Do Master’s of Accounting Programs Require Capstone Projects?

Before you look at getting your master’s degree in accounting, you might look at whether the program you choose requires that you do a capstone. Also called a final project, it lets you show your teachers that you developed the necessary skills in that program and that you are ready to work as a CPA or in another professional field. Though not all graduate schools have this requirement, it’s important that you know the type of projects you might do.

Resource: Top 10 Online Accounting Degree Programs

What is This Project?

This final project is one of the last things you will do in graduate school. Most colleges give you up to three credits or more for your project and require that you take a final project class. Some colleges will even let you work on that project over the course of your last year. You’ll create a paper or project that serves as a culmination of all the work you did. It needs to show the skills that you developed and act as proof that you learned basic principles as part of your studies.

Types of Projects

There are a few different types of final projects that you can do in a master’s accounting program. Some students prefer working with different types of software. They compare those programs to find out which one is best for professional accountants. Others do an extensive case study. Sometimes called a strategic case study, this requires that students do an in-depth analysis of a case study in the field. They write papers that show what worked and did not work. These papers may focus more on the changes to laws that accountants follow or to the changes made to the principles that professional organizations require members follow.

Is It Required?

In the same way that writing a thesis isn’t a requirement for other programs, future accountants do not necessarily do a capstone project in grad school. MBA programs with a professional accountancy concentration often let students take a series of classes instead of doing a final project. Master of Science in Accountancy programs will often let students write a thesis instead of doing a project. You may have the option of taking extra classes too. Instead of taking 30 credits of classes and doing a thesis or project, some schools will let you take 33 to 36 credit hours of classes to compensate for that project.

Tips for Success

If you do a final project, you should think about the topic of your project and find one that relates to your career. For example, you might do a project on tax laws for nonprofit organizations because you want to work as a nonprofit CPA. Jennifer Kimrey of Chron recommends that you build on some of the things you studied in school and incorporate visuals to your project. After taking a class on international tax laws, you might create a project on proposed changes to those laws and add pie charts or graphs that show how those new laws can help.

Going to graduate school is mandatory for those who want to work as professional accountants. You need more education before you can sit for many of the professional licensing exams. Depending on the grad school that you choose, you may need to do a capstone project or some type of thesis to get a Master’s in Accounting.