Accounting Masters Degree Programs
Kaplan University - Long trusted as a leading name in the education space, Kaplan is one of the most popular online schools offering accredited accounting programs.
Colorado Technical University is a popular choice amongst students from the midwest and online, Colorado Technical University offers fully accredited campus-based and online programs in accounting.
Liberty University offers affordable online accounting degrees. They offer a Christian-based collection of programs suitable for accounting students at any stage of their career.
You have completed your bachelor’s degree in accounting. Good for you. You now have the educational background to begin your career as an accountant. You also have the option of continuing your accounting education for one more year and improving your competitive advantage in the market place by attaining a master’s in accounting and complete the educational requirements to sit for the CPA exam.
Getting a master’s degree in accounting will qualify you to take the CPA exam, allow you to establish an accounting specialization or if you intend to stay on a general accounting career path a master’s will give you a more in depth understanding of general accounting principles and practices. In short a master’s in accounting is a good investment in your future.
You have a several options as to how to proceed:
- you can take a break from school and go to work for awhile get some job experience and make some money to pay back those student loans; or
- you can – get a job as an accountant and complete your master’s degree online or in a traditional part-time program; or
- you can continue your education by enrolling in a fulltime master’s program, defer your student loans for another year and complete your master’s degree in one year.
Which path you follow depends on your unique situation; you need to balance your professional goals and the other responsibilities you are juggling in your personal life.
If you want to complete the master’s degree fulltime and finances are a consideration there are many scholarships targeted to accounting students. Check with your financial aid office to see if there are scholarships, student loans or work study options to assist with the costs of a master’s degree. Many institutions offer masters of accounting students employment opportunities in the university administrative or college offices which include a tuition waiver in addition to a small stipend.
There are free online scholarship identification websites which provide scholarship specific search engines that will pull information from large databases and sort the scholarship information according to criteria you specify. Prospective or current employers are another potential source for scholarships.
The web pages of the professional accounting associations are also a good place to search for accounting scholarship opportunities. Generally these sites will also provide the application form and information as to deadlines and eligibility criteria.
Working while you complete your master’s courses part-time is not a bad idea especially if you have little or no prior accounting work experience. Many states have a work experience requirement before you sit for the CPA so you could satisfy both the educational and work criteria if you work as an accountant and complete your master’s courses part-time.
There are four types of master’s degrees you can consider, a Master’s of Science, a Master’s of Arts, a Master’s of Accounting (MAcc) or an MBA with a concentration in accounting. Not all institutions offer all types of master’s degrees. If you have a strong preference for a MAcc or an MBA with a concentration in accounting make sure that the institutions you are considering offer that option.
Do not waste your time considering accounting programs that are not accredited by a reputable accreditation agency. Not all accreditation agencies are reputable. To find a list of accreditation agencies recognized by the US Department of Education go to their website. The Department also has a list of programs offering higher education degrees that are accredited. Accreditation is especially important if you are considering an online master’s program. While there are very good online master’s programs there are also scam programs. You want to avoid being taken in by glitzy web pages that promote programs with little or no substance.
When selecting a master’s program it is important to consider which programs offer the most qualified faculty in your area of interest. For example, a university could have a strong accounting program but not have a strong faculty in taxation or forensic accounting while another university could have a lower overall accounting program ranking but be recognized as one of the strongest programs in taxation or forensic accounting.
Check out the college rankings. Business Week and US News and World Report both rank US business schools and their accounting programs. The Financial Times provides a global ranking of business schools MBA programs comparing schools from around the world which you may also find of interest.
The Princeton Review is another helpful source of information. The Review provides rankings based on responses to student surveys in eleven specific areas. If you are considering an online master’s in accounting program, Online Education Data Base (ODEB at http://oedb.org/rankings) ranks online accounting education programs.
Once you identify several programs in which you are interested you need to ask those programs some additional questions to give you the information to make a final choice.
If some or all of the programs you are considering are online be sure to inquire into the technical and technology requirements to access the classes; is special software required; does the program offer a technology help line 24/7; does the program provide student advisors and if so what kind of access do you have to your advisor; does the program have an online library; does the library provide support to help you access the materials? The academic quality of an online program is irrelevant if you can’t access the classes, the online support services and library materials.
If you are considering traditional programs make a campus visit. Most prospective students say the received the most useful information for making a decision about which program best fit their needs from a face to face meeting with faculty, staff and current students. Take the time to sit in on a class while you are on campus. Ask about career services support the program will provide, which firms and businesses recruit graduates of the program, what the recent graduate’s pass rate is on the CPA exam and where recent graduates are employed.
The choice of a program for your master’s degree studies is a critical one. Take the time to make sure the program you choose will provide you with the educational opportunities and credentials that meet your professional and personal goals.
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