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CPA vs MBA: Why Not Both?

Struggling to decide between a CPA vs MBA? From enhanced business knowledge to accessing top careers at EY—find out the benefits of studying a CPA and MBA dual degree

Becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) doesn’t always mean the end to your business school journey. There are always opportunities to boost your skill set and enhance your knowledge of the accounting sphere and beyond. 

One of the ways that CPA graduates expand their knowledge is by adding on customizable MBA courses to their qualification. Pairing specialist accounting knowledge with fundamental business and managerial skills is likely to lead to a wide array of careers.

If you’re wondering whether to join a CPA vs MBA, we explore the benefits of studying both.

CPA vs MBA—what is it?

As a standalone professional qualification, a CPA shapes students in Canada into accounting professionals who work across areas such as financial accounting, finances and taxation, and assurance. 

Students who gain a Graduate Diploma in Chartered Professional Accountancy from Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business in Montreal can then opt to take MBA courses through the school’s CPA-to-MBA pathway.

With transferred credits from the CPA, John Molson CPA grads can fast-track their MBA degree, taking a mix of core courses in areas other than accounting and electives. Students can choose whether to study the CPA-to-MBA pathway on a part-time or full-time basis.

“The pathway particularly suits CPA graduates who are inspired to fast-track and pursue careers outside of their traditional professional accounting experiences,” says Li Yao (pictured), MBA program director at John Molson.

CPA vs MBA—why study both?

Studying for a CPA qualification is a huge achievement by itself but there is still room to push this accounting and business knowledge even further.

One John Molson CPA grad who was looking to challenge herself is Victoria Mili (pictured). Victoria joined the CPA-to-MBA pathway two years after completing the CPA as she wanted to expand her generalist knowledge of the business sphere.

“After I had finished the CPA, I just had an urge to go back to business school,” she says.

The fact that she could study the pathway in her spare time, enrolling on courses in the evening, meant that she could carry on progressing in her former career as a real estate investment analyst at a construction firm.

What you’ll learn in a CPA vs MBA pathway

Learning by doing is often one of the most useful ways of absorbing knowledge. 

To help students bridge the gap between their deep knowledge of the accounting sphere and the more general knowledge of the business world, the John Molson MBA and CPA pathway emphasizes experiential learning.

“A case-based curriculum helps students to apply their knowledge in real-world problems,” says Li Yao.

Aside from the core courses that help CPA grads understand management, leadership, and strategy principles, CPA-to-MBA pathway students can study electives such as ‘Small Business Consulting Bureau’ and ‘Community Service Initiatives’. These hands-on electives enable students to work with non-profit organizations, social institutions, and small businesses.

For Victoria, being able to complement her CPA knowledge of tax, audit, and financial auditing with more general MBA courses and electives has helped her on the path to real estate consulting.

She customized her learning by choosing MBA courses, such as management, marketing, and finance, that would help her branch out into this new field. 

“With every MBA course, you’re working in groups on marketing plans or management plans—you get to work with so many different people,” she says.

CPA vs MBA job prospects

With a dual designated CPA MBA degree, grads will be able to enter an array of careers.

“Students can work in various leadership positions in large corporations, public sectors, or small businesses. Getting into the C-suite becomes a very reachable goal,” says Li Yao.

Grads might also look to careers in management consulting or advisory services, helping clients grow their organizations, reposition their markets, or streamline their operation.

“A CPA MBA dual degree grad is uniquely equipped to tackle challenges in complex mergers and acquisition deals where a combination of knowledge in accounting, finance, strategy, and management is expected,” says Li Yao.

Victoria has used her blended knowledge of accounting and business to grow her career as a manager in the transaction real estate advisory team at consulting firm EY. 

On the side, she’s also completed her real estate license and plans to start selling real estate.

“Having the MBA and CPA dual degree makes you into such a well-rounded individual. On the CPA side, the level of training you receive helps to sharpen your analytical skills. While on the MBA side, thinking about business issues from a case perspective strengthens your ability to adapt to any issue,” she says.

When considering whether to study a CPA vs MBA, think about whether you’re looking to stick within the accounting sphere or whether you want to branch out into general management roles in the future.

Victoria believes that studying both the CPA and MBA was the right decision for her.

“I wouldn’t be where I am in my career now without the dual degree,” she says.

