The 25 Best Master’s in Accounting Programs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial managers earned a median salary of $125,080, which is more than three times the median salary for all other occupations. Additionally, the BLS projects that employment for financial managers will increase by 19% through 2026, a level of growth substantially higher than the average rate for all occupations. Financial professionals in the upper echelons of a company can earn even more. For example, top-level financial executives earned a median salary of $183,270.
While a bachelor’s degree may qualify you for some of these roles, you usually need a master’s in accounting to compete for the most lucrative positions. This page provides an overview of accounting master’s programs, including admissions requirements, core courses and electives, potential career paths, and valuable professional certifications and organizations. You can also find a ranking of the best master’s in accounting programs in the country.
Should I Get a Master’s in Accounting?
If you want to take on a leadership role in financial management, you need a master’s in accounting or a related field. If you aspire to a chief executive role, you may instead consider a master’s in business administration with coursework in finance and accounting.
An online accounting master’s degree often appeals to individuals who need to balance their graduate studies with professional or personal obligations. Many of these programs allow students to take classes asynchronously, meaning you can watch lectures and complete assignments entirely on your own schedule from any location with an internet connection. While online programs offer a great deal of convenience, you may still find that you prefer the structure and camaraderie of a more traditional classroom experience.
While pursuing an accounting graduate degree, you can expect to take courses in subjects such as tax research methodology, advanced auditing, ethics in accounting, and corporate financial management. Some programs require students to complete a research-based thesis, while others offer students the opportunity to apply their learning through a capstone project.
In addition to developing new knowledge and skills, master’s in accounting students gain career benefits. For example, many programs offer career placement services to students. These services can help you get your foot in the door at a company directly after graduation. During your graduate studies, you also have the opportunity to significantly strengthen your professional network. Throughout your career, you can call upon this group of colleagues to ask for advice or take advantage of interesting new opportunities.
What Can I Do With a Master’s in Accounting?
With only limited professional experience, a master’s in accounting can qualify you for a position as an accountant or auditor in the public or private sector. With several years of experience, you may choose to take on a more specialized role such as budget or financial analyst. Ultimately, you may work your way up to managerial or executive-level jobs like chief financial officer. Some individuals with accounting backgrounds prefer to work for themselves, offering guidance on investments or taxes as a personal financial adviser.
Whatever career path you pursue, you need exceptional math, analytical, and organizational skills to succeed. You may also need to consider obtaining a postgraduate certificate or license.
Accountant or Auditor: Accountants and auditors maintain financial records, ensure that organizations pay the correct amount of taxes, and assess financial operations in order to reduce costs and increase revenues. While a bachelor’s degree may qualify you for entry-level roles, some employers prefer to hire candidates with a master’s in accounting.
- Median Annual Salary: $69,350
- Projected Growth Rate: 10%
Budget Analyst: Budget analysts develop organizational budgets and monitor spending in accordance with those budgets. They may also provide financial guidance to senior leadership and estimate future financial needs. Most budget analysts hold a bachelor’s degree in a field like accounting or finance, although a master’s degree can give you a competitive edge over other candidates.
- Median Annual Salary: $75,240
- Projected Growth Rate: 7%
Financial Analyst: Financial analysts guide individuals and businesses as they make investment decisions. To do so, these analysts need a thorough understanding of economic trends, the market, and the financial performance of individual firms. Most analysts hold a bachelor’s, but a graduate degree can significantly improve your job prospects.
- Median Annual Salary: $84,300
- Projected Growth Rate: 11%
Personal Financial Adviser: Personal financial advisers offer guidance on matters such as insurance, savings, taxes, retirement, investment, and estate planning. Many advisers specialize in a particular area, such as saving for college. A large percentage work for themselves. A master’s degree and appropriate certification qualifies you for most of these positions.
- Median Annual Salary: $90,640
- Projected Growth Rate: 15%
Financial Manager: Financial managers oversee the financial activities of departments or organizations. They create reports, direct investments, and shape financial strategy. At larger companies, they may also supervise the work of a team of accountants and analysts. Most employers now seek candidates with a master’s degree in accounting or a related field.
- Median Annual Salary: $125,080
- Projected Growth Rate: 19%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Master’s in Accounting Program
Since so many schools offer a master’s in accounting, it can be difficult to know which program best suits your interests and needs. To narrow your search, try asking yourself some of the questions below.
