Accounting Masters of Science (MAcc/IMAcc) Degree Programs
Accounting Master's Degree Options
The Masters Degree in Accounting, or Accountancy, takes several forms. Students who have completed a Bachelor Degree in Accounting generally enroll in an Integrated Masters in Accounting (IMAcc) program or a Masters in Accounting and Information Management. Students who wish to complete the academic requirements for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam may enroll in what is usually called the Masters in Accounting (MAcc) degree program.
An undergraduate degree for the MAcc program is required, but it need not be in accounting. At least 46 states require that CPA applicants complete additional classroom credits beyond the Bachelors Degree in order to sit for the test. In many instances this degree may be a one year course of study that is meant to prepare you to both pass the CPA exam and function as a professional public accountant.
There are also accounting options offered in most MBA programs. For a career in public accounting, the MAcc is more than adequate. If you wish to develop the academic credentials for a business leadership position in accounting and finance, both a Bachelors and Masters in Accounting are desirable; the degree options that incorporate accounting information systems are an excellent choice. And there is also a new program for the Masters in Financial Engineering that more schools adopt every year, which is designed to provide the student with the ability to apply accounting tools to management functions.
Accounting Master's Curriculum
The curriculum for the MAcc degree is dictated by the Uniform CPA Examination. The four principal areas covered by the exam include auditing and audit reporting; business environments, business accounting requirements and business transactions; financial reporting - for businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits; and regulation, which covers federal taxation and legal responsibilities, business law, and the accounting skills needed to meet those obligations.
The Integrated Masters in Accounting delves more deeply into management responsibilities in accounting, including risk management, capital management and internal reporting. The Masters of Accounting and Information Systems includes the study of database systems and their integration into various accounting functions.
Accounting Master's Prerequisites
In situation where an Accounting Masters Degree program does not require an undergraduate degree in the field, there are nevertheless course requirements contained in admissions guidelines. In many cases the Masters in Accounting programs may require previous study in some or all of these fields: principles of financial accounting, principles of management accounting, macro- and micro-economics, calculus, business statistics, business law, principles of management, principles of finance, fundamentals of management science, and business policy.
Accounting Master's Ratings and Rankings
It's difficult to identify the schools for a Masters in Accounting program because there are so many variables attached to the degree. Most graduate accounting programs are run by university business schools; these may be public schools ranked by US News:
Accounting Master's Programs in Public University Business Schools:
- University of Texas
- University of Illinois
- University of Michigan
- University of Indiana
- University of North Carolina
Accounting Master's Online Programs:
- University of Maryland
- Northeastern University
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Accounting Master's Scholarships, Fellowships, Financial Aid
Graduate scholarships and fellowships for accounting students: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Government and private loans:
SallieMae is a quasi-government organization that provides private student loans. However their website is an excellent source for links to the government Stafford Loan program, both subsidized and unsubsidized. You'll need to understand the limits on your graduate student loans that may be created by the amount you borrowed for undergraduate study.
How to Enroll
For a graduate degree in accounting you will probably be working with the business school admissions office. If the school has a separate accounting division, find out if the same academic standards for admission apply for both the MBA program and the Masters in Accountancy program you're interested in. If you are close on the academic standards, move on to the next steps, and be sure to ask these questions:
- What are the deadlines for application?
- When will I get my application packet?
- What undergraduate courses do I need to have completed to qualify?
- Will I need personal references?
- Are there application fees?
Accounting Master's Job and Career Outlook
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the job opportunities in the accounting profession are projected to grow much more rapidly than the pace of job growth overall. The number of professional accountants will increase 22% over the next ten years. Those figures, however, do not take into account the quantum leap in reporting requirements that are sure to develop in the wake of the Wall Street meltdown.
Accreditation and Accounting Masters Programs
In most universities and colleges the accounting program, particularly the graduate accounting program, is a function of the business school. For Masters in Accounting program accreditation the procedure is separate from the business school accreditation regardless of the administrative structure. The standard for acceptable academic accrediting organizations in this country is recognition by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) or by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
The primary accrediting body for business schools and their accounting programs is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. As of April 2010 there are 693 business schools accredited by the AACSB, 173 of which have also achieved specialized accreditation for their accounting programs. 120 of these institutions are outside the United States. Their list of AACSB accredited accounting schools includes many of the nation's better universities, but it also lacks the names for many schools with premiere graduate accounting programs.
Many of the business schools simply rely on their AACSB accreditation for the business school as sufficient recognition for the accounting arm of the institution. Specialized accrediting for accounting programs in business school is a relatively recent endeavor. Neither the University of California at Berkeley nor Harvard have AACSB accreditation for their Masters in Accounting programs contained within their business schools, but a Masters in Accounting from either of those schools will probably guarantee you an interview with one of the Big Four accounting firms.
The Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) is a more recently established and broader based organization to accredit business schools. The organization was created in 1988; in 1996 it gained recognition from the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as a viable choice for accrediting business schools. In 2007 it completed development of its accrediting program for accounting schools. This organization has accredited some of the online accounting programs as well as schools that provide both online and campus graduate accounting degree options. Many of these schools also have accreditation for their business schools but not specifically for accounting programs.
Either of these organizations is regarded as acceptable accrediting bodies, but the AACSB is more highly regarded in the business world.
Professional Accounting Associations and Societies
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is the preeminent public accountant organization in the country with over340,000 members. It was founded in 1887 as an association for public accountants in general, and in 1936 chose to limit its membership to CPAs. There are also State Accounting Societies affiliated with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants located in virtually every state.
The American Accounting Association is an organization dedicated to education and research in the accounting field. Founded as an organization for university accounting educators, it changed its name in 1936 to broaden its base.
The Professional Accounting Society of America is an organization for entry level accountants, designed largely as a job search site with some activities dedicated to educational support for activities such as the CPA exam.
The National Society of Accountants is an organization of some 30,000 members, most of whom work in small accounting and estate planning firms. The organization takes an active role in defending against attempts to restrict the rights of non-CPA public accountants.
The Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies is an organization catering to a small and specialized segment of the profession, offering continuing education and training opportunities that are unique to the field.
The American Society of Women Accountants was founded in 1938 and today has dozens of chapters divided into six regions. Most of its members hold some sort of professional certification, but membership is not confined to any particular specialty or group of specialties.
The American Woman's Society of Certified Public Accountants was founded in 1933 and expanded in 1982 to include local chapters. Today it consists of twenty five local societies with approximately 2,000 members.
The National Association of Black Accountants was founded in 1969 as a networking and job resource organization. The Association holds an annual convention and has over thirty local affiliates, many of which are based on college campuses.