There are many reasons why students decide to tackle the challenging courses that most graduate accounting degree programs offer. Many join Master of Accountancy (MAcc) programs to prepare themselves for certified public accounting (CPA) licensure which requires 30 hours of accountancy education in addition to the 120 hours that accountancy students usually obtain during their undergraduate years. Also, the advanced course work in MAcc programs often covers topics found on the CPA license examination. Other accountancy students have aspirations to become leaders in corporations or in academia which require them to have advanced degrees. Here are some of the course topics that MAcc students can expect to take.

Forensic Accounting

The skills taught during forensic accountancy classes help students learn techniques that are used to identify fraudulent fiscal activities. During forensic accountancy classes in MAcc programs, students learn about information systems, auditing techniques and the systematic analysis of financial statements that lead to the discovery of unethical or illegal financial activities. MAcc students are taught statistical methods and data analysis techniques that are used to uncover anomalies in financial statements. Students are also exposed to digital forensic methods that allow them to identify and preserve evidence of financial crimes that are present on computer systems. Advanced forensic accountancy classes are designed to prepare students to become certified fraud examiners, who often work closely with legal professionals as expert witnesses for financial crime cases.

Advanced Managerial Accounting

Accountants who use financial data to provide information to corporate decision makers are often called managerial accountants. MAcc course topics on the subject introduce students to cost types, cost behaviors  and activity based costing. For instance, students learn about product, period, fixed and variable costs and how they are typically depicted in corporate financial statements. Course work also exposes students to how overhead costs which are a subset of product costs should be allocated to related work activities for a more straight forward and standard way of reporting them. The main goal of management accountancy is to help improve internal corporate finances and operations.

Accounting for Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions

is a niche function within the accountancy field, and mergers and acquisition consultants analyze the financial impacts to businesses that buy or partner with other companies to create a new entities. Classes on the topic of mergers and acquisition help students to understand how to value acquisitions so that businesses can make competitive offers. Companies that merge nearly always have operations that are redundant, and a mergers and acquisitions class exposes students to ways of identifying operational efficiencies that eliminate those duplicate activities. Students also learn how to reconcile the financial statements of a business after it acquires a company or becomes part of a merger.

Topics in Financial Reporting

Financial reporting is at the heart of most accountancy activities, and advanced classes on the subject help students to apply fundamental reporting principles to business areas like investment banking and mergers and acquisitions. Students also learn how to interpret transactional and event data that is represented within financial reporting documents. In the real world, these interpretations are used to conduct credit analysis in financial service occupations.


Most MAcc programs take a year or two to complete, and they usually emphasize accountancy topics that help students to develop technical competence in their field. Other graduate business programs like the Master of Business Administration in Accounting provide courses that allow students to develop a broad base of management skills, leadership abilities and proficiency in the appropriate application of accountancy fundamentals.