Furthering Your Career with a Master's Degree in Accounting: MAcc or MBA?

Learn which master's degree in accounting best suits your business career aspirations.


Ready to move ahead in your accounting career? Then consider earning a master's degree in accounting.

Both the MBA with a focus in accounting and the master's in accounting (MAcc) are designed with busy working professionals in mind. Each will prepare you to charge forward in your business career, whether it's banking or construction, healthcare or high tech.

The degrees are two different animals, however. The MBA will equip you with a broad set of business skills that transfer readily to other arenas, while the MAcc provides more specific accounting expertise and training for the CPA exam.

The MBA degree is targeted at professionals with at least two years of work experience.  It features a broad curriculum that offers a solid foundation in business basics while challenging students to develop their analytical and critical thinking skills.

You'll generally spend the first year of an MBA program developing core competencies in classes that include:

  • business communication
  • economics
  • business law
  • operations management
  • leadership skills

Whether they're delivered online or on campus, class assignments often require close collaboration with other students, sharpening your people skills and negotiation tactics.

After completing the basic MBA coursework, you'll move on to specialize in accounting, with in-depth classes such as:

  • financial reporting
  • managerial accounting
  • information technology
  • taxation and business decisions
  • quantitative analysis

The amount of time required to complete an MBA in accounting depends on whether you attend full-time or part-time. The part-time online option is popular with busy professionals who can't leave their jobs to attend school. This format can require three years or more to complete, depending on how many classes you take at a time.

With the MBA in finance on your résumé, you'll be poised to take on work as corporate accountant, auditor, financial analyst, CFO or other high-profile leadership position.

Learn everything there is to know about pursuing an online MBA.

MAcc (Master of Accounting)

The MAcc degree is achievable in as little as one year and offers a deep dive into accounting principles and current business applications. Unlike the MBA, the curriculum focuses more closely on preparing students for the CPA and the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exams. If you're planning to become a CPA, check that the program you're considering will deliver the 150 credit hours required by most states to sit for the CPA exam.

Online MAcc programs, with their flexible formats, are a popular choice with working students. Equally rigorous as their on-campus counterparts, they lead to the same degree, but without the need to commute or relocate.

Whether it's offered online or in person, MAcc coursework generally includes these subjects:

  • accounting theory and research
  • auditing
  • business strategy
  • cost analysis
  • ethical issues
  • information systems
  • internal control systems
  • quantitative analysis
  • taxation

[Learn everything there is to know about a master's degree in accounting.]

Take the Next Step Toward a Master's Degree in Accounting

Now that you understand the differences between the MBA in accounting and the master's in accounting, it's time to discover the accredited graduate program that's just right for you.

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