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Accounting is a complex field that requires extensive training. A master’s degree in accounting prepares you for management positions and provides opportunities to pursue specialties in the field.

Accounting professionals also enjoy a high level of job security, as taxes are inevitable and organizations always need financial oversight and support. Read on to find out how a Masters in Accounting program can benefit your career.

What Does a Masters in Accounting Involve?

Students pursuing a master’s degree in accounting may already have an undergraduate degree in accounting or business. Alternatively, they might be looking for a career change.

Masters in Accounting programs prepare learners for management positions and specialized careers. Common specialties within the field include forensic accounting, auditing, tax accounting, and the ever-growing areas of international and environmental accounting. Accounting students also learn to navigate complex legal requirements, compliance, and risk analysis.

Most programs last one to two years depending on credit requirements and student enrollment status. Many schools also offer online learning opportunities to accommodate student schedules and employment, and to increase accessibility. The skills acquired during master’s degree programs in accounting provide a competitive advantage in the job market.

One of the main reasons to pursue a Masters in Accounting program is to meet the educational requirements for the CPA Uniform Exam. The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation can increase your earning potential and demonstrate that you are among the best in your profession.

Masters in Accounting Admission Requirements

Common admission requirements for master’s in accounting programs include an undergraduate degree, reference letters, an essay or personal statement, and relevant experience. If your bachelor’s degree is not in accounting or a business-related field, you may need to complete prerequisites to demonstrate your interest and aptitude for a numbers-focused career.

Some programs also require the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Unlike the GRE, which only covers general education topics, the GMAT is designed for business programs. The GMAT covers analytical writing and integrated, quantitative, and verbal reasoning. Even if your program doesn’t require applicants to submit test scores, a high GMAT score can help you stand out during the application review process.

Joint master’s courses in accounting

The higher level courses in accounting cover two main themes: learning and doing. Expect to study the history and theory behind accounting processes. Accounting students also create reports, tax documents, and advanced audits to improve their skills.

Here are some sample courses you could take as part of a Masters in Accounting program.

Accounting, Auditing and Assurance Regulation

This course explores audit and assurance regulation, teaching students the ins and outs of inspecting an organization’s finances to ensure compliance and assess or identify risk. The preparation of external reports is central to an auditing course, as are communication skills.

Data Analysis for Professional Accountants

Data analysis is increasingly important in the field of accounting. More and more accounting positions require candidates to have a solid grasp of statistical programs and data visualization. A Data Analytics for Accountants course focuses on using analytics tools and converting accounting information into datasets and reports for stakeholders and clients.

Advanced analysis of financial statements

Compliance rules the world of accounting, which makes a course in advanced financial statement analysis an invaluable part of a graduate program. This course teaches you how to thoroughly analyze all aspects of a statement, generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) standards, and statements for multi-entity business ownership.

Business Ethics and Law for Accountants

A field in which money plays a central role requires a solid understanding of business ethics and law. Accounting is a highly regulated field, which means professionals must be prepared to address legal and ethical issues.

This course teaches proven methods for navigating ambiguous situations, legal principles and regulations, and reasoning skills. A solid understanding of ethics is essential for advancing into management and leadership positions in accounting.

Careers with a Masters in Accounting

A master’s degree in accounting opens the door to careers in the world of auditing, financial planning, and digital forensics. Here are the career paths you could pursue with a Masters in Accounting.

Accounting manager

Average annual salary: Accounting managers can earn approximately $76,000 per year.
job description: According to his name, the main role of an accounting manager is to manage a team of accountants. Managers are responsible for ensuring that their team follows procedures and regulations. They also create budgets and review reports for accuracy.

Financial Analyst

Median annual salary: $81,410
Projected growth rate (2020-2030): +6%
job description: Financial analysts split their time between research and reporting. Market trends, investment opportunities, and an organization’s financial information all fall within the scope of a financial analyst’s research. Reports often include sharing financial forecasts with stakeholders and customers and recommending investment strategies based on an organization’s past and present finances.

Listener

Median annual salary: $77,250
Projected growth rate (2020-2030): +7%
job description: Accuracy is essential to financial reporting, and the primary function of an auditor is to ensure that an organization’s financial statements are correct. Auditors employ a variety of accounting skills to review, validate, and report on a company’s overall financial condition.

tax advisor

Median annual salary: $77,080
Projected growth rate (2020-2030): +7%
job description: Tax accountants focus on individual and/or corporate tax returns. These professionals must follow a specific set of processes, laws, and regulations (eg, IRS tax codes) to ensure that their clients’ financial information is correct.

Beyond preparing and submitting information, tax accountants also develop tax strategies and develop asset and financial management strategies. They may work for themselves, for accounting firms, or within organizations as part of in-house accounting teams.

Finance Manager

Median annual salary: $131,710
Projected growth rate (2020-2030): +17%
job description: CFOs are one of the highest paying and fastest growing positions in accounting. These professionals oversee the financial strategies and investments of organizations. The primary responsibility of CFOs is to keep an eye on market trends to ensure stability and optimal financial performance and to reduce risk.

Accounting Frequently Asked Questions

What is the highest paying job in accounting?

CFOs and controllers—the people who oversee all accounting operations within an organization—often hold the highest-paying jobs in accounting. That said, the salary depends on location, industry, and years of experience in the accounting field.

Is a master’s degree in accounting sufficient for a CPA?

Becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) involves 150 credits. An undergraduate degree completes around 110 to 120 credits, so many people also pursue a master’s degree in accounting to qualify to meet education requirements.

Which is better, an MBA or a CPA?

Whether you pursue an MBA or a CPA depends on your career goals and preferences. An MBA prepares learners to manage people and understand a variety of business practices. To dive deep into numerical and financial analysis, consider a master’s degree in accounting as preparation for becoming a CPA.