Top Bachelor's-to-Master's Accelerated Accounting Degrees

Updated October 5, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Looking for a faster return on investment while studying accounting? Consider a dual-degree program. Review this year's top BS–to–MS accelerated accounting degrees.

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Accelerated bachelor's-to-master's degree programs offer students an efficient path to earning dual degrees in accounting. These programs typically allow degree-seekers to apply graduate-level credit to both their bachelor's degree and master's in accounting. This allows students to earn their degrees on a compact timeline.

Schools use various names to describe these programs:

Students sometimes confuse bachelor's-to-master's programs with bridge programs. However, the two are entirely different. Bridge programs allow students with bachelor's degrees in non-accounting fields to earn a master's degree in accounting.

Accelerated accounting degrees leading to both bachelor's and master's credentials offer several benefits. For example, they provide a quicker path to completing the educational requirements for taking the certified public accountant (CPA) licensing exam. Use this guide to compare program details and explore a ranked list of the best dual accounting degrees.

Why Pursue a Combined Bachelor's-Master's Program?

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What to Expect From a Dual BS-MS Degree

Accelerated accounting degree programs typically demand the equivalent of five academic years of full-time study. Most curricula require students to dedicate four years to the bachelor's degree and one year to their master's for a total of five years.

In many cases, some or all of the coursework completed during the student's fourth year (senior year) earns dual credit. Eligible courses count towards both a bachelor's and a master's program foundational courses.

Students in dual programs may save 1-2 years compared to traditional degrees. For example, standalone bachelor's accounting programs usually run four years. Standard master's accounting programs often require two years. So, pursuing each degree separately may take six academic years or longer.

Colleges offering dual-degree accounting programs offer several advantages other than shorter time commitments. First, they strive to provide graduates with advanced accounting skills and the potential for higher earnings. Second, these dual programs also offer an efficient way to earn the 150 credit hours of postsecondary schooling required to take the CPA exam in most states.

Degree and Concentration Options

While most combined bachelor's-master's programs culminate in a master's in accounting, some schools allow students to pursue undergraduate majors in several fields. These can include economics, marketing, and mathematics. Some institutions require students to complete a bachelor's in accounting to enroll in the combined bachelor's-master's program.

Some standalone master's degrees offer students concentrations in forensic accounting or taxation. However, most master's programs have a more fixed curriculum, requiring specific accounting courses with few electives or concentration options.

Often, institutions award an MS in accounting, though some programs may offer a master of accounting (MAcc) or MBA.

Admissions Process

Standard application requirements for bachelor's programs include a high school diploma or GED certificate, standardized test scores, and personal statements. Additional requirements may include professional or academic recommendations. Many schools use the Common App, a site that allows students to submit applications to multiple institutions.

While some bachelor's-to-master's accounting programs only accept high-performing students already working toward a bachelor's degree, others accept those without previous college coursework. In some cases, schools may require GMAT scores and/or GRE scores.

Applicants and candidates with high GPAs may qualify for quick admission to the master's track. In other cases, schools do not require dual-degree students to take any standardized tests. Each institution sets its own policies and admission requirements.

Popular Accounting Undergraduate Courses

Undergraduate accounting classes help students develop foundational skills in business, finance, and accounting. In dual degree programs, some courses count toward both the bachelor's and master's degree requirements. Though classes vary by school, we explore several common courses below:

Popular Accounting Graduate Courses

Master's accounting courses explore advanced topics to deepen students' understanding of the accounting field. Some classes may develop specific accounting skills like forensics or taxation. We explore common graduate-level accounting courses below:

How Much Do Accounting 3+1 or 4+1 Programs Cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average tuition for four-year undergraduate programs was $16,647 in the 2019-20 academic year. Factors impact tuition include whether a school is public or private and whether students are state residents. In-state public schools typically offer the most affordable tuition.

NCES data also shows the average tuition for graduate programs was $19,792 in the 2019-20 academic year — higher than undergraduate tuition. Because 3+1 and 4+1 programs combine courses across degree levels, students should investigate how institutions charge tuition.

Some programs, for example, charge students undergraduate tuition for the first four years of enrollment and then graduate tuition for the final year of study. Other schools may charge tuition per course based on degree designation.

Combined bachelor's-master's programs are sometimes more affordable than pursuing even accounting bachelor's and master's degrees separately, as they require full-time enrollment for a reduced number of years. This can translate to savings of 1-2 years of full-time tuition.

Should You Get Your Degrees Online?

Online accounting programs offer several benefits like flexibility. Many programs include at least some asynchronous classes, which don't hold scheduled meetings and allow learners to complete assignments on a less rigid schedule. This provides flexibility for students with other obligations. Some online degrees charge in-state or otherwise reduced tuition for distance learners.

