Can you get your 51 CA credits in a year and a half?
If you started, say, an engineering program at one given university, could you switch partway through to a Chartered Accountant prep program instead in the same university's business school, and quickly get all the credits you need to graduate in a mere year and a half?
One of the regular CA 'commentators' on the blogs and forums, sardaukar - who does an excellent public service in opening people's eyes to the "hell years" that await them as CA students, incidentally - did just that, and people wondered how this is even possible.
Since I'm not really into Sudoku, and this is just the sort of "puzzle" I enjoy solving, I'll answer the question for the writer of comment #427.
The funny thing about this exercise is that when you review the list of courses needed - I include links at the end of this article - many courses will count for "3 hours" even though they're full year, or half year. That means you can't divide 51 by 3 and decide that means you have to take 17 full year courses. Neither does it mean you need 17 half credits - you have to review the whole list. In addition, the University of Toronto requires that you take 20 credits in total to graduate, unless you started in 2000, the last year I'm aware of where they allowed you to finish with a three year degree.
Remember that the example we're dealing with involves someone who took electrical engineering - doing a quick edit before hitting "publish", yes I do that, made me realize I missed one assumption on my first run. I left my mistake in the post, but you'll see my correction at the end of the post.
The army of Chinese elementary school students leaving class just before the clock struck 6 p.m. is an image that somehow pops up when thinking back to the Commerce program. Very strange reason given the distinct lack of jumpsuits and long days in the classroom.
Your typical engineer faces a situation where the extra credits to hit 20 are already accounted for - let's take a look at what you need year-by-year, along with comments.
- First year: Economics, Intro Commerce and Math.
An engineer will have math accounted for no problem, and it'll be "hard math", not the "easier" Commerce math course with which you can squeak by, and still end up learning more than you will ever end up actually using. Running tally: 2 full year credits - excluding the math credit I presume you already got prior to deciding to become a CA. I was happy to get into the Commerce program without having to take the "Intro Commerce" full year program. I'm sure it's quite useful and helps give you a "big picture" of what you're getting yourself into, but I managed just fine without having my hand held by the Commerce administration in first year, thank you.
- Second year: For the ECO side, Microeconomics and Stats. For the Commerce side, Financial Accounting, Intermediate Financial Accounting I, Management ("Cost") Accounting and the Legal Environment of Business ("Krupo's other favorite").
- Plus add choice of side salad, fries or baked potato (translation: Financial Markets, Marketing, or Organizational Behaviour)
The "ECO" credits are both full year, the "MGT" credits (they call the course codes "RSM" after the wealthy Mr. Rotman's generous donation to the program, but like hell I'm going with the new taxonomy, I'm a product of the Old School) are all half credits. If I can still add despite being a CA, that's 4.5 more full year credits in total - running tally: 6.5 full year credits. Second year, if you were not rushing, would involve a nearly-full plate of courses in the Commerce program.
Two other fun facts about second year: the "Legal" course, which I loved, was previously a third year course, but for whatever reason they bumped it up earlier in the schedule, perhaps to encourage students to get to it sooner. Macroeconomics, to my dismay, is "strongly encouraged" but not required. That's a pity, and no doubt explains why someone in this stream would no longer be an automatic Economics Major. I find one of the strengths of becoming a CA is the strong background you get in Economics, which is why this development is such a shame.
- Third year: Intermediate Financial Accounting II, Advanced Financial Accounting Topics, Managerial Accounting and Decision Making ("Advanced Cost Accounting"), Auditing I ("Welcome to AuditLand"), and Canadian Income Taxation I ("Personal Tax. Those of you at Big Four firms may never again touch this topic after the UFE unless you leave for a smaller firm or do your own/friends taxes later"). The Finance MGTs: Capital Market Theory and Intro to Corporate Finance
There you go - 3.5 MGT credits plus an ECO of your choice* - total 4.5, running tally 11 full year credits.
A few more observations are in order - shoving the fourth year taxation course into third year is pretty clever, as it makes Rotman's students more competitive when applying for summer jobs with accounting firms, having some formal tax learning under their belts. Good call there. Advanced Financial Accounting is another fourth year course moved up in the queue. Presumably to also get those interns and summer co-ops in a stronger position in their summer jobs, I guess.
Splitting the full year Finance course into two halves was a surprise to me. Perhaps the ICAO's requirements were behind this. If anyone knows I'd be happy to know more behind that split, but nothing shocking there.
