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Best Master’s in Accounting Programs

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Best Master's Programs

A master’s degree in accounting can lead to profitable positions in the ever-changing business world. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual pay for accountants nearly doubles that for all occupations. Many students pursue a master’s degree in accounting to obtain the required credits for licensure examinations, such as the certified public accountant (CPA) exam.

A master’s in accounting is highly specialized, requiring in-depth study of topics such as financial analysis, tax regulation, and auditing procedures.

Even so, the skills acquired in an accounting master’s program apply across industry sectors and occupations.

This page, which we update yearly to reflect the latest developments and trends in accounting, contains detailed information about some of the nation’s best master’s in accounting schools.

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Top 10 Best Accounting Grad Schools

Rank School Location
1 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
2 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
3 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
4 Washington University in Saint Louis Saint Louis, MO
5 Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
6 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
7 Rice University Houston, TX
8 University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN
9 University of Rochester Rochester, NY
10 Emory University Atlanta, GA

What Is Accounting?

The oldest accounting records uncovered date back to around 5,000 B.C., pointing to the accounting discipline’s pivotal role in all civilizations routinely exchanging goods and services. Modern accountants enjoy consistent demand for their services; the BLS projects a 4% growth in accounting and auditing positions from 2019 to 2029.

A master’s degree in accounting is one of the most versatile graduate degrees. With this degree, graduates can choose from a wealth of occupations in public and private sectors, such as forensic accounting, financial advising, import and export brokerage, and financial management.

Due to their versatile skill set, graduates who enter the field of accounting enjoy greater job stability than candidates from many other disciplines. Even in an economic downturn, companies need skilled management accountants who know where to cut costs.

A master’s in accounting offers other attractions aside from its adaptability and high earning potential. The rigorous yet diverse curriculum of a professional accounting master’s program also cultivates important character traits for human flourishing, such as honesty, trustworthiness, cordiality, tenacity, and determination.

Why Get an Accounting Master’s?

Students with a bachelor’s degree in accounting hold the foundational expertise needed to land an entry job in accounting. But a master’s degree in accounting can also satisfy the academic requirements to sit for the CPA exam. The additional expertise an accounting master’s degree affords can provide access to top-level positions in finance and give graduates a competitive advantage in the job market. Let’s take a closer look at these benefits.

CPA Prerequisite
To qualify to sit for the CPA exam, candidates must possess 150 completed academic credits in accounting or related areas. As a typical undergraduate degree provides only 120 credits, a master’s degree in accounting can help aspiring certified public accountants on their path to obtaining the CPA credential.
Top-Level Positions
A master’s degree in accounting can open the door to some of the most profitable and prestigious positions in the field, such as financial manager, private equity associate, hedge fund manager, chief financial officer, and chief compliance officer. Median annual salaries for these top-level positions range from $129,890 to $184,460.
Competitive Advantage
Companies often enact stricter and more complex business regulations in the wake of corporate scandals and economic recessions. The increasing complexity of financial legislation gives corporate recruiters an incentive to hire applicants with a graduate degree, which gives candidates with an accounting master’s degree an edge over applicants who hold a bachelor’s.

The Best Master’s in Accounting Schools

  1. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Philadelphia, Penn offers an MBA in accounting through its famed Wharton School. An Ivy League institution, the Wharton School is the oldest collegiate business school in the world. Academic standards are incredibly high, as are student success outcomes.

    The 19-unit accounting master's degree takes two years to complete and prepares graduates to sit for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam. Core requirements for the MBA include fundamentals of financial accounting and accelerated financial accounting. The accounting concentration explores relevant topics such as cost management, financial reporting and business analysis, financial disclosure analytics, and taxes and business strategy.

    Applicants must submit GRE or GMAT scores. The application also requires an essay and resume. Over 92% of Wharton School graduates secure full-time employment within six months of graduation.

    Penn is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  2. Northwestern University
    Location

    Evanston, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management offers an MBA in accounting. Kellogg was the first school to establish a one-year MBA program, and the school provides an array of global learning opportunities, including study abroad programs and local experiences with international businesses.

