Though it may seem that accounting and financing are the same, there are significant differences. When exploring career options it is important to understand these differences before deciding if a masters in Accounting or a masters in Finance is right for your career vision and goals. While finance and accounting are connected, the differences are unique. An accountant is involved in keeping accurate financial records and analyzing the data collected on a regular basis according to individual, business, or corporate schedules. A financial manager is involved with the effective use of a business or corporation’s money and is responsible for designing and overseeing an effective financial plan.
If you have an undergraduate degree in either accounting or finance, a masters in Accounting can prepare you for advances into senior accounting roles. Pursuing a master in accounting will enrich the skills you developed in audits, taxation, as well as, financial and cost accounting. Further, a masters in accounting will allow you the opportunity to specialize in a number of fields of interest. As part of your studies during a master in accounting program, you will become familiar with department management, generating valuable accounting data and analyzing that information, and learn to use data collected to conduct research. With a master in accounting, you will learn to implement advanced strategies for quality improvement, as well as compliance and reimbursement strategies.
A masters degree in accounting has wide potential for career opportunities. Graduates with a masters degree in accounting can find job opportunities in both the public and private sectors. In addition to government organizations, nonprofit organizations also have a need for professional accountants. If you are considering entrepreneurial possibilities after graduation, there are numerous opportunities to serve as consultants, for small businesses. A masters degree in accounting will continue to provide career opportunities for those taking advantage of the knowledge and expertise it offers.
A masters degree in accounting may be combined with a masters in finance. A masters in Finance typically prepares you in the fields of financial analysis, corporate finance, or investment management. Since much of accounting and finance do overlap or have a strong relationship, many masters of accounting programs include at least basic financial courses. A trend seen among some programs is to combine masters of accounting programs with masters of finance programs. This provides the best of both disciplines and gives you a huge edge over competitors that have either a master in Accounting or a master in Finance. Some schools that have seen a decline in applicants to their masters of accounting programs are pleased to note significant increases in applications when they began offering a combined major in accounting and finance.
A combined master in accounting and finance places you in the field of those with advanced degrees that go beyond management studies. Graduates with a combined accounting and finance major are able to focus on sub-specialties that are in high demand throughout the country. These specialties are Certified Financial Manager, Certified Public Accountant, or Certified Fraud Examiner. For those of you who plan to pursue a masters degree while working, many masters of accounting and finance programs are available online. Some schools offer programs that combine onsite and online learning to provide you with the best learning experiences possible. Deciding to pursue a major in accounting, finance, or a combined major depends on your career goals and values. Take time to explore all possibilities, visit the schools you are considering, talk with graduates and alumni and you will be a step closer to entering the professional arena fully informed of all possibilities.