To begin, what coursework have you previously taken in accounting? Some graduate schools offer a master’s in accounting for nonaccounting majors, allowing you to take introductory financial courses before moving on to more advanced subjects. If you majored in accounting during your undergraduate studies, you may prefer a more accelerated or advanced program.
Do you want to study online or in-person? Online master’s in accounting programs offer exceptional flexibility for working professionals and those with family obligations. However, these options do not necessarily provide the same level of support and opportunity to learn from your classmates that you can find in a more traditional classroom experience.
What can you afford? A degree from an elite private institution may give you a competitive edge in the job market. However, you can develop the same skills and pay significantly less in tuition at a public university. Make sure to consider the ultimate return on the investment you place in your education.
Where is your school located? Some students may only consider programs near their homes. If you plan to move, think about factors such as the cost and quality of living in a new community, as well as employment opportunities for you or members of your family.
Finally, does your program include any extracurricular graduation requirements? For example, some programs may involve a mandatory internship at a financial organization or the completion of a research-based thesis. These requirements grant important hands-on experience, but may prove redundant for professionals already working in the field.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master’s in Accounting Programs
You should always take care to attend an accredited master’s in accounting program. The accreditation process ensures that schools meet certain educational standards and equip their students with the tools necessary to find employment after graduation. If your program lacks accreditation, you may not qualify for financial aid, and future employers may not recognize your degree.
Your school or program may hold three forms of accreditation: regional, national, or programmatic. Many nonprofit schools and all public universities hold regional accreditation. For-profit and vocational schools may opt to pursue national accreditation instead. Many employers and universities prefer credits from regionally accredited schools.
Individual programs within a school may also seek out programmatic accreditation in order to demonstrate their ability to prepare students for a particular field of work or study. Many master’s in accounting programs pursue accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s online directory to find out if your school or program holds regional, national, or programmatic accreditation.
Master’s in Accounting Program Admissions
To apply to master’s in accounting programs, you must first hold a bachelor’s degree. You may need to have completed undergraduate coursework in finance or accounting, but some programs admit students on the condition that they take these classes early in their graduate studies.
While admissions requirements vary from program to program, you generally must submit your undergraduate transcripts, a professional resume, letters of recommendation, and your scores on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Some small colleges and online schools host a master’s in accounting with no GMAT requirement.
After submitting your application materials, a school may contact you to schedule an interview. An interview allows you to expand on your qualifications or provide explanations for gaps in your resume or low standardized test scores.
To maximize your chances of earning admission into a program, consider applying to at least three schools. Try to select one “safety school,” an institution where you feel very confident you meet or exceed all of the listed admission requirements.
- Bachelor’s Degree: You must hold a bachelor’s degree to pursue a master’s in accounting. Many schools require that you complete introductory coursework in accounting, finance, or economics during your undergraduate studies.
- Professional Experience: Some schools require applicants to possess relevant professional experience, usually two to three years. However, other programs cater to students coming directly from an undergraduate program.
- Minimum GPA: More selective institutions require applicants to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 during college. You may qualify for conditional admission if you have a lower GPA, but a strong record of professional experience.
- Application: You should plan to devote a significant amount of time to the application process, especially if it requires a personal essay. Most graduate schools do not use The Common Application, so plan to submit a unique application for each institution.
- Transcripts: You must submit your undergraduate transcripts. To do so, contact your prior college or university’s registrar. The school may charge a small fee to send official copies of your transcripts. Allow up to three weeks to process your request.
- Letters of Recommendation: Many schools require three letters of recommendation. Consider asking professors, supervisors, and community leaders for a letter of reference. Avoid asking friends or family. Give your recommenders at least two months to write your letter.
- Test Scores: Most schools require you to submit standardized test scores, though some programs offer an accounting master’s degree with no GMAT requirement. When required, schools often want a GMAT score of 450 or above.
- Application Fee: You should expect to pay an application fee, usually $50-$100. If you serve as a member of the armed forces or can demonstrate financial need, you may qualify for an application fee waiver.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master’s in Accounting Program?
Most master’s in accounting programs feature similar introductory coursework in auditing, tax law, ethics, and financial reporting. However, the exact nature of the more advanced classes you take, as well as the overall length and cost of your graduate studies, can vary significantly across programs.
