Why Choose an Accounting MBA

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Accountants with an MBA work in investment, banking, healthcare, technology, and for the government, overseeing financial decisions. Finances impact every area of business and government, so their skills are essential. The term accountant comes from the French, meaning to account. An MBA refers to a Masters in Business Administration.

What We Do

Accountants with an MBA work in private companies, as consultants, as government auditors and accountants, as bankers, and investors and in healthcare, technology, and management.

Private and public groups rely on accurate accounting, advice for growth, and tax help. Finances are the foundation of much long-term decision making and short-term activities.

The more information a person has about the subject and its ramifications on a group, the more in demand he is. Accountants with an MBA are typically hired within three months of graduation, according to a 2010 study done by U.S. News & World Report.

How quickly an accountant is hired depends upon his specific skill set in accounting. There are many different specialties in accounting where your day to day activities could vary tremendously. As you are considering an accounting MBA, you may want to think about specific areas of accounting that could be of interest. The most common accounting specialties include:

  • Financial accounting: Tracking financial transactions for a company or client, provide summaries and financial reports. Shareholders usually are able to assess a company’s value from these documents.
  • Managerial accounting: Tracking information that is required to manage the financial affairs of the company, so that it can make educated strategic and operational decisions.
  • Cost accounting: Determining the costs of various products and services by conducting analysis of records and depreciation records. Classify and record various operating costs so that managers can keep expenditures under control and also can assist in making better financial decisions
  • Auditing: Reviewing several document types, including loans, contracts, and websites to ensure that they are correct. Auditors may work with either financial or non-financial documents, or sometimes may work only with financial documents.
  • Tax accounting: Preparing federal, state and local tax returns for organizations or private individuals, according to current laws, rates and regulations. Some may further specialize in individual, corporate or property taxes.
  • Government Accounting: Working at the federal, state and local levels. They often work on white collar crime cases or are in charge of public funds. At the local and state level, they may manage local revenues and investigate fraud.
  • Nonprofit accounting: Assessing the financial situation of the nonprofit entity. The goal in this case is not to earn a profit but to reduce costs and to maximize level of service to the members of the organization and society at large.
  • Forensic Accounting: Working as investigatory accountants. They may work in an ongoing financial fraud or white collar crime case. Responsible for digging up illegal or unethical financial transactions that may include matters of fraud, money laundering or embezzlement.
  • International Accounting: Working with organizations that do business internationally. They often work of foreign financial statements so that they are better aligned with US standards of generally accepted accounting principles.

Why It’s Hot

As government expands, tax laws get more confusing, and regulatory agencies impose new layers of rules it requires someone well-versed in the world of numbers to lead companies through the maze of laws and requirements.

The global economy has made it complicated running a business, but also made it more exciting and often more profitable. Changes in technology that control how consumers bank, buy, and invest have brought a mini-revolution to the financial markets.

These many changes have led to stronger demand for accountants and auditors with advanced accounting and business management skills. The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS reports that employment for accountants and auditors will grow by a strong 11% by 2024. This is being driven as noted above by new financial and regulatory rules, and also by a US economy that is gathering steam.

As more businesses are starting and expanding, wages, expenditures and hiring is increasing. These factors lead to more need for accountants to keep track of the books.

Certain skills in accounting have been reported to be especially hot:

  • High level of technical proficiency in cloud computing, information and cyber security and data mining
  • Great expertise with compliance, internal audit and risk
  • Deep knowledge of the state and federal regulatory environment

All of this makes finance a robust, ever-changing field. It also ensures that there is an expanding demand for highly trained professionals. The median pay is fairly high, in the $45,000 to $60,000+ range.

Job satisfaction polls indicate people who choose to pursue an online accounting MBA have high job satisfaction. Pay rises with experience, moving to $100,000+ into the millions for top executives.

These specific areas of accounting are showing strong salary growth, according to Robert Half Finance and Accounting. This suggests that job growth in these specialities is quite robust:

  • Accounting manager for small company under $25 million: $73k-97K: 3.8% increase from 2016
  • Business analyst manager for midsize company from $25-$250 million: $98k to $133k: 3.9% increase from 2016
  • Compliance manager for large financial services firm: $94k-$124k: 4.2% increase from 2016
  • Financial analyst for financial services company: $60k-$87k: 4.1% increase from 2016
  • Senior accountant in corporate accounting, small firm: $63k-$76k: 4.1% increase from 2016

Professionals who want to earn a good salary and enjoy strong job demand would be well served to consider the above accounting roles.

