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.
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Top Online Programs
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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.
Top 10 Best Online Accounting Grad Schools
||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
||Chapel Hill, NC
||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
||The University of Texas at Dallas
||University of Connecticut
||Golden Gate University-San Francisco
||San Francisco, CA
||Western Governors University
||Salt Lake City, UT
||University of Missouri-Columbia
||University of Alabama at Birmingham
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.
The Top Online Master’s Degrees in Accounting
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kenan-Flagler Business School is an award-winning division of UNC's Chapel Hill campus. Its master of accounting (MAC) program is offered to both traditional students and distance learners. One of the best online master's in accounting, this program begins with a required week-long orientation and leadership immersion on campus where students kick off the program, earn credit, and network with Big 4 and middle-market firm representatives. All other coursework is conducted online. The program's 45-hour core curriculum covers basic accounting principles with financial analysis, quantitative methodology, behavioral sciences, and leadership skills. While there are no other requirements to appear on campus, distance learners are welcome to participate in campus-based recruiting interviews in September, as well as an optional internship experience that runs from January to March.
Lectures, reading, and assignments are done asynchronously, while class discussions with professors are conducted in real time via livestream technology. This competitive online master's in accounting program also admits non-accounting majors who have taken at least 12 credit hours of accounting courses. Degree candidates who lack proper prerequisites will have these classes added to their program, lengthening their time to completion. Most students complete the degree in 15 to 24 months, though candidates may take 36 months to finish if necessary. Classes begin in June and December of each year.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Established in 1867, UI maintains a long-established reputation as a preeminent leader in higher education. With a nationally recognized academic library, a research park known for launching several startup companies, and the fastest supercomputer on a college campus, UI provides a fertile environment for innovation.
UI offers a master's in accounting online focused on developing cutting-edge analytic capabilities and outstanding leadership skills. With an emphasis on hands-on practice, the program delivers coursework entirely online. Students complete 32 credits within 18-36 months, including at least 20 credits in accounting and four credits of non-accounting coursework.
Services for online students include free synchronous online writing assistance and workshops. The school maintains a rolling admissions policy; applicants must provide GRE or GMAT scores. Students interested in earning additional credits toward the minimum required for the certified professional accountant (CPA) exam may also complete coursework without applying for formal admission to the program. UI holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Texas at Dallas
At UT Dallas, aspiring accounting professionals have the opportunity to customize an online master's in accounting according to their career interests. The MS in accounting, which is available wholly online, offers a broad spectrum of core and elective classes in accounting and business. The 36-hour MSA is composed of 12 hours of business core courses and nine hours of accounting core courses. Remaining credit hours are chosen from an exhaustive menu of elective courses; available options include an on-site internship or CPA review classes. UTDallas' master's in accounting online is designed for working students, and the program can be completed at a pace that suits the individual student. Most MSA candidates finish in 18 to 36 months.
Applicants ideally hold a bachelor's degree in accounting, but all majors are considered for admission. If necessary, graduate-level prerequisite courses may be required before beginning the program curriculum. Distance learners at UT Dallas manage classwork via the Blackboard learning management platform, and classes follow a semester calendar. All study is asynchronous. Interested students should be aware that Texas law requires that 15 hours of the MSA degree must be completed on campus to qualify a graduate for Texas CPA eligibility. Students in other states may be eligible to sit for the exam, but should check with their state's Board of Public Accountancy.
University of Connecticut
UConn's business program, which boasts accreditation by AACSB International, offers a customizable online master's in accounting degree program. This master of science (MS) in accounting degree can be earned entirely online and tailored to each student's career interests. Curriculum consists of one required course of foundational study in either taxation, financial accounting, or managerial accounting. The remaining nine courses are selected from a comprehensive list of special topics within the industry, including advanced assurance services or accounting and disclosure for not-for-profit entities.
While all courses are conducted online, the program begins with a required four-day in-residence course on the Storrs, Connecticut campus. This class is only offered in May. Distance learning at UConn is primarily asynchronous, though some professors do require occasional synchronous activities. This master of accounting online program is designed to be completed by a full-time student in eight months, while part-time curriculum can be completed over several semesters. All graduates, regardless of time to completion, will have meet state requirements to sit for the CPA exam.
