Most Affordable Online Master's in Accounting Programs 2024

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Updated May 20, 2024

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Saving money on your accounting master's may deliver better returns on your educational investment. Find top-ranked affordable graduate accounting programs with this resource.

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Are you ready to discover your college program?

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Advanced accounting degrees signal expertise. They also help you qualify and prepare for the Uniform CPA Examination and other certification tests. Given these factors, an online master's in accounting may help boost your career.

Graduate degrees create appealing paths to strong returns on your educational investment. Payscale data from March 2024 cites an average base salary of $80,000 per year for professionals with a master of accounting. You can further improve your return on investment (RO) by specifically seeking an affordable program.

Start by considering average graduate school tuition rates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the typical graduate student paid the following tuition amounts during the 2021–22 school year:

  • $29,931 at private nonprofit institutions
  • $14,161 at private for-profit institutions
  • $12,596 at public institutions

This guide introduces multiple online master's programs in accounting with appealing affordability profiles relative to these averages. Use it to launch your search for a budget-friendly degree that may help you reach your professional goals.

Popular Online Accounting Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Cheapest Accounting Master's Programs

#1 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Accounting Programs 2024

University of California, Irvine

  • Irvine, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Total Program Tuition: $57,780

Credits to Graduate: 44

Students can choose between part-time and full-time enrollment for UCI's master of professional accountancy programs. Both options occur on campus and cover the same curriculum, but full-time learners can complete the program in one year rather than two. 

Courses cover financial statement analysis, advanced audits, and emerging accounting topics. Students can select a two-course environmental, social, and governance pathway that explores sustainability accounting and corporate governance. Other three-course specializations include data analytics and taxation.

Tuition and financial aid options also remain the same for both degrees. UCI's Paul Merage School of Business awards scholarships to 85% of its enrollees. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$26,544
Retention Rate
93%
Acceptance Rate
29%
Students Enrolled
36,505
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
81% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#2 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Accounting Programs 2024

University of Washington

  • Seattle, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Total Program Tuition:

In-State | $23,700

Out-of-State | $29,187

Credits to Graduate: 48

UW's master of professional accounting program lasts nine months. This accelerated on-campus program includes four fall and four spring classes, separated by an experiential learning project in the winter.

The fall courses explore advanced accounting topics like codification research, assurance services case studies, and data analytics. Each student then develops hands-on experience with an internship or independent accounting research project before diving into auditing, business ethos, and financial statement analysis in the spring. 

UW charges similar tuition and scholarships for in-state and out-of-state learners. The university also reports a 100% job placement rate, with a $72,000 average starting salary.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,927
Out-of-state
$38,757
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$16,605
Out-of-state
$29,763
Retention Rate
93%
Acceptance Rate
53%
Students Enrolled
52,434
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#3 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Accounting Programs 2024

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Cost per Credit (online): $1,446

Credits to Graduate: 36-48

UNC-Chapel Hill's master of accounting program occurs in person or online. The on-campus program caters to students without an accounting background and lasts 10-12 months. Learners can come from any professional background and complete the online program in 12-36 months. 

Online and on-campus enrollees complete the same curriculum. The core courses explore financial reporting, managerial accounting, and leadership immersion. Students can choose a tax, audit, or financial analysis and reporting concentration or create their own focus. 

UNC-Chapel Hill considers all accounting applicants for fellowships. These awards typically total $3,000-$6,000, but some exceed $10,000.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,019
Out-of-state
$34,882
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,552
Out-of-state
$28,844
Retention Rate
97%
Acceptance Rate
20%
Students Enrolled
31,641
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Accounting Programs 2024

University of California, Davis

  • Davis, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Total Program Tuition: $52,800

Credits to Graduate: 48

Before starting UC Davis' master of professional accountancy program, students must complete prerequisites in statistics, business law, introduction to financial accounting, and introduction to managerial accounting. The nine-month accelerated curriculum includes 12 intermediate and advanced accounting classes on campus. 

Topics cover managerial accounting, audit data analytics, and accounting ethics. Students experienced in financial reporting can replace these classes with electives in machine learning and advanced tax reporting. 

UC Davis awards merit-based scholarships to almost 80% of graduate accounting students. The university also offers paid graduate teaching assistant or reader positions. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$26,544
Retention Rate
91%
Acceptance Rate
49%
Students Enrolled
40,050
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
21% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#5 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Accounting Programs 2024

California State University, Fullerton

  • Fullerton, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Tuition Cost per Semester:

Part Time | $2,082

Full Time | $3,588

Credits to Graduate: 30

CSUF's MS in accountancy program occurs on campus and caters to students with bachelor's degrees in accounting or BSBAs with an accounting concentration. Learners with non-accounting backgrounds can apply but must complete 5-6 prerequisite courses. 