    The two-year program features nine core courses and four electives in accounting. The MBA curriculum examines accounting for decision-making, business strategy, marketing management, and business analytics. The accounting concentration requires coursework in managerial accounting, financial planning for mergers and acquisitions, and financial reporting and analysis. Students can also receive course credit for field studies, in which they help an outside organization solve a business problem.

    Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and submit an application, essays, a resume, and GRE or GMAT scores. Additionally, candidates may undergo an interview. Approximately 98% of Kellogg School graduates secure job offers within three months of graduation.

    Northwestern holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

  3. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Los Angeles, USC's Marshall School of Business offers a master of accountancy that consistently ranks among the best programs in the country. The accounting program includes courses in professional responsibilities in accounting, advanced enterprise systems and technologies, auditing and assurance services, and fair value accounting. Students can also participate in a global learning experience, which includes travel to China.

    Depending on their academic background, students can complete the program in 9-12 months by taking 30-48 credits. Those without an undergraduate degree in accounting begin the program with a 15-credit summer intensive centered on accounting principles and practice.

    Applicants must submit GRE or GMAT scores, along with a personal statement and resume. The application offers the opportunity for students to include an additional essay and video. Students with a minimum GPA of 3.5 may qualify for a standardized test waiver.

    USC holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

  4. Washington University in Saint Louis
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    WUSTL's Olin School of Business offers a 33-credit master of accounting that students can complete in as little as two semesters. The program requires 16.5 credits of core requirements, nine credits of accounting electives, and 7.5 credits of other electives. The program hosts a comprehensive orientation session to begin each student's journey at the university.

    Program requirements include business analysis using financial statements, financial accounting, auditing, and accounting policy and research. Elective options include courses such as strategic cost analysis, information technology control and audit, fraud prevention and internal controls, and tax and business strategy.

    Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and submit transcripts, a resume, an essay, and GRE or GMAT scores.

    WUSTL holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

  5. Vanderbilt University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management offers a 33-credit master of accountancy. The one-year program allows students to select a specialization in either assurance or valuation.

    Required courses include business ethics in accounting, engagement communication, managerial finance, financial reporting, and managerial strategy and analysis. The Becker CPA review course makes up the final nine credits of the program.

    Applicants must submit transcripts, essays, and a resume. Vanderbilt prefers GMAT scores, but applicants may submit GRE scores. All students must complete prerequisite course requirements in financial accounting, managerial or cost accounting, microeconomics, and statistics. Applicants must complete prerequisite courses in an in-person format through a program accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

    Vanderbilt's master's degree in accounting program boasts a 100% post-graduation employment rate. The school holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  6. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
    Location

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Through the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, U-M offers a 30-credit master of accounting that incorporates cross-disciplinary electives to give learners a well-rounded education. Students can complete the accelerated program in eight months. The program's curriculum emphasizes CPA exam preparation.

    Participants begin the program with an intensive symposium, which incorporates a trip to Washington, D.C. Core course requirements include federal taxation, corporate financial research and reporting, and information systems design. Elective options include cost systems, international tax, and partnership tax.

    Applicants must submit transcripts, a resume, essays, and GRE or GMAT scores. U-M requires an interview prior to admission. Prerequisite course requirements include principles of financial accounting, principles of managerial accounting, intermediate financial accounting, microeconomics, and statistics.

    100% of U-M's master of accounting graduates secure employment within three months of completing the program.

    U-M holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

  7. Rice University
    Location

    Houston, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Houston, Texas, Rice's Jones Graduate School of Business offers a 36-credit master of accounting. A 10-month program designed to prepare participants for the CPA exam, the program runs in a cohort-based structure.

    Students complete coursework in financial reporting, financial statement analysis and valuation, federal taxation, accounting theory, and accounting and data analytics. Rice features a distinguished speaker series, which invites seasoned professionals to give informative lectures to enhance students' experience.

    Applicants must submit a resume, essays, and GRE or GMAT scores. Prerequisite requirements include financial accounting, issues in financial reporting, and auditing. Rice reports a 98% post-graduation employment rate for alumni who graduated between 2017 and 2019.

    Rice is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  8. University of Notre Dame
    Location

    Notre Dame, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Indiana, ND offers a 30-credit master of science in accountancy that students can complete in just 10 months, including an opportunity for a two-week international study in China, South America, or South Africa. The program focuses on CPA preparation. Participants may select concentration options in assurance and advisory or tax services.

