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ACCA vs Accounting Degree: Which Should You Study?

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According to many ACCA qualifiers, ACCA is far better than an Accounting degree but how true is this in today modern world? For sure, the requirement to qualified as ACCA is tough but is it worth it when the markets prefer degree holder? 

What’s the main difference between ACCA and Accounting Degree?

An Accounting Degree is an academic degree awarded by a university whereas ACCA is a professional accounting qualification awarded by an International body. ACCA is not an academic degree. An Individual may complete ACCA after his degree but he cannot do it from the opposite way unless they cannot do it from the opposite way. 

What will you study at ACCA and Accounting Degree?

If an individual is a business-minded person and not consider to work in an Accounting field for the rest of their life, an Accounting degree might be more suitable. A degree has a course structure made up of core accounting subjects together with other relevant electives such as management, marketing, finance and business law. all of which are meant to give an individual a more well rounded and holistic experience. Whereas, in ACCA an individual will be taught with accounting subjects throughout the entire course.

Whereas, ACCA narrows on technical aspects and principles of accounting that are required of a professional accountant, giving an individual more deep knowledge in accounting. The syllabus covers advanced accounting techniques and calculations in greater detail compared to a degree, especially at the Professional level. ACCA do not provide much interaction between an individual and his peeps during the length of the course, causing him to lose out the opportunity to develop leadership and team working skills during the education age. 

Sample subjects comparison:

ACCA Accounting Degree (sample syllabus)
F1 AB Accountant in BusinessL1 Business Communication
F2 MA Management AccountingL1 Introduction to Management
F3 FA Financial AccountingL1 Accounting for Managers
F4 CL Corporate and Business LawL1 Economics
F5 PM Performance ManagementL1 Business Information Systems
F6 TX TaxationL1 Marketing Principles
F7 FR Financial ReportingL1 Commercial Law
F8 AA Audit & AssuranceL1 Quantitative Analysis
F9 FM Financial ManagementL2 Financial Accounting 1
P1 Governance, Risk and EthicsL2 Accounting Information Systems
P2 Corporate ReportingL2 Financial Accounting 2
P3 Business AnalysisL2 Corporations Law
P4 AFM Advanced Financial ManagementL2 Management Accounting 1
P5 APM Advanced Performance ManagementL2 Corporate Finance
P6 ATX Advanced TaxationL3 Accounting Theory and Contemporary Issues
P7 Advanced Audit & AssuranceL3 Auditing and Assurance
 L3 Company Accounting
 L3 Taxation Law
 L3 Management Accounting 2

ACCA and Accounting Degree, which is more difficult?

An accounting degree is easier than ACCA due to a gradual progression of difficulty throughout the 3 years of study. Moreover, an accounting degree is not 100% paper-based exam, it includes marking from assignment and presentation. Unlike ACCA, the course is 100% paper-based exam and more challenging as the subject material becomes exponentially more difficult as an individual move from one to the other.

ACCA and Accounting Degree, which is faster?

Accounting degree usually takes about 3 – 4 years to complete from SPM level, starting with pre-university studies such as A-Level or foundation and follow-by to an accounting degree, which takes about 2 (Singapore) to 3 years (Malaysia). Whereas, ACCA usually takes about 3 years after SPM. An Individual can take the 1-year Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) right after SPM and proceed to the rest of ACCA papers as quickly as 2 years. 

ACCA and Accounting Degree, which is cheaper?

A 3-years Accounting degree can cost around RM45,000 up to RM110,000 depending on the quality and reputation of the university. If cost is a major concern on the affordability, an individual can apply for a government loan (PTPTN) to loosen the financial burden in education. Whereas, ACCA cost around RM 32,000 – RM45,000 not to mention there is an annual membership fee of RM1800 per year to bear. An individual can have an ACCA qualification without attending any private tuition centre (there are plenty of it in Malaysia) but choose to self-study instead. This will lower down the costs by paying all the necessary examination fees instead of full tuition and resource fees.

Malaysia College & University Fees Guide 2019

ACCA and Accounting Degree, are they both equally recognised?

Today, having an Accounting degree from private universities is far more recognised than the past due to international accreditation and partnership arrangement (like how an individual could earn an Australian degree from UCSI University in Malaysia without physically present in Australia). Although ACCA is a professional qualification, it does not necessarily give an individual a better access to the job markets overseas. The world is very different now compared to the past where every country is doing anything they can to protect the local job market. Thus, it is simply not enough relying on ACCA qualification if the ultimate goal of an individual is to work overseas. (Call us 016-214-3443 If you would like to work in Australia)

What are your career options?

With an Accounting Degree, an individual can branch into careers both in and outside the accountancy field. Whereas, most ACCA qualifiers can only work in accounting fields. 

Do you require ACCA to work at big four?

Some argue that the top accounting firms (known as the Big Four) would prefer their employees to have at least a professional qualification (whether it is MIA, ACCA, CPA or CA). This is a myth and not necessarily the truth, hiring is a complication process, other than an outstanding academic qualification, the hiring managers also looking at the personality (through personality test), communication, leadership and initiative skills. This is verifiable through LinkedIn.  

Alternatively, an individual may complete his professional qualification (ACCA) after the degree. If the individual is lucky and talented enough, some companies might even sponsor him to pursue a professional qualification, such as the ACCA or CPA, in exchange for a bond to the company.

In conclusion, Accounting Degree gives an individual a variety of career choices in and outside the accounting field whereas, ACCA provides an individual with deep professional skills in Accounting. However, the choice should ultimately depend on how long an he is willing to set aside for the studies, the budget and the career choice in the future. 

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About Post Author

Michelle Phan

Michelle is a freelance content writer graduated from Curtin University with a degree in Communication (Commercial writing). Michelle loves to travel and enjoys walking on the beach. Michelle also feeds on psychology quote and will give away just about anything to cuddle with furry felines.

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