Do I Need to Know Much About Accounting Before Enrolling in a Masters in Accounting Program?

Determining your future career can often include different professional and academic investments at different points in your life. For example, say you have completed a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. After you graduated, you developed a new interest in the field of accounting. However, you may not have extensive accounting classes from your undergraduate education or any business classes at all. Will you be able to enroll in a master’s of accounting program?

Benefits of a Master Degree

The Master of Accountancy (MAcc) or a Master of Science (M.S.) in Accounting are graduate degrees found in business schools across the country. Although there are many accountants who just hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting, a MAcc or M.S. in Accounting shows potential employers your enhanced accounting skills and financial analysis. In an extremely competitive marketplace, holding a MAcc or a M.S. can be very beneficial for higher positions in accounting firms or accounting departments.

Can Anyone Enroll in Master’s Programs?

A concern for many students is that they might not have an accounting bachelor’s degree or any accounting classes under their belt before enrolling in a graduate program. The answer to that concern is that it depends on the program. Since accounting programs reside in business schools, you will most likely need to take the GMAT, which is the graduate examination for business schools. You may also have to show relevant professional work experience that is related to business. Perhaps you have bookkeeping experience that you have from a current job.

Accounting graduate programs will be explicit if their programs are meant for non-accounting bachelor’s degree holders or not. Many graduate programs require that a graduate applicant have course experience in a few upper-division undergraduate classes in accounting. If you do not have those classes under your belt, graduate programs will ask you complete those courses before you are admitted into the graduate program. There may even be opportunities to complete the required undergraduate classes at the school before the semester you might enroll in the graduate program. On the opposite end, there are accounting graduate programs meant for non-accounting degree holders. Overall, if a school wants a well-balanced student with clear professional goals, great letters of recommendation, and some business experience, they may accept a student that does not hold a bachelor’s in accounting, especially if the program is meant for non-accounting students.

Certified Public Accountant

One professional option that may be out of reach is becoming a Certified Public Accountant, or a CPA. CPAs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), require about 150 academic credits related to accounting. That typically means holding an accounting bachelor’s degree as well as an accounting master’s degree. Because of this, a CPA designation may be out of reach for those without an undergraduate education in accounting.

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