Best Master’s in Accounting Degree Programs



A graduate degree in accounting can open the door to a lucrative career in the financial field. Many companies hire accountants with just a bachelor's degree, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some prefer accounting candidates to hold a master's. BLS data also indicates that accountants in the U.S. earn a median annual salary of $71,550 — almost double the national median for all occupations.

This page, which we update each year to reflect changes in accounting education, ranks the best accounting schools in the country. Below, you can explore some of the top online accounting graduate programs and find the right one for you.

Top 10 Accounting Master's Programs

Rank School Location
1 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
2 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
3 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
4 Washington University in St. Louis Saint Louis, MO
5 Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
6 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
7 Rice University Houston, TX
8 University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN
9 University of Rochester Rochester, NY
10 Emory University Atlanta, GA
See more schools


What Is a Master's Degree in Accounting?

Accounting is the process of gathering, analyzing, and presenting financial data used to make economic decisions. Accountants are vital to companies' success, as these professionals collect and assess financial transactions, ensure compliance with regulations, and prepare financial reports for decision-makers and stakeholders.

A master's in accounting provides students with highly versatile skills in analytic thinking, strategic problem-solving, statistical analysis, and effective communication, which makes this degree a promising path to careers in virtually all industry sectors. Many accounting master's programs also offer concentrations tailored to specific industries and occupations.

Today, most employers hire only certified public accountants (CPA) for their accounting jobs. CPAs can legally represent companies and individuals to the IRS — a unique and valuable asset. Most states require candidates to complete 150 credits of education — about 30 credits beyond a bachelor's degree — before sitting for the CPA exam. For that reason, a master's in accounting is essential to fulfilling the CPA requirements in most states.

Why Get an Accounting Degree?

A master's degree in accounting sharpens fundamental skills in gathering, analyzing, and reporting data. The degree also develops expertise in financial decision-making, strategic problem-solving, and business law. On top of that, most accounting master's programs expose learners to new developments in the field, such as new legislation, technology, and trends.

A master's in accounting also builds strengths to help candidates stand out from their competitors, giving them an edge over applicants who only have a bachelor's degree. These strengths may include the following.

  • Career Mobility: A master's degree in accounting teaches degree-seekers advanced skills in accounting and financial decision-making, which can help them quickly climb the career ladder.
  • Transferable Skills: A master's in accounting cultivates in-demand skills, which transfer across industries and occupations. This allows graduates to move between industries and occupations throughout their careers.
  • Flexibility: Many top-tier schools provide learners with the option to complete their master's in accounting degree online and/or part time, an attractive option for working professionals who can't commit to studying full time.

The 25 Best Master's Degrees in Accounting, 2020

As a prospective student, it may be tempting to just apply to the nation's most prestigious and highest-ranked accounting master's programs. However, this would be a mistake for most learners.

High rankings may signal high quality, but they don't necessarily indicate a good fit for your career goals, lifestyle, and personal preferences.

Other factors to consider before selecting a program include accreditation, faculty, alumni, cost, location, flexibility, type of degree, and available concentrations. To help you find an accounting master's program that meets your specific needs and interests, we have compiled information on the 25 best master's in accounting programs.

Learn About Our Ranking Methodology

University of Pennsylvania

Private university in Philadelphia, PA, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Penn is home to the prestigious Wharton School, the first collegiate business school in the country.

Master of Business Administration

The Wharton School offers an MBA with a concentration (or "major," as Penn calls it) in accounting. The program focuses on teaching students to analyze accounting information and how to determine the reliability of the analysis.

The accounting major requires at least 19 credits for graduation. The school's flexible curriculum allows learners to take the courses required for sitting for the CPA exam, which may require more than 19 credits.

Program tuition costs $55,566. The Yellow Ribbon Program offers financial assistance to military personnel and veterans. The Wharton School also grants a limited number of merit-based scholarships.

Applying to Penn

To be considered for the program, applicants must submit:

  • • A resume
  • • An essay
  • • Letters of recommendation
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Northwestern University

Private university in Evanston, IL, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

Established in 1851, Northwestern University is located in Evanston, Illinois, a short drive to Chicago. NWU's Kellogg Business School offers a one- and two-year MBA with a major in accounting. The major provides students with a core understanding of financial assessment and reporting. Students learn how accounting serves as the basis for setting benchmarks and monitoring and improving a company's performance and governance.

