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Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting?

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Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2009, 15:28
Hi everyone,
I stumbled upon this thread and was very impressed with the magnitude of knowledge everyone has and so willingly share.

I really want to get my MS in Accounting (2010) but the people I talk to are advising me against it. They say that a Macc would be useless for someone like me especially since I am almost done with my CPA. Here is my info.

UC Berkeley Econ Major
GPA 3.0 for upper div, 3.6 overall (Berkeley, Berkeley extension and community college)
3.89 in Accounting classes at Berkeley and other Community colleges.
Almost done with my CPA
2 year at a very prestigious regional firm
Excellent leadership, resume, extracurricular, personal statement and rec letters.
Internship and offer at Big 4. Did not take the offer...worked at a smaller firm.
Will start studying for the GMAT in July.

I want to apply to McCombs, University of Notre Dame, USC, Texas A&M and maybe one or two more.

My questions are
1) What GMAT score do I need to be considered for these schools?
2) Since I already have my CPA, am I really wasting my time?
3) Wouldn't I get better offers with a CPA and MS rather than just the CPA?
4) Do I have a shot at the schools above?

Thank you so much for your time.
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2009, 17:05
How did you sit for a CPA exam with Econ degree?
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2009, 17:15
The community college classes i took in addition to completing my degree =) I am fully eligible to sit for the CPA.
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2009, 17:30

1) GMAT score - depends on the program. More competitive ones have GMAT avg around 650+ to get in.

2) If you have CPA, there really isn't any value in getting MS Accounting. I don't think your salary will be significantly higher (if higher at all) because you get a MS degree at most Big 4 firms.

3) It would be easier to get into Big 4 from MS program. But CPA > MS Accounting in my opinion. MS Accounting is really for following purposes - Career switchers, undergraduate students, or current accountants who need 150hr requirement to sit for CPA exam.

4) You have GPA for the programs above. You need to get a great GMAT score.

Note: If, ONLY IF, you are insisting upon MS degree for some reason, consider MS Taxation instead of MS Accounting degree if taxation interests you. If you already have CPA certification, MS Accounting won't add much value for your career but MS Taxation degree can....(at least more than MS Accounting degree IMO)

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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2009, 17:37
Can I ask why you are interested in those particular schools? Why do you want to get your MBA?
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2009, 17:41
I see that you mean- thank you for taking the time to reply.

Just a quick clarification...What did you mean when you said that I'll get a MS degree at the Big 4? Do you think that Big 4 experience is like getting a Masters?

Thanks.
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2009, 17:51
CalCPA wrote:
Just a quick clarification...What did you mean when you said that I'll get a MS degree at the Big 4? Do you think that Big 4 experience is like getting a Masters?

Thanks.



Not sure what you are referring to. So let me clarify.

If you are referring to #2 or #3 in my response - I mean that there is no point of going for MS Accounting degree if you already have a CPA certification. Professionals with CPA certification generally don't go for MS Accounting degree. It's not necessary. CPA certification is better than a stand-alone MS Accounting degree. There really isn't any difference between CPA with just undergrad accounting degree vs CPA with MS Accounting degree.

I also meant that if your goal is to break into Big 4, I simply said that compared to directly applying to Big 4 for a job, for some offices/cities - it would be easier to get into Big 4 from a MS Accounting program/school. But again, this isn't necessarily true. "Experienced Hires" recruiting depends on the needs of the firm.

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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2009, 19:18
I have a BS in Accounting from abroad and I am getting my MS in Acct, since I need an MS degree to sit for the CPA. From my experience you will waste your time and money getting an MS if you already passed the exams (CPA). What you will learn in school in most cases will be related to the CPA examination; therefore, you already have what is equivalent or better than an MS (the CPA)
On the other hand, if you want to continue studying, I recommend that you go for an MBA in acct or an MS in Taxation or Information management, even a PhD, depending on what you like and what you want to do in the future. My point is, do something to complement your accounting experience and knowledge. I believe a CPA certification is stronger than any MAcct you can get, no matter the school. Lastly, if you spend the time you would spend in school working in a "recognized" firm, you would be considered a more valuable employee.

Hope this helps!
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 25 Jul 2009, 22:57
it really did. thank you! :-D
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 26 Jul 2009, 20:36
Hey...you stole my name.

Answers to your questions:

1) See school websites to be exact. I think the range of scores varies more than for MBA programs.

