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 decisionmaking 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.
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 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.
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 accounting MBA have high job satisfaction. Pay rises with experience, moving to $100,000+ into the millions for top executives.
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 pursue an accounting MBA, there is a great deal 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 schools, 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.
You can pursue your MBA either on site at a university or online. One example of a respected on-site college program is the MBA in Professional Accounting offered at Rutgers. It takes about 14 months to complete. When finished, you are prepared to sit for the CPA exam and enter a number of businesses at the executive level.
MBA in Accounting Online
Finding a university with excellent credentials and degree programs that will work around your schedule is as easy as a click of your mouse. Florida Tech offers degrees in the following disciplines, 100% online:
- *Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Grand Canyon University – (Editor’s Pick!) This degree will give you the skills for you to compete for top accounting leadership positions through the proper application of the latest business practices. This program particularly highlights how the global economy affects the decision making of organizations, planning and how organizational resources are sourced. This strong accounting program will encourage you to be a critical thinker through the application of research and quantitative methods that will change raw data into useful information. This is a fully online program and no GMAT is needed.
- *Master of Business Administration With a Focus in Finance and Accounting – Kaplan University – (Editor’s Pick!) This accredited degree program 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.
- *Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Capella University -*Featured and Highly Recommended! There are many new government regulations, more scrutiny of the finances of corporations, and a tough business environment. These issues have increased the need for more accounting professionals with more knowledge of the key role that accounting plays in the making of decisions at the corporate level. You will learn a great deal more in this online MBA program in accounting about planning and controlling budgets, auditing, using accounting to make business decisions and a great deal more. No GMAT is needed to enter this university.
- *Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Post University – *Featured and Highly Recommended! You can earn an online MBA with a focus in accounting and finance which will help you to move into high paying roles in the accounting field. This is a highly interactive online program that is taught by professors who have advanced degrees, and also are noted experts in blending both theory and practice to help you understand how to apply strong finance and accounting skills to today’s rapidly changing business environment.
- *Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Colorado Technical University – *Featured and Highly Recommended! The Master in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting 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. 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.
- *Master of Business Administration With Specialization in Accounting – American InterContinental University – *Featured and Highly Recommended! This online degree will give you the chance to understand just how important smart decision making is in the field of accounting. This is especially the case in the tough economic climate of today. The accounting MBA courses in this program will help you to finely hone your accounting skills so that you can succeed in a variety of high paid accounting roles. You can earn your MBA either online, or at one of four campuses.
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Walsh College – Walsh College offers an online Master of Business Administration, and it also offers a Master of Science in Accountancy. You will take challenging courses in accounting, finance, management and supply chain management. No GMAT is required. Graduates from this program work in many different industries.
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Concordia University – The MBA in Accounting program at this accredited university will open up an assortment of career possibilities, no matter if you wish to be an executive for a large business, or simply a CPA working for yourself. You can focus your studies on auditing, tax strategies or managerial accounting. No GMAT is required.
- *Corporate Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Florida International University – This highly rated online program will help you to bring your accounting career goals into reach, whether you wish to be a corporate executive, or to run your own accounting business. You can complete this program in as little as 18 months. You also need to take two professional development seminars in the first quarter. You do not need to take the GMAT exam.
- *Master of Business Administration in Finance and Accounting – Northeastern University – In this accredited program, you will have the opportunity to look at the most advanced accounting principles, mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, licensing and IPOs – all from a management perspective. This is a fully accredited online institution, and there is no GMAT required for you to be admitted.
- *Master of Business Administration with Accounting Concentration – DeVry University – This online MBA will provide you with the skills that you need to accelerate your career in accounting. This curriculum will provide you with a strong background in theory and application in budgeting, auditing, and taxes in a business environment. You also will gain a great deal of experience in strong communication and presentation skills, and team building expertise.
- Master of Business Administration With a Specialization in Accounting – Crown College – This is a strong, private, Christian college that offers a high quality online MBA degree, and a focus in accounting is one option. You will be exposed to all areas of business, while still incorporating all of the key learning that is most relevant to your career field. By attending this online, no GMAT program, you can learn the skills and tools you need to become a business leader.
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting – UMass Online - This program will help to prepare managers to become strong leaders in the fields of accounting and finance. This unique MBA has a strong emphasis on the importance of case studies and advanced learning techniques and field programs. Note that this program is fully accredited by the AACSB, which assures you and potential employers that your accounting MBA has met rigorous standards of quality. No GMAT is required.
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Southern New Hampshire University - An online MBA in accounting can help you to learn the business and financial management skills and knowledge that you need to advance your accounting or finance career. You will greatly increase your business management knowledge, and also you will learn much more about capital budgeting, finance and portfolio management. Many graduates from this program are now working in some of the top accounting programs in the world, and also in upper management positions around the globe. You do not need to take the GMAT for admission.
- Master of Business Administration – Accounting Concentration – Saint Leo University – You will gain both the skills and professional experiences to become a strong business leader in accounting with this accredited degree program. You will develop a strong understanding of the fundamentals of business, and also accounting concepts in the fast-moving business world.
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting – University of North Dakota – This online business degree is one of the best buys as listed by the site GetEducated.com. This accounting program will focus on planning, organizing, operating and controlling all aspects of a modern business. You can finish this program in two years, and there are live web classes held one evening each week.
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Florida Atlantic University – This online MBA will provide you with the business background that you need to succeed in the modern business world. You will study accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, health administration, finance, information systems, international business operations and marketing. This program can be completed in two years, if you have a strong business background in your undergraduate program.
