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Value/Benefit of a Master of Accounting (MAcc)

  • Last Updated:
  • Apr 19th, 2017 6:21 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Sep 21, 2016
46 posts
4 upvotes

Value/Benefit of a Master of Accounting (MAcc)

Hi,

Graduated from undergraduate in business/accounting. Planning to work towards the CPA designation. I have the option to 1) earn the CPA via a MAcc degree (employer tuition subsidy), or 2) do CPA myself and apply for a top tier MBA program after a few years of work experience (at my expense)?

What do you guys think?
1) What value or benefits can be derived from studying for a Master of Accounting (MAcc) degree on top of earning the CPA designation?
2) Do you think holding a MAcc degree + CPA vs just a CPA helps in terms of future job prospects/employability, salary increase, and promotion to management positions?
3) As an exit strategy from the public service, do employers (private/industry) value a candidate with a MAcc degree + CPA any different that a candidate with bachelor + CPA?
Last edited by jgravity on Apr 16th, 2017 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
13 replies
Deal Addict
Sep 20, 2014
1120 posts
292 upvotes
Mississauga, ON
In before Corner3 tells you to go to a top US MBA school or die tryin'
Sr. Member
Sep 4, 2007
888 posts
240 upvotes
Edmonton
Not a Macc expert, but if the employer is going to sponsor it, I'd be all over it. It's rare to have even partial subsidies of tuition these days. Master's degrees are sometimes mandatory in public service job competitions so it opens up those options. In job competitions where it's not required, it could give you an edge over a similar candidate who has just a CPA.

There's also nothing stopping you from doing the Macc now to strengthen your current position and then doing the shiny MBA years later to do a career switch. The Macc could help you go up the public service ladder faster, which will open up a few more options if/when you decide to switch out to private sector.
Deal Addict
Jun 12, 2015
1734 posts
422 upvotes
Ontario
You can have a macc but not cpa, so cpa>macc.

As for which is better, once you have cpa, macc means nothing and if hr has any brain cells, they would know cpa outweigh macc. It's like comparing highschool 1 to highschool 2, when both graduated from same university. No one should care about highschool anymore since university outweigh and is the same.

It all comes down to experience that differentiates
Newbie
Feb 19, 2017
80 posts
41 upvotes
frozenmelon wrote:
Apr 17th, 2017 2:13 pm
Not a Macc expert, but if the employer is going to sponsor it, I'd be all over it. It's rare to have even partial subsidies of tuition these days. Master's degrees are sometimes mandatory in public service job competitions so it opens up those options. In job competitions where it's not required, it could give you an edge over a similar candidate who has just a CPA.

There's also nothing stopping you from doing the Macc now to strengthen your current position and then doing the shiny MBA years later to do a career switch. The Macc could help you go up the public service ladder faster, which will open up a few more options if/when you decide to switch out to private sector.
This.

Having a master's degree could always be handy:
-often public sector requirement
-consulting firms love them
-if you want to work overseas, it helps for getting hired and for the work visa application (if required)

Anyone who tells you there's no difference has no idea what they're talking about.
Deal Addict
Jul 13, 2009
2428 posts
389 upvotes
Dynasty12345 wrote:
Apr 17th, 2017 3:12 pm
hr has any brain cells, they would know cpa outweigh macc.
I have brain cells!

One of the big reasons for MAcc is exemptions for the CPA, cost wise I believe roughly-ish the same. MAcc courses do cover a number of CPA required courses.

What the CPA wants you to believe though, is the CPA is as valuable or more than a MBA/MAcc.

What employers care is where you got that MAcc, and if you have a CPA with it. MAcc + CPA + Big 4 = hired.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Dec 27, 2007
501 posts
64 upvotes
As a private sector employer, I would be looking for a CPA + relevant work experience when hiring for a management position. The MAcc likely would not help with salary increases because those are based on performance. Unless you are doing MTax or something very specialized, CPA + MBA would probably be better for your career than CPA + MAcc. A lot of what you learn in an accounting undergrad goes unused in corporate accounting - I believe it would be more of the same with a MAcc.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Dec 27, 2007
501 posts
64 upvotes
bhrm wrote:
Apr 17th, 2017 4:26 pm
I have brain cells!

One of the big reasons for MAcc is exemptions for the CPA, cost wise I believe roughly-ish the same. MAcc courses do cover a number of CPA required courses.

What the CPA wants you to believe though, is the CPA is as valuable or more than a MBA/MAcc.

What employers care is where you got that MAcc, and if you have a CPA with it. MAcc + CPA + Big 4 = hired.
If you work in accounting, a CPA on its own is more valuable than a lone MBA or MAcc.
Newbie
Dec 3, 2012
12 posts
7 upvotes
Toronto
You can see from the mixed reviews that anyone who is familiar with the accounting industry knows that the MAcc is only a means to getting your CPA. Anyone who isn't familiar with accounting assumes the MAcc is better than the CPA because it's a Master's degree.

