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What Degree is Required to Teach Accounting in Graduate School?

Accounting professors teach students the basics of accounting, including how to prepare taxes for individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations. Those working in graduate schools are often responsible for helping students take professional certification tests as well such as the certified public accountant exam, which is required of all CPAs. To work in this field, you generally need a terminal degree. Though some colleges will hire grad school professors who have a master’s degree, others may require that you have a PhD or more experience to go with your lower degree.

Resource: Top 10 Online Accounting Degree Programs

What Does an Accounting Professor Do?

The duties of an accounting professor working in a graduate school go beyond what those working in a traditional college do. A college professor teaching an undergrad course might go over the basics of the subject matter, teach from a standard textbook, assign and grade work and create tests. When you work in a graduate school, you teach students who are more familiar with accounting principles. You’ll still offer tests and assignments and grade the work that students do, but you must also help them prepare for professional exams. You may also work as an adviser and oversee the work that students do on their thesis papers or final projects.

What Degree Do You Need?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the minimum degree needed to teach at the post-secondary level is a master’s degree. Graduate schools often look for professors who have a PhD though. A doctoral degree shows that you have a better understanding of the materials that you teach and that you have more experience in accounting subjects. The BLS also found that the type of degree needed depends on how selective the college is and the amount of competition for the job. You may work as a professor with a master’s degree as you continue working as an accountant.

Experience vs. Education

The type of degree needed to teach accounting in grad school may often depend on the amount of experience that you have. If you have 10 or more years of experience as a professional accountant, the college may overlook the fact that you only have a master’s degree. The work that you do in the field will help you better teach your advanced students and will give you a leg up when competing for jobs among recent PhD graduates.

Working as a TA

Though accounting professors can work full time or part time, most graduate schools require that those instructors have a teaching assistant. A TA is someone who takes on some of the duties of a full professor. They might hand out assignments, grade papers and even administer exams. As an accounting graduate student, you can apply for these positions the summer before classes start. Though grad school students often teach students in undergrad accounting programs, those working on their doctoral degrees can work with accounting students at the graduate level. Working as a TA will give you more experience that will look good on your resume when applying for professor positions.

Working as an accounting professor helps you develop the skills in your students that they will need in the field. If you want to work with graduate students who already have an undergrad degree, you’ll need either a PhD in accounting or a master’s degree with more experience.