Best Online Master’s Degree Programs 2022
| Margi Williams Modified on May 16, 2022
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A master's in accounting online is a graduate degree that teaches students advanced accounting and financial analysis skills. Attendees learn how to prepare and interpret financial statements and use accounting to make business decisions.
Many programs offer concentrations in auditing, taxation, and forensic accounting. Classes may be a mix of core and elective courses. Online accounting courses may cover tax law, financial management, and financial reporting.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), enrollment in online courses has increased significantly in recent years. As of 2019, the NCES reported that 42.3% of graduate students were enrolled in at least one distance education course. This number has undoubtedly increased over the course of the pandemic.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the accounting profession will grow by 7% from 2020 to 2030. Accountants with advanced degrees have more opportunities for career progression. Skills learned in a master's program help accountants keep up with the ever-changing technological landscape to better serve both management and clients.
What to Expect From a Master's in Accounting Online
The requirements for a master's in accounting vary among schools and programs. Similar to on-campus master’s degrees programs, admission to some online master's in accounting programs require a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Some programs also require you to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or a similar exam.
Students can specialize in auditing and financial reporting. They may also focus on one of the following: tax planning and compliance, business or financial analysis, or government contracting. Students also learn about accounting software and other technologies.
How Does an Online Accounting Degree Differ From an On-Campus Master's?
Campus classes provide a more traditional college experience, offering face-to-face interaction with professors and classmates. Online classes provide students with more autonomy and allow students to learn at an individualized pace. Students who thrive in more structured learning environments may prefer campus classes.
Online programs make college degrees more accessible for many students — particularly those who are working full time, have family obligations, or live far from the college campus.
Similar to on-campus degrees, academic excellence is the standard for online master’s in accounting programs. These degrees require students to complete coursework and assessments to achieve student learning outcomes.
Some online master’s in accounting programs require students to log in during scheduled class times. Many are asynchronous, meaning students can access lectures and other materials at their convenience.
Attendees study at their own pace, completing assignments when they have time. For working professionals with obligations outside of school, distance learning can be a great option.
Both formats allow accounting students to network and build relationships with professors and other students. However, graduate students completing online programs may pay lower tuition costs due to program length, textbook-free learning options, or online-specific scholarship options.
|Factor||Online Program||On-Campus Program|
|Cost||$485-$940 per credit||$700-$1,800 per credit|
|Course Load||24-30 credits||24-48 credits|
|Program Length||1-2 years||1-6 years|
|Scheduling||100% online accounting programs are available. Synchronous formats allow students to complete coursework on their own schedule. Asynchronous programs arrange virtual “live” classroom sessions.||Classes take place in a physical classroom at scheduled times. Some programs offer hybrid formats that include both a physical classroom and asynchronous courses.|
Sources: Brenau University, Franklin University, Indiana University, Liberty University, NC State University, North Central University, Purdue Global,Seton Hall University, Syracuse University, Syracuse University (Online), Western Michigan University
Students should also consider textbook costs and other materials when comparing online and in-person program expenses. In-person programs may have higher tuition costs than online programs, on-campus students often have to pay for room and board.
Delivery Formats for Online Accounting Degrees
Online master's in accounting degrees are available in two formats. The hybrid model combines online and classroom learning. Students who prefer this approach complete some of their courses online and others in a traditional classroom.
Hybrid and 100% Online Accounting Program Models
An advantage of the accounting hybrid online model is that students can enjoy the flexibility of online learning while periodically interacting in person with classmates and instructors. Video conferencing and scheduled discussions are two examples of face-to-face interactions allowing students and professors to interact in real time.
A 100% online accounting model is more flexible and convenient for students. They complete their coursework on their own time and at their own pace. This format also eliminates the need for students to commute to a physical campus. Students interact with classmates and instructors online only.
Synchronous or Asynchronous Learning
Colleges and universities may structure programs in synchronous or asynchronous formats. Asynchronous learning allows students to complete coursework on their own schedule. Synchronous learning requires attendance at specific times.
Both asynchronous and synchronous learning offer advantages and disadvantages. Asynchronous learning can be more flexible for students, but individuals may fall behind if they do not keep up with the material.
