Accounting & Information Systems: MBA, PhD & Online Degrees

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What jobs can you get with a master's degree or Ph.D. in accounting and information systems? Get the facts about prerequisites, online options, courses and training programs.
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Accounting & Information Systems MBA, Ph.D. and Online Degrees at a Glance

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) in accounting and information systems will prepare you to conduct complex financial analyses, manage the accounting and reporting requirements of businesses, government agencies or individuals, or conduct audits or forensic analysis of financial records. A Ph.D. in accounting and information systems will prepare you for a professorship at universities and colleges or to head analytical and research projects.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth in the accounting and auditing field to be consistent with the national average at 16% between 2010 and 2020. Job growth is projected to be slightly higher in business and financial operations occupations. BLS indicates that accountants generally have bachelor's degrees, so candidates with master's degrees in accounting and information systems will have a competitive advantage, as will being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The specialization in computer information systems will give you an edge in this job market, no matter what specialized accounting and information systems career path you choose to follow.

MBA Ph.D.
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested entering the field as CPAs, auditors, financial analysts, forensic accountants, comptrollers, and chief financial officers Individuals interested in teaching in colleges and universities or conducting financial and analytical research
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual median salary) - Accountant $63,000*
- Auditor $54,900**
- Forensic Accountant $65,700**
- CPA $50,700 **
- Tax Consultant $47,000**
- Financial Analyst $77,000*
- Post-secondary education teacher or professor in business $62,000***
- Market Research Analyst $60,000*
Time to Completion 2-3.5 years 4-5 years
Common Graduation Requirements - Financial accounting and reporting
- Managerial accounting
- Economics
- Technology
- Management
- Specialty courses such as taxes or law
- Information systems
- Financial analysis
- Auditing
- Business ethics
- Research methods
- Economics
- Computers and information systems
- Statistics
-Theory and theory building
- Research projects
- Teaching
- Dissertation
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree
- Requisite Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Records Examination (GRE) test score
- Master's degree
- Requisite GMAT test score
- Calculus
Online Availability - Yes - No

Sources: *BLS 2011 annual median wage, **Payscale.com average salary for MBA,***Payscale.com average salary for Ph.D.

Master of Business Administration in Accounting and Information Systems

MBA programs in accounting and information systems provide advanced accounting, technology, analysis, and problem solving skills that are required to fill the business decision-making and financial reporting needs of corporations, government agencies, and consulting firms. Your studies will include practical applications and theory in business management, accounting, and information systems, as well as a strong focus on developing the critical thinking, communication, and analytical skills that are in demand by today's corporations and government agencies.

Pros and Cons of an MBA in accounting and information systems

Pros

  • The added specialty in information systems will make an MBA with this degree more desirable to employers
  • MBA in accounting and information systems degree programs focus more on developing problem solving and analytical skills than undergraduate programs, skills which are in high demand by employers
  • This program offers the student the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of career paths upon graduation
  • This program is offered on a part-time basis for working students

Cons

  • A gradate with an MBA in accounting and information systems will be competing for the same jobs as candidates with bachelor's degrees
  • The potential increase in pay between a bachelor's degree candidate and an MBA candidate isn't remarkably significant, resulting in a diminished return on the investment of your educational dollar
  • Some schools don't offer formal dual studies in accounting and information systems, so you'll have to adjust your curriculum to include sufficient information systems coursework as a minor

Courses and Requirements

A candidate for a master's degree program must have a bachelor's degree and a Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test score above the school's minimum admission requirement. GMAT and GRE are graduate admissions tests that measure the analytical writing, critical thinking, verbal, and mathematical skills you have acquired over a period of time. These tests are used by graduate schools as a predictor of success in graduate business programs.

Your coursework will include classes designed to teach you the practical application and theory associated with business management and financial analysis, management, and reporting. A focus on accounting information systems as a specialty includes coursework in accounting technology and computer systems. Ethical requirements and auditing procedures are also essential job skills that are included in this program. Curriculum requirements include the following:

  • Management
  • Economics
  • Information systems and technology
  • Auditing
  • Financial accounting and reporting
  • Financial analysis
  • Ethics
  • Organizational systems
  • Accounting and accounting theory
  • Tax accounting
  • Budgeting

Online Course Info

Master of Business Administration degree programs in accounting and information systems are available online. Online coursework is comparable to classroom-based curriculum, and you can obtain your MBA degree with an accredited online program.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

An MBA in accounting and information systems can present you with many possible career paths. There is such diversity in this field that whether you're interested in investigations, analysis, management, or any other realm that requires extensive knowledge of budgeting and finances, you can chose your area of interest as a specialty in your education program.

Besides the standard accounting and CPA positions available, you could direct your studies to become a comptroller (average salary $90,800*) overseeing corporate accounting operations. You could choose courses that give you a specialty in auditing or forensic accounting (the BLS projects average growth in these fields, with a median salary of $63,000), where you could work in consulting firms, government agencies or with law enforcement. Focusing on tax accounting can prepare you for a job as a tax examiner or revenue agent (BLS projects growth in this field to by slower than average at 7% between 2010 and 2020).

A stronger emphasis on information systems can prepare you to be a computer and information systems manager for companies that develop accounting and inventory computer hardware and software systems (BLS projects average growth at 18%, median wage is $118,000). A focus on business management would increase your chances of advancing to a corporate chief executive position (BLS projected growth slower than average at 5%, but the median pay is much higher - $166,900). There are so many options for specialization and career paths in the accounting and information systems field that you can chose your area of personal interest to pursue to give you a competitive edge in the job market.

