Walsh Master's of Accounting Q&A

Walsh provost Dr. Suzy Siegle recently discussed with John Black, chair and associate professor of accounting, some frequently asked questions about Walsh’s master’s of accounting programs. 

SS: What is the difference between Walsh’s master’s of accounting programs?

JB: We have two master of accountancy programs, one for students with no accounting education background and one for students with an undergraduate degree in accounting.

Master of Accountancy

The Mater of Accountancy (MAC) is for students without a bachelor’s in accounting who wish to enter the field of accounting. The coursework prepares students to sit for the CPA exam and ultimately attain an accounting position in public accounting, private business, or governmental accounting.

MAC curriculum is focused primarily on intermediate and advanced concepts of accounting, effective accounting methods, and gaining the knowledge required to pass the CPA exam. An individual with talent and interest in working with numbers and strong attention to detail can excel in this program and career field.

Master of Accountancy for students with an accounting degree

Students with an accounting degree who want to advance their accounting careers can complete this 30-credit degree in a little over a year. It also offers students the opportunity to attain the required 150 credit hours for CPA licensure while earning a graduate degree.

Students pursuing the MAC for accounting graduates are able to choose five accounting courses that best support their personal and professional interest and can also choose a specialization in data analytics, finance, or tax.  

The MAC for accounting graduates can help students stand out when applying for a competitive position or seeking a promotion into a management position. Many CPAs with a graduate degree have opened their own accounting firms or advanced in corporations to the position of chief financial officer, controller, COO or CEO. There are also opportunities to work for the FBI or other law enforcement agencies investigating fraud, tax evasion, and different financial crimes.

SS: How much do accountants make with a master’s degree?

JB: One of the most oft-cited pros of accounting is the pay. According to payscale.com, the average salary for graduates with a master’s in accounting is more than $71,300. Additionally, accounting positions offer job stability and potential for growth. When combined with a below average unemployment rate and increasing overall demand, accounting students can feel confident they’ll be able to put their degree to use after graduation.

The demand for skilled accountants is strong and as a result, companies offer attractive salaries. There are also opportunities for accountants to advance to upper management positions such as CEO of a corporation. If you prefer to be your own boss, you can start your own accounting firm and provide accounting services for businesses or individuals.

The more education you have as an accountant, the better paid you will be. An accountant with a master’s degree and several years of experience can end up working in management or some other high-level position. These positions usually fetch six-figure salaries, plus benefits.

SS: What are some accounting careers that students can expect to pursue with a master’s of accounting?

JB: Traditionally, accountants perform audits, file taxes, and keep a close eye on a company’s overall financial picture. But in the 21st century, accountants also help businesses thrive in nontraditional ways. Beyond crunching numbers and providing fiscal insight, accountants can help businesses protect against fraud, analyze expenditures, increase compliance, and even measure the successful launch of new products.

Some common positions include: accountant, auditor, financial analyst, cost accountant, tax accountant, internal auditor, budget analyst, forensic accountant, government accountant, FBI Special Agent, non-profit accountant, accounting manager, budget manager, controller, accounting director, treasurer, CFO...you can see what a wide range of career opportunities exist with an accounting degree.

SS: What do you see for the accounting job market in the next five years?

JB: As long as businesses exist, accountants will be in demand. Accountants play an essential role in keeping businesses within their budgets. Employment for accountants and auditors is projected to grow at least four percent through 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and those with a master’s in accounting may have an advantage. Despite fluctuating with the economy, accountants can look forward to a stable career. In fact, the employment rate for Walsh master’s of accountancy graduates is about 98%.

Individuals with industry-wide certifications will be preferred over non-certified accountants. Many employers recommend that aspiring accountants and individuals who intend to occupy accounting-related positions should acquire industry-wide certification in their specific occupations. Accounting positions have recently been noted as one of a handful of career fields where individuals can expect strong earnings potential, especially with a good educational background. The steady demand for accountants is driving salaries up as well. 

SS: What makes the Walsh accounting programs different from other schools?

JB: Reputation and connections

Walsh’s reputation and connections in the industry set us apart from other schools. Accounting is a legacy program at Walsh; we have been educating business students in the field of accounting for nearly 100 years. As a national leader in the accounting and tax professions, Walsh has also fostered long-term relationships with the top accounting firms in southeastern Michigan. Many of those firms, including the Big 4, work with our Career Services office to recruit students, and we have alumni working in nearly every Fortune 500 company in Michigan.

Faculty working in the field

Walsh accounting faculty is passionate, engaging, supportive, and determined to provide students with the technical and conceptual knowledge for a successful career in accounting, as well as the problem-solving and communication skills to apply their knowledge in a professional setting. As many faculty are working in the field, they have first-hand background knowledge of industry trends, allowing them to paint a vivid picture of current and emerging accounting and financial reporting issues. This gives students the ability to not simply memorize principles, but to understand the “why” that supports their origin. Students learn from industry experts with the opportunity for individualized attention during and after class time. The programs are challenging and fast paced, but the reward is the opportunity to successfully pursue your professional and career goals.

SS: How long does it take to get a master’s degree in accounting at Walsh?

JB: The Walsh MAC can be completed in two years and student will have all of the accounting courses required to sit for the CPA exam.

The MAC for accounting graduates can be completed in a little over a year and offers students the opportunity to attain the required 150 credit hours for CPA licensure while earning a graduate degree.

With four 11-week semesters and year-round registration, Walsh students can make steady progress toward their degree all year and register for the classes they need up to a year in advance.

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