    The core assurance and advisory concentration explores advanced assurance services and topics in accounting measurement and disclosure. The tax services concentration features cutting-edge courses in taxes and business strategy and tax research.

    Applicants must submit a resume, a slide presentation, an essay, and GMAT scores. Prerequisite requirements include accountancy I and II, measurement and disclosure I and II, strategic cost management, audit and assurance services, and federal taxation. Students lacking prerequisites may enroll in ND's accounting immersion program.

    In 2019, 100% of ND's master of science in accounting graduates accepted job offers within six months of completing the program. ND holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

  9. University of Rochester
    Location

    Rochester, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Rochester's Simon Business School offers a 39-credit master of science in accountancy with available internship and non-internship tracks. The curriculum prepares graduates for the CPA exam. Participants can finish the program within one year.

    The curriculum includes core courses in basic business law, programming for analytics, basic federal income tax accounting, and managerial accounting and performance measurement.

    Applicants must submit an essay, a resume, and GRE or GMAT scores. Required prerequisites include three credits of financial accounting, 2.5 credits of accounting electives, three credits of economics, three credits of finance, 18.5 credits of business electives, 30 credits of liberal arts and sciences, and 51 credits of free electives.

    Rochester boasts a 100% employment rate within four months of graduation. The school holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  10. Emory University
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Emory's Goizueta School of Business offers a two-year MBA with a concentration in accounting. Students can participate in spring study abroad opportunities, leadership training at the U.S. Army Base of Fort Benning, or other leadership opportunities. The program also incorporates a professional internship.

    Accounting elective options include courses such as managerial accounting and control, financial statement analysis, advanced financial accounting, and federal income taxation. Applicants must submit a resume, essays, and GMAT or GRE scores. Emory may require an interview as part of the admission process.

    Emory reports that 97% of its MBA graduates reported job offers within three months of finishing the program. Emory holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  11. Lehigh University
    Location

    Bethlehem, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Lehigh's College of Business offers a 30-credit master of science in accounting and information analysis. Students can complete the program within one year. The curriculum combines accounting and technology to help learners solve business problems. Available concentrations include finance, economics, management, information systems, accounting, and marketing.

    Core course requirements include IT auditing, the corporate financial reporting environment, and forensic accounting and auditing. Students take 12 credits of electives in their chosen specialty area or to strengthen their general knowledge.

    Applicants must submit an essay, a resume, and GMAT scores. Prerequisite course requirements include intermediate accounting I and II, accounting information systems, fundamentals of accounting, cost accounting, and fundamentals of federal income taxation. Those without a background in business must take economics, statistics, financial accounting, managerial accounting, legal environment, supply chain, management, and intro to information systems.

    Lehigh is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  12. Case Western Reserve University
    Location

    Cleveland, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Cleveland, Ohio, CWRU offers a 30-credit master of accountancy that features a professional track and a STEM-focused analytics track. The one-year program prepares learners to take the CPA exam.

    Core course requirements include advanced financial reporting, advanced federal taxes, advanced auditing theory and practice, and analysis of contemporary accountancy issues. The professional track explores accounting information systems, as well as corporate reporting and analysis. The analytics track examines probability and statistics, as well as predictive modeling.

    Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and submit essays, a resume, and GRE or GMAT scores. Prerequisites include financial accounting, managerial accounting, intermediate financial reporting I and II, auditing, U.S. taxation, U.S. business law, and Excel applications and auditing. Students may complete prerequisites during the program.

    CWRU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

  13. Villanova University
    Location

    Villanova, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Pennsylvania, Villanova's School of Business offers a 30-credit master of accounting with data analytics. The curriculum focuses on CPA credentials and provides an overview of business topics and accounting principles. Full-time students can complete the program in one year.

    Villanova's master's in accounting features courses in leadership, negotiations, advanced topics in financial disclosure and fraud, risk management and performance measurement, and valuation issues in accounting.

    Applicants must submit a resume and two essays. Villanova does not require standardized test scores, but applicants may submit GMAT scores if they wish. Prerequisite requirements include intermediate accounting I and II, federal income tax, and auditing.

