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Master of Professional Accounting

Looking for a way to fast track a career change into accounting? This advanced programme enables you to put your undergraduate degree (or equivalent work experience) towards a career in professional accounting – and provides a pathway to membership with professional accounting bodies.


180 (1.5 EFTS)
Mt Albert
Start dates
February or July
Full-time for 18 months. Part-time options available.

Programme overview

A change in career is a common reality for many – you might be interested in forging a path in a new line of work or be ready to gain expertise in a new area of interest. Changing careers is a great way to open a range of new job opportunities and show employers that you’re adaptable and unafraid of change.

This Master’s degree has been designed for those who would like to pursue a new career in professional accounting. It’s a conversion programme, meaning you have the advantage of covering core knowledge and competencies - and developing higher level capabilities - quickly so you can start working as soon as possible.

You’ll need an undergraduate degree to apply (or equivalent professional experience) – but it doesn’t matter what discipline you’ve previously studied as the programme builds on the diverse skill set you already have.  This includes analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills, technical accounting skills, and research capabilities to operate in a variety of small to medium enterprises, as well as some larger organisations.

Professional accounting bodies

To work as a registered chartered accountant or certified practicing accountant in New Zealand, you need to gain membership to the following professional accounting bodies:

  • Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ)
  • Certified Practising Accountants Australia (CPA Australia)

There are so many benefits to being professionally certified and registered – global networking opportunities, discounted professional development – so when you successfully graduate this programme, you’ll have the academic requirements you need to apply for provisional membership.

What you’ll learn

The Master of Professional Accounting (MPA) is an 18-month, 180-credit programme studied over three semesters. It’s made up of 10 compulsory courses – nine 15-credit courses at Level 8 (including an internship), and a 45-credit research project at Level 9.

Here’s a snippet of the technical and people skills you’ll gain and develop over the duration of the programme:

  • Accounting theory and practical experience. Apply advanced knowledge of accounting and practice in financial accounting management accounting, taxation, audit and assurance.
  • Research skills. Ability to undertake applied research.
  • Collaboration. Work collaboratively with diverse teams and cultures and build positive working relationships in Aotearoa and global contexts
  • Communication skills. Effectively and professionally communicate with a range of stakeholders.
  • Business ethics. Critically engage with ethically and socially responsible accounting practices.


  • Facilitates a career change. No prior experience in accounting or commerce is required.
  • Applied learning. Utilise case studies and scenario-based learning to apply theory and skills to real-world situations.
  • Blended course delivery. Learn in a variety of different ways from facilitated workshops and interactive lectures to online learning, presentations and discussions, and self-directed learning.
  • Complete a research project. Undertake a research project in an area of accounting you’re interested in exploring.  
  • Do an internship. Apply advanced accounting skills in an organisation to gain valuable work experience.
  • Post-study work visa. International students can apply for a post-study work visa to gain work experience in New Zealand.
  • Recognised by professional accounting bodies. This programme provides you with the academic requirements for membership with CA ANZ and CPA Australia.
  • Small classes. Facilitated by expert lecturers with the right experience to support your learning.
  • Strong, 35-year teaching history. Unitec has been providing accounting graduates who meet the expectations of the market for 35 years. This is evident from the successful career paths of alumni - both in New Zealand and abroad.


As part of your studies, you’ll complete a 50-hour work-based internship where you’ll develop a proposal in collaboration with an external organisation, agree on objectives and timelines, and then complete the mahi. Our experienced staff will help you prepare for and find placement at available internship opportunities in a range of New Zealand organisations. It’s a great opportunity to apply your learnings in a real business environment – and will help enhance your future employability.

Finding the right job for you

When you graduate, you’ll meet the academic requirements required to gain provisional membership with CA ANZ and CPA Australia. From there, you’ll be able to work towards full membership as a chartered accountant or certified practicing accountant.

You’ll also be able to enter the workforce in a wide range of other roles in financial accounting, management accounting, auditing, taxation, banking and finance, and business consultancy across the private and public sector.

Salary expectations will depend on your qualifications, experience, and the size, type, and location of the organisation you work for, but here’s an estimate of what you can expect:

  • New accounting technicians and assistant accountants can earn between $58,000 and $81,000 a year.
  • Accountants who are not CPA/CA qualified usually earn between $55,000 and $90,000.
  • Mid-level accountants with up to four years' experience usually earn between $76,000 and $106,000.
  • Senior accountants can earn between $102,000 and $202,000.

Our Career Development Team

This student support service is available to all students while they study, when you graduate, and as you transition into employment. They can help you develop good employability skills, become job-ready, and develop the skills needed to effectively manage your career. They run workshops throughout the year on topics including CV development, interview preparation, and personal brand - and also provide one-to-one career guidance appointments.

Find out more

Admission requirements

For this programme, you’ll need:

For applicants 20 years or older

  • Provide sufficient evidence of aptitude or appropriate work or other life experience that would indicate a successful outcome in the qualification.

For applicants 16 years or older

  • A recognised Bachelor’s degree (or higher) with merit achievement deemed to be a grade average of B- or higher; or
  • A professional qualification in a relevant discipline, recognised as being equivalent to merit achievement in a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent.

English Language Requirements

  • 8 credits at NCEA Level 2 in English (4 in reading, 4 in writing)
  • If English is not your first language, you’ll need one or more of the following:
    • Achieved NCEA Level 3 and New Zealand University Entrance
    • Provide evidence you satisfy our criteria for existing English proficiency
    • Achieved at least one English proficiency outcome in the last two years

If you don’t meet the English criteria above, we have a range of English Language programmes available.

For more information download the programme regulations (PDF 385KB).


Courses and timetables

For more details on the courses, please click on the course names below. Please note that our systems are updating with new course timetable information for 2024; please check back again soon.

Courses Credits Aim
Financial Accounting (ACTY8101) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course provides the core financial accounting principles required to prepare and present, external financial statements in line with the financial reporting regulatory framework.
Advanced Financial Accounting (ACTY8102) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course builds on the core financial accounting principles covered in the prerequisite paper and extends students’ knowledge, skills, and capabilities in relation to the application of financial reporting standards.
Strategic Management Accounting (ACTY8103) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course covers the management accounting knowledge and skills required for strategic business decision making, planning, and control.
Taxation (ACTY8104) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) The course enables students to apply New Zealand taxation principles, policies and processes to solve routine and complex problems for individual and business taxpayers.
Audit and Assurance (ACTY8105) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course enables students to critically apply auditing concepts and techniques in conducting an audit of external financial reports
Accounting Information Systems (ACTY8106) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course will enable students to critically evaluate the essential requirements of an accounting information system and to apply system processes, documentation and technologies to meet organisation needs.
Business Finance and Economics (ACTY8107) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course provides students with the capability to critically examine the market forces in an economy and to assess the impacts of these, and government economic policy, on economic agents
Business Law and the Business Environment (ACTY8108) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course enables students to critically evaluate the legal requirements of doing business in New Zealand, including the regulation of companies, and the rules that apply to common commercial transactions
Internship (ACTY8109) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course will provide students with an opportunity to apply accounting theory and knowledge in an internship setting to achieve agreed objectives
Courses Credits Aim
Research Project (ACTY9045) 45.0 credits (0.375 EFTS) This course will enable students to independently apply research methods to investigate a research question or business issue relating to current practice or internship experience

Unitec is part of Te Pūkenga

On 1 October 2022 Unitec became part of Te Pūkenga. Find out more about Te Pūkenga and what this means for you.