However, prospective applicants should carefully consider their learning style before committing to an online degree. Distance education requires time management, discipline, and self-sufficiency. Some students learn best in a classroom setting with live instruction, so online degrees may not suit their needs.

Selecting the Right Accelerated Accounting Program

When researching accelerated accounting programs, make sure the school is accredited. Accreditation verifies the program comes from a school that conforms to standards of academic excellence.

Learners should also consider the program size and student-to-teacher ratio: Small classes may mean more individualized attention from instructors, which can help students succeed academically and lead to more networking opportunities. Career services are also a relevant factor to consider. Research whether prospective programs offer internships, resume workshops, or job boards.

Best Accelerated Accounting Undergrad-to-Grad Degrees

Explore our ranking of the top five bachelor's-to-master's accelerated accounting degrees for 2022. The link below provides more information about how we rank schools.

New Jersey City University

NJCU in Jersey City, New Jersey, offers around 80 undergraduate and graduate programs. Created in 1927 as a teacher training school, NJCU offers applied learning experiences, including cooperative internships and study-abroad opportunities.

BS/MS Bridge Program in Accounting

NJCU's School of Business Accounting offers a data analytics-focused BS/MS bridge program in accounting that meets the educational requirements to pursue licensure as a certified public accountant in New Jersey. MS classes include analysis of financial statements, contemporary accounting issues, federal taxation of business entities, and business law for managers.

The bridge program includes a BS phase and an MS phase. Accounting faculty bring real-world experience to small classes that allow for teamwork and personalized plans of study. Students can pursue internship opportunities at companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers, SobelCo, and Withum. The accounting department offers career development assistance, including an accounting career day.

NJCU's Accelerated Experience

The BS section of NJCU's accelerated program requires 120 credits, including nine graduate credits. In the MS phase of the program, each enrollee completes an additional 21 graduate credits. The initial nine graduate credits count toward the BS and the MS. Students can save money by paying undergraduate tuition for the first nine graduate credits.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Undergraduate Tuition: $433/credit (in state); $776/credit (out of state)
  • Graduate Tuition: $774/credit (in state); $1,235/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 150 (120 undergraduate and 30 graduate)
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Admissions
    • Process: Enroll in NJCU's BS in accounting program and apply for the BS/MS bridge program after completing 80 undergraduate credits; submit essays explaining goals for the program
    • GPA: 3.0 overall and 3.25 in accounting subjects

Montclair State University

Founded in 1908, New Jersey's Montclair serves more than 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students in over 300 academic programs.

Accounting (Combined BS/MS)

Montclair offers an accredited combined BS/MS in accounting program that prepares students to take the CPA exam in New Jersey. A partnership between Becker CPA Review and Montclair allows enrollees to take a highly discounted CPA review class. The program uses rolling admissions and accepts applications year-round.

The 150-credit, accelerated, five-year program develops an advanced understanding of current accounting, tax, and auditing issues. The curriculum explores auditing theory and practice, corporate controllership, cost accounting, and taxation of individuals. A capstone course in the final semester helps learners synthesize accounting knowledge gained throughout the program.

Montclair's Accelerated Experience

Montclair's five-year combined BS/MS in accounting program allows accounting majors to take swing courses in their senior year that count toward their bachelor's and master's degrees. This saves money by letting students pay the undergraduate tuition rate for up to nine graduate credits.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Undergraduate Tuition: $6,162/semester (in state); $10,221/semester (out of state)
  • Graduate Tuition: $722/credit
  • Required Credits: 150
  • Program Length: 5 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Admissions
    • Process: Must be current Montclair undergraduate students working on the bachelor's portion of the program; submit an online application, college transcripts, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation.
    • GPA: 3.0
    • Cost: $60

Manhattan College

Manhattan in Riverdale, New York, serves nearly 4,000 students as a Lasallian Catholic institution founded by the Brothers of the Christian Schools in 1853.

BS/MBA in Professional Accounting

Manhattan's O'Malley School of Business' five-year BS/MBA in professional accounting program features experiential learning opportunities like internships, international study trips, and entrepreneurial projects. At least two of the required 12 MBA classes must be experiential, giving learners the chance to receive practical professional development. Students develop risk management, leadership, and analytical decision-making skills.

Notable courses include information technology assurance and audit, advanced strategic management, and federal income taxation I and II. The program prepares graduates to pursue certified public accountant credentials with a curriculum that meets New York's education requirements for the certification. Students can take the CPA exam either during or after school.