    Villanova holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  14. New York University
    Location

    New York City, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Manhattan, NYU's Leonard N. Stern School of Business hosts the Vincent C. Ross Institute of Accounting Research, which conducts large-scale research projects on topics of interest to accountants and financial professionals. Students can complete the school's CPA-focused master of science in accounting in one year.

    NYU's program requires courses in advanced managerial accounting, auditing, financial reporting and disclosure, foundations of corporate finance, modeling financial statements, and taxation of individuals and business income. All students attend orientation before beginning the program. Courses run in a cohort-based model.

    Applicants must submit an essay, professional information, and GRE or GMAT scores. Depending on academic history, some students may qualify for a standardized test waiver.

    NYU's accounting graduates report a median starting salary of $74,900 after finishing the program. NYU holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  15. Tulane University of Louisiana
    Location

    New Orleans, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in New Orleans, Tulane's Freeman School of Business offers a 30-credit master of accounting that students can complete in as little as 10 months. Available concentrations include analytics, energy, entrepreneurship, risk management, strategic and innovation management, structured finance, and taxation.

    Core requirements include ethics in accounting and finance, auditing, advanced financial accounting, business law, and principles of entity taxation. The master's in accounting focuses on preparing students to take the CPA exam.

    Applicants must submit an essay, a resume, and GRE or GMAT scores. Prerequisite course requirements include financial accounting, managerial or cost accounting, and intermediate accounting I and II.

    Tulane graduates boast post-graduation employment with several top companies, including IBM, Pfizer, CapitalOne, and the Walt Disney Company. Tulane holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  16. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UNC-Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler School of Business offers a master of accounting designed for students with fewer than 12 undergraduate credits in accounting. Concentration options include tax, audit, and financial analysis and reporting. Students can complete the program in as little as one year, and the curriculum focuses on CPA preparation.

    The master's degree in accounting requires courses in financial reporting, introductory finance, managerial and cost accounting, federal income tax, and data analytics for accountants. Students begin the program with an orientation and leadership immersion experience.

    Applicants must submit an essay, a resume, and GMAT or GRE scores. UNC-Chapel Hill's master of accounting graduates report a 98% employment rate within three months of finishing the program.

    UNC-Chapel Hill holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  17. Boston College
    Location

    Chestnut Hill, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    BC's Carroll School of Management offers a one-year master of science in accounting. Students with a background in accounting can complete the program in 30 credits. Those without undergraduate experience in accounting can finish in 39 credits.

    Core requirements for both tracks include taxes and management decisions, financial statement analysis, and assurance and consulting services. Students without a background in accounting take courses such as economics, information systems, business law, financial accounting practice, and federal taxation.

    Applicants must submit an essay, a resume, and GRE or GMAT scores. According to the school, 94% of BC's accounting graduates report that they secured a job within three months of completing the program. BC holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission on Higher Education.

  18. Wake Forest University
    Location

    Winston-Salem, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wake Forest's School of Business offers a 30-credit master of science in accountancy. Specialization options include assurance services, tax consulting, and financial transaction services. Students can complete the program in two semesters.

    Required courses include data analytics and communication, introduction to analytics, and strategic cost management. Students may take foundational summer courses prior to beginning the program, such as principles of financial accounting, introductory statistics, and introductory tax. The program offers an optional paid internship semester.

    Wake Forest holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  19. College of William and Mary
    Location

    Williamsburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Williamsburg, Virginia, W&M's Raymond A. Mason School of Business offers a 30-credit master of accounting with available concentrations in academic research auditing and assurance, taxation, and valuation and advisory services. Participants may also explore a focus area during W&M's winter field experience program. Students can complete the program in one year.

    Required courses include professional accounting, derivatives and risk management, and tax research and current topics. The curriculum prepares students to take the CPA exam.

    Applicants must submit GMAT scores and complete an interview prior to admission. Roughly 90% of W&M's master's in accounting graduates secure employment before leaving the program.

    W&M holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  20. Creighton University
    Location

    Omaha, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton's Heider College of Business offers a 33-credit master of accounting. As a part of the CPA-focused program, students participate in co-curricular activities related to professional or service organizations.

