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A Master of Accounting (MAC) degree puts you in a better position to succeed, not only in year one but throughout your career. As you become an expert in understanding a company’s complete financial picture, you’ll also pick up essential leadership skills that will you make you extremely valuable within accounting firms and major corporations.
Here are four reasons to pursue your MAC:
- A better starting salary or a salary boost.MAC graduates make more money than their counterparts who only receive a bachelor’s degree. They are also in much higher demand; while hiring of BA graduates is declining, hiring of MAC grads on the rise. For those already managing a strong career, the MAC offers new credentials that will raise your stock value, improving your chances for a promotion or pay increase.
- Connections that matter.The friends you make in graduate school are more than friends; they are your future peers in the accounting profession. The recruiters you meet and the professors under which you study also add to a network that you can lean on for years to come.
- More demand, now and later.Accounting firms big and small, as well as many major corporations, actively recruit MAC graduates. As you move through your career in pursuit of more senior positions, your MAC degree will continue to give you an edge over your competition.
- Ready for the CPA exam.Earning a MAC degree gives you the course hours required to sit for the CPA exam. More importantly, the work you’ll do in pursuit of the degree will give you the rigor, knowledge, and confidence you’ll need to be successful come exam time.
The curriculum of the MAC Program is structured such that students with little to no background in accounting can quickly build the knowledge required and progress with confidence through escalating levels of technical complexity. If you have completed extensive accounting coursework, or majored in accounting as an undergraduate student, our online format offers the opportunity for you to take a reduced curriculum or alternative coursework as you complete your degree.
Across core courses, tax/audit concentration courses, and electives, the curriculum builds on itself, integrating financial analysis, quantitative methods, and behavioral sciences at each step along the way.
The core requirements of the MAC Program take you into the world of accounting and provide a foundation for your career. You’ll learn about financial reporting and auditing, discover the intricacies of financial analysis and cost accounting, and strengthen your communication and leadership skills.
All students take these required courses.
Ensuring the accuracy of financial reporting is one of the most important functions accountants play. The modern economy and global financial markets rely on accurate financial reports from public companies and other organizations. You’ll learn the rules and standards that govern financial reporting in the United States and internationally. You’ll also learn how to research and apply those standards to the real-world scenarios you’ll encounter as an accountant.
In finance, you’ll learn how individuals and companies make decisions about using capital. This includes analyzing risk, calculating returns, valuing cash flows and understanding the time value of money. Students learn how financial markets operate, including equity, debt and options. Accountants must understand these concepts to advise clients about their use of capital. These finance concepts can also come into play in financial reporting, tax and auditing.
Managerial and Cost Accounting
Accounting is an essential management tool for all businesses. In managerial accounting, you’ll learn about management planning, budgeting and control, with a focus on how managers use accounting information to make decisions. Accountants often are key advisers to business decision makers, or make decisions themselves. Managerial accounting allows accountants to apply their analytical and problem-solving skills to real-world business challenges. Determining how much a product costs to make or how much it costs to provide a service is critical for any business. Cost accounting also has implications for tax and financial reporting, as well as business strategy. You will also learn about the increasingly important role that information technology plays in gathering and analyzing cost information.
In the core tax curriculum, you’ll learn to understand the U.S. income tax system and how it applies to businesses and individuals. Taxes have an impact on purchasing decisions, investments, how businesses are structured and more. Though tax law changes frequently, this course is designed to provide a framework that will give you a solid grasp of U.S. tax principles. Though only some accountants choose to specialize in tax work, all accountants need to understand fundamental tax principles.
Auditing is one of the critical functions that accountants provide, ensuring investors, regulators and the public at large that reported financial information — and sometimes other information — can be relied upon. Auditing requires accounting knowledge, but you’ll also cover analytical techniques, practice communication and interpersonal skills, and learn to apply sound judgment and professional ethics. Though only some accountants choose to focus on auditing, auditing skills are useful for all accountants.
Soft skills: Leadership, Ethics, Communications
Accountants work closely with others and are trusted leaders in the business world. As such, accountants must lead with confidence, communicate effectively, and make ethical decisions. The core curriculum will help you develop skills in these areas. With an introduction to principles of human thought and behavior, you will improve your managerial decision-making, understand how to lead and work with a diverse workforce, and learn how to influence others. You’ll develop critical verbal and written communication skills that will increase your effectiveness in 1:1 correspondence or group presentations. And, you’ll learn about the importance of ethics as it relates to the accounting profession and the corporate finance world.
Tax and Audit Concentrations
While the core courses introduce you to accounting fundamentals, our Tax or Audit concentrations allow you to specialize. After making that selection, you’ll take some courses specific to that concentration.
Most UNC MAC graduates initially pursue careers as tax accountants or auditors, so the selection of a specific concentration is important. Some students, however, who pursue careers in corporate accounting or finance, instead take a tailored curriculum with a broader set of business and finance courses.
The courses offered to students focusing on tax as a career path are designed to provide a solid foundation in all aspects of tax for individuals and businesses. While every accountant needs to have a firm grasp of basic tax principals, tax accountants spend much of their time focused on tax issues. While preparing tax returns are one part of tax accounting, there is much more to the field.
Tax accountants must also be able to help individuals and businesses plan for and manage their tax liabilities. While tax evasion is illegal, tax avoidance is the common practice of considering the tax implications of various decisions. For a business, for example, whether to lease office space or buy an office building has tax implications. Most businesses, when making that decision, will consult with their tax advisors to help them understand the overall financial impact of their choice.