Work Environment

Almost exclusively, accounting MBAs work in an office environment. Even those who choose to work for law enforcement, like the FBI, sit at a desk, work with numbers, and consult with others involved in the project. In some cases they are witnesses in court proceedings.

For many who choose from one of many of the best accounting MBA online, there is plenty of people work involved, especially for consultants and those who work in technology or information systems.

How To Do It

To get an accounting MBA, you first need to complete your bachelor’s degree and apply to the graduate school of your choice. Competition is fierce in the Top 50 MBA programs across the country, so be prepared with several backup choices.

Depending on the MBA program you enter, you can either major in accounting as an undergraduate, in arts and sciences, or in business.

For most traditional campus-based programs, you must first successfully pass the GMAT exam. Much of your admission score is based on how well you do in the exam. Preparation is rigorous. There are many books and classes that will walk you through the process to improve your chances of a high score.

However, for many Online MBA programs today offered by top non-profit universities, the GRE is NOT required for admission. Some top Online MBA programs such as Washington State University required 7+ years while others like the University of Maryland at College Park require just 1-2 years. Your GPA and work experience also play a role.

Featured Online MBA Accounting Programs

Finding a university with excellent credentials and top online accounting MBA degree programs that will work around your schedule is easier today than ever. There are many online accounting degree programs available. Below are some of the recommended ones:

Online MBA in Accounting – Southern New Hampshire University

The online MBA program at Southern New Hampshire University will offer you the expertise and skills in accounting to work in many different industries and occupations. Students are able to greatly accelerate their expertise in financial and business management, and deepen their understanding of capital budgeting, portfolio management and finance.

SNHU’s online MBA in accounting is one of the most cost-effective MBAs in the US, and many student can complete it in just one year. The coursework is designed to be relevant in your current position; many students are able to develop accounting-related projects in the program that are related to their current positions. SNHU is featured in America’s Best Online MBA Programs rankings.

Skills that you will develop in this program are:

  • How to apply economic and accounting principles to be a more effective business planner
  • Learn to use information technology to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace
  • Use tools in quantitative analysis to handle the operation and management of a variety of companies
  • Employ solid financial management principles to manage businesses
  • Learn to consider all of the implications of taxation in making decisions about financial planning

Required courses include financial reporting; tax factors in business decisions; economics for business; business law; and accounting and financial analysis

This school has a tradition of excellence and a proven success rate – 95 percent of our students are employed upon graduation.

Details

  • University Type: Non-Profit
  • Campus Location: Manchester, New Hampshire; online
  • Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition: Inquire
  • Degrees Offered: MBA in Accounting
  • GMAT/GRE Required: No
  • Financial Aid Offered: Grants, loans, work study, internal and external scholarships

Online MBA in Accounting – Colorado Technical University

The Master in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting at Colorado Technical University offers you the chance to learn the essential skills that you need to succeed in the field of accounting. You will study taxation, financial reporting, auditing, cost accounting, accounting information systems, and managerial decision making.

This program has been well ranked for years in nationally known publications. It was named as a Tier One MBA program in 2016 by CEO Magazine. The MBA program also was ranked as a Best Online Program by US News and World Report.

The courses in this program are taught by highly experienced instructors who understand that the most successful accountants today often take on the role of financial advisor. Note that this program may be taken fully online, or at one of the school’s five campuses. No GMAT is required.

Required courses are in applied managerial accounting; applied managerial economics; strategic management in dynamic environments; applied managerial finance; taxation and business decisions; financial reporting, and MBA accounting capstone.

Students who have a GMAT of above 500, or has shown a lot of professional experience in accounting may have preparatory requirements waived. These include courses in law, marketing, accounting, ethics, information technology and global leadership.

Details

  • University Type: Non-Profit
  • Campus Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado; online
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition: Inquire
  • Degrees Offered: MBA in Accounting
  • GMAT/GRE Required: No
  • Financial Aid Offered: Grants, loans, work study, internal and external scholarships

Online MBA With a Focus in Finance and Accounting – Kaplan University

This accredited degree program from Kaplan University does not require the GMAT, and you will have the opportunity to collaborate on business projects with your fellow students that will help you to make solid business and management decisions. This MBA program also will help you to learn effective skills in leadership, innovation and corporate social responsibility.

This program further will assist you in developing the accounting and business management skills that will help you to attain leadership roles in virtually any business organization.

