington CPA candidates must pass the four-hour self-study course, Washington State Ethics & Regulations for CPA Applicants, and accompanying exam with a score of 90% or higher. Candidates must contact the Board for a username and password to access the exam. More information about the process can be found on the Board’s website.

5. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

Candidates who have completed at least 150 semester hours of college and either have or are within 120 days of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in accounting may take the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Uniform CPA Exam, which is a licensure requirement in all 50 states. The Washington Board uses CPA Exam Services (CPAES) to administer the test. Candidates may submit their exam application on the CPAES website. All four sections of the exam must be passed with a score of 75 or higher within an 18-month rolling period to qualify for a license.

6. Apply for a license.

The Board has implemented an online license application process. Once all licensing requirements have been met, candidates must create a user account and submit all documentation and an application for a license to the Board’s online services page.

7. Receive a license.

Upon submission of the application, candidates will receive an automated email informing them that their application has been received. After that point, the Board usually takes one to two weeks to process the license application. Once approved, candidates will receive an email informing them of approval and containing the license number. Candidates may begin practicing as soon as they appear on the Board’s license verification page. Within 30 days of licensure, the CPA will receive a letter from the Board explaining their responsibilities along with a wall certificate.

CPA License Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Licensed Washington CPAs must complete 120 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) for each three-year license renewal period with a minimum of 20 hours of CPE per year. CPE must include a Board-approved course in ethics and regulations and no more than 60 hours of non-technical courses. You can find additional information on the Board’s website.

Washington CPA Salary and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that about 32,280 accountants and auditors work in Washington.10 The average yearly salary for accountants and auditors in Washington is $81,970, 10 The Seattle metropolitan area has the highest employment for accountants in the state, with 22,640 accountants and auditors earning an average of $86,420 per year.10 Through 2028, Washington is projected to grow its accountant and auditor jobs by 14.8%, which is over double the national projection of 6.4%.11 This projected growth amounts to an average of 4,870 accountant and auditor job openings in Washington per year, including replacements.11

Washington CPA Salary by Metro Area

Metro AreaNumber Employed10Average Annual Salary10
Bellingham820$67,420
Bremerton-Silverdale500$76,550
Kennewick-Richland630$78,460
Olympia-Tumwater810$70,560
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue22,640$86,420
Spokane-Spokane Valley2,360$72,350
Yakima470$74,020

Top-Ranked Schools with Master’s in Accounting Programs in Washington

Forbes’ Best Business Schools* 2019

  • University of Washington (#23)

*With master’s in accounting programs.

Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs 2019

  • University of Washington (#17)

US News & World Report’s Best MBA Accounting Programs 2021

  • Gonzaga University (#25 tie)
  • Seattle University (#25 tie)
  • University of Washington (#25 tie)

Washington Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison

Below we have compiled a table including information about all not-for-profit Washington 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 Rate12Grad Rate1Online Options?Tuition per Credit
Central Washington UniversityAACSB66.7%Master of Professional Accountancy (MPA)N.Av.58.%Yes$450
City University of SeattleACBSPN.Av.MBA-Public Accounting;
MBA-Management Accounting
N.Av.33%Yes$695
Eastern Washington UniversityAACSBN.Av.Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcc);
MBA-Accounting;
MBA/Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcc)
N.Av.54%Yes$338
Gonzaga UniversityAACSB87.5%Master of Accountancy (MAcc);
MS-Taxation
N.Av.85%$990
Saint Martin’s UniversityAACSBN.Av.Master of Accountancy (MAcc);
MBA-Accounting
N.Av.67%$1,320
Seattle UniversityAACSB47.6%Master of Professional Accounting (MPAC);
Professional MBA/Master of Professional Accounting (MPAC)
N.Av.74%$715
University of Washington-Bothell CampusAACSBN.Av.MS-AccountingN.Av.69%$490
University of Washington-Seattle CampusAACSB68.6%Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcc);
MS-Taxation;
36%84%$458
University of Washington-Tacoma CampusAACSBN.Av.Master of Accounting (MAcc)N.Av.56.%$440
Washington State UniversityAACSB61.1%Master of Accounting (MAcc)N.Av.60%$617
Western Washington UniversityAACSB80.0%Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcc)N.Av.68%$346

  • — indicates none.
  • N.Av. indicates no data available.

Select Schools in Washington with Master’s in Accounting Programs

Traditional Programs

Seattle University

The Albers School of Business and Economics at Seattle University (Seattle U) offers a 45-credit hour Master of Professional Accounting (MPAC) that can be completed in as little as four quarters. The program offers tracks for both those with an undergraduate degree in accounting and those with other undergraduate degrees. Students without an undergraduate degree in accounting can complete the part-time track in seven semesters after completing all prerequisites. The program offers coursework to prepare students for a variety of professional exams, including the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) exam, the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) exam, and the CPA exam. Classes include Corporate Financial Management; Not-for-Profit and Governmental Accounting; Risk Advisory and Assurance; and Business Risk Data Analytics. Students will also have the opportunity to pursue the Risk Advisory and Assurance Certificate. A Service Practicum course is available in which students will work with the United Way of King County (UWKC) to assist UWKC clients in completing their tax returns. Seattle U also offers a dual Professional MBA-MPAC degree totaling 82 credit hours.

