Online Accounting Master’s Degrees

Featured Online Accounting Program

MS in Financial Crime and Compliance Management
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They say the only certainties in life are death and taxes. While depressing, it’s actually good news if you’re pursuing a career in accounting. Increased regulations, ever-changing tax laws and a renewed focus on financial controls create the need for ethical, skilled accountants in a variety of industries. Not surprisingly, employment opportunities in the field of accounting are forecast to increase 22% over the next few years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.1

There are different academic paths a professional can take to land a job in accounting. Do you need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or will a Master’s degree in accounting open more doors? What if you want a broader business curriculum of an MBA but also the practical skills learned in accounting? Will an MBA in accounting help you prepare for the CPA? What about fast-growing, specialized accounting degrees such as fraud management and financial crimes? Certainly lot’s to consider. Here’s a look at some online Accounting Masters degrees:

Online Master’s in Accountancy

The online Master’s in Accountancy degree is a graduate level program providing an in-depth study of accounting techniques and issues. It typically covers accounting curriculum such as financial statement analysis, auditing, taxation, ethics and financial reporting. Online Masters in Accountancy programs typically require 30 credit hours for completion and some programs can be completed, on a full-time basis, in just ten months. That’s an attractive alternative to many traditional programs in accounting which can take longer to complete and cost substantially more.

The online MAcc degree is perfect for the professional that may not necessarily have a bachelor’s degree in accounting but wants to pursue a career in accounting and potentially become a Certified Public Accountant, CPA. The CPA designation is highly prestigious and can increase compensation and job security. Some programs have CPA-certified faculty, recognized as experts in their fields, which bring an enhanced level of class discussions on real world accounting issues. Often, the faculty are local, practicing CPAs which provide a unique opportunity for mentoring and potentially an internship. Also, some online Masters of Accountancy programs may be used towards the educational requirements to receive a license from the majority of State Boards of Accountancy.

The online MAcc programs may also give professionals an advantage in landing leadership roles in accounting. Leadership positions require increased responsibility and substantial compensation increases. The national average compensation (salary and bonus) for a Financial Reporting Manager is $95,144 and jumps to $133,516 for a Director of Financial Reporting.2

Online MBA in Accounting

An online MBA in Accounting is a graduate level program. It provides the core accounting skills necessary for a career in accounting. These include Cost Accounting, Financial Statement Analysis, and Government Fund Accounting. But the online MBA in Accounting also provides the necessary soft skills for today’s workforce including leadership, teamwork and effective communication. The length of the program depends on what credits transfer but they are typically between 30 and 36 credit hours for completion. MBA in accounting programs usually offer a Capstone project or seminar at the end of the program which applies all the material learned to a real-world problem or case study. This provides valuable practical experience the student is likely to encounter post-graduation, while polishing presentation skills of the findings.

The MBA in accounting gives students the quantitative skills needed for a career in accounting but also the broader subject matter to see how accounting fits into the firm’s mission. This could potentially lead to a management position in accounting or compliance. Compliance Director’s enjoy average compensation of over $100,000 per year.3 If you can receive an MBA and a CPA, you’re compensation really starts to increase with a range of $50,000 to $141,744, according to Payscale.4 Additionally, the job you have is relatively secure since the unemployment rate for accountants is just 3.6%.5

Online MBA in Fraud Management

An online MBA in Economic Crime and Fraud Management is a graduate level program which merges business curriculum with fraud management skills. It combines the broader business overview of the MBA with a focused study in fraud and associated risk management. Unfortunately, in today’s financial environment, fraud is all too prevalent. Nearly half of all financial services firms are victims of a financial crime, including fraud.6 More alarming is that over half of these frauds are ‘inside jobs’.7 Therefore, creating processes and procedures to detect fraud is critical to businesses sustainability and the demand for skilled professionals in this area should bloom.

The Fraud Management MBA is geared towards professionals pursuing careers in compliance, auditing, forensic accounting and law enforcement. MBA programs teach valuable leadership and a valuable overview of all the departments of a business. The only way a corporate culture can be changed and procedures adequately implemented is through sound leadership and a keen understanding of the risks in today’s business environment.

The degree typically consists of 30 credit hours with topics including fraud detection techniques, current topics in fraud management and legal issues of fraud investigation. Legal issues are important since much of the investigation is done in a covert manner, the line can sometimes get blurred with regard to how investigators can legally access sensitive information. Further, some masters in fraud management programs partner with professional associations including the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS). This is important because and could lead to employment or internship opportunities for students. The program also prepares students for the Certified Fraud Examiner, CFE designation, which is a highly coveted anti-fraud credential. The CFE complements studies for compliance managers, risk managers and forensic accountants.

Online Financial Crimes Investigator Certificate

The Financial Crime certificate is an online program intended to provide the student with the necessary understanding and tools to. Certificates are a fast-growing trend in online education that are peaking student’s interests and helping them quickly and cost-effectively target the training they need for specific positions. It is a fraction of the cost of a Master’s degree and usually takes around one year to complete. The certificates may also count as transferable credits towards a bachelor’s degree in Economic Crime Investigation or some other Fraud Management degree.

The program’s structure often consists of six courses and covers current, practical issues relating to financial crimes and how to detect and prevent them. Some of the tools studied include the use of forensic accounting, data mining, economic crime law, money laundering and securing payment systems. As the percentage of financial transactions moving online increasing each year, the incentives for theft and demand for their prevention should remain high for the foreseeable future. Students learn how to implement processes and procedures to mitigate risk. Sometimes, implementing a whistleblower incentive program is an effective policy.

The Financial Crime certificate is perfect for professionals who want to become a public or private sector investigator. Consulting opportunities may arise since many law enforcement agencies have little to no training in investigating white collar crimes. Also, as regulatory scrutiny increases across all industries, the critical analysis skills learned from an online financial crimes certificate should open the door for employment opportunities.

1http://www.payscale.com/career-news/2010/04/cpa-salaries
2,3http://elearning.scranton.edu/macc/master-of-accountancy/careers?cmgfrm=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Furl
4http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Certified_Public_Accountant_(CPA)/Salary/by_Degree
5http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/accountant
6http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/services/advisory/consulting/forensics/economic-crime-survey/key-findings.html
7http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/industries/financial-services/publications/global-economic-crime-survey-2014-financial-services.html