What is the difference between an MBA in Accounting and a Master’s in Accounting?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants will be seeing a 16 percent job growth between 2010 and 2020. Much of this growth is due to increasing financial regulations, which will mean that more firms will need the services of accountants to handle their financial documents. However, deciding what kind of accounting degree to pursue, particularly a graduate degree, can be a tough choice. Business schools differentiate between Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Accounting and a Master of Accounting (MAcc). Students may be confused at the difference between these two degrees.

Master of Business Administration in Accounting

At many businesses schools, the MBA program is centered on several concentrations. A student can enroll in a MBA program where they concentrate in finance, management, or accounting, for example. An accounting concentration helps the student center their work and research in accounting, but the MBA curriculum includes other important business classes. MBA programs help mature a student’s business acumen and knowledge. The core curriculum for many MBA programs include classes on business ethics, marketing analysis, and information technology. These classes are more than just general education courses, they are the core classes every MBA student must take. MBAs prepare students for a business position, particularly one within management-level.¬†Overall, the MBA is centered on preparing a student to become a professional.

The concentrations in a particular field, such as accounting, help provide some knowledge of a particular field in business. MBA in Accounting students will be prepared to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. The CPA exam is a highly regarded examination that opens up many graduates to top accounting jobs. CPAs are able to work for firms that have to file, under law, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). To become a CPA, the accountant must have a graduate degree related to accounting and pass an accountancy exam in their state.

Master’s in Accounting

Unlike a MBA, a MAcc program is devoted toward the study of accounting. Of course, like any undergraduate or graduate program, there are some general education requirements to a MAcc curriculum. Nevertheless, a majority of the classes are focused on accounting, particularly highly technical accounting programs. Such classes may include forensic accounting, accounting for mergers and acquisitions, family wealth preservation, or enterprise information systems. A MAcc program is also sufficient for the CPA examination.

Personal Preference

The major difference between both the MBA and MAcc programs centers on the personal preference of the student for their academic program. If the student definitely wants to learn more information and skills in the general field of business, a MBA program will offer the general education requirements needed to learn about various business fields. However, if the student wants to stick to a technical curriculum focused on specific accounting skills, then a MAcc program may be whats best for that student. Both programs, luckily, offer students the opportunity to become CPAs, so the real issue becomes what kind of degree program is a student prepared to invest in. Figuring out which degree program may work best is a crucial step for any future accountant.