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What is an MBA in Accounting?
An accounting professional has a firm grasp on the financial health of an organization. From reconciling transactions to preparing financial statements, an Accountant/Auditor has a wide range of skills. They are not just bean counters, but strategic consultants capable of understanding the reason behind a company’s strong quarterly performance or whether or not trimming down the workforce is a viable option. In today’s rapidly changing global environment, Accountants and business leaders are bound by a strict code of ethics. The MBA in Accounting will provide students a comprehensive overview of the key indicators that make for a successful company. It also fulfills most of the educational requirements needed to sit for the CPA/CMA exams.
An MBA in Accounting transforms students into highly proficient business leaders – capable of analyzing a company’s financials. Each specialization course is designed to provide students a deep understanding of the accounting profession and enhance their ability to effectively navigate reporting, departmental, and operational decisions. The MBA in Accounting curriculum builds upon solid foundational courses in business that include operations, marketing, IT, and finance. Students are then exposed to specialized coursework in Financial Accounting, Cost Accounting, and Managerial Accounting. This graduate program is more than a resume builder; it’s a gateway towards the CPA designation.
Whether it’s finance, taxation, operations or public accounting, there are plenty of professional avenues an MBA in Accounting graduate can pursue. Armed with the perfect balance between management skills and accounting principles, MBA students leave their studies with a solid grasp on how to analyze a company’s financials while upholding the ethics of the profession. The MBA in Professional Accounting program follows the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) which guides leaders in their decision-making process.
In order to gain proficiency at measuring a company’s economic activities, the Accounting student must gain a solid understanding of the double-entry accounting system. This is the formal system of collecting, organizing and reporting financial data used to make sound economic decisions. Analyzing a company’s financial position starts with a balance sheet, extends to income statements, retained earnings statements, and finishes with the statement of cash flow. Users of financial statements include corporate shareholders, lenders, management, employees, research organizations, and taxing and regulatory agencies.
Whether it’s put together for the company’s officers or gathered on behalf of shareholders, Accountants and Auditors are responsible for drafting the financial statements. As a CPA, you have the ability to sign off on the year-end statement and draft consultative reports on a company’s financial position.
100 Best MBAs in Accounting
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What is the Career Outlook for an MBA in Accounting?
During both tough economic times and/or periods of prosperity, an Accountant’s skills will be needed. As the economy grows, the need to prepare and examine financial records grows. With an upwards of 1.3 million active jobs by the year 2024, Accounting professionals will be in high demand – especially for those with a CPA designation.
Accountants and auditors can expect a favorable job growth of 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, according the BLS. Factors contributing this strong need for accounts include globalization, a growing economy, and a complex tax and regulatory environment.
What is the Salary Range for an MBA in Accounting?
Overall employment of top financial executives is projected to grow 8% from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. As one might expect, C-level financial executives are expected to face very strong competition for jobs. The median annual wage for chief financial officers is $181,210. The lowest 10% earned less than $69,780, and the highest 10% earned more than $208,000. The median annual wage for general and operations managers is $99,310. The lowest 10% earned less than $44,290, and the highest 10% earned more than $208,000.
The median annual wages for chief financial officers in the top industries are as follows:
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||$208,000 or more|
|Healthcare and social assistance||$150,340|
The median annual wages for financial managers in the top industries are as follows:
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||$142,300|
|Management of companies and enterprises||$140,650|
|Finance and insurance||$117,870|
What Can I Do with an MBA in Accounting
In short, the sky is the limit for MBA in Accounting Graduates. Whether you want to work for corporations, government agencies, or non-profit organizations, job growth projections are highly favorable. Public accountants, for example, help everyday citizens with their taxes. They know tax law and money-saving write-off for employees, small businesses, and solopreneurs. They are especially busy during tax season and are highly proficient at closing out year-end financial statements. Accountants may also become involved in forensics and investigate crimes related to fraud, embezzlement, and other illegal financial transactions. Some public accountants are self-employed others form an LLC for the tax shelter.