    Course requirements include advanced managerial accounting, advanced auditing, current issues in the accounting profession, and advanced financial accounting.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in a related field with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students with a lower GPA must submit GMAT scores. Prerequisite course requirements include external financial reporting issues, managerial accounting for decision-making, principles of taxation, auditing, and accounting information systems.

    Approximately 99% of Heider Business School alumni report securing full-time employment within six months of graduation. Creighton holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

  21. George Washington University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Washington, D.C., the GW School of Business offers a 30-credit master of accountancy that allows learners to network with businesses in the nation's capital. Full-time students can complete the CPA-focused program in as little as nine months. Part-time students can finish in 21-60 months.

    Course requirements include intermediate accounting I and II, cases in management accounting I and II, and contemporary auditing theory. Students without a background in accounting must take financial accounting, introductory managerial accounting, microeconomics for the world economy, and introduction to business and economic statistics.

    Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and submit a resume, a statement of career objectives, and GRE or GMAT scores. Students with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.25 may qualify for a standardized test waiver.

    GW holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  22. University of Virginia-Main Campus
    Location

    Charlottesville, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Charlottesville, UVA's McIntire School of Commerce offers a 30-credit master of science in accounting that full-time students can complete in nine months. The program offers concentrations in financial reporting and assurance, and tax consulting.

    Required courses for both tracks include accounting policy, data management and analytics for accountants, leading for success in the accounting profession, and communicating effectively as accounting professionals.

    Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree. Students with a GPA lower than 3.5 must submit GMAT scores. Prerequisite course requirements include financial accounting, managerial accounting, intermediate accounting I and II, U.S. federal taxation, and auditing.

    UVA holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  23. Loyola Marymount University
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Los Angeles, California, LMU offers a 30-credit master of science in accounting that focuses on preparing students for the CPA exam. Full-time students can complete the program in as little as nine months, while those studying part time can finish in 18-36 months.

    Required courses include financial reporting, taxes and business strategy, advanced auditing, and accounting ethics, professionalism, and the public interest.

    Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. LMU requires GRE or GMAT scores for admission. Prerequisite course requirements include financial accounting, cost or managerial accounting, accounting or management information systems, intermediate accounting I and II, taxation, and auditing.

    LMU holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

  24. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel's LeBow College of Business offers a 45-credit master's in accounting. Full-time students can complete the program in as little as one year. Students may also elect to study on a part-time basis. The program offers minor study areas in business analytics management, finance, taxation, computational data science, and applied data science.

    Required courses include accounting analysis and theory, international financial reporting, law for the CPA, assurance service, and current issues in the accounting profession. Designed for students with a background in accounting, the curriculum prepares participants to take the CPA exam.

    Applicants must submit an essay, a resume, and GMAT or GRE scores. Drexel prefers GMAT scores. Drexel accounting alumni work for companies such as Comcast, Ernst and Young, and JPMorgan.

    Drexel holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  25. Drake University
    Location

    Des Moines, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Des Moines, Iowa, Drake's College of Business and Public Administration offers a master of accounting that focuses on CPA preparation and data-driven leadership. Credit requirements and program duration depend on each student's individual academic background.

    Required courses include tax research and planning, seminar in auditing, and leading with data. Students without a background in business and accounting must take foundational courses such as accounting information systems, intermediate accounting I and II, and individual taxation.

    Applicants must submit a resume, an essay, and GRE or GMAT scores. Depending on academic history, some students may qualify for a standardized test waiver.

    Drake's College of Business and Public Administration reports a 98.2% accomplishment rate among its graduate school alumni, which includes alumni engaged in relevant employment or further academic studies.

    Drake holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

What To Expect From Master’s in Accounting Programs

An accounting master’s degree gives learners an advanced command of accounting and business principles. Classes delve into topics like statistics, financial reporting, managerial economics, and federal taxation. Many accounting master’s programs offer concentrations in high-demand areas like accounting information systems, forensic accounting, and financial management.

Degree length depends on the type of accounting degree and whether learners complete the program part time or full time. The main types of master’s degrees in accounting include master of accounting (MAcc), master of science in accounting (MSA), and MBA with a concentration in accounting.