Source: *Payscale.com

Ph.D. in Accounting and Information Systems

A Ph.D. in accounting and information systems is designed to prepare you for a professorship at universities and colleges or to head analytical and research projects. To this end, you'll spend some time doing coursework, but you'll also be required to teach college classes in accounting and to conduct research projects.

This program involves intensive mathematical background involving calculus, statistics as well as research theory and methodology. You'll be expected to demonstrate a mastery in accounting and information systems through your research projects and dissertation. This can translate into prestigious positions with top colleges and universities or prepare you to participate in or spearhead cutting-edge analytical and market research with a corporation or consulting firm.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Many schools offer financial aid, assistantships and tuition waivers, stipends, or fellowships as part of their Ph.D. programs to compensate for tuition and other expenses.
  • Most colleges and universities require their professors to have Ph.D.s
  • Many accounting or market research projects require the head of the project to have a Ph.D.

Cons

  • You are usually required to be enrolled as a full-time student in residence, so this isn't a degree that can be accomplished part-time or while you hold down a job
  • The career opportunities for Ph.D. degree holders in accounting and information systems are more esoteric and aren't as diverse as those for individuals holding master's degrees
  • The potential for higher pay isn't necessarily associated with this degree over a master's degree; for example, college professors generally make less than accountants or analysts*
  • Source: BLS

Courses and Requirements

Candidates for a doctoral degree in accounting and information systems must have a master's degree and a GMAT test score that meets the school's minimum requirements. You'll also need to submit letters of reference and have maintained a minimum grade point average in your master's degree program. Work experience is also a consideration.

Ph.D. accounting and information systems degree programs focus heavily on research and theory. You will be required to attend classes during the first year or two, and there will be research projects and teaching requirements before you proceed to the dissertation phase. The program is intended to help you develop teaching skills, since many Ph.D. recipients go on the teach in colleges and universities. Curriculum requirements generally include the following:

  • Research methods
  • Economics
  • Information systems
  • Statistics
  • Theory and theory building
  • Research projects
  • Teaching
  • Dissertation

Online Course Info

Due to the nature of the associated education requirements, many Ph.D. accounting and information systems degree programs are not available online, and the ones that are available may not be accredited. There are important onsite attendance and consultation requirements, as well as teaching and research requirements that cannot be fulfilled with distance learning in a Ph.D. degree program. Your best option to fulfill degree requirements is a traditional campus-based program.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

You'll be required to develop an expertise in a specialty area associated with accounting and information systems. This is your chance to branch out beyond the numbers into a related area that interests you. Some of these areas include psychology or market forces or technology. A creative and innovative integration of your personal interests with the accounting and information systems requirements will get you noticed by employers and could land you the job you want after you obtain your doctorate.

Of course, for a Ph.D., being published is important, so don't skimp on the writing and analytical components of your education. Good writing skills are necessary to communicate your research and analysis, and you don't want to hinder your own potential for publication, recognition or employment by not sharpening those skills.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Accounting
      • MS in Accounting
      • MBA: Finance
      • MBA
      • MBA and MS in Leadership (Dual Degree)
      • MBA: Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin: Accounting
      • Master: Accounting
      • Master of Business Admin: Finance
      • Master of Business Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Financial Management
      • Master of Science in Accounting
      • MBA - Management Information Systems
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA
      • MBA - Management
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master - Accounting
      • MS in Accounting- Tax Specialization
      • MS in Accounting - Audit Specialization
      • MS in Accounting - Government Specialization
      • MS in Accounting - Finance Specialization
      • MBA: Finance
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Saint John's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Accounting
      • Master of Business Administration: Taxation
      • Master of Science in Taxation
      • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Utica College

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Finance and Accounting
      • Masters of Science in Financial Crime and Compliance Management
      • MS in Data Science: Financial Crime
      • MBA - General
  • Online Programs Available
    7. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
      • Master of Business Admin: Finance
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA in Accounting
      • MS in Accounting - Management Accounting
      • MS in Accounting - Taxation
      • MBA in Forensic Accounting
      • MS in Accounting
      • MS in Accounting - Forensic Accounting
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Finance
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Benedictine University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Accelerated MBA Accounting
      • MBA Accounting
      • Accelerated MBA Financial Management
      • MBA Financial Management
      • Accelerated Masters in Business Administration
      • DUAL MBA-MSN

Featured Schools

Grand Canyon University

  • MBA: Accounting
  • MS in Accounting
  • MBA: Finance

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Colorado Technical University

  • Master of Business Admin: Accounting
  • Master: Accounting
  • Master of Business Admin: Finance

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Northcentral University

  • MBA - Financial Management
  • Master of Science in Accounting
  • MBA - Management Information Systems

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Kaplan University

  • Master - Accounting
  • MS in Accounting- Tax Specialization
  • MS in Accounting - Audit Specialization

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Saint John's University

  • Master of Science in Accounting
  • Master of Business Administration: Taxation
  • Master of Science in Taxation

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Utica College

  • MBA - Finance and Accounting
  • Masters of Science in Financial Crime and Compliance Management
  • MS in Data Science: Financial Crime

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American InterContinental University

  • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
  • Master of Business Admin: Finance

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Southern New Hampshire University

  • MBA in Accounting
  • MS in Accounting - Management Accounting
  • MS in Accounting - Taxation

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