Master’s in Accounting Degree Overview
In order to advance a career or within a field, an individual will more than likely need a specialized degree. Because one of the largest sectors of business growth is accounting, one of the most popular degrees is a master’s degree in accounting.
According to the U.S. Department of Education's 2007 to 2008 data, roughly 10 percent of all graduate students are earning their business degrees online. Not only that, but business is also one of the most popular education focuses for distance learning students. Those who desire to obtain a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) degree may only have a few viable options, and that’s especially true if there aren’t many programs that are a good fit for an individual’s expectations or career goals.
An online upper-level accounting degree program takes around 40 credit hours of accounting courses to complete, which can be done in about a year as long as the student is willing to take on a substantial course load. Otherwise, it usually takes between 18 months and two years to earn a degree with a lighter load. There’s also the possibility of skipping courses, but this usually only happens if the student is a Certified Public Accountant when he or she enrolls in a program. What’s great about choosing to complete a master’s program online is that students can learn at their own pace, which is advantageous for students who work.
General classes often deal with advanced economics and ethics while curriculum classes touch on the student’s career goals, such as business accounting. Those who prefer a traditional on-campus program may enjoy a full-time program that may be completed in less than a year. In order to prepare to take accounting certification exams, it’s best that students make sure they choose an accredited and worthwhile program. Accreditation status can be checked at the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
Reasons to Earn a Master of Accountancy Degree
Also known as a Master of Science in Accountancy (MSAcy), Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAcy) and Master of Accountancy (MAc), a master’s-level accounting degree is a must for anyone with career goals in the public accounting sector. A graduate degree is a requirement to become a Certified Public Accountant, Public Management Accountant and a Certified Internal Auditor and for general state certification.
According to PayScale, employees with a master’s degree in accounting earn a salary that ranges from about $38,800 to $54,500, and that’s in addition to a $5,000 starting bonus. Once an employee becomes certified, he or she usually earns roughly $5,000 more compared to those with a master’s degree who have yet to be certified by the state. After four years of employment, certified employees with master’s degrees may earn $7,000 more a year and $11,000 after that. It can take about seven to 10 years before a person “breaks even,” which factors in the year of salary a person loses while attaining a degree. For that reason, it could be beneficial to work and go to school at the same time.
For those who do prefer to work and earn a degree simultaneously, several programs offer the option of attending classes on nights, weekends and online. While this strategy can take more than 10 months, it can be more financially beneficial than taking a break from work and a break from earning to complete a degree program.
Courses that make up accounting programs at the master’s level often touch on such areas as financial reporting, taxes, financial decision-making, corporate valuation, information systems and budgeting. There are also a variety of electives for students to choose from, which can range from information technology and law to business study. Specific concentration areas students can choose from most often include financial consulting and taxes.
Some of the most essential factors to bear in mind when deciding between programs include overall cost, flexibility and quality. It’s best to investigate the program’s overall rankings and attempt to get in touch with former students to see how well the program helped them to advance and prepare for their careers. Those who have an idea of the companies and businesses they’d like to work for should reach out to them to see if there are any specific programs or schools they value over others. A person who has no choice but to take off of work in order to earn a master’s degree should look into an accelerated program that can be finished in a few months. Even if a program is bit out of a student’s price range, it’s best to compare that extra cost with the potential increased earnings completing the program can bring.
In any case, individuals should contact the schools they are considering for the most up-to-date information regarding program fees, the cost of books, tuition and the possibility of earning a grant or scholarship. For those who are especially concerned about the cost of a program, inquiring about a payment plan is a good idea as well.