Best Master's in Accounting Programs

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Updated November 22, 2022

A master's degree can help you attain higher positions in your career, including qualifying you for the CPA exam. Discover the top programs you can apply for.

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Good master's in accounting programs can boost job opportunities and salary potential. Master's in accounting programs teach practical accounting and financial skills. These programs build on bachelor's degree concepts.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) reports that total hiring of new accounting graduates decreased by 10% in 2020, but there were still 11,623 graduate accounting hires captured in the 2021 survey.

Continue reading to explore the best master's in accounting programs to consider. Learn more about available concentrations, associated costs, and what to expect from a master's in accounting program.

What to Expect From an Accounting Master's Degree

The best graduate accounting programs help students develop into accounting specialists. Master's in accounting programs give learners expertise to respond to challenges within varied industries. These programs often take 1-2 years to complete and feature between 30-45 credits.

Accounting master's programs vary in their type, structure, and delivery. They may run online with asynchronous or synchronous classes or in on-campus or hybrid formats.

The training includes advanced accounting theory, extensive practical experiences, and specialized studies, such as taxation and management accounting.

Many good accounting programs help prepare students for postgraduate credentials as well, such as the certified public accountant (CPA). The degree may also lead graduates to a doctoral program in accounting or a related field. To qualify for a doctoral program or any transfer credits, students must attend an accredited school.

Top Online Master's

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

Admissions Process

Most of the best master's in accounting schools seek applicants with a bachelor's degree. Although majoring in accounting is not always required, it could help you skip prerequisite coursework.

Prospective students should also have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Some schools require GMAT or GRE tests, or may accept these scores when a student's GPA falls below minimum requirements.

Candidates should submit their transcripts, test scores, essay, and application fee with the application. Schools may request at least two references and a resume.

While many programs do not require relevant work experience, students can make their applications stand out by including relevant experience on their resumes.

Popular Accounting Graduate Courses

Master’s in accounting programs provide a strong foundation in the field. A typical curriculum consists of core courses, like advanced financial accounting, accounting ethics, auditing theory, and taxation of business entities. Core courses can help prepare learners for the CPA exam.

Many programs also require students to complete elective classes focused on specific areas of accounting. Some examples of accounting master’s courses include:

  • Advanced Cost Accounting: This course explores cost-benefit analysis and other strategies used in economic decision-making. Students learn about budgeting, linear programming, management control systems, and cost-volume profit analysis. Learners also gain practical cost accounting skills.
  • Advanced Financial Reporting: A course in advanced financial reporting teaches learners accounting analysis, ratio and cash flow analysis, and forecasting and valuation analysis. Students also learn to prepare projected financial statements in light of forecasted changes in exchange rates, interest rates, and commodity prices.
  • Accounting Information Systems: Students build practical experience using database management techniques. They learn how IT relates to accounting and auditing, and how to model business systems and processes. The class looks at manipulating and communicating financial information.
  • Forensic Accounting: This class provides an overview of forensic accounting and fraud detection. Students explore topics like internal control methodology, financial statement misrepresentation, rules of evidence relating to fraud, and interview techniques. They learn a variety of fraud examination techniques and explore illegal activities like money laundering, embezzlement, and wagering.
  • Project Management: In project management, students learn to plan, control, and schedule projects. The class explores topics like project management leadership strategies, factors leading to cost and time overruns, and organization and risk management.
  • Government Accounting: This class prepares students to perform accounting tasks for governmental and nonprofit organizations. The curriculum contrasts governmental accounting with accounting for for-profit businesses. Learners explore topics like budgetary accounts, fund accounting, and governmental financial reporting.
  • Business Law: Enrollees in this course learn to navigate general principles of business law and regulations governing intellectual property, contracts, sales, and torts. Students also learn how the state and federal legal systems apply to corporations.
  • Managerial Strategy and Analysis: This course teaches enrollees how to formulate realistic business objectives, develop and implement corporate strategies, and advise top executives through adverse financial circumstances. One of the key strategic tools in this course is the SWOT analysis, which provides a holistic overview of a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Capstone Seminar in Accounting: This seminar integrates knowledge acquired throughout the program in financial, cost and managerial accounting, general ledger, computer techniques, and business ethics. Degree-seekers complete a practical team-based project addressing an authentic or simulated issue in corporate or public accounting.

