Guide to Master in Accounting Programs
Masters in accounting programs generally focus on preparing students for work in the public sector as well as taking a thorough look at business principles and strategies. In many cases, becoming a Certified Public Accountant or CPA is the next step. Take the first step towards earning your masters in accounting by contacting the schools that provide online programs below.
|MS in Accounting (MSA) MSA: CPA Emphasis MSA: For Professionals MSA: Self-Designed MSA: Management||Walden University – Walden University has several different online Masters degree programs for Accounting including: MS in Accounting (MSA), MSA: CPA Emphasis, MSA: For Professionals, MSA: Self-Designed, and MSA: Management. These programs explore advanced accounting principles to help students improve their analytical and financial decision-making skills. Additionally, students will be prepared for professional certification examinations.|
|MS in Accounting (MSA) MSA: Tax MSA: Audit MSA: Government MSA: Finance||Kaplan University – Kaplan University offers several accredited online degree programs including MSA degrees in Tax, Audit, Government and Finance in addition to the General Accounting program. These degree programs are great for students who already have a bachelor's degree in business and are hoping to enhance their specialization. Additionally, these courses prepare students for professional certification examinations.|
|MBA in Accounting MS in Accounting||Liberty University – Liberty University offers both online MBA and MS degrees in Accounting. For this program students will master tax and auditing skills, accounting theory and accounting information systems. Students will also study accounting ethics and best practices both individually and as a part of a team.|
|MBA in Accounting||Colorado Technical University – Colorado Technical University offers an online MBA degree in Accounting. This is a great degree for working professionals who need to work with changing financial laws and regulations and increased scrutiny of corporate finances. The program covers advanced topics such as taxation, financial reporting, auditing and cost accounting, accounting information systems, and managerial decision-making.|
|MBA in Accounting Accelerated MBA in Acct.||Benedictine University – Benedictine University has both an MBA and an Accelerated MBA program in Accounting. This degree program is designed for busy working professionals, already in accounting positions. Courses focus on topics such as financial and managerial accounting, theory and practice of financial reporting and the impact of taxes on business decisions.|
|MS in Accounting MBA in Accounting||Grand Canyon University – Grand Canyon University offers online MS and MBA degrees in Accounting. The program is designed to enhance theoretical and practical accounting skills for practitioners, researchers, and educators. The coursework focuses on advanced accounting, auditing and taxation practices. Additionally, this program prepares students for professional certification examinations.|
|MBA in Accounting MS in Controllership MS in Taxation||Strayer University – Strayer University offers several different online Masters degree programs for Accounting including: MBA in Accounting (MBA), MS in Controllership, and MS in Taxation. This program offers a broad-based education for working professionals from a wide range of backgrounds wishing to advance or enhance their business careers.|
|MS in Accountancy MBA in Accounting||University of Phoenix – The University of Phoenix offers online MS and MBA degrees in Accounting. These programs help students master the theory and principles that frame a wide range of problems and issues encountered in the accounting profession. Coursework includes: Accounting Theory and Research, Accounting Information Systems, Managerial Accounting, Financial Reporting, Auditing and Taxation|
|MBA in Accounting||Keiser University – Keiser University offers an intensive graduate program with an online MBA in Accounting that educates students in both the theories and practices of the modern business world. Students need to complete 30 graduate credit hours with 10 courses in Accounting including: Advanced Financial Reporting and Accounting Concepts, Advanced Auditing Theory and Applications and Special Topics in Taxation.|
|MBA in Accounting||Bellevue University – Bellevue University offers an online MBA degree in Accounting. For this program students who already have an undergraduate degree in business will have all or most of the foundation requirements and as a result, they will be able to take graduate-level elective courses such as Interdisciplinary Business, Accounting, Acquisition and Contract Management.|
|MBA in Accounting||South University – South University offers an online MBA degree program in Accounting. This program is ideal for those individuals considering management school who wish to gain an understanding of the best practices for management and decision-making within today's shifting business landscape. Students will be taught both effective planning strategies and the necessary legal background.|
|MBA in Accounting||Everest University – Everest University offers an online MBA degree program in Accounting. This program is ideal for students with a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting looking to advance their careers. The MBA degree takes students' business skills to the next level by focusing on advanced accounting principles including: Accounting Information Systems, Auditing and Tax Research and Planning.|
Find Online Accounting Degrees
There are different names for the Master of Accounting degree, including Master of Accountancy, Master of Professional Accountancy, and Master of Science in Accounting, but all of them serve the same basic purpose of providing students with the skills to do high-quality, meticulous financial accounting for a range of businesses; from small startups with relatively simple bookkeeping needs to massive investment banks with multi-dimensional financial instruments that need careful management.
What Do You Learn in A Master of Accounting Program?
Accounting programs cover a range of general and specific accounting knowledge, from basic double-entry bookkeeping, the industry standard, to complex financial analytics, budget planning strategies, and auditing techniques.