Concentrations Offered for a Master’s Degree in Accounting
|Concentration||Description||Careers This Concentration Prepares For|
|Tax||Students concentrating in tax preparation and analysis take foundational coursework in financial reporting, introductory finance, and managerial and cost accounting. These programs also feature advanced classes in topics such as federal income tax, corporate and international tax strategies, and the taxation of flow-through entities.||Senior tax accountant, lead tax analyst|
|Auditing||Students who pursue a concentration in auditing take courses in advanced auditing, information management and analytics technology, and accounting for mergers and acquisitions. Students often complete an applied audit, during which they systematically examine the complete financial records of a real organization.||Internal audit consultant, manager of audits and reimbursements|
|Forensic Accounting||Forensic accounting uses the principles of accounting and auditing to investigate criminal or unethical behavior. Students take courses in subjects like fraud examination, financial statements investigation, lost wages and employment litigation, and complex discovery and data management. They also learn how to act as expert witnesses in judicial proceedings.||Director of forensic accounting, senior fraud control officer|
|Management Accounting||Management accountants combine their understanding of accounting principles with expertise in operations, management, and strategy. To prepare for these roles, students explore topics like strategic cost management and organizational behavior. Many students who pursue this concentration at the master’s level go on to earn the Certified Management Accountant credential.||Controller, chief financial officer|
|Accounting Information Systems||As the management of financial data becomes more complex, accountants increasingly turn to information systems to store and access that data. By concentrating in this area, students develop skills in both accounting and technology. Learners often take courses in data warehousing, data modeling, and laws and regulations associated with protecting financial data.||Senior financial systems analyst, lead financial database administrator|
Courses in a Master’s in Accounting Program
While curricula vary, master’s in accounting programs often build on foundational undergraduate coursework in statistics, economics, and finance. If you did not major in accounting or a related field, you may need to take additional introductory classes before enrolling in the more advanced courses listed below.
- International Accounting: This course introduces students to the unique laws and policies that guide accounting in the global marketplace. While international accounting standards closely resemble those used in the U.S., many important differences exist. Students may also practice tax preparation for a hypothetical multinational corporation.
- Tax Research Methodology: Some master’s in accounting programs require students to complete a research-based thesis in order to graduate. This course explores methods for collecting, analyzing, and presenting tax-related research data. It also features an introduction to the rules and procedures associated with representing clients before the Internal Revenue Service.
- Situational Ethics in Accounting: Handling an individual or organization’s finances often presents ethical challenges with no clear solution. Through a review of policies, case studies, and philosophical theories related to both ethics and justice, this course helps students develop a framework for making more ethical decisions in their professional practice.
- Business Law: This course offers a broad overview of business law outside of the context of accounting. For example, students learn about employment law, internet law, tort and product liability, and contracts. This multifaceted understanding of legal issues and regulations benefits students who plan to take on leadership roles in financial management.
- Accounting Capstone: Offered either in lieu of or in conjunction with a thesis, a capstone course allows students to apply their learning to a real-world accounting issue. For example, students may partner with a local nonprofit organization to conduct an internal audit and make recommendations about how to reduce operating costs in order to provide more services to the community.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s in Accounting?
Most master’s in accounting programs consist of approximately 30-35 credits. Full-time students in these programs usually earn their degree in about two years, though part-time students may need up to four years to graduate.
If you did not earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, you may need to take up to 15 credits of bridge coursework. These introductory classes often cover topics such as statistics, microeconomics and macroeconomics, and accounting fundamentals. Completing bridge coursework can add up to one year to the overall length of your graduate studies.
On the other hand, if you have completed accounting-related courses or possess significant professional experience, you can sometimes test out of certain classes and earn your degree faster. Many online programs also feature self-paced courses, allowing you to advance through the material as soon as you can demonstrate mastery of a given subject. However, you should exercise caution when considering a self-paced course of study, as some students can become overwhelmed or fall behind without the support of classmates or an instructor.
How Much Is a Master’s in Accounting?
The total cost of your education depends greatly on the school or program you select. For example, tuition at some private institutions may exceed $1,500 per credit. By contrast, the cheapest master’s in accounting programs may charge as little as $600 per credit. For a 30 credit degree, you can expect to pay anywhere between $18,000 and $45,000 in tuition.
Remember to factor in other expenses as well. If you plan to study in person, you may need to pay for room and board, as well as fees for campus-related services and activities. Online students may avoid these charges, but often pay a technology or distance learning fee. All students must pay for books and other course materials.
To help finance your education, begin by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal grants, work-study opportunities, and low-interest student loans. It also helps qualify you for state aid.
