Though accounting is a lucrative major and a field always in demand, many undergraduate students struggle to find a path to break into the industry. Since the recession, more and more are opting for master’s degrees to set them apart in a competitive applicant pool. The rise of online colleges as a viable alternative to brick and mortar institutions makes getting a master’s degree easier than ever before. But an internet-based program still involves a large financial and time commitment to complete. When deciding whether an online master’s in accounting is worth it, there are several factors to consider.
Almost every state requires you to have 150 hours of accounting coursework before you qualify for the Certified Public Accountant exam. For many students, getting a master’s degree is the quickest route to fulfilling this requirement. But it’s not always necessary. Most accounting schools will provide you with a route to reach 150 hours as an undergraduate, and pursuing your master’s simply to acquire enough coursework for the CPA isn’t really a solid reason. There is some argument as to whether a master’s degree will help you pass the exam, and usually it comes down to the coursework. A student would be wise to look into how relevant the program is to the content of the CPA, which includes auditing, reporting, laws, and business concepts.
Your Accounting Career
Realistically, more people are getting graduate degrees in almost every field than ever before. But the number of undergraduates who pursue master’s education is still relatively small, especially when you consider the salary benefits. Georgetown University found that 24 percent of accounting students go on to get their master’s degree, which earns them nearly 40 percent more annually than those with only a bachelor’s degree. It’s also important to remember that the economy is still very tough, and that the job market may continue to be highly competitive. A master’s degree can give you an edge, especially if you have an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field and want to break into the industry.
There may be numerous advantages to getting an online master’s in accounting, but there are also basic factors to consider. A student has to examine each program individually and find one that could suit their needs, because not every online degree program is alike. Can you afford to take on the financial burden, realistically? Will you be able to continue working, raising a family, or fulfilling your other obligations while you study? Sometimes, getting a master’s degree means weighing the sacrifices you have to make against the rewards. If you intend to pursue something other than public accounting, it may not be worth it to you. But if you intend to become a financial analyst or compete for high-end jobs, it may be one more step toward crafting your career.
The option of pursuing your master’s online, where you can do your homework in the middle of the night and never have to leave the living room, is a fortunate aspect of living in the internet age. But that doesn’t mean it’s a decision to be made lightly. When you approach a major like accounting, you have to make the right choices to achieve the career you want.