What Is a Master’s in Accountancy?

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A master’s in accountancy (M.Acc.) is a graduate professional degree that can prepare students for a range of careers in the accounting field. The program focuses on developing skilled financial practitioners who understand the intricacies of contemporary business and can advise executives in making strategic financial decisions for their companies.

The University of North Dakota’s Master of Accountancy online degree is flexible, which allows working professionals to pursue a degree without interrupting work or personal responsibilities.


Types of Accounting Degrees

A master’s in accountancy can prepare students for a range of careers in the accounting field.

A master’s in accountancy can prepare students for a range of careers in the accounting field.

A master’s of accountancy is generally the highest degree sought by those planning to pursue an accountancy career or become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Potential students should have an undergraduate degree in accounting or a related field. Many applicants also have previous business experience.

But as with most other fields, accounting includes a range of positions that call for varying levels of education and certification. AccountingDegreeToday.com details the options:

  • Certificate or diploma in accounting: An entry-level program that covers the basics of accounting, bookkeeping and payroll accounting. It is designed for people who seek jobs as clerks or bookkeepers.
  • Associate’s in accounting: A two-year program that includes general college requirements that allow students to transfer from a community college to a four-year school. Coursework may include economics, business principles and statistics along with bookkeeping.
  • Bachelor’s in accounting: An undergraduate degree that includes general education classes as well as basic and intermediate accounting coursework, finance, math and statistics. Programs may allow students to choose a specialization. It is also the minimum level required to take the Uniform CPA exam.
  • Master’s in accountancy: Provides the most complete preparation for the CPA exam. The coursework includes advanced accounting methods and accounting theory. Some programs offer specializations as well as instruction in upper-level decision-making. This advanced degree opens doors to management positions at CPA firms or in corporations or government agencies.


Other educational avenues include:

  • MBA with a concentration in accounting: Emphasizes management and advanced accounting and can prepare graduates for leadership positions in business.
  • Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.): A professional degree aimed at those who aspire to administrative roles at the university level, such as dean or chancellor.
  • PhD in accounting: An academic degree for people interested in research or teaching at the college level.


Course Expectations and Goals

Getting into an M.Acc. program generally requires a bachelor’s degree. The degree does not have to be in accounting, though students from other fields may need to complete prerequisites before starting the graduate-level classes, according to AccountingDegreeToday.com. Programs generally focus on three goals:

  • Preparing for the CPA exam: Taking the CPA exam, a difficult test with a pass rate of about 50%, is the logical next step for M.Acc. graduates. Students also need to understand the guidelines governing CPAs in their state and make sure they meet the requirements for licensure.
  • Understanding accounting theory and practical skills used in the field: Graduates should have a thorough understanding of both foundational and advanced accounting concepts and the ability to apply them to day-to-day work in the profession. They also need to be familiar with information technology common to the field as well as the technical aspects of accounting.
  • Being able to use accounting to make business decisions: Perhaps the most crucial skill for graduates is being able to extrapolate the data they derive from accounting into information that company managers and executives can use to make financial decisions.


Careers and Compensation

An M.Acc. degree and a CPA license can open doors to a variety of satisfying and well-paid careers. Options range from local or solo accounting practices to positions in prestigious international accounting firms. In larger operations, CPAs may work in such departments as auditing, taxes or management consulting.

CPAs are also in high demand in a diverse array of businesses and industries as well as in government agencies. Specializations can include financial accounting and reporting, management accounting, and treasury/cash management, according to the American Institute of CPAs, a member organization for accountants.

Salaries can vary widely. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts the median pay for accountants and auditors at $69,350 per year. No salary breakdown specifically for CPAs was available. Sources within the industry note that experience level, choice of industry and company size can affect salary and compensation.

The Journal of Accountancy puts the average CPA salary, not including bonuses, at $119,000. Those new in the field can expect to make about $66,000, the article said, while CPAs with 20 or more years of experience average about $152,000 a year.

The employment outlook is positive. The BLS projects a 10% growth rate between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than average for other occupations.


University of North Dakota’s Master’s in Accountancy Online Program

Master’s in accountancy programs can prepare students to take the CPA exam and manage the financial complexities of modern corporations and government agencies. Earning a master’s in accountancy online offers students the flexibility to balance their studies with career and personal responsibilities.

UND’s program offers two options: a track that caters to career changes and does not require an undergraduate degree in accounting, and one intended for accountants. Both include a GMAT waiver.

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 Master of Accountancy website.




Types of accounting degrees: Accounting Degree Today

Course expectations: Accounting Degree Today

Careers and compensation: AICPA.org

Salaries: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary variation: Journal of Accountancy