You can also seek out private grants and scholarships. Organizations usually award scholarship based on academic achievement, community service, or financial need. While you do not need to pay back money received in the form of scholarships or grants, you must pay back student loans and any interest that has accrued.
Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Accounting Prepares For
- Certified Public Accountant: All accountants filing reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission must hold a CPA license. Requirements vary by state, but applicants typically need at least 150 hours of postsecondary coursework to sit for the four-part Uniform CPA Examination. After passing this exam, professionals must complete continuing education in order to maintain their certification.
- Chartered Financial Analyst: Administered by the CFA Institute, this credential signals expertise in advanced investment analysis and portfolio management. To qualify, applicants must hold at least a bachelor’s degree and possess at least four years of professional experience. Applicants must then pass three exams covering subjects like ethics, investment tools, asset classes, and wealth planning.
- Certified Management Accountant: Offered by the Institute of Management Accountants, the CMA credential allows professionals to demonstrate a deep understanding of financial management practice. The credential requires two exams that cover topics such as financial reporting and financial decision making. Applicants must also hold a bachelor’s degree and two years of relevant work experience.
Resources for Accounting Graduate Students
- U.S. Department of Education: The ED provides grants, work-study opportunities, and student loans to help students finance their postsecondary education. The department also offers resources on how to identify and apply for state aid and private scholarships.
- Harvard Business School Working Knowledge: Working Knowledge acts as a repository for research conducted by Harvard Business School faculty and doctoral students. You can use the site to brush up on subjects such as finance, management, and tax law.
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Even in a field like accounting, students must know how to write well to succeed at the graduate level. Purdue OWL offers tips on writing academic papers and cover letters.
- NYSSCPA Accounting Terminology Guide: The New York State Society of CPAs built this guide of over 1,000 accounting and finance terms. This accessible listing can serve as an invaluable tool during your graduate education.
- This Way to CPA: The American Institute of CPAs built this guide for students who want to become Certified Public Accountants. The site provides details on education and experience requirements and hosts resources about preparing for the exam.
Professional Organizations in Accounting
After earning a master’s in accounting, you may benefit greatly from joining a professional organization. These groups often host regional and national events in order to help their members network with others in the accounting profession. They may also provide online learning opportunities or administer formal professional certification programs. Many professional organizations advertise new job opportunities on their websites. Some also offer support to groups traditionally underrepresented in accounting, including women and people of color.
- American Accounting Association: Founded in 1916, the AAA represents accountants in academia. The association publishes 17 scholarly journals, offers a wealth of continuing education resources, and hosts an online career center. The AAA also provides advice to undergraduate and graduate students considering a Ph.D. in accounting.
- American Institute of CPAs: Despite its name, AICPA serves more than 400,000 accounting professionals from around the world. The institute oversees the Uniform CPA Examination, administers several independent certifications, and provides career guidance to students and young professionals.
- National Society of Accountants: The NSA supports the professional growth of accountants and tax practitioners. The society hosts networking and training events, publishes newsletters and best practice guides, and provides members with free access to tax preparation tools.
- Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance: The AFWA specifically serves women in the accounting and finance professions. The alliance organizes a national technical education conference and awards scholarships to help draw more women into the field. The AFWA website also features a jobs board and an online networking forum.
- National Association of Black Accountants: NABA represents more than 200,000 black accounting and finance professionals. In addition to extensive professional development offerings, the association has provided more than $11 million in scholarships since its inception.
What Are the Best Master’s in Accounting Programs?
On this page, you’ll find the best master’s degrees in accounting. The following programs are all accredited. We calculated the top master’s in accounting programs using our unique methodology developed by our education experts.
|Rank||Logo||School Name||Type||Accreditation||Description||Quick Facts|
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina prepares students to enter the field of accounting in just one year. The master’s degree in accounting caters to students with and without backgrounds in accounting.
Core courses provide students without prior accounting coursework with a strong theoretical foundation that is built upon as students progress through the program. Students with prior academic experience in accounting can quickly advance through the degree with reduced curriculum requirements.
Core courses focus on accounting, finance, and professional development training which includes topics on leadership, ethics, and communication. Electives range from courses in law and governmental accounting to economics and negotiations.
The master’s of accounting degree provides students with the opportunity to study abroad as part of its global immersions experience. Students have traveled to Shanghai, London, and Istanbul where they interacted with business executives and learned from leaders of the world’s largest companies.