That being said, only recruiters who aren't familiar with accounting will see the MAcc + CPA as better than just the CPA (although in reality they are the same). The only benefit is the assumed prestige of a Master's degree to the unfamiliar HR recruiter imo. Oh and you get to skip the modules/capstones although you do pay more for the MAcc then you would if you do the PEP program.
Deal Addict
Jun 12, 2015
1734 posts
422 upvotes
Ontario
Exactly, the macc only replaces the part of cpa pep. Both end goals are cpa, so macc is nothing more than extra letters that mean nothing once you have cpa.

I agree mtax is more valuable since it goes even deeper into tax, whereas macc and cpa pep are repeats of university accounting courses.

As for public service requiring masters, if I was cpa and held back because I didn't have macc, that hr employee is nothing more than a paper pusher.

Experience is what differentiates now for CPA's. I take it external audit is generally more valued. Of course it depends on the exact job opening.
Member
User avatar
Feb 26, 2008
454 posts
22 upvotes
The above 2 posts pretty much summarized MAcc and CPA. If u have our CPA (CA) we don't really care much about whether u did it through PEP (CASB) or MAcc.
[OP]
Newbie
Sep 21, 2016
46 posts
4 upvotes
Thank you guys so much for your views!I'll go with the PEP route since the MAcc doesn't seem to add much additional value.
Deal Addict
Sep 23, 2007
4147 posts
660 upvotes
jgravity wrote:
Apr 16th, 2017 8:37 pm
Hi,

Graduated from undergraduate in business/accounting. Planning to work towards the CPA designation. I have the option to 1) earn the CPA via a MAcc degree (employer tuition subsidy), or 2) do CPA myself and apply for a top tier MBA program after a few years of work experience (at my expense)?

What do you guys think?
1) What value or benefits can be derived from studying for a Master of Accounting (MAcc) degree on top of earning the CPA designation?
2) Do you think holding a MAcc degree + CPA vs just a CPA helps in terms of future job prospects/employability, salary increase, and promotion to management positions?
3) As an exit strategy from the public service, do employers (private/industry) value a candidate with a MAcc degree + CPA any different that a candidate with bachelor + CPA?
Once you get into the working world, you will learn quickly that nobody actually cares about your education, outside of a few elitist managers. Employers don't value education anywhere near as much as your track record to get things done. Things like communication skills, interpersonal skills, and even how you dress all matter much more than your education IMO.

You said "do CPA myself". You can't do CPA yourself. The bottleneck for the vast majority is in getting a decent job where you can earn sufficient experience to qualify. There are some people who are married and have kids and don't have the ability or time to pass the exams.

So with that in mind, to answer your questions 1-3....
1) Employers don't value higher education in general. Accounting is increasingly outsourced to 3rd parties. It could be an overseas company who does the bookkeeping, or a local accounting firm. Increasingly I see accounting/finance departments getting more and more lean, and less focused on transactional accounting. You need to understand that if a company really needs accounting policy advice, they can go to a CPA firm and pay for consulting service. They don't necessarily need the knowledge in house. Then your next question might be how do you get a position in an accounting firm? Well...there are the big firms, and the smaller firms. In all of them, the majority do the grunt work. The lead accountant doesn't even look at the file until the grunts have finished the files. So basically I'm saying that there are tons of qualified people to do accounting. But it's things like knowing how to make and keep clients that will bring you up the ladder, not raw technical knowledge. So in that sense, the benefits of a MAcc is moot.

2) Higher education leading to higher salary and better positions is only a correlation at best. There are plenty of MBAs or other people with higher education that earn less than people with just a bachelor. Regarding management position, once you start working, you will learn the truth about management positions. The jobs are less about technical knowledge, and more about managing people. Managing expectations of your stakeholders (e.g. if other departments constantly ask you for new reports, how do you manage what you should say yes to, and when to refuse). Managing the expectations of your team (e.g. how do you keep an ambitious high performing person from leaving without meeting his/her constant request for higher salary?). And perhaps most importantly, dealing with office politics. Management skill is not something they teach you in school. Interpersonal skill is something you have to develop outside of the classroom. The better your EQ, the faster you will pick it up and avoid "people blunders" at the office.

3) Nobody values MAcc specifically. Put yourself in the shoes of the person reading your resume. He/she needs someone good with Excel, preferably with experience in SAP. Someone with a proven record to go above and beyond. Someone with a resume that shows progressive experiences etc. One can even argue that being too educated makes you HARDER to employ. Many employers are not looking for the "smartest". Smartest does not translate into the most productive. Smart is only useful when that intelligence is channeled properly. Highly qualified people can have higher salary expectations and more career ambitions. I have seen time and time again some smart people use their brains to shirk on the job. They find ways to deliver less, and use their brains to shift blame onto others. Smarter and more educated is NOT always better. It can even intimidate some insecure managers. Once you start working, you are likely to find many people who are "just qualified" for the job. Receptionist is a prime example. You never need someone super educated to do it. Give it to someone with a family who isn't too smart. This person is likely to stick around and not demand too much in terms of salary/benefits.

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