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Clarion University – This MBA program is ranked as a top best buy according to GetEducated.com, based upon the cost of tuition and its accreditation by the AACSB. You can complete this degree in either three semesters or in 11 months, if you have a strong business background and a business degree in your undergraduate work.
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting – University of Wisconsin - This online MBA will develop you into a strong businessman or woman who can think globally, behave ethically, and lead in innovation. This orientation of the curriculum is made clear in every core MBA class, in the teaching methods and in all assigned activities. You will have the opportunity to both negotiate and persuade as you develop your skills in both accounting and project management. Most graduates with a background in business can complete this program in two years.
- MBA of Business Administration in Accounting – Sullivan University – This robust business program provides aspiring CPAs and other types of business professionals with an MBA that provides all of the skills and knowledge that you need to pass the CPA exam. If you have a business background, you should be able to complete this online MBA in less than three years.
- Master of Business Administration – Accounting Certification – Texas Woman’s University – This online degree program is set up for the professional who wants to have an exciting and rewarding career in the field of accounting. You do not have to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting for this program, but you should have a certain number of accounting credit hours in your undergraduate degree program.
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Rutgers University - This rigorous business program will give you the skills that you need to be prepared for many careers in many industry sectors. The most common career path for professionals with this MBA are in the fields of finance, accounting and taxation. This program integrates both strong business management skills and accounting theory and practice.
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Upper Iowa University – This MBA accounting curriculum stresses relevant accounting theory, application through analysis, and adaption to change in a business environment that always changes. This accounting program will prepare you for both leadership and management by examining business theories and models, department integration and risk assessment.
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Northwestern University – This high quality program offers a financial and a managerial track in accounting. The financial track is for professionals who want to enjoy a career of evaluating the financial data of other firms. The managerial track is better for the student who wants to evaluate and improve the accounting processes of one’s own firm.
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Hofstra University – This accounting program that is fully online will prepare you for many types of management positions in public and private organizations. This program will build upon key business competencies to provide you with superior decision analysis skills and a good perspective of current business problems and possible solutions.
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting – Pace University - This accredited MBA program in accounting will help you to understand all of the functional areas of business, and to understand the key role of accounting in your organization. This program will qualify you to sit for the CPA exam, and you can eventually rise from a cost accounting to a senior executive position, once you have more years of experience after completing this degree.
- Master of Business Administration For CPAs – Suffolk University - This MBA program is designed to qualify you to sit for the CPA exam. Classes include Organizational Behavior, Operations and Data Analysis, Economic Analysis, Value Based Financial Management, Marketing and the Challenge of Managing Value, and other classes in ethics, business law, and international business.
- Master of Business Administration Accounting Track – Monmouth University – This program has a curriculum that stresses the great complexity and diversity of managerial decisions. Required courses in this program include Economics for Managers, Business Finance, Business Income Tax, Financial Accounting Topics, Advanced Accounting Practice, Auditing Practices and Cases, and Legal Environment of Business.
Pros & Cons
An MBA with an accounting degree opens a lot of doors in corporate America. Here is a look at the pros and cons.
- You’ll stand out in the crowd, always important in the competitive fields that need MBAs and accountants.
- You’ll be on target for better paying positions as you move through the ranks.
- You’ll have the extra time to study the theory of finance.
- Postgraduate work is required for some areas like quantitative finance or complex financial products.
- It is expensive to work your way through completion of an MBA.
- 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.
Here are five scholarships available to MBA candidates:
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund General Scholarship: This fund helps Hispanic students in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
- Government Finance Officers Association Minorities in Government Scholarship: This scholarship is for $5,000, available to U.S. and Canadian students.
- AAUW Education Funding: The American Association of University Women has a variety of help available for women, ranging from $2,000 to $12,000.
- QS Community Scholarships for MBA and Postgraduate Studies: This scholarship is for $2,000, available to people who have completed a QA Applicant Survey and attended a QA World Grad School Fair.
- NABA National Scholarship Program: The National Association of Black Accountants awards scholarships in various amounts, from $1,000 to $10,000.
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.
Here are five publications that can help answer your questions:
- Wiley CPAexcel Exam Review 2015 Study Guide, Wiley, 2014, by O. Ray Whittington. This highly regarded review provides study guidelines and outlines, in addition to problems in skill building.
- McGraw-Hill Education 500 Business Environment and Concepts Questions for the CPA Exam, McGraw-Hill, 2014, by Denise M. Stefano. Part of the 500 Questions Series, this book provides critical questions often asked on the CPA exam in the business environment and concepts section of the test.
- Confessions of a CPA: Why What I Was Taught to Be True Has Turned Out Not To Be, Infinity Publishing, 2011, Bryan S. Bloom. The author, a CPA with an MBA, has held a wide range of executive jobs in the financial field. He offers real-world knowledge and advice about traditional financial planning.
- Journal of Accountancy. This online journal covers a range of topics, including practice management, technology, taxes, financial reporting, auditing and management accounting.
- List of publications compiled by the American Institute of CPAs. It covers a wide range of topics and publications arranged by category.
Six websites with helpful resources for people working on an MBA in Accounting are:
- American Accounting Association
- American Institute of CPAs
- National Society of Accountants
- National Association of State Boards of Accountancy
- American Woman’s Society of Certified Public Accountants
- Mega list of trade associations and MBA organizations, compiled by The Baruch College Zicklin School of Business