If you decide to read this article, it is because you want to take your professional career to the next level. You probably have already obtained a bachelor’s degree and are undecided between pursuing a Master’s in Accounting or becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Not everyone focuses solely on gaining work experience; some prefer to wait and become more prepared. Below I will compare two routes you could take to become a better professional.
Which could open more doors for me: a Master’s in Accounting or a CPA?
The Master’s degree and the CPA are excellent options to improve your resume; obtaining both is possible. Workforce competition is constantly on the rise, so you need to stand out from the rest, and this would be an adequate alternative.
However, if you don’t have the time or the money for the Master’s degree and decide to get certified, don’t worry. Check out these pros and cons for each alternative that will hopefully help you choose your best option.
Pros an cons of a Master’s in Accounting
- Choose from several MAster’s Degree options in your preference
- It will open many doors and increase your chances of finding a job in this area
- Opportunity to network with professors and students, which could help you get a job. They could also be potential business partners
- If you choose an online Master’s degree, you can watch your classes from the comfort of your home and perhaps even keep your full-time job
- Master’s degrees last between 9 months and two years, depending on the chosen university, and tuition fees are usually high
|Pros Master's in Accounting
|Cons Master's in Accounting
|Several MAster's Degree options
|Time to complete the master's degree
|Increase chances find job
|Fees are usually high
|Network with professors and students
|Online Master's degree
Pros and cons of a CPA
- Obtaining the certificate can take between 6 and 12 months; in comparison to the Master’s, the cost is much lower
- The content turns out to be broad but not deep, so it won’t take long to study, and you can keep a full-time job
- You would not be able to establish a network of contacts, and you would not specialize in any field. It is a mandatory requirement in some sectors
- After obtaining your license, you will have to invest 40 hours of courses and different annual fees to keep it active
|Certificate between 6 and 12 months
|Establish a network of contacts
|You can keep a full-time job
|Expensive to keep it active
If you liked the Masters in Accounting, learn more here!
If you have decided to pursue a Master’s degree, you should first learn about the requirements. Also, you should ask yourself what area you would like to specialize in and how well you did in college in this field.
The courses required by many colleges will help you get a good score when you take the GMAT. It is important to note that some colleges require work experience.
Admission requirements for the Master’s degree
- Completion of courses in statistics, accounting, pre-calculus management accounting, and finance (curriculum may vary from campus to campus)
- Take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and obtain a high score. The range of scores to be received will depend on the university
- To have completed a university career with a good academic average.
What are my options for a Master’s degree in accounting?
Don’t choose the Master’s degree just because the field is said to be the highest paying. Choose it because you like the area and understood the basics of your undergrad. Also, think about what you want in the future for your career.
Being honest with yourself and your interests will help you choose the best Master’s degree. After reading a bit about the Master’s degrees below, we recommend you look up the curriculum of the one that has caught your attention the most.
Master of Science (MSA)
The curriculum includes several types of accounting, so it is a Master’s degree with a very broad scope. Upon completing this Master’s degree, you can work as a budget analyst, forensic accountant, or staff accountant.
Master’s in Professional Accounting (MPAcc)
If you are a person who likes practice more than theory, this is the perfect choice for you. It is dedicated to providing courses in fraud examination and internal auditing. You will be able to practice tax, public, and fraud accounting.
Master of Accountancy (MAcc)
Provides knowledge of new accounting practices. By pursuing this Master’s degree, you can practice any accounting career, such as fraud investigation, forensic or governmental.
Master’s Degree in Taxation
Focuses on the theory and practice of tax policy. If you are interested in the field of taxation, choose this option. The area is quite broad for this Master’s degree.
MBA with a focus on Accounting
Focuses more on accounting courses than a Master of Business Administration (MBA). The study program focuses on students developing accounting skills while honing business skills.
It is important to note that due to the pandemic, many universities have decided to keep the online mode. You could also investigate these Master’s degrees by other means in case the one you prefer is not offered in your city.
If you prefer to opt for the CPA, you should do this
Like the Master’s degree, the CPA requires certain licensing requirements, which may vary from state to state. Below, we will tell you the main requirements and the steps to follow.
- Educational requirements: You must have a bachelor’s degree with at least 150 credit hours of study. Some states, such as Minnesota, allow you to take the exam with 120, but you must have 150 before applying for a license. It is not mandatory to complete the remaining 30 hours after completing the bachelor’s degree with a master’s degree; it is also possible to obtain them through courses. States such as Illinois are more flexible with the courses to be taken, while others are more demanding and require specific courses
- Age requirements: Not all states have this requirement, but in most states, the minimum age is 18. In the case of Missouri and New York, they must be 21 years old
- Residency requirement: Some states require residency of at least six months, but most allow non-residents to take this exam
- Ethics requirement: They must take an AICPA ethics exam and score at least 90%. Other states require an ethics exam unique to them or complete a specific ethics course
Once you have accomplished these requirements, you can start the process of obtaining your CPA by following the steps below:
- Pass the CPA exam
- Have 1 or 2 years of experience
- Have at least 150 credit hours of higher education
- If you are not confident studying for the exam on your own, some academies, such as Becker, can help you prepare for it.
What is the difference between a Master’s degree in accounting and a CPA?
Master’s degrees are granted by universities, while the CPA credential is a license granted by the 55 U.S. Boards of Accountancy. However, CPA and Master’s degrees go hand in hand. Often, professionals earn their Master’s degree and then sit for the CPA exam to earn their license.
Who earns more, a person with a Master’s degree or one with a CPA?
This will depend on the Master’s you have chosen. However, we will let you get an idea and decide.
|Bachelors with a master in accounting Average
|$73,000 per annum
|Master's degree in accounting Average
|$91,000 per year
|$69,990 per year
|CPA Salary without experienc
|$55,000 per year
|CPA 1-4 years of experience
|CPA 5-9 years of experience
|CPA 10-20 years of experience
|$86,000 - $99,000 per annum