Most Affordable Accounting Master's Programs 2024

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Updated February 6, 2024

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Recent college graduates and professionals with years of experience alike can benefit from earning a master's in accounting. But finding affordable graduate programs can be challenging. Below, we've compiled a list of the top affordable accounting master's programs. When we say "affordable," we're talking about highly reputable programs that charge lower than average tuition rates, costing $20,000 or less.

Despite their affordability, these courses help students build transferable accounting skills that are in high demand across diverse industries — skills that never lose value. Investing in these programs is cost-effective and can provide a substantial return on investment (ROI). Many graduates go on to start high-paying careers, reaping benefits that far exceed the initial cost of their education.

So if you want to enhance your knowledge, boost your employability, and do it all without breaking the bank, you've come to the right place. Scroll down and explore our ranking of schools offering top-tier, budget-friendly accounting master's degrees.

Featured Online Accounting Master's Programs

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

Affordable Accounting Master's Program Rankings Summary

Rank School In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition Acceptance Rate
#1 University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA
$11,442 $41,196 29%
#2 University of Washington
Seattle, WA
$10,927 $38,757 53%
#3 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
$7,019 $34,882 20%
#4 University of California, Davis
Davis, CA
$11,442 $41,196 49%
#5 California State University, Fullerton
Fullerton, CA
$5,742 $17,622 59%

Cheapest Accounting Master's Programs

#1 Most Affordable Accounting Master’s 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 Accounting Master’s 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 Accounting Master’s 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 Accounting Master’s 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 Accounting Master’s 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

What Factors Into the Cost of a Master's in Accounting?

In general, the cost of tuition determines the affordability of a degree. However, additional factors can increase the overall cost of a master's in accounting.

These factors include whether students enroll full or part time, qualify for financial aid, or live in areas with a high cost of living.

Tuition

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, graduate students paid an average of about $19,750 in tuition during the 2020-2021 academic year. Enrollees at private nonprofit schools paid about $28,450, while those at public colleges and universities paid roughly $12,390 during the same period.

However, online master's programs in accounting tend to be less expensive than the average in-person program.

Colleges calculate tuition in three major ways: per credit hour, per semester, or per year. As you research, check to see which tuition structure each school uses in order to correctly evaluate the cost of tuition.

Enrollment Status

Most of the cheapest online master's in accounting programs allow students to choose between part-time and full-time enrollment.

Enrolling part time gives students the option of working while simultaneously earning their degree, which can help them avoid taking out loans and cover the cost of living expenses. However, part-time students take longer to earn their degrees.

If a student enrolls in a program that charges per semester or per year, taking more time to graduate can increase the degree's cost.

Full-time students have the benefit of completing their programs more quickly, often in one year. However, full-time learners will likely have higher tuition payments per semester and perhaps fewer opportunities to earn additional income while enrolled.

Financial Aid

Financial aid can assist you in paying for your degree. While most schools have financial aid programs, consider the types and amount of aid offered by each school before committing to a program.

Be aware that schools with higher tuition rates may also provide better financial aid packages for qualifying students. For instance, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers fellowships for qualified students that range from $3,000-$10,000.

Some schools may offer graduate assistantships, which can also reduce the cost of attendance.

You may also qualify for financial aid through other programs. Work-study programs allow you to work on campus to earn money toward your tuition.

Awards like scholarships and grants can be put toward degree costs and do not need to be repaid. You may also qualify for loans to cover educational expenses, though you have to repay them after graduation.

How Can You Pay for a Degree in Accounting?

Students do not need to repay scholarships after graduation. In other words, scholarships are free money for school.

Explore the list below to learn more about a few scholarship awards available for master's in accounting students.

A variety of additional sources, including professional accounting organizations and individual universities, offer scholarships.

Scholarships for Accounting Students

Frank L. Greathouse Government Accounting (GFOA) Scholarship

  • Requirements: Open to graduate students planning to pursue careers in state and local government finance. Candidates must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or Canada.
  • Award: GFOA offers 11 scholarships between $5,000 and $25,000.

Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Scholarships

  • Requirements: This scholarship is for women pursuing an accounting education. Several scholarships are available, each with different requirements, typically based on academic achievement, financial need, and dedication to pursuing a career in accounting.
  • Award: Graduate scholarships are worth between $1,000 and $2,500.

National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) National Scholarship Program

  • Requirements: Students must display overall academic excellence and identify as Black, African American, or of African descent. They must be active NABA student members that have paid their membership dues to NABA's National Office.
  • Award: NABA offers an average of 150 scholarships annually between $1,000 and $10,000.

Making the Cheapest Master's in Accounting Even Cheaper

Most students require financial aid to complete even the most affordable master's in accounting degrees. Degree-seekers can start with the FAFSA to determine their eligibility for financial aid, which tends to be more limited for graduate students.

The following list includes some common considerations for cost-conscious students.

  • Book Rentals

    Even with quick, easy access to virtual information, many courses still use hard-copy books and learning materials. Many schools offer book rentals and buy-back programs that enable students to reuse discounted course materials.
  • Maximizing Credit Loads

    Students may consider overloading credits in programs that do not assign per-credit tuition rates. By maximizing their credit load, learners may meet their degree requirements in less time and at a lower cost than if they pay per credit. Students should consider the scheduling requirements of overloading credits if they have other life or work commitments.
  • Transfer Credits

    Learners with previous academic, life, or work experience can transfer credits toward master's in accounting degrees. Online programs encourage students to apply the maximum number of transfer credits, granting them faster completion times and lower costs than traditional programs.

Will Getting Your Accounting Degree Pay Off?

Even the cheapest master's in accounting degrees cost money. Before enrolling, think about if an accounting master's degree makes financial sense.

You can start by calculating the net cost of their degree, factoring in tuition, fees, living expenses, course materials, and any financial aid awards. From there, compare that number to their projected salary earnings to determine a program's ROI.

Consider the overall benefits of earning a master's degree in accounting. For example, many graduates from master's in accounting programs become Certified Public Accountants(CPAs).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statiscs, CPAs in the United States earned a median annual wage of $77,250 in May 2021, which is about $30,000 more than the median annual wage across all U.S. occupations.

Here is an example of how a student considering Seton Hall University's online master's degree in accounting might calculate their ROI: Seton Hall's online master's in accounting costs about $40,500. According to the BLS, accountants in New Jersey — where Seton Hall is located — earn an average annual wage of $102,040 as of May 2022.

Even with New Jersey's higher-than-average cost of living, students can recuperate their educational costs within one year of employment as a CPA.

Common Questions About Accounting Master's Programs

How much does a master's in accounting cost?

While costs vary among schools, NCES reports that the average master's degree program cost about $19,750 during the 2020-2021 academic year. Online programs often cost less.

How much does it cost to get an accounting degree online?

A school may charge variable tuition for online programs based on its public or private status and state reciprocity agreements. Distance learners often enjoy perks like in-state tuition rates and book rental options.

What is the best master's degree for accountants?

Schools commonly offer master's degrees in accounting or MBAs with an accounting concentration. Students with either degree meet the minimum education requirement for many entry-level roles in accounting and finance.

Should I get an MBA or master's in accounting?

MBA and master's degrees in accounting share some similarities, including core coursework in soft accounting and business skills. MBAs may best suit students looking for broad accounting programs with flexible career options, while master's degrees in accounting best serve aspiring CPAs and accountants.

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

Many master's in accounting degree-holders pursue CPA licensure to become accountants. A master's degree can also lead to careers in financial management or senior-level tax or financial examiner positions.

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