If you are thinking of studying financial accounting specifically, then you are probably curious about the courses you will complete. At both the undergraduate and graduate levels, financial accounting is usually a specialization or concentration within an accounting degree program, rather than a distinct degree path of its own. That means you will complete specialized courses in the study of financial accounting, but you will also take the rest of the core business and accounting classes required for the degree you are pursuing.
Business Core Requirements
The accounting coursework in a bachelor’s degree program in financial accounting is just one part of the curriculum. Successful accountants need to understand how financial reporting fits into the big picture of business operations, so it’s essential that they have a thorough background in a breadth of business subjects. A typical bachelor’s degree program in accounting includes core coursework in business topics such as business fundamentals, enterprise, principles of economics, business law, business ethics, introduction to marketing, business finance, business organization and management, operations management and business writing.
Students pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration or Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting will devote more of their studies to general business coursework than students in a Bachelor of Accountancy or Bachelor of Science in Accounting programs. Master’s degree programs in accounting tend to be more specialized, and intended for students with a business background already, so they typically won’t include required coursework in general business.
Undergraduate accounting students should also be prepared to complete general education courses in subjects such as physical and life sciences, social science, math, and the liberal arts.
Naturally, the coursework accounting majors are most interested in is that in the subject of accounting. Financial accounting courses – courses in the study of recording financial transactions – are common in most accounting degree programs, even if it the field not an area of specific focus. Most undergraduate accounting programs start with introductory courses in the principles of accounting, which teach foundations that apply to each accounting field.
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You should also expect to take coursework in cost and management accounting, auditing, accounting information systems, federal income taxation and accounting law. Once you understand the basics of accounting, you will progress to studying the subject at intermediate levels of difficulty. Graduate students in financial accounting take more advanced coursework, including advanced accounting research and advanced auditing and accounting information systems.
What, then, sets a financial accounting degree apart from programs in other concentrations of accounting? Part of the beauty of studying financial accounting is its breadth and versatility. The skills needed in recording financial transactions transfer well into many types of accounting, from public accounting to private accounting and even governmental accounting roles.
However, as a student in a financial accounting program, you will be likely to take coursework in advanced financial accounting, advanced tax and business finance.
An internship in an accounting or business firm can provide college credit and valuable work experience for undergraduate students, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported.
At both the undergraduate and graduate levels of study, financial accounting degree programs are often carefully crafted to help prepare students to eventually attain their Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. Undergraduate programs in financial accounting strive to cover all of the accounting content needed to meet formal requirements for taking the CPA exam in most states. Master’s degree programs may be strategically designed to allow students to complete the full program in a single year while also meeting the 150-semester credit requirement needed to sit for the four-part Uniform CPA Examination.
The advantages of becoming a CPA include career prestige, improved job opportunities and a salary boost of 10 to 15 percent above non-CPAs, according to the Association of International Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
Careers With a Financial Accounting Background
What can you do after studying financial accounting? The skills you learn are so versatile and in-demand that you can get a job in just about any field of accounting. Graduates of financial accounting programs go on to work in public accounting, tax accounting, managerial accounting and auditing. They can advance into senior-level roles, like partner of an established accounting firm, or they can forge their own path by opening and managing their own firm. Attaining credentials such as the CPA license or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential can only help you as you gain experience and continue to advance your career.
About seven percent of accountants and auditors are self-employed, the BLS reported.