What’s the Difference Between a Master’s in Accounting and a Master’s in Taxation Degree?

Master's in Taxation
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As you compare graduate accounting programs, you’ll find that in addition to the Master of Accountancy (MACC) degree, some schools offer a Master of Taxation (MTax) degree. To decide which program is right for you, you need to understand what each one entails.

Similarities Between Graduate Accounting and Taxation Programs

Both a master’s in accounting and a master’s in taxation are graduate-level college programs intended for students who already have a bachelor’s degree. There may be some overlap in what courses graduate students in accounting and taxation take, particularly with regards to more general taxation studies. However, the programs often have a very different focus and a distinct curriculum.

A Master’s in Accounting Curriculum

As a whole, the field of accounting is more than just tax preparation. Today’s accountants analyze all kinds of numerical data to develop budgets, assess business performance and make business strategy recommendations, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This varied role requires an education that extends beyond taxation.

Students in a master’s in accounting program study subjects such as:

  • Advanced auditing
  • Accounting research
  • Accounting ethics
  • Corporate governance
  • Forensic accounting
  • Advanced financial accounting
  • Advanced managerial accounting
  • Fraud prevention
  • Taxes and business strategy

Many master’s in accounting programs also offer the opportunity for students to specialize in concentrations such as auditing, management accounting, forensic accounting and information management.

A Master’s in Taxation Curriculum

When you pursue a master’s degree in taxation, your curriculum will be more specialized than the traditional Master of Accountancy program. You’ll learn more advanced technical skills than you would in a MACC program and spend less time on general graduate-level accounting studies. Depending on the program you choose and your state’s requirements, the coursework you take for your MTax program may be sufficient to qualify you to take the certified public accountant (CPA) exam.

Some subjects you might study during your graduate academic career include:

  • Multi-state and multi-jurisdictional tax
  • Tax research
  • Taxation of corporations
  • Taxation of LLC partnership and S-corporation entities
  • Family tax planning
  • Financial statement analysis
  • Shareholder value creation
  • Corporate or managerial accounting
  • Taxes in business strategy

Of course, the master’s in accounting and master’s in taxation aren’t your only options for graduate study. Many master’s in accounting degree programs also offer the chance to specialize in taxation, so students who aren’t sure which path is right for them can enjoy the best of both worlds. Then there are master of business administration (MBA) programs that offer the opportunity to concentrate in accounting. These degree paths are best suited to students who want to develop their knowledge of the business world overall and of accounting in particular.

Whatever degree path you choose, having a graduate education can help you advance your career in accounting. Which option is right for you depends on what you want to do with your career and how narrowly you want to specialize.

Also see:

30 Top Affordable Master’s in Accounting / Master of Accountancy Degree Programs 2014