Manhattan's Accelerated Experience

Manhattan's accelerated bachelor's-to-master's accounting program allows each enrollee to take six MBA credits during their senior year that satisfy undergraduate and graduate degree requirements at the same time. Students pay the undergraduate tuition rate for these six credits, saving money. The accelerated degree takes five years to complete.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Undergraduate Tuition: $44,100/year
  • Graduate Tuition: $1,210/credit
  • Required Credits: 153
  • Program Length: 5 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus or online
  • Admissions
    • Process: Apply for the MBA in the summer before their senior year in the BS in professional accounting program; a completed online application, official transcripts, a resume, and two letters of recommendation
    • GPA: 3.0
    • Standardized Tests: GMAT or GRE (waiver available)
    • Cost: $75

Marist College

Marist in Poughkeepsie, New York, offers 47 undergraduate and 14 graduate programs, including several online options. The school serves about 5,000 undergraduate and about 1,400 graduate students.

Dual Degree Program in Accounting

Marist offers a dual-degree program in accounting that delivers a BS in accounting and an MS in professional accountancy in four years and four months. Graduates can meet the education requirements to pursue CPA licensure and employment with accounting firms in early September after graduating.

The program includes instruction from faculty members who maintain relationships with accounting firms and corporations. The curriculum requires classes like business valuations, tax research, international accounting standards, and advanced auditing. Each enrollee takes an eight-week data analytics bootcamp in the fall semester of their senior year.

This accredited program offers internships during the busy winter accounting season.

Marist's Accelerated Experience

An undergraduate accounting major in the dual-degree program can take up to 12 credits for the MS in professional accountancy during their senior year. This saves time and money, with enrollees paying the undergraduate tuition rate for up to 12 credits.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Undergraduate Tuition: $44,360/year (includes tuition and fees)
  • Graduate Tuition: $1,070/credit
  • Required Credits: 150
  • Program Length: 4 years and 4 months
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Admissions
    • Process: Must be declared accounting major at Marist and in at least the second semester of sophomore year
    • GPA: 3.0 (cumulative and accounting)
    • Standardized Tests: Not required for applicants with a minimum 3.0; GMAT may be required for applicants with GPAs below 3.0

Miami University

This "public Ivy," founded in 1809, Oxford, Ohio's MU enrolls more than 19,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Almost 100% of learners complete at least one internship before they graduate.

Combined Bachelor's/Master's Degree in Accountancy

MU's combined bachelor's/master's in accountancy (MAcc) program from the Farmer School of Business takes just four years to complete. Graduates qualify to take the CPA exam in Ohio and most other states. This MAcc boasts an over-95% job placement rate, with graduates taking jobs in major cities throughout the U.S.

The 150-credit curriculum includes classes like financial statement auditing, federal income tax accounting, managerial cost accounting, and organizational behavior and theory. The program also offers opportunities to study abroad and prepare for the CPA exam. Students must attend full time.

MU's Accelerated Experience

MU offers one of the fastest accelerated bachelor's-to-master's accounting programs. Enrollees take all required undergraduate courses in the first three years of study and spend their fourth year completing the full 30-credit MAcc curriculum in two semesters. Learners must complete 128 credits before they can request to be classified as graduate students.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Undergraduate Tuition: $16,704/two semesters (in state); $37,380/two semesters (out of state)
  • Graduate Tuition: $6,403/semester (in state); $6,403/semester (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 150 (120 undergraduate and 30 graduate)
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Admissions
    • Process: Complete a minimum of 64 credits and all Miami plan, business core, and sophomore- and junior-level accountancy coursework by the end of junior year to qualify; unofficial transcripts, a personal statement, and a resume
    • GPA: 3.25
    • Standardized Tests: GMAT or GRE
    • Cost: $50

Common Questions About Dual Accounting Degrees

Can you do undergrad and grad in accounting at the same time?

Yes. Some institutions offer combined programs that allow you to enroll full time and complete both a bachelor's degree and a master's in accounting.

How long does an accelerated BS-MS in accounting program take?

Many accelerated dual degrees take 4-5 years of full-time study. Students begin graduate-level coursework in their third or fourth year of study as they complete their undergraduate requirements.

Is a combined bachelor's and master's accounting program worth it?

Combined programs are useful for students looking to complete the credits needed to qualify for CPA licensure more quickly. Before enrolling, learners should consider the rigor of these accelerated programs, which do not typically allow part-time enrollment.

Is a master's necessary for a CPA?

No, CPA licensure does not require a master's degree. However, every state requires prospective CPAs to complete 150 credits of college coursework, while a typical bachelor's degree only requires 120 credits. Completing a master's degree can help students achieve the 150-credit minimum while also earning an advanced credential that can boost career prospects and salary potential.

Featured Image: Eva-Katalin / E+ / Getty Images

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