MBA vs. MAcc: Which Is Right for Me?

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There are many postgraduate education options available to business professionals who have already finished their baccalaureate degrees. After ruling out other programs, many prospective students end up looking at a Master of Business Administration vs. a Master of Accountancy. Before professionals choose a program, it is important that they learn more about each one in order to determine which educational path will help them reach their specific career goals.

Man studying a chart at a messy desk.

What Is a Master of Business Administration (MBA)?

A Master of Business Administration is the most common postgraduate business degree. At its core, an MBA program provides students with practical training that is designed to offer them a better understanding of general business management and operations. To build upon this general knowledge, students can also choose a specific concentration for their studies, such as accounting, management consulting, human resources management, or marketing.

What Is a Master of Accountancy (MAcc)?

A Master of Accountancy is a specialized program that focuses on honing a business professional’s technical and analytical skillsets. A MAcc program is designed to provide students with the tools they will need to be successful in advancing their career. This means there is an emphasis on learning advanced accounting principles and how to perform data analytics.

MBA vs MAcc: Program Requirements

Before entering into a degree program, prospective students should always find out how much time they will need to invest before they graduate. It is possible to graduate from most full-time MBA programs after approximately two years (five semesters) of study. A Master of Accountancy will likely take the same amount of time to complete.

MBA vs MAcc: Curriculum

Even if students concentrate in accounting while pursuing an MBA, they are unlikely to gain the same depth of accounting knowledge as they would in a MAcc program. This is because an MBA is designed to provide much more general business management knowledge than an MAcc. For professionals who have a genuine interest in pursuing advancement in their accounting careers, the MAcc is likely a better option.

MBA vs MAcc: Accounting Certifications

MAcc programs are known to focus on preparing students for a career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In addition to helping students get ready to be a CPA, a MAcc can also help them understand advanced industry concepts that are featured in other certification areas, such as the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA). With these certifications, accountants can become qualified to pursue a more diverse range of accounting careers, such as corporate accounting or consulting.

MBA vs MAcc: Career Examples

Accountant/Auditor (MAcc)

The most typical occupations for accounting graduates are as accountants or auditors. These two occupations have very similar responsibilities, and they often require the same accounting-based skills. This type of employment entails recording and reviewing financial records for a business or individual and ensuring they are accurate. It also involves managing a client’s tax obligations by figuring out how much the client owes in taxes, preparing the client’s tax return, and sometimes making the actual tax payments on the client’s behalf. Besides handling taxes and recording data, an accountant must also ensure that all finances are being managed in a way that is compliant with any applicable laws and regulations.

This line of work requires an incredible sense of attention to detail, as even minor mistakes can potentially lead to serious costs or legal consequences. It also requires analytical skills, as accountants spend a lot of their time sorting and processing data.

Operations Manager (MBA)

Operations managers use their general management skills to coordinate the operations of public or private organizations. In order to organize their personnel effectively, they create workplace policies that are used to keep employees working at an optimal level of efficiency. On a more day-to-day level, operations managers would likely also need to plan out how human resources or equipment will be allocated throughout facilities.

An operations manager typically needs to be a very skilled leader who can think and plan strategically and motivate a team to work hard. These managers also need to be effective communicators who are able to articulate objectives in a way that is actionable and easily understood.

Neither the MBA nor the MAcc is superior to the other. An individual’s personal interests are a unique factor in the MBA vs MAcc debate. Depending on one’s career goals, one choice may be far more beneficial than the other. For professionals who have their sights set on gaining the advanced accounting skills, they will need in their career, pursuing a Master of Accountancy degree program is likely the ideal choice.

Learn More

Find out more about how Ohio University’s online Master of Accountancy program strives to prepare students for success as financial professionals in today’s competitive landscape.

Recommended Readings:
Ohio University Blog, “4 Career Opportunities with an Accounting Degree”
Ohio University Blog, “Understanding Accounting Position Titles and Department Hierarchies”

Ohio University: Online Master of Accountancy
Ohio University: Online Master of Business Administration
Investopedia, “Accounting”
Investopedia, Master of Business Administration (MBA)
National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, “What is the Uniform CPA Examination?”
Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Accountants and Auditors”