Increasing Diversity in the Accounting Profession Pipeline

July 2023

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The report analyzed responses from 1,800+ students to assess openness to an accounting career.

The 150 hour rule is one of the most significant barriers to pursuing a degree in accounting.

Students that do go on to graduate and have a career in accounting, particularly at a public accounting firm, report high job satisfaction overall.

The accounting profession continues to struggle to recruit students while simultaneously losing an unprecedented number of CPAs to retirement. Additionally, the profession faces a challenge in attracting diverse talent. It has never been more critical to attract new talent to the accounting profession.

As part of efforts to help solve this challenge, new research commissioned by the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) and conducted by Edge Research seeks to dive deeper in understanding students’ perceptions of and experiences with accounting in order to develop a clearer understanding of what can be done to further diversify the accounting talent pool.

Edge Research conducted qualitative and quantitative research in two phases and heard from more than 1,800 students and recent graduates between October 2022 and May 2023 to help gain insight into

  • Students’ and accounting graduates’ perspectives of the accounting profession.
  • Why business students do or do not choose accounting as their major.
  • Why accounting graduates do or do not pursue CPA licensure.

The research identified the most significant reasons for not choosing accounting included a lack of interest or passion for the major, higher starting salaries in other majors and students not wanting to pursue the 150 credit hours required for licensure. The 150 credit hour requirement was more pronounced for Black and Hispanic accounting majors. The report also found the CPA license is highly regarded by both accounting students and graduates, and while recent graduates reported there is room for improvement when it comes to their overall work satisfaction, those in public accounting firms and those with the CPA license are most satisfied.

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