The core courses include accounting theory, professional communications, and corporate taxation. Students select two accounting and three non-accounting elective classes, as well. The program ends with an independent accounting project.

CSUF lowers its per-semester costs for part-time learners, but out-of-state students pay an additional $396 per credit. Enrollees can also apply for several scholarships, including a $10,000 award for new business school students.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,176
Out-of-state
$16,680
Retention Rate
87%
Acceptance Rate
59%
Students Enrolled
40,738
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
80% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Our Ranking Methodology

Accounting.com ranks the best accounting degrees using reputable sources such as the U.S. Department of Education. We build our rankings with four main metrics in mind: academics, cost, reputation, and program availability. We also consider subfactors like retention rate, federal aid amounts, and return on investment to help you find the right program for you.

This ranking is from 2024. Learn more about our process by visiting our school rankings methodology page.

What Factors Into an Accounting Master's Affordability?

Tuition influences a program's affordability. However, you should also consider metrics including financial aid, school location, and course delivery formats. These factors can significantly impact a program's overall costs.

This breakdown explains further:

Tuition

Graduate schools often calculate tuition on a per-credit basis. However, some charge flat rates per semester or academic year.

Both models offer certain cost advantages. The per-credit model gives you more flexibility when pacing your budget. With the flat-rate model, you might be able to save by overloading your full-time study schedule.

When comparing tuition rates, you can use NCES data as a guideline. According to the NCES Data Lab, the average annual cost of a graduate business program at a school offering fully online instruction was $6,289 in 2020. This figure covers both tuition and required fees.

Enrollment Status

By studying part time, especially in a flexible online program, you may find it easier to work while in school. Having a steady source of income will always help your budget.

However, part-time enrollment extends your graduation timeline. In addition to keeping you paying tuition longer, this delays your entry into the professional accounting workforce and the handsome salaries that can accompany it.

You may find it easier to optimize the cost benefits of working while studying part time if your school calculates tuition on a per-credit basis. Flat-rate tuition models usually look only at your enrollment status without considering the actual number of credits in your schedule. In some cases, you can end up paying more per credit by minimizing your course load.

Location

School location has many budget impacts. First, note that some (but not all) public schools offer uniform rates to all students in fully online accounting programs, regardless of location. If a public institution charges variable rates, in-state learners almost always pay significantly less.

Hybrid programs balance face-to-face with online learning, creating a flexible blend some students enjoy. However, hybrid programs prevent you from fully escaping commuting and/or parking costs.

By doing your master's in accounting online, you can avoid some of the most significant costs associated with campus-based attendance. You gain access to a much larger set of program options without the need to physically relocate. This alone could save you thousands of dollars compared to what you would pay if you moved to complete the same program in a face-to-face format.

Delivery Format

Online delivery formats offer a level of scheduling flexibility not available in traditional face-to-face learning. You can maximize these benefits by choosing a program with asynchronous course delivery. Asynchronous courses feature pre-recorded lectures, allowing you to choose where and when to engage with your learning content.

However, if you do your master's in accounting online, you may miss out on valuable experiential learning opportunities.

For instance, many accounting programs feature internship programs. Internships afford you a chance to apply your developing skills in a real-world setting while building your personal and professional networks.

Financial Aid

Private institutions usually charge higher tuition rates than their public counterparts. Using NCES data from the 2021–22 academic year, graduate students paid 238% higher tuition fees on average to attend a private nonprofit school than a public school.

However, there's more to that data than meets the eye. Private schools are known for offering generous financial aid programs, which can dramatically reduce the net price of attendance when that aid comes in non-repayable forms. In some cases, net pricing can make private schools one of the more affordable study options.

Non-repayable aid options include scholarships, fellowships, and grant programs. Repayable aid like federal and private loans creates debt, so use these financing sources as a last resort. Non-repayable aid often comes from the program or college itself, while loan awards are often tied to FAFSA completion, which may have enrollment requirements.

How Can You Pay for a Master's in Accounting Online?

If you need help paying for your online master's in accounting, start by seeking scholarships. Check to see if your chosen program or school offers specific endowments or scholarships. Then, take a look at the scholarships we've assembled here.

These non-repayable gifts reduce your education costs without creating debt, making them an ideal financing vehicle.