2) Only you can answer this as you must see value in the MACC, otherwise, why would you consider doing it. Remember, life isnt all about $. If you are truly inteterested in accounting, then why not do it. Maybe the money isnt worth it to you, but if it isnt an issue for you, then why not go for it. You might want to also consider doing a PHD in accounting, as you would probably learn more from the PHD than the MACC, and have better use for the PHD.

3) You will have to clarify what type of job you will be looking for. If you want a job in public accounting, then a MACC will not help out much if any. New hires are paid about $2K more a year if they have a MACC. At this point, you would be an experienced hire, so there wouldnt be a difference. If you want to work in industry accounting, then you would be better off with an MBA (or a PHD, although not very common).

4) More than qualified for the schools (PENDING GMAT).
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 29 Jul 2009, 09:58
CaliCpa wrote:
Only you can answer this as you must see value in the MACC, otherwise, why would you consider doing it. Remember, life isnt all about $. If you are truly inteterested in accounting, then why not do it. Maybe the money isnt worth it to you, but if it isnt an issue for you, then why not go for it. You might want to also consider doing a PHD in accounting, as you would probably learn more from the PHD than the MACC, and have better use for the PHD.

3) You will have to clarify what type of job you will be looking for. If you want a job in public accounting, then a MACC will not help out much if any. New hires are paid about $2K more a year if they have a MACC. At this point, you would be an experienced hire, so there wouldnt be a difference. If you want to work in industry accounting, then you would be better off with an MBA (or a PHD, although not very common).


A MACC and a PhD in accounting are two totally different things. In a PhD program, you won't learn much, if anything, that's directly related to public accounting (e.g. standards, audit procedures), and you may or may not learn anything directly related to what you call "industry accounting", which I'm guessing includes budgeting/costing, strategic planning, internal auditing, and so on. Every Accounting PhD graduate I know who went to industry went in research departments at investments banks, or credit rating agencies and similar investing/consulting stuff.

I guess my point is that the comparison between Macc and PhD is not as simple as "you'll learn more with the PhD". It's definitely true if you already have a CPA for reasons already laid out in this thread, but frankly I don't see much of a use for the OP to get a PhD unless he/she wants to switch careers.
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 30 Jul 2009, 20:10
So let me get this straight...

As a PHD, you dont learn anything that you would in public accounting? You also may or may not learn anything that you would in industry accounting? Well then, what do you learn about accounting? What do you think those PHDs do at the investment bank?
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 31 Jul 2009, 06:27
CaliCpa wrote:
So let me get this straight...

As a PHD, you dont learn anything that you would in public accounting? You also may or may not learn anything that you would in industry accounting? Well then, what do you learn about accounting? What do you think those PHDs do at the investment bank?


Those people with a PhD will do research and forecast, find patterns of facts and causes, establish formulae and invent the tools that those in public accounting will use, etc. The training for a PhD goes towards an inquisitive- research- academic mind set; therefore the skills they will use in the industry will be very different from those CPAs use. Not even a CPA certification is needed in the case of the PhD. In Sum, their training will teach them how to use economics and statistics tools to investigate accounting issues.
For instance, a PhD in Accounting will investigate causes and efects of the application of certain accounting principle, or the effects of SOX application. On the other hand, a public accountant will apply those principles or SOX rules as required at specific situations and understand the effects of their application, but will not research about it (from an academic perspective) unless his (her) position requires it within the firm, but he or she is not trained from an MS or BS to do such type of research. That is precisely why investment banks hire PhD's for that job: they are the specialists in research!
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 31 Jul 2009, 21:59
Fair point, however that doesnt refute the fact that public accountants learn the application of certain accounting principles, as do PHD's. It may be true that they aren't "inquisitive" or have a "research/academic-mind set," but the fact still remains that accounting is still accounting, regardless of whether you are researching cause and effect, or just applying its principles. Come on, you can't tell me that all new PHD candidates have all the FASB statements/codes memorized and all they do is cause and effect research on those statements...In your response, you just discredited what Cabro57 posted in his post.

Either way, I dont think we know what kind of job the OP was interested in anyway and probably cant fairly answer the question until knowing that.
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 04 Aug 2009, 07:43
CaliCpa wrote:
Fair point, however that doesnt refute the fact that public accountants learn the application of certain accounting principles, as do PHD's. It may be true that they aren't "inquisitive" or have a "research/academic-mind set," but the fact still remains that accounting is still accounting, regardless of whether you are researching cause and effect, or just applying its principles. Come on, you can't tell me that all new PHD candidates have all the FASB statements/codes memorized and all they do is cause and effect research on those statements...In your response, you just discredited what Cabro57 posted in his post.

