What to Consider Before Pursuing a Master of Accounting

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at AIU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

Some people make the decision to pursue a master’s degree because they believe it will open the door to better jobs upon graduation, while professionals already employed in the workforce may choose to pursue a master’s degree because they have hit a wall in their career and believe that higher education is the best way to break through and pursue better opportunities.

Before investing the time and money in pursuing a master’s of accounting, students and professionals should stop and consider the implications — of their educational goals and whether it’s truly the right career path. Each of these factors will have different values to different individuals, but they are nonetheless important for any considering this master’s degree.

CPA or CMA?

An important factor to consider when looking into a master’s in accounting is whether or not an individual is currently working, or plans to work in the future, as a public or private accountant. If they plan to become a certified public accountant, individuals typically need to take a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam.1 Most states require that individuals have completed upwards of 150 semester hours and have work experience in order to take the CPA exam.2

The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation, however, does not require an individual to have completed a master’s in accounting. Instead, individuals need only a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, as well as relevant work experience.3

It is crucial here for individuals to consider their career goals in addition to investigating the requirements in any of the states where they would like to be licensed, since the requirements for CPA certification can very by state.4

Will a Master’s in Accounting Provide a Foundation?

CPA exams are only available to those with 150 semester credit hours — which is 30 more credit hours than required by most bachelor’s degrees in accounting.1 While a master’s degree is not necessarily required to take the CPA exam, earning one may make it easier to meet the minimum requirements. Additionally, some employers prefer candidates who have earned a master’s degree in accounting. It is perhaps for this reason that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that those with either a master’s in accounting or a master’s in business administration with an accounting specialization may have an advantage in the job market.1

Is This Career for You?

No two jobs are the same, even when they are similar positions in the same company. Some positions require an individual that is technically savvy or one who is a great communicator and people person. Other jobs are perfect for those who don’t mind putting their nose to the books and working without much social interaction during the day.

While accountants may sometimes work in teams, they typically work alone,1 making this a potentially attractive field for introverts. That aspect of the work speaks to this: accountants are responsible for examining financial statements, working on an organization’s debts owed (taxes and otherwise), creating and maintaining financial records, and many similar tasks.1 Those who prefer minimal social interaction with their work may feel right at home in accounting.

As with anything in life, individual results will vary. While one accountant might find a master’s beneficial, another may not. It is important to consider these factors and other factors (such as personal and familial responsibilities) when deciding whether or not to pursue a master’s in accounting.

Pursue a Master’s in Accounting with American InterContinental University

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a faster-than-average growth for the accounting field through 2026 due to globalization and an increasingly complex regulatory environment, making now a great time to work toward entering the field.1 Sound interesting? If so, you can get started by requesting information on AIU’s degree programs online.


1 “Accountants and Auditors.” Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm (Visited 10/18/18). Conditions in your area may vary.
2 “150 Hour Requirement for Obtaining a CPA License.” American Institute of CPAs. Retrieved from: https://www.aicpa.org/becomeacpa/licensure/requirements.html (Visited 10/18/18).
3 “Getting started.” IMA’s Certification for Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business. Retrieved from: https://www.imanet.org/cma-certification/getting-started (Visited 10/18/18).
4 “CPA Licensure.” American Institute of CPAs. Retrieved from: https://www.aicpa.org/becomeacpa/licensure/requirements.html (Visited 10/18/18).

This program is not designed to prepare students for the CPA or CMA examination or any other certification exam, but covers the knowledge areas of the uniform CPA and CMA certification. AIU cannot guarantee employment or salary. For important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rates of students who attended these programs, go to www.aiuniv.edu/disclosures.
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Classes Start December 11, 2019