If you’ve already earned your Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree or an undergraduate degree in accounting, the next chapter in your educational journey may be to pursue an Accounting Online MBA. This degree is designed to equip accounting professionals for managerial positions. It is also a helpful experience for accounting professionals looking to open their own business. While many accountants aspire to become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), this is a challenging feat that often comes with more requirements than just passing the exam. One important requirement for CPA licensure in many states, is to complete 150 hours of education. Accounting Online MBA programs help most students meet the education requirement to sit for the CPA exam. Take your career to the next level and open new doors in the world of accounting by earning your Accounting Online MBA.
What is an Accounting Online MBA?
An Accounting Online MBA is an online Master’s of Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting. This dynamic graduate-level accounting program can be done from your home, on the road, or in your office; allowing busy professionals to balance work and school. The convenient online format makes it possible for students to select prestigious business schools in different geographic regions without the need to relocate. Programs generally consist of a minimum of 30 credit hours, which fulfills the 150 hours of advanced accounting courses required for CPA applicants. Some programs may even consist of up to 54 credit hours.
Students may be wondering if an Accounting MBA or Master’s in Accounting is the best option for them. The MBA option allows students to build knowledge in multiple areas of business, whereas a MAcc offers an in-depth study of accounting but is narrow in other areas. Therefore, students pursuing an Accounting MBA will have a broader range of career paths available to them. MAcc students will be highly specialized in Accounting but may be passed up by recruiters for other business leadership roles.
An Accounting Online MBA offers an exciting array of business courses, with an emphasis on leadership development and accounting principles. Core classes cover a variety of business topics, such as accounting, economics, finance, management, and marketing. Students will also learn how to use financial software tools to write financial reports, complete corporate audits, and create financial forecasts. CPA preparation is also typically built into the coursework.
Some Accounting MBA programs feature a fixed comprehensive curriculum, meaning you must take ten courses that have been pre-selected by the program. Other programs allow you to select electives that fit your interests. Students may select accounting electives or electives from another field of business such as Human Resources, Finance, or Strategic Management. A capstone course may be required during a student’s last semester. Accounting capstone projects may consist of conducting fraud investigations or analyzing business statements for a real company.
History of Accounting Online MBAs
Accounting has been around for thousands of years, but the first formal MBA program was offered at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Administration in 1908. Many other schools followed Harvard by establishing MBA programs. The first Executive MBA program was launched by The University of Chicago in 1943. Business professionals attended courses two evenings per week for two years. UChicago’s EMBA was a huge success and grew by 70% within the first five years. As MBAs grew in popularity, business schools began offering specialties so that students could develop an industry-relevant niche. The CPA exam was created in 1917 by a business organization now known as AICPA. Around this time, Accounting became one of the first concentrations offered amongst MBA programs. Athabasca University in Canada was the first to offer an Online MBA in 1994. The Internet had not yet become a widespread luxury in households or offices at this time, so professors thought the program would fail. The Online MBA became wildly popular not only at Athabasca but at business schools around the world. Today, hundreds of business schools feature an Online MBA, and many allow students to specialize in accounting.
How do I Choose the Right Accounting Online MBA?
With thousands of Accounting Online MBA programs available, it can be difficult to know how to choose the right school. Some of the factors that students should take into consideration when making this important decision include accreditations, distinctions, specializations offered, degree completion time, format, and tuition rates.
Accreditations and Distinctions
An Accounting Online MBA that is backed by a highly trusted accreditation organization should be of utmost importance to you. Corporations are more likely to hire you because they know your program is academically rigorous and is required to maintain high standards. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is highly regarded in the business community because of the competitive requirements a business school must pass to earn this accreditation. Just over 900 business institutions in the world, around five percent, have received this esteemed business accreditation. Only 188 schools hold dual AACSB accreditation in business and accounting, which accounts for less than 1% of business schools worldwide. Other accrediting bodies include the International Accreditation Council for Business Education and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
U.S. News ranks the Best Online MBA Programs Offering Accounting. The rankings for these Online MBA programs featuring a concentration in Accounting are based on five qualities: Engagement, Expert Opinion, Faculty Credentials and Training, Services and Technologies, and Student Excellence. The Princeton Review annually ranks the Top 50 Online MBA Programs. Some of these programs feature a specialization in Accounting, but the ranking judges the Online MBA programs overall.
Specializations and Professional Certifications
Boutique accounting firms to Fortune 500 corporations hire accountants. Do you think all accounting positions are the same? Accountants can actually specialize in several different niches. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants says among the most popular are Assurance Services, Environment Accounting, Government, Forensics, Management and Technology Assurance, Nonprofit, Personal Financial Planning, International Accounting, and Valuation. If you are interested in building a career in one of these branches, you should find an Accounting Online MBA program that allows you to tailor your degree with a specialization.
