If you are trying to determine the difference between a Master’s in Business Administration in Accounting and a Master of Science in Accounting, you have come to the right place. The short answer is that an MBA is a graduate business degree with a broad focus, while a Master of Science in Accounting is more narrowly focused on accounting principles, methods and policy. Either one can be obtained with no business background whatsoever, although you will likely need to complete a few undergraduate business courses before being fully admitted to a school’s graduate program.

The Master of Science in Accounting

Master of Science in Accounting programs are much more specialized than their MBA brethren. In them, you learn the ins and outs of accounting theory and practice, with some ancillary focus on how the field’s different facets relate to the business world as a whole, according to the IUPUI. Courses you must complete to earn a Master of Science in Accounting typically include financial accounting, managerial accounting, federal income taxation of individuals, business taxation (sometimes split into corporate taxation and partnership taxation), auditing theory and practice, tax procedure, accounting periods and methods, tax research, business law and financial management.

The MBA in Accounting

MBA coursework is intended to provide students with an overview of the business landscape. This coursework often includes marketing, economics, organizational theory and behavior, corporate finance, accounting and entrepreneurship. Many MBA programs offer a concentration in accounting, allowing students to use their elective course selections on courses that offer a more in-depth look at specific areas of the profession than the general accounting course that is a required part of most MBA curricula. This gives students who are interested in accounting, but who are not ready to devote their professional lives to it, the opportunity to develop some specific proficiency while simultaneously honing their other business-related skills.

Choosing Between the Two Degrees

If you know for certain that you want to be an accountant, choosing the Master of Science in Accounting would give you a leg up on the competition and help you reach the 150-hour threshold to qualify for the CPA exam in most jurisdictions. However, if you think you may someday want to venture outside the accounting world, or if you are simply afraid of being pigeonholed, an MBA will provide you with the diverse skill set needed to survive in business disciplines outside accounting.

Related Resource: GAAP


Now you have at least a basic understanding of the difference between an MBA in Accounting and a Master of Science in Accounting. If your allegiance lies with accounting and accounting only, a Master of Science in Accounting is likely the right choice of business-related graduate degree. On the other hand, if your interests are a bit broader or you are less sure of the precise professional path you wish to take, an MBA in Accounting would likely be a better fit for your future.