By Jong Eun Jung
Young professionals who want to gain more knowledge and skills in business before entering the job market may consider enrolling in a graduate program at a business school. If you are interested in a career in accounting, a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) may be a good option for you. However, you may not be sure what a MAcc entails and whether it aligns with your future plans and goals. Emily O’Dell, the Director of Vanderbilt Business MAcc Programs, answers 4 common questions to help prospective students understand what a MAcc is and what they will learn in the program.
What is a Master of Accountancy?
The Master of Accountancy is a one-year program that prepares students to be successful associates in the accounting field. During this program, they learn about public accounting and develop the finance and accounting skills necessary for knowing the ins and outs of a business. In addition, a MAcc program usually includes preparation for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, and if graduates pass that, they earn a certification that proves they are an expert in the business world and gives them a leg up on recruiting for jobs.
What kind of students should apply to the MAcc program?
A MAcc is best suited for recent graduates with little to no work experience and are interested in pursuing a career in accounting. However, applicants don’t need to necessarily be set on an accounting career — people who are interested in business in general can apply to the MAcc program to gain business skills and learn more about public accounting. “For Vanderbilt, specifically, we accept applications from students from every background,” O’Dell said. “We’re interested in students who know they’re interested in business but aren’t necessarily sure what kind of business. Public accounting is a great place to get that experience… Any student with a strong academic background that’s interested in business can apply to our program.”
What do you learn during the MAcc program?
During the program, students take classes such as financial reporting, audit, and data analytics to gain the skills and knowledge for a successful accounting career. In the Vanderbilt Business MAcc programs, students can learn from one of 2 tracks: the Assurance program and the Valuation program. In the first program, students learn skills to enter the audit service line within public accounting, and in the second, students prepare to enter the business valuation side. In addition, both programs include a paid internship at a global accounting and professional services firm where students can apply their knowledge and hone soft skills. “We take an approach where, academically, it will be challenged, but we also want (students) to be influential leaders and critical thinkers,” O’Dell said. “The academic piece is focused on your career in public accounting, but then we also incorporate those soft skills to help you with your professional development as you move into your career.”
What kind of jobs can you get with a MAcc?
A MAcc degree prepares students for a range of jobs in public accounting, such as an audit and assurance associate and valuation associate. In addition, the program helps them gain a solid foundation in “the language of business” so that they can grow more quickly as a professional. The Vanderbilt MAcc programs in particular have relationships with the Big Four, so graduates from the program are often hired by one of the firms. “We’re focused on working with the top four largest, global, professional service firms. With our MAcc, you will go in as an associate in one of the Big Four public accounting firms,” O’Dell said.