Student Reviews

Concordia University: John Molson School of Business




On Campus

Educational advancement

My time at Concordia College has been set apart by huge self-awareness. The steady instructors and staff have assisted me with fostering my abilities and information. The college offers a scope of administrations and extracurricular exercises, giving various open doors to understudies to reach out. In general, my involvement with Concordia has been positive and improving.




On Campus

My growth

"My time at Concordia University has been marked by significant personal growth. The supportive teachers and staff have helped me to develop my skills and knowledge. The university offers a range of services and extracurricular activities, providing numerous opportunities for students to get involved. Overall, my experience at Concordia has been positive and enriching.




On Campus

Communications and Culture Studies

I am currently enrolled in my first year in the Communication and Culture studies program. I have met so many incredible people and have already acquired skills that I will serve me in my professional career. The courses are dynamic, engaging and intellectually stimulating. I am happy to be a student at this university and look forward to the next 2 years here!




On Campus

Significant advancements

Having attended Concordia University, I can confidently state that I have seen significant advancements in my skills. The faculty and staff demonstrate great thoughtfulness and provide effective support. Additionally, the university offers an abundance of student clubs and services.




On Campus

Master of Quality Systems Engineering

I completed my Master's in Quality Systems Engineering at Concordia University, where I gained a comprehensive understanding of quality management principles and methodologies. The program provided a mix of theoretical knowledge and practical applications, including coursework in statistical process control, Six Sigma, and Lean principles. I engaged in hands-on projects addressing real-world quality challenges, collaborated with experienced faculty, and conducted independent research. This experience has equipped me with the skills and expertise needed to contribute effectively to organizations seeking to enhance their quality control processes and achieve operational excellence.

Amber Lee



On Campus


The Communication program at Concordia University will prepare you for the future. The program is divided in two blocks: one more theoretical, from which you learn the concept of communications through the perspective of philosophy, history and social studies; another completely hands-on in which you learn how to produce media choosing from three streams; sound, moving images, intermedia. What I love about the communication program at Concordia is that the teachers are clever, up to date, and exited about putting the future in the hands of students. Not only there is so much to learn in the communication program, but there are also so many opportunities!




On Campus

Concordia is best

Concordia university is one of the top listed universities not just in Canada but worldwide. The most amazing thing about this university is it is a standalone English speaking university in Montreal that allows non francophone students to enrol and study efficiently. My program is beautifully designed with access to high quality classrooms and faculty members that are available every time to attend your queries. The huge campus of the University including the library allows students to indulge in group work and research programs. The administration staff is super supportive and polite in their conversations. I have had the most amazing experience studying at Concordia so far.




On Campus

Entrepreneurship and Marketing

I had the privilege of being a part of Ryerson University's Entrepreneurship and Marketing program, and it was an outstanding experience. The program's curriculum was well-designed, providing a perfect balance of theoretical knowledge and hands-on practical application. The faculty members were highly knowledgeable and supportive, creating an engaging learning environment. The program's emphasis on industry connections and experiential learning opened doors to valuable internships and co-op opportunities. The resources and facilities dedicated to the program were top-notch, allowing me to explore my passion and excel in my studies. I am grateful for the real-world skills and industry connections I gained through the program. Ryerson University's Entrepreneurship and Marketing truly prepared me for a successful career in the business world. I highly recommend this program to anyone looking for a transformative educational experience.





Integrated Student Life

Concordia University has done a fantastic job at providing on-campus activities and workshops for students to feel connected and less lonely in stressful times. My program, Human Relations highlights this perfectly as a human relations student to be able to see the effects these workshops have on our beings and our mental and physical health as well. The student Life at Concordia has allowed our school to feel more like a community than a school.




On Campus

Study review

As a graduate student in the doctoral program in chemical engineering at Concordia University, I would rate the program as highly commendable. Although, the academic experience has been rigorous, challenging, and intellectually stimulating, providing a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of chemical engineering principles. However, my ongoing program has been equally rewarding and has equipped me with the skills and knowledge needed for a successful career in academia and industry.




On Campus


In general, I love my university. It's a true representation of diversity, with students from all around the world. The system is incredibly organized, with everything functioning seamlessly, from the structure to the services.




On Campus

Great range of classes - Political Science program

- I would definitely recommend this university. Concordia offers a great range of various classes for Political Science program. Offered courses are interesting and well-taught. - My campus is located in downtown, and I have no problem to drive there and park, as university offers two big parkings for students - Teachers are nice and comprehensive. If students obtain a bad grade, there is always a possibility to discuss and do something with that - University has an amazing student life. There are various help-centers and crews who are always willing to help students