Required courses include the following:

  • Financial Institutions and Markets
  • Corporate Finance
  • Accounting Principles
  • Risk Analysis and Management
  • Financial Statement Analysis

The curriculum of this two-year online MBA program is designed to help you do the following:

  • Apply knowledge that is related to essential business processes so that you can make effective accounting and business decisions in a national and global context
  • Be effective in your personal management and leadership styles in your current workplace or in future workplaces
  • Demonstrate the advanced leadership skills that are needed to earn high level management positions
  • Integrate new business knowledge so that you can take logical business actions in diverse business situations
  • Evaluate social and ethical implications of various business decisions in a globally oriented context

Details

  • University Type: For-Profit
  • Campus Location: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: Inquire
  • Degrees Offered: MBA
  • GMAT/GRE Required: No
  • Financial Aid Offered: Grants, loans, work study, internal and external scholarships

Online MBA in Accounting – University of Maryland at College Park

This online MBA at the University of Maryland at College Park has a strong reputation for developing highly skilled and legally sounds business leaders. MBA graduates from this accredited program have been shown over time to embody high business standards who thrive at the lead of local, regional and international organizations.

This program allows students to complete requirements in as little as 21 months. It is a highly flexible MBA that permits students to continue to work part or full time.

This MBA in accounting features Action Learning Projects at its in person residences, which challenge MBA students to be deeply involved with real-world business issues both in the US and overseas. This is a unique hands on approach that will hone your skills in leadership, teamwork, communication and analysis.

This online MBA has been ranked #47 overall in the US according to US News and World Report. It also is ranked the #9 online MBA by the same publication. The Economist also has ranked the program as #4 in faculty, as of 2015.

Required courses include managerial economics and public policy; managerial accounting; operations management; impact of taxation on business entities; corporate valuation and fraud examination.

Details

  • University Type: Non-Profit
  • Campus Location: College Park, Maryland; online
  • Accreditation: AACSB
  • Tuition: Inquire
  • Degrees Offered: MBA in Accounting
  • GMAT/GRE Required: No
  • Financial Aid Offered: Grants, loans, work study, internal and external scholarships

Online MBA in Accounting – Liberty University

Prepare yourself for an exciting career in the corporate world by earning a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting through Liberty University.

You will learn tax and auditing skills, accounting theory, accounting information systems in a team environment and practical leadership skills. In addition, you will study the best accounting practices and learn the importance of accounting ethics.

A total of 50% of the hours in this MBA program can be transferred in, if they are approved by the university.

The faculty and staff in this MBA program are some of the most talented and skilled in their business subject matter. They are well-known in the education and business fields to have a constant focus on business and mental growth for students, as well as encouraging them to grow spiritually.

Required courses include the following:

  • Strategic Marketing Management
  • Managerial Finance
  • Legal Issues in Business
  • Business Research Methods
  • Accounting for Decision Making
  • International Business
  • Organizational Design & Structure
  • Global Economic Environment
  • Contemporary Issues in Human Resource Management
  • Operations Management
  • Policy & Strategy in Global Competition
  • Advanced Cost Accounting
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Tax Research & Jurisprudence
  • Advanced Auditing
  • Advanced Financial Accounting Theory

Some of the careers that past students have entered include: Auditor, Certified Public Accountant, Bank Officer, Cost Accounting, IRS Agent, Budget Analysis, Managerial Accounting, Tax Accountant, Certified Management

Details

  • University Type: Non-Profit
  • Campus Location: Lynchburg, Virginia; online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition: Inquire
  • Degrees Offered: MBA in accounting
  • GMAT/GRE Required: No
  • Financial Aid Offered: Grants, loans, work study, internal and external scholarships

America’s Best Online MBA Accounting Degrees

The following list of Online MBA Accounting degrees was sourced from our report, America’s Best Online MBA Programs for 2017.

Cost legend:
$ = up to $30,000, $$ = $30,001 to $60,000, $$$ = $60,001 to $90,000, $$$$ = over $90,001

Rank College/University Score AACSB Cost Legend
1 University of Scranton 84.07 Yes $$
2 Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) 82.82 Yes $
3 Emporia State University 77.91 Yes $
4 Tennessee Technological University 77.43 Yes $
5 University of South Florida – St. Petersburg (Tiedemann) 77.27 Yes $
6 University of Massachusetts – Lowell 75.84 Yes $
7 University of Dallas 73.28 Yes $$
8 California State University – San Bernardino 71.63 Yes $$
9 SUNY Polytechnic Institute 70.36 Yes $
10 Suffolk University 63.21 Yes $$$
11 University of Maryland – College Park (Smith) 60.92 Yes $$$
12 Southern New Hamphshire University 54.78 No $
13 Liberty University 53.78 No $
14 Maryville University 52.55 No $
15 Columbia College 51.73 No $
16 Franklin University 49.56 No $
17 City University of Seattle 49.55 No $$
18 Endicott College 49.5 No $
19 Grand Canyon University 48.63 No $
20 Upper Iowa University 47.23 No $
21 University of North Alabama 44.49 No $
22 Albertus Magnus College 43.93 No $$
23 Davenport University 42.17 No $
24 Campbellsville University 41.98 No $
25 Ferris State University 41.27 No $
26 Charleston Southern University 40.01 No $
27 University of the Southwest 38.17 No $
28 DeSales University 38.03 No $
29 Florida Institute of Technology 38.02 No $$

