There are a wide variety of graduate accounting programs available for interested students today. Graduate accounting programs include Master of Accountancy degree programs, Master of Science in Accountancy degree, Master of Business Administration degree programs with concentrations in accountancy, and more.
Master's in Accounting: Master of Accountancy degree programs
Master of Accountancy degree programs are the basic version of graduate accounting programs. A Master of Accountancy is a specific graduate level degree provided to students interested in going on to work in the field of accountancy. The Master of Accountancy is sometimes abbreviated to the MAcc, the MAc, or the MAcy.
Most graduate accounting programs which provide a MAcc degree are actually designed to ensure that the students of those programs will fulfill the necessary requirements in order to become CPAs. Specifically, these graduate accounting programs will likely run for about a year, and will provide students with the additional credit hours to meet and exceed the 150 credit hour requirements that most states hold for would-be Certified Public Accountants. Such graduate accounting programs also obviously provide students with additional information that will help them rise to the top of their field, and enter into the highest echelons of accounting.
Pursuing an MAcc degree from a graduate accounting program is most likely only necessary for those individuals who cannot otherwise satisfy the requirements for becoming CPAs, or who want the knowledge and training to work in the top tier of accountancy. It may make more sense for an interested student to earn some kind of undergraduate degree in the field of accounting, and then work in the field for some time before pursuing any kind of graduate accounting program, to ensure that the graduate accounting program is what he or she would want. Such experience working in the field would also help the individual in question to become more prepared for additional work and learning in the field of accounting, and to get into a graduate level accounting program.
Master of Science in Accountancy
A Master of Science in Accountancy is functionally the same kind of degree as a Master of Accountancy. Thus, any graduate accounting programs which offer Master of Science in Accountancy, or MS in accounting, degrees should in general be held on the same level as MAcc programs. Whether a school offers an MS in accounting or some other kind of degree is generally a matter of nomenclature, and does not necessarily refer to differences in the programs themselves, although it would be worthwhile to check out the curriculum of any program that offers an MS in accounting, simply as a matter of course.
Master of Business Administration, specializing in accounting
Master of Business Administration degree programs are not specifically accounting programs, and thus do not follow exactly the same rules; someone interested in entering into the higher levels of accounting would do well to take that into account when determining whether or not a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in accounting will fulfill the same purpose for him or her that a Master of Accountancy might. A Master of Business Administration will actually often involve learning additional principles of business, as a whole, and therefore might be valuable for anyone who is hoping to eventually move on from accountancy into a more widely based, business-focused position.
An MBA graduate accounting program is also likely to take more time than would a simple Master of Accountancy program. Graduate accounting programs more specifically focused on accounting are likely to take less time due to that focus and specificity of the programs, while graduate accounting programs which provide MBAs will cover more topics, and therefore take more time, and likely also cost more in tuition.