An accounting masters degree is ideal for students who have already completed their bachelor’s degree in accounting and desire to work with numbers and analysis on a daily basis in their career. Students who are skilled in paying attention to detail, analyzing data, working on computers, using math skills, and utilizing effective communication skills are the individuals that thrive the most in master’s degree programs. During their studies, master’s degree students will take a handful of liberal arts courses as well as a mix of business, accounting, and finance courses. These classes will cover important topics in economics, statistics, business management, and business ethics.

Why a Master’s Degree?

In order to obtain a prosperous career in accounting or auditing, a student will more than likely need to obtain a college degree in accounting. Although an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in accounting can lead to a number of jobs, it is hard to successfully move up the professional ladder without obtaining a master’s degree. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most accounting jobs today require at least a four-year degree, and a growing number require at least a master’s degree as well. Furthermore, before students are allowed to take their accounting certification exam, they will need to complete at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting and have some on-the-job experience in the field.

Getting Into a Master’s Degree Program

Some programs are more competitive than others in terms of admissions. To be admitted into a standard master’s degree program, students will need to have the following qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in accounting or related subject
  • Work experience in an accounting-related field
  • Desired undergraduate GPA
  • Desired GMAT score

Inside an Accounting Master’s Degree Program

Master’s degree programs in accounting can take as little as one year on an accelerated track. However, there are a number of part-time degree programs that allow students to complete the master’s requirements over longer periods of time. Furthermore, most master degree programs in accounting require students to complete a thesis or dissertation while completing their master’s degree. Some colleges encourage or require their master’s students to find internships and attend lecture series related to their academic studies.

Some students may take a less traditional route towards completing their master’s degree in lieu of an online degree. Online students may be able to complete their program more quickly, with the added flexibility of self-paced, remote courses. In an online accounting master’s degree program, most if not all accounting classes will be completed through the use of online course materials, such as podcasts, video lectures, PowerPoint presentations, PDF notes, and more. Students may choose to earn a specific type of master’s degree in accounting, such as a Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Accountancy (MAcc), or an MBA with a concentration in accounting. Depending upon which type of major they select, students will be required to take an array of required classes to complete their online accounting degree.

What’s Next for Accounting Master’s Degree Holders?

Upon graduation, students will be qualified to apply to an array of accounting jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of accountants and auditors is estimated at $61,690. The BLS also notes that the job outlook for accountants is prosperous, with a 16% growth expected from 2010 to 2020. In addition to completing their master’s degree, students should consider taking their Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam during or after they finish their master’s degree, since most states require a minimum of 150 credit hours of college coursework to sit for the CPA exam.

For those who are interested in teaching accounting at a college or university, it is wise to consider obtaining a PhD in accounting. Generally, the requirements for acceptance into a PhD program are more difficult than that of a master’s degree. In fact, most PhD programs in accounting are smaller and more selective in the students they’ll accept. Therefore, it’s important to maintain a strong GPA, passing exam scores, and numerous academic and professional references in order to be accepted into a good accounting PhD program. Once a student is accepted into a PhD program, they’ll work with advisors and complete independent dissertation research. Finishing a PhD in accounting can take anywhere between three to ten years, depending on the pace in which a student chooses to complete their work.