Online Masters Degree in Accountancy

In a master's degree program in accountancy, you can learn about financial reporting and investment planning for companies. Learn about degree options and specializations available at the master's level in accountancy. Find out the requirements for each degree and job duties by employer type. Schools offering Accounting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Types of Master's Degrees in Accountancy Are Available?

You can expect to find at least two types of master's degrees in accounting, including a Master of Science in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis in accounting. Master of Science programs in accounting usually take two years to complete, while most MBA programs take three. While both graduate programs teach you professional accounting skills, the MBA also teaches management and leadership skills, preparing you for a high-level management position.

In both types of programs, you'll learn how to manage an organization's money so it runs efficiently, its taxes are paid and its public records are accurate. You'll learn the processes by which an accountant communicates financial information to entities like the government, other companies and clients. Some of the most important skills you'll learn are how to develop budgets, plan an organization's investments, perform basic legal tasks related to finance and provide information technology consulting services relevant to finance.

Skills Learned Developing budgets, planning investments, performing legal taxes related to finance, consulting on information technology relevant to finance
Online Availability Online programs are available, with possible periodic campus visits for MBA programs
Specialization Areas Government accounting, management accounting, public accounting, internal auditing
Government Accounting Duties Auditing and maintaining financial records
Management Accounting Duties Managing financial data, preparing financial reports
Public Accounting Duties Working on financial disclosures, preparing taxes, auditing
Internal Auditing Duties Checking financial activity for fraud, mismanagement or wasteful spending
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 11% increase (for accountants and auditors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Can I Earn This Degree Online?

Both MBA and Master of Science degrees in accountancy are available online. Online degrees typically allow for more flexible scheduling, although most programs provide a recommended schedule of completion and some have maximum time restrictions. You can expect to use discussion forums, conference calls, video chat and e-mail to complete assignments and correspond with your professors. Some MBA programs also require periodic campus visits to present research or collaborative projects.

Can I Specialize?

Most programs allow you to specialize in one of the four major areas of accounting. These four areas are government accounting, management accounting, public accounting and internal auditing.

What Is Government Accounting?

If you decide to pursue a career as a government accountant, you'll learn to audit and maintain financial records of organizations subject to governmental regulations. Local, state and federal laws are often central parts of this specialization. Because of this, some programs recommend that if you want to practice as a government accountant, you should go to school in the state in which you want to practice.

What Is Management Accounting?

In the management accounting specialization, you'll learn to manage a company's financial data. Most of the time, management accountants are executive team members; for this reason, an MBA, which prepares you for leadership positions, is often the credential preferred by employers. You'll also learn how to prepare financial reports for relevant parties, including stockholders, government authorities and regulatory agencies.

What Is Public Accounting?

If you pursue public accounting, you will likely have the largest variety of employment opportunities. Public accountants work on financial disclosures and perform general accounting tasks like auditing and preparing taxes. Most public accountants find work as Certified Public Accountants (CPA), and many have their own businesses serving individual clients. If you don't start your own business, you can find work at accounting firms, corporations or non-profit organizations.

What Is Internal Auditing?

If you study internal auditing, you'll learn to check the financial activity of organizations for fraud, mismanagement of money and wasteful spending. Much of the study in this specialty prepares you to examine and, if necessary, alter financial management procedures and company policy. You'll likely also learn about relevant financial information technology systems common to corporations and non-profit organizations.

Will I Be Able to Get a Job?

The outlook for accountancy positions is good. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected the employment rate for accountants and auditors to increase 11% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov), which is significantly faster than the national average for all occupations. Graduates with MBAs will have additional access to upper-level management positions, further increasing job opportunities.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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