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15 Best Online Master’s in Accounting Programs 2021

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Best Online Master's Programs

Students seeking stable, lucrative careers in accounting, auditing, and financial management should pursue a master’s in accounting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $71,550 as of 2019. BLS projections data indicate a 4% growth rate for the profession from 2019-2029, keeping pace with the average rate for all occupations.

Strong demand for accountants should persist as organizations continue hiring professionals who understand complex tax rules and financial regulations.

Earning a master’s in accounting can help applicants stand out from the competition for the best-paying accounting jobs at prestigious firms.

Many universities offer master’s in accounting online programs. Below, find our ranking of the best online master’s in accounting programs. We also explain reasons to get an online master’s degree in accounting, what to expect from typical accounting programs, and how to choose the right school.

What Is Accounting?

Accounting is the process of recording and analyzing financial information for public, private, and nonprofit organizations and individuals. Accountants help companies detect fraud, determine cash flow, and figure out if they can make a profit.

Businesses across all industries depend on accounting professionals’ expertise to run efficiently and comply with tax regulations and other laws.

Major employers include accounting, bookkeeping, and tax preparation services; financial firms; and government agencies. The BLS reported over 1.4 million accountants and auditors working in the U.S. as of 2019.

Accounting attracts people who excel with numbers and possess an interest in finance and regulations. Other common traits of these workers include strong organizational, analytical, and communication skills, along with a knack for detail. Accounting professionals spend much of their time working alone, so individuals who enjoy independence do well in this field. Master’s degree-holding accountants often qualify for the best and highest-paying jobs in the field. A master’s in accounting also meets the educational requirements necessary to become a certified public accountant (CPA).

Why Get an Online Accounting Master’s?

Earning a master’s in accounting entails a major commitment of time and money, but the investment can pay off. Accounting programs prepare students to advance in their careers, earn higher salaries, and gain new skills. A master’s also meets the education requirements to qualify for CPA certification. Below, we explain some reasons to consider an online master’s degree in accounting.

Career Advancement
Earning an accounting graduate degree can help students develop the knowledge and skills to qualify for different and better-paying careers. Many accounting employers require or prefer job applicants with master’s degrees.
CPA Certification
Candidates must pass the national CPA exam and meet other state requirements to become licensed CPAs in all states.
Gain New Skills
Completing an online master’s in accounting helps each student develop advanced skills and practices to immediately apply to their careers. Accounting programs also provide training in specialized areas like forensic accounting, government accounting, and auditing.

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

The Top Online Master’s Degrees in Accounting for 2021

Prospective students can use our ranking of the best master’s in accounting online degrees for 2021, to find the right program. See the link below for details about how we rank our schools.

Our Ranking Methodology
  • What the Best Accounting Programs Have in Common

    Schools achieve excellence by pursuing a variety of paths, but many top institutions share similar characteristics. Below, we explain how we find and rank the best online master’s in accounting programs.

    • They Are Accredited. The top universities–and all of the schools on our list–are regionally accredited, a credential that demonstrates they meet minimum quality standards and offer reputable degrees. Going to a regionally accredited college makes it easier to receive financial aid and transfer credit. Keep an eye out for the following regional accrediting agencies:
      • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges
      • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
      • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
      • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
      • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
      • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
      • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
      Online master’s in accounting programs also may hold programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) or Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Attending an AACSB-accredited program increases your chances of receiving an up-to-date, career-relevant education.
    • They Offer Academic Excellence. The best accounting schools maintain standards of academic quality that promote educational attainment. High graduation and student retention rates and low student-to-faculty ratios indicate academic excellence. Accounting programs that employ full-time faculty, like Georgia Southern University’s 22 dedicated full-time accounting faculty members, often offer higher-quality degrees. These factors all impact whether accounting master’s students develop the knowledge and skills to pass the CPA exam and build successful accounting careers.
    • They Are Reputable, Yet Affordable. Top colleges maintain reputations as trustworthy institutions that admit strong applicants and provide a quality education. The best schools also make their programs accessible to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Some colleges offer lower-than-average tuition rates to all, while others provide financial aid opportunities, like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s fellowship program.
    • They Have a Strong Accounting Program. Top schools offer flexible online accounting programs that prepare students for success. Asynchronous accounting master’s programs that are available completely online, like Seton Hall University’s, make it easier for out-of-state learners to complete their degrees. Accounting programs offering strong student support tend to see higher graduation rates as well.

