Top 3 Masters of Accounting Programs

By J.W. Carpenter , last updated September 11, 2011

According to the U.S. News & World Report magazine, which issues the leading annual ranking of university graduate programs, the top three 2011 Masters of Accounting programs in the United States are operated by the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Chicago. Masters-level accounting programs are designed to prepare students for work as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), as business accounting administrators, and in general management positions.

Among the three top accounting programs, the one-year University of Texas at Austin program is best suited to those students that want to become CPAs. The other two programs include an additional year of courses exploring broader topics and are best suited to students that want to develop managerial skills in addition to accounting expertise. Read on for more information about the top three Masters-level accountancy programs in the United States.

University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business houses the top graduate accounting program in the nation. The top undergraduate accounting program is also located at the University of Texas at Austin.

The graduate accounting program confers a Master of Professional Accounting (MPA) degree to its graduates. The program is open to bachelor’s degree holders from any academic discipline, whether accounting, business, the sciences, or the liberal arts. For students with an undergraduate accounting degree, the MPA can be completed in one full year of study from fall through the summer semester. For students without a background in accounting, the program requires an additional semester, beginning early in summer and ending late in summer of the following year. All students are required to develop a specialized expertise in one of four accounting areas, including managerial accounting and control, taxation, financial reporting and assurance, or a generalist area combining aspects of the other three.

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Accounting MBA program is the second rated graduate accounting program in the nation. It is a two-year program that confers an M.B.A. degree with an accounting specialization. This program is best suited to those that want to develop management and administrative skills, in addition to accounting expertise. During the first year of the program, students take a range of diverse courses in the business school designed to develop general management skills. Not until the second year do students have an opportunity to focus in on accounting. While the Wharton school is an excellent choice for students that want to become CPAs, it specializes in courses that develop an ability to use accounting data in decision making and management.

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business is the third rated graduate accounting program in 2011 and confers an M.B.A. degree with an accounting concentration. It offers a 21-month program that combines a flexible curriculum, including foundational courses in management, organizational behavior, and economics. The accounting concentration is designed to provide a deep understanding of how accounting information is used in an organization to evaluate alternatives and make decisions. This program is best suited to students that want to develop broader managerial skills alongside accounting expertise.

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