Student Guide for Earning a Master’s in Accounting
It often happens that a graduate holding a bachelor’s degree will return to the possibility of higher education after spending a few years on the job. A promising career in the world of business or finance might have reached a point of stagnation, where the potential for promotions and career advancement is less likely without an advanced degree in accounting. Many professionals find that after a few years in an industry of choice, on-the-job experience spurs the interest in handling the financial elements of the industry.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes the role of accountants and auditors as that of designing internal control systems and analysis of financial data. Control and analysis of a company’s money are the key to success in every industry, making a master’s in accounting a more versatile educational achievement than many other advanced degrees.
Many students entering a master’s in accounting program come from a background, both educational and professional, in finance and business but an undergraduate degree in the business arena is not absolutely required. Who might the typical returning student be when a master’s in accounting is desired? A typical scenario is someone with a job in accounts payable and a bachelor’s degree in accounting who wants to advance to the next level. Or a director of finance vying for a vice president’s position. It could be a credit analyst interested in further mastery of the subject to achieve a promotion to a position of managing his or her peers. In these cases, a master’s in accounting and perhaps even a certified public accountant (CPA) certification is necessary.
For every student returning to school, there’s a different life story that spurs the decision to return. An advanced degree is almost always expected to bring added income so many students return for a master’s in accounting when it’s time to start a family or send kids to college. Fortunately, there are more opportunities than ever before for earning a master’s degree while holding down a full-time job and enjoying an active family life, too. Today’s graduate student has the option to study online or on campus – or a combination of both – allowing for all the flexibility a student might need to accomplish the goal of a master’s in accounting degree.
Many returning students devote full-time attention to their studies while others choose a part-time approach instead. The flexibility of study can be ideal for professionals looking to extend their workplace role into accounting practices, finance departments, as business or financial analysts, in accounts payable/receivable, or into managerial positions in finance, investments, or banking. Effective money management, tracking, and reporting are crucial to the profitability of every industry. Hiring someone with a thorough understanding of sound accounting practices is highly beneficial to every industry everywhere. A student earning a master’s in accounting may have plans to return home to manage the finances of a family business but another may want to increase earnings potential with a promotion. Either scenario – and any scenario in between – can be accomplished with a master’s degree in accounting.
Each graduate school will have its own prerequisites for enrollment in its graduate accounting program but there are fewer limitations in this field of study than most others, due to the universal appeal of the subject, especially if you have some foundational elements in your undergraduate degree and real-world experience. In spite of the many differences, the subject matter is the same and it’s a very highly regulated subject matter, too. For that reason, every graduate student in an accounting program can expect to learn about the laws and regulations that pertain to the handling, exchange, and use of money both domestically and internationally. Knowledge of the history of money is basic, too, since our current financial state is a result of the past and the future of the economy will depend on what we do with money now.
To understand money management to its fullest, the graduate student in accounting can expect to learn about the banking system; investments that include the stock market, annuities, mutual funds, and savings plans; and how successful corporations, governments, and nongovernment organizations acquire and utilize money most effectively. This student guide for earning a master’s in accounting provides quick and ready access to information a graduate accounting student is likely to need. There are links to resources covering domestic and international accounting practices, standards, and laws. Professional societies and associations are also listed here, as are requirements for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam. The history of money is represented as are aspects of accounting in various industries.
Professional Organizations and Societies
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
- Beta Alpha Psi (nonprofit international honorary and service organization for accounting students)
- CFA Institute: The Global Association of Investment Professionals Careers
- Global Financial Markets Association (GFMA) Global Regulatory Reform Proposals (side by side comparison)
- International Business Ethics Institute
- Investment Company Institute (ICI) 2011 Fact Book (51st Edition)
- National Economists Club podcast series
- World Federation of Exchanges (WFE)
The Law of Money
- Bankruptcy Law in the United States, Bradley Hansen, Mary Washington College
- A Day in the Life of the FOMC: An Inside Look at the Federal Reserve’s Monetary Policy making Body – Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
- The Federal Reserve System in Brief – Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
- Federal Rule of Evidence 502 Resource Page (Introduction and Overview)
- The Glass-Steagall Act (aka The Banking Act of 1933), full text
- Office of the General Counsel: The Attorney-Client Privilege, Stanford University
- Papers from the Committee on the History of the Federal Reserve System – Brookings Institution and Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
- Public Law 111-203 – Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) – US Government Printing Office
- United States Tax Court
The History of Money
- Debt-Driven Doldrums or the Promise of Prosperity: America at a Crossroads (video), Speaker is Rob Portman, US Senator from Ohio (R) – Council on Foreign Relations
- The Great Depression – The History Channel
- Planet Money – National Public Radio (NPR) podcast series
- The Theory of Money and Credit, Ludwig von Mises, 1953 edition
- The Theory of Money and Credit, Ludwig von Mises, 1981 edition
About the Profession of Accounting
- Deardorffs’ Glossary of International Economics – University of Michigan
- Finance and Investment – Knowledge@Wharton
- Current List of the Fortune 500
- Game Theory for Managers, Professor David McAdams – MITOpenCourseware, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) Careers
- Student Guide – Accountant: What Is This Job Like?
Continuing Education and Certifications