  1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A land grant institution founded in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign serves 47,000 students from more than 100 countries and all 50 states.

    Master of Science in Accountancy

    Illinois' Gies College of Business offers a completely online MS in accountancy with no on-campus requirements. The program educates students living in more than 30 states. The 32-credit degree takes 18-36 months to complete and offers networking opportunities with accountancy alumni from U of I.

    Students take core classes like accounting analysis, managerial accounting, federal taxation, and auditing. Electives explore issues like professional ethics, machine learning for accounting, and infonomics. Illinois' master's in accounting online program also gives participants access to non-credit, self-directed courses through Coursera several times a year.

    Applying to Illinois

    Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree in any discipline with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students from non-business backgrounds must complete prerequisite foundational business courses. The program does not require the GRE/GMAT.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: HLC; AACSB
    • Tuition: $850/credit
    • Required Credits: 32
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Delivery Format: Online
  2. DePaul University
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A Catholic research university in Chicago, Illinois, DePaul University offers more than 300 graduate and undergraduate programs.

    Online Master of Science in Accounting

    DePaul's 48-credit online master of science in accounting (MSA) includes classes like business law for accountants, tax treatment of individuals and property transactions, and accounting theory and policy formulation. All Kellstadt Graduate School of Business faculty members who teach classes in the online MSA program also provide instruction on campus.

    The online MSA typically takes two years to complete, but distance learners can choose an accelerated path to graduate more quickly. The comprehensive master's in accounting online program invites applicants with and without backgrounds in accounting, and the program prepares graduates to sit for the CPA exam. Online MSA students may qualify for federal direct unsubsidized loans.

    Applying to DePaul

    Admission requirements for the online MSA include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants must submit college transcripts, a resume, and a personal statement. The program does not require the GRE/GMAT.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: HLC; AACSB
    • Tuition: $1,080/credit
    • Required Credits: 48 credits
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Delivery Format: Online
  3. George Mason University
    Location

    Fairfax, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The largest public research university in Virginia, George Mason University serves 37,000 students from more than 130 countries. Of all students at Mason, 60% receive financial aid.

    Online Master of Science in Accounting

    The online master of science in accounting (MSA) from Mason's School of Business includes a week-long global residency or international study-tour in a place like Prague, Frankfurt, and London. The modular program offers eight-week classes focused on advanced issues in taxation, the global accounting environment, and fraud and the law.

    Part-time students graduate in two years, but an accelerated option takes as little as 11 months to complete. Mason MSA graduates earn $10,738 more for their starting salaries than those with only a BS in Accounting. Also, 64% of accounting graduates find jobs by graduation.

    Applying to Mason

    Applicants to Mason's online MSA program need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and at least 27 college credits in accounting. The program also requires a current resume, official college transcripts, GRE/GMAT scores, and two letters of recommendation.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC; AACSB
    • Tuition: $975/credit
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Delivery Format: Online
  4. California State University-Sacramento
    Location

    Sacramento, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1947, California State University-Sacramento enrolls more than 31,000 students and features an average class size of 27. The school offers 51 master's programs with 26 concentration options.

    Online Master of Science in Accountancy

    Sacramento State's online MS in accountancy (MSA) from the College of Business Administration prepares graduates to sit for the CPA exam. The flexible, fully online program incorporates instant messaging, streaming video, and a year-round schedule.

    Notable classes include governmental and not-for-profit accounting and a culminating experience in accounting and ethics. The two-year, 30-credit online master's degree in accounting offers an accelerated timeline for those who want to graduate more quickly. Some students need to complete additional foundation courses. The program attracts highly qualified applicants with an average of six years of professional accounting experience.

    Applying to Sacramento State

    Admission requirements for the online MSA program include a bachelor's degree from an accredited college with a minimum 2.5 GPA and a minimum 30% percentile score on the GRE or GMAT. Some applicants may qualify for a GRE/GMAT waiver.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: WSCUC; AACSB
    • Tuition:: $740/credit
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Delivery Format: Online
  5. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1795 as the first public university in the U.S., the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill boasts an endowment of more than $3.6 billion.

