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Master’s Degree in Accounting Can Provide Significant Career Boost

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
May 1, 2023


CPAs with master’s degrees have opportunities to enter other unique roles or increase their earnings by going into C-suite leadership positions such as chief financial officer (CFO) or chief executive officer (CEO), Fortune Education reported.

Master’s degree programs in accounting are incorporating more analytical components to help prepare future business leaders, Douglas M. Boyle, an accounting professor and the Ph.D. accounting program director at the University of Scranton, told Fortune. “That’s what a master’s of accountancy (MAcc) provides because accounting is really transitioning, and is one of the leading professions on implementing analytics.”

Back in 2016, the AICPA announced that CPAs needed to learn how to use advanced technology and deepen their knowledge of implementing data analytics, because the field of accounting was evolving. As the profession now experiences a shortage of entrants, some programs recognize that data analytics are important and could open up more career opportunities to accountants.

“Tech is changing the field, and a lot of people will say, ‘Oh no, the robots are coming for the accountant jobs,’ but I don’t think that’s the case,” said Troy Janes, an accounting professor and director of the master’s in accounting (MSA) program at Purdue University, in an interview with Fortune. Rather, technology is enhancing accounting procedures by “taking over some of the menial tasks that accountants used to do.”

Technology “enables those in accounting occupations to ​​spend more time on higher order tasks that require more judgments and analysis than they used to,” he said. “So technology is changing the profession, but I think very much for the better, without having a detrimental effect on jobs.”

A master’s degree gives a CPA the potential to increase his or her earnings potential, Janes told Fortune. The average annual salary for a financial controller is about $100,000, a treasury manager makes nearly $125,000, and those who become CFOs can earn an average salary of more than $425,000.

“Lifetime earnings are much higher if you’ve got a master’s degree and a CPA license, as opposed to just a bachelor’s degree and a CPA license,” he said.

A master’s in accounting can also be a pathway to becoming a CEO.

“More and more often, the chief financial officer is the one who’s becoming the chief executive officer. The chief financial officer is talking to Wall Street about the numbers, talking to lenders, and analyzing the business,” said Boyle. “You build a lot of breadth and depth in your knowledge of the company and you get to be a very well known entity outside the company, so a lot of people who aspire to ultimately land the top job [of CEO] use that path.”