Accounting practices are intimately tied up with tax and securities law, and most Master of Accounting programs will cover the appropriate tax forms for different sizes and types of businesses. Accounting students should learn how to audit a company’s tax documents and keep track of income and payout receipts, exemptions and deductions, and other tax relevant numbers.
Math skills are crucial for an accountant. Being able to perform calculations correctly and consistently is a small but necessary part of the job, and understanding complex mathematical models and innovative metrics will help you grow a company and advance your role within it. Probability, statistics, and applied mathematical modeling are all part of the curriculum for accounting students.
CPAs, CFOs, The IRS and The SEC: Acronyms in Accounting and What They Mean
Like anything related to finance, the field of accounting is awash in acronyms that require further explanation to anyone outside the industry. Here are a few of the acronyms that accountants need to know, and explanations of what they mean:
- Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): The SEC is a federal agency that monitors and regulates the exchange of stocks and options (collectively dubbed “securities”) and the financial practices of companies in the U.S.A. Publicly traded companies submit quarterly financial reports to the SEC, and any accountant submitting these reports needs to be certified.
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA): This is a big one. Any accountant submitting reports to the SEC must first pass the CPA exam. This is the primary credential for practicing accountants in the U.S., and rigorous study is required. 46 states require CPA candidates to be college graduates with at least 150 credit hours under their belts, and around half of CPA test takers fail at least one portion of the test on their first try. The CPA is a national credential, and many states require local certification for practicing accountants as well. Any aspiring accountant should be aware of the CPA before even entering a degree program.
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the governmental body that collects taxes and monitors individual and corporate tax activity within the U.S. Accountants have significant interaction with the IRS, and will become intimately aware of its workings throughout college.
- Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are the big picture money managers at companies. An accountant with business experience and skill can become the CFO at a company, which will allow them to manage a team of financial workers to ensure that the company stays within its budget, pays its taxes, and generally manages its money efficiently. The title of CFO is relatively prestigious, and usually comes with a fat paycheck and a lot of responsibility within the company.
Careers for Master of Accounting Degree Holders
There are two major sectors of accounting, public and private, and diverse career options within each. Accountants can perform a broad range of duties at a single company, including tax preparation, bookkeeping, internal auditing and budget analysis, or they can focus on a specific field like forensic accounting, where they use their skills to investigate financial crimes and settle contract disputes. The following list describes a few common roles filled by people with Master of Accounting Degrees.
- Public Accountant: This is the most general category of accountants, and they do everything from corporate accounting to government consulting and non-profit work. Public accountants can work in the private sector as well. The “public” part of their name just refers to the necessary CPA licensure.
- Auditor: An auditor can specialize in internal audits, making sure a company is complying with financial regulations and using money efficiently, or external auditors, examining the financial books of companies and individuals that may have incorrectly complied with taxation or other regulations.
- Management Accountants: This position focuses more on strategy and innovation within a company. By developing new business models or metrics, a management accountant can increase the efficiency or output of a company, or help the company pivot and take its business in a new direction.
- Accounting Consultant: Instead of working in a particular position in one company, many accountants start their own consulting businesses, and provide various suites of services, tailored to the individual needs of their clients. Accounting consultants can provide a range of services, from tax preparation for individuals to efficiency and budgeting advice for companies. The benefit of owning your own business is that you can choose your own hours and be selective about your clientele.
- Actuaries: This career is heavily based on calculating the probability and economic effect of future events. Many actuaries work for insurance companies to calculate the risk of insuring people, houses, cars, possessions and even lives. Actuaries need strong math skills, especially the ability to use spreadsheets and do probability analyses. Actuarial licensure is different from that of public accountants, but a degree in accountancy can lead to a career as an actuary with additional training. Because of the difficult and technical nature of actuarial work it may take up to eight years of training to be a full actuary, but the pay is commensurate with the amount of required training. Accountants interested in actuarial work should focus heavily on the math side of the curriculum.
Accounting Careers and Their Median Incomes
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides employment projections and median salaries for a range of accounting related careers. A 22% increase in employment of accountants and auditors is likely between 2008 and 2018. The growing number of businesses and complexity of financial management is causing this sector to grow much faster than the average for all careers.
- Accountants and Auditors Median Salary: $59,430 (as of May, 2008)
- Cost Estimators Median Salary: $56,510 (as of May, 2008)
- Economists Median Salary: $83,590 (as of May, 2008)
- Personal Financial Advisors Median Salary: $69,050(as of May, 2008)
A Master of Accounting degree is a solid choice for people with interest in mathematics and quantitative research as well as business, entrepreneurship, and the financial sector. With such a broad range of businesses existing, and new industries evolving rapidly, it won’t be hard to apply your accounting knowledge to problems you are passionate about.
Whether you want to participate in the coming energy revolution, or work with an internet startup, or just help regular Joes get their taxes done right, you’ll be qualified to do it with an advanced accounting degree. Check out the list of schools with strong online accounting programs below, and get in touch with them for more details about how to get started earning a Master of Accountancy or other post-baccalaureate accounting credential.