University of Washington
UW’s Michael G. Foster School of Business offers a master’s in accounting program that emphasizes modern concepts, such as big data, financial statement auditing, and recent changes to tax law. Students learn from industry leaders at firms like Amazon, Costco, Deloitte, and Microsoft. Graduates gain the credits and experience necessary to take Washington’s CPA exam.
The program only admits new students in the fall. To qualify, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited postsecondary institution, provide official GMAT scores, and demonstrate good communication, managerial, and analytical skills through two personal essays. Prospective students must also submit a resume and three professional references.
UW’s accounting master’s program students may choose tracks in auditing or assurance. Learners take courses in a synchronous format and must complete an independent project and an internship before graduating. The program also includes courses in communication, accounting ethics, and assurance regulation.
The Foster School, located in Seattle, is accredited by AACSB International.
University of Florida
University of Florida’s Fisher School of Accounting, part of the Warrington College of Business in Gainesville, FL, offers a 34-credit master’s in accounting degree designed for individuals with strong accounting backgrounds. Students are not required to choose a concentration, however, students who are interested can specialize in auditing or taxation. Graduates are eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA exam in Florida.
Prerequisite coursework includes intro to financial accounting and managerial accounting, calculus, macroeconomics, federal income tax, and auditing. UFL houses the International Center for Research in Accounting and Auditing, which aims to increase the student’s and faculty’s global visibility. Many students enroll in the schools 3/2 five-year program, which combines a BSac with the MAcc degree. Applicants must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and a minimum GMAT score of 550. GRE scores are not accepted.
University of Virginia
UVA, located in Charlottesville, Virginia, offers one of the best accounting master’s programs in the Southeast, and the degree can be completed in nine months. The 30 credit master’s in accounting is available in two tracks: financial reporting and assurance or tax consulting. Students who choose the financial reporting and assurance concentration complete five courses that focus on topics such as accounting policy, data management, and financial trading.
Students also complete four electives and a tax course. Course electives provide students with a broad foundation in areas including behavioral decision making and information technology. The tax consulting concentration includes courses in tax strategy and tax research. Students of this track take financial and accounting courses and are equipped with a variety of skills. Students have the opportunity to participate in the program’s international accounting experience that features global coursework and a spring break trip to London.
University of Georgia
University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, the first business school in the south, offers one of the best accounting master’s programs in the country. The program offers three specializations: audit, taxation, and audit systems. The curriculum consists of 12–18 credits of foundational courses in risk assessment, legal and regulatory environments, microeconomics, and more. Students are required to take three to six credits of accounting electives and six to 12 credits of MBA electives.
The school’s Career Center partners with the MAcc department to help connect students to potential positions at prestigious companies. UGA boasts an impressive job placement rate of 99%. All applicants are required to submit GMAT scores. Financial aid is available in the form of graduate assistantships and out-of-state tuition waivers (for one year).
University of Notre Dame
|Private (Non Profit)||NCACS/THLC||
The University of Notre Dame offers a master’s of accounting that can be completed in one year.
The 30-credit program is available in two tracks: assurances and advisory services and tax services. Both tracks prepare students for careers in public accounting or corporate finance. Students are required to complete core courses in financial management or policy, negotiation, and taxes and business strategy. Students who choose the assurances and advisory services track take courses such as applied investment management, behavioral finance, and corporate banking.
The tax services track exposes students to topics in tax including personal financial planning and state and local taxes. Graduates have a 99% placement rate within three months of graduation, and students can participate in a two-week study abroad experience in China or South America. Applicants must possess a foundation in business and have an accredited bachelor’s degree.
University of Maryland - College Park
University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business offers a master’s of science in accounting that covers compliance, financial reporting, internal auditing, fraud prevention, IT security, taxation, and more. Students in this program can choose to specialize in tax, internal audit, financial regulation, or public accounting. Located in the District of Columbia area, the school boasts highly trained, top-ranked faculty.
Students are encouraged to complete internships during the course of their studies. Prerequisites include undergraduate coursework in managerial and financial accounting with a minimum grade of “B”. Students may only begin this program in the fall semester. Transfer credits are not accepted into this program. Applicants are not required to submit GRE or GMAT scores, however, it is recommended. Applicants are automatically considered for financial aid in the form of graduate assistantships and scholarships.
|Private (Non Profit)||SACS/CC||
Vanderbilt University’s master’s of accounting is an accelerated program that can be completed in 12 months. Graduates have a 100% placement rate and are prepared to pass the CPA exam. The MAcc assurance degree is 37 credits; the program begins in August and concludes the following summer.