Master of Business Administration

The degree offers technical expertise in areas such as financial statement analysis and the design of legal and tax structures for mergers and acquisitions. It also allows degree-seekers to complete a field study or independent study in a desired area of specialization.

Tuition and fees for the one-year MBA cost $103,316 and for the two-year degree cost $149,742.

Applying to NWU

Applicants must hold a regionally accredited bachelor's degree and submit an application that includes:

  • • A resume
  • • Two written essays
  • • Three video essays
  • • Letters of recommendation
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores.

Shortlisted candidates are invited to an interview. Applicants with at least two years of professional experience in accounting or business are preferred.

University of Southern California

Private university in Los Angeles, CA, accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Founded in 1880, USC is the oldest private research university in California. USC is not only known for its students' academic achievements, it's also the only university in the world to have had a gold medal-winning athlete in every summer Olympiad since 1912.

Master of Accounting

USC's 30-credit master of accounting focuses on cultivating skills in financial research, analysis, and reporting, offering opportunities for learners to apply theory to real-life cases. Students face common ethical and legal issues accountants may face in different industries.

The program prepares students for jobs in public and corporate accounting, auditing, consulting, advisory services, and assurance services.

The average cost of tuition for this one-year program is $55,320.

Applying to USC

To be considered for USC's accounting master's program, applicants must submit:

  • • A resume
  • • A personal statement
  • • A writing sample
  • • Letters of recommendation
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Candidates without a background in accounting or a related area may complete an optional intensive nine-week summer program.

Washington University in St. Louis

Private university in St. Louis, MO, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

Located at the center of one of St. Louis' most lively restaurant and shopping areas, Washington University in St. Louis can lay claim to a lot of firsts. Among many others, WUSTL was the first chartered law school in America to admit women and the first university to ban the sale of plastic single-use water bottles.

Master of Accounting

Washington University's Olin Business School offers a 33-credit master of accounting, which takes place over three semesters. Students begin the program by completing core courses before starting their fall semester.

The core courses focus on taxation, auditing, ethical decision-making in accounting, and business analysis using financial statements. After completing the core curriculum, students can take more specialized courses in topics such as fraud prevention, business management, and financial metrics for startups.

The cost of tuition and fees for the three-semester program at WUSTL is $83,980.

Applying to Washington University

To be considered for the programs, applicants must submit:

  • • A one-page resume
  • • A career plan statement
  • • One professional recommendation
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Vanderbilt University

Private university in Nashville, TN, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Vanderbilt was founded in 1873 with a $1 million gift from Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. Today, the university ranks 14th in the U.S. News & World Report's ranking of the best national colleges and universities.

Master of Accounting

Vanderbilt offers a master of accounting specifically for non-accounting majors. The program offers tracks in valuation and assurance. The valuation track provides students with financial analyst credentials, while the assurance track braces learners for careers in auditing.

Both tracks last one year and include paid internships and CPA exam prep. Virtually all graduates find employment within 90 days of completing the degree.

The total cost of tuition for the program is $60,750.

Applying to Vanderbilt

Applicants must have completed coursework in financial accounting, statistics, microeconomics, and managerial or cost accounting at a school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Required application materials include:

  • • A resume
  • • Essays
  • • Two letter of recommendations
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Public university in Ann Arbor, MI, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

Founded in 1817, U-M is Michigan's oldest institution for higher education and the state's flagship university. The school ranked third in the U.S. News & World Report's 2020 rankings of the best public undergraduate institutions in the nation.

Master of Accounting

U-M's 30-credit master of accounting features a core accounting curriculum, designed to work with MBA electives in management, data analytics, and strategic problem-solving.

The program offers a two-year master's in accounting and an accelerated track, which takes eight months. To increase their chances in the job market, learners can participate in career clubs, workshops, and individual coaching.

The program costs $49,000 for in-state tuition and fees and $54,000 for out-of-state tuition and fees. Students with household incomes of less than $65,000 may qualify for tuition waivers.

Applying to U-M

To be considered for the program, applicants must have completed classes in financial and managerial accounting, statistics, and microeconomics. Required application materials include:

  • • A resume
  • • Essays
  • • Letters of recommendation
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview.

