Do you aspire to become a CPA, CMA, CFA, or other high-level, advanced positions? A Master’s degree in accounting is all you need.

A Master’s degree helps you prepare for the CPA, CMA, or CFA certification exam, and besides that, it also helps you leap above the competition. Apart from that, it makes you eligible for higher-level roles in an organization or business.

So, in this article, we have compiled all the details about the master’s degree including its curricula, admission requirements, how you can get it, pros and cons, jobs with salary, and much more.

Stay tuned – 

Master’s Degree in Accounting

Master’s Degree in Accounting

The moment you choose to pursue a master’s degree in accounting, you will embark on the most important academic quest.

You’ll explore advanced accounting topics, gain skills to play with financial numbers, learn about taxes, and much more within the field of Accounting.

Let’s take a closer look –

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Course Overview

Course Credits 30
Course Duration 2 years
Course Cost $20,000 to $40,000
Annual Average Salary $74,060

Admission Requirements

The requirements may vary per program but we have mentioned all the standard requirements that are expected from you, to offer a seat in a Master’s degree in accounting program.

  • A Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting  
  • GPA of 3 or higher
  • GMAT Test Scores – 500 or above for safer side
  • Transcripts
  • Letter of Recommendation
  • Experience (wherever applicable)

What will you Learn?

The specialized courses may vary per school but are more-or-less the same. Here are the standard course curricula –

  • Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting
  • Fraud and Forensic Accounting
  • Advanced Managerial Accounting
  • Advanced Financial Accounting
  • Advanced Tax Concepts
  • Advanced Auditing
  • Accounting Research and Critical Thinking
  • Financial Management
  • Strategy Management
  • Management Communication

Read More:

-> Forensic Accounting Degree

-> Finance vs. Accounting Degree 

Difference between MBA, CFA, CPA, and CMA?

Accounting Bachelor Degree

So, you must have heard about these terms associated with upgrading your education in the field of accounting.

MBA is a Master’s in Business Administration in Accounting, and this is a program. The others, CPA Certified Public Accountant, CMA Certified Management Accountant, and CFA Chartered Financial Analyst, are the certifications or licensures that you could hold after your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in accounting.

Let’s delve deeper –

MBA (Master’s in Business Administration) in Accounting

An MBA in accounting can prepare you for high-level positions just like a Master’s does. But, an MBA suggests you are equipped in business administration as well, so this can boost your eligibility for administrative roles.


  • Senior Executive
  • Investment banker
  • Management consultant

Average Annual Salary with an MBA in Accounting – $89,600

CPA (Certified Public Accountant)

CPA is a license that you acquire after your Master’s in accounting. To be eligible to sit for the exam you need 150 credits hours completion so either you can choose the Integrated Program, or Bachelors and Masters to achieve 150 credits.

If you wish to work for reputed companies or the Government as an Accountant, you need to have a CPA certification.


Average Annual Salary of CPA – $74,060

CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)

If you aspire to become a Portfolio Manager or Investment Banker or similar roles, you need to acquire a CFA licensure. CFAs are highly respected and revered in their field of work.


  • Equity Research
  • Investment Banking
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Private Equity
  • Corporate Finance
  • Portfolio Management
  • Consultants
  • Financial Advisory

 Average Annual Salary of CFA – $108,790

CMA (Certified Management Accountant)

If you aspire to become a Certified Management Accountant and work in executive or managerial roles, this licensure is for you. You will be working in corporate financial accounting and strategic management.

They help organizations or businesses make strategic decisions, and create and analyze their budgets.

Interestingly, you can acquire this certification post your Bachelor’s as well. But you need to acquire work experience in management or financial accounting businesses for a minimum of 2 years.

If you meet these criteria, you can apply for the certification to the IMA, and if accepted, pass their exam scoring at least 360 out of 500. 

Average Annual Salary of CMA – $113,799

How to get a Master’s Degree in Accounting?

Now, you know about the different trending positions or degrees, and we assume you have finalized the one that best suits you.

So, let’s guide you to get your Master’s degree with this step-by-step guide.

Associate Degree in Accounting

Step 1 – Research Schools

Conduct thorough research before choosing a Master’s program and choose the best one that prepares you with the licensure that you are aiming for. Keep in mind the location, costs, and other requisites that might have an impact on your education.

Step 2 – Check Admission Requirements

Your choice of school would have different admission requirements, so review it closely. However, most of the schools have common admission requirements, as mentioned above.

Step 3 – Apply for the School

Now, You need to fill in the application, submit it with all the required details, and attach the required materials.

Step 4 – Complete the Coursework

A Master’s degree would have 30 to 36 credits and takes around 2 years to complete for full-time students. Check the above-mentioned course curricula, and prepare accordingly.

Step 5 – Get the Degree

So, considering you have appeared and successfully passed the exam, you get your Master’s degree in accounting or an MBA or opted for a CMA certification program.

Step 6 – Consider Licensure

Post-completion of the program or during it, you need to start preparing for the licensure – CMA, CPA, or CFA. If you don’t wish for any licenses, you can skip this step.

Licenses or Certifications assure your career growth, prove your education and knowledge, and reflect your expertise in a subject.

This would work wonders when you apply for jobs because employers would not have any reasons to doubt your credibility.

So, depending on your preference, prepare and try to acquire the certification.

