Becoming an accountant is a great choice if you want a profession with a lot of job opportunities and financial benefits. A bachelor’s degree in accounting may ensure you a solid job, but if you are ambitious and aim for a more successful and challenging career path, you should consider obtaining a master degree in accounting.

This article is a step-by-step guide to help you get your masters degree in accounting and starting your journey of becoming a successful accountant.

What is a Master Degree in Accounting?

The Master degree in Accounting is an advanced degree you need to take in order to sit for accountants’ national exam. Such degree will offer you an in-depth understanding of the theory and practices of accountancy. A master degree as an accountant is the required level of education to make you an expert in this field. This degree is the best way to position yourself at the center of the business environment.

How To Apply For a Master Degree in Accounting?

Before you set your mind to apply for a master’s degree in accounting, you’ll need to know the basic admission requirements. There are thousands of universities which offer master courses in accountancy and surely all their admission requirements aren’t the same with each other.

So, we advise you to always take a look at the admission information at the university you are planning to apply at. The list of documents required varies, however, here are some of the most common documents required at most universities:

  • A bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field
  • A Curriculum Vitae
  • Letter of motivation
  • References
  • English proficiency (for international students)
  • GMAT or GRE

However, if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in accounting you may still be eligible to apply under some conditions. If you have a considerable experience in accountancy, the admission board may give you a chance. But, you’ll have to compete hard with students coming from an undergraduate education in accounting.

Even if you get enrolled in a master’s degree program, without prior education you must complete additional courses to cover important topics something you’re supposed to do in your bachelor studies.

Note that GMAT or GRE tests are optional, because some universities may not require them in advance.

Master Degree in Accounting Courses

The courses you’ll attend during your master’s program will expand your knowledge around the core concepts of accounting, to ensure you’ll be able to handle your future responsibilities as an accountant.

These concepts include business accounting, accounting in law, ethics in accounting, etc.

Here are just some of the courses you may attend during your master’s degree studying in accountancy:

  • Advanced accounting
  • Principles of Auditing
  • Financial accounting
  • Federal taxation
  • Business taxation
  • Public & corporate accounting
  • Information systems
  • Business Ethics in Auditing
  • Strategic management
  • Research in financial reporting

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s Degree in Accounting

A master program in accountancy usually has 30 credit courses. When you add them to 120 credits gained at undergraduate level you’ll have completed 150 credits. This is the number of credits that make you eligible to sit at a state examination test like a CPA.

Most of the on-campus master programs in accounting usually last 24 months. But, if you have a proper education in accounting and you would like to move on faster it can take you less time to finish it. These accelerated studies may take 12 months to 15 months and usually are offered online.

Be aware that they are also dual-degree program or joint-programs where you can study something else at the same time. Naturally, these programs may take more time than traditional programs.

Getting a masters degree in accounting online

People who can’t share time from their busy life to attend on-campus lectures may consider the opportunity to attend online courses. Universities nowadays offer plenty of online programs in accounting that lead to the same qualifications.

Online peers in these accountancy programs communicate through a portal where they can access lectures and complete assignments. They can watch video lectures whenever you’re free, and from any location. Students can also take part in online forums to discuss accounting topics.

Note that online programs may last longer compared to traditional master’s degree programs. This depends on how you arrange your daily life so you can watch lectures and prepare for your exams. A number of students choose online programs if they want to graduate faster than in traditional on-campus master degrees.

Getting Licensed as an accountant

To become an accountant getting a certified master degree is what everybody would advise you to do. But after getting it there is one more thing you should complete to officially become an accountant. That is to get a certified license.

With a license, we mean a document that will be issued to you proving you fulfil all requirements of being an accountant. You can get it through an exam which is managed by an official accounting state board.  

It has to be emphasized that you’re not obligated by any condition to undertake this exam with a master’s degree in accounting. You’ll be admitted to sit for it if you can prove you have a one to two years experience in accountancy which would equal the knowledge gained through a certified master degree program.

In most cases, such experience isn’t enough to pass this exam. You should keep in mind that the rate of people who pass the test is below 50 percent.

Here some of the most common certified license accountants need:

The most popular one and, at the same time, the most difficult to pass is the CPA which stands for Certified Public Accountant. The CPA exam is a computer-based exam since 2004 and is run by a state board appointed to make the examinations. This exam is divided into sections and you can try to pass them separately if you want. These are CPA sections:

  • Auditing and Attestation
  • Business Environment and Concepts
  • Financial accounting and reporting
  • Regulation

There are other licenses you can obtain in order to become a licensed accountant. Here are some of them:

  • CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor
  • CFA – Chartered Financial Analyst
  • CIA – Certified Internal Auditor
  • CMA – Certified Management Accountant
  • CPP – Certified Payroll Professional

What can I do with a Master’s Degree in Accounting

When you take this degree you can seek different career paths, which can improve your accounting knowledge and increase your prestige in the labour market. Public and private institutions are always searching for employees who can carry for them the burden of bookkeeping and finances.

Here are some of these career paths you can consider to run after:

  • Accounting Manager
  • Auditor
  • Financial Accountant
  • Budget Analyst
  • Government accountant
  • Tax accountant
  • Certified Internal Auditor
  • Forensic accountant
  • Cost accountant
  • Treasury analyst

Is a Masters Degree in Accounting Worth It?

If you like to analyze financial reports and work with numbers, the job of the accountant is definitely the perfect occupation for you. And, alongside enjoying your passion you are landing a job that will fulfill your financial goals.

In 2016 in the US, the median annual salary for an accountant was $68,150, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. 10% of these accountants earned over $120,000. As an accountant in Australia you can earn $55,552 per year on average, and in the UK an accountant earns £28,352 per year on average. In Germany accountants’ median annual salary is €39,425, while in Canada it’s $50,363.

In other countries accountant salaries may vary, but not at a significant difference.

The number of employed accountants in the US in 2016 was 1,397,700, states BLS. While the future predictions are that accountants will be one of the most in-demand employees.

The success of a company, an organization or an institution depends on its economic politics.

Public and private organizations that have to deal daily with financial issues rely on accountants for professional help. They don’t have time to look and analyze all those financial reports, so they’ll always be in need of someone who can do this for them. So we can surely say there will always be jobs for well-educated and experienced accountants.

BLS figures state that until 2026 the employment of accountants and auditors will increase 10 percent more than the average. This is to say 140,300 new employed accountants will enter the US Labor market.