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Types of Master's Degrees in Business: Overview of Options

Master's degree programs in business include administration, accounting and finance. Students who enter one of these degree programs receive an education in business concepts and practices, corporate finance, financial planning and market analysis.

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Essential Information

Different types of master's degrees in business include the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Accountancy (MAcc) and Master of Science (MS) in Finance. Concentrations for a master's in business administration include finance, marketing or human resources and all fields can often require internships to be completed. Because master's degrees in business are often sought by working business professionals, courses are frequently offered online and on the weekends. Programs typically take 12 to 24 months to complete.

Generally, a relevant undergraduate degree is needed to apply for admission, although accelerated MBA programs allow students to earn a bachelor's and master's degree simultaneously. Some MAcc programs require students to take the Certified Public Account (CPA) exam before acceptance, while others request that the exam be completed before finishing the program.


Master of Business Administration

Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs accept students with a four-year degree in accounting, management or business; however, you can also seek to earn an MBA in order to advance your career in other disciplines. Many programs allow you to earn your bachelor's degree and MBA simultaneously.

The goal of the MBA curriculum is to develop the organizational, leadership and communication skills required for upper management or executive positions. Concentrations are usually available in finance, marketing, human resources or specialized business areas. In an accelerated MBA program, you'll usually complete prerequisites for your master's degree before you take elective courses in such areas as accounting, management and finance. MBA programs also consist of math courses in statistics, economics, econometrics and calculus. Other business requirements may include those in:

  • Information technology
  • Organizational behavior
  • International business
  • Monetary policy
  • Business law
  • Contracts and strategic business planning

Master of Accountancy

You can enroll in a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program after graduating with an undergraduate degree in accounting, though some programs will accept you with a general background in business. If you've earned an undergraduate degree in accounting, you may be expected to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam before entering a graduate program. If you don't have an accounting degree, you may be accepted as a MAcc student on the condition that you will take the CPA before receiving your graduate degree. With a MAcc, you'll be qualified to work as an accountant.

As a business student in this field, you'll study financial planning, market forecasting, corporate finance and business taxation. You'll also learn how to read and create financial reports, and use this information in a business internship before graduation. Graduate study goes beyond basic accounting principles to provide an in-depth overview of risk exposure, tax policy, securities law, auditing and financial management.

Basic requirements in a MAcc program include classes in econometrics, advanced calculus and statistical analysis. Economics courses address monetary policy, financial markets and microeconomics. You'll also complete advanced coursework in taxation, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and financial reporting. Generally, as a MAcc student, you can expect to take courses in these areas:

  • Business management
  • Auditing practices
  • Accounting software
  • Corporate governance
  • Financial instruments
  • Business taxation

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Accounting and Bookkeeping
  • Business Economics
  • Business Finance
  • Business Management and Operations
  • Business Marketing
  • Business Support and Administrative Services
  • Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development
  • Hospitality Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Information System Management
  • International Business
  • Sales and Merchandising
  • Specialized Sales

Master of Science in Finance

Graduate programs in finance train you to work as a financial analyst or manager by providing an in-depth understanding of market conditions and the causes of such conditions.

In a Master of Science program, you'll learn about financial instruments, markets, derivatives, actuarial science and the operations of an exchange. Finance programs usually emphasize statistical analysis and business research.

This foundation will prepare you to meet the forecasting and regulatory compliance needs of clients in the workforce. Specifically, as a graduate of a business program in finance, you'll be able to limit the risk to your clients, explain financial engineering products and provide business advice. Coursework in a graduate finance program emphasizes financial modeling, forecasting and planning. Business and other courses will discuss:

  • Statistical modeling
  • Securities law
  • Portfolio management
  • Banking
  • Securities and business valuation
  • Financial research

Popular Career Options

Generally, executives and operations managers only need a bachelor's degree. However, to qualify for a chief executive position you need a MBA or a graduate degree specific to the industry. Management jobs usually require MAcc, MBA, or similar graduate degrees.

In order to dispense professional advice about the securities market, financial analysts need a license from The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Many analysts hold four-year degrees in business or finance, and some positions require graduate degrees. While most employers of financial managers look for a bachelor's or graduate degrees in business, experience is emphasized. Most accountants earn bachelor's degrees and pass the CPA exam before entering their field. Some career titles are:

  • General manager
  • Chief Executive
  • Accountant
  • Financial analyst
  • Budget analyst

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for top executives is predicted to be 6%, while chief executives will have a 1% decrease in job opportunities for 2014 through 2024. In 2015, the highest wages for chief executives were in the management of companies and enterprises industries, and the best paying industry for general and operations managers was in insurance and employee benefit funds. Annual median earnings for general and operations managers were $97,730, and chief executives had an annual median salary of $175,110 in 2015(www.bls.gov).

As of 2015, the BLS reported that accountants received an annual median salary of $67,190 and these professionals can expect a 11% job growth from 2014 to 2024. This increase is related to the increasing number of financial regulations, which are also becoming more complex.

After graduating with a MAcc, you may choose to work as a budget analyst, who according to the BLS, had an annual median income of $71,590 in 2015. The BLS indicates that the job market for budget analysts will grow 3% during 2014 to 2024, attributed mainly to advancing complexity in the field and expanded job duties that require more workers to get the job done.

In addition, the BLS noted that financial analysts were paid an annual median salary of $80,310, and financial managers were earned $117,990 during 2015. Overall, the BLS expects a 12% rise in employment for financial analysts and a 7% growth for financial managers between the years 2014 and 2024.

Master's degrees in business are often offered as master's of business administration, master's of accountancy and master's of finance degrees. Many graduates choose to embark on career paths as general managers, accountants or budget analysts, among others.

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