With an MBA degree and a CPA designation, you could also work as a licensed auditor, responsible for cross-checking corporations’ financial records to ensure compliance. If you become a government accountant, you may be responsible for ensuring revenues and expenditures are in compliance with the law, as well as auditing businesses and individuals. Management accountants make budgets for companies and protect the firm’s bottom line. In this job, you could provide financial analyses, reports, and advice about important business decisions. You are essentially a paid consultant with the ability to sign off on financial statements. Cost estimators perform takeoffs, feasibility studies, and determine the economic viability of construction projects. This is also a need-area for accounting professionals with a background in construction management.
One of the major benefits of pursuing an MBA, you are not limited to your specialization. You certainly have the option of becoming an accountant, but you will also have the tools necessary to manage all functions of a business organization. Listed below are the types of positions held by graduates of an MBA in Accounting program:
- Actuary serves as a professional who analyzes the financial consequences of risk. Actuaries use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to study uncertain future events, especially those of concern to insurance and pension programs.
- Collections Agent collects on designated high-risk delinquent accounts, maintains good customer relations with borrowers and effectively solves problems in an effort to resolve account delinquency and prevent losses.
- Cost Accountant record and analyze the financial information of the clients they work for, and provide it for internal use by managers, not the public.
- Credit Analyst- A credit analyst is a financial professional who possesses expertise in assessing the creditworthiness of individuals and companies. Credit analysts determine the likelihood that a borrower can repay his financial obligations by reviewing the borrower’s financial history and credit history and determining whether economic conditions will be favorable to repayment.
- Financial Investment Analyst- Investment analysts provide stockbrokers, fund managers and stock market traders with financial information, advice and recommendations derived from global investment data.
- Internal Auditor– Internal Auditors check for risk management of an organization or businesses’ funds. They then identify ways to improve the process of finding and eliminating waste and fraud.
- IRS Investigator- An IRS Investigator will combine accounting skills with law enforcement skills to investigate financial crimes. Agents are duly sworn law enforcement officers who are trained to “follow the money.” No matter what the source, all income earned, both legal and illegal, has the potential of becoming involved in crimes which fall within the investigative jurisdiction of the IRS Criminal Investigation.
- Tax Accountant- Assists in the maintenance and preparation of tax-related items to include tax records, tax returns, tax schedules, and related tax reports. Helps with the preparation of local, state and federal level returns to be submitted within specified tax deadlines.
- Tax Auditor-Tax auditors use principles of accounting to evaluate financial records of individuals, companies, organizations or agencies and ensure they comply with federal, state and local tax laws. They may also advise on tax issues and assist in filing tax returns.
Many senior management executives have a background in accounting or finance. An ability to analyze and interpret financial data will be especially important as companies seek efficient, cost-effective means of operation. Earning your MBA in Accounting gives you the strong background you need to be successful in a wide variety of management-level positions in fields such as:
- Financial management
- Tax planning
- Budget analysis
- Cost accounting and management
- Financial reporting and planning
The following are examples of types of financial managers:
|Controllers||Controllers direct the preparation of financial reports that summarize and forecast the organization’s financial position, such as income statements, balance sheets, and analyses of future earnings or expenses. Controllers also are in charge of preparing special reports required by governmental agencies that regulate businesses. Often, controllers oversee the accounting, audit, and budget departments of their organization|
|Treasurers / Financial Officers||Treasurers and finance officers direct their organization’s budgets to meet its financial goals. They oversee the investment of funds and carry out strategies to raise capital (such as issuing stocks or bonds) to support the firm’s expansion. They also develop financial plans for mergers (two companies joining together) and acquisitions (one company buying another).|
|Credit Managers||Credit managers oversee their firm’s credit business. They set credit-rating criteria, determine credit ceilings, and monitor the collections of past-due accounts.|
|Cash Managers||Cash managers monitor and control the flow of cash in and out of the company to meet business and investment needs. For example, they must project cash flow to determine whether the company will have a shortage or surplus of cash.|
|Risk Managers||Risk managers control financial risk by using strategies to limit or offset the probability of a financial loss or a company’s exposure to financial uncertainty. Among the risks they try to limit are those that stem from currency or commodity price changes.|
|Insurance Managers||Insurance managers decide how best to limit a company’s losses by obtaining insurance against risks, such as the need to make disability payments for an employee who gets hurt on the job or the costs imposed by a lawsuit against the company.|
What Skills Do I Need to Have a Successful MBA Accounting Career?