Either way, I dont think we know what kind of job the OP was interested in anyway and probably cant fairly answer the question until knowing that.


I don't think he did.

Here's what I meant, as a former public accountant who went back to school and has now almost completed a PhD in accounting. Good public accountants need to know many accounting standards and know a lot about the audit process and audit procedures, which is basically what they'll learn in a MACC program (or pretty much what they'd learn as accounting undergrads). On the other hand, good researchers need to be able to formulate specific research questions, and then either (i) design their research so that their tests provide evidence toward answering that question (empirical or experimental research), or (ii) build a model that answers the question and provides insight as to what is driving their results (analytical/theoretical research). So what's tough for research is (1) to find an interesting subject, and (2) to apply procedures that are rigorous enough to tease out plausible alternatives. Most (about 75% in my case) of the official training people get in a PhD program is geared toward 2. The remaining time is spent reading/discussing accounting research papers, which helps to figure out what's been done before and may help a bit if you want to know what's still worth researching.

So you don't need to know a lot about accounting standards to be a good researcher. You need to have a good subject in mind (say, pension plans -- you don't need an accounting course to know those plans exist), and you need to have the skills that will help you define a good research question and design appropriate tests to answer it. Those skills are the focus of the PhD program. You may need to know a specific standard thoroughly to have a well-defined research question -- that's when you'll actually read the standard, go through the mechanics, perhaps read one chapter out of an accounting textbook, interview industry people, and so on.. but you are NOT going to learn much about that standard in a PhD course, as opposed to what you'd do in the MACC program. Besides, most accounting research has very little to do directly with specific standards (e.g. do earnings predict future stock returns, does the balance sheet help identify financially distressed firms, is income smoothing good or bad...).

CaliCpa wrote:
Well then, what do you learn about accounting? What do you think those PHDs do at the investment bank?


To answer this more specifically -- you don't learn that much about accounting but you do learn a lot about accounting research. And those PhDs at investment banks -- they're trying to figure out whether accounting numbers can help predict future stock returns so that their employer can make more money. I'm not disputing that knowledge of actual standards can help that, but this is nowhere near as important as the (technical and analytical) ability to produce good research, and if they know anything about actual standards it's likely not something they learned in their PhD program.
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 09 Aug 2009, 11:49
Cabro - You do provide good insight of the PHD program and what it entails. While not to drag out the discussion, the only premise that I was questioning/disputing, was:

"In a PhD program, you won't learn much, if anything, that's directly related to public accounting (e.g. standards, audit procedures), and you may or may not learn anything directly related to what you call "industry accounting", which I'm guessing includes budgeting/costing, strategic planning, internal auditing, and so on."

I'm not meaning to dispute this with you, its just that when I saw that statement, I thought it sounded a little off base to say that there is virtually no overlap. It's clear that there is overlap, but the overall purpose and methods used are likely different.
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 10 Aug 2009, 09:51
CaliCpa wrote:
I'm not meaning to dispute this with you, its just that when I saw that statement, I thought it sounded a little off base to say that there is virtually no overlap. It's clear that there is overlap, but the overall purpose and methods used are likely different.


I probably used poor wording the first time around. However I wanted to stress out that the formal coursework in a PhD program in Accounting has virtually nothing to do with accounting standards. To use your words, whatever overlap there is follows from the research subject the PhD candidate has chosen. Someone may have a subject that's very closely related to accounting standards and what students learn in a MACC program (e.g. purchase vs. pooling accounting, R&D expensing, treatment of special items and accounting changes..), while someone else may have a subject that has virtually nothing to do with that (e.g. how do financial analysts use management's financial disclosures, do you want the most highly skilled manager to manage the most highly skilled team, is income smoothing rewarded or punished by the stock market..) Many of these 'unrelated' subjects may be of interest to public accountants but they're not part of what they learned in a MACC or as accounting majors..
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Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting? [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2009, 06:01
No problem. You have done a more than adequate job is clarifying your position in subsequent posts.

Good discussion... :-D
Re: Please advice- shall I get a MS in Accounting?   [#permalink] 12 Aug 2009, 06:01
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