Accounting

Studying ACCA Professional Papers vs Accounting Degree in Malaysia

Which is the Best Accounting Pathway in Malaysia? The ACCA or the Accounting Degree?

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Students after SPM or O-Levels in Malaysia interested to pursue a career in accounting have two pathways that they can go, which are the professional accounting papers or the degree pathway.

For the ACCA Professional Papers pathway, students can enter the CAT and then into the ACCA while for the accounting degree, students after SPM or O-Levels will need at least 5 Credits to enter the Foundation in Business or Foundation in Arts. Other Pre-University Programmes such as the A-Levels, SACE International, etc are also possible to enter the accounting degree.

In this article, I will list down the differences between the ACCA and the Accounting degree for students to be able to choose the right path. Whether you should choose to study the ACCA, the accounting degree or both through the ACCA Accelerate Programme. Read on to find out more.

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ACCA vs Accounting Degree in Malaysia: Which way is the Best?

EduSpiral helped me to transfer my Diploma & everything went smoothly. I also asked him to help my younger brother to find the the right university after his UEC". Haw Chieh, Graduated in Accounting from UCSI University

EduSpiral helped me to transfer my Diploma & everything went smoothly. I also asked him to help my younger brother to find the the right university after his UEC”.
Haw Chieh, Graduated in Accounting from UCSI University

Accounting is a rewarding career with plenty of growth opportunities in Malaysia. Accountants enjoy solid pay, ample advancement opportunities and a stable career.

To be a registered chartered accountant in Malaysia, you must be a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA), which is the regulatory body for accountants in Malaysia. Members of ACCA, CIMA, CPA Australia, ICAA, ICAEW and MICPA are eligible for MIA membership.

There are pros and cons in studying either the ACCA or the Accounting degree. Each path has is own value and it depends on the character of the student that would best suit him or her. Some students make the mistake of wanting to complete the course faster and cheaper, therefore jump into the ACCA without considering they may not be suited for it and in the end fail.

Although this article is about ACCA vs the Accounting degree, students can actually complete both at the same time through the ACCA Accelerate Programme which is offered at top private universities in Malaysia.

Main Differences Between the ACCA and the Accounting Degree in Malaysia

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)

  • A professional accounting qualification
  • Recognised globally with a large network of students, members and employers in 179 countries
  • Study subjects focus on the technical aspects and principles of accounting required to become a professional accountant
  • Marked in the UK, therefore your command of the English language should be good
  • Can complete the professional papers faster than a degree
  • Is cheaper than a degree
  • Cannot apply for PTPTN Loan
  • Less scholarships given out

Accounting Degree

  • An academic degree issued by the University
  • Most accounting degrees are recognised in Malaysia with 9 paper exemptions from ACCA
  • Provides a holistic experience that covers a wider area of subjects, not only in accounting but relevant fields
  • Students can enjoy a university lifestyle
  • Have time to acquire important soft skills
  • Can apply for the PTPTN Loan
  • More scholarships available

Which one is more difficult to Study? The ACCA or the Accounting Degree?

Accounting graduate from Asia Pacific University (APU)

“I met up with EduSpiral about 4 times in Ipoh & at Asia Pacific University to discuss about my future. He provided me with in-depth information and even arranged for me to meet up with the Head of School at APU to talk to me.”
Kar Jun, Accounting graduate from Asia Pacific University (APU)

There are varied levels of difficulty in ACCA and accounting degrees in Malaysia. As is the case with any degree, accounting degrees require dedication and good time-management skills to handle studies, assignments and projects all at the same time.

The accounting degree is generally easier. The accounting degree is marked internally by the university’s lecturers and therefore they would be able to understand the students’ language skills.

In contrast, ACCA is known to be more difficult because the ACCA qualification levels become increasingly challenging as you progress through the qualification. Furthermore, you need to gain a professional level of understanding in a shorter period of time.