An MAcc typically takes one year to complete, whereas most MBAs with a concentration in accounting take two years to finish. The average credit load for an MAcc or an MSA degree is 30-36 credits, while a two-year MBA with a concentration in accounting usually requires 60 credits.

Degree costs depend on the school attended, required credits, funding opportunities, and whether the program takes place in person, online, or in hybrid format.

READ MORE ABOUT ACCOUNTING PROGRAMS

Admission Requirements

To apply for an accounting master’s program, students must typically submit an online application packet including a resume, transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, an essay, and GRE or GMAT scores. Some schools offer GRE/GMAT waivers to applicants with high GPAs or other qualifying credentials.

Admission to a quality accounting master’s program requires a bachelor’s degree, minimum GRE/GMAT scores, and an unweighted minimum GPA of 2.0, though many schools prefer a GPA of at least 3.0.

Some schools require prior coursework in accounting or related areas, but many places allow prospective students to complete the prerequisites during the summer months leading up to the official program start. Degrees tailored to seasoned professionals may require relevant work experience in accounting.

Degree and Concentration Options

Prospective students thinking about pursuing an accounting master’s degree may choose from several degree options and concentrations:

  • Master of Accounting or Accountancy (MAcc)

    An MAcc provides advanced knowledge of accounting and prepares degree-seekers to sit for the CPA exam. Common concentrations include government accounting, taxation, and assurance services.

  • Master of Science in Accounting (MSA)

    An MSA also qualifies learners to sit for the CPA exam, but a master of science often requires more quantitative coursework, such as advanced statistical analysis and business analytics. Common concentrations include forensic accounting, accounting information systems, and information technology.

  • MBA with a Concentration in Accounting

    An accounting MBA degree focuses on developing knowledge of accounting and business administration. Common concentrations include financial management, business compliance, and risk management. An accounting MBA may offer the best option for learners who aspire to work toward a top-level position such as financial manager, chief compliance officer, or chief financial officer.

Popular Accounting Courses

A standard accounting master’s curriculum offers classes cultivating advanced expertise in core accounting areas, elective courses allowing learners to specialize in topics of interest, and sometimes a final thesis or capstone. Below you can find some examples of courses often encountered in an accounting master’s curriculum.

Advanced Financial Reporting
A course in advanced financial reporting teaches learners how to use accounting analysis, ratio and cash flow analysis, and forecasting and valuation analysis to analyze financial statements from manager and shareholder perspectives. Students also learn to prepare projected financial statements in light of forecasted changes in exchange rates, interest rates, and commodity prices.
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 some of the key differences between state and federal legal systems as they 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 on leading companies 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.
Accounting Information Systems
This class focuses on building the information systems, data management, and technology skills needed to evaluate information systems used in auditing and accounting. Enrollees learn to use data management and information systems to effectively analyze, synthesize, and communicate financial information.
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 Will a Master’s in Accounting Cost?

The cost of earning a master’s degree in accounting depends on various factors, including the school’s prestige, whether the school is public or private, whether students pay in-state or out-of-state tuition, and whether the degree is online. Tuition at a quality one-year accounting master’s program starts at around $30,000.

Other costs learners may incur include living expenses, fees, textbooks, on-campus workshops, internships, and studies abroad. Students can lower their costs by choosing to pursue an online master’s degree in accounting. Some schools offer a discount on online degrees, and students who opt for an online degree do not incur additional expenses for on-campus residency or commuting.

Degree-seekers may also want to look at the links below for an overview of other ways to finance an accounting master’s degree, including scholarships, financial aid, and student loans.

Jobs for Master’s in Accounting Graduates

A master’s degree in accounting increases earning potential and career opportunities. According to the BLS, as of May 2019 accountants and auditors made a median annual wage of $71,550, exceeding the national median of $39,810 for all employees. CPA certification or licensure in other specialty accounting areas can further expand career options.

Potential job positions for accounting master’s graduates include personal financial advisor, auditor, financial manager, actuary, and chief financial officer.

Below we offer additional details about these occupations, including job descriptions, degree requirements, median annual salaries, and employment outlooks.

  • Personal Financial Advisor

    Personal financial advisors help clients make the best financial decisions, given their circumstances and life goals. Typical job duties include researching investment opportunities, recommending investments to clients, and advising them on planning for the future. Most personal financial advisors work for banks, consumer finance companies, real estate investment trusts, and mortgage lenders.

