If you're in possession of a freshly minted undergrad degree in accounting, finance, or similar, it's well worth looking into what a postgraduate qualification can offer. As well as helping you land a job, it can boost you up the career ladder and help you develop all kinds of professional and personal skills. Here are some of the benefits...
Improved career prospects
A postgraduate programme builds on the knowledge you picked up in your undergrad studies and goes into more detail. In the case of a masters in accounting and finance you might study modules including business analysis or taxation, as well as taking a look at the wider issues facing the financial sector; all of which will impress potential employers.
But because employers want more than calculator drones in the office, a good masters programme will also help you land a job and develop practical workplace skills. On BPP University's MSc Accounting and Finance programme, for example, students get coaching on interview technique, leadership, critical analysis and more.
You're probably no stranger to professional bodies like the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), but you might not know that some accounting and finance masters programmes can help you with their examinations and qualifications. You can take professional level exams during or after your course, which means you'll be around plenty of people to offer advice / support / use of a screaming room when it's crunch time.
Choosing a finance masters that's accredited by a professional body or aligned to its syllabus (like the BPP University programme) is good for your confidence too. You'll know that everything you're studying is relevant to the industry and that you'll leave with a lean, mean, very specific set of relevant financial skills.
Choice of location and study method
Like undergrad courses, masters degrees are offered by all kinds of institutions and there are a few different ways of learning (have a look at our guide to get started). You might prefer to study online, for example, which gives you the flexibility to work at the same time; or you might prefer a full time course at your nearest uni.
If the metropolis appeals, London-based courses such as BPP University's MSc Accounting and Finance programme can put you right in the heart of the UK's financial services industry. Handy for networking, job hunting, getting a feel for the industry or just seeing some nice museums for free when you're not studying.
A masters can even help you accelerate your career. Regardless of your study method, you'll develop personal and professional skills, build a network of contacts and get those professional exams under your belt in a focused period of time (usually a couple of years).
Some courses (like BPP University's) let you go even faster, offering a twelve month period of study. You'll learn fast, and as it's a condensed programme some students find that it's also more cost effective.
What it's like to be an accounting and finance MSc student
Speaking of those students, John Wood is on the BPP University MSc Accounting and Finance course. He joined after completing his undergrad degree (in the same subject) at Anglia Ruskin Uni and told us about his experiences so far.
“The masters course will help me complete five professional exams and provides the wider learning and skills that I wanted,” he says. “I made the final decision to join the programme based on a good review from the ACCA and the number of resources provided alongside the course.
John explains that he's felt supported by staff at all points, and has been encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities too. “Being in the centre of London, we’re surrounded by financial businesses,” he adds, “which helps inspire us and gets us in the right mindset for working.”
Since joining, John has seen an improvement in his decision making and confidence. “This has been mirrored in my leadership, team working, resilience in financial understanding and growth of my self management and personal control,” he says.
After he graduates, John plans to work in either the financial sector or in the financial department of a commercial company. “With the ACCA qualification and masters degree, I'll hold many transferable professional and academic skills along with the career and personal skills BPP have helped improve, such as my charisma and confidence.”