Accounting Online MBA programs have a vested interest in your success on the CPA exam because high student pass rates increase a program’s reputation and credibility. The CPA is one of the most complex professional exams students ever encounter, but it is possible to pass all sections on the first attempt successfully with proper preparation. Graduate schools often offer students a CPA preparation course for college credits.
Executive Online MBA in Accounting
Practicing accountants can advance their career in accounting while gaining a broader understanding of other functional areas of business. The curriculum features advanced accounting courses with an emphasis on leadership. Students pursuing this degree typically have an average of 10 years of experience under their belt and represent a wide range of accounting careers. Classes are designed to accommodate the needs of full-time professionals, and the majority of coursework can be completed online. However, students may be required to attend a few weekend residencies on campus. These residencies provide a great opportunity for students to bond with their classmates and to attend networking events. Cohorts are generally small and give students the chance to share their wealth of knowledge and learn from one another through engaging classroom discussions, consulting projects, case studies, and scholarly research. Many programs feature an optional global experience at the culmination of the degree. Graduates of an Accounting EMBA are prepared to assume senior-level roles within their organization.
Hybrid Accounting MBAs
Hybrid Accounting MBAs feature the perfect blend of face-to-face courses and online modalities. Before enrolling in a hybrid program, it is important to find out how many visits you will be required to make to campus and when these occur, so you can ensure the schedule is feasible with work and other commitments. It is also important to factor in your commute to the campus. Even if the program only meets on the weekends, you may need to take off work on Fridays and even Mondays for traveling. Consider if your job will allow you to take off when needed for classes. If it is necessary to fly, factor this into the expenses you are allocating for your Online MBA degree.
Most students can complete an Accounting Online MBA degree in approximately two to three years. Accelerated programs move at an expedited pace and can be completed in as few as twelve months. Students enrolled in these programs should be prepared to devote several hours to studying each day. Some accounting programs offer a 4+1 structure, allowing students to begin taking graduate accounting courses during their senior year and earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just five years. Students who are juggling the demands of work and school should consider a part-time MBA program. Part-time students generally take one or two classes per semester, allowing them to complete the program at a pace that works for them. Students should meet with an academic advisor near the beginning of their program to outline their degree completion timeline and again each semester through graduation. This seemingly small detail can help students stay on track and ensure courses are taken in the appropriate sequence.
Asynchronous v. Synchronous Format
Asynchronous and synchronous courses both offer unique advantages and challenges. Students should be aware of what options are available for their program and select the format that best meets their needs. Asynchronous classes offer the ultimate flexibility because students can work on classwork at any time. Professors generally record lessons and upload them to be watched at the students’ convenience. One challenge of asynchronous learning may be pacing yourself to complete all assignments by their due dates. Synchronous courses hold students accountable by requiring them to log in for class meetings. This format allows for class discussions and for students to ask for clarification on any confusing topics during the lecture. Though students may feel more connected to their classmates and professors, one drawback is it can be hard to log into classes if you frequently stay at the office late or have an unpredictable work schedule.
There are many details that drive up the tuition of an Accounting Online MBA, location, fees, travel requirements, private school tuition, and even factors such as accreditations, awards, and student-faculty ratios. An elite AACSB accreditation or prestigious business school may provide a higher ROI if you are seeking opportunities with other business organizations, especially in a large metropolitan city, or if advancement opportunities with your company are extremely competitive. If you hope to advance within your current company, find out where managers who work in similar roles as you aspire to earn their degrees. It may not be necessary to pay the added cost often associated with a prestigious school, however, you should still ensure your program is accredited by a reliable accrediting organization. There are plenty of reputable programs that will fit within your budget if you just do your research.
How do I Apply for an Accounting Online MBA?
Business schools make applying for an Accounting Online MBA a fairly easy process because they know how valuable your time is. Students can fill out a simple online application through either the university or business school where they’d like to earn their degree. You will need to have your official undergraduate transcripts sent to the business school. Some programs require students to have an undergraduate degree in business or accounting. If your undergraduate degree is non-accounting, don’t fret. Many programs accept professional work experience in lieu of accounting courses or accept students into the program but require online modules covering accounting basics to being completed before enrolling in MBA courses.
Many online programs don’t require GMAT scores, but some programs do. GMAT waivers may be granted based on work experience or undergraduate GPA. Additional components that may be required include a statement of purpose, letter(s) of recommendation, and an updated resume highlighting your accounting and management experience. Application fees are generally required to complete the application process. Application fees typically range from about $50 to $125 but may be waived under certain circumstances.
