MBA vs. Master's in Accounting

When you decide to earn a master's degree, there are many paths you can take. If you're interested in the worlds of business and accounting, then you might consider pursuing either a Master's Degree in Accounting or an MBA with a Specialization in Accounting. But what is it that makes these two degrees different from one another?

In this article, we'll explore both of these graduate-level degrees to discover what makes them unique, discuss scenarios when earning one might be a better option than the other, explore some of the advantages they both offer and more in the following sections:

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What is an MBA in Accounting?

An MBA in Accounting is a Master’s in Business Administration degree that has a strong focus on accounting in addition to its core business administration courses. Depending on the school you attend, this may be referred to as an MBA with a Specialization in Accounting or simply an MBA in Accounting.

One of the important things to know about an accounting MBA is that while it contains a mix of both business administration and accounting courses, it is a business degree first and an accounting degree second.

Like a general MBA, an MBA in Accounting will have classes that help you develop skills in problem solving, collaboration and leadership, since it is designed to help business-minded professionals build their accounting skills and help accounting professionals improve their understanding of business operations. In this way, the curriculum falls somewhere between a general MBA and a Master's in Accounting.

What is a Master’s Degree in Accounting?

A Master's in Accounting is a graduate-level degree that focuses primarily on accounting principles and can be a good fit for those who know they want to pursue a career in the accounting field.

Unlike an MBA in Accounting, which covers accounting alongside various other business-related disciplines, a Master's in Accounting dives deeper into the subject, covering regulations, principles and best practices in a more in-depth way. A Master's in Accounting may have only a few additional courses touching on non-accounting subject matter, if any.

Differences Between an MBA in Accounting and a Master's in Accounting

As previously mentioned, the main difference between an MBA in Accounting vs. a Master's in Accounting is the courses. You'll be more likely to take courses that cover a variety of subjects in an MBA program with a Specialization in Accounting, such as marketing, finance reporting and managerial practices. But when you enroll in a Master's in Accounting program, you can expect that the courses you take will mostly cover accounting and only a few courses will touch on other subjects.

Another difference is that unlike a Master's in Accounting, which will indicate "accounting" explicitly on your degree, an MBA with a Specialization in Accounting will typically only state that it is an MBA. However, you can add the specialization component to your resume to clarify this point for any potential employers.

Which is the Best Choice, An MBA or Master’s in Accounting?

It depends on your goals. While an MBA with a Specialization in Accounting can prepare you to pursue a career in the field, the depth of accounting knowledge you can learn from a Master's in Accounting program may better qualify you for more accounting-specific jobs.

Despite the differences, both programs can be an equally good choice for a variety of reasons. An MBA with a Specialization in Accounting may be a good fit for people who want to keep their options open when it comes to their careers. Because the degree teaches a wider range of courses and disciplines, you may be able to consider applying to a broader range of jobs in a variety of industries.

However, if accounting is definitely where you want to focus your efforts, then a Master's Degree in Accounting can help teach you more specialized information that can be used in a career setting or help you work toward pursuing professional certifications such as CPA licensure.

At the end of the day, both degrees are great options. The only thing to keep in mind is what you want to focus on learning while you earn your graduate degree.

Earn a Master's in Accounting or an MBA with an Accounting Specialization from DeVry

At DeVry, our priority is helping you work toward the career of your dreams. Explore our MBA with a Specialization in Accounting or our Master's Degree in Accounting to see which program fits your goals and helps meet your education needs. Both graduate degrees can be earned 100% online, so you can tailor your education to your schedule. Classes start every 8 weeks.