What Concentrations are Available in Accounting Programs?

According to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPAs), there are over 10 types of concentration options for accounting students. These include specializations in audit, taxes, forensics, non-profit, government, personal finance and international accountancy. Environmental accountancy and information management and technology assurance are two of the newest specializations.

Audit

Auditing refers to examinations of financial statements by internal or external parties for the purpose of analyzing the accuracy, fairness, transparency and level of compliance with the GAAP. Internal auditing focuses on assessing the adequacy and performance of an organization’s internal controls and structure. This means that accountancy duties, management policies and employee processes are closely examined to ensure quality and consistency.

External auditing focuses on examining third-party organizations in accordance with nationally recognized standards. Any company that is regulated by external agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), will be subject to random and scheduled external audits. An accountancy degree that specializes in auditing will develop the students’ core skills and knowledge of auditing while preparing graduates to take advantage of new technologies related to information management.

Government

A government concentration degree will cover the many unique accountancy issues that state and federal agencies face. This includes maintaining compliance with laws that only apply to government agencies, such as legal auditing and reporting requirements mandated by government watchdog agencies and commissions. This specialization helps students expand the policy, communication and decision making skills needed to succeed in the exclusive world of government finance.

Prospective CPAs who want to find employment in state or federal agencies will benefit from this program as well as practicing CPAs who work in non-profit organizations. Public officials with finance or accountancy duties, who wish to take the national Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM), should learn government financial management. Any employee who wants to work in a company that contracts products or services with the government should select this specialization.

Tax

Tax accountancy students learn to help their clients follow the rules and regulations set by tax departments. This includes tax planning, preparation of tax returns and determination of taxes owed. These students will learn to provide tax advisory services to help their clients legally minimize tax burdens and evaluate the consequences of tax decisions. These degree programs usually adopt a legalist approach to training critical thinking skills.

Taxation specialization degrees cover all aspects of the U.S. tax system with a focus on local state and international taxation. This degree usually includes most of the required courses of a Master’s in Accountancy degree. In addition to traditional accounting principles, this degree covers the research skills and theoretical tools needed for accountancy graduates to proactively problem solve and appropriately handle complex tax regulations.

Additional accountancy concentrations include financial accountancy, which involves recording, classifying and reporting business transactions. It also involves the preparation and presentation of financial statements to internal and external shareholders. A managerial specialization deals with the specific needs of management personnel for decision making instead of mere compliance with the GAAP. All of these accounting concentration degree choices offers excellent career stability, earning potential and opportunities for advancement.