How Much Do Master's in Accounting Programs Cost?

The average master's in accounting programs require between 30-36 credits with per-credit tuition costing $500-$2,000.However, online, in-state, and out-of-state tuition rates vary, with out-of-state residents often paying the most. A school's prestige and public or private status may also influence costs.

Prospective students should also consider additional fees, like registration, application, and technology fees. Schools do not always add these extra costs into their tuition rates.

Exploring financial options for pursuing a master's degree can lessen the cost. Browsing affordable master's degree programs is a good way to begin your search.

The average master's in accounting programs require between 30-36 credits with per-credit tuition costing $500-$2,000.

Grants and scholarships are free awards that help reduce tuition costs. While you need to pay back loans after graduating, they can make it easier to afford school. Accounting fellowships and internships could also help you earn tuition money.

Learn more about financial aid and scholarships to fund your master's degree from the best accounting schools.

Top Online Master's

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

Selecting Good Accounting Programs

Choosing the right accounting program can set you on the path toward reaching your goals. Consider the following factors in your search for the best master's in accounting program:

  • School Prestige: Schools with an excellent reputation and accreditation can offer more credibility on your resume. Many employers look for candidates with a well-rounded education from a prestigious school. Accreditation can also assist with credit transfers, should you decide to pursue further education.
  • Program Details: Master's programs vary in length, delivery method, student-to-teacher ratio, and other key factors that could influence your decision. Speak with an advisor to determine if the program offers the curriculum, culture, and learning opportunities you expect.
  • Admissions: Some programs are more selective and have more admission requirements than others. Explore a program's admissions process and acceptance rate to gauge competitiveness.
  • Cost: A master's degree creates additional costs that could take time to recover. Decide whether a program's tuition, fees, and other associated costs fit within your budget. You should also research the financial aid opportunities the college offers to students.
  • Concentrations: While some master's programs focus on general accounting, others offer concentrations, like taxation or government accounting. Consider a program that specializes in a topic that aligns with your career goals.

The Best Master’s in Accounting Schools

#1 Best Master’s in Accounting Programs

Franklin University

  • Columbus, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Established in 1902, Franklin focuses on working students. The Columbus, Ohio-based university also accepts applications from high school seniors, military service members and international learners. Franklin students can earn their degrees 100% online.

Master of Science in Accounting

Enrollees in Franklin's master of science in accounting program can select a focus area in either taxation or financial operations. Transfer students can apply up to 12 credits toward their degree. Learners can study online, on campus, or both.

Housed in the Ross College of Business, the program features a customizable curriculum. Coursework covers accounting research and theory, along with management control processes and systems. Students also receive training in industry-standard technology such as Microsoft Dynamics ERP software and ACL data mining software.

Applying to Franklin

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.75 GPA. Students must also complete prerequisite accounting courses. Franklin charges a $30 application fee.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: HLC, IACBE
  • Tuition: $670/credit
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Program Length: 17 months average
  • Delivery Format: 100% online, hybrid, or on campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$9,552
Out-of-state
$9,552
Retention Rate
47%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
6,031
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
80% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Best Master’s in Accounting Programs

Brenau University

  • Gainesville, GA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Brenau educates students online and at its campuses in Georgia and Florida. Founded in 1878 as the Georgia Baptist Female Seminary, the school evolved into Brenau University in 1992-93. Brenau maintains a women's college alongside its coed undergraduate and graduate schools.

Master of Accounting

Brenau's College of Business & Communication offers its master of accounting program 100% online. Designed for business students and accounting professionals, the curriculum helps graduates prepare for the certified public accountant and certified management accountant exams.

Distance learning follows an accelerated format. Core topics include accounting theory, auditing and assurance services and corporate taxation. Learners also study financial statement and business analysis, fraud prevention, and internal control. Electives cover subjects like business law and ethics, estate and trust taxation, and partnership and S-corporation taxation.

Applying to Brenau

Admission requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a GPA of 3.0 or above. Applicants must submit official college transcripts and a resume. Enrollees must complete prerequisite accounting coursework.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC, ACBSP
  • Tuition: $755/credit
  • Required Credits: 30-33
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
Average Tuition
In-state
$29,370
Out-of-state
$29,370
Retention Rate
52%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
2,817
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Best Master’s in Accounting Programs

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

  • Indianapolis, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

IUPUI promotes a student-centered, diverse, and inclusive learning environment. The school enrolls more than 27,500 students. A partnership between two top universities, IUPUI offers over 550 degree programs on campus and online.