    Online Master of Accounting

    Designed for busy working professionals, the online master's in accounting from UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School features the same highly qualified faculty, rigorous curriculum, and peer interaction as the on-campus program. Notable classes include professional communication data, leadership immersion, and analytics for accountants. The program offers concentrations in tax, audit, and financial analysis and reporting.

    Prospective learners can sample the program by attending a live online session. Synchronous classes feature face-to-face conversations with instructors and classmates. The program accepts applicants with any undergraduate background and offers start dates in January, March, June, or September. Students may qualify for a variety of financial aid opportunities, including fellowships.

    Applying to UNC

    The master's in accounting online program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Applicants submit transcripts, two recommendations, a statement of purpose, and a resume. The program also requires GRE/GMAT scores, but offers exemptions in some cases.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC; AACSB
    • Tuition: $1446/credit
    • Required Credits: 36-48 credits (depends on prior coursework)
    • Program Length: 12-36 months
    • Delivery Format: Online (synchronous)
  6. Western New England University
    Location

    Springfield, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A private institution founded in 1919, in Springfield, Massachusetts, Western New England University enrolls nearly 4,000 students from 26 different countries.

    Master of Science in Accounting

    WNE's master's in accounting online program prepares students to take the CPA exam in Connecticut or Massachusetts. The 30-credit program offers four 11-week terms annually, allowing students to graduate in just one year. The college of business organizes accounting majors into cohorts to foster professional connections and networking opportunities.

    The curriculum includes core and elective courses, with the option to add a nine-credit forensic accounting/fraud investigation concentration. The online MSA program welcomes students with any undergraduate degree but requires those without accounting backgrounds to complete eight prerequisite undergraduate accounting courses.

    Applying to WNE

    WNE's MS in accounting online program requires a bachelor's degree in any field from an accredited university. Applicants must submit transcripts, GRE/GMAT scores (waiver available), two recommendations, and answers to essay questions.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: NECHE; AACSB
    • Tuition: $919/credit
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 1 year
    • Delivery Format: Online
  7. Maryville University of Saint Louis
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Established in 1872, by the Society of the Sacred Heart, Maryville University of Saint Louis offers more than 90 academic programs and enrolls 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

    Online Master of Science in Accounting

    Maryville's MS in accounting online program takes as little as 10 months to complete. The 60-credit degree prepares learners for the CPA exam. The curriculum includes four mandatory official Becker CPA exam review classes at the end of the program, one of just a few universities in the country to do so.

    The online MSA program accepts applicants with a bachelor's degree in any discipline, offering a bridge option that includes foundational courses for those without an accounting undergraduate degree. Subject matter experts teach notable courses like advanced auditing, advanced accounting regulation, and advanced business environment and concepts.

    Applying to Maryville

    Maryville's master's in accounting online program requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit official transcripts and a personal statement. The program does not require the GRE/GMAT.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: HLC; ACBSP
    • Tuition: $765/credit
    • Required Credits: 60 credits
    • Program Length: 10 months
    • Delivery Format: Online
  8. Saint Leo University
    Location

    Saint Leo, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A Roman Catholic university founded in 1889 by the Order of Saint Benedict of Florida, Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida, emphasizes community service and volunteerism and welcomes students from all faiths.

    Online Master of Accounting

    Saint Leo's 30-credit master of accounting (MAcc) prepares students for the CPA and certified management accountant exams. Courses include financial statement analysis, cost accounting, and accounting information systems. The fully online program includes access to career development services, student advising, and virtual student life experiences.

    Saint Leo's online MAcc features the same high-quality curriculum as its on-campus version. Accounting majors can apply for state and federal financial aid opportunities, including grants and loans. Graduates work for companies like PriceWaterhouseCoopers, United States Special Operations Command, and Entegra Power Group.

    Applying to Saint Leo

    Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a GMAT score of at least 500. Applicants need two professional recommendations, a resume documenting two years of professional experience, and a statement of goals.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC; ACBSP
    • Tuition: $740/credit
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Delivery Format: Online
  9. Seton Hall University
    Location

    South Orange, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A Roman Catholic university founded in 1856, Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, offers more than 90 majors to over 10,000 students.

