Accounting has always been a sound career choice. But working professionals face a decision when they decide to earn an advanced degree to pursue career goals: A Master of Business Administration with accounting concentration (MBA) or a Master of Accounting (MAcc).
Both degrees share common ground. But it is the differences that should guide your decision as they determine which degree is best suited to you.
According to BusinessStudent.com, a MAcc is the best choice for the professional who wants to be an accountant first and foremost. The MBA in accounting, on the other hand, will provide you with an excellent business management and accounting background to prepare you for an upper management or executive job.
MBA in Accounting Overview
The more traditional route to graduate-level business education for accountants is the MBA in accounting, Top Accounting Degrees reports.
The website says the MBA degree, even with a specialization such as accounting, is more of a generalist degree, allowing students to achieve an understanding of the whole business environment rather than a deep dive into one facet.
That breadth of knowledge, coupled with the greater name recognition of the MBA degree, typically leads to a higher salary than is paid to those who hold a MAcc if the degrees are the only factor, the website reports.
For accounting majors who want to earn an MBA directly after their bachelor's degree, an accounting-focused MBA is typically a better choice than a general MBA. In Beyond the Bachelor's Degree: MAcc vs. MBA, the AICPA reports, "Most CPAs agree the general MBA is designed for people who already have some work experience under their belts."
A MAcc is best suited to those who enjoy the nuts and bolts of accounting. The MAcc will include a few courses on the general perspective on business but narrows its focus on specific areas of accounting knowledge, according to TopAccountingDegrees.org.
That means those who earn a MAcc will have a more thorough knowledge of accounting practice and theory than their MBA counterparts, making them better suited for actual accounting work.
A MAcc is typically a better choice for those who wish to sit for Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exams, the website states, although an MBA in accounting is also good preparation. Regardless, holders of the CPA credential are likely to earn more in terms of salary and benefits than their uncertified colleagues.
Degrees Require Different Coursework
A look at the coursework further illustrates the differences in the two degrees. For example, the core curriculum for a Master of Accountancy at the University of West Florida includes Advanced Managerial Accounting; Financial Accounting; Advanced Auditing; Commercial Law; Financial Management; and Tax Data Bases, Research, and Procedure.
UWF's core curriculum for the Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting online program, on the other hand, has a general business emphasis with core courses including Business Process Integration, Information Resources and Industry Analysis, Business Analytics, Management of Organizational Behavior, Advanced Managerial Economics and others.
Advanced Degrees Offer Different Job Prospects
According to AffordableCollegesOnline.org, a graduate with an online MBA in accounting is qualified for different jobs than a MAcc degree holder.
The most prevalent career path for a MAcc graduate, the website says, is one that falls under the general heading of accounting, including:
- Public Accountants: Provide accounting, tax auditing and consulting services to various entities
- Forensic Accountants: Engage in accountancy work involving legal disputes and litigation
- Internal Auditors: Look for errors, irregularities and oversights in the bookkeeping and accounting activities as employees of an organization
Other job titles that fall under the MAcc umbrella include assurance manager, budget analyst, cost accountant, general accountant, enrolled agent, management accountant and tax accountant.
According to AffordableCollegeDegrees.com, an MBA with an accounting concentration opens the door to a wide range of business-related careers, including:
- Chief Financial Officer: Responsible for all financial activities of an entity
- Controller: Responsible for all the accounting activities of an entity
- Financial Consultant: Provides money management advice to both individual and business clients
Other options include careers in business management, cost accounting and management, budgeting and budget analysis, banking, and tax planning.
Regardless of which degree better suits your needs, online programs such as those offered by the University of West Florida can provide the knowledge and tools you need to advance your career. UWF's Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting online program offers you a chance to fast-track your accounting career by not only enhancing your accounting and finance knowledge but also building leadership and communication skills.
Sources:AICPA: Beyond the Bachelor's Degree: MAcc vs. MBA
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