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Masters in Accounting: What Does It Do for Me?

By Peterson's Staff updated on Thursday, November 21, 2013

There are a wide variety of graduate accounting programs available for interested students today. Graduate accounting programs include the Master of Accountancy, Master of Science in Accountancy, and Master of Business Administration with a concentration in accounting, among others.

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 accounting. 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 designed to ensure that students 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 aspiring Certified Public Accountants. Such graduate accounting programs also provide students with additional information that will help them rise to the top of their field.

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 you to earn an 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 advanced education in accounting is right for you.

Master of Science in Accountancy

A Master of Science in Accountancy is functionally the same kind of degree as a Master of Accountancy. The Master of Science in Accountancy (MS in accounting) degrees are typically held on the same level as MAcc programs. Whether a school offers an MS in accounting or an MAcc is generally a matter of institutional preference and does not necessarily refer to differences in the programs themselves. However, you should, of course, check out the curriculum of any program that offers an MS in accounting prior to enrolling to ensure that it meets your standards.

Master of Business Administration in Accounting

Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree programs are not specifically accounting programs, and thus, do not have the same curriculum as the MS in accounting and the MAcc. An MBA will 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.  For someone interested in entering into the higher levels of the accounting field specifically, an MBA may not necessarily be a good fit.

An MBA graduate accounting program is also likely to take more time than would a simple Master of Accountancy program. Graduate accounting programs are more specifically focused on accounting and require fewer courses due to that specificity, while the MBA in accounting will cover more topics, and therefore, take more time, and as a result, cost more in tuition.

Accounting Programs
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