Written by Accounting.com Staff Writers


For many accountants, Massachusetts is an ideal place to work. Home to Boston, Cambridge, Springfield, and Worcester, the state ranks among the best spots to be an accountant, according to Zippia. Other organizations, including the National Association of Boards of Accountancy and Investopedia, list Boston among the best cities for careers in accounting and finance.

Many factors go into these considerations, including Massachusetts' strong financial sector. More than 50,000 accountants work in Boston and Cambridge alone, representing one of the country's densest concentrations of accountants. Jobs remain readily available for accountants at all levels, including bookkeeping, auditing, traditional accounting, and financial accounting. Massachusetts also boasts a reputation for its asset-management businesses, which have created a great market for accountants and financial managers.

The state boasts some of the world's most famous educational institutions. Massachusetts ranks among the best-educated states and features more than 120 colleges and universities. Read on to learn about the exciting opportunities awaiting accountants in the Bay State.

Massachusetts at a Glance

Population 6,976,600
Per Capita Income 43,349
Fortune 500 Companies 32
Number of Higher Learning Institutions 124
Climate

Average Annual Temperature: 47.9 ℉

Annual Precipitation: 47.7 inches

Major Sports Teams New England Revolution, Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots
Accountants in Massachusetts 34,630

Top Massachusetts Schools for Accounting

  • Bentley University
  • Assumption College
  • Boston College
  • Stonehill College
  • College of Our Lady of the Elms
  • Endicott College
  • Merrimack College
  • Gordon College
  • Western New England University
  • Emmanuel College

Why Go to College for Accounting in Massachusetts?

According to a report by the Lumina Foundation, Massachusetts leads the nation for residents with at least some college experience. Students in Massachusetts can select from Ivy League institutions like Harvard and outstanding business schools like Bentley and Babson.

Prospective accounting students can find exceptional programs at private liberal arts schools, like Endicott and Gordon colleges; Catholic colleges, like Boston College and Emmanuel; and public universities, like UMass Amherst and UMass Lowell.

Aspiring students have access to a dearth of options for accounting degrees in Massachusetts. Prospective bookkeepers, for example, can find two-year programs, doctoral degrees, and everything in between. They can attend online or in person.

Because of Massachusetts' relatively small size, business hubs like Boston, Worcester, Providence, Hartford, and even New York are in close proximity to one another. This nearness makes it easy for students to find internship opportunities and gain the experience necessary for professional exams in accounting and finance. Read on to learn more about starting an accounting career in Massachusetts.

Education Statistics for Massachusetts

As illustrated by the table below, Massachusetts features an unusually high number of well-attended colleges, especially given its relatively small population. By almost every benchmark, the Bay State outperforms national averages when it comes to educational attainment. That said, students in Massachusetts generally prefer to attend school on campus.

Higher Education Statistics in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Data National Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges 102 3,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges 22 1,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education 20.8% 34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student $7,859 $8,196
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education 3.4% 5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree 7.7% 8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree 23.8% 19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher 19.1% 12.1%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau - American Community Survey

Accreditation for Massachusetts Schools

Accreditation ranks among the most critical considerations for any prospective college student. Six accrediting agencies across the U.S. provide students with quality assurance, making sure colleges and universities uphold certain standards. Reputable schools in Massachusetts hold accreditation from the New England Commission on Higher Education or from national accreditation agencies.

Massachusetts' best accounting schools carry regional accreditation, which sets the gold standard for colleges and universities. National accrediting agencies tend to recognize tech and trade schools teaching. Accounting programs might also carry program-specific accreditation from one of the agencies that accredit business schools, such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

Checking a school's accreditation is a straightforward process, as both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation provide comprehensive lists of accredited schools on their websites.

Considerations for an Accounting Degree in Massachusetts

Some of the country's best accounting schools call Massachusetts home. Bay State boasts a long and storied educational history (including the oldest university in the United States) and a wide variety of university options, so prospective students may struggle to choose one. Many factors go into the college selection process, including cost, prestige, specialization, location, and online status. The sections below help guide learners through the necessary considerations to find their perfect Massachusetts accounting program.

Accounting Degree Levels

Massachusetts' colleges and universities host accounting degrees at every educational level, from associate degrees to doctorates. The state also features thousands of corresponding jobs for graduates of these programs. Graduates with two-year degrees can work in entry-level bookkeeping positions. Bachelor's graduates can step up to traditional accounting work or complete additional credits to sit for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam.

Graduates who completed a master's in accounting in Massachusetts can step into management positions in the state's strong financial sector. Those with Ph.D. degrees can pick from top-level management jobs in research or academia.


Accounting Concentration Options

Learners should make sure to choose the right accounting concentration for their career goals and interests. Students pursuing accounting degrees in Massachusetts can select from a full range of specialization options, but some make more sense than others. For example, given the state's reputation for its financial sector, especially in Boston and Cambridge, financial accounting concentrations can lead to particularly lucrative work in the field.

Information systems accounting concentrations may prove a wise move, as well. Massachusetts' strong business sector needs accountants with tech experience.