- Writing and Oral Communications: The effectiveness of words is not measured by volume; in fact, just like with so many other things, less is more. This is especially true for busy work colleagues. Emails can be shorter and stronger, and presentations more direct and engaging. When you get to the point in your writing, you’ll find it positively influences your speaking, as well.
- Critical thinking: Spotting patterns, trends or coming up with a coherent strategy is critical thinking. Developing a long-term financial plan for a client requires critical thinking. This is a skill that you can develop over time, through experience and actively seeking information about how others do what you do. You may have thought of the best solution first, but you’ll never know until you explore.
- Persuasion: Accountants need to persuade their clients throughout their relationships and expertise. Good managers persuade team members to work together to achieve a goal. Persuasion is as much about your own self-confidence as your ability to analyze a situation and come up with a plan.
- Technology/Computer Skills: Knowing the laws and how to pull insightful data out of a balance sheet are critical to an accountant’s success. However, if you can’t use the software and other tools necessary to do your job – advancing in your career will be tough.Chances are good that the employees who are comfortable with technology, who embrace change and are constantly on the lookout for better tools appear to be more confident in the workplace
- Leadership: Good leaders communicate well; they think about their audience and how their words are interpreted. They are also big-picture strategic and think about the long-term. Leaders are valued by supervisors, co-workers, and clients alike.
- Analytical skills. Financial managers increasingly are assisting executives in making decisions that affect their organization, a task that requires analytical ability.
- Communication skills. Excellent communication skills are essential because financial managers must explain and justify complex financial transactions.
- Detail oriented. In preparing and analyzing reports such as balance sheets and income statements, financial managers must be precise and attentive to their work in order to avoid errors.
- Math skills. Financial managers must be skilled in math, including algebra. An understanding of international finance and complex financial documents also is important.
- Organizational skills. Because financial managers deal with a range of information and documents, they must stay organized to do their jobs effectively.
What is the Difference Between an MBA and a Master in Accounting?
The MBA in Accounting degree is a more general approach to business studies with usually 18-21 credits dedicated to the Accounting Specialization. MBA in Accounting students will have exposure to comprehensive coursework in all aspects of business management (operations, sales, entrepreneurship, marketing, IT, and finance) with an integrated focus on financial, managerial, and cost accounting. Those seeking to obtain the CPA designation upon graduation will most likely fulfill their state’s educational requirements needed to sit for the exam.
A Master in Accounting will touch upon business management but will focus heavily on accounting. An M.S. in Accounting will certainly satisfy requirements to sit for the CPA exam upon graduation. Master of Science in Accounting students have the option of further specializing in taxation, auditing, or non-profit accounting. Not only is a Master’s Degree in Accounting the perfect launching pad for the CPA/CMA designation but it’s also ideal for those interesting in pursuing a terminal degree in Accounting.
What Credentials Are Needed To Boost My MBA Accounting Career?
The Uniform CPA Examination protects the public interest by helping to ensure that only qualified individuals become licensed as U.S. Certified Public Accountants (CPA’s). Individuals seeking to qualify as CPAs – the only licensed qualification in accounting – are required to pass the Examination. There is also the Certified Managerial Accountant (CMA) designation for those interested in executive-level positions in private companies. Depending upon the state, CPA and CMA candidates usually have both educational requirements in undergraduate and graduate-level accounting coursework as well as professional experience requirements.