The ACCA is marked in the UK, therefore students should have a strong grasp of the English language. Many students fail in the essay papers. However, students have the advantage of obtaining different qualifications while pursuing the ACCA certification.

What is the Career progression?

Earning an accounting degree gives you the opportunity to explore different domains such as market research, real estate and investment banking. With an accounting degree, you may have to contend with entry-level jobs once you graduate.

On the other hand, earning the ACCA qualification prepares students for careers directly linked to accounting, providing them with greater prospects for better-earning jobs which are higher up the corporate ladder.

Which is faster to complete after SPM? The ACCA or the Accounting Degree?

Accounting & Finance at Taylor's University

EduSpiral patiently provided information on many universities offering accounting. Then he met up with me & my parents to take us around the universities. EduSpiral helped me to choose the right university.
Chew Ling, Accounting & Finance at Taylor’s University

The ACCA is faster to complete for students after SPM or O-Levels compared to taking the accounting degree pathway.

Students after SPM or O-Levels can enter the Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) for a year, and then complete the ACCA qualification in as quickly as two years as long as you pass all the papers. It will be a total of 3 years if all goes well.

For the accounting degree pathway, students after SPM or O-Levels will enter the Foundation in Business or Foundation in Arts for 1 year and then the accounting degree for 3 years. A total of 4 years. Students may also go for the ACCA Accelerate Programme and complete both ACCA and the Accounting degree at the same time.

What is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), UK?

Accounting Graduate from KDU University College

EduSpiral gave me in depth information on the accounting pathway & helped me to choose the right university
Gary Ng , Accounting Graduate from KDU University College

What is ACCA? ACCA stands for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants a leading international accountancy body. The ACCA qualification is recognised and is treated in other countries as being equivalent to their local qualification.

The ACCA qualification proves to employers that you have ability in all aspects of business. It is the largest and fastest growing qualification in the world, with over 500,000 members and students in 170 countries

The ACCA certification consists of three key components, which include:

  1. Work experience: In order to be eligible to become an ACCA member, you must possess three years of relevant work experience;
  2. Exams: You have to pass 14 exams if you want to join ACCA, but there are certain exams that you may be exempt from, depending on your qualifications;
  3. Professional ethics module: The final piece of criteria, in order to be eligible for obtaining membership, is passing ACCA’s Professional Ethics module.

Once you have paid the registration fees for ACCA, you are given access to its online study materials such as past papers, syllabus guide, study hacks, a mobile app and ACCA articles containing key modules and subjects. The syllabus in ACCA is divided into four levels, namely Knowledge, Skill, Essentials and Options.

Benefits of the ACCA qualification

“I met EduSpiral after SPM and obtained a lot of information & good advise. Although Asia Pacific University is famous for IT but I found out that they have a solid accounting programme and I can get a UK degree.” Julian Hum, Graduated in Accounting from Asia Pacific University (APU).

“I met EduSpiral after SPM and obtained a lot of information & good advise. Although Asia Pacific University is famous for IT but I found out that they have a solid accounting programme and I can get a UK degree.”
Julian Hum, Graduated in Accounting from Asia Pacific University (APU).

  • enables you to become a Chartered Certified Accountant, use the designatory letters ACCA, and work in any aspect of finance or management in any business.
  • better employment prospects as a result of having shown an ability in all areas of business.
  • assures an employer that you have the skills necessary to progress to more senior management positions.
  • higher status in the eyes of an employer, and also your clients
    ACCA is the largest and fastest-growing global professional accountancy body in the world, with over 320,000 members and students in 170 countries
  • gaining such a qualification is evidence that the holder possesses skills and knowledge which are in high demand by employers in industry, banking, auditing, consulting as well as other professions like taxation and law.
  • candidates not only gain specialist knowledge in finance and accounting, but also acquire valuable skills in organisational management and strategy
  • the qualification does not concentrate only on theory, and unlike Universities prepares a graduate for practical usage.
  • the qualification is based on international accounting and auditing standards and is IFAC compliant
  • ACCA Professional qualification is of a high standard and is equivalent to completing full University Degree
  • with exams twice a year students can work while they study
    personal satisfaction of having acquired the business skills

What will You Study in the ACCA?