William Marsh Rice University

Private university in Houston, TX, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Rice is a private research university in Houston, Texas. Established in 1891, Rice ranks among the nation's top universities and is one of the most internationally diverse, with its student body comprising 12.4% international students as of 2020.

Master of Accounting

Rice offers a 36-credit master of accounting, which takes place on campus over 10 months.

Rice's master of accounting curriculum develops the core skills needed to pass the CPA exam, along with advanced skills that enable students to use their accounting knowledge to make informed business decisions.

To allow students to form professional connections and expand their academic knowledge, the program invites leading accounting professionals to speak on campus during the academic year.

Tuition for the one-year program costs $55,625 for both in-state and out-of-state students.

Applying to Rice

Applicants without a bachelor's in accounting must have completed courses in accounting or business administration. Required application materials include:

  • • A resume
  • • A state of purpose
  • • Transcripts
  • • Two letters of recommendation
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

University of Notre Dame

Private Catholic university in Notre Dame, IN, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

Founded in 1842, ND is one of the nation's leading undergraduate institutions. The school aims to provide a forum for open discussion and inquiry as a means for the pursuit and sharing of truth for its own sake.

Master of Science in Accountancy

ND's Mendoza College of Business offers a 30-credit, one-year master of science in accountancy.

Students can choose between two tracks: assurance and advisory services, which prepares learners for occupations in public or corporate accounting, and tax services, which braces students for careers in public or corporate taxation.

Learners can study abroad for two weeks during the program. Tuition for the one-year program costs $44,900.

Applying to ND

Applicants must have completed coursework in areas such as accounting, cost management, and taxation. Required submission materials include:

  • • A resume
  • • Essays
  • • Transcripts
  • • GMAT scores

The GMAT is optional for students holding a bachelor's from an accredited U.S. college or university.

University of Rochester

Private university in Rochester, NY, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Established in 1850, University of Rochester is a private university with a demonstrated commitment to research. Since Rochester's foundation, eight alumni, four faculty members, and one senior research associate have received the Nobel Prize.

Master of Science in Accountancy

Rochester's Simon Business School offers a master of science in accountancy for candidates with bachelor's degrees in business, economics, or accounting. The degree qualifies learners to sit for the CPA exam in New York State.

Students work with academic advisors to design curricula tailored to their unique interests and needs. Students looking for hands-on experience can pursue the program's internship track.

Tuition for the non-internship track costs $65,000 per year. The Simon Business School offers scholarships to over 60% of incoming MS students.

Applying to Rochester

To be considered for the program, applicants must submit:

  • • Resume and work history
  • • One written essay
  • • One video essay (strongly recommended)
  • • Applicant interesting fact
  • • Two references
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Emory University

Private university in Atlanta, GA, accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Established in 1836 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, Emory is now a leading research university. Emory boasts an impressive alumni list, including two prime ministers, 11 U.S. Congress members, one U.S. vice president, one speaker of the U.S. House, and one Supreme Court justice.

Master of Business Administration

Emory's Goizueta Business School offers a two-year MBA with a concentration in accounting, which can be completed full time or part time. Candidates with significant knowledge of the field can choose an accelerated one-year track as well.

The curriculum focuses on developing financial analysis, leadership, management, marketing, strategic thinking, and communication skills. The program also provides learners with immersive global experience, hands-on leadership training, and personal career coaching.

The cost of tuition is $98,100 for the one-year accelerated MBA and $130,800 for the two-year MBA.

Applying to Emory

To be considered for the program, applicants must submit:

  • • A resume
  • • Three written essays
  • • One video essay
  • • Two letters of recommendation
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

New York University

Private university in New York, NY, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

NYU was founded in 1831 with the objective of admitting students "based upon merit rather than birthright or social class." NYU's historical campus is located in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan.

Master of Science in Accounting

NYU's Stern School of Business offers a 30-credit master of science in accounting, designed to be completed in one year. The program prepares students for the CPA exam, public and corporate accounting jobs, and doctoral programs in accounting, finance, and business administration.

Learners explore topics such as corporate finance, financial reporting, auditing, data analytics, strategic problem-solving, and business ethics.

Tuition and fees for the one-year program cost $57,334.

