Taxation Degree Guide
| Accounting.com Staff Modified on March 22, 2022
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Some accounting programs allow students to choose specialized degrees or concentrations. Taxation degrees build off fundamental accounting topics while specialized in personal and/or corporate taxes. Graduates with a taxation degree enjoy strong job prospects.
As long as individuals and businesses must pay taxes, they need eligible tax professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 1.4 million accountants and auditors work in the U.S., with 90,700 new positions projected from 2018-2028.
This resource explores tax concentrations at various degree levels, including common courses and potential careers for graduates.
What Is a Taxation Concentration?
Taxation covers all types of taxes, including income, property, payroll, and real estate tax. Unlike general accounting degrees, taxation concentrations focus on one part of the accounting process. These concentrations prepare graduates for positions like tax analyst and tax manager.
Some schools offer associate degrees in accounting, which may touch on taxation. Bachelor's in taxation programs delve further into taxation principles than associate degrees, but master's degrees offer advanced knowledge and skills in taxation. Some professional certifications require a related master's degree.
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Taxation programs typically build off accounting skills, so many undergraduates concentrating in taxation earn bachelor's degrees in accounting. Courses in these programs differ from general accounting programs, focusing more on taxation. Due to the foundational nature of a bachelor's degree, general accounting degrees and accounting degrees with concentrations in taxation usually lead to similar careers. Both options prepare graduates for master's degrees in accounting or taxation.
Top Bachelor's in Accounting Programs
There are several types of graduate taxation concentrations. Students can choose between an accounting degree with a concentration in taxation or a taxation degree. Potential degrees include:
- MS in Taxation
- MS in Accounting with a Concentration in Taxation
- MBA in Taxation.
Many graduates also choose to earn professional certification. Most taxation concentrations prepare graduates to sit for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam.
Top Master's in Accounting Programs
Master's Degrees in Taxation
Why Get a Taxation Concentration?
Taxation concentrations offer many benefits, including career advancement opportunities, higher salary potential, and certification preparation. The following list outlines several benefits of pursuing a taxation concentration.
- Career Advancement: Some positions require specialized taxation knowledge and skills, which professionals can acquire through a taxation concentration.
- Increased Salary: Those who earn bachelor's or master's degrees in taxation tend to make higher wages than those with less education.
- More Job Prospects: Employers seek a combination of education and experience, and many taxation concentrations supply learners with both, expanding their job opportunities.
- Preparation for Certifications: Professional certifications, including the CPA and certified tax preparer (CTP) designations, require a minimum number of college credits. Taxation concentrations can help satisfy these requirements.
- Personal Development: Those with a genuine interest in taxation can learn to do their own taxes and experience personal fulfillment and enrichment from a taxation concentration.
When Is a Taxation Concentration Better Than a General Accounting Degree?
Students who know they want to pursue a career related to taxation benefit from the specialized knowledge and skills offered by taxation concentrations. However, students who are unsure of their career goals often benefit more from general accounting degrees, which allow them to explore a variety of professional interests.
When Might a General Accounting Degree Be Better Than a Taxation Concentration?
General accounting programs are more common than taxation concentrations, so prospective accounting students can choose from more programs and institutions. General accounting degrees may also lead to more diverse career opportunities in accounting than taxation concentrations.
What About Other Concentrations?
The accounting field includes many concentrations aside from taxation, which lead to a variety of careers. For example, professionals who want to perform government tax audits benefit from forensic accounting or auditing concentrations. Popular accounting concentrations include:
Explore Specific Accounting Concentrations
Courses to Expect with a Taxation Concentration
The courses students take while earning taxation degrees depend on degree level and program. Most programs include core and elective requirements, and many require thesis or capstone projects.
Courses vary by program, but the following list outlines several common courses found in taxation programs.
Careers for Taxation Degree Graduates
Graduates who earn accounting degrees with taxation concentrations can pursue a variety of careers. Many taxation specialists work as accountants or auditors. According to the BLS, accountants and auditors earn a median annual salary of $71,550, with the top 10% of earners making more than $124,450.
According to the BLS, tax examiners and collectors, who only need a bachelor's degree, earn a median salary of $54,890. Tax examiners who work for the federal government earn an even higher median salary of $61,590.
Some tax concentration graduates find careers unrelated to accounting or taxation, such as top executive positions with corporations. Potential careers for graduates include:
Selecting an Accounting Program with a Taxation Concentration
Prospective students should consider the following factors before committing to a program that offers a taxation concentration.
Cost and Financial Aid
Prospective students should compare the cost of various schools and their financial aid offerings.
Each city, county, and state creates its own codes and regulations for taxation. Applicants should select programs in the region where they want to work.
Master's and bachelor's degrees in accounting typically take two and four years to complete, respectively, but some schools offer accelerated courses or programs, reducing degree length.
Sometimes the cheapest option does not lead to the best career outcomes. Students should research programs with strong outcomes related to their specific career interests.
Competitiveness of Admissions
Schools set various standards for admission, and some taxation concentrations reject more applicants than they accept. Students should research the admission requirements at each prospective school.
Online vs In-Person
Both undergraduate and graduate taxation concentrations come in online formats. Those who cannot commit to specific class schedules and require more flexibility should consider earning their degrees online.
Questions About Taxation Degrees
What are career options for graduates with a degree in taxation?Taxation degrees lead to careers as tax accountants, tax consultants, finance analysts, and tax managers, along with other accounting careers.
What can I do with a master's in taxation?Master's degrees in taxation qualify graduates to sit for various certification exams, including the CPA and CTP exams.
Is taxation hard to study?Taxation builds off fundamental accounting topics. Taxation degrees prove difficult for those who do not like math, accounting, or policy.
Can you get a taxation degree online?Some schools offer taxation degrees partially or entirely online, and online students can sometimes complete taxation degrees faster than on-campus students.
Is taxation a good career?Individuals, organizations, and businesses need experienced tax professionals to handle their taxes, so taxation is a steadily growing, high-paying field.
Professional Organizations and Resources
Professional organizations provide students, recent graduates, and seasoned professionals with plenty of benefits, including networking, professional development, and continuing education opportunities. The following list outlines several popular organizations for taxation and accounting professionals.
- National Association of Tax Professionals: The NATP represents over 23,000 tax professionals. Members receive access to industry updates, tax news, and various online and in-person education opportunities.
- National Society of Tax Professionals: Founded in 1985, the NSTP represents tax professionals across the country. Members receive access to newsletters, tax news, and other useful information. The NSTP also offers discounted education and research services to its members.
- National Society of Accountants: A large organization for all types of accounting professionals, the NSA offers members access to industry information, professional development resources, and exam study materials. NSA also awards scholarships to current accounting and taxation students across the nation.
- Institute for Professionals in Taxation: IPT serves over 6,000 tax consultants, corporate tax professionals, and current taxation students. Membership benefits include continuing education opportunities, networking opportunities, and access to exclusive publications.
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