There are many reasons why an accountant should pursue a graduate degree in accounting. It takes dedication and hard work to become an accountant, but it will take more time, money and education to secure the best accountancy related positions. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, below explains why a master’s degree in accountancy is an excellent choice.
Resource: Top 10 Online Accounting Degree Programs
Why Master Degree Matters
Every public, private, non-profit and government organization needs accountants to balance their books and reconcile accounts. A bachelor’s degree indicates that the job candidate has the basic knowledge and skills required for entry-level tasks. All of these organizations also want accountants who have advanced skills related to critical thinking, internal controls, financial transparency and global business environments.
A job candidate who has a master’s degree is more likely to have better communication skills, the ability to make good judgment calls and professional knowledge of their industry. They will also have the ability to interpret numbers, explain results and forecast trends. Gaining a master’s degree sets job and promotion candidates apart because they have more field expertise and transferable skills related to auditing, leadership and problem-solving.
Most accountancy positions above a staff accountant require the candidates to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). A master’s degree is not a requirement to take the CPA exam because most states require candidates to have 150 college credit hours, which is 30 hours over a standard bachelor’s degree. Many CPAs prefer to first take their time to earn their master’s degree while working. This provides valuable knowledge and experience that will help them pass the CPA exam.
Some accountants do not need the CPA credential, but they simply want to return to school to qualify for advanced positions or promotions. Returning to the classroom provides opportunities for accountants to learn emerging and innovative ways to apply their core competencies to meet the ever changing market and industry demands. Accountants who want to advance their career without taking the CPA exam should instead consider a master’s degree.
Accountants actually have a number of academic options for graduate school. Master of Accountancy programs, which are abbreviated as MAcc, MAc, or Macy, are designed to help students meet the requirements to become CPAs. These programs take around one year to complete. Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) programs are similar to Master of Accountancy programs, but they tend to offer more specific coursework. For example, students learn about Accounting Information Systems, which discusses topics like data flows and business processes, and internal control systems, which helps students gain an auditors’ perspective.
As a third alternative, students can pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in accountancy. These programs will provide students with the advanced business and management skills needed to move into higher positions. Students will learn about marketing, human resources and operations management while also learning business-based accountancy topics. This includes financial decision making, so students learn how to apply economic and accountancy knowledge to make the right calls. It also includes classes in managerial accountancy, financial reporting and strategic planning.
A graduate degree in accounting is an excellent choice for accountants who want to expand their career options and core competencies.