Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Accounting; Finance, Real Estate, and Business Law

First Advisor

Steven Stelk, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Finance, Real Estate, and Business Law

Abstract

Thousands of men and women across the United States graduate from accounting and finance undergraduate programs and find themselves uncertain about what the future holds and what steps should be taken in order to maximize their odds of meeting their personal goals related to job satisfaction and level of income. This study aims to evaluate graduate degree and non-graduate-degree alternatives, as well as the CPA and CFA professional designations in terms of the likelihood of each route leading to high job satisfaction and a high level of income. To that end, a survey of successful accounting and finance professionals was conducted.

Results were collected and survey respondent data were grouped by all participants; participants having earned a Master of Professional Accountancy, participants having earned a Master of Business Administration, participants having earned a Master of Finance, participants earning the highest salaries, participants rating themselves as having the highest possible job satisfaction, participants having attended graduate school, participants having not attended graduate school, participants having earned the Certified Public Accountant designation, and participants having earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

The results indicate that the route leading to both the highest level of job satisfaction and the highest salary is to obtain a professional designation without attending graduate school. This option is not best for everyone, however, as there are requirements that are often most easily met by earning a graduate degree. In that case, it is pertinent to know that, according to the results of this study, the Master of Professional Accountancy and Certified Public Accountant designation pairing leads to the greatest v level of job satisfaction, while the Master of Business Administration and Chartered Financial Analyst designation pairing leads to the greatest level of income.

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