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

The Law of Money

The History of Money

About the Profession of Accounting

Continuing Education and Certifications