Step 7 – Explore Career Opportunities

Now, you have an accounting Master’s degree in hand, so you can explore various career opportunities in accounting, finance, auditing, and related fields.

Master’s Degree in Accounting Online

Course Duration – 2 to 3 years

Course Credits – 30-36

Course Cost – $19,820 to $29,730

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Most online programs offer an MS in accounting degree program for aspirants aiming to acquire any type of licensure and achieve high-level positions like controller, or accounting manager.

You will learn besides accounting – financial management, strategic management, and management communication.

If you aspire to admin level or research or teaching-related roles, you might need to acquire a Ph.D.

More On -> Online Accounting Degree

Pros and Cons of a Master’s Degree in Accounting

What Can I Do with an Accounting Degree

A Master’s Degree in Accounting holds great advantages in boosting your career. There are some disadvantages associated with it as well, but the pros outweigh the cons clearly.

Let’s discuss the pros and the cons –

Pros of a Master’s Degree in Accounting

Here are the advantages of getting a Master’s Degree in Accounting –

Higher Pay and Higher Positions

With a Master’s degree, you can earn around $20,000 more compared to the ones without it. This would only grow once you achieve more experience.

Also, you become eligible for higher-level roles, or roles with leadership.

The salary earning potential goes up to 6 figures starting from $70,000 and could rise up to $200,000.

Job Satisfaction and a Sense of Achievement

We need to admit this, acquiring a Master’s degree is no mean feat. It requires years of continued education, patience, hard work, and perseverance.

Once you achieve it, we can only imagine the feeling that you get, the sense of achievement.

As a Master’s not only increases your pay but also helps to get you promoted to advanced or leadership roles, the job satisfaction would be surreal.

Leap above Competition

As per BLS, in this decade this field is set to grow by 6% with almost 80,000 job openings each year.

That’s a hell of a competition. If you hold a Master’s degree, then you have secured yourself a better chance over others without it.

Most candidates hold a Bachelor’s degree, thinking that’s the basic requirement for most of the open positions but, with a Master’s you can leap above the competition.

Cons of a Master’s Degree in Accounting

Let’s explore the disadvantages that are just a few –

Costs Much

You can’t jump directly to a Master’s, you need to acquire a Bachelor’s degree first. To acquire a Bachelor’s, let’s assume you require almost $30,000, and to acquire a Master’s you would need another $20,000.

This makes the total investment at $50,000. This is too much for many. But, if your career goal aligns better with a Master’s, you can go after jobs for a few years post your Bachelor’s and then try to get a Master’s online.

Continued Education

As discussed in the previous con, you are required to get a Bachelor’s first and that requires some 4 to 5 years for you to achieve that.

For a Master’s you additionally need to invest more than 2 to 3 years depending on your learning pace and level of commitment.

So, it requires you to overall commit for an extended period of 5 to 6 years. This again is not suitable for many. So, try to get a break, and get a work after your Bachelor’s, this way you get some experience and earn some USDs as well.

Read More:

-> Is an Accounting Degree Worth it?

-> Requirements for Accounting Degree

-> How Long Does It Take to Get an Accounting Degree? 

Master’s Degree in Accounting Jobs with Salary

With a master’s degree, you become eligible for higher-level roles with higher earning potential. You can earn the dream 6 figures salary after you get the certifications, with the possibility to earn around $200,000 with experience and overtime.

Let’s discuss the jobs that you are eligible for after your master’s degree and their respective salary figure –

Auditor Annual average salary: $71,550

CPA – Annual average salary: $74,060

CMA – Annual average salary: $108,790

CFA – Annual average salary: $113,799

Accounting Manager – Annual average salary: $129,890

Tax director – Annual average salary: $166,938

Controller – Annual average salary: $70,013

Management analyst – Annual average salary: $93,000

Senior auditor – Annual average salary: $70,000 to $100,000

Financial Manager – Annual average salary: $151,510

Personal Financial Advisor – Annual average salary: $122,490

Financial Examiner – Annual average salary: $92,730

More on –> What Jobs Can You Get with an Accounting Degree?

FAQs – Master’s Degree in Accounting

Online Accounting Degree

Is CFA harder than CPA?

You must have been wondering, which is harder a CFA or a CPA. To decide on the toughness of the 2 certifications, let’s check their passing rates – the CPA exam has close to 50% pass rates, but the CFA has only a 7% pass rate since it has 3 levels to pass. This suggests the CFA is much harder to pass than the CPA.

Is a Master’s Degree in Accounting worth it?

With a master’s degree, you become eligible for higher pay and higher positions. The salary gets hiked by almost $20,000 after you achieve the degree. Also, with it over time and post you gain some experience, and you can earn a 6-figure salary which could go up to $200,000 in some roles.

So, yes, a Master’s degree in accounting is worth it.  

What degrees do most CPAs have?

The Certified Public Accountant, CPA, is what you become after passing the CPA certification exam after your master’s. The CPA exam requires its candidate to have undergone 150 credits hours of education. Bachelors alone cannot fulfill that, so a master’s degree is necessary.  

Therefore, most of the CPAs hold a Master’s degree in accounting before applying for the certification exam.

Is an MBA or CPA harder?

An MBA is a master’s degree program and holds semester exams like other master’s degrees. While a CPA is a certification exam that you become eligible for after you get a Master’s degree.

Considering the format, CPA is much harder because it is a licensure exam and not some semester degree exams.

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.