Applying to NYU

To be considered for the accelerated program, applicants must have completed courses in financial and managerial accounting, macroeconomics, microeconomics, and statistics. Required application materials include:

  • • A resume
  • • Two essays
  • • One letter of recommendation
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Lehigh University

Private university in Bethlehem, PA, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Established in 1865, the private Lehigh University now boasts several famous alumni, including Jesse W. Reno, who invented the escalator, and Howard McClintic and Charles Marshall, who built the Golden Gate Bridge.

Master of Science in Accounting and Information Analysis

Lehigh's business college offers a 30-credit MS in accounting and information analysis, which learners can complete full time or part time. The degree satisfies CPA exam credit requirements.

The program aims to teach learners how to use accounting information and technology to improve business processes and solve problems in the corporate world. The curriculum sharpens students' skills in advanced accounting, the strategic use of technology, communication, and leadership.

The program costs $38,400 for both resident and nonresident students.

Applying to LU

Applicants must submit:

  • • Resume
  • • Essay
  • • Two letters of recommendation
  • • Transcripts and Wes Reports
  • • GMAT scores (optional)

Case Western Reserve University

Private university in Cleveland, OH, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

Case Western Reserve University is a private research university, created after the merger of two long-standing, renowned institutions: Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology.

Master of Accountancy

CWRU offers a 30-credit master of accountancy (MAcc) for students seeking a professional accounting degree that fulfills the 150 credit hours required to sit for the CPA exam. Learners can complete the program full time or part time.

Students choose between a professional and an analytics track. The professional track trains students in tax practice, corporate reporting and analysis, accounting information systems, and analytics and control. The analytics track focuses on probability theory, statistics, predictive modeling, programming for business applications, and data mining and visualization.

Tuition for this one-year, full-time program costs $41,400. CWRU offers merit-based scholarships and graduate assistantships for MAcc students.

Applying to CWRU

Prerequisites include courses in financial and managerial accounting, financial reporting, auditing, taxation, business law, and excel applications and modeling. Candidates may complete the prerequisites during the MAcc program. To be considered for the program, applicants must submit:

  • • A resume
  • • Two essays addressing the specified prompts
  • • Two references
  • • Unofficial transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Villanova University

Private Catholic university in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Founded in 1842, Villanova is Pennsylvania's oldest Catholic university and the United States' only Augustinian university. The school is named after St. Thomas of Villanova, who perhaps is best known for his selfless generosity.

Master of Accounting in Data Analytics

Villanova's business school offers a 30-credit master of accounting in data analytics, which was developed in light of feedback from top global accounting firms. The program takes a data-driven approach to accounting, integrating skills in data analytics with traditional accounting skills.

Students in this program learn about the latest trends in data analytics and how to ask data-driven questions about accounting functions, such as valuation, tax, fraud, risk analysis, and performance measurement. The curriculum offers courses in leadership and negotiation to prepare learners for career advancement.

Tuition costs $43,050, or $1,435 per credit.

Applying to Villanova

To be considered for the program, applicants must have completed courses in accounting, taxation, and auditing. The required application material include:

  • • A resume
  • • Two essays
  • • Two letters of recommendation
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Tulane University of Louisiana

Private university in New Orleans, LA, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Established in 1847, Tulane is one of the oldest private institutions in the Association of American Universities, an alliance of America's leading research universities.

Master of Accounting

Tulane's Freeman School of Business offers a 30-hour master of accounting, which takes 10 months to complete. Students can also choose an 18-month track, which includes a summer internship.

Learners can deepen their expertise by pursuing one of seven specializations: structured finance, analytics, taxation, energy, risk management, entrepreneurship, and strategic and innovation management. All specializations qualify students for the CPA exam.

Tuition for the 10-month program costs $55,500.

Applying to Tulane

To be considered for the program, applicants must submit:

  • • Resume
  • • One essay
  • • One letter of recommendation
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Public university in Chapel Hill, NC, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The flagship of the University of North Carolina system, UNC-Chapel Hill is the nation's first public university. Carolina has been dubbed a "public Ivy," owing to the high caliber of its academic programs.

Master of Accounting

UNC-Chapel Hill offers on-campus and an online master of accounting. The on-campus program takes 10 months to complete and is open to non-accounting majors only. On-campus students may also add a two-month internship.

The online program takes 12-36 months to complete, depending on students' desired pace, and is open to all undergraduate majors, including accounting majors.

Core courses cover topics like cost accounting, communication, and data analytics. Students can also study abroad in cities like London, Mexico City, and Shanghai.

