Masters in Accounting: An Alternative (And Quicker) Pathway to Canadian CPA [Part 1]

We all know that the CPA Canada Professional Education Program (CPA PEP) is a long, rigorous, and often taxing journey (pardon the pun). PEP often takes anywhere from 1.5 to 2 years to complete, with several grueling exams. When all six PEP modules are complete, you become qualified to write the Common Final Examination (CFE), thus completing the educational component of the CPA Canada designation.

Now, what if I told you, instead of 1.5 to 2 years, you can achieve all of PEP’s glory and fast-track to the CFE, in merely 8 months? AND earn a Masters in Accountancy (MAcc) degree from a reputed institution along the way? Sounds nice doesn’t it?

Well, there are pros and cons to both pathways, but it’s key that you know both of your options.

MAcc Pathway to CPA

The regular CPA PEP pathway is covered in one of our articles, so let’s focus on the MAcc pathway. The MAcc is a type of program offered by select post-secondary institutions (PSIs) in Canada and, more importantly, it’s accredited by CPA Canada. This means MAcc can give you part or all of the CPA PEP courses. Not only do these accredited programs provide an alternative means to achieve completion of PEP modules, but they also provide a graduate diploma or a Master’s degree upon completion.

These programs are commonly offered in-person/in-class, so if you’re a candidates who doesn’t fancy online coursework (which is the mantra of CPA PEP), MAcc is a good fit for you. Here’s a list of all the accredited programs in Canada by province, which I’ve also put in the screenshot below.

As you can see, not all accredited programs fast-track to the CFE. For example, Brock’s MPAcc program (not MAcc) provides exemption only from CPA PEP’s Core 1 and Core 2 . On the other hand, Brock’s MAcc program, along with Carleton University’s MAcc program, provide exemptions from all six CPA PEP modules, thus fast-track you to the CFE. So make sure whichever program you decide to pursue, you review what exemptions you gain from it. 

Brock’s MAcc Program to CFE

As I have taken Brock’s MAcc program, I will share my thoughts on this option. This program is a continuous, 8 month graduate program that runs from January to September. It consists of 10 courses, 5 each term. Courses include all 4 electives from CPA PEP (yes, you heard me, all four), while CPA PEP only makes you take two electives (either Assurance, Finance, Taxation or Performance Management). It also includes Brock’s own version of Capstone 1 and 2, which is more demanding than CPA PEP’s Capstones 1 and 2.

The level of preparation provided in MAcc program for the CFE is substantial; it essentially over-prepares you. Naturally this contributes to higher chance of success on the CFE. This program can be taken after completing Brock’s BAcc (Bachelors in Accounting undergraduate program), however, you DO NOT need to have an undergraduate program from Brock to qualify for Brock’s MAcc. For example, I completed my Bachelor’s in Accounting from Conestoga College, and was accepted into Brock’s MAcc program. Here you can find more details of Brock’s MAcc and list of courses.

Not all MAcc programs are continuous 8-month programs. Some, such as Carleton’s MAcc, has a similar structure and course breakdown, but it consists of 2 four month terms spread over two summers, with a co-op term in-between if needed. The structure and duration are aspects you should make notes of when conducting research on these alternatives pathways to CFE.

In Part 2 of my blog series, I provide pros/cons to both pathways and my recommendations on which pathway makes sense for each type of candidate, such as working candidate vs full-time student. Check it out here!

Author: Abhimanu Goyal, Successful CFE writer and MAcc