Many philanthropic organizations, charities, corporate programs, and private donors operate scholarship programs. The following list introduces a few of the many such funding sources available to graduate accounting students:

Scholarships for Accounting Students

PCPS George Willie Ethnically Diverse Student Scholarship & Internship

  • Requirements: Offered through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), this scholarship is open to undergraduate and graduate accounting students. To be eligible, you must come from a diverse ethnic, racial, or cultural background and plan to pursue CPA licensure.
  • Award: Up to $10,000

AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship Award

  • Requirements: This AICPA scholarship program is for non-business liberal arts degree-holders who plan to study accounting at the graduate level. It is specifically designed to support non-traditional accounting graduate students who intend to pursue professional licensure as a CPA.
  • Award: $5,000

Deloitte Foundation Accounting Scholars Program

  • Requirements: The Deloitte Foundation offers this scholarship to students in advanced accounting programs. Eligible programs include both general accounting master's programs and graduate accounting degrees with concentrations in auditing, financial advising, or taxation. Awards cover 100% of each recipient's tuition fees for the academic year.
  • Award: Varies

Making Cheap Master's Degrees Even Cheaper

Cost-conscious students can use many budgeting strategies to control their education expenses. Getting your master's in accounting online can deliver significant savings on its own. However, you can help your cause even more by pairing e-learning with other ways to save.

Explore these additional ways to reduce the costs of your college experience:

  • Consider an Accelerated Program

    Some graduate schools offer accelerated online master's degrees in accounting with compressed, fast-paced learning schedules. These efficient programs lead to faster graduation. Spending less time in school means you will also spend less money earning an advanced degree that could lead to a high-paying job.
  • Overload Your Schedule

    As an alternative to an accelerated program, you may have the option of overloading your schedule. If your school charges flat per-semester or per-year rates, you can add courses on top of the standard full-time course load without paying extra tuition fees. This functionally reduces your per-credit rate, saving you money.
  • Maximize Your Tax Advantages

    Graduate degrees qualify for the federal government's Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) program. You qualify for the credit by paying tuition fees at an eligible accredited institution. The LLC program offers up to $2,000 per year in tax savings, and you can claim it an unlimited number of times.
  • Rent Your Textbooks

    Textbooks can cost students hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year. You can reduce these costs by renting your required books instead of buying them. Similarly, you can also look for used rather than new copies of the books you need; they will cost far less.
  • Consider Tuition Reimbursement

    Many graduate students already hold a bachelor's degree in the field. If you do, and if you are working in a relevant job, check to see if your employer offers a tuition reimbursement program. Some employers subsidize or cover the cost of their staff members' degree upgrades as part of their benefits packages.

Will Getting Your Accounting Master's Pay Off?

By earning your master's in accounting online, you may put yourself in a position to reap career-long rewards. As the CPA Journal reports, candidates with master's degrees have "significantly" higher exam pass rates on the Uniform CPA Examination.

Payscale data from February 2024 cites an average base salary of $97,000 per year for CPAs in the United States. Meanwhile, Payscale reports that working professionals with a bachelor's degree in accounting earn an average of $79,000 per year. Over a 20-year career, that equates to more than $360,000 in extra earnings without factoring in the pay raises that typically accompany advancing seniority.

You can also use other data points to estimate the potential ROI of a master's in accounting. For example, you might consider:

  • The ratio of the salary increase you could secure with a master's degree and the debt you would accrue in graduate school
  • Ratio relationships between your career-long earning potential and the upfront cost of your master's program
  • Average salaries earned by alumni of your school's graduate accounting program, if available

Finally, consider that an advanced accounting degree could unlock access to high-level management and executive roles not normally open to professionals with only a bachelor's degree. If a career as a comptroller, treasurer, finance manager, or chief financial officer appeals to you, consider earning a graduate degree.

Common Questions About Accounting Master's Programs

How much does it cost to get a master's in accounting online?

NCES data from 2020 placed the average annual cost of a graduate business program at a school offering fully online instruction at $6,289 in tuition and required fees.

As a point of comparison, overall average graduate school costs for the 2021–22 school year ranged from $12,596 at public colleges to $28,017 at private institutions.

What is the best master's degree for accountants?

It depends on your career goals. If you plan to become a CPA, a general master's degree will provide versatile coverage of essential topics. If you would rather become a specialist, choose a relevant concentration. Common options include management accounting, forensic accounting, auditing, and data analytics in accountancy.

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

A master's degree in accounting opens an expanded set of professional roles. You may be better prepared for the exams that lead to valuable professional certifications. Some employers also prefer candidates with advanced degrees when filling high-level, accounting-focused management and executive roles.

Is a master's in accounting the same as an MBA?

No. A master's in accounting exclusively covers accounting methods and professional practices. MBA degrees may include some accounting coursework, but they focus more generally on business management and administration principles.

However, note that some business schools offer MBA degrees with accounting concentrations. These programs offer stronger integration of accounting topics.


The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by Accounting.com. Page last reviewed Feb. 26, 2024.

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