There is a broad array of advanced programs being offered by colleges and universities across the United States. For instance, a professional can obtain a graduate degree in the following fields:
More Flexible Than an MBA?
Programs within specific functions of a company or organization, such as the above, can typically range from one-year to three-year programs. An applicant without a spouse or family can opt for a shorter and more intensive one-year or two-year program. However, those who want to keep earning a salary and/or have family obligations to attend to, can often request the dean of the program to extend the duration of his or her program, in order to pursue a part-time schedule.
Universities are motivated to attract talented candidates into their master's programs for positioning and ranking purposes, therefore, they can offer flexibility for those they are confident have the ability to complete the requirements of the advanced degree.
An MBA is not typically required to make partner at a CPA firm, so it may make sense for a degreed accountant or CPA to invest his or her time and money in a master's degree in accounting or taxation instead. This allows him or her to focus on priority areas or interests such as regulatory compliance, estate planning or financial reporting.
Clients of the CPA firm can spend hundreds of dollars for each hour of the CPA's time, and they will want practical, immediate and effective solutions to their accounting or tax problem. A research or consulting firm may also want similar expertise from a credited statistician or an economist. (To learn more, see CPA, CFA Or CFP – Pick Your Abbreviation Carefully.)
Should a professional decide to become a specialist in his or her field and work on cutting-edge issues or advances, a graduate level degree (such as a master's or PhD) with guidance, can provide the opportunity to conduct research in emerging issues and areas deemed important either by industry, the government or the academic community. Generating new findings in your field can be an exciting way to contribute and shape initial impressions on new areas.
A summer internship at an investment bank or Fortune 500 company, after your first year in the MBA program, won't get you there. You'll probably be working on a cookie-cutter process improvement project or product analysis assignment. (For more, see The Designation For Your Financial Education: CFA, MBA Or Both?)
The Bottom Line
If you want to become a generalist manager, CFO or division president, an MBA may be the right tool for you. However, if you enjoy being a subject matter expert, such as an economist, estate planner, tax accountant, statistician, risk management consultant or an actuary, you may want to consider an advanced degree in your field. (For more, read Business Grads, Land Your Dream Job.)
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