Getting a Masters in Accounting (MSA) is a waste of money, but aspiring accountants everywhere continue to struggle with whether or not to pursue this advanced degree.
For starters, you have the fact that most states require 150 hours of education to become a licensed CPA. You also have the traditional idea that more education automatically means better job prospects.
A Masters in Accounting certainly would help take care of the educational requirements, but it’s not the only option. When I realized having the 150 hours would make pursuing the CPA more transferrable, I did two things. First, I started overloading on courses wherever I could before completing my undergrad (no extra cost).
Second, I enrolled in community college courses. In California, I was able to enroll in a course for less than $80 and in Illinois, I was able to do so for a little more than $300. While tuition has gone up since then, the fact that a Masters in Accounting comes at a price premium remains the same.
Masters in Accounting preferred?
How many times have you seen a job description state “Masters in Accounting preferred”? I consider myself someone who pays attention to this and you know what I see? In corporate accounting, I see a lot of companies where Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Master of Business Administration (MBA) is preferred. In tax, having a Masters in Tax (MST) or law degree (JD) can open the right doors.
Even in this U.S. News article from 2014 where it indicates employers are looking to hire more students with the Masters in Accounting, it still suggests getting certified as either a CPA or Certified Management Accountant.
What does that tell you? It tells you the Masters in Accounting is not the target for aspiring accountants. If that path works for your then go for it, but don’t let others convince you that you can’t take a different route to the same place. And if you can get to the end goal in a more affordable manner, isn’t that worth considering, at least?