Golden Gate University-San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Founded in 1901, GGU provides rigorous business education focused on management, law, accounting, and taxation. With satellite locations in Silicon Valley and Seattle, GGU ranks among the nation's leading private, nonprofit educational institutions preparing students for ambitious professional careers.
GGU offers an accounting master's degree that requires 45 credits; most students complete the program within 2-4 years. Requirements include 33 core credits and 12 additional credits in one of five concentration areas: taxation; financial accounting and reporting; forensic accounting; internal auditing; and management accounting.
The school maintains a notable commitment to providing services for online learners, including individualized tutoring and access to a student services adviser to help with course selection and career planning. Online students also receive significant job search support, including career fairs and networking events at the San Francisco campus. GGU holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Founded in 1917 and based in Waltham, Massachusetts, Bentley provides professional educational preparation for business careers. Located in an economic hub renowned for its startup culture and large thriving companies, Bentley ranks among the leading business schools in New England.
Bentley offers a customizable 30-credit online accounting master's program. Students complete 10-13 courses, including four core courses, two accounting electives, and up to four unrestricted electives. Elective course options include international dimensions of accounting, tax factors in business decisions, and a research internship. Prerequisite foundation courses for admission include managerial statistics, financial statement analysis, and business economics. Students with an appropriate background may waive the foundation coursework requirements.
Students may also enroll in an 18-month accelerated online program. Admission requirements include a GRE or GMAT score, though the program waives this requirement for qualified students. Bentley holds accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Bentley's accounting program holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Western Governors University
Salt Lake City, UT
An online school founded in 1996, WGU awards all degrees based on demonstration of practical competencies. Incorporating industry-driven design of online master's programs, accounting courses at WGU reflect the school's collaborative approach with employers.
WGU's online master's in accounting requires 10 courses, including a capstone project. Students must complete at least eight units per six-week term, and graduate within 12-27 months. Designed for experienced working professionals, the program delivers all classes asynchronously. The curriculum helps prepare students for the most highly regarded industry credentials, such as the CPA and certified internal auditor (CIA) exams; it also meets the 150-hour requirement for exam candidates in most states.
WGU does not require students to complete assignments on a specific schedule, enabling learners to set their own pace. WGU holds accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, and the accounting program holds accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Auburn hosts one of the nation's top online accounting master's programs. Though the curriculum totals 30 credit hours, only 12 of them are considered core courses. Students complete the program with 18 credit hours of classes that focus on specialized topics like advanced investing, IT auditing, advanced business law, and more. While coursework is conducted online, all degree candidates are required to attend a two-day residential course in late April, shortly before concluding the program. Students spend this this Auburn MAcc Leadership Summit attending leadership workshops, seminars, and networking events.
Admission to Auburn's master's in accounting online is competitive, and requires an undergraduate business degree, prior academic performance, and excellent GMAT scores. Online learning at Auburn may be synchronous or asynchronous, depending on the student's preference. Campus classes may be live-streamed for online viewing; they are also recorded and immediately made available for later study. Exams must be proctored, however, and students are expected to arrange proctoring within the school's parameters. Working students generally finish the MAcc within two years, while full-time students can complete the program in 12 months. All graduates are fully eligible to sit for the Alabama CPA exam.
University of Missouri-Columbia
As the state's largest university and an established leader in business education, MU focuses on developing leadership rooted in diversity, inclusion, and respect. Founded in 1839, MU ranks among the nation's top research schools, known for its nuclear reactor research, university-owned television network affiliate, and on-campus academic health center.
The school's master's accounting online program requires 30 credits which students complete over a minimum of three consecutive semesters. Most students graduate within 1-3 years. Admission requirements include GMAT or GRE scores and candidate interviews; students currently employed in accounting may waive some of the admission requirements.
