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Learning by numbers: Get the know-how on securing your accounting designation.

Accounting hopefuls can now look forward to their sole Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) designation. And since the recent merge of the accounting entities into the CPA, post-secondary programs have also made the shift in preparing their students for their final certification exams.

Graduate diploma in accounting

Students in the graduate diploma in accounting at Queen's School of Business endure an intensive 13-week program that covers topics in income tax practice, information systems control, business combinations accounting, and audit effectiveness. The end result is the completion of a majority of education required to enter the professional accounting field and successfully secure the CPA designation.

With the graduate diploma, the students are able to bypass the four modules offered by CPA Canada, through its affiliates, and immediately enter the two capstone modules, says David McConomy, assistant professor, secretary to the faculty board, and director for the graduate diploma in accounting program. The students can enter the capstone modules one full year ahead of students who must take the modules. 

Students in the program study from May to July allowing them to immediately continue their graduate education following their undergrad. It also means that when they enter the workforce in September, they will not be forced to follow a rigid education process during their first year of working in the accounting field, explains McConomy, which they would have to do if they were following the professional bodies' administered modules.

With the graduate diploma, McConomy says his students have seen success in acquiring their CPA designation. Qualification as a CPA is the ultimate objective and at Queen's we have enjoyed a pass rate of first-time writes of the final professional exams in excess of 90 per cent for the past nine years. We estimate our five-year rolling average to be about 94.5 per cent.

Master of accounting

Shifting to Western Canada at the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan, the master of professional accounting program equips accounting hopefuls with the knowledge to work in the competitive field.

With the program running over two summers from May to August, students also take part in a research project focusing on financial accounting and reporting, management accounting and control, auditing, professional practice, or taxation, says Travis Rotenburger, program and marketing coordinator of the master's program. In teams of two, students identify problems, create a literature review and research design, and prepare a presentation.

It is an innovative graduate degree program that attracts top-notch accounting students from across Canada and internationally, says Rotenburger. MPAcc provides a proven alternative route for students who are seeking the CPA designation in Canada with a first time pass rate of the UFE exceeding 90 per cent. The program also gives students an opportunity to develop an appreciation for the academic research process and academe as a career choice.