The degree consists of four modules and CPA exam preparation. Courses offered include managerial finance, business ethics, and taxation of business entities. Students receive professional development training and a leadership assessment that reveals strengths and weaknesses. A licensed executive coach facilitates collaborative peer-group work to help students improve leadership skills.
Students have the opportunity to participate in a paid internship during the third module that can pay more than $10,000. Students are assisted in finding an internship site at a location of their choice; many students have received full-time employment offers from internship firms.
North Carolina State University
Students in NC State’s Jenkins master of accounting program benefit from a combination of rigorous classroom learning and practical experiences that prepare them for a variety of careers in both public and private sectors. Students move through the program’s one-year coursework quickly while preparing to take the state’s CPA licensing exam.
This master’s in accounting degree includes tracks in enterprise risk management, information technology, and tax strategy. Students may also opt to study abroad in Prague, lead financial literacy classes on campus, and take part in internships with the region’s top financial professionals.
To apply, prospective students submit their undergraduate transcripts, GMAT scores, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and a resume. Eligible applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business, finance, or related field from an accredited college or university.
The Poole School of Management, which houses the university’s accounting master’s program, is accredited by AACSB International.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois Gies College of Business offers a fully online master’s in accounting degree known as iMSA. The program focuses on technology, complex data analytics, financial reporting, and audit and control to prepare students for the challenges and needs of businesses, organizations, and government agencies worldwide. The 32-credit program prepares students for the Illinois CPA exam.
Eligible applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 GPA and some undergraduate coursework in business and accounting. The program also requires GRE or GMAT scores and at least three years of professional experience with demonstrated career progression.
The accounting master’s degree includes 16 eight-week courses and usually takes between 18 months and three years to graduate. Core courses include account analysis, managerial accounting, and federal taxation, with electives focused on topics like data analytics, advanced financial reporting, and statistical analysis.
The Gies College of Business is accredited by AACSB International.
Wake Forest University
|Private (Non Profit)||SACS/CC||
Students enrolled in Wake Forest University’s master’s of accounting program can specialize in assurance services, financial transaction services, or tax consulting.
Each concentration is 30 credits and can be completed in two semesters. The assurance services track includes courses in auditing and forensic accounting. The financial transaction services track is unique to the university and focuses on financial management and business analysis. The tax consulting track prepares students for careers in tax services, and topics include tax policy and research methods. Students begin coursework in August and receive CPA exam preparation prior to graduation in May.
A semester-long paid internship is available to students who wish to gain onsite experience during tax season. Graduates of the master’s in accounting have held the leading national CPA exam pass rate 13 times, and 100% of students have found employment by graduation. The program is open to students of all academic backgrounds, and almost a third of students are non-accounting majors.
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Graduates of the University of Michigan’s master’s of accounting program have some of the highest CPA exam scores in the nation, and the program’s coursework prepares students to pass the test and quickly pursue careers. Nearly 100% of graduates find employment within three months of graduation.
The master’s in accounting can be completed in eight months and shares a curriculum with the university’s MBA program. This format provides students with a broad range of knowledge and skills that prepare them for a variety of careers. The core curriculum focuses on topics in accounting and finance, and students choose from a number of electives to complete course requirements.
Many students choose nonbusiness electives to enhance their degree. Electives include peacebuilding, efforts at health care reform in the U.S., and international trade policy. Students receive many opportunities to network with alumni.
|Private (Non Profit)||SACS/CC||
Rice University, located in Houston, Texas, features a master of accounting degree through the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business. The program features an expedited option that allows students to graduate in as few as 10 months and prepares learners to sit for the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy licensing exam. Typically, students take classes from August through May, with the exam occurring the following summer.
Program courses focus on federal taxation, financial futures, advanced managerial accounting, and business law for accountants. Students also participate in four one-week intensive learning units on auditing regulation, accounting control, judgement and decision making, and fair value accounting.
All applicants must hold at least a bachelor’s degree and submit a current resume, along with three personal essays focused on the student’s career goals, ethics, and passion for accounting. Non-Rice undergraduates and alumni must also provide GRE or GMAT scores and two evaluations from professors, supervisors, or colleagues.
The University of Texas at Austin
The master’s in professional accounting from the University of Texas is open to students with and without academic backgrounds in the field. Students with an undergraduate degree in accounting complete 31 credits to meet degree requirements. Learners from other academic areas complete four additional courses that provide them with a foundation in business and accounting theories and practices.
