Jul 13, 2024  
2022-2023 Academic Catalog 
2022-2023 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Accountancy, MS

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The Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) program, offered by the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business , prepares students for careers in public and corporate accounting. Students develop and apply an analytics-oriented mindset to audit, tax, advisory and managerial scenarios. Course work is structured to combine academic learning and accounting internship experience in a well-rounded preparation for careers in professional accounting. The program balances technical study and preparation for the CPA exam with business soft skills needed for recruitment and a career in accounting. The MSA is a full-time, 9-month, daytime program, although students with flexible employers may be able to study part-time. The 30-unit program, taught online and on the SJSU campus, admits both accounting and non-accounting undergraduate majors in a competitive process. Non-accounting undergraduate students have the opportunity to prepare for the program in a 15-unit summer certificate program preceding Fall enrollment in the MSA. 

For more information, see the Lucas Graduate School of Business website.

Purpose of the MSA Program

The MSA program prepares students for a career in public or corporate accounting by providing them with a strong foundation for both public accounting certification (CPA) and career advancement.

Educational Objectives

Students with an MSA degree should understand the accounting principles and procedures involved in measuring, recording, summarizing, and reporting financial and non-financial data for business organizations; taxation concepts; auditing and control procedures; and the ethical and legal challenges in an accounting career. They should communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, evaluate information technology, and demonstrate analytical proficiency.

Benefits of the MSA

The program is designed for people with undergraduate degrees in accounting who want to further their studies in accounting while acquiring an additional 30 units needed for CPA licensure. It also allows liberal arts/sciences/business undergraduates who are interested in changing careers an entrance into the accounting profession. The course work and optional internship provide opportunities to build a framework for a successful and rewarding career in public or corporate accounting.

Admissions Requirements

University Admissions

Applicants must submit a complete graduate application by applying through the CSU Cal State Apply system and meet all the university admission requirements . Applicants apply separately to the Lucas Graduate School of Business to obtain admission into the MSA program.

Applicants from countries in which the native language is not English must achieve a minimum English-language proficiency test score as indicated on the Graduate Program Test Requirements webpage at GAPE.

Requirements for Admission to Classified Standing

To be fully accepted into the MSA in classified standing, an applicant must have:

  • A four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in the United States or from a recognized institution if the degree was earned outside of the United States.
  • A preferred GPA of 3.0 or better (on a 4.0 scale) in the last 60 semester units or 90 quarter units of course work (Professional Development and Certificate Program course work cannot be included in this calculation);
  • A Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) exam. Scores at the 50th percentile in both the quantitative and verbal sections of the exam are preferred. SJSU students are waived from the GMAT/GRE requirement; and
  • Taken an English proficiency exam if the applicant graduated from a post-secondary institution in a country where English is not the principal language. Accepted exams include the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) with a preferred score of 90, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a preferred score of 7.5, and the Pearson Test of English (PTE) with a preferred score of 75.

In addition, a personal interview may be conducted for each applicant.

Requirements for Admission to Conditionally Classified Standing

If not accepted into classified standing, the applicant may qualify for conditionally classified status. Ambitious, highly motivated applicants with undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, sciences, or business will need to complete the intensive Certificate in Accounting Fundamentals program during the summer semester before matriculation into the MSA degree program. The individual admission letter will explain the required terms and conditions for attaining Classified standing.

Program of Study Requirements

To receive the Master of Science in Accountancy, students must complete 30 semester units of prescribed course work. Specific program policies include the following:


The curriculum requires completion of two lower-division and five upper-division prerequisite courses (3 semester hours or equivalent) within the past five years with an average grade in the courses of “B” (3.0)or better prior to the start of the program. All upper-division prerequisites must be completed at an accredited four-year university in the U.S. The seven prerequisite courses are:

  1. Introductory Financial Accounting (lower-division course, gateway to upper-division courses 2-6)
  2. Intermediate Financial Accounting I
  3. Intermediate Financial Accounting II
  4. Accounting Information Systems
  5. Management Accounting and Control Systems
  6. Taxation of Individuals and Flow-Through Entities
  7. Statistics (lower division course)

Students may be conditionally admitted into the program pending completion of the prerequisite courses. Students must, at a minimum, submit completion and/or verification of enrollment in Introductory Financial Accounting and Statistics by the published GAPE document submission deadline. One way to fulfill the rest of the prerequisites is to enroll in the Certificate in Accounting Fundamentals at SJSU to complete courses 2-6 with an average of B in the summer preceding Fall enrollment in the MSA program.

Course Requirements

The 30 semester units of coursework include three core courses (9 units) required of all students, two core courses (6 units) from a list of designated topics, a culminating experience course (3 units), and four elective MSA courses (12 units). Electives may be taken from offerings in the MST and/or MBA programs with approval from the MSA director.


The courses in the MSA program are designed to prepare students for internships with public accounting firms, governmental agencies, and corporations. From January through March, students may enroll in an internship course, BUS 220K . Students in this course gain practical work experience, participate in firm training programs, and attend roundtable meetings to discuss topics such as professional ethics, working in the professional environment, communication effectiveness, marketing professional services, and planning for professional growth.

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement

The University requires that all graduate students complete the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)  as a condition for advancement to candidacy. For graduate courses that meet the GWAR, please refer to the Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations website at www.sjsu.edu/gape

Culminating Experience

Plan B (Project)

All students must complete a comprehensive project integrating business functional and interdisciplinary areas. The MSA culminating experience is incorporated into BUS 220N - Management of Organizations and Projects  and into BUS 220A - Financial Statement Analysis for Accountants . An individual written project report is required and may take the form of a field study, business plan, research project, or business simulation.

Maintenance of 3.0 GPA

Students must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or better on all graduate-level coursework. Students who receive grades of C-, D, F, or U in any business graduate course must repeat that course to achieve a grade of C or better.

Other University Requirements

Students must complete all residency, curriculum, unit, GPA, and culminating experience requirements as outlined in the Graduation Requirements  section of the Graduate Policies and Procedures . Students must comply with all other graduate requirements contained in this catalog.

Prerequisite Courses

Any of the prerequisite courses may be waived through evidence of recent prior equivalency (within the last five years with a grade of “B” or better)

  • Introductory Financial Accounting
  • Intermediate Financial Accounting I
  • Intermediate Financial Accounting II
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Management Accounting and Control Systems
  • Taxation of Individuals and Flow-Through Entities
  • Statistics

Master’s Requirements (30 units)

Required Courses (15 units)

If more than two courses are taken, two fulfill the core course requirements and all others are electives.

Choose two courses:

Choose two of the following courses in consultation with the graduate advisor. If more than two courses are taken, two fulfill the core course requirements and all others are electives.

Electives (12 units)

12 units of elective courses selected in consultation with the graduate advisor.

Culminating Experience (3 units)

Plan B (Project)

Complete one course. If both courses are taken, one is the comprehensive project and the other is an elective.

Total Units Required (30 units)

Elective courses must be planned in consultation with the Graduate Advisor.

The maximum number of upper-division undergraduate units that can be applied toward the master’s degree is 15.

Upon completion of the degree requirements, the student must have achieved minimum candidacy and SJSU Cumulative grade point averages of 3.0 in order to graduate.

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