Skip to main content

Academic Concentrations

The core courses every MAC student takes introduce the key accounting fundamentals necessary to help you succeed in a career in accounting.  Additionally, every MAC student has the ability to choose a concentration in Financial Analysis & Reporting, Tax or Audit, which gives students an opportunity to pick a specialty to focus on.  For students looking to pursue a career in public accounting, we recommend considering choosing tax or audit, as these are the primary service lines that most public accounting firms hire into. For those students interested in pursuing careers in corporate accounting or finance, you may choose to focus on our Financial Analysis & Reporting (FAR) concentration, which provides a broader set of business and finance courses. The decision is personal, and we can help give you information on all three to better help you decide.

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.

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.

Click here to view an Auditing Career Overview.

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 principles, 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.
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.

Click here to view a Tax Accountant Career Overview.

Tax Leadership Council: UNC MAC Professor Courtney Knoll, our lead Tax professor here in the MAC program, leads our UNC Tax Center Leadership Council, which holds a variety of interesting tax professionals in leadership positions. Some of these members have a vested interest in mentorship and helping students learn more about the tax profession. If you are interested in speaking with a tax mentor, for educational purposes, click here to view the list of professionals.  (Conversations with these professionals are meant to be educational/helpful, and not meant to be for recruiting/employment purposes. Please keep that in mind when you are reaching out to them.)

Professionals 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.
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.

Click here to view a Financial Accounting Career Overview.