Accounting Concentrations

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

Massachusetts offers plenty of opportunities for both online and on-campus students. Read on to explore several options.

On-Campus

Students in Massachusetts tend to attend school on campus. The leafy New England state boasts some of the nation's most beautiful universities, appealing to learners who want to take classes in person. Students interested in the traditional college experience, or those looking to enroll as a means of networking, might also tend toward on-campus schooling.

Online Programs

Online programs in Massachusetts are also an excellent option for many students. Working adults looking to advance their careers, military personnel, parents, and others with busy schedules might find the more flexible, asynchronous approach to education more conducive to their needs. Distance degrees can also cost substantially less, because they do not require travel or accommodation. Some schools also extend in-state tuition rates to nonresidents.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs are growing in popularity. They combine the benefits of face-to-face learning and distance education. Students can get to know their peers and professors in person while taking advantage of asynchronous scheduling and the convenience of access to recorded lectures and digital assignments.
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education
Enrolled Exclusively in Distance Education Courses Enrolled in Some but Not All Distance Education Courses Not Enrolled in Any Distance Education Courses
Massachusetts Students 9.4% 11.4% 79.2%
United States Students 16.3% 18.4% 65.3%
Source: NCES

Paying for Your Accounting Degree

Aspiring accountants may not know how to pay for accounting degrees in Massachusetts. Schools in the state tend to run on the expensive side, as the numbers below show. However, the Bay State offers several financing options to help its residents fund their education.

Massachusetts created its Commonwealth Commitment program to help students afford bachelor's degrees. The program simplifies the transfer process between two- and four-year schools, allowing learners to complete their freshman and sophomore years at less expensive community colleges before transferring to in-state public universities to finish their degrees.

Massachusetts also sponsors the MA State Financial Aid program to help students pay for school. The program features grants, scholarships, tuition waivers, no-interest loans, and tuition reimbursement in some fields.

Average Cost of College Tuition and Fees in Massachusetts, 2017-2018
Massachusetts National
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year) $12,778 $9,037
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year) $29,774 $25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year) $44,384 $30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year) $4,991 $3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year) $10,006 $7,971
Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

The Bay State presents future accountants with a wealth of educational options, but none come cheaply. Attending school for associate, bachelor's, or master's degrees in accounting in Massachusetts generally costs more than it would elsewhere, as the figures above demonstrate. For both in-state and out-of-state learners, average tuition rates can run several thousand dollars higher in Massachusetts than in other states.

Fortunately, the state participates in the New England Board of Higher Education Tuition Break program. This six-state reciprocity agreement allows New England residents to attend college in other New England states for significant reductions in tuition.

Massachusetts' Cost of Living

Massachusetts' cost of living runs significantly higher than the national average, ranking among the top five most expensive places to live, according to the World Population Review.

This site compares states on a number of factors, including average costs for basics like housing, groceries, transportation, and utilities. The national average sits at 100 on this scale, and Massachusetts' cost of living score is 131.6. Students should consider this when budgeting for their education.

Other School Selection Criteria

Aside from cost, prospective Massachusetts students should look into school size, reputation, and networking possibilities -- among other criteria -- when choosing between programs. The list below explores some of the selection criteria students should consider.

School Size

Some students enjoy big, bustling universities, while others prefer smaller, more intimate experiences. Learners should consider factors like overall student population, typical class sizes, and student-to-faculty ratio.

Staff Credentials

Learners should research faculty members at their prospective schools, asking questions such as: Do tenured faculty teach classes, or do graduate students? Do any professors specialize in the accounting field you want to pursue?

Prestige/Reputation

While Massachusetts boasts many exceptional schools, students should make sure their schools of interest maintain good reputations. Prestige and reputation can help graduates land jobs at their dream accounting firms.

Alumni Network

Some schools feature extensive alumni networks, which can help graduates land their first jobs in accounting. Consider each prospective school's career services offerings and networking opportunities.

Competitiveness

Students should consider their competition in the admissions process for each potential school. Institutions that admit small portions of their applicants may foster more competitive atmospheres, while those with easier admissions policies might also host more relaxed learning environments.

Required Admission Materials/Test Scores

Learners should make sure they've completed all the prerequisites, including standardized tests and required classes, mandated to apply to their schools of interest.

Careers for Accounting Graduates in Massachusetts

Accounting careers remain a sure bet across the country, since every business needs someone to keep track of its numbers. As such, the age-old profession continues to grow at a steady rate, keeping pace with other jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some positions for accountants that proliferate across the state, like those for financial managers, continue adding jobs at an even faster clip, growing at a much faster rate than the national average.

Few places in the country offer accountants as many options as Massachusetts does. Because of its strong financial sector, Boston ranks among the nation's best metropolitan areas for accounting jobs, as does Cambridge. The rest of the state also fares well, numbering among the top 10 states with the best business environments, according to U.S. News & World Report. Where business booms, so do accounting positions. See below for details on many of Massachusetts' exciting accounting careers.

