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The AIU blog shares ideas, information and tips aimed at helping you get ahead personally and professionally, with topics ranging from online learning success to career development.

What Can a Master of Accounting Do for Your Career?

Image: accounting vs finance

For many individuals with a mind for crunching numbers and tracking finances, it seemed like a no brainer to earn an accounting degree while studying as an undergrad in college. Those who have been in the workplace for a few years have no doubt experienced different results after completing their undergrad studies. Some might be successful accountants or auditors while others struggle to find work, not surprising given everyone’s experience is different after graduation.

Those who truly enjoy working in the field of accounting may be thinking about the future of their job. Some of them may even be wondering what educational options exist to help them further their career. Earning a Master of Accounting is one way to enhance a financial education, but what can earning a Master of Accounting really do for your career?

Not All Degrees Are Created Equal!

While a Master of Accounting can help you for effective leadership in today’s fast-paced business world, not all of the Master of Accounting degree programs out there are the same. When examining any program, make sure the school that offers it is regionally accredited by an accrediting body like The Higher Learning Commission (HLC). A degree from an accredited school can be the differentiator in today’s competitive job market.

For Those Switching Careers

Not everyone makes the right choice on their time around the block. Many students choose a degree that either turns out to be the wrong fit in the real world or is negatively impacted by an economic downturn. According to, there is a Master of Accounting program that is perfect for those transitioning into accounting from another business related career field.

Kathleen Lowman, the director of the Master of Accounting program’s Career Services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, points out that 40% of the students enrolled in that institution’s Master of Accounting program have been in the business field for two to eight years already. These returning students are looking for a career boost by enhancing their education and changing career fields with a Master’s.

For the Private Accountant

Unlike their counterparts in public accounting, private accounting employees typically choose to pursue a Master of Accounting to help boost their career potential. According to, the typical career track in private accounting sees individuals pursue a Master’s degree in order to try to move up the corporate ladder.

Individuals may gain entry-level employment in a corporation’s controller or budget department and often need a Master’s degree, and experience, to move to upper management, or even pursue an executive position such as Chief Financial Officer.

For Those Seeking a Boost

There are certain Master’s programs that are ideal for individuals already employed as accountants and looking to boost their credentials to look more attractive for potential advancement. Shannon Mulally, director of the Master of Science in accounting program at Michigan State University, says that her institution offers the typical Master’s program for those who have completed an undergraduate degree in accounting and/or have experience in the field.

According to Mulally, the majority of the students enrolled in the program go on to work in public accounting, often for one of the major firms in the country.

The field of accounting, as described by Lisa Young, who is a partner at Ernst & Young, is the backbone of our financial markets. Individuals interested in excelling in the long term in this career field will find a Master’s to be a rewarding choice as it opens up several avenues for career success.