*There's that little asterisk popping up like a delightful footnote warning you that we've stumbled upon something that mildly infuriates me more than dropping Macroeconomics from the "required" list, and that's the list of courses you can't take towards your requirement. That "your choice" excludes what looks like the entire list of third and fourth year Economic History courses, it seems. Perhaps one or two snuck through, but my quick review suggests that this is not the case. Maybe this was always the case; the Economic History credit I took perhaps not doubt counted only towards my history minor and economics major, but I consider discouraging Commies from studying the lessons of the past an idiotic path to embark upon.
My friends agreed that the Economic History course we happened to take - Canada's, in case you're curious - was one of the biggest eye-openers throughout university. The amount of intellectual maturity a course like that can bestow upon you is simply amazing - it's one of those courses you hope to experience. The kind that makes you challenge everything you're taught in the other "this is how things work, don't question it and you'll do fine" courses.
If anything, taking something that makes you really think should be made mandatory. Anyway, let's climb off the soapbox and check out what lies ahead.
Let's not even get me started on taking the third year "Business Information Systems" course down from "required" to "strongly recommended." CAs need to be strong on their IT skills. Or at least not laughably deficient. Removing this course from the "required" list is a poor choice, although it definitely brings you a half credit closer to your target of rushing through the courses to get your "51 hour requirement" with a minimum of fuss.
- Fourth Year: Management Control, Auditing II ("Going deeper into Auditland"), Canadian Income Taxation II ("Welcome to the Suck"), Critical Thinking, Analysis and Decision Making ("U of T's UFE Prep course. Please do well here, and can one several of you please then get on the Honour Roll to get us to stop looking bad compared to Laurier?"), and Auditing and Information Systems ("Krupo's favourite")
Six more half credits, equal three full year courses. Running tally: 14 full year credits.
It would be 15, but as I stated above, but we'll assume you already nailed the first math requirement as an engineering student.
Come to think of it, an engineer would probably already have taken a "hard stats" course, so you're down to the need to take 13. Missing "Stats" is the mistake I alluded to at the start of my post - did you catch it? If so, you win five bonus points, now add them to your Hello Kitty scorebook.
Is the 1.5 Year Thunder Run possible?
So can you do it in 1.5 years? Last time I checked, you can take 2 courses per summer term - and possibly 3 with special permission, if they still allow you to apply for that option - and 6 credits per winter.
Let's hold off on the "special beg" and see what we get as a "normal" student: start in "summer one" with 2, take a "full winter" of 6, and "summer two" with another 2. That's 10 credits right there. Then take your last three credits during half a winter term.
Boom, CA credits accounted for in a "long" year and a half.
Definitely doable, albeit at the cost of a couple of your summers: you're ready to graduate since I've assumed your engineering courses gave you math, stats and the other five credits you needed, no doubt including the "science breadth requirement".
In fact, if you could petition to "overload" your schedule and take 3 courses in summer and 7 in the winter term, you could start the process in September and finish it in August the next year - basically one calendar year!
Even hardcore Engies used to killing themselves with long hours of coursework might, however, find that a bit on the ridiculous side. Not that I doubt they could handle the load, but the more realistic argument for "spreading" things out over the extra half year or so is the schedule of "pre-requisite" courses which would conspire to slow down your sprint through the course catalog.
Edit: after I finished writing up this post I saw a follow-up post by Sardaukar explaining that the economics course were done as the "Engineering electives" prior to entering commerce. That reduces the load of courses even further, with the first, second and third year courses off the radar - all you then need is 10 credits, done with two summers and a winter term.
If you're wondering where all this information came from, you just need to search for the ICAO's 51 course credit requirements, or just skip that step and check out my links to the ICAO's webpage for the Rotman Commerce program, which then leads you to the Rotman page itself. There's also a detailed ICAO page for people who don't feel like getting a "Specialist in Accounting" designation, but they'll be one course short of the full 51 credits - that list is here.
The ICAO is quite helpful for everyone in Ontario, mind you - a list of all other schools is also available here if you're attempting this from any other place in the province.
To answer one question I already heard, the secret to this approach is
doing it at the same university. Generally speaking 100% of your
credits are transferable within the same school. When you start jumping
from school to school you encounter limits on the number of "transfer"
credits which are eligible for your degree - some limit you to 5 which
would make the above strategy, which relies on 7 credits, less
Is this approach insane? Well I didn't it, but it's both doable and has been done - I welcome your comments - click here to start leaving them.
If you got all the way to the bottom of this admittedly lengthy post you must be a superfan - so it's worth mentioning to you that I somehow got listed a while ago on the top accounting sites "magazine rack" at Alltop. Thanks, readers, for following along the adventure.