Some institutions offer accelerated online accounting degree programs that enable students to earn their degrees in a shorter time frame. Many schools use these programs to attract students who want to complete their degrees more quickly. Students should confirm the requirements of an accelerated degree program before applying.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Accounting
Accreditation matters to an online master's in accounting. Accreditation assures potential employers that a school or program provides high-quality education. Credits from accredited institutions are more likely to transfer to other colleges or universities. To gain accreditation, schools must meet standards set by a third-party accrediting agency.
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes two types of educational accreditation: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation typically applies to the entire institution. Programmatic, or specialized, accreditation usually applies to programs, departments, or schools that are part of an institution.
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) accredits many accounting programs. Another accrediting body for accounting programs is the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
The state authorization process protects distance learners who live in a different state than where their college or university is physically located. This guarantees that the school legally operates in the state(s) where it serves student populations.
State-authorized institutions are eligible for state financial aid. If your college is not state-authorized, it may still be eligible for federal financial aid.
How Much Will an Online Accounting Master's Cost?
Several factors influence the cost of a master's degree in accounting. The type of accounting master’s degree you pursue may affect program costs. Two types of accounting master's degrees are the master of science in accounting and the master of accountancy. Students may also earn a master of business administration in accounting.
Program duration, technology fees, and textbook expenses may influence total program costs. Other considerations include tuition credits, transfer credits, occupational earning potential, and university resources. For instance, many online master's in accounting degree programs employ subject matter experts to ensure students meet CPA exam qualifications.
According to the NCES, the average graduate tuition and fees at public institutions reached $12,410 in the 2019-20 academic year, while the average at private institutions was $26,597. The cost of an online master's in accounting can vary depending on the school. In-state tuition is usually cheaper than out-of-state tuition.
There are many ways to finance your master's in accounting. Some learners apply for scholarships, grants, or student loans to help pay for their online master’s in accounting. Others take advantage of employer tuition reimbursement programs to offset degree costs.
Why Get Your Master's in Accounting Online?
Online master’s in accounting degrees can save students time and money compared to traditional campus-based programs. Many schools allow students to enroll full or part time. Enrollees may attend classes online or through a hybrid approach, which combines virtual and on-campus formats.
Wiley Education Services' 2020 survey of online college students found that 79% of those who also learned in a face-to-face setting felt their online experience was the same as or better than the classroom experience. Likewise, 79% of those completing an online degree agreed that it was worth the cost.
Master's in accounting online programs provide students with the skills and experience necessary for accounting leadership roles. For example, certified public accountants (CPAs) are among the highest-paid accounting professionals. In order to become a CPA, you need at least 150 credits of education to pass the CPA exam. Core courses cover test content to prepare aspiring accountants for the CPA exam.
Ability to learn anywhere in the world More flexible schedule Can be cheaper than traditional college
Online programs may not offer the same resources a brick-and-mortar school provides. May need to be more self-motivated when pursuing an online degree. Can be a lack of connection between student and instructor.
The Top Online Accounting Master's Degree Programs
Learners interested in an online master's in accounting can explore five of the nation's best programs for 2022. We rank schools based on factors like academic quality and school/program reputation. The link below provides more information about our method.
Questions About an Online Master's in Accounting
How long does it take to get a master's degree in accounting online?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The time to complete a master's degree in accounting online depends on each specific program and students' individual circumstances. Most accounting graduate students complete their online programs in 12-24 months.
How much is an online degree in accounting?
Per-credit tuition for a master's in accounting online degree ranges from $500-$1,800, depending on the school. The average online master's in accounting degree costs anywhere from $24,000-$72,000.
Is an online accounting master's valuable?
According to Payscale, the average annual salary for an accountant with a master's degree is $74,000. Those with a bachelor's degree in accounting earn an average of $67,000 — a difference of over 10%. A master's program also helps students rack up the 150 credit hours typically required to complete the CPA exam.
Is studying accounting online hard?
Online accounting master's programs offer flexibility to working professionals seeking advancement opportunities. Studying accounting online may appear difficult because of course requirements. However, many school resources for accredited online programs help set up students for professional growth and success.
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