In addition to the standard curriculum, many online accounting programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels offer students the chance to specialize. Here are five accounting concentrations worth pursuing.

1. Public Accounting

Is it your career goal to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)? If so, an online accounting program that allows you to complete a concentration in public accounting would be an excellent choice for you. In addition to teaching you the principles of public accounting and the technical skills required to handle tax reporting and other public accounting tasks, these programs will help prepare you to earn your CPA certification.

Given the notoriously difficult nature of the four-part Uniform CPA Examination – which all states currently use, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics – focusing your academic studies on public accounting knowledge can only help you.

2. Managerial Accounting

Perhaps you would rather work on internal financial reports than public accounting tasks. In that case, pursuing a concentration in managerial, cost or corporate accounting would be the perfect place to start.

Like public accountants, private accountants analyze financial information and create reports. However, instead of working outside the organization to produce financial documents for taxation purposes and other public use, managerial accountants typically work within a consulting agency or an organization itself. The information they produce is for internal management use, aiding in tasks like creating and assessing budgets, evaluating the company’s financial performance and making investment decisions.

Students pursuing a concentration in managerial accounting will complete courses such as strategic finance and planning, logistics and supply chain management, leadership and business process management and, of course, managerial accounting.

3. Business Administration

If you’d like to develop a wide range of business skills beyond your theoretical and technical knowledge of accounting, then a concentration in business administration will help. This concentration leans more toward generalist than specialist, but it will provide you with a strong overall business foundation that includes finance, economics, human resources, management, marketing, organizational behavior and business ethics.

4. Auditing

Auditing is the systematic analysis and review of an organization’s funds and financial statements, completed internally by in-house employees or hired consultants or externally by outside organizations. If you think a job in auditing could be right for you, this concentration can help you learn the practices used to organize, implement and oversee a thorough computerized audit.

Students pursuing an auditing concentration often take courses such as:

  • Accounting for mergers and acquisitions
  • Advanced auditing
  • Applied auditing
  • Business data communications
  • Business process management
  • Database management
  • Enterprise resource planning systems
  • Internal auditing

5. Forensic Accounting

If you want to use your accounting skills to catch fraud or other criminal behavior, look for a program with a forensic accounting concentration. Besides the skills needed for a successful public accounting career, you’ll learn to prevent and detect fraud, investigate financial data using computers and interview individuals suspected of unethical or fraudulent behavior.