Typical MBA in Accounting Classes
- Accounting for the Digital Era – Explores the evolution of accounting information to the digital economy. It examines the migration to a real-time economy, the digitization of business, and the globalization of business. The student gains an awareness of the future of accounting, reporting, and auditing in the digital age. Technologies and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act provide an understanding of future methodologies that address compliance with the act.
- Auditing Concepts – Examines the principles and components governing management information systems with strong emphasis on the importance of internal control within the system. Illustrates the role of the computer in accounting and general information systems and accounting transactions processing, the environment of information systems, designing new system controls, flowcharting, management, designing computer-oriented controls, systems analysis, design, implementation, and follow-up principles of systems design and standards of internal control.
- Income Taxation – Enables students to recognize and understand the impact of taxation as a major factor for both individual and business planning. Covers sources of federal tax law, the concept of income realization and recognition, timing of income recognition, timing and possibility of income tax deductions, tax accounting methods, and reporting periods.
- Managerial and Cost Accounting – Covers the problems of generating and utilizing cost data for the dual purpose of managerial control and product costing. Cost accounting principles and procedures are studied in relation to the accumulation and reporting of material, labor, and variable and fixed overhead costs. Actual, normal, and standard cost systems are examined in both a job order and process manufacturing setting. Cost control, cost planning, and cost analysis as used in assisting the managerial function is studied.
- Advanced Financial Accounting – Building on Intermediate Financial Accounting, students examine several complex topics and their effect on financial reporting and disclosure. Topics include an introduction to international accounting and the development of accounting standards; temporary and long-term investments in debt and equity securities; business combinations; consolidation at acquisition; consolidation subsequent to acquisition; consolidation and intercompany profit in inventory, land, and depreciable assets; foreign currency transactions; translation and consolidation of international operations; and accounting for not-for-profit organizations including public sector reporting.
Typical Classes in Auditing Concepts
- Corporate Income
- Taxation Decoding of Corporate
- Financial Communication
- Governmental and Not-for-Profit Accounting
- Management and Cost Accounting
How Much is Tuition for MBA Accounting Programs
You’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of MBA in Accounting programs available to prospective grad students. Compared to the average out-of-state tuition of $48,450.17 for on-campus programs, the MBA in Accounting program for in-state residents averages $34,915.18. This is fairly reasonable considering the average Accounting Manager salary is approximately $74,000 according to Payscale. Unlike general MBA degrees, the Accounting concentration gives you practical skills that are transferable into the real-world whether you’re working for a non-profit or sitting for the CPA exam.
The average full-time Tuition for MBA programs in Accounting is $34,915.18 with a highest of $141,812.00 and the lowest of $6,660.00
The average in-state tuition for campus MBA program in Accounting is $34,915.18 compared to the average out-of-state tuition of $48,450.17. The average in-state tuition for an online MBA in Accounting is $31,891.45 compared to an average out-of-state online tuition of $45,302.31.
With a tuition cost ranging between $6,660.00 and $141,812.00, it may be worthwhile to attend a highly reputable online or in-state program instead of electing to go out-of-state. This may be the difference in a $90K in tuition due to your residency status. You don’t need an MBA degree to know the importance of fiscal responsibility.
You may want to opt for a more affordable degree programs instead of taking out student loans for B-School tuition. A savvy student also realizes that attending an online MBA program can significantly reduce textbook, transportation and living costs.
10 Most Expensive Accounting MBA Programs
- Carnegie Mellon University - $141,812.00
- University of Virginia-Darden - $139,200.00
- University of California, Los Angeles - $139,014.00
- Emory University - $138,248.00
- University of Southern California - $137,106.00
- Washington University in St. Louis - $127,032.00
- University of Miami - $126,040.00
- Georgetown University - $121,858.00
- Tulane University - $118,822.00
- University of California, Berkeley - $117,444.00
10 Most Affordable Accounting MBA Programs
- Augusta University - $6,660.00
- Lamar University - $8,432.00
- Georgia College & State University - $8,640.00
- University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras - $8,650.00
- Columbus State University - $8,748.00
- California State University, Chico - $8,800.00
- University of the District of Columbia - $9,156.00
- Tennessee State University - $9,276.00
- Humboldt State University - $9,294.00
- Elizabeth City State University - $9,876.00
What is the Starting Salary for Accounting MBAs?
