Accounting degrees have specific requirements because the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) sets guidelines for college credits that you must earn in accounting education before acquiring a license.

Bachelor's degree

Bachelor's degrees with a concentration in accounting usually fall under one of three designations: Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Business Administration. Each of these designations is acceptable for an accounting degree. Most bachelor's degrees provide students with a mix of accounting and business courses, giving a well-rounded education that covers several aspects of the business world.

Undergraduate Course Work

A bachelor's degree in accounting usually carries a minimum of 120 credit hours earned through a four-year pre-determined course system. Accounting degrees must have between 54 and 60 hours of core accounting classes. Eighteen to 21 of these credits may be elective courses in the accounting or business field. Students must earn a minimum grade of C- for each course. Otherwise, the course must be repeated.

Master's degree

Master's degrees allow accounting graduates to select a specific concentration or remain in the general accounting degree program. Taxation, cost and professional specializations are offered, giving students the ability to focus on their future career goals. Master's degrees have designations of Master of Science, Master of Arts and Master of Accountancy. Each designation carries similar bases in accounting courses. Some specialization may require more courses than others to earn the degree.

Graduate Course Work

The minimum number of credits in a master's degree is 30. Of those credits, 21 must be related to advanced accounting studies. Specialized master's degrees may require 64 credits for completion, with the extra coursework relating to the specialization, such as tax or professional accounting. Master's degrees often require a lot of writing, allowing students to develop their theoretical base in accounting and defend their position about certain accounting issues.

CPA Requirements

More than 40 states require individuals sitting for the Certified Public Accounting exam to have a minimum of 150 credit hours earned in college coursework. Most students earn bachelor's and master's degrees to fill this requirement. State accountancy boards ensure that the minimum number of core accounting courses were earned in each degree before the exam.