Accountancy is a primary business function and an integral part of running any type of company. It is through the accounting process that businesses track their financial performance, control costs, allocate resources, and report gains and losses for the purposes of tax liability assessments, shareholder statements, and other formal disclosures. As part of the core Master of Business Administration (MBA) curriculum, students are introduced to the theories and practices of accounting and learn how accountancy is integrated into decision-making in the day-to-day and long-term operations of a company. However, many MBA programs offer additional instruction in advanced accounting proficiencies through a dedicated specialization or concentration in accounting.
An MBA is a professional degree designed to offer comprehensive training in the various aspects of business management and operations. An MBA in accounting is a program with a clearly defined specialization that offers additional instruction in advanced principles and practices of accountancy, typically by providing two or more courses in accounting on top of the core MBA curriculum. Students in an MBA in accounting program take courses in general business topics, including finance, human resources, marketing, organizational leadership, and project management, while cultivating professional communication and decision-making skills. They then receive additional instruction in tax laws and procedures, financial reporting, the auditing process, and other accounting topics as part of an accounting specialization. In MBA programs that include a capstone project, which is a common feature, students may then apply what they have learned to a real-world problem in business accounting.
An online MBA in accounting program offers a more flexible and convenient alternative to campus-based programs. This may be particularly beneficial for students who aren’t able to relocate or would prefer not to commute in order to attended classes at a college or university campus. Online programs utilize distance-learning technologies that allow lectures and other instructional activities to be streamed through a learning management system (LMS) to students anywhere with a secure Internet connection. Students in these programs are able to complete assignments through the LMS, which may also facilitate contact with instructors and academic advisors and support online class discussion groups. A student in an online MBA in accounting program takes the same courses and receives the same instruction as students in traditional, campus-based programs, except that most or all of the classes are delivered online.
OnlineEducation.com conducts independent research into MBA programs and classifies these programs based on several criteria. Programs on the site must be offered by regionally accredited, non-profit colleges and universities with a business school or department that has programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). In order for an MBA program to be classified as an MBA in accounting program it must offer a formal specialization in accounting, which generally includes at least two classes in advanced business accounting topics. Finally, in order for a program to be classified as online, it must offer all or most of its coursework online. MBA programs that require students to attend more than two campus visits per year are currently not classified as online programs by OnlineEducation.com.
The bulk of the coursework in an online MBA in accounting program is comprised of general business training in areas that are part of the core MBA curriculum. This includes learning theories and principles of finance and marketing, human resource management (HRM), investment and asset management, and organizational leadership and administration, as well as studying business law and ethical business practices. It also includes the introductory accounting coursework that is central to an MBA curriculum. However, instead of enrolling in general business electives, students in an MBA in accounting program take two or more designated courses in advanced accounting topics, including auditing and financial reporting, IRS regulation and international tax systems, and corporate accounting procedures.
The table below provides an overview of the types of courses that are typically part of an MBA program with an accounting specialization. The course names and descriptions are derived from actual online MBA in accounting programs.
|Financial Reporting||The standards and practices for reporting assets and liabilities, gains and losses, and other financial information for businesses and corporations.|
|Tax Factors in Business Decisions||The impact of federal taxation on business decisions related to capital gains, timing of income, depreciation, employee benefits, and investments.|
|Corporate Accounting||Theories and practices of accountancy in a corporate context, with a focus on balance sheets, income and cash flow statements, and other standard financial reports.|
|Advanced Topics in Corporate Accounting||An examination of the complexities of corporate accounting, including accounting for pensions, income taxes, segment reporting, and earnings-per-share issues.|
|Management Control & Auditing||Managerial accounting, the auditing process, and their role in investment decisions, asset allocation, hiring, and other business decisions.|
The admissions requirements for online MBA programs with an accounting specialization are generally the same as those for other types of MBA programs. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university, and some programs may have a minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA that is preferred or required. As part of the application process, students may be asked to furnish one or more letters of recommendation and/or a short personal statement or essay. Many programs require the submission of GMAT test scores, although some will accept the GRE. There are also some programs that do not require students to take either of these standardized tests. It is also not uncommon for online MBA programs to have a list of undergraduate prerequisites (usually a college-level algebra and/or statistics course) that are preferred or required.
Prospective applicants to online MBA in accounting programs should be aware of several online program format variations that can affect the relative convenience and/or flexibility of these programs. Online programs utilize two very different methods for online instruction – synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Some programs are offered full-time, others part-time, and there are programs that give students the options of choosing between the two. Finally, prospective applicants should examine the details of an online program carefully to determine whether or not it requires them to attend on-campus sessions. For more on these format options, refer to our Online MBA Degree Programs page.