Though it’s not the only factor, compensation is an important consideration for individuals considering obtaining an MBA degree. Salaries for graduates with master’s degrees in Accounting can be significantly higher than those of graduates with only a bachelor’s degree. In addition, advance salary projections from the US Department of Labor show that average MBA salaries are expected to increase by 13.5% each year through the year 2028 with an annual need of 99,000 new managers needed each year.
Average starting salary for MBA students from universities that offer an MBA in Accounting today is $82,752.49 with the lowest of starting of $41,538.00 and the highest reported starting salary of $146,303.00.
10 Highest Starting Salaries
- University of Pennsylvania - $146,303.00
- Claremont Graduate University - $132,453.00
- Naval Postgraduate School - $128,000.00
- University of San Francisco - $127,244.00
- Northwestern University - $126,961.00
- Carnegie Mellon University - $126,250.00
- University of Virginia-Darden - $124,684.00
- University of Southern California - $122,634.00
- University of Wyoming - $122,500.00
- University of California, Berkeley - $122,488.00
10 Lowest Starting Salaries
- Shenandoah University - $41,538.00
- University of Southern Mississippi - $42,294.00
- University of Alabama at Birmingham - $48,462.00
- North Carolina A&T State University - $48,800.00
- Texas A&M International University - $52,000.00
- Delaware State University - $52,000.00
- Henderson State University - $52,500.00
- Morgan State University - $53,014.00
- Hodges University - $53,300.00
- Southeastern Oklahoma State University - $53,789.00
Best ROI for MBA Programs
The average ROI full-time for MBA programs in Accounting is 162% with a highest of 556% and the lowest of 31%.
Return on investment (ROI) is an essential factor when considering which MBA program(s) to apply to. To calculate ROI, consider both the tuition for the MBA program and the average salary a graduate earns. The average tuition cost for an MBA degree in Accounting is approximately $34,915.18, while the average starting salary for MBA graduates is around $82,752.49. To calculate ROI, you need to subtract the tuition from the salary and divide by the tuition cost. This will give you a rough estimate of how much value you will get out of the MBA Accounting.
The average ROI for all MBA programs in the United States is 154%. The average ROI for Accounting programs is 162%.
10 Accounting Programs with the Best ROI
- Augusta University - 555.56%
- Georgia College & State University - 376.16%
- New Mexico State University - 366.21%
- Stephen F. Austin State University - 365.23%
- University of Central Arkansas - 362.62%
- Tennessee State University - 358.11%
- University of Maine - 353.12%
- Missouri Western State University - 350.17%
- Texas A&M University-Kingsville - 349.17%
- The University of Texas of the Permian Basin - 346.08%
10 Accounting Programs with the Lowest ROI
- University of Miami - 34.64%
- Rochester Institute of Technology - 37.89%
- The George Washington University - 40.72%
- Syracuse University - 41.78%
- Pepperdine University - 44.50%
- Carnegie Mellon University - 44.51%
- University of Southern California - 44.72%
- University of Virginia-Darden - 44.79%
- Northeastern University - 44.82%
- University of Denver - 45.02%
GMAT Scores for MBA Programs in Accounting
Even though some B-Schools may not require a GMAT Scores, there’s a good chance that a highly-competitive MBA progam does require the GMAT. In most cases, B-School admissions departments want to assess their prospective students’ quantitative reasoning skills prior to making a decision on acceptance. With that being said, average GMAT Scores for on-campus MBA programs in Accounting are 536.42. Online GMAT Scores are only slightly lower with a 530.09 average GMAT for accepted students. These scores certainly give you a bit of wiggle room if you’re not the best test taker. Although not an indication of one’s success as an MBA student, the GMAT is one of the key admission factors in the B-School acceptance process
Student / Faculty Ratio for MBA Programs in Accounting
For most students, their professors are the first exposure to the business world. They are normally practioners in the field and have successful risen to the top of their respective careers. As an MBA in Accounting student, you want to taught by CPA, CMA’s, and Accounting Executives. B-School Accounting Professors can guide you toward a specific concentration, provide the latest industry trends, and put you on the right track, career-wise. The Student/Faculty ratio is important to those interested in building a lasting relationship with their professor. To use them as a networking opportunity and an advisor. The average Student/Faculty ratio for on-campus programs is 2.46 compared to a 2.45 ratio for online MBA in Accounting programs. On average, looks like B-Schools like to keep the Student/Faculty ratio rather low.
