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Degree Overview: Online Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree in Professional Accountancy

Majors Overview May 23, 2015

Get information about online Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree programs in Professional Accountancy and their courses, career choices, job and wage outlook, continuing education choices, and certification choices.

Information on Professional Accountancy Programs

Many schools offer online master’s degree programs in accounting. A general business education is offered through an MBA program with a concentration in accounting, along with accounting courses devised to train students for management positions. By contrast, students enrolled in master’s degree programs in professional accounting are prepared to take professional accountant licensure exams.

Online education usually allows students to access course materials and video lectures whenever they want; however, there are set deadlines for the completion of assignments. Students without undergraduate degrees in business or accounting may be required to complete prerequisite coursework in those fields.

Online M.B.A. Programs in Accounting

General business management courses are offered in online MBA programs with a concentration in accounting, to augment advanced coursework in accounting. These programs usually attract working professionals who seek a management position in the area of accounting.

It typically takes 2-3 years to complete an online MBA program in accounting. Foundational coursework (that would extend the program length) may have to find completion by individuals with a bachelor’s degree in a non-business area. Accounting coursework is offered wholly online at many schools.

Common Online MBA Courses in Accounting

Advanced accounting courses augment core business coursework in areas like human resources, operations, statistics, finance and marketing. Courses may include topic areas such as auditing, accounting information systems and reporting.

Financial Reporting

Reporting of financial data found on cash flow statements, statements of changes in equity, income statements, and balance sheets, are emphasized through this foundational course. Accounting for taxes, equity, liabilities and assets is taught to students.

Taxation of Businesses

Students enrolled in this course gain a strong grasp of the tax issues faced by partnerships and corporations, from the time they form to their liquidation. They learn about tax compliance and planning strategies that businesses use.

Strategic Management

Students enrolled in online MBA degree programs in accounting are required to take a course in strategy that includes concepts from other core business courses. The course covers the analysis of case studies and the application of their knowledge to marketing, economics, finance and accounting to find solutions to problems and to make strategic recommendations.

Career Choices

Program graduates typically seek management positions at financial institutions or in the accounting departments of major corporations.

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a job growth rate of nine percent has been predicted for financial managers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $109,740.

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates may seek continued education by earning a Ph.D. degree to pursue careers in academia or research. Coursework in a Ph.D. program incorporates a strong research component; students are also required to write and defend a thesis; as these requirements have to be on campus, schools don’t offer these programs online.

Online Master’s Programs in Professional Accounting

Students enrolled in online master’s degree programs in professional accounting – referred to as Master of Accounting (M.Acc.) or Master of Science (M.S.) in Accounting – will be trained to seek careers as private or public accountants. Typical coursework includes classes customized to allow them to take the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam in the majority of states.

It takes students 1-3 years to complete online accounting master’s degree programs that they may attend part- or full-time. Foundational accounting coursework may have to be taken by students without an undergraduate degree in business or accounting. Courses are offered wholly online in many programs; however, a hybrid option is included in some programs, wherein a combination of on-campus and online courses are taken by enrolled students. Students may be allowed to opt for a specialty, such as tax services or corporate accounting.

Common Online Courses in Accounting

Students take a combination of elective and core courses in accounting in online accounting master’s degree programs. After they complete courses like taxation, financial reporting, and cost management, students often find themselves prepared to take some sections of the CMA or CPA exams.

Advanced Managerial Accounting

Students learn about the resolution of problems, managerial decision making and planning and evaluation of performance through the use of accounting data. Coursework may include other topic areas such as cost-volume-profit analysis, budgeting, and forecasting.


Students learn how financial statements are used by accountants to determine the value of a firm. They become adept at measuring cash flows, profitability, earnings and income.

Advanced Auditing

Ethical issues, compliance with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, and advanced standards and techniques of auditing and assurance, are covered in this course. Students engage in the analysis of case studies and presentation of audit reports.

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek CPA licensure or CMA certification to serve as accountants for businesses and individuals.

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, an average job growth of 13% has been predicted for accountants and auditors. In May 2012, the average yearly salary for accountants and auditors are $63,550 (BLS).

Certification Choices

CMA certification may be available to program graduates seeking corporate careers in managerial accounting, whereas a CPA license may be available to those seeking careers in public accounting. Professional licensure is not compulsory for accountant positions; however, audits can be conducted, and corporate financial statements officially attested by CPAs.

Schools offer CMA and CPA exam preparation courses online. Once students become a CMA or CPA after completion of exams and work experience requirements, they must continue their education to maintain the certifications.

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