University of Washington

The University of Washington’s Michael G. Foster School of Business offers a 48-credit Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcc) program that builds on existing accounting skills, allowing students to graduate in as little as nine months. The MPAcc program is full-time and qualifies students to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam while preparing them for careers and leadership in professional accounting. Typical courses taken for the degree include Advanced Cases in Assurance Services, Advanced Financial Statement Analysis, Business Ethics for Accountants, and Communications in Professional Accounting. Students may also elect to undertake an independent research project. The program is recommended for students with an undergraduate degree in accounting; applicants without previous accounting coursework must take 24 semester hours of accounting and 24 semester hours of business or economics coursework before beginning the program. Students of the MPAcc program will have access to the EY Center for Career Advancement, which offers one-on-one career counseling, job plan development, and networking events. Past graduates of the MPAcc program have been employed as accountants, financial analysts, and CFOs.

Washington State University

The Carson College of Business at Washington State University (WSU) offers a 32-credit hour Master of Accounting (MAcc) degree that focuses on professional development. Upon graduation, students are equipped to pursue careers in finance, government, business, nonprofits, and public practice, and are also qualified to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. WSU’s MAcc curriculum has only two required courses, allowing students to tailor the rest of the coursework to their unique career goals and interests. Courses offered include Contemporary Accounting Cases and Problems; Advanced Taxation; Special Topics in Accounting; and Accounting Theory. Students will finish the program with a professional research course that acts as their final exam. Applicants for the MAcc program must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year institution and a GPA of 3.0. Students will also be able to connect with potential employers in the Seattle area, including Boeing, Neal Analytics, and McKinsey Research.

Online and Hybrid Programs

Central Washington University

Central Washington University (CWU) offers a Master of Professional Accounting (MPA) through its College of Business with all courses available online. The MPA offers three specializations: Taxation, Financial Analysis, and Information Systems. The program consists of 45 quarter hours with coursework split into three sections: an accounting core, applied courses, and elective courses. The accounting core courses focus on the basic skills and theory of accounting, with applied courses putting those skills and theory to use as well as electives providing students with more focused coursework. Required courses include Advanced Accounting, seminars in accounting and auditing, and CPA review courses. Electives cover topics such as advanced taxation, financial analytics, and business law. CWU’s MPA offers the necessary coursework to sit for either the Uniform CPA Exam or the Enrolled Agent Exam with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). An undergraduate degree in accounting is not necessary for admission, but applicants must meet the prerequisite coursework requirements. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher to graduate. CWU also offers two related graduate certificates in professional accounting and professional tax practice.

City University of Seattle

City University of Seattle (City U) offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) that can be completed partially or entirely online and offers students two concentrations in accounting, Public Accounting and Management Accounting. Both programs require at least 48 credit hours to complete with 36 credit hours of core classes and 12 credit hours towards the chosen emphasis. Students taking the Public Accounting emphasis will take courses focusing on the Uniform CPA Exam, such as Financial Accounting and Reporting; Regulation; and Auditing and Attestation. Students seeking the Managerial Accounting emphasis will take courses such as Cybersecurity Overview, Auditing Techniques, and Applied Management Accounting Concepts. Both emphases prepare students for the Uniform CPA Exam. An undergraduate degree in accounting is not required to pursue either accounting emphasis, nor is the GMAT required for entry. Graduates will be prepared for management and leadership roles such as business analyst, marketing director, HR director, and CEO/COO roles.

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University (EWU) offers a Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcc) that can be completed entirely online. EWU’s 36-credit hour program can be completed in as little as seven months. The online MPAcc program is designed to prepare students for careers in a variety of accounting fields, offering in-depth study into fields such as accounting law, taxation, and auditing. Students who complete the program will be eligible to take the Uniform CPA Exam. EWU’s MPAcc coursework consists of 12 credit hours of core classes and 24 credit hours of electives. Required classes include Advanced Accounting Law, Advanced Auditing, and Advanced Tax with electives such as Sustainability Accounting and Forensic Accounting. Applicants to the program must have an undergraduate degree; those without a bachelor’s degree in accounting will need to meet the prerequisite coursework before beginning the program. Students who are interested in a business focus may be interested in the MBA in Accounting or the MBA/MPAcc dual degree offered by EWU.

Additional Resources

Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Washington

  • BDO: With offices in Seattle and Spokane, BDO offers assurance, tax and business advisory services.
  • Hutchinson & Walter, CPAs: Offers tax preparation and consulting services to clients in the Puget Sound area.
  • Berntson Porter & Company PLLC: One of the largest firms in the Puget Sound area, Bernston Porter offers a wide array of accounting services to clients through the Pacific Northwest.

Accounting Associations in Washington

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a CPA in Washington?

To become a CPA in Washington, you must complete at least 150 semester hours of college coursework, including a bachelor’s degree, with an accounting concentration. You must also complete 2,000 hours of work experience that is certified by a licensed CPA. You must also take two courses, the AICPA Professional Ethics course and the Washington State Ethics and Regulations course. Along with the exams for those two courses, you must pass the Uniform CPA Exam with a score of 75. Once all of these requirements have been met, you must submit your application for licensure to the Board.

How much does a CPA make in Washington?

According to the BLS, the average salary for accounting and auditing professionals in the state is $81,970 per year.10 The Seattle metropolitan area reports the highest annual salary for accountants in the state, at an average of $86,420.10

How do you maintain a CPA license in Washington?

CPAs in Washington must complete a minimum of 120 hours of CPE for every three-year period, with at least 20 hours of CPE a year. The CPE cannot include more than 60 hours of non-technical courses and must include a Board-approved ethics and regulations course.

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 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, Washington: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wa.htm
11. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.com/projections/longterm
12. US News & World Report Best Business Schools 2021: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools