In order to ensure that registered accountants and auditors (RAAs) discharge their functions in the public interest, the RAA profession, through its governing bodies, should establish, maintain and ensure compliance with among other things an identified set of educational requirements. The research objective is twofold: Firstly, to provide a normative description of pre-qualification professional education and, secondly, to evaluate the extent to which the current pre-qualification education process applicable to RAAs in South Africa is normatively justifiable. A study of the literature on general professional education and on education in the field of accountancy facilitated the achievement of the first objective, while the second objective was addressed by means of a comparative analysis of the basic prequalification educational requirements applicable to prospective RAAs and the normative description of professional education presented. The current educational process permits latitude for factors and practices that are not wholly justifiable within a normative definition of professional education. The lack of normative justification for several aspects of the system will impede the achievement of sound educational objectives.