Select Accounting Careers in Massachusetts

Bookkeeper

Massachusetts bookkeepers number almost 50,000, more than any other accounting profession in the state. Moreover, this entry-level job, keeping the accounts for companies, tends to pay better in Massachusetts than in many other places.

Job Outlook in Massachusetts: -2.9% (2016-2026)

Learn More
Financial Accountant

Massachusetts holds a reputation as a national hub of finance, so positions for financial managers and accountants abound in the state, especially in Boston. These professionals tend to hold bachelor's and master's degrees and work in executive positions, directing corporations' spending.

Job Outlook in Massachusetts: +8.52% for accountants and auditors, 2016-26

Learn More
Auditor

Auditors ensure that companies comply with regulations and tax laws, and these professionals enjoy bountiful job opportunities in Massachusetts. Every corporation needs auditing at some point, and these positions rank among the most popular for accountants in the Bay State.

Job Outlook in Massachusetts: +8.52% for accountants and auditors, 2016-26

Learn More

Massachusetts Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

37,166 Employees2016
40,344 Employees2026
Massachusetts 8.52% increase
1,424,000 Employees2018
1,514,700 Employees2028
National 6.4% increase

Sources: Mass.gov, Projections Central

Explore more careers here

Massachusetts offers aspiring accountants an array of career options at all levels, and most pay above their respective national average salaries. The state's most popular positions include bookkeepers, with more than 44,000 employed in the state, and traditional accountants and auditors, with over 35,000. The most lucrative professions for those with accounting degrees in Massachusetts include jobs in the state's large financial sector.

Financial managers and personal finance advisors both earn annual mean wages exceeding $120,000, and the state offers work for more than 33,500 and 9,000 of them, respectively.

Given this range of options, Massachusetts rewards graduates with all types and levels of accounting degrees. Those with associate degrees can step into entry-level positions as bookkeepers, while those with bachelor's degrees can work as accountants. Graduates who earned master's degrees in accounting in Massachusetts often find positions as financial managers. Likewise, doctorates might lead to teaching or research jobs in the state's renowned higher education sector.

Massachusetts Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

Each state maintains its own standards and regulations for certifying public accountants, so prospective students should learn about the requirements in the states in which they wish to practice. Massachusetts' regulations sit squarely in the middle of the pack. Applicants must be over 18 years old and hold Social Security cards. The Bay State does not require applicants to hold citizenship or even reside in the state.

To sit for the CPA exam, students must have completed at least 120 of the 150 semester hours of coursework required for CPAs. Twenty-one of these credits must be financial accounting, auditing, taxation, and management accounting classes. They must also hold nine credits of business classes in finance, business law, and information systems.

To be employed as a CPA in Massachusetts, students must have passed the aforementioned exam and complete their bachelor's degree with at least 150 credit hours of study. Credit requirements break down further, as follows: Students must hold 30 undergraduate hours or 18 graduate hours in financial accounting, taxation, auditing, and management accounting. They must also hold 24 undergraduate credits or 18 graduate credits in business classes outside of accounting. Future CPAs also need three years of experience at an accounting firm; in government, public, or academia; or at a nonprofit verified by a licensed CPA.

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Is accounting a good career in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts ranks among the nation's best places for accounting careers, thanks to its busy financial sector and strong economy. Moreover, these professionals earn higher wages in the Bay State than elsewhere.
How much do accountants earn in Massachusetts?
Accountants in Massachusetts take home better salaries than they would in many other states. Bookkeepers can earn almost $50,000, while financial managers receive salaries exceeding $150,000.
What accounting jobs are there in Massachusetts?
Accountants of all types find work in the Bay State. Bookkeepers represent the largest number, but financial managers also abound, thanks to the state's reputation as a finance hub.
Can I get an accounting degree in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts boasts 125 institutions of higher education, making it an excellent place to pursue an accounting degree. These schools range from community colleges to universities with graduate programs.

Massachusetts Accounting and Education Organizations

  • Massachusetts Society of CPAs Massachusetts' professional organization of CPAs, the MSCPA boasts more than 11,000 members. Membership benefits include networking, professional development, and access to the latest news and publications.
  • Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy The state overseers of their profession, this board hosts a website filled with useful information on Massachusetts' accounting regulations. Learn about licensing, policy, statutes, and other essential information here.
  • Massachusetts Association of Accountants A professional organization of accountants, MAA offers members networking, continuing education, development seminars, a referral service, and access to the Combined Institute on Taxation. The institute allows accountants to exchange the latest information on tax laws.
  • Association of Government Accountants Boston Chapter The national association's local chapter provides public sector accountants with a place to swap information, network, and educate themselves on the latest in the business. Membership grants access to the association's newsletter, the Boston Beacon.

Accounting Programs in Massachusetts

The list below includes schools offering accredited Massachusetts online accounting degrees. Annually updated, this list also features colleges and universities with on-campus programs. Because each of these schools carries proper accreditation, students can rest assured that they would receive the quality education to begin accounting careers in Massachusetts at any of the following institutions.