Accounting is a large and popular field at postgraduate level, offering a variety of course options to students from just about any academic background. Most postgraduate students complete coursework degrees, including graduate certificates, graduate diplomas and coursework masters degrees.
There are many postgraduate conversion courses that allow students with a non-accounting background to qualify for a career in accounting. These programs (which are usually titled as professional accounting ) are available to those who have completed undergraduate degrees in fields that are not related to accounting. There are also many programs designed for practising accountants who would like to extend their knowledge of the field or learn a new specialisation (taxation, for example). Another group of programs caters for graduates of undergraduate accounting programs and postgraduate conversion degrees, providing the opportunity to gain accreditation as a Chartered Accountant (CA) or Chartered Practising Accountant (CPA). There are also some programs offered to those with a general interest in accounting who do not necessarily want to enter the profession, but are instead looking to gain some background in the field for their own interest or for career development purposes.
Postgraduate research degrees in accounting are also available, including research masters degrees and research doctorates, although they are currently less popular than coursework degrees.
Students seeking a challenge can select from a number of advanced degrees, which provide additional units to give students a better understanding of the field or to assist their career progression. Some advanced programs include a research component (generally a minor thesis) or additional units related to work preparation. There are also many double degrees available at masters level, which allow students to combine accounting with fields such as business and management (including MBAs), law and information systems. Two-part degrees, where students complete a general degree at undergraduate level (such as business or commerce) before studying accounting at postgraduate level, are becoming more common.
Applicants must meet academic and English language requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Some courses may require students to hold a previous qualification in accounting or to have work experience in the field. For more information about postgraduate courses and entry requirements, see Higher Education Postgraduate.
Where to study
Postgraduate accounting courses are available at universities across the country, as well as at many private higher education providers. Some private colleges focus exclusively on preparing students for the accounting profession, while industry bodies, including CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, also offer their own qualifications.
The course you choose will depend on your prior qualifications and career aspirations (whether you are seeking to update your knowledge or learn a new specialisation, for example). Look for courses that are accredited by the professional associations, and, if needed, those that offer work experience opportunities.
If you are considering a research degree, look for institutions with experience in the accounting field and with connections to the industry, including the professional associations.