Master of Science in Accounting

Master of Science in Accounting Resources


Master of Accounting or MBA? An Increasingly Popular Question

When contemplating graduate schools, students can enjoy myriad choices. If you’re comparing your future as an MBA graduate against possibly earning a master’s degree in accounting, you may want to give more weight to the latter. Writing for The Wall Street Journal, corporate finance expert Vipal Monga revealed that a talent shortage currently plagues many industries. Abundant job openings could offer graduate-level accounting students encouraging job prospects.

An accountant at work.

Accounting Job Trends Continue to Change

According to Monga, some of the larger accounting firms, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, have begun to offer extra benefits to attract top talent. Additionally, Monga asserted that companies outside the financial industry could struggle to find qualified applicants for open positions. Monga cited Johnson & Johnson as an example — the company couldn’t fill a junior-level accounting position for six months.

CPA and Bloomberg BNA accounting policy and practice editor Todd Cheney echoed Monga’s observations, stating that the current generation of professionals tends to stay with accounting jobs for shorter periods of time than those of earlier generations. Cheney also stated that millennial accounting professionals change jobs more often.

However, Cheney also noted that younger accounting professionals have less job experience, and therefore sometimes struggle to keep up with the demands of their job descriptions. He asserted that professionals with advanced education in accounting as well as information technology might enjoy more opportunities.

The Right Accounting Program Could Offer Access to Varied Opportunities

In line with Cheney’s deductions, accounting degrees can help financial professionals gain an advantage in the industry. Many such programs emphasize technological advancements in particular, advancements that Cheney stated has become crucial to many high-level accounting jobs.

Additionally, if you’re considering a master’s of accounting, you may benefit from a program that lets you learn from experienced CPAs. Even if you plan to pursue a different job title, you could gain insights and skills that may further your career.

Charlotte Clark of the Financial Times compares general MBAs with specialized MBAs, such as a Master of Science in Accounting. According to Clark, many professionals can benefit from a more specialized education. She also asserted that specialized programs can increase demand among employers, which may translate to better job prospects.

Clark mentioned online degree programs specifically, citing evolving technology as an important part of their growing popularity.

Accounting Acumen Can Complement Business Knowledge

A specialized degree program in accounting still provides some of the benefits of a generalized MBA program. For example, courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, data analytics, and business environment are often also offered with Master of Science in Accounting degree programs.

If you pursue an education that includes both business and accounting courses, you could position yourself for a number of job opportunities. For example, you may decide that you don’t want to work as a CPA or chief financial officer. U.S. News & World Report reporter Delece Smith-Barrow named several opportunities, such as those in the government or in a consultancy.

Employers Might Look for Advanced, Specialized Education

If you want to improve your job possibilities, you may benefit from adding an advanced accounting degree to your resume. According to the American Institute of CPAs (the AICPA), many companies look specifically for advanced degree programs on resumes when hiring for finance-related positions.

The AICPA also revealed that many employers only consider candidates who prove CPA exam-ready. If you already have the skills and knowledge necessary to pass the CPA, you may receive more job offers. According to the CPA, a master’s-level accounting degree can also groom students for leadership positions within organizations.

Scott Moore, AICPA’s director of student and professional pathways, stated that students should choose between an MBA and a Master of Science in Accounting based on their specific goals. He said, “The master’s degree in accounting provides robust technical knowledge that is helpful at the beginning of your career, to pass the CPA exam, and in the first couple of positions you have.”

Moore admitted that a broader MBA program may suit students who want positions directed more toward strategic initiatives and vision. However, students can also learn those skills while they work in accounting-related positions and then leverage their experiences for a more advanced role with an employer.

Changing Regulations Create the Need for Better-Trained Candidates

In addition to factors such as job security and availability, students may also want to consider the technical aspects of a financial career when deciding between an MBA and a Master of Science in Accounting degree. The Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAPs) have undergone significant changes, according to Vipal Monga. These changes may help to explain the talent shortages. Accounting firms and other employers need accounting staff members who understand the latest technological and logistical factors in accounting.

According to Monga, today’s employers need graduates who understand the granular factors of the GAAPs and who can apply them correctly to their job duties. Ed Mulherin of the Council for Nonprofits reported that the standards for nonprofit organizations have also changed considerably.

Mulherin specifically noted that the Financial Standards Accounting Board (FASB), which governs the GAAPs, has created rules and made amendments designed to “provide better information to donors, grant makers, creditors, and others who read nonprofit financial statements.”

Many students still receive general MBAs, but the MBA no longer serves as the only option for professionals who want to explore new job opportunities. If you want to consider advancing your education, you may want to think about honing your skills more precisely with a specialized degree program instead of pursuing an MBA. Visit the Maryville University Online Master of Science in Accounting degree program website to learn more about how this program may help you achieve your career goals.