Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to identify the underlying motivations of Australian and international students for studying accounting and entering the accounting profession. Design/methodology/approach - The study reports results from a cohort of second-year accounting students drawing on the theory of reasoned action (TRA) to assess intentions and behaviours in making decisions, particularly in relation to employment choice. The study utilises a validated attitude to accounting scale (AAS) which measures how the accounting profession is viewed by students generally, and more specifically, differences in attitudes towards accounting and the accounting profession between Australian and international students. Findings - The study finds that students have a positive attitude towards accounting as a profession. However, there are significant differences between Australian and international students levels of interest in accounting and attitudes towards the work of accountants. Research limitations/implications - It is recognised that the differences in attitudes towards accounting between Australian and international students may be linked with motivations to pursue accounting based on personal, cultural and social influences. A limitation of the study is that international students are treated as a homogeneous group. Practical implications - The findings of the study have implications for marketing accounting education internationally; in particular, acknowledging the impact of different attitudes towards accounting by international students. Originality/value - The study not only addresses motivation to study accounting but also attitudes towards the accounting profession. By applying the TRA, the study has identified that government policy may influence motivation of international students towards accounting and the accounting profession.