NCI Blog

Accounting or Finance: Our Guide to Choosing What to Study

Posted by Brenda Meira de Azevedo on 01 July 2024

Accounting and Finance Courses at NCI

Choosing a field of study is a big decision as it can shape your career and future opportunities. At National College of Ireland, we understand the importance of making an informed choice, especially when it comes to closely related fields like Accounting and Finance.

In this guide, we will help you understand the differences between the MSc in Accounting and the MSc in Finance by outlining the curriculums, entry requirements and professional exam exemptions, along with sharing where graduates of each of these postgraduate programmes are now. By the end, you will be ready to choose the right postgraduate path which aligns with your interests and career goals.

Accounting or Finance: What’s the Difference?

While both terms are often used interchangeably, Accounting and Finance serve distinct functions in the business world. Accounting is often described as the language of business which focuses on recording, classifying, and summarising financial transactions. Accountants prepare financial statements, ensure compliance with laws and regulations, and provide insights based on financial data. Accounting Professionals work in all areas of business, such as banking, retail, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, software and construction to list but a few.

"Studying NCI’s MSc in Accounting one-year programme provides students with the key competencies required by a professional accountant in an ever-evolving business and corporate environment. At NCI we designed this programme to help students develop their own unique critical and analytical skills and apply their knowledge to real life scenarios."

Anne Cooper – MSc in Accounting Programme Director

Finance, on the other hand, is about managing money and investments. It involves analysing financial markets, planning for the future, and making investment decisions. Finance professionals work in areas such as banking, financial planning, asset management, and risk management.

"The MSc in Finance at NCI will allow you to start or progress a career in finance, one of the highest-rewarding fields. Develop analytical and technical skills in the fascinating field of finance. Gain practical experience. Connect to the financial industry."

Gaia Barone – MSc in Finance Programme Director

What Will You Study at NCI?

Explore a sample of the curriculum for both the MSc in Accounting and the MSc in Finance to gain insights into the subjects covered and practical skills you will develop. Our programmes are designed with industry consultation to equip you with the knowledge and expertise needed to excel in global companies.

MSc in Accounting

MSc in Finance

  • Financial Accounting: Recording and reporting financial transactions.
  • Management Accounting: Analysing business operations and costs.
  • Taxation: Understanding tax laws and their implications.
  • Auditing: Examining financial records to ensure accuracy and compliance.
  • Accounting Information Systems: Using technology in accounting processes.
  • Corporate Finance: Managing a company’s financial activities and capital structure.
  • Investment Analysis: Evaluating investment opportunities and portfolio management.
  • Financial Markets and Institutions: Understanding the operation of financial markets and the role of financial institutions.
  • Risk Management: Identifying and mitigating financial risks.
  • Quantitative Methods: Applying mathematical and statistical techniques to financial problems.

The uniqueness of both postgraduate courses lies in offering students a choice between two distinct pathways: Pathway A, which includes research methods and a final dissertation, or Pathway B, which involves completing three additional modules. This flexibility allows you to tailor your studies to align with your specific career goals, whether academic or professional.

"Studying the MSc in Accounting at NCI provided me with a wealth of accounting knowledge, the opportunity to learn from excellent lecturers, the chance to meet a diverse group of interesting individuals, and broaden my career prospects."

Jiletu Xin - MSc in Accounting Student

Who Is the Course For?

Learn more about who the courses are for, the entry requirements that best align with your background, and English language requirements for those whose first language is not English for each course below.

  • MSc in Accounting: The MSc in Accounting is for those seeking a career in accountancy, specifically for those with a non-accounting background. Applicants need a minimum of a level 8 qualification (2:2 Honours) in a non-accounting discipline. An accounting-related degree (2:2 Honours level 8 award) is also acceptable.
  • MSc in Finance: The MSc in Finance is ideal for those looking to start a career in the financial services sector or for professionals in finance seeking career advancement. Applicants need a level 8 qualification (minimum 2:2 Honours) in finance or an equivalent qualification in a related field of study.

English Language Requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide a suitable score from an approved English language examination such as IELTS or TOEFL.

The college also accepts a range of other alternatives, which you can review on the English Language Entry Requirements. If you need to improve your English proficiency, you can opt for NCI's Pre-Sessional English programme.

Are There Any Professional Exam Exemptions?

Discover the potential professional exam exemptions available to successful graduates pursuing the MSc in Accounting. These exemptions can fast-track your journey towards professional qualifications and enhance your career prospects upon graduation:

  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA): Various papers at the Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills levels (9 papers in total).
  • Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI): Full CAP 1 exemptions.
  • Certified Public Accountants (CPA Ireland): Foundational Level (Financial Accounting, Management Accounting and Taxation), Professional Level (Financial Reporting, Advanced Taxation, Corporate Law, Audit & Assurance and Managerial Finance).

*Please note: Exemption criteria are subject to change, students and graduates should check with the relevant professional bodies for the up-to-date criteria.

Would you like to learn more about studying the MSc Accounting at NCI? Read our Blog post: Why Do a Master’s in Accounting? 5 Reasons You Should Consider

Studying Accounting in Ireland

Choosing Ireland as your study abroad destination offers the opportunity to fast-track your accounting career with a one-year programme and stay-back visa options through Ireland's dedicated visa for trainee accountants.

Eligible graduates can apply for this visa to enhance their career prospects and benefit from Ireland's robust accounting sector. For more details, visit the official Irish Immigration website.

Learn more about studying at NCI as an International Student.

Where Are Graduates Currently Working?

NCI’s Accounting and Finance graduates have secured positions in a variety of sectors, reflecting the versatility and demand for skills in global companies. Our alumni work in:

  • Top accounting firms: Such as Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, and EY.
  • Financial institutions: Including banks like AIB, Bank of Ireland, and international firms such as JP Morgan.
  • Multinational corporations: In financial management roles at companies like Google, Facebook, and Intel.
  • Public sector: With roles in government agencies and non-profits.

These diverse career paths highlight the robust employment opportunities available to our graduates. Learn more about where our graduates at by viewing the Graduate Destinations Reports.

Next Steps

Now that you have a better understanding of what studying Accounting and Finance at NCI entails, reflect on your interests and career goals, and consider which programme aligns best with your aspirations. Whether you aspire to become a Chartered Accountant or a Financial Analyst, NCI is here to support you on your academic journey.

Visit our MSc in Accounting and MSc in Finance course pages to learn more about the courses, how to apply, or attend one of our open days to get a feel for the NCI experience.

Topics: Postgraduate Courses, School of Business, Full-Time Courses, Accounting & Finance