What Should I Look For in a Master of Accounting Program?

If you’re forging ahead to graduate school for a Master of Accounting, it’s important you know what to look for. A Master of Accounting (MAcc) is a popular graduate degree offered by the majority of U.S. business schools. Over one to two years, master’s students are challenged to advance their knowledge and practical skills for professional accounting practice. Nearly all 50 states nationwide require candidates for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential to meet a 150-hour requirement with a master’s degree. Achieving an MAcc can also greatly enhance your job prospects. In fact, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) reports that 45 percent of employers will hire Master of Accounting graduates this year. Below are some factors you should consider when picking the right master’s degree.

Accounting Accreditation

Of course, it goes without saying that the university should be regionally accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. However, the best Master of Accounting programs should also feature programmatic accreditation. Accounting degrees with separate accreditation from the elite Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) represent the cream of the crop. Getting accepted into these programs can be difficult though. At the minimum, the college should be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) or International Assembly of Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).

CPA Exam Pass Rates

It’s likely that you’re considering a Master of Accounting program to become a CPA. Doing so will require that you pass the Uniform CPA exam. According to the AICPA, only 47 percent of testers passed this exam nationally in 2015. Search for business schools providing an above-average CPA exam pass rate. This statistic certifies that the MAcc program succeeds in training accountants for the rigorous job responsibilities. Look for universities that include the Becker CPA review courses within the curriculum. Test prep will increase your chances of passing.

Available Specializations

One of the biggest benefits of pursuing a Master of Accounting is the ability to specialize. You can step beyond the entry-level staff accounting positions and build your niche. Many business schools allow students to tailor their studies with specialized tracks. For instance, a tax specialization would prepare you with specific knowledge for filing and reviewing tax forms. Concentrating in forensic accounting will unlock job options in detecting and addressing fraud, embezzlement, or other legal troubles. Declaring a specialization in information systems will help you focus on the technology and software used in accounting.

Valuable Learning Opportunities

Getting ahead in accounting is all about having a solid resume. Find a Master of Accounting program that will help you branch out with unique, hands-on learning opportunities. Choose a university with smaller class sizes for one-on-one interaction with experienced faculty. Look for business schools with a large Career Services department that sets up internships. Consider programs offering accounting clubs or associations for networking. The best business schools will schedule job fairs with the Big Four accounting firms and private companies to boost your job placement success too.

Whether you’re a recent graduate or mid-career accountant, earning a Master of Accounting can uplift your career by satisfying CPA requirements. Not only do CPAs enjoy more advanced job choices and industry prestige, but they also have a $1 million dollar advantage over their non-certified accounting colleagues. Do your homework and weigh the above factors to find the best Master of Accounting program for your professional future.