Report: Pool of Accounting Graduates Continues to Shrink in U.S.

The number of students earning post-secondary accounting degrees in the U.S. fell sharply during the 2021-22 academic year, according to a new report from the AICPA.

That report – 2023 Trends: A Report on Accounting Education, the CPA Exam and Public Accounting Firms’ Hiring of Recent Graduates – notes that 47,067 students earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in the 2021-22 school year, down 7.8% from the previous year. The number of students who earned a master’s degree in accounting, meanwhile, fell 6.4% to 18,238. AICPA’s previous Trends report had comparative rates of decline at 2.8% and 8.4%, respectively.

Despite these declines, however, the report also shows optimistic enrollment projections for the coming academic year, with three-quarters of responding university bachelor’s programs and 78% of responding master’s programs projecting enrollment in 2023-24 to be the same or higher as in 2021-22.

“We’re still on a downward trajectory for accounting graduates, although it’s worthwhile to note U.S. university enrollment and earned degrees collectively shrank during this period,” says Jan Taylor, the AICPA’s academic in residence.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • Ninety-one percent of accounting firms responding to the survey expect to hire the same or more new graduates in the next year.
  • Sixty percent of surveyed firms expect to have the same or higher number of CPAs on staff in 2023 compared to 2022.
  • The number of unique CPA Exam candidates declined from 72,271 in 2021 to 67,335 in 2022.


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