Online students benefit from access to professional development workshops, internship and job search assistance, and invitations to attend on-campus job fairs. The school also boasts higher than average pass rates for the CPA exam. MU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commision, and its accounting program holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Part of the University of Alabama System, UAB maintains a vibrant urban campus recognized as the largest research organization and employer in the state. With an emphasis on diversity and socially conscious education, the school also receives accolades for its research and community engagement.
The school's fully online master's in accounting requires 30 credits; students working at an accelerated pace can complete the degree in five semesters. Core courses include corporate governance, business law, and taxation. Students can choose up to nine credits of electives. The school also maintains a flexible policy for transfer credit, and offers a 24-credit bridge program for students with an undergraduate degree in a discipline other than accounting. Services for online students include around-the-clock technical support.
UAB holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and its accounting program holds accreditation from the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business.
University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL
Established in 1925 and based in Coral Gables, Florida, UM boasts a prime location in a city renowned for its multiculturalism, sustainability, and LGBTQ+-inclusive culture. As a major private research university with three campuses in the county, the school takes pride in its community engagement and culture of belonging.
The school offers a rigorous master's in accounting online. Most students complete the degree within 16-20 months, depending on whether they select the CPA track, 40 credits, or the non-CPA track, 32 credits. Students take one seven-week class at a time, and may select one of four customizable options tailored to their career goals and interests. The CPA track requires 10 courses and 20 months to complete, while the non-CPA track requires eight courses and takes 16 months. Candidates for admission may receive a GRE or GMAT waiver.
UM holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, and the accounting program holds accreditation from the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business.
Professionals with and without prior formal training in accounting are eligible for Syracuse's online MS in professional accounting program. The 30-hour core of this online master's of accounting degree emphasizes the specialized skills required of professional accountants, such as forensic analysis, international accounting and reporting, and fraud examination. Elective credits focus on career-specific topics like supply chain management, venture capital, or corporate financial strategy. Though individual course plans vary, Syracuse offers this program in three iterations.
The 12-month accelerated master in accounting online is designed for motivated students with a solid foundation in accounting. This program's coursework is a blend of weekly live-streamed synchronous class and asynchronous study. Classes are 12 weeks in length. Alternatively, a 15-month option is suggested for students who intend to work full-time while completing the program. Finally, students who lack foundational training in the field may take any necessary prerequisite courses; typically, two to six classes are required. Students who follow this path generally finish within 24 months. All graduates of this program are eligible to sit for the CPA exam in New York and other applicable states. Online study at Syracuse is structured to mimic popular social media networks, and is designed to facilitate networking opportunities among students and faculty.
Though many top online accounting master's programs are available, Rutgers University offers the only one that focuses on the governmental side of the industry. Rutgers'master of accountancy in governmental accounting is ideal for aspiring CPAs preparing for the NJ licensing examination, practicing CPAs employed by government or non-profit organizations, professionals seeking the Certified Government Financial Manager credential, and accountants planning to specialize in government financial management. The program's curriculum examines the application of accounting, auditing, ethics, and business management skills within the governmental and nonprofit sectors. All courses in this AACSB-accredited program are delivered exclusively online, and study is asynchronous.
Admission to Rutgers' master's program is competitive, and restricted to applicants who hold accounting or business undergraduate degrees. Non-accounting majors must add two prerequisite courses to the 30-hour curriculum. Rutgers also offers an online dual degree option, combining the master of accountancy with a master of public administration. In addition to advanced skills in governmental accountancy, students in this program develop expertise in public administration management. By combining these two programs, students can save 12 credit hours. All courses are delivered via Blackboard, classes follow a semester calendar. Rutgers does not charge out-of-state tuition fees to students who do not reside in New Jersey.
Colorado State University-Global Campus
Founded in 2007 and based in Greenwood Village, CSU Global serves as the first completely online state university of the public Colorado State University system solely devoted to serving the needs of distance learners.
The school's online accounting master's degree comprises 30 credits, including six elective credits and a capstone. Coursework includes forensic accounting, cost accounting, and international accounting. With simplified transfer policies, credit for military training, military discounts on tuition, no student fees, and the same tuition for in-state and out-of-state students, CSU Global demonstrates its commitment to making higher education accessible.
