While an online MBA in accounting ostensibly prepares graduates for the certified public accountant (CPA) examination, graduates can take other pathways, too. For example, MBA holders may complete another accounting certification exam or search for leadership roles in finance, such as a chief financial officer, finance manager, management analyst, or consultant. These professional roles usually come with high salaries, too -- proof that earning your MBA can turn into a smart financial investment.
Read on to learn more about what to expect from an online MBA in accounting, as well as available scholarships to support your academic journey.
Online MBA in Accounting Curriculum
Many students pursue an accounting MBA program with the goal of taking the CPA exam and becoming a certified public accountant. As a result, the curriculum for an online MBA in accounting often focuses on practical skills, such as auditing and attestation. Coursework varies by program, but most online MBA in accounting curricula feature a few of the classes listed below.
This course introduces students to the finances of corporations. Students learn to record transactions in income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. They also study revenue recognition, long-term liabilities, and working capital. Sometimes, curricula include introductory and advanced financial accounting courses, in which students learn about investments.
Students in this course learn to review an individual's or company's financial records to ensure they comply with laws and regulations. The course follows the auditing process from start to finish, also covering assets and liabilities. Learners also study internal auditing, assurance and attestation services, financial statement assertions, and ethical considerations within the auditing profession.
This course covers federal income tax law. Students examine how federal law determines taxation for several different types of entities, like businesses, partnerships, estates, and trusts. Course material also covers income distribution for taxable entities, tax-sheltered investments, and mergers and acquisitions.
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Comparison of Accounting Master's Degrees
Learners can take many different educational paths to find careers in business and accounting. While an MBA introduces broad administrative duties, other degrees -- like a master's in accounting, taxation, or statistics -- can prepare future accounting professionals for similar roles. The table below highlights the differences between these programs.
|Degree Type||Description||Potential Career Path||Length|
|Master of Business Administration in Accounting||An MBA teaches leadership and management skills in addition to practical business competencies. An MBA with an accounting concentration trains graduates specifically for accounting certifications like the CPA exam. Students learn about capital budgeting, financial management, and budget analysis. Their administrative skills can lead to leadership roles.||Chief Financial Officer, Financial Manager||Less than 2 years|
|Master of Science in Accounting||A master's degree in accounting prepares learners to take the CPA certification exam. They learn foundational principles of accounting, like how to put together balance sheets and cash flow statements. Learners also study advanced accounting topics like auditing, property transactions, international taxation, and business law.||Accountant||1-2 years|
|Master of Science in Taxation||This degree is designed specifically for those who want to work as tax professionals. Graduates can work in the business, legal, and financial fields, guiding companies and individuals through complicated tax policies. Courses explore income tax at local, state, and federal levels; ethical considerations; shareholder rules; and estates and gifts.||Tax Advisor||2 years|
|Master of Science in Statistics||Students who want to work as economists or economic researchers should consider a master's in statistics. This degree focuses on numeric reasoning, probability, predictive analysis, and data analysis rather than accounting principles. However, learners also learn to apply these theoretical concepts to practical economic scenarios.||Economist, Researcher, Project Manager||3-5 years|
Paying for a master's degree in accounting can seem as daunting as the rigorous curriculum. Luckily, there are several funding resources available to master's in accounting students. Most universities offer scholarships, but check out the private scholarships below if you need further financial assistance.
|Frank L. Gatehouse Government Accounting Scholarship||
Who Can Apply: Sponsored by the Government Finance Officers Association, this scholarship funds graduate students pursuing accounting. Candidates can apply if they aim to work in government positions after graduation.
|AISCPA Scholarship Award||
Who Can Apply: Women undergraduate and graduate students may apply for this award. Sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AISCPA), applicants intend to apply for CPA licensure and need a minimum 3.0 GPA.
|AISCPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students||
Who Can Apply: This scholarship program encourages accounting students from underrepresented minority groups to apply. Applicants need at least a 3.0 GPA and must plan to pursue CPA licensure.
|Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Benventi MBA Scholarship||
Who Can Apply: Offered by the Daughters of the Revolution, this scholarship is open to accounting students with a minimum GPA of at least 3.25. Both men and women can apply for this scholarship.
|Military MBA Merit Scholarship||
Who Can Apply: This program gives tuition funding to military veterans pursuing an MBA. Interested veterans should submit two recommendation letters and their transcripts, and must also attend one of the program's member schools.