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5 Concentrations for a Graduate Accounting Degree

The accounting industry has undergone significant transformation since the Recession, and yet this industry has become integral not only to national economic growth but to the world economy and global trade. Graduates must have even more of an edge than before, as this transformation has increased the competitiveness of the field. However, this dynamic field is projected to grow by eleven percent in the next eight years – at a more rapid rate than the median growth rate for all other fields – which is good news for new graduates.

Even if you didn’t choose a specialization in your undergraduate degree, you can still choose a concentration during your graduate studies. From tax auditing to budget management, a wide variety of concentrations are available for those who choose to undertake a master’s degree. Here are five concentrations for accountants who are studying for a graduate degree.

Resource: Top 10 Online Accounting Degree Programs


Forensic accountants generally work in tandem with law enforcement or law firms to investigate claims of fraud, embezzlement, and other financial crimes or financial disputes. Large amounts of money are lost each year to fraud, and uncovering evidence of fraud requires a keen attention to detail and solid investigative skills. Several credentials are available to those who complete a master’s concentration in this area, including Certified Fraud Examiner and the Certified in Financial Forensics Credential.

Public Auditing

Public auditors may work through firms or government agencies to review financial records and tax payments to ensure that all institutions and businesses under audit have kept abreast of their records and required payments. This position, like some other accountant positions, requires a Certified Public Accountant credential. Public auditing and accounting also requires knowledge of business and trade practices within the country in question, as well as any maritime or international law the institution may be subject to.

Tax Examination

Tax examiners and collectors work in tandem with public auditors and are employed by government branches to collect taxes owed by individuals, institutions, and businesses. Tax examiners may work through the Internal Revenue Service, the US Securities and Exchange Commission, or the Government Accountability Office.

Corporate Accounts

One of the most lucrative specializations available to graduates, this specialization demands both a master’s degree and the CPA certification. Corporate accountants manage or oversee all aspects of a corporation’s finance, including payroll, accounts payable and receivable, asset management, tax payments, and more. This field is expected to expand significantly in the next six years. Graduates who specialize in this area may become controllers, cost accountants, internal auditors, or information technology auditors within the corporation that engages their services.

Information Technology

This specialization affords graduates a thorough knowledge of money management systems, software, and how to integrate new systems into practice or update or replace old systems. These accountants may also be responsible for training new or existing staff in systems use in addition to their duties of maintaining IT systems and software, along with standard duties of the accountant’s position. This can be a fairly lucrative specialization for students with an adeptness or interest in new technologies, and makes graduates attractive candidates for corporations, government branches, or smaller companies that may want to keep their staff small – or have a fixed budget.

Completing a specialization within your master’s program can help to expand your professional horizons and your opportunities once you have your master’s degree and CPA certification in hand. A broad array of specializations exist within this dynamic and growing field – but these five represent some of the most lucrative and relevant in the industry today.