Benefits for online students include access to around-the-clock real-time tech support, live tutoring in accounting, and a state-of-the-art virtual library. Additionally, an online writing lab provides feedback within 24 hours.
CSU Global holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, and the accounting program holds accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus
Established in 1890 as a public research university, OU receives recognition for its prominent museums, esteemed athletic programs, and enrollment of National Merit Scholars. Recognized for its strong programs in entrepreneurship and international business, OU boasts an ongoing commitment to academic excellence in business education. OU's master's in accounting online comprises 33 credits delivered in modules of two courses each: one 16-week accounting course and one eight-week business course.
Most students complete the program in less than two years of full-time study, and the program boasts a 74% pass rate for first-time CPA exam test-takers. OU offers a unique international accounting study abroad option to online students: a three-credit two-week course in international financial statement analysis, including on-site visits in London, Brussels, and Paris. Completion of the study abroad option results in a certificate in international financial reporting through the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
OU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Regis is a Denver-based private Catholic college that is known for its commitment to providing excellent distance education programs. Its MS in accounting degree program is based on the same ethical principles that drive traditional Jesuit education. Degree candidates can customize the 30-credit hour curriculum to support their particular career paths as they meet eligibility requirements for CPA or CMA licensure. Regis's MSA core is composed of three classes that cover accounting ethics, financial communications, and financial analysis. Students complete the remaining 18 credit hours from a lengthy catalogue of elective courses that explore relevant topics in public, government, corporate, and nonprofit accounting. An on-site internship may be arranged at an approved location for elective credit. This master's in accounting online program culminates in a capstone business strategic planning project.
Students with undergraduate degrees in any major may apply to Regis's online MSA program; non-accounting majors will be expected to take up to 18 credit hours of fundamental accounting courses, depending on proficiency and prior academic experience. Distance education at Regis is conducted through its WorldClass learning platform. Classes are delivered in accelerated eight-week sessions, and all learning is asynchronous. Students may begin the MSA program at any of Regis's six available start dates during the year.
University of St. Francis
As a Catholic university established in 1920 in the Franciscan tradition, USF maintains campuses located in Joliet, Illinois, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. USF offers private higher education rooted in liberal arts, service, and leadership. The flexible, self-paced master's in accounting online at USF comprises 36 credits, including 12 credits for the accounting concentration and an experiential learning project. Coursework topics focus on international accounting, fraud examination, taxation, and financial statement analysis.
Students may begin the accounting concentration for the MBA program immediately upon acceptance, and may complete the full program in 12-18 months through a hybrid option, involving both on-campus and online coursework. Students may transfer up to nine credits of previous coursework, and USF offers bridge programs and dual degree options for professionals seeking a career change.
USF holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commision and its accounting program holds accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Florida Institute of Technology-Online
Established in 1958 as a private research university with its main campus based in the Space Coast region of the state, Florida Tech offers many specialized graduate programs. Delivering its online master's of accounting entirely online and asynchronously, Florida Tech offers six start dates per year. The program comprises 36 credits of eight-week courses, including directed electives and a three-credit capstone in strategic management.
Core coursework focuses on financial management; specialization options include government and nonprofit accounting, international accounting, and strategic cost management. Online students receive around-the-clock technical support, access to online library materials, and individualized on-demand tutoring through the school's partnership with smarthinking. Active duty military service members, veterans, and their spouses and dependents receive a 10% tuition discount.
Florida Tech holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the accounting program holds accreditation from the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.
Florida Atlantic University
With its main campus in Boca Raton and seven campuses in south Florida, FAU maintains a vibrant, modern educational environment. Established in 1964 and recognized for its notable commitment to space research, FAU ranks among the most culturally and ethnically diverse of the state's higher education institutions. FAU offers a flexible, self-directed master's in accounting online. The program requires a minimum of 30 credits and 10 courses. The curriculum prepares students for professional examinations in accounting, including those for graduates seeking the CPA and CIA credentials.
