Online Master of Science in Accounting Information Systems programs are available, but rare. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants typically need a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Career advancement for accountants and auditors typically requires work experience, although some employers prefer to hire accountants who have a master's degree in business with a specialization in accounting. Internships are offered.
Online Master of Science in Accounting Information Systems
Online master's degree programs in accounting information systems typically include a mix of business and technology courses. Students study subjects related to accounting, such as finance, auditing and taxes. They also acquire skills related to using and maintaining computer information systems. Students who earn this degree can find careers in business, industry, government and non-profit organizations. This degree program is not widely offered, neither online nor on-campus, but there are a few programs in existence in accounting (or management) information systems.
Information and Requirements
Students must have a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related subject to apply to an online master's degree program in accounting information systems. Students who earned a degree in a subject other than accounting may need to complete at least two years of courses; otherwise, the degree can typically be earned in 1-1.5 years. Through the online program, students can take all of the courses completely over the Web, interacting with their classmates and professors through an educational server. Often, the program provides the opportunity for students to complete an accounting internship in their local area.
This online degree program requires that students have a computer and reliable Internet service so they can access the courses and turn in assignments. Students can sometimes choose to complete the courses by meeting at a certain time each week or simply whenever it works for them.
List of Common Accounting Information Systems Courses
In this master's-level curriculum, core accounting and auditing courses integrate computer technology related to the tracking of an organization's data (both financial and otherwise). Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are a common topic of study. Students often take courses in the following:
Decision-Making in Information Systems
Students learn to analyze the information needed to keep an organization running smoothly and choose an appropriate system to maintain it. They also study how to plan systems to implement various management procedures.
This class familiarizes students with the basics of becoming a forensic accountant and sometimes requires an auditing course as a prerequisite. Students gain experience identifying and investigating suspicious transactions, whether fraudulent or misrepresented.
Database Systems Strategic Planning
Students analyze techniques used to implement database systems for accounting records. They also learn to keep the databases running smoothly and re-evaluate their information storage criteria so they are constantly meeting accountants' needs.
International Accounting Systems
Students examine the key accounting systems used around the world, including in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. This course also covers the way financial systems are organized in different nations.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track information specifically for accountants specializing in information systems. However, it noted that accountants and auditors in general made an average annual salary of $75,280 (www.bls.gov) as of May 2015. The BLS also reports that, although a bachelor's degree is the typical minimum education requirement for accountants, a master's degree is preferred by many employers.
Continuing Education Information
There are doctoral degree programs available in various areas of accounting, though not many of them are offered online. However, master's degree programs in accounting information systems can prepare students for licensure available in the field of accounting, such as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential. Completing a master's degree gives students the prerequisites coursework necessary to sit for the CPA exam, though it does not guarantee students will pass.
Online master's degree programs in accounting information systems are rare. Internships are available, with core courses that teach students about databases, auditing and relevant technology.