What Career Prospects will I Have After Earning an Accounting Online MBA?
Graduates of an Accounting MBA program are in high demand by top corporations. The most popular companies for Accounting MBA degree holders are J.P. Morgan Chase, Amazon, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and Wells Fargo. Popular career choices include accountant, senior financial analyst, senior accountant, accounting manager, corporate controller, financial controller, and chief financial officer.
Accountants work in many sectors. About a quarter of all accountants work in Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services. Other industries that employ accountants include Finance and Insurance, Government, Management of Companies and Enterprises, and Self-Employed.
Earning an Accounting Online MBA is a wise financial investment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2020 median annual salary for accountants and auditors was $73,560, or $35.37 per hour. The highest ten percent of individuals in this profession earned more than $128,680. Those with a master’s degree earn substantially more. In fact, Payscale cites $92,003 as the average salary for professionals with an MBA in Accounting. It is definitely possible to earn over a six-figure income. The average yearly salary for a corporate controller weighs in at $104,000, and chief financial officers make a lucrative salary of $150,000. Some accountants receive annual bonuses, especially following tax season.
In addition to superior salaries, Accounting MBA graduates tend to be highly satisfied with their careers. Accountants enjoy job stability. The BLS predicts a 4% job growth for accounting careers between 2019-2029, which is about average in comparison to other careers. As the economy returns to normal, the number of accounting jobs is expected to increase.
How Do I Succeed in an Accounting Online MBA?
In order to excel in an Accounting Online MBA, you must know more than how to crunch numbers. Strong time management and study skills play an equally important role in acing your courses.
Your decision to select an online Accounting MBA likely means you have a busy schedule. Many students secretly hope an online program may be less of a time commitment, but the programs hold the same rigor as those on campus. You have the flexibility to decide when you are going to study, but it can be beneficial to designate specific study times. This is a great time to start time blocking if you don’t already. Write down everything you have to accomplish in a typical week and the days and times these activities generally happen. Include time spent getting ready for the day, commute, work hours, and any family obligations. Now, look and see where you have some blocks of time to work on school assignments and study. Studying can be broken into several short sessions during the week, along with a longer session on the weekend.
If you are struggling with classes, seek out help early in the semester from your professor, the tutoring center, a professional in the field, or create a study group. Your study group can meet through a virtual platform. If you already have a job in accounting, ask someone at your office who has earned their MBA or graduate-level business degree to serve as your mentor. This person may help you understand difficult accounting formulas, give you career advice, or simply encourage you throughout the next couple of years.
Though you may never step your foot on campus during your program, you are not alone. Online MBA students have access to some or all of the same services as students who attend in person. Advisors can help students transition smoothly to grad school and answer questions about different specialization and course options. If you’re struggling with accounting, online tutorials are available to help you succeed in your classes. In grad school, you will do a lot of writing. Even if you are a strong writer, a campus writing center can definitely serve as a great resource. Theses centers offers students an extra set of eyes to read research papers before turning them in to be graded. Research consumes a great deal of your time as a graduate student, so the online library resources will be invaluable. Grad school is hard work, but that hard work pays off when you land your dream career. Career Services provide many resources, such as workshops, mock interviews, virtual internship and career fairs, and online job boards. Many students wait until they are approaching graduation to visit with a career counselor. But scheduling a visit early in your education journey can help you learn about amazing opportunities you can complete to make the most out of your time while earning your MBA.
Business organizations are an important part of the college experience, even for online students! Business clubs can help you feel connected to other students, develop leadership skills, and strengthen your professional network. Attend a virtual student organization fair if one is offered at your business school. Some of the top student organizations for accounting and MBA students include MBA Societies, the National Association of Women MBAs, the National Association of Black Accountants, Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting, and Master in Professional Accounting Council. Virtual students are often welcome to participate in meetings through online conferencing tools and social media pages.
Accounting careers are readily available, but you will have some of the best career prospects by earning an Accounting Online MBA. Rank the criteria most important to you in a program, such as specializations, price point, and completion time. Next, research programs that meet your criteria. Find out the application deadlines, and start applying for programs in the order the applications are due. Set short-term goals, such as completing one application per week for the next month. Applications take time, so dedicate a few hours per week to focus solely on tasks such as writing your statement of purpose, updating your resume, and reaching out to references. Remember, business schools are forming a first impression of you based on the documents you submit, so put in the effort to put your best foot forward. Check your emails daily for all of the acceptance notifications you will surely receive!