    Online Master of Science in Accounting

    Designed for learners with limited backgrounds in accounting, Seton Hall's fully online MS in accounting develops accounting and business skills and prepares students for the CPA exam. The 30-credit curriculum takes as little as 18 months to complete and includes classes like international accounting, tax research, and forensic accounting.

    Seton Hall's Stillman School of Business offers a master's in accounting, which features instruction from distinguished faculty members connected with large public accounting firms and major companies. The program facilitates a variety of networking opportunities with alumni who work for well-known organizations like Prudential, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and Deloitte.

    Applying to Seton Hall

    Applicants to the online MSA program must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college and demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must have scored at least 500 on the GMAT or 152 verbal and 152 quantitative on the GRE. Additional requirements include a resume, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: MSCHE; AACSB
    • Tuition: $1,305/credit
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 18-20 months
    • Delivery Format: Online (asynchronous)
  10. Oklahoma Christian University
    Location

    Edmond, OK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A private university founded in 1950 by the Churches of Christ, Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Oklahoma, enrolls more than 2,100 learners. Around 1,000 students and faculty members participate in mission trips each year.

    Online Master of Accountancy (MAcc)

    OC's 30-credit master's in accounting online program includes courses like accounting research and quantitative techniques, advanced tax accounting, and advanced auditing and professional ethics. The university's graduate business school offers an accredited program that prepares learners for the CPA exam.

    Earning OC's MAcc online takes as little as 12 months, requiring no campus visits. Competitive applicants can request a GMAT/GRE waiver if they hold a minimum 3.25 GPA, at least nine graduate credits with a minimum 3.0 GPA, or an undergraduate minimum 3.0 GPA with at least five years of relevant professional experience.

    Applying to OC

    Applicants to the online MAcc program must hold a bachelor's degree or be enrolled in their last semester of college. They must also demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit acceptable GMAT/GRE scores. Additional requirements include at least 30 credits of accounting coursework and three credits each in finance, microeconomics, and macroeconomics.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: HLC; ACBSP
    • Tuition: $625/credit
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 12 months
    • Delivery Format: Online
  11. University of South Dakota
    Location

    Vermillion, SD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A public research institution founded in 1826 by the Dakota Territory legislature, the University of South Dakota predates statehood by 27 years. South Dakota's flagship university, USD serves nearly 10,000 students.

    Online Master of Professional Accountancy

    The fully online master's in accounting from USD's Beacom School of Business takes 2-4 years to complete, depending on course load, and offers three start dates each year. The curriculum qualifies students to take the CPA exam after graduation.

    Notable classes include contemporary topics in auditing, tax planning and practice, and accounting standards and ethics. Learners can add a data-centric specialization in accounting analytics, which emphasizes using data to make accounting decisions. Those who choose this concentration take nine credits in accounting analytics instead of general accounting electives.

    Applying to USD

    Applicants to the master's in accounting online program must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university and a minimum 2.85 GPA. Additional requirements include a statement of purpose, a resume, GMAT scores, and three letters of recommendation.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation:: HLC; AACSB
    • Tuition:: $466/credit
    • Required Credits:: 30 credits
    • Program Length:: 2 years
    • Delivery Format:: Online
  12. The University of West Florida
    Location

    Pensacola, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida, serves about 12,500 students and offers 70 undergraduate and graduate programs. UWF's Argonauts lead the Gulf South Conference in all-sports trophies and all-time championships.

    Master of Accountancy (MAcc) Online

    UWF's 30-credit online master's degree in accounting focuses on financial and managerial accounting. The curriculum includes core and elective courses lasting 8-16 weeks each. The program also offers a taxation specialization. Most students graduate in 24 months.

    The master's in accounting online program offers specializations in professional taxation or professional accountancy. Classes include commercial law, advanced auditing, and seminar in financial accounting. Out-of-state distance learners in the online MAcc program receive tuition waivers covering up to 90% of the out-of-state portion of their tuition. UWF accepts up to six transfer credits toward the degree.

    Applying to UWF

    Admission requirements for UWF's MAcc program include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a GRE score of at least 140 verbal and 150 quantitative.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC; AACSB
    • Tuition: $385/credit (in-state)
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 24 months
    • Delivery Format: Online
  13. North Carolina State University
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A public research institution founded in 1887 in Raleigh, North Carolina, NC State is the largest university in the Carolinas. The school boasts more than 110 online and distance education programs.