Master of Science in Accounting

Part of IUPUI's Kelley School of Business, the master of science in accounting (MSA) features full-time and part-time options. Evening classes in downtown Indianapolis may allow students to continue working or attend to other obligations.

The program welcomes experienced accountants and career-changers. Enrollees can prepare for the certified public accountant exam and explore career advancement options.

Core classes cover advanced accounting and business subjects along with auditing, taxation, and professional ethics. Enrollees can earn up to three hours of graduate credit through work experience. Electives explore accounting, business, and taxation topics.

Applying to IUPUI

Admission requirements include GMAT or GRE scores, transcripts, recommendations, and a $70 application fee. Applicants must complete prerequisites in subjects including accounting, economics, statistical theory, and operations management.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: HLC
  • Tuition: $19,350/program (in state); $26,500/program (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Program Length: 18 months part-time
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$8,580
Out-of-state
$29,589
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
29,537
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Best Master’s in Accounting Programs

Marquette University

  • Milwaukee, WI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Established in 1881, Marquette is a Catholic university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The school boasts a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Over 80% of Marquette learners engage in community service. Graduate and professional students number 3,600 in on-campus and remote learning programs.

Master of Science in Accounting

The master of science in accounting program at Marquette's Graduate School of Management helps students prepare for the certified public accountant exam. Graduates can pursue leadership positions in accounting, auditing and tax, and investment banking. Classes take place during the day, with most students attending full time.

Master's candidates can work as graduate assistants to accounting faculty members. Assistants' duties include conducting interviews and writing articles for Marquette's accounting alumni magazine.

Applying to Marquette

Candidates for admission must hold an undergraduate degree in accounting or have completed 6-7 core accounting courses. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit GMAT or GRE scores and a $50 application fee. The admissions committee may request an interview.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: HLC, AACSB
  • Tuition: $1,220/credit
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Program Length: 12 months
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$43,350
Out-of-state
$43,350
Retention Rate
90%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
11,819
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Best Master’s in Accounting Programs

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Liberty offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs online and at its Lynchburg, Virginia campus. Founded in 1971 with a student body of 154, the Christian university now enrolls over 100,000 learners.

Master of Science in Accounting

Liberty's master of science in accounting program features eight-week, fully online courses. Enrollees build financial leadership and accounting data analysis skills while preparing to take the certified public accountant exam. Students can complete the program on a flexible schedule.

Online learners can follow a general accounting track or choose a specialization. Specialized tracks include taxation, business, financial services, and forensic accounting. Core courses cover topics such as entrepreneurship, international business, managerial finance, and strategic leadership and management.

Admitted students can receive transfer credit for up to 50% of the program's required coursework.

Applying to Liberty

Liberty's accounting master's program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. Applicants need a 3.0 GPA or higher plus prerequisite coursework in accounting, auditing, and taxation. Application requirements include a $50 fee and official college transcripts.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC, ACBSP
  • Tuition: $565/credit
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Program Length: 1 year average
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Common Questions About Accounting Master's Degrees


Is an MAcc the same as an MS in accounting?

An MAcc and MS in accounting can have slight differences depending on the school. An MAcc program may approach the discipline more broadly and explore the major practical applications of accounting. An MS may take a more analytical approach.

How long does it take to get a master's in accounting?

Students can often complete their accounting master's programs in 1-2 years. Program length depends on the student's course load, study schedule, course availability, and study format. Students with transfer credits or access to accelerated programs can finish more quickly.

How much does an accounting master's program cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average annual tuition and required fees in graduate schools in 2020-21 were $12,394 in public schools and $26,621 in private schools.

Can you get an accounting master's degree online?

Yes. Many of the best accounting schools offer online accounting master's programs. The flexibility of online training makes these programs more accessible for working accountants looking to advance their careers and credentials.

What's the difference between an accounting master's and certification?

An accounting master's program provides advanced graduate-level training in the discipline. An accounting certification tests and acknowledges a professional's expertise in that specific certified field. For instance, professionals can use a master's education to qualify for the CPA certification exam.

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