My mother chatted with EduSpiral for months from Brunei & gathered the information. Finally, we made a trip to visit the universities and EduSpiral helped us to choose the right university Wei En, Accounting at Taylor's University

My mother chatted with EduSpiral for months from Brunei & gathered the information. Finally, we made a trip to visit the universities and EduSpiral helped us to choose the right university
Wei En, Accounting at Taylor’s University

As previously mentioned, the ACCA syllabus is divided into four categories. The subjects taught in ACCA give emphasis to the technical areas of accounting, thus providing you with greater specialised knowledge. The subjects taught in the four categories include:

Knowledge level

  • Financial Accounting
  • Management Accounting
  • Accountant in Business

Skill level

  • Taxation
  • Financial Management
  • Performance Management
  • Business and Corporate Law
  • Assurance and Audit
  • Financial Reporting

Essentials level

  • Business Analysis
  • Corporate Reporting
  • Ethics, Governance and Risk

Options: you choose two papers from a total of four in this section

  • Advanced Taxation
  • Advanced Assurance and Audit
  • Advanced Performance Management
  • Advanced Financial Management

What will You Study in an Accounting Degree at a Private University in Malaysia?

Diploma in Accounting Graduate from Asia Pacific University (APU)

After I finished my SPM, I felt confused about my further study. Eduspiral, was so patient to answer all my questions and took us around for a campus tour.
Hui Ying, Diploma in Accounting Graduate from Asia Pacific University (APU)

Accounting degrees usually include a combination of compulsory and elective modules that are designed to provide you with an all-round learning experience. The electives are usually subjects from related fields that you choose based on your interests.

In addition to these, assignments, projects and dissertations are a key part of the overall learning experience. Some subjects in accounting at the undergraduate  level include:

  • Management
  • Introductory Accounting
  • Statistics
  • Microeconomics
  • Marketing
  • Management Accounting
  • Business Communication
  • Macroeconomics
  • Cost Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Financial Management
  • Financial Accounting
  • Business Research Methods
  • Management Accounting
  • Taxation
  • Company Law
  • Management Ethics
  • Auditing
  • International Business
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Strategic Management
  • Accounting Theory and Practice
  • Financial Statement Analysis

What are the ACCA Exemptions for Accountancy Degrees in Malaysia?

EduSpiral has given me great advise to choose the right course. Jun Sern, Business Graduate from KDU University College

EduSpiral has given me great advise to choose the right course.
Jun Sern, Business Graduate from KDU University College

Upon completion of the accountancy degree programme, graduates will have 9 paper exemptions from the total of 14 ACCA papers.

I would recommend students who are weak in the English language to go for the accounting degree course first and then only pursue the ACCA. The ACCA is exam-based and marked in the UK.

Generally, an Accountancy degree from a private university in Malaysia can gain exemptions until the final 5 papers of the ACCA. A maximum of nine papers at the Fundamentals level of the ACCA Qualification can be awarded.

Depending on any existing qualifications you may hold, exemptions can be awarded across:

  • The Foundation level qualifications and
  • the nine Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills exams of the ACCA Qualification.

No exemptions are awarded:

  • for the Strategic Professional exams of the the ACCA Qualification or
  • on the basis of work experience or
  • for any of the exams or modules examined within their post-professional qualifications

Should you have a relevant degree from an ACCA-accredited institution in Malaysia, you may be granted exemptions of up to all 9 Papers at the Fundamentals Level. No exemptions are awarded at the Professional Level.

You will be entitled to exemptions from the ‘Knowledge’ papers of the ACCA Fundamentals level, namely, Accountant in Business, Management Accounting and Financial Accounting. Such graduates will also be entitled to exemptions from the remaining 5 ACCA Fundamentals level ‘Skills’ papers provided they have taken and passed certain specified modules.

