Interest in a career in accounting can come in several different forms. Two of the most popular options are a master’s in professional accountancy program (M.Acc.) or a master’s in business administration (MBA) with an accounting concentration.
When students compare accounting master’s programs, they may realize that their choice ultimately reflects their personal preferences. Those more interested in the number-crunching aspect of accounting and who aspire to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) will most often be interested in enrolling in the M.Acc. program.
Students interested in managing accounting departments, personnel and programs might look into obtaining an MBA with an accounting concentration. The field is less involved with the number-crunching side of accounting and more involved in financial decision-making and organizational dynamics.
Many potential students opt to pursue their master’s degree while continuing to work. MBA and master’s in accountancy online programs, such as the University of North Dakota’s online M.Acc. program, are flexible, which allows professionals to attend school either full- or part-time while taking care of work and personal responsibilities.
MBA in Accounting
Recent MBA graduates with a focus in accounting can expect to concentrate their career aspirations on management positions overseeing teams of CPAs or other accounting professionals.
“MBA accounting programs teach students the skills necessary to hold an upper-management accountant position with the expertise to manage certified accountants, utilize advanced software to track financial records and transactions, and above all, make educated decisions that increase the bottom line,” GradSchools.com explains in “Master’s in Accounting (MACC) vs. MBA in Accounting.”
Topics covered in an accounting MBA program include fundamentals in managerial accounting, cost management, business strategy, and accounting in mergers and acquisitions, according to “What is an MBA in Accounting?” on TopAccountingDegrees.org. Courses are designed to help future managers understand how to use their knowledge of accounting topics to better predict trends and lead a business to success.
Prerequisites for an MBA in accounting program include a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field. The degree can be anything within a broad pool of business topics, from information technology to logistics and accounting. Depending on the program, students may need a GMAT or GRE for admission.
MBA accounting graduates often work as asset managers, costs analysts, controllers, treasury managers, and reporting managers. Other accounting industry placements include payroll services, banks, accounting firms, law firms, and the IRS or other government branches, according to “Online MBA in Accounting” on OnlineMBA.com.
Finally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists management of companies and enterprises (within its “Accountants and Auditors” section) as making a national average salary of just over $72,000. Salaries may vary depending on experience levels and regions of the country.
Master’s in Professional Accountancy
When more mathematically inclined students compare master’s in accounting vs. MBA in accounting degrees, they may see that the former offers a better opportunity for them to build a career on their accounting strengths.
Many M.Acc. graduates go on to become CPAs or CMAs, working as accountants for individual clients or a firm. A number of specializations exist for M.Acc. grads beyond bookkeeping and tax preparation.
Two popular accounting specializations are forensic accounting and auditing. “These concentrations teach students how to inspect financial data for errors, discrepancies, omissions and other inconsistencies that may be tied to financial mismanagement and/or criminal activity” according to “Online Accounting Degree: An Overview” on USNews.com.
Many master’s in accountancy programs are intended for applicants who have an accounting-centered background. The University of North Dakota M.Acc. program, however, offers two options to appeal to a wider range of prospective students. One caters to career-changers and does not require an undergraduate degree in accounting. The other track is designed for accountants seeking an advanced degree and includes a GMAT waiver.
An M.Acc. online program includes curriculum that focuses more on the specific accounting principles associated with individual and corporate finance rather than on the business and management applications of accounting concepts.
Classes typically include taxation in business, business law, advanced financial accounting, accounting systems, audit and assurance services, accounting for governments and nonprofits, accounting ethics, and business intelligence.
In addition to CPA, CMO and CFE certifications available to M.Acc. graduates, other opportunities are available, including certified internal auditor, certified financial services auditor and certified information systems auditor, according to AllBusinessSchools.com’s “Master’s in Accounting: Everything You Need to Know.” Accountants who pursue one or more certifications may expect to work primarily as auditors, checking the work of other accountants for accuracy.
The choice of an accounting graduate degree program should take into consideration an individual’s career aspirations and strengths. Mathematically inclined people who prefer to work individually on complex tasks may be more likely to pursue an M.Acc. Those who prefer to network with other professionals and lead accounting departments may opt for the MBA route.
University of North Dakota’s Master’s in Accountancy Online Program
Choosing a professional accountancy graduate program can affect one’s career success. The University of North Dakota (UND) is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), placing it in the top 5% of schools around the world.
Events such as the recession of 2008 have prompted the business world to hire more highly skilled and well-trained accountancy professionals to exercise vigilance over corporate finances and practices. As a result, professional accountants are highly valued and can expect robust employment opportunities.
UND’s online M.Acc. program immerses students in advanced accounting concepts, contracts, negotiable instruments, ethics, business law, analyses of financial statements, complex transactions and risk assessment. For more information, visit UND’s website.
MACC vs. MBA in Accounting – GradSchools.com
What is an MBA in Accounting? – TopAccountingDegrees.org
Online MBA in Accounting – OnlineMBA.com
Accountants and Auditors – Bureau of Labor Statistics
Online Accounting Degree – USNews.com
Master’s in Accounting – AllBusinessSchools.com