Online MBA Programs in Accounting
The online MBA in accounting, a versatile degree that meets educational requirements for accounting and financial management positions and certified public accountant (CPA) licensure, provides foundational business management courses and advanced study of accounting topics. Courses cover interdisciplinary topics such as financial analysis, forecasting, and taxation and business strategy.
As an accounting degree, this MBA typically leads to above-average pay and job security associated with financial professions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $71,550 in 2019. The BLS projects 6% job growth in this field between 2018 and 2028.
Since many accountants hold a bachelor's degree, MBA graduates may earn more than the median salary for accountants and may enjoy a wider array of job options. An MBA in accounting also meets educational requirements for upper-management positions such as financial manager or management analyst, and many professionals pursue this graduate-level business degree for salary advancement, promotion, and successful transition into new fields.
To help prospective students choose the most fitting degree path from the many online business programs available, this page emphasizes unique content, purposes, and benefits associated with an online MBA in accounting degree.
What Is an MBA in Accounting?
MBA programs in accounting combine core business administration courses with accounting specialization courses. The business core usually includes coursework in economics, finance, marketing, and management, while accounting courses may explore taxes and business strategy, financial accounting, and auditing theory and practice.
Many online accounting MBA programs allow students to further specialize their degree by earning concentrations based on specific roles, fields, disciplines, and industry contexts. Concentrations may include healthcare management, international business, operations management, or finance.
Some MBA programs feature cohort-based learning, and most involve some sort of collaborative learning. Professors also utilize case studies to help bring the curriculum to life and give students opportunities to analyze and solve realistic business problems. Many MBA programs also feature an internship or experience component, which sometimes involves the students' current place of employment.
Most accounting MBA programs require 33-36 credits. Prospective accounting MBA students can pursue this degree online or on campus, depending on their preferences and availability. Many online programs feature asynchronous attendance that allows students to watch lectures and participate on their own schedule. This format makes it possible for working professionals to complete their degree during after-work hours.
MBA timelines vary, with part-time, full-time, and accelerated timelines available. The traditional full-time MBA takes two years to complete, but accelerated programs can take as few as 12 months. Part-time programs may take more than two years, but accelerated part-time options sometimes allow students to finish within two years by taking courses year-round.
Accounting MBA admission requirements vary by program, but often include an accredited bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and adequate GMAT or GRE scores. Many MBA programs also require one or two years of business-related professional experience. Applicants typically submit a resume, personal statements, transcripts, and standardized test scores. Some programs require interviews using the phone or web conferencing technologies.
Why Earn an MBA in Accounting?
MBA in accounting degrees boast many potential benefits, including salary advancement, professional networking, and more diverse job prospects. According to PayScale, professionals with an MBA in accounting average $73,000 annually -- about $5,000 more annually than professionals who solely possess a bachelor of business administration in accounting degree.
Bachelor's degrees meet educational requisites for some entry-level accounting and auditing positions, but an MBA in accounting can render graduates competitive for more lucrative, higher-level management positions. Online MBA in accounting careers include auditing manager, tax manager, and chief financial officer -- careers averaging from $90,000 to $133,000 annually, according to PayScale.
Newer professionals stand to benefit from the networking opportunities that accompany an MBA. MBA cohorts typically include a diverse array of professionals who often become long-standing friends, colleagues, and professional contacts. The group-based learning typically involved in MBA programs can help build collaborative skills and facilitate these lasting professional connections.
Experienced professionals with an undergraduate degree in accounting often use their MBA to pursue careers in specialized fields of interest, such as accounting information systems or forensic accounting. Pursuing an accounting MBA online enables busy working professionals to continue their education outside of work, without relocating or taking time off from their current day job. Unrestricted by geographical distance, online students enjoy a greater variety of choice between MBA programs.
How Is an MBA With an Accounting Concentration Different From a Master’s Degree?
Most MBA programs boast interdisciplinary core curricula integrating the business disciplines of accounting, finance, management, economics, and marketing. Core MBA coursework cultivates general management skills and develops understanding of overarching business concepts. An MBA in accounting provides a broad-based business curriculum with a series of focused classes in accounting, whereas a master's program in accounting focuses more on financial principles and typically does not include other business topics.
MBA in accounting and MBA in finance programs feature overlapping courses and skills, but these programs also differ somewhat in purpose, focus, and career path preparation. MBA in accounting and MBA in finance curricula both build skills in quantitative analysis, computational math, administration, and presentation. Accounting involves tracking and organizing financial data, whereas finance emphasizes money management, economic analysis, and future forecasting.
Accounting coursework often includes accounting theory, statistics, and taxation. Accounting MBA programs also often feature classes in financial reporting and cost accounting. Finance programs may offer courses on risk management, financial engineering, and international trade. Derivative securities, corporate finance, and investment management also frequently appear in finance MBA curricula.
MBA in accounting programs teach students the financial reporting and advanced accounting principles necessary for careers such as CPA, tax manager, or auditing manager. MBA in finance curricula often devote more time to financial management and investing, preparing graduates for careers such as investment banker, risk manager, credit manager, or investing sales trader. Both degrees can lead to positions such as chief financial officer, financial analyst, or financial manager.
Many professionals with an accounting MBA become CPAs and work in companies across diverse industries such as insurance, healthcare, or information technology. Accounting MBA graduates also may work in the public sector, serving accounting or financial management functions in nonprofit or government. Individuals with a master's in accounting typically hold similar roles. By contrast, finance MBA graduates more often end employed by commercial banks, financial companies, or investment banks.
To choose the right degree path and program, prospective MBA in accounting students often need answers to important questions. See below for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about accounting MBA programs.
- What can you do with an MBA in accounting?
- An MBA in accounting can improve job performance, advance careers and salaries, expand professional networks, and qualify graduates for new jobs and new fields. Most accounting MBA programs meet educational requirements for CPA licensure, so many students earn the MBA to qualify for accounting positions. Accounting MBA graduates may qualify for analyst positions such as financial analyst, management analyst, or budget analyst. MBA graduates may also pursue financial management careers or continue on to doctoral-level study.
- Should I get an MBA or a master’s degree in accounting?
- Choosing the right degree path involves careful consideration of your individual preferences and goals. The interdisciplinary nature and management focus of MBA programs make this degree more widely applicable to diverse career paths. The master's in accounting, on the other hand, usually emphasizes accounting-focused skills and intensive study in a specialized area.
- Do I need an MBA in accounting?
- Many accounting and auditing positions do not require master's-level education. However, accounting bachelor's degree graduates seeking CPA licensure can use the MBA in accounting to meet the 150-credit educational requirement. This degree also proves valuable to ambitious students seeking high-level careers. The MBA's management coursework, networking opportunities, and internship experience can make graduates more competitive for leadership positions.