Accountancy is a field that exists in its own corner of the business world, with a specific set of laws and best practices to obey and unique duties to complete. While studying for an online Master of Accounting degree is a way for professionals already engaged in accounting to add to their knowledge and experience, it can also be the right educational path for individuals who don’t come from an accounting background but aspire to enter the field. Through the Accounting Bridge Program, applicants who have previously studied financial disciplines other than accounting can build their accountancy knowledge quickly and comprehensively, moving on to online MAc courses.
A MAc program can aid professionals in earning the Certified Public Accountant credential, helping them fulfill the education requirements to sit for the CPA exam and equipping them with information about accounting duties. By beginning with the bridge program, individuals with varied educational backgrounds can embark on the journey toward potential CPA certification and the increased professional opportunities that may come with it.
The Accounting Bridge Program: A path into a rewarding field
Because the coursework in the online MAc program assumes a student has already spent time learning basic accountancy principles at the undergraduate level, the bridge program courses get professionals from other backgrounds up to speed. Just as with the rest of the classes in the online MAc, every lecture and assignment is available 100% online, on a flexible, asynchronous schedule that students can fit into their busy lives.
The bridge program is the alternative to making a four-year commitment to a bachelor’s degree in accounting and is based on the principle that it’s never a bad time to take steps to become an accountant. When the New York State Society of CPAs profiled several people who made a career change into accounting after an extended career in another field, it found these professionals came from a variety of professions, from fashion merchandising to plumbing and even a 20-year stint in a sheriff’s department. With CPAs in demand in all economic conditions and at firms of all sizes and locations, entering accounting can be a dependable career choice.
The courses in the Accounting Bridge Program
The Accounting Bridge Program from the University of Alabama at Birmingham consists of eight courses, each getting students up to speed on a key aspect of accountancy and preparing those individuals for the master’s-level classes to come:
Principles of Accounting I
This course gives students an overview of the way accounting affects financial statements. Concepts such as accrual, operational assets, liability, stakeholders equity, and the analysis of financial statements get their introduction here.
Principles of Accounting II
Once students understand the concepts behind accounting, they can learn to use information systems for planning, control, and decision-making in internal reporting. The course’s syllabus includes cost behavior and allocation, budgeting, product costing, accounting responsibility, and more central elements of an accountant’s role.
Financial Accounting I
This is another foundational class based on filling in important details, teaching students about the environment and conceptual framework of financial accounting, as well as how to deal with financial statements. Learners will also discover more about the time value of money.
Financial Accounting II
In the follow-up financial accounting course, the syllabus centers on the types of assets companies may hold. Students discover the value of inventory, plant assets, intangibles liabilities, stakeholders’ equity, and long-term debt, helping them in managing financial statements.
Financial Accounting III
The third in the series of financial accounting classes focuses on the advanced types of assets that go beyond previous courses. The syllabus includes work with investments and securities, income taxes, retirement benefits, leases, and more items that are relevant to taxation and valuation.
Accounting Information Systems
Today, information technology is an integral part of companies’ financial operations, and this course encompasses the new IT developments that accounting graduates may encounter in their work. Internal control and development of systems is a major topic of the class.
This class centers on the determination, analysis, and control of costs. Allocations and budgeting are on the syllabus, as are job order, process, and byproduct costing. Students also learn about spoilage and qualitative costing techniques.
Income Taxation I
Some CPAs enter the corporate world, while others work with individual clients as part of agencies. This course will be of greatest value to accountants who take the latter path, as its overview of U.S. income taxation law focuses on how individuals are taxed.
Courses beyond the basics
Once students have completed the bridge program, they enter the main online MAc courses, which can help them prepare for CPA certification. Hiring managers in the accounting field may favor candidates who have recently earned a MAc because such a diploma indicates a professional has learned relevant and up-to-date skills from faculty engaged in the financial field. Studying for a degree online allows individuals to make this addition to their professional skills and knowledge while actively keeping up with their present careers.
Accountants may find work with private firms that process individuals’ taxes, as well as in the financial departments of companies of all sizes and industries, and in government agencies. No matter the financial climate, there will likely be a need for skilled professionals who can make sense of financial reports, using fundamental knowledge and information technology to get results.
Through an Accounting Bridge Program, individuals from many backgrounds can begin a journey into new professional roles. The accounting career path is only a few steps away, and the program may be an accessible beginning to such a change in focus.
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