    – Required Education: Bachelor’s degree

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): 4%

    – Median Annual Salary: $87,850

  • Accountants and Auditors

    Accountants and auditors evaluate companies’ financial records, ascertain their accuracy, and report findings to decision-makers. Job duties include analyzing and assessing financial records, proposing ways to cut costs, and advising management on accounting issues. Virtually all types of nonprofit and for-profit organizations employ accounting and auditing professionals.

    – Required Education: Master’s degree preferred

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): 4%

    – Median Annual Salary: $71,550

  • Financial Manager

    Financial managers help ensure a corporation’s financial health through all economic cycles. Typical job duties include supervising employees in charge of budgeting, analyzing market trends, and presenting financial information to decision-makers. Types of financial managers include risk and insurance managers, controllers, treasury officers, and chief financial officers. Virtually all large corporations employ financial managers.

    – Required Education: Master’s degree preferred

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): 15%

    – Median Annual Salary: $129,890

  • Actuary

    Actuaries use statistical, mathematical, and financial tools to analyze the financial consequences of risk and uncertainty. Actuaries work in companies that need to manage financial risk, such as insurance companies, banks, investment firms, hospitals, government agencies, consulting firms, and human resource departments of large corporations.

    – Required Education: Master’s degree preferred

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): 18%

    – Median Annual Salary: $108,350

  • Chief Financial Officer

    Chief financial officers possess senior-level executive responsibilities for making financial business decisions. Typical job duties include tracking cash flow, budgeting for the future, analyzing the corporation’s economic strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and proposing corrective economic measures. Virtually all large corporations employ chief financial officers.

    – Required Education: Master’s degree preferred

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): 4%

    – Median Annual Salary: $184,460

Choosing the Right Accounting Graduate Program

When deciding where to apply, prospective students should give preference to universities that hold regional accreditation from one of the six regional accrediting commissions. Proper accreditation ensures that the degree-granting institution meets established academic standards.

Program-specific accreditation may matter even more than regional accreditation. Earning an accounting master’s degree from a school with accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business — the most prominent accrediting body for business schools — can make a substantial difference to job outlook, earning potential, and career advancement.

Prospective students may also benefit from attending a STEM-designated program, as this designation signals that the program delivers rigorous analytic and quantitative training in accounting.

Finally, participating in alumni events can help identify internships and job opportunities. Accounting professionals should consider attending a program that provides networking opportunities with notable alumni.

Should You Get Your Accounting Degree Online?

The increasing popularity of online accounting master’s degrees highlights their greater flexibility, convenience, and affordability. Many distance learning programs allow degree-seekers to choose how quickly they complete their degree.

An online master’s degree in accounting can also prove more affordable than a traditional in-person degree. Some business schools offer online accounting master’s degrees at a reduced cost. Distance learners may obtain additional savings on living expenses, on-campus parking, and student fees for on-campus activities.

Distance learning may appeal to working professionals and others who cannot commit to the demands of an on-campus degree. In the age of COVID-19, as many schools switch to online or hybrid formats, an affordable program designed to deliver quality distance education may offer additional benefits over a traditional program temporarily moved online.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I major in to become an accountant?

    Aspiring accountants certainly benefit from majoring in accounting or finance. But many accounting master’s programs accept applicants with a bachelor’s degree in any subject, provided they take prerequisite courses prior to official program start dates.

  • Is a master's degree in accounting worth it?

    A master’s degree in accounting can provide the additional course credits required to sit for the CPA exam. Employers hiring accounting professionals often favor candidates with CPA certification.

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

    Graduates with a master’s degree in accounting can find employment in financial occupations in virtually any industry. Occupations that require a master’s degree in accounting or business administration include financial advisor, stock broker, and forensic accountant.

  • What is the best master's degree for accountants?

    Options for master’s degrees in accounting include the master of accounting (MAcc), master of science in accounting (MSA), and MBA in accounting. A MAcc or MSA may provide better preparation for the CPA exam. An MBA may provide a faster track to a top-level corporate job.

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Guide to a Master's in Accounting Best Bachelor's in Accounting Best Online Master's In Accounting

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