The program maintains a selective admissions policy favoring students with accounting degrees; students without a relevant bachelor's degree must complete additional foundation courses and the program does not accept transfer credits from other schools. Students must provide evidence of a minimum 500 GMAT or total 300 GRE score, plus a minimum undergraduate 3.0 GPA to maximize their chances for admission.
FAU holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and its accounting program holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Established in 1865 and based in Towson, Maryland, TU maintains a large suburban campus just north of Baltimore. As a regional public university, Towson boasts recognized achievements in teacher training, unique e-business program offerings, and strong community outreach. Towson offers a master's in accounting online focused on business advisory services.
Core coursework includes sustainability accounting, seminars on special current topics in accounting, and two courses on tax policy and taxation of entities. Students complete a three-credit graduate internship, and can complete up to six credits of independent supervised research based on their interests. The program also offers an accelerated CPA preparation course in the summer. Admission requirements include GRE or GMAT scores and a minimum 3.0 GPA for full admission, or a 2.7 minimum for conditional admission.
Towson holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and its accounting program holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Located in Clinton and established in 1946, MC offers a Southern Baptist-affiliated higher education environment with an emphasis on affordability and the personal connections of small class sizes. The school's master's in accounting online program requires 30 credits of coursework with a focus on accounting theory, concepts, and applications. The curriculum includes elective options, such as CPA review coursework, fraud examination, and data analytics. Students complete 15 elective credits tailored toward their interests, including six credits of general MBA electives.
Most students complete the program within 1-2 years. Admission requirements include GMAT scores, though the school waives this requirement for students with a 3.0 GPA or higher. As a recipient of the prestigious Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation, the accounting program maintains strong connections with a network of employers. Online services for students include career and internship placement assistance.
MC holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges and its accounting program holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and founded in 1964, NSU operates as a private nonprofit institution with programmatic offerings in technology, business, and health sciences. Recognized for its emphasis on lifelong learning, accessibility, and appreciation for diversity, NSU ranks among the state's premier research universities. The school offers a master's in accounting online with an opportunity to complete the full program within one year. Students can choose one of three specializations: public accounting, management accounting, or taxation.
Designed for professionals currently working in accounting, the program comprises 33-51 credits, depending on the student's undergraduate major. Classes take place during evenings and on weekends. The program maintains robust partnerships with the industry and focuses on developing student leadership in a global context with an emphasis on social responsibility, professional ethics, and critical thinking. Students may begin the program in August, January, or May.
NSU holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges and its accounting program holds accreditation from the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.
The University of West Florida
Founded in 1967 and located in Pensacola, with five additional regional locations, UWF receives recognition for excellence in athletics and space research. UWF offers an accelerated 36-credit master's in accounting online that students can complete in 16 months. Coursework covers commercial law, business analytics, and corporate taxation.
The program ranks among the most affordable and military friendly programs in the state; UWF offers discounted tuition to military service members, veterans, and students employed by partner institutions. The program maintains selective admissions policies, admitting only applicants with significant undergraduate coursework in accounting, and giving preference to students with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Students with a GPA over 3.25 may receive a GRE or GMAT waiver.
UWF holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and its accounting program holds accreditation from the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business.
California State University-Sacramento
Located close to the state's capital in a bustling and culturally rich urban environment, Sacramento State offers diversity and affordable education, taking pride in its commitment to public service, outreach programs for minorities, and community engagement. The master's in accounting online at Sacramento State uses a cohort structure and requires 30 credits and 18 months of full-time study, including a three-credit capstone in accounting ethics and professional responsibility.
Each class spans six weeks, with synchronous meetings once a week. Instructors maintain regular synchronous office hours for online students. Students without significant undergraduate accounting experience must complete 1-7 additional credits of foundational coursework. To ensure that students can complete their degree at an accelerated pace, the program offers all courses year-round.
Sacramento State holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the accounting program holds accreditation from the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business.
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 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.
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
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 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 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 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Guide to a Master's in Accounting
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Best Master's In Accounting