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Master of Financial Accountabilty (MFAc)

Frequently Asked Questions (faqs)

How long is the Program?

The Program is eleven courses. Most students complete the Program in four terms. Since the MFAc operates on a trimester system this means the average length of the program is 16 months.

How much does it cost?

Tuition is by semester rather than by course and domestic tuition is about $9,000 per term. Non-resident tuition for foreign students is about $12,000.

What are the admission requirements?

Refer to the separate section of this website. Minimum entrance requirements are a GPA of B for applicants with additional background such as another graduate degree, a professional designation or substantive relevant work experience at the senior management level. For students coming directly out of an undergraduate business degree program an A- is the minimum. GPA's are calculated by York's admission office. Please note that these are minimums. If demand is high, actual required admission GPA may be higher. The application also requires references and a statement of interest. Fluency in English is also required. In addition to test scores, a Skype interview may be required. Students need to have good communication skills to succeed in this program. While GMAT or LSAT scores are not required for admission, they may strengthen your application.

Do I have to write a thesis?

There is no thesis. However, students have the choice between a coursework only option and a major paper option. The major paper option is expected to result in a publishable paper, although it need not be published. Both options are expected to take the same amount of time. Pursuing the major paper option requires finding a faculty supervisor interested in your topic. The two course reduction for students in the major paper option is taken from the list of electives and not from the core curriculum.

Do I need an accounting background?

No...despite the word 'accountability' in the degree name this is not an accounting degree; it is a management degree. However, you would be disadvantaged not having some accounting in your background since accounting is the language of business.

Do I need a business background?

Most definitely, yes! A baccalaureate commerce degree is the minimum requirement. Such a degree combined with an internship enhances your admission prospects. Most of our applicants have a several years of business experience. Applicants having non-business undergraduate degrees combined with an MBA would meet the requirement. We are not teaching basic business or finance and it is expected that you have competencies in these domains when you arrive.

What is the format of classes?

Classes are all run as seminars. You can be expected to lead or participate in discussion on a continual basis. Active participation is critical to maintaining good standing. Fluency in English is obviously important. There are also weekly reading and writing assignments to prepare for the seminars.

How does the MFAc differ from a Masters of Accountability?

We are unaware of any Masters of Accountability program in existence. However, when you do web searches for articles on accountability most seem to be written form the perspective of a philosophy program. Most literature on accountability seems also to focus on accountability in government. Accordingly, accountability is broad concept that involves responsibilities associated with any position of trust and is best taught by philosophers or ethicists. The Masters of Financial Accountability deliberately includes the word 'financial' in its name to emphasize we are talking specifically about the fiduciary responsibility of managers entrusted with economic resources in private and public sector organizations. This also clearly identifies this as a business degree.

How does the MFAc differ from a Masters of Governance?

There are very few Masters of Governance programs in the world, and they are mostly located in the UK or the Far East. Their focus is very much on the public sector and on compliance with regulatory requirements. It seems to be a targeted degree for public sector managers in these specified geopolitical domains. We are not aware of any Masters of Governance that focuses on the private sector. Our Program has extensive coverage of governance practices but we want to clearly signal that we have equal focus on the private and public sectors.

How does the MFAc differ from a Masters of Accounting?

A Masters of Accounting is typically a specialist's degree to prepare you for certification as a professional accountant or to prepare you specifically for entry into a doctoral program in accounting. There are many offerings of the first type and very few of the latter. Regardless, a Masters of Accounting implies a hard core accounting curriculum for accountants. A Masters of Accounting is sometimes called a Masters of Accountancy The MFAc is not an accounting degree, but rather a business degree.

How does the MFAc differ from an MBA?

This is an important question because undoubtedly many of you are weighing the pros and cons of an MFAc vs an MBA. Probably 98% of all graduate business programs are MBA's. You have hundreds, if not thousands of MBA programs to choose from. Rare is the business school that does not have both an undergraduate business degree and the Masters equivalent. However, there is only one MFAc and it is at York University.