    Online Master of Accounting

    NC State's 31-credit online master's degree in accounting admits new students twice a year, in summer and fall. The program does not require an in-person component. The Poole College of Management started offering the degree in 2019. The curriculum includes courses like advanced commercial law, IT risks and controls, managerial and career effectiveness, and applied financial management.

    Online accounting students receive instruction from the same globally renowned faculty members that teach on campus. Distance learners also get access to advising services, academic assistance, and technical support. Most students take 12-36 months to graduate, but the flexible program allows up to six years to complete the degree.

    Applying to NC State

    The master's in accounting online program requires a bachelor's from a regionally accredited university. Applicants with a non-accounting undergraduate degree must complete seven prerequisite courses. The admissions committee also considers GPA, GMAT scores, and evidence of leadership ability.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC
    • Tuition: $1,102/credit (in-state); $1,948/credit (out-of-state)
    • Required Credits: 31 credits
    • Program Length: 12-36 months
    • Delivery Format: Online
  14. Saint Joseph's College of Maine
    Location

    Standish, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A private Catholic college in Standish, Maine, Saint Joseph's College of Maine got its start in 1912, when the Sisters of Mercy founded it as an institution for women.

    Online Master of Accountancy

    The online master's degree in accounting from SJC includes an interdisciplinary curriculum that prepares learners for the CPA exam. Students with professional accounting backgrounds can receive academic credit for their experiential knowledge. The program features small class sizes and five 10-week terms each year.

    Online master's candidates receive personalized advising from expert teachers, along with experience with problem-based learning. Full-time learners can graduate in one year and part-timers in two years. Notable classes include leadership and relationship management, international accounting, and applied corporate financial management.

    Applying to SJC

    The master's in accounting program accepts applicants with a bachelor's from an accredited university in any discipline. Those from non-business fields may need to complete up to seven preparatory courses. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.5 GPA.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: NECHE
    • Tuition: $574/credit
    • Required Credits: 30-36 credits
    • Program Length: 1-2 years
    • Delivery Format: Online
  15. Georgia Southern University
    Location

    Statesboro, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A public research institution, Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia, offers 141 academic programs across three campuses and online. The school has 72 NCAA conference titles.

    Master of Accounting Online (WebMAcc)

    The 30-credit master's in accounting online program from Georgia Southern's Parker College of Business provides preparation for the CPA exam. The curriculum includes core and elective classes like fraudulent financial reporting, seminar in auditing, and current legal issues. WebMAcc students can add a certificate in forensic accounting or tax.

    Georgia Southern accepts up to six transfer credits from AACSB-accredited programs toward the WebMAcc. Distance learning resources include advising services, an internship program, and the opportunity to join student organizations. The school of accountancy employs 22 full-time accounting and legal studies faculty members.

    Applying to Georgia Southern

    Applicants to the master's in accounting program need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college and must meet accounting prerequisite requirements. The program also requires evidence of professionalism in extracurriculars, coursework, and internship or work experience.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC; AACSB
    • Tuition: $527/credit
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Delivery Format: Online

What To Expect From Master’s in Accounting Programs

Online master’s in accounting programs build a foundation in advanced accounting theory and practice, exploring topics like forensic accounting, financial analysis, and taxation. They prepare graduates for in-demand jobs in accounting, auditing, and finance.

A typical master’s in accounting takes 1-2 years to complete and requires 30-45 credits. Program length varies based on part- or full-time enrollment and whether or not enrollees choose accelerated options. Students with undergraduate degrees in fields unrelated to accounting may need to complete prerequisite courses, adding time to the overall degree length.

Students can choose from specializations in areas like accounting information systems, government accounting, and auditing. Typical courses include advanced financial accounting, financial instruments, accounting ethics, and cost accounting.

Read More About Accounting Programs

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements vary by school, but applicants to graduate accounting programs need a bachelor’s degree at minimum. Most universities do not require an accounting bachelor’s, but those without relevant academic or professional background may need to complete foundational prerequisite courses before enrolling. Applicants typically need a minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA and/or need to earn minimum scores on the GRE or GMAT exams.

