What to expect from a Masters in Accounting
You will usually hear ‘Masters in Accounting’ referred to in one of three ways: Master of Accounting (MAcc or MAc), Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcy, MPA, MPAc or MPAcc) or Master of Science in Accounting (MSA). You may also be able to complete a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on accounting. Some countries and institutions may use the term ‘Accountancy’ instead of ‘Accounting’.
Masters in Accounting programs usually last one or two years. In either case, students are expected to complete 30 to 36 credit or semester hours in order to qualify for their degree. This, coupled with the 120 hours studied at the undergraduate level means students will be able to take professional-level accountancy examinations such as the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination in the US, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants qualification in the UK, or the Certified Practicing Accountants program in Australia.
As a Masters in Accounting student, you can expect to be taught through a combination of lectures, seminar classes, case studies and project work, including a significant amount of independent research, ending in a dissertation. Some students may also be offered the opportunity to undertake a project for an external organization.
Entry requirements for a Masters in Accounting
Institutions base their entry requirements on the bachelor’s degree subject held by the candidate, grades and professional experience, with additional requirements (such as language proficiency tests) for international candidates.
Generally, students are expected to have a 2:1 bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related quantitative subject such as commerce, computing, business studies, economics, engineering and finance. While some institutions may not insist on an accounting- or finance-related undergraduate degree, the candidate must be able to prove s/he is suitably numerate. Some institutions only accept professionally qualified accountants onto the Masters in Accounting program, and will specify the accreditation’s they accept.
Depending on your previous education, you may need to take extra courses to strengthen your background knowledge of accounting, mathematics or finance before you start your master’s degree. This could be through a summer school program, or a distance-learning or online learning scheme. This applies to students whose bachelor’s degrees did not include a substantial amount of accounting-based courses, students who wish to switch disciplines entirely, and students who have been out of academia for too long.
Candidates may be required to take the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examinations test (GRE) and international candidates may need to prove their proficiency in the language of teaching.