Enrollment for MBA Programs in Accounting
There are pros and cons when considering the size of your MBA in Accounting program. Larger, more diverse student populations, may lend itself to greater networking and job placement opportunites; whereas smaller programs may provide for more meaningful interactions with fellow classmates. With the average on-campus full-time MBA in Accounting program currently at 184 students and the average online part-time enrollment at 364, there are things to consider before sending in your tuition deposit. You should always look at graduation job placement percentages and events that tailor around securing employment, like annual job fairs. That may be a clear indication of the talent level of your fellow MBA classmates.
Global Enrollment for MBA Programs in Accounting
Accounting is the language of business and for the most part, financial, managerial, and cost accounting translate nicely across borders. Does that mean the same accounting rules apply in the U.S. as they do in Japan? The answer is no. With an ever-changing global economy, it’s considered an asset to understand how other cultures do business. A highly-diverse company is an asset because they have a better understanding how to best serve global clients. But if your goal is to become a CPA in the U.S.-only, you may not need an MBA program with a large percentage of international students. Whereas other B-School students may want to learn and network with students from different parts of the globe. The average on-campus MBA progam in Accounting has 79.15% of its students from the U.S. compared to an online MBA program with 81.78% of its students from the U.S.
Faculty Information for MBA Programs in Accounting
The average full-time MBA program in the U.S. employs 84 professors with doctorate degrees. The average online MBA program has 83 professors with doctorates. There usually is a direct correlation between quality-of-education and the number of doctorates in an MBA program. It’s a clear indication that the insitution values industry pioneers, published authorities, and those who have extensive experience in business. With an average full-time MBA faculty at 9 across all MBA in Accounting programs, you’re looking at a highly-competitive marketing for business professors. You’ll most likely be trained by the best CPA’s in the their respective industry, but it’s always good to analyze the profiles of your professors before making an admissions decision.
Research the Best MBA Programs in Taxation – GMAT Scores, Salaries, Rankings
- The number of on-campus MBA Accounting programs offered: 658
- The number of online MBA Accounting programs offered: 289
Prospective MBA in Accounting students have 658 on-campus and 289 online programs to choose from. Whether you’re looking for an Executive MBA program for working adults, a flexible part-time online MBA in Taxation, or a traditional on-campus MBA in Public Accounting, there are plenty of options for the aspiring B-School student. Depending upon the Accounting sector you’d like to join, it’s important to see if the MBA course of study follows a prescribed path to make the transition into the real-world a bit more seamless. For example, if your goal is to become a CPA, you should align your coursework around the public accounting subject and make sure each course meets the state requirements to sit for the CPA exam.
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Rebecca Smith-Allen solved business problems across a variety of industries as a McKinsey consultant before discovering her true passion was writing. Now, Rebecca brings together her love of drafting clear, concise, and persuasive text with her business background as a freelance writer. She focuses on content management, website content, and boosting message visibility via social media. Rebecca earned her B.A. in Economics from Wellesley College and her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. In her spare time, Rebecca writes young adult speculative fiction.