While the core courses introduce you to accounting fundamentals, choosing the Tax, Audit, or Financial Analysis and Reporting concentration will allow you to specialize. After making that selection, you’ll take some courses specific to that concentration. If you choose not to concentrate, you can develop a customized curriculum, using a combination of concentration courses and electives.
Many graduates initially pursue careers as tax accountants or auditors, so for those planning to follow the structured recruiting process, the selection of the tax or audit concentration is recommended. Students who plan to pursue careers in corporate accounting or finance, or advance the careers they've already started, may wish to consider any concentration or design a customized curriculum tailored to their specific needs, using a broader set of business and finance courses.
The courses offered to students focusing on tax as a career path are designed to provide a solid foundation in all aspects of tax for individuals and businesses. While every accountant needs to have a firm grasp of basic tax principals, tax accountants spend much of their time focused on tax issues. While preparing tax returns are one part of tax accounting, there is much more to the field.
Tax accountants must also be able to help individuals and businesses plan for and manage their tax liabilities. While tax evasion is illegal, tax avoidance is the common practice of considering the tax implications of various decisions. For a business, for example, whether to lease office space or buy an office building has tax implications. Most businesses, when making that decision, will consult with their tax advisors to help them understand the overall financial impact of their choice.
Professor Edwards explains that taxes are lot more interesting that one might think in this profile of her income tax course.
MAC students who select the tax concentration will take courses that cover individual income tax, corporate tax, tax research, international tax and flow-through entities. These courses are designed to give future tax accountants a strong foundation in all aspects of U.S. taxes. They learn how various business entities are taxed, how U.S. tax laws affect people and companies outside the country, and more.
Because tax law changes each year, and because it’s not always immediately clear how a particular tax provision should be applied, students also learn how to research tax law and then apply their findings to a particular situation.
Tax accountants aren’t hired simply for their ability to prepare tax returns. Businesses and individuals rely on them as experts in a complex, high-stakes subject. The tax concentration prepares you for this role.
Tax-specific courses include:
- International Tax
- Corporate Tax Strategy
- Taxation of Flow-Through Entities
- Tax Research
The other major specialty that MAC students often choose is audit. Auditing is a routine activity that accountants engage in to ensure that business information, which many decision makers rely on, has been collected and reported accurately. Public companies are audited annually to ensure their financial reports are reliable. Those audit results are publicly released as part of the company’s annual report.
Private companies, as well as many nonprofit organizations and government agencies, may also be audited periodically. Donors, legislative committees, lenders and others want to be sure they can rely on information these organizations are providing. Most often, these audits concern how financial information is collected and presented.
Professor Dikolli introduces the important role that auditors play in the accounting profession with an short profile of her auditing course.
In addition to accounting skills, auditors must be skilled at communicating with their clients, team members and others throughout the audit process. They must also learn how to communicate their audit findings in a way that meets the needs of regulators, the client and others.
Students concentrating in audit will learn more specialized topics, such as accounting for mergers and acquisitions, advanced auditing techniques and how to assess and manage the ever-greater volume of information produced and stored by computer systems. Students also will take a seminar that gives them hands-on experience conducting a simulated audit. When you graduate with an audit concentration, you’ll be ready to go to work with a team of auditors at a public accounting firm.
Audit-specific courses include:
- Advanced Auditing
- Information Management and Analytics Technology for Accountants
- Accounting for Mergers and Acquisitions
- Applied Audit
Financial Analysis and Reporting Concentration
Experts in financial analysis and reporting follow standard practices to provide an accurate view of a company's finances, including its revenue, expenses, profits, capital, and cashflow. The documentation these experts prepare -- income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and annual reports – give a snapshot of the fiscal health of an organization.
This documentation is critical because it gives internal and external stakeholders the information required to make smart business decisions, such as when to invest (or not invest!), where to expand or contract, or whether or not to extend credit. Financial reporting is also an essential legal requirement for tax purposes.
The most successful financial analysts possess deep accounting knowledge and a detail-oriented, data-savvy mindset. And, because they regularly share information with a diverse set of individuals, they also need strong verbal and written communications skills.
In the Financial Analysis and Reporting concentration, you'll learn a variety of skills, such how to analyze financial statements, how to manage the ever-greater volume of information produced and stored by computer systems, accounting for mergers and acquisitions, and corporate tax strategy.
Students who pursue this concentration will be prepared for roles on both corporate finance and investment finance teams, working as financial analysts, budget analysts, and finance managers. The skills and knowledge gained will also prepare them for more senior roles as controllers, VPs of finance, or CFOs.
Courses specific to the Financial Analysis and Reporting concentration include:
- Financial Statement Analysis and Valuation
- Accounting for Mergers and Acquisitions
- Information Management Analytics Technology for Accountants
- Corporate Tax Strategy
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