The application process usually asks prospective students to submit an application fee, college transcripts, test scores, and a statement of purpose. Many programs require letters of recommendation and a resume documenting relevant professional experience. Some schools also require an interview.

Although not required, applicants may increase their chances of acceptance by submitting evidence of leadership potential or participation in extracurricular or community service activities.

Degree and Concentration Options

Accounting programs offer different types of master’s degrees, including an MS in accounting, a master of accountancy (MAcc), and an MBA in accounting. Each degree prepares students for careers in accounting.

  • MS in Accounting

    An MS in accounting, sometimes called an MSA, provides a broad foundation in advanced accounting principles and prepares students to sit for the CPA exam. Online MSA programs welcome individuals from diverse academic and professional backgrounds.

  • MAcc

    Online MAcc programs usually offer the same courses and provide the same career preparation as MS in accounting programs. Graduates qualify to take the CPA exam and pursue accounting careers.

  • MBA in Accounting

    MBA in accounting programs typically focus more on general business knowledge. Learners gain practical business skills applicable to many different fields.

Most programs offer accounting concentrations/specializations like forensic accounting, public accounting, auditing, and taxation. Because most schools offer accounting as a concentration within a business administration degree, MBA in accounting programs offer specializations less often than other degree types.

Popular Accounting Courses

Curricula vary by school, but all master’s in accounting degrees provide a foundation in advanced accounting fundamentals. They explore issues like financial accounting, business ethics, and accounting information systems. Accounting programs usually include core, elective, and capstone/internship courses. Below, we provide detailed descriptions of some available accounting courses.

Advanced Auditing
This class covers the regulatory, economic, and technological environments of public and private sector auditing. Topics include audit evidence gathering and evaluations, risk analysis, auditing and accounting research, and professional standards. Students develop decision-making, analytical, and technical skills.
Tax Research
Enrollees in this elective course use electronic and traditional paper resources to assess the validity and authority of primary sources for tax data. Coursework emphasizes federal tax research.
Financial Statement Analysis
Learners gain practical skills for analyzing financial statements. Topics include ratio analysis, trend analysis, balance sheet and income statement analysis, and cash flow analysis. The class also covers operating efficiency, free cash flow generation, profitability, and business risk.
Accounting Analytics
This course explores methods for using financial statement data and non-financial data to analyze financial performance. Students learn predictive analytics, data visualization, and other analytics software programs to optimize operations, forecast events, and determine strategy.
Accounting Capstone
As a culminating experience, this class allows learners to apply the knowledge developed during their program in one final research project. Each enrollee develops a project on the accounting topic of their choice with the supervision of faculty members.

How Much Will a Master’s in Accounting Cost?

The cost of a master’s in accounting varies by school. Factors affecting price include the type of college (public or private), program format (online or in-person), and school prestige. Public universities usually offer substantially lower tuition rates than private institutions, and students who can pay in-state tuition typically receive the best price.

Average in-state and out-of-state tuition at public colleges varies significantly by state. Prestigious private universities usually cost the most. Online programs sometimes offer better affordability, with special tuition rates for out-of-state learners. Distance degrees also often provide accelerated options, allowing students to save time and money.

Accounting majors should factor in other costs they may incur, including the price of textbooks and supplies, technology upgrades or repairs, and transportation. Master’s in accounting students can explore financing options to help pay for their education, including student loans, grants, scholarships, and fellowships.

Jobs for Master’s in Accounting Graduates

Master’s in accounting programs prepare students for positions in accounting, auditing, and finance. Graduates often pursue roles as accountants and auditors, financial managers, and financial analysts. Typical salaries in this field start around $70,000 for accountants and auditors, rising to as much as $129,890 for the median annual salary for financial managers.

Below, we describe some potential career paths for master’s in accounting graduates.

  • Accountants and Auditors

    Accountants and auditors work with financial documents to ensure their accuracy. Typical job duties may include organizing financial records, assessing tax debts, finding ways to reduce costs, and recommending best practices to management. They also prepare written reports and give presentations.