ACCA PROFESSIONAL LEVEL (Final 5 papers)

Essentials Module

  • P1        Governance, Risk and Ethics
  • P2        Corporate Reporting
  • P3        Business Analysis

Options Module (any 2 papers)

  • P4        Advanced Financial Management
  • P5        Advanced Performance Management
  • P6        Advanced Taxation
  • P7        Advanced Audit & Assurance

Introducing the ACCA Accelerate Programme

I received a lot of in-depth information about the course & university from EduSpiral. He took us around for a campus tour as well as the hostel in Cyberjaya.
Wen Hang, Actuarial Science at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

All over the world, employers are seeking out ACCA members to take their organisations into the future. That’s because the ACCA Qualification creates strategic thinkers who understand business needs.

The good news is that when you join the Accelerate programme, you get to leap ahead on your journey to becoming an ACCA member – a chartered certified finance professional.

That’s because what you learn on your degree will count towards your ACCA Qualification. So by the time you graduate, you could have completed all the ACCA exams.

And the really great news is you can save considerable money by paying a reduced registration fee, discounted exemptions and special subscription fees. Please note that exemptions must be claimed before the waiver expiry date and at least one exam must be taken before the waiver expiry date.

What’s it like Studying the ACCA Accelerate Programme at a Top Private University in Malaysia?

EduSpiral helped me to transfer my Diploma & everything went smoothly. I also asked him to help my younger brother to find the the right university after his UEC". Haw Chieh (Right), Graduated in Accounting from UCSI University

EduSpiral helped me to transfer my Diploma & everything went smoothly. I also asked him to help my younger brother to find the the right university after his UEC”.
Haw Chieh (Right), Graduated in Accounting from UCSI University

Your university course is ACCA accredited, so it’s already aligned with their approach. In addition, you’ll get to study towards your final ACCA Professional-level exams, if you have the correct exemptions. You should check with your course leader to see if your course has conditional or non-conditional exemptions.

This means you’ll enter the workplace as an ACCA affiliate. You could become a qualified ACCA member in as little as 36 months after you graduate.

And all the while you’re studying with us, you’ll have access to free study resources and the ACCA Careers Job Board. You’ll be part of a worldwide community of ACCA students.

What is the ACCA Accelerate Programme?

Diploma in Accounting Graduate from Asia Pacific University (APU)

After I finished my SPM, I felt confused about my further study. Eduspiral, was so patient to answer all my questions and took us around for a campus tour.
Hui Ying, Diploma in Accounting Graduate from Asia Pacific University (APU)

The programme allows undergraduate students the option to take Professional ACCA papers (maximum 5
ACCA papers) before or after graduating from their degree course.

Students who sign up for the ACCA’s ACCELERATE PROGRAMME would enjoy many benefits, amongst them being:

  • Expedited pathway to becoming an ACCA member. Complete some or all of the ACCA papers before
    graduating.
  • FREE initial registration fees. Your initial ACCA registration fee of GBP79 will be waived
  • FREE annual subscription fees – two years including graduating year subscription fee of GBP170 will be waived
  • DEFERRED exemption fees – You need to only pay the exemption fee two years after graduation.
  • Membership in the exclusive Accelerate club that will provide access to events and promotion by ACCA.
  • Access to employers in the form of: Employer Fair at ACCA events, Trips to employers, Talks and
    Activities organised by employers.
  • Self-improvement opportunities from workshops conducted by ACCA.
  • Networking opportunities with students from various universities, employers and prominent
    ACCA members.
  • Receive Student Accountant Direct alerts — you will receive e-alerts such as career advice, study tips and ACCA news straight into your inbox.

ACCA will support students of ACCELERATE accredited programmes with the following:

  • Free initial registration fee
  • Free annual subscription fee of up to two years after graduation (inclusive of graduation year)
  • Deferred exemption fee payment (up to 24 months after graduation)


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