Pros & Cons

An online MBA in accounting opens a lot of doors in corporate America. Here is a look at the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • You’ll stand out in the crowd, always important in the competitive fields that need MBAs and accountants.
  • Going to a good MBA school will give you the chance to network with experienced and successful professionals. This can often be one of the most valuable parts of attending MBA school.
  • Earning an MBA in accounting will allow you to sit for the Certified Public Accountant examination; the CPA designation if you earn it will provide you with many more high-paying career opportunities
  • Accountants with an MBA and years of experience may be able to venture out on their own and work for themselves as a CPA
  • You’ll be on target for better paying positions as you move through the ranks.
  • Earning your MBA in accounting may allow you to eventually move into a corporate leadership position, such as chief financial officer, chief executive officer, chief operating officer, or operations manager. Many executive leadership professionals today have advanced accounting and finance skills
  • You’ll have the extra time to study the theory of finance and accounting, which are so important in leading 21st century organizations.
  • Postgraduate work is required for some areas like quantitative finance or complex financial products.

Cons:

  • It is expensive to work your way through completion of an MBA. Some students find that the amount of debt they need to take on for their MBA is not worth it in terms of the increase in salary for years after they got their degree. It is important to look carefully at the amount of debt you will incur, compared to the likely salary increases you may enjoy in coming years.
  • Some argue that much of what you learn in an MBA program for accountants can be learned on the job with enough experience. For example, the skills you learn in an MBA program with accounting software and current tax laws can be attained through a few years of full time work experience.
  • Some MBA programs focus on theory and concepts, rather than real-world situations. Students should seek out an MBA program that allows you to work on real business cases from the current business world.
  • Attending an online MBA program will probably not provide you with as many networking opportunities as going to an on-campus program.
  • Accounting work is very seasonal, with a light workload for the summer and winter months, and lots of overtime in the spring time. This can be challenging if you are self-employed, as you may have months where you have little work.
  • If you get an accounting job out of college, you get real world experience. Staying in school longer extends the process of learning by doing.

Financial Aid

It is important to consider the matter of financial aid as you are earning your MBA degree. Earning an advanced degree can be expensive. But fortunately, there are many scholarship options available. Here are five scholarships available to MBA accounting candidates:

Career Paths

There are many career paths for an individual with an MBA in accounting. Here is a look at seven of the most popular career paths for those pursuing an MBA in Accounting:

  • Finance: If you thrive in a competitive environment, this is a good pathway to choose. It involves overseeing the financial transactions for a company, including cash management and investment. It can also involve working in the field of banking and investment. Most begin this career path in public accounting with regional and Big Four firms.
  • Marketing: People choosing this career work to increase sales and improve a firm’s bottom line. It involves research, finding opportunities and developing effective marketing campaigns.
  • Technology Management: This pathway requires people with the vision to establish a company’s technological development for the long term. It involves managing IT, overseeing research and developing standards.
  • International Business: This choice is perfect is you enjoy travel. People work in the global marketplace, discovering trends and applying worldwide economics to marketing, finance and policy decisions.
  • Government Accounting and Auditing: If you want to work for the IRS, the FBI or government budget agencies, this is the career pathway to choose. Areas this covers include banks, drugs, food, financial service companies, telephone services, utilities and all types of government regulation.
  • Information Systems: This pathway involves all computer-related activities in a company, including getting internet and intranets working properly, upgrading software and developing networks.
  • Management Consulting: If you like to work with people as well as numbers, this pathway is a sound choice. Consultants help a company solve management problems, control costs and increase productivity.

Further Reading

Here are five publications that can help answer your questions:

Suggested Websites

Six websites with helpful resources for people working on an MBA in Accounting are:

References

Take the First Step

In an increasingly global, competitive marketplace, having MBA-level management and leadership skills are absolutely critical to your career progression. An accredited Online MBA will provide the opportunity to better serve your current company or business.

Use our website to learn about all of the accredited online MBA options available to you today.