Four concentrations are available: financial reporting and assurance, managerial accounting and control, taxation, and generalist. Each track consists of 18 credits, and the generalist track allows students to choose from several electives to customize their degree. The master’s of accounting core curriculum includes a unique distinguished speaker lyceum that allows students to learn from distinguished accounting professionals and business leaders from the community. Topics focus on current issues faced by professionals.
Students complete introductory courses in assurance services and taxation and are familiarized with information technology’s role in the field.
University of Southern California
|Private (Non Profit)||WASC/SCUC||
The University of Southern California’s master’s degree in accounting is 30 credits and consists of five core accounting courses, a communication course, and four electives.
Core courses emphasize professional development, and topics include professional responsibilities, ethics, and fair value accounting. Electives include forensic accounting and mergers and acquisitions. The master’s of accounting program admits 22% of applicants, and students come from diverse academic backgrounds including economics, finance, and social sciences. Admitted students have an average GMAT score of 640 and a 3.5 undergraduate GPA. Graduates have a high placement rate, with 97% of domestic graduates finding employment shortly after graduation.
The average starting salary for graduates of the program is $60,000. The program provides students with a global understanding of accounting, and upon completion of the global accounting experience course, students have the opportunity to travel to China or the United Kingdom.
|Private (Non Profit)||NEASC/CIHE||
Graduates of Boston College’s master’s of accounting program possess technical knowledge in the areas of auditing, strategic cost management, and financial statement analysis.
The program’s first-time CPA exam pass rate is 82.5%, while the national average is 55%. The average student GMAT score is 685, and 18% of students come from accounting backgrounds. The program admits approximately a quarter of its applicants, and students without accounting training begin coursework in the summer in order to meet prerequisite course requirements. The curriculum consists of 30 credits, and students can take up to four courses in non-accounting electives.
Students are required to complete 10 hours of community service as part of the university’s commitment to its Jesuit heritage. Learners are mentored by the program’s faculty who have academic interests in crash risks, audit markets, and international accounting.
University of Wisconsin - Madison
University of Wisconsin’s master’s in accounting degree, designed for individuals with little experience or background in accounting, is a 54-credit, two-year, full-time program. The curriculum combines fundamental and technical skills with ethics and professionalism to prepare students to sit for the CPA exam.
The first year consists of 24 credits with courses in taxation, financial reporting, and business law. The second year is made up of 30 credits of courses in financial statement analysis, advanced assurance services, cost management, and a capstone course. Students must take between four and six electives in non-accounting, business-related areas; students can choose to concentrate on taxation. Learners are encouraged to complete a summer internship in order to gain hands-on experience in the field and build their professional networks.
Prerequisites include an introduction to financial accounting course; this course can be taken after being admitted.
The University of Texas at Dallas
UT Dallas students can enroll in an online master’s in accounting degree, with the exception of 15 hours that the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy requires students to take on campus. The program prepares graduates for the state’s CPA exam and qualifies them for licensure.
Students in this accounting master’s program encounter classes focused on managerial accounting, cost accounting, auditing, and taxation. In a tax research course, students explore the various legal authorities relevant to individual and business taxpayers, giving them the tools to assist with sound tax planning and compliance matters.
Some students may fast track up to six hours of their UT Dallas-based undergraduate accounting coursework toward their master’s degree, allowing them to graduate earlier. The program also offers cohort and flex models, with the latter enabling students to move through coursework at their own pace.
Applicants must provide undergraduate transcripts, GRE or GMAT scores, a letter of recommendation, a resume, and a personal goals statement.
University of Pennsylvania
|Private (Non Profit)||MSCHE||
The University of Pennsylvania’s master’s in accounting is part of the school’s MBA program. The two-year degree integrates theories of accounting, finance, and economics to prepare students for careers in a variety of business settings.
The accounting major includes a foundational course in financial accounting that covers in-depth economic principles. An accelerated version of the course that can be completed in six weeks is available to students who have an academic background in financial accounting. Course material is taught in several formats, including case studies that help students grasp cost management concepts and issues in financial reporting. The core curriculum includes courses in marketing, ethics, and operations.
Students gain skills in leadership and teamwork, and graduates are prepared to take the CPA exam. Students have access to several professional development opportunities, including student-led conferences, networking forums, and employer information sessions.