In a nutshell, an MBA teaches you basic management skills. It is by definition also a generalists degree touching on all the functions of management. It also has a high degree of redundancy with the curriculum of the baccalaureate BCom or BBA. The MFAc curriculum is much more focused and it would not be wrong to call it a specialist's degree. The career path for most newly minted MBA's (unless it is an executive MBA) is usually a junior or middle management position. Junior managers are expected to adhere to organizational policies on accountability and governance. An MFAc grad would be expected to create policies for accountability and governance in an organization. Most decisions involving accountability and governance tend to be made at the highest levels of the organization so the MFAc is much closer conceptually to an Executive MBA, in that we are teaching not basic management, but skills needed to succeed in the Boardroom. The MFAc is definitely more specialized than an Executive MBA which still covers the gamut of management skills. Executive MBA's are often said to have a more strategic focus while the basic MBA has an operational focus. We would suggest that an organization without proper accountability and governance relationships has no strategic focus and is incapable of being a successful organization.

Several of our MFAc students come to us already holding MBA's. Holding both degrees is without doubt a winning combination. Do note that the MFAc will definitely not teach you to be a manager and it will not teach to be an accountant. It will definitely teach you to be a better manager or a better accountant.

What if I am interested in a PhD later on?

The MFAc is good preparation for any PhD program in business. Since a PhD is first and foremost a research degree, we would suggest you pick the major paper option if you are already thinking of doctoral studies. It is quite conceivable that this paper could be the nucleus of your dissertation proposal.

What if I am interested in doing research?

Same advice….take the major paper option. Realistically there are few successful business researchers who do not hold PhD's, so if you are interested in research you are by definition interested in doctoral studies. Publishing in professional or trade journals is normally not deemed to be research. Good research subjects itself to vetting by being published in peer reviewed academic journals. Our research methods course (GS/FACC 6180) will provide you with the tools necessary to carry out a basic research assignment. The overall focus of this course, however, is to make managers more intelligent consumers of research conducted by others.

What subjects will I take?

The courses and descriptions are listed elsewhere on this website. Note that there is a required core curriculum and also some opportunity to tailor your program through electives.

What sorts of faculty teach in the MFAc?

As would be expected in a graduate business program our faculty are a mix of academics who have impressive research credentials and experts from the business world who have significant experience with accountability and governance issues. Some of our courses are even team taught to provide the dual perspective that is so beneficial on business issues.

How important is fluency in English and good communication skills?

Both are essential. The ability to listen, write and speak professionally will be key to your success in the Program. If your communication skills are weak we can point you in the direction of several remedial clinics at York where you can hone your skills. There is an old (but true) adage that 80% of a business day is listening, speaking and writing. If you are not adept at all three, how can you be a successful manager?

Will the Program teach me ethics?

The Program has a corporate ethics course, but ethics cannot be taught to adults. Ethical concepts are formulated in early childhood. We do look at case studies involving ethical dilemmas in business. We look at regulatory requirements related to ethics and we look at models of corporate behavior that could be deemed socially responsible. We believe all companies should crave the title 'good corporate citizen' and we lay out the path to this honorific.

It should be pointed out that since MFAc graduates are expected to be leaders of the community in advancing ethical standards, we expect from you the highest personal standards. There is zero tolerance for academic dishonesty in our program.

Is there financial assistance, T/A ships or R/A ships?

There are some nominal scholarships awarded to our top students, but do not count on any financial assistance from the Program. You should have your financial affairs in order before coming to York. The York Admissions office can also provide you with guidelines as to living costs while you are staying in Toronto.

Can I take the Program by distance education?

No

What kind of job can I expect with this degree?

A really good one! If we may be permitted to use a cliché; with an MFAc the world will be your oyster. Realistically your career path is also impacted by the nature of the background you bring to the MFAc. Without doubt, your career path will be enhanced by this degree. We also see the MFAc as almost a prerequisite to reaching the Boardroom.

What is the workload like?

We want your expectations to be clear on workload. The workload is rigorous as befitting a graduate business degree with an international reputation. You can expect each course (counting, lectures assignments and personal preparation) to require about 150 hours of work. With 11 courses this translates into 1650 hours or about 400 hours per term. With 4 terms, and 12 week semesters you can expect a workload of about 35 hours a week. This is equivalent to holding a full time job. Obviously, working outside the University during your studies is going to put you at risk.

There is also the issue of peer expectations. In a seminar with small enrolment, if you do not come to class prepared, your colleagues are hurt by this and will make their displeasure known. You must always come to class fully prepared.

In most human endeavours, reward is commensurate with effort. Your effort will be high and we expect your rewards to be equally so.

What if I have more questions or want to start assembling an application package?

Please write/email the Program Executive Assistant who will be delighted to try and answer any additional enquiries and to facilitate your application.