Accounting Certificates vs. Accounting Masters (MAcc)
“If you are seeking additional accounting knowledge, there are many different types of accounting programs to consider,” says Bobby Waldrup, Ph.D., professor of accounting and chair of the accounting department at the Sellinger School of Business at Loyola University Maryland. “The accounting program you choose depends on your career goals and individual situation,” says Waldrup.
Finance and accounting are the language of business and the key measurements for an organization’s success. “As a business professional, even if you are not directly involved in the field of accounting, you might benefit from a deeper understanding of how financial information can be applied to your daily work and decision-making process,” says Waldrup. Loyola offers a four-course seminar called Finance and Accounting for Business Leadership geared toward working professionals that provides techniques and tools for the daily challenges of the business world.
If you are an aspiring accounting professional, entering the accounting profession today requires more than an undergraduate degree. “Earning an accounting certificate is less expensive than a Masters in Accounting and a good choice if you’re on a short time-frame,” says Waldrup. An accounting certificate program provides the baseline education needed for an entry-level accounting job, explains Dona DeZube, finance careers expert, on Monster. The Accounting Certificate program at the Sellinger School of Business is a full-time, 12-week, 12-credit program and offers a condensed and focused set of classes for students with accounting experience or a bachelor’s-level accounting degree. The hours can be applied toward meeting the 150-credit-hour CPA requirements of most states, and students can request to apply the four courses toward the 10-course requirement of the MAcc, within certain restrictions.
About two-thirds of the students enrolled in Sellinger’s accounting certificate program are recent spring graduates who take the certificate program over the summer and the CPA exam in the fall. “An undergraduate accounting degree combined with an accounting certificate fast tracks you for becoming a licensed CPA and entering the job market,” says Waldrup. The remaining one-third of the students enrolled in Sellinger’s certificate program are working accountants who want to take that next step in their career and become CPAs. Having a CPA license is often a necessary step in today’s competitive job market, and according to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), you’ll earn 10-15 percent more with a CPA license. The goal of the Sellinger accounting certificate program is to pass the CPA,” Waldrup says.
An accounting certificate is a great start, especially for those just beginning their accounting careers who do not have the resources – money, time or experience – to purse a master’s degree. However, having a Master of Accounting degree opens the door to more career opportunities. “A master’s in accounting is the most direct route to securing an accounting position within a top accounting firm,” says Waldrup. “Curriculum-wise the Master of Accounting program is the most targeted to prepare you to pass the CPA and start as a professional in the public accounting field.” Loyola’s Master of Accounting program (MAcc) is designed for those with an undergraduate accounting degree or equivalent accounting coursework and provides 30 credits toward the 150-hour CPA licensure requirement. Loyola offers both full-time and part-time Master of Accounting programs.
The comprehensive Master of Accounting coursework pays off in multiple ways. “Nationwide more Master of Accounting graduates pass the CPA exam than accounting certificate holders, and Sellinger’s pass rates match these numbers, with a 74 percent pass rate for Master of Accounting graduates compared to a 52 percent pass rate for those with accounting certificates,” says Waldrup. “Even more compelling, NASBA reports that 52 percent of all new CPAs in 2016 had a Master of Accounting, and on average, a Master of Accounting starting salary was $10,000 higher.”