Can Non-Degree Seeking Students Take Upper-Division or Graduate Accounting Courses?

Written By Staff

There are many reasons someone might return to school to take upper-division or master’s level accounting classes without formally matriculating in a degree program. Some professionals return to school because they find that they need to obtain specialized knowledge to advance their career. Others find that they need additional course work to register for their Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. Whatever the reason, you will be wondering whether you can register for these classes as a non-degree student. The short answer is yes, you will find several options, but finding the right fit will require that you shop around.


Most schools will allow you to take classes as a non-degree student after submitting an official transcript from your bachelor’s program. They will review your grades to see that you successfully passed your undergraduate classes and that you have met the prerequisites necessary for advanced accounting work. Some school have a formal admission process, even for non-degree students. These institutions will require that you had a minimum GPA (often 3.0) and may require that you submit your resume. If you are returning to school and already have your CPA license, you will need to submit a copy of your license during the admissions process.

Course Restrictions

The biggest problem for non-degree seeking students is that they will probably only be allowed to sign up for a class after all other graduate school students register. If you are a non-degree seeking student, this could mean that popular classes are already filled by the time you are allowed to enroll. If this happens, find out if you can override this limit by obtaining special permission from the professor teaching the class. Usually this requires attending the first class with a permission slip and speaking directly to the instructor.

Online and Weekend Classes

If you cannot find a school nearby or simply need more flexibility in terms of choice, you might look for a school that offers classes online. By seeking out an online opportunity, you will be able to search more broadly to find a school whose course selection meets your requirements.

For working professionals, you might also want to explore schools that have a weekend option. Although these classes can be intense, they might be perfect for someone who does not have time to take off during the week.

Financial Aid

It’s important to note that there is no financial aid for a student who is not enrolled in a degree program. This means that you will have to pay for your classes upfront, often no later than the first week of school.

Final Notes

If you are taking these classes to meet eligibility requirements for your CPA, be careful about the classes that you elect to take since your board may have specific requirements about the core content. Checking in advance will help you avoid making costly mistakes.

And finally, if you are looking for just the right class to take, realize that you are not alone. Many accountants take upper-division or master’s classes as a non-degree seeking student. It takes some legwork to find the right school, but if you start your search early you will find plenty of opportunities.