MAC students who select the tax concentration will take courses that cover individual income tax, corporate tax, tax research, international tax and flow-through entities. These courses are designed to give future tax accountants a strong foundation in all aspects of U.S. taxes. They learn how various business entities are taxed, how U.S. tax laws affect people and companies outside the country, and more.
Because tax law changes each year, and because it’s not always immediately clear how a particular tax provision should be applied, students also learn how to research tax law and then apply their findings to a particular situation.
Tax accountants aren’t hired simply for their ability to prepare tax returns. Businesses and individuals rely on them as experts in a complex, high-stakes subject. The tax concentration prepares you for this role.
The other major specialty that MAC students often choose is audit. Auditing is a routine activity that accountants engage in to ensure that business information, which many decision makers rely on, has been collected and reported accurately. Public companies are audited annually to ensure their financial reports are reliable. Those audit results are publicly released as part of the company’s annual report.
Private companies, as well as many nonprofit organizations and government agencies, may also be audited periodically. Donors, legislative committees, lenders and others want to be sure they can rely on information these organizations are providing. Most often, these audits concern how financial information is collected and presented.
In addition to accounting skills, auditors must be skilled at communicating with their clients, team members and others throughout the audit process. They must also learn how to communicate their audit findings in a way that meets the needs of regulators, the client and others.
Students concentrating in audit will learn more specialized topics, such as accounting for mergers and acquisitions, advanced auditing techniques and how to assess and manage the ever-greater volume of information produced and stored by computer systems. Students also will take a seminar that gives them hands-on experience conducting a simulated audit. When you graduate with an audit concentration, you’ll be ready to go to work with a team of auditors at a public accounting firm.
You’ll round out your studies in the MAC Program with electives. These courses truly represent the unique character that sets the UNC Master of Accounting Program apart.
Covering topics as varied as contract law, derivatives and securities, and negotiation techniques, the electives available to you create opportunities to customize your degree to your interests even more.
Accountants deal with the law in some way nearly every day: Tax matters, business structures, transactions and many other common activities are governed by state and federal laws and regulations. UNC’s legal electives cover topics such as contracts and securities law, and provide you opportunities to better understand the legal context. That in turn helps you become a more effective, knowledgeable business advisor.
Accounting is just as essential in the public sector as the private sector. Government officials need accurate financial information to make good decisions; elected leaders and the public want to understand how tax dollars are spent. Nonprofit organizations have similar needs. However, government accounting methods and standards differ from those used in private industry. Students who take this course will be prepared to work in government roles and to serve public sector clients.
Economics is the study of how resources are allocated and decisions are made. The elective in economics provides a grounding in economics theories and introduces the tools economists use to model markets and other activities. Understanding macroeconomics and microeconomics helps you better understand the context in which all business activities take place. Accountants with a grounding in economic principals are better prepared to offer sound advice to individuals and businesses.
Negotiation is a useful skill for accountants. A senior partner may be involved in negotiating client contracts or job offers. A young professional may need to negotiate access to information or people during an audit. This elective provides an introduction to negotiation principles as well a heavy dose of practical negotiation strategies and tactics. You might even find yourself using some of these skills in your personal life, whether negotiating a salary offer or preparing to buy your first home.
Finance is close linked to many accounting activities. MAC students have the choice to take a number of advanced finance electives to deepen their knowledge of this field. Students can study advanced finance, learn about modeling, delve into derivatives, study business valuation, examine behavioral finance and more. Advanced finance knowledge can provide you more insight into tax, audit and other work, as well as prepare you for senior jobs in corporate finance.
Not every MAC graduate aspires to become a senior executive, but all accountants need leadership skills. New accountants often start working in large, global firms, where they must deal with their own managers and colleagues as well as other accountants and executives at client companies. Being effective and successful in this environment requires you to understand the larger organizational context. It also requires you to manage yourself and work effectively with others to meet your objectives. The leadership development electives offered to MAC students are designed to help you be more successful on your first day on the job, as well as later in your career.
Collecting and analyzing data has become an important part of how many companies make decisions. Much of that data comes from accounting systems. Accountants are uniquely positioned to help companies access, analyze and make decisions from the growing mass of data they collect. This course provides an introduction to the the systems, tools and practices used to derive the most insight from data. With these skills, you can increase your value to companies and can help drive strategic business decisions.
- Choose the on-campus or the online program format: Whether you prefer to learn online or on campus, the degree you receive is exactly the same.
- Upload your unofficial transcripts: We need a record of all of your undergraduate classwork. We only need your unofficial transcripts. Simply upload them during the application process.
- Choose your recommendation letter writers: Choose two authors that know you reasonably well and can provide honest feedback. After you make your selections, we will conveniently contact for you.
- Upload your Statement of Purpose: We want to know why you want to earn a Master of Accounting degree from UNC Kenan-Flagler. Why is accounting or finance the right career for you?
- Upload your resume: Your resume should include your educational, employment, and achievement history with headings and dates.
- Submit your completed application: All finished? Outstanding. Submit your completed application and pay the application fee.
- Send us your GMAT or GRE scores: Submit your scores to us at any time. You can take whichever test you prefer. Plus, you can take the tests as often as you like. We'll only use your best scores. Our school codes are GMAT 5816 and GRE 0348.
- Send us your TOEFL scores (international students only): Our school code is 3474.
On-campus merit fellowships are available and do not require a separate application.