Managerial Accounting Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

Managerial accounting is available as a graduate certificate, or as part of a bachelor's or master's degree in accounting. Learn about coursework and other program details for each, as well as salary, certification and other professional information.

Essential Information

Managerial accounting, sometimes referred to as management accounting, deals with the analyzing and reporting of a company's financial details to its executives. Several schools offer post-baccalaureate certificates that specifically cover management accounting, and many bachelor's and master's degree programs in accounting discuss the subject of managerial accounting. Coursework is commonly available in both traditional classroom settings and online.

Covering cost accounting and auditing procedures, bachelor's degree programs may include internships that allow students to gain practical skills. To gain admission into undergraduate programs, students will need a high school diploma or GED.

Aspiring management accountants who already hold a bachelor's degree may participate in graduate certificate programs in management accounting that allow them to explore financial planning and analysis. These programs can help students obtain the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential.

Master's programs teach advanced business, research and finance skills that are applicable to a variety of settings. Students often complete in-depth research projects and simulations. Most programs are designed to prepare graduates to sit for the CMA or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exams.


Bachelor of Science in Accounting

Bachelor's degree programs in accounting cover the managerial, public and governmental aspects of the field. Students learn to prepare financial analysis for management executives, public investors and regulatory groups. Some programs offer internship opportunities that allow students to gain supervised hands-on accounting experience. Check out Study.com's managerial accounting course if you would like a sample of the coursework involved in an accounting degree.

Applicants need to have strong communication and mathematical skills. Taking advanced high school courses in algebra, calculus and composition is useful. Learning about statistics helps incoming students understand accounting coursework.

These programs provide training in the theoretical foundations and practical skills used in accounting and teach students about nonprofit group accounting, financial research, supply chain management and cost accounting. Students often learn about the subjects below:

  • Corporate law and finance
  • Cost accounting
  • Audit procedures
  • Strategic finance
  • Corporate taxation

Graduate Certificate in Management Accounting

Certificate programs in management accounting are often designed for people who've already completed a degree in accounting and want to become Certified Management Accountants (CMAs). Students learn about internal auditing, financial reporting, budgeting and other topics used to help businesses control their capital. Programs also cover the skills needed to help advise company executives on financial decision-making.

Incoming students customarily need to have previous academic and employment experience in accounting to enroll. Programs often ask for undergraduate transcripts proving satisfactory completion of accounting classes.

These certificate programs cover the practical skills needed to gather, understand and explain financial information to management executives. In addition to covering accounting topics, programs sometimes discuss business communication and management theory. The following subjects are usually included:

  • Financial performance
  • Qualitative financial analysis
  • Financial planning
  • Presenting financial information to executives
  • Business analysis

Master's Degrees in Accounting

Applicants to Master of Science (M.S.) in Accounting and Master of Accountancy (MACC) programs need to hold a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance or a related discipline. Programs look for students who've completed classes in economics, finance, business administration and management.

The classes in M.S. and MACC programs emphasize the research and analysis necessary to practice public and managerial accounting. Students usually take courses in multiple areas of accounting rather than specializing in one aspect, such as public or managerial accounting. The topics below are typically discussed:

  • Audit planning
  • Forensic accounting
  • Risk management
  • Financial performance evaluation
  • Business processes

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

People who earn a certificate or degree in this subject most often become management accountants; a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement, but many employers prefer to hire individuals with master's degrees. Possible job titles include:

  • Cost accountant
  • Budget analyst
  • Accounting manager
  • Senior financial analyst

Depending on the position level, professionals must pass the CPA or CMA certification tests and complete a supervised internship of at least two years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a job growth of 11% in all areas of accounting between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, in May 2015 accountants earned a median annual salary of $67,190.

Continuing Education Information

Certification is available for individuals interested in earning the Certified Management Accountant or Certified Public Accountant designations. Eligible applicants for the CMA exam, which the Institute of Management Accountants administers (www.imanet.org), have a bachelor's degree and two years' experience in management accounting. Maintaining certification requires completing 30 continuing education hours annually. Since the CPA license is issued by the state, requirements for the exam vary and are determined by the State Boards of Accountancy (www.nasba.org). Most states require 150 semester hours at the college level and some accounting experience; continuing education hours are typically part of the re-certification process.

Managerial accounting is a specialty of accounting that some students may find themselves well-suited for, especially after achieving a bachelor's, master's, or certificate in the field.


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