Four Steps to Choosing Tax or Audit

Students walking up steps

Students majoring in Accounting often know they want to do a master’s degree in Accounting, but they may not know which area to focus on.  Here at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, we have two choices—a Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcc)—Audit and Analytics and a Master of Science in Taxation (MST).

They sound different enough but without real life experience, how do you decide?

Step one

take classes


We suggest taking Tax Effects and Business Decisions (ACCTG 321) as early as possible in your junior year as there is no better indicator than an intro to tax class.  Here at the UW, we have inspiring tax instructors who illustrate how interesting and purpose-filled a career in tax can be—for those with curious minds who enjoy complex problem solving, giving and communicating–tax can be extremely satisfying, and there is no shortage of options after putting in a few years with a big public–see our recent blog.


For audit, there are two classes to take: Accounting for Information Systems (ACCTG 320) and Standards and Principles of Auditing (ACCTG 411). Audit and assurance are all about checking over the accounts of a company and offering assurance that they are in order. Successful Auditors tend to have strong attention to detail, ethical decision making skills, love of travel, great communication and the ability to work well on a team. And now with advanced software, artificial intelligence and robotic processing coming on quickly, the job of the Auditor is also merging more and more with Information Technology and Data Analytics (see blog on RPA).

Step two

talk to people who know

As an Accounting student, you have many resources at Foster to start acquiring career knowledge. The Foster Undergraduate Career Services (DEM 212) has counselors who can illustrate the career paths, tell you about upcoming events and prepare you to apply for summer leadership programs and internships to get you more real-life experience.

Your instructors should also be a great resource–many of them have spent time working as accountants. And, finally, there are events put on by Beta Alpha Psi—if you have not joined BAP yet, do it and get involved.

Step three

experience the work

Classes are one thing but nothing beats getting your hands your dirty with the real thing.  Most firms, small and large, offer internships which generally pay better than most summer jobs. They also often lead to full time offers. Connect with recruiters by attending socials and info sessions posted on Handshake, or drop at DEM 212 to get started.

Remember, it is easy to get fixated on a career or specific company and lose sense of your broader goals, so keep your eye on how you feel with the work and how you feel with the company you are working for.

Step four

take your best guess

It is easy to overthink big questions in life like your future career, but when it comes down to it, there is no way to really KNOW anything for sure.  Make your best guess based on what you know now, and be prepared to change your mind if new knowledge or experiences lead you to something different.

Learn more about our Masters in tax or audit.

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