Joining a major organization’s finance department or moving up within these ranks can be a promising and exciting career trajectory. Every company needs teams of trustworthy and dedicated individuals to manage monetary matters, from tax compliance to investment and strategy formulation. Professionals who want to build their resumes can pursue advanced degrees—but there is more than one way to approach this process.
Universities offer multiple diploma options for master’s degree candidates interested in moving deeper into the financial side of business. This includes the Master of Accounting and Master of Business Administration with a concentration in finance. When selecting between such programs, it’s important for applicants to understand how the options differ, and the recommended career paths students may travel down once they’ve graduated with their degrees.
Master’s Degree in Accounting
The world of accounting is deeply involved with hard data. Financial reporting, taxation, auditing and governance are special areas of focus. One of the most appealing parts of learning more about accountancy is that whether prevailing financial trends are bullish or bearish, corporations, banks, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations will need accountants to watch over their funds.
What will students learn?
Master’s degree programs in accounting equip students with the know-how they’ll need to excel when working with financial data, from theoretical expertise and regulatory understanding to an up-to-date familiarity with the technology accountants work with every day.
Participants in these classes will also learn about team leadership and interpersonal communication. These are important competencies because accountants typically handle their tasks in groups, and because masters-level graduates may be explicitly aiming for high-ranking roles where soft skills can be particularly relevant on a day-to-day basis.
Companies value individuals who are constantly updating and refreshing their knowledge, staying aware of the latest movements in markets and the accounting field in general. Studying in a MAc program is a way to become a lifelong learner, a person who can deal with the latest industry trends and conditions.
Courses associated with the accounting programs are focused on the core competencies that accountants will need. Students upgrade their knowledge of taxation and governance in Income Taxation and Corporate Governance courses. They also gain familiarity with business law as it is presently practiced by taking Business Law for Accountants, alongside the auditing process in Advanced Auditing and Attestation. The courses are designed for individuals who already have bachelor’s degree level expertise—but if students want to join at the master’s level, they can take bridge program courses, getting up to speed before diving in.
What are the primary career paths?
Individuals who have earned their master’s degrees in accounting, and potentially passed the Certified Public Accountant exam, can turn their attention to several potential careers. For instance, organizations need lead accountants, financial analysts and auditing managers. Chiefs of accounting and finance can come from the ranks of accountants, as can budget analysts and financial managers. Those who attain CPA credentials can settle into CPA roles that make them into tax and overall financial strategists for individuals.
Master of Business Administration
MBAs can take several forms, depending on the specialized track within the degree program selected by the student. Some MBA grads will gravitate directly toward the executive career ladder while others will opt for a concentration in finance, combining the leadership skills associated with the degree with the always-relevant ability to intelligently manage corporate finances.
What will students learn?
The primary factor that makes an MBA unique among degrees is its focus on leadership qualities. Many of the capabilities it takes to effectively lead others are soft skills rather than technical details, and MBA programs make sure to focus on these interpersonal abilities. The workforce is changing over time, and today’s employees have different preferences and expectations than in years past—MBA graduates will understand how best to lead teams in these modern conditions.
Taking a concentration in finance means a student can gain extra perspective on the way financial institutions and practices function in today’s workplace. Courses in the financial concentration are comprised of Mergers and Acquisitions, Treasury Management, Portfolio Theory and Construction, and Financial Risk and Analysis Management. Professionals who add these specialized courses to their studies can learn about the ideal goals and performance targets associated with modern financial operations, as well as best practices associated with leading these specialized and indispensable teams.
Financially focused courses within MBA programs teach students how some of the core responsibilities of relevant departments work. By learning theoretical and strategic approaches to finance, these pupils can gain the vision to lead others. By understanding the hands-on and functional side of the work, with reporting, data analysis and stock valuation among the ideas covered, they can gain abilities that will help them pitch in on an everyday basis.
What are the primary career paths?
MBA graduates are likely hoping to climb the career ladder and work their way up to high-level management roles. With a financial concentration, becoming a chief financial officer may be the clearest and most direct objective. Whether the employees eventually apply for CEO roles is up to individual preferences and abilities.
MAc vs. MBA
The question of finance degree vs. accounting degree largely depends upon individual aspirations, goals and abilities. Some professionals will gravitate toward the data-intensive work associated with accountancy, while others will find they are more suited to giving orders within a leadership framework, albeit in financial departments. Making this distinction early can help people end up in a degree program that suits them from the start.
No matter what path prospective students take in their graduate-level financial education, they can receive top-notch instruction by studying remotely on a schedule that suits working professionals. Check out the Collat School of Business at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to learn more.