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University of Delaware - Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics
Is a Master of Accounting Practice Degree Right for You? Hero Image

By Sunny Rosen April 19, 2018

In 2017, the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics announced the launch of the new master of accounting practice (MAP) program. The program, which is now accepting applications, will be offered for the first time in the fall semester of 2018.

The MAP is designed for students who did not major in accounting as undergraduates but now want to pursue careers in accounting. The degree also prepares students to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination.

John Wragge, Director of the Lerner College’s MAP program, said that college faculty members are excited about this program because it opens the door to accounting for students from a variety of majors and professions.

“We see it as meeting a real need, because our M.S. in accounting is designed for people who majored in accounting as undergraduates,” Wragge said. “The MAP offers people who did not major in accounting the opportunity to enter accountancy as a profession.”

If you’re trying to decide whether a MAP is the best next step for your career, it’s important to consider a number of questions, including:

Are your academic and career experiences a good fit for the MAP?

Students with business majors or minors in subjects like finance or economics would be excellent candidates for the program, Wragge said, because these students are likely to have some academic experience with accounting. However, the MAP is unique in that it’s also an option for those who did not study business as undergraduates.

“It wouldn’t have to be a business-related field,” Wragge said. “Somebody who majored in history or English could also come into the program. This is also for somebody who wants to change careers,” he continued, or for those who took time off from the accounting profession and need to refresh their skills.

What sets UD’s MAP apart from comparable programs?

Wragge explained that many similar 30-credit programs require five or more undergraduate accounting prerequisites on subjects like intermediate accounting and auditing. Students without those courses, like those who did not major in accounting, must pay separately for the courses and may have to study them during intensive short sessions. This quickly turns a 30-credit program into a 40- to 50-credit one.

In contrast, UD’s MAP program requires just two prerequisite accounting courses, and the rest of the required information is incorporated into the program’s curriculum.

“We’ve built all of that into the graduate program, and we approach it from a graduate perspective,” Wragge said. Instead of expensive and intensive additional studying, he said, “Students take subjects like financial accounting as part of their graduate coursework. We worked to develop it so that the coursework was going to be graduate level, but it was also not going to require you to have a lot of undergraduate accounting.”

Why might you want to become a CPA?

A CPA is both a recognized professional designation and a license to practice accounting, Wragge said, comparable to the designation that lawyers receive. Similar to a law license, the CPA enables students to practice accounting for firms or to start firms of their own.

“As a CPA, you have been certified as an accounting expert,” Wragge said. “You have to pass a four-part exam, and in order to sit for that exam you have to have a certain number of accounting credits from your education.”

Since non-accounting majors would not have sufficient credits for this, the MAP provides both the training and the credits required to sit for the CPA exam. But MAP’s curriculum would also be applicable to anyone seeking to become a professional accountant.

“You wouldn’t have to get the CPA,” Wragge said. “You could still be a professional accountant, maybe becoming a CFO of an organization or working in government. Anything that you can do with an accounting degree, you ought to be able to do with the MAP. So this really is an opportunity for someone to enter the profession through a graduate master’s program.”

What else can you do to help make this decision?

Wragge suggested that prospective students take a basic accounting course if they haven’t already. Undergraduates in the Lerner College complete two accounting courses, which provide a useful base of knowledge.

Wragge also advised that prospective accountants ask themselves: “Would you enjoy providing financial services to individuals, to organizations, or to the government in order to help them succeed and prosper?”

If providing services like these sounds like the right career path for you, be sure to learn more about the MAP, and when you’re ready, apply here.