    – Required Education: Bachelor’s degree

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): 4%

    – Median Annual Salary: $71,550

  • Financial Managers

    These managers coordinate and make plans for their organizations’ financial goals. Many financial managers start their careers as accountants or financial analysts. They often work for insurance industries, banks, and investment firms. Job duties may include monitoring finances, helping management make financial decisions, and preparing financial reports.

    – Required Education: Bachelor’s degree

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): 15%

    – Median Annual Salary: $129,890

  • Financial Analysts

    Financial analysts help individuals and businesses make decisions about investments and other financial issues. They study business trends, determine the value of companies, assess management, and write reports. They need at least a bachelor’s degree, and many employers prefer applicants with chartered financial analyst certification.

    – Required Education: Bachelor’s degree

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): 5%

    – Median Annual Salary: $81,590

  • Budget Analysts

    Budget analysts create budget reports, review budget proposals, help management analyze proposed plans, and monitor spending to make sure organizations stay within budget. These professionals find employment with the government, businesses, and universities. Budget analysts need excellent communication, analytical, and math skills.

    – Required Education: Bachelor’s degree

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): 3%

    – Median Annual Salary: $76,540

  • Financial Examiners

    Financial examiners ensure that organizations comply with financial laws by reviewing accounts, preparing reports, and monitoring financial conditions. They need strong analytical, math, and writing skills. Financial examiners usually work in either consumer compliance or risk assessment.

    – Required Education: Bachelor’s degree

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): 7%

    – Median Annual Salary: $81,090

Choosing the Right Accounting Graduate Program

Our rankings list is a great place to start, but choosing a master’s in accounting program requires students to consider several factors, including the following:

Accreditation
Attending an accredited school improves your ability to receive financial aid, transfer credits to another university, and qualify for professional certifications. The best accounting programs also hold separate programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Cost
Before applying to accounting programs, research the estimated cost of attendance. Pay attention to in-state versus out-of-state tuition, special rates for distance learners, and financial aid opportunities.
Competitiveness
Schools often report their acceptance rates on their websites. Graduating from a more competitive program can impress prospective employers.
Required Admission Materials
Most schools require applicants to submit college transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, and writing samples.
Prestige
Attending a highly respected school may lead to more job opportunities after graduation. However, degrees from such institutions may cost more.

Why You Should Get Your Master’s in Accounting Online

Earning a master’s in accounting online offers benefits like flexibility, convenience, and affordability. Asynchronous distance education programs allow students to learn anywhere and at any time, fitting school around jobs, family, and other commitments. Online learning appeals to working professionals who want to continue working while pursuing education, returning students who have been out of school for a while, and others seeking more flexible options.

The online learning environment especially suits accounting master’s programs, as students gain technical proficiency in a field that relies on computing knowledge. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the economy and higher education, our current circumstances may allow more people to earn credentials from the comfort of their homes.

Only you can decide if you should earn your master’s in accounting online. Some people learn better in traditional, in-person college experiences. Consider your individual learning style and preferences when making your choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I major in to become an accountant?

    Students seeking accounting careers should major in accounting or a related subject. They can add a concentration or specialization in another area to increase their employability in a more specific area, like government accounting, forensic accounting, or taxation.

  • Can I get an accounting degree online?

    Yes, you can get an accounting degree online. Many universities offer master’s in accounting online programs that provide flexibility, convenience, and affordability for working professionals and others who prefer distance education.

  • What can I do with a master's degree in accounting?

    Master’s in accounting programs develop fundamental accounting and auditing skills. These degrees prepare students for accounting and finance careers, including roles as accountants, auditors, financial managers, and financial examiners. Graduates also receive basic business skills applicable to many other positions.

  • How much do people with a master's in accounting make?

    Salaries vary, but master’s in accounting graduates typically earn a comfortable living. The BLS reports that accountants and auditors made a median salary of $71,550 in 2019, nearly 80% higher than the national median salary for all occupations.

Accredited Online College Programs

Related Reading

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5 Best Bachelor’s in Accounting Programs 2021

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If you desire a career in finance, an accounting degree may be the bachelor's for you. Read our top 15 programs to learn about the undergraduate experience.

Best Master’s in Accounting Programs 2021

Best Master’s in Accounting Programs 2021

May 20, 2021   |   Staff Writers

A master's degree in accounting can lead to a lucrative, rewarding career. Get the details and tips you need to find the right school for your goals.

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