CUNY Bernard M Baruch College
CUNY’s Baruch College, located in New York City, offers MS and MBA accounting degrees through its Zicklin School of Business. Both programs prepare students to take the New York CPA licensing exam.
The 36-credit MS program emphasizes finance, economics, advanced accounting, financial statement analysis, and business taxation. It also features credit waiver options for students with equivalent courses as undergraduates. The MBA program, meanwhile, includes 34 credits and emphasizes foundational and functional skills related to accounting’s role in business operations. MBA students may enroll full time or take evening classes only.
Eligible applicants to both master’s in accounting programs must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. They also must provide GRE or GMAT scores, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and two personal essays.
The Zicklin School of Business is accredited by AACSB International. Both accounting master’s programs fulfill the requirements of the Institute of Management Accountants and the Institute of Internal Auditors.
Clemson University offers a 30-credit master of professional accountancy degree. The downtown Greenville, South Carolina, location gives students many internship opportunities.
Clemson boasts strong networking opportunities through local organizations and college-sponsored events. The curriculum consists of eight core courses, two specialization courses, and four, no-credit CPA courses. The school offers an audit and a tax track. CPA exam review is integrated directly into the curriculum so that students may sit for all four parts of the exam prior to graduation.
Prerequisites include 30 credits in business coursework and 18 credits in upper-level accounting coursework. Students can begin in either the fall or spring semester. Applicants are accepted on a rolling basis. Financial aid is available in the form of scholarships, fellowships, assistantships, and student loans.
Michigan State University
Michigan State’s Eli Broad Graduate School of Management features a 30-credit MS in accounting program at the university’s East Lansing campus. The program includes concentrations in taxation, information systems, and public and corporate accounting, allowing students to customize their accounting master’s degree based on their career goals.
One of the more rigorous courses, U.S. taxation of multinational transactions, explores the various regulations and compliance issues connected to transactions of American citizens living outside the country.
Minimum admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited postsecondary institution with a GPA of at least 3.0, along with basic knowledge of spreadsheets, database management systems, and networking. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation, a video essay, and GMAT or GRE scores. Incoming students may begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer terms.
The master’s degree in accounting equips students with the skills, knowledge, and credit requirements to sit for the Michigan CPA licensing exam. The Eli Broad Graduate School is accredited by AACSB International.
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M, located in College Station, offers a master’s degree in accounting that prepares students to work for the Big Four accounting firms of Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC.
In the program’s assurance services and information management track, students explore business and accounting practices from a consulting and planning perspective. Students may also move ahead with the tax consulting and financial planning track, which focuses on the taxation of different business entities and how it affects decision making. Both tracks require 37 credits and most students graduate in two years.
To qualify for admission, prospective students must hold a bachelor’s degree and achieve a 550 GMAT score or a 302 GRE score. Undergraduate or graduate transcripts must reflect intermediate accounting, business computing, and micro- and macroeconomics courses.
The master’s in accounting program gives students the knowledge and credit hours necessary to take the Texas CPA licensing exam. Texas A&M Mays Business School is accredited by AACSB International.
Virginia Tech University
The Department of Accounting and Information Systems at Virginia Tech offers a 30-credit master’s of accounting and information systems program that’s designed for students with many different backgrounds.
Students have the option of specializing in audits, financial services, information systems, or tax. Students with a demonstrated strong background in accounting can complete the degree in 12–18 months. Learners without accounting or business administration backgrounds can complete the degree in around two years.
Prerequisites include principles of financial and managerial accounting, macro and microeconomics, calculus and matrices, statistics, and business law. Students can begin this program in the spring, summer, or fall semesters. While applicants are required to submit GMAT scores, students with GPAs of 3.5 or higher are eligible to receive a GMAT waiver.
Brigham Young University
|Private (Non Profit)||NCCU||
Brigham Young offers a master’s in accounting that covers everything from principles of accounting and business law to tax research, financial statement analysis, and fraud prevention and detection. Students in this program have the opportunity to concentrate in professional accounting or tax. Learners who choose the professional accounting track will focus on refining their technical abilities and research skills.
Students who choose the tax track will study corporate taxation; property transactions; local, state, and international tax; and more. The program is designed for students who have a bachelor’s in accounting or a business-related degree. Applicants must have completed some pre-management and pre-accounting coursework. They are also required to submit a minimum GMAT score of 650. Financial aid is available in the form of scholarships, assistantships, and student loans. Electives include human resource management and leadership.