In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of online classes available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, bringing high-quality, specialized courses to students and professionals all over the world.
According to a 2016 report by the Babson Survey Research Group, distance enrollments across the country have increased consistently in the past 14 years. In 2016, more than 30 percent of college students in the U.S. had enrolled in at least one online-based course.
Although popular among undergraduate students, online courses are also a flexible choice for graduate students, many of whom work or have families. Business and finance professionals planning to pursue senior roles or management positions in their companies may find that a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a master’s degree in accounting can help prepare them for executive responsibilities. The crucial importance of financial management expertise and taxation knowledge has led some to prefer accounting over business degrees.
Online accounting classes allow prospective public accountants, auditors, and private accountants to complete their respective degrees through a convenient digital platform while gaining access to accounting professors and industry experts. Some online graduate accounting programs also help students prepare for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, which leads to the highly sought-after CPA license.
Completing a graduate program and gaining credentials can open up a range of opportunities to accounting professionals, especially in the ever-expanding accounting and auditing job market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment growth for accounting job-seekers is projected to increase by 10 percent from 2016 through 2026.
The BLS has also emphasized how the CPA license and a Master of Accountancy can provide better career prospects to accountants and auditors alike.
What Is a Master of Accountancy?
A Master of Accountancy is a graduate-level degree which accounting graduates may seek after completing their undergraduate education.
Typically, the curriculum for this degree covers foundational accounting courses for the first few semesters, such as Intermediate Accounting, Advanced Accounting Concepts, and Accounting for Executives. Eventually, students will take up core accounting courses, including Advanced Managerial Decision Making, Forensic Accounting, and Advanced Tax and Planning Strategy.
The entire curriculum is heavily application-based, which allows students to practice relevant accounting skills in virtual classrooms and real workplace settings.
The Master of Accountancy degree is ideal for both career enhancers and career changers — those looking for higher positions within their existing workplaces and professionals planning to shift to accounting-focused careers.
Students with a bachelor’s degree in accounting typically need five semesters to finish the program. For those who do not have a bachelor’s in accounting, Ohio University offers a program that includes additional foundational courses, bringing the completion period to seven semesters.
According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), accounting graduates who plan to pursue an accounting license, such as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA), will do well to earn a Master of Accountancy. Although most entry-level accounting positions in the private sector will not require job applicants to possess graduate degrees, a Master of Accountancy helps accounting professionals prepare for the four-part CPA exam administered by the AICPA.
According to the BLS, professionals are required to complete 150 hours of accounting coursework to be eligible for the CPA exam, which means they will need 30 hours in addition to the hours credited for their four-year bachelor’s degrees. A Master of Accountancy, which usually takes 30 semester credit hours to complete, customarily satisfies this requirement.
Online Accounting Classes Covered in a Master of Accountancy Curriculum
▪ Accounting for Executives
This foundational course provides pertinent accounting and financial reporting basics for utilization in executive or managerial roles. In addition to learning the basic concepts of financial reporting as well as the analysis and application of accounting principles, students also gain insights into the crucial role of accurate financial reporting in the successful management of businesses and organizations. Students are expected to develop critical analysis and organizational skills as well as collaborative and project management competencies as they relate to organizational leadership.
▪ Contemporary Topics in Accounting
This core course in the Master of Accountancy program makes use of cases and problems as means to evaluate contemporary business finance problems and to apply solutions based on theories in financial accounting and reporting. It exposes students to present-day issues dealt with by accounting professionals on a day-to-day basis, including the use and interpretation of financial data, changing accounting guidelines, and even business sustainability. Students can hone their decision-making skills, strategic management expertise, and collaborative competencies through this core accounting course.
▪ Tax and Planning Strategy
This core accounting course helps refine the analytical and project management skills of graduate students, including abilities in project management. It emphasizes the crucial role that a feasible taxation system plays in the efficiency and sustainability of businesses and organizations. The course also includes the study and application of research techniques valuable in discovering solutions to specific taxation concerns.
▪ Predictive Analytics
This core accounting course allows students to sharpen their analytical abilities, specifically data analytics skills, as they take on massive amounts of historical data and make sense of it to predict possible outcomes for any given future event. Students are expected to utilize software tools to analyze data and to categorize it into specific models.
The development of skills in data analytics is crucial in the real-world accounting workplace. According to Raef Lawson, vice president of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), management accountants need to be able to use data effectively for better decision-making and strategy implementation within respective organizations.
On the whole, online accounting classes aim to help students advance their professional careers in the accounting sector through an in-depth study of the discipline and the application of its theories to relevant present-day situations.
With an increasing number of employers on the lookout for those with certifications such as CPA and CMA (Certified Management Accountant) licenses and with the accounting job market growing, both the Robert Half Blog and Houston Chronicle note that accounting graduates and professionals will do well to invest in an online Master of Accountancy.
Find out more about how Ohio University’s online Master of Accountancy program strives to prepare students for success as financial professionals.
Ohio University, Catalog: MBA 6315Accounting for Executives
Ohio University, Online Master of Accountancy
Robert Half International, Accounting Certifications Employers Really Want to See
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accountants and Auditors: How to Become an Accountant or Auditor
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accountants and Auditors: Summary