Tuition for the online program starts at $52,069. Tuition for the on-campus program costs $41,550 for North Carolina residents and $58,556 for nonresidents.

Applying to UNC-Chapel Hill

To apply, applicants must submit:

  • • A resume
  • • A statement of purpose
  • • Unofficial transcripts
  • • Two letters of recommendations
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Wake Forest University

Private university in Winston-Salem, NC, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Founded in 1834, Wake Forest is a private school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In addition to its academic and athletic achievements, the school is known for its unorthodox mascot, Demon Deacon. The mascot rides a motorbike, wearing gold pants and a black tuxedo and top hat.

Master of Science in Accountancy

Wake Forest offers a 30-credit, one-year master of science in accountancy. Students may add a third semester, during which they can pursue a paid, nine-week internship.

The program offers tracks in auditing and assurance services, tax consulting, and financial transaction services. The latter track is unique to WFU. All three tracks prepare students for the CPA exam.

Tuition and fees cost $52,682 for the one-year program and $79,023 for the three-semester program.

Applying to Wake Forest

To apply, applicants must submit:

  • • A resume
  • • Transcripts
  • • References
  • • Answers to provided prompts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Boston College

Private Jesuit university in Chestnut Hill, MA, accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education

Established in 1863, Boston College was Boston's first higher education institution. BC helps students de-stress during exam weeks by bringing in puppies for them to cuddle and handing out free coffee in the dining halls and libraries.

Master of Science in Accounting

BC's Carroll School of Management offers a 30-credit, one-year master of science in accounting. In addition to cultivating core skills, the program sharpens skills in consulting, strategic decision-making, and statement analysis.

In keeping with the Carroll School's tradition of community service and the university's Jesuit heritage, students are required to serve the community through volunteer work.

Tuition for the program costs $56,580.

Applying to BC

To be considered for admission, applicants must submit:

  • • A resume
  • • A personal essay
  • • A letter of recommendation
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Students without an accounting background may need to take additional classes in accounting and business.

George Washington University

Private university in Washington, D.C., accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

George Washington University's founding roots are almost as old as the United States. GW was established by an act of Congress in 1821.

Master of Accountancy

GW offers a 30-credit master of accountancy, which prepares students for professional careers as accountants in the public or private sectors. Graduates qualify to sit for the CPA exam.

The program offers flexible scheduling, with both full-time and part-time paths. Learners can choose between day, night, and summer classes. The program takes nine months to complete for full-time students and 21-60 months for part-time students.

Tuition for the nine-month program costs $52,950.

Applying to GW

To be considered for admission, applicants must submit:

  • • A resume
  • • An essay
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

A bachelor's in accounting is not required for admission. But students must have completed core courses in accounting prior to admission.

College of William and Mary

Public university in Williamsburg, VA, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges

Founded in 1693, W&M is the second-oldest university in the United States, after Harvard. The university's impressive list of alumni includes several U.S. presidents, including Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler.

Master of Accounting

The Raymond A. Mason School of Business at W&M offers a nine-month master of accounting (MAcc) and a 2.5-year dual MBA/MAcc track. The MAcc program provides specializations in accounting analytics, audit and assurance, experiential, taxation, and valuation and advisory services.

The first semester of the MAcc program cultivates students' professional expertise through mandatory accounting coursework. The second semester broadens learners' prowess through coursework in one of the five areas of specialization.

During their study, students can participate in an executive partnership program and a paid winter internship.

The MAcc program costs $34,848 for in-state tuition and fees and $45,818 for out-of-state tuition and fees.

Applying to William & Mary

To be considered for the programs, applicants must submit:

  • • A resume
  • • An essay
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Creighton University

Private Jesuit university in Omaha, NE, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Creighton University was established in 1878 by the Jesuit order of the Roman Catholic Church in Omaha, Nebraska. Rooted in the Jesuit tradition, the school is dedicated to the core values of faith, leadership, and service to others.

Master of Accounting

Creighton's Heider College of Business offers a 33-credit master of accounting for learners seeking the credits and training for the CPA exam. The program does not require a capstone project or thesis.

The program trains students in core areas of accounting, such as financial and managerial accounting, auditing, taxation, and ethical issues in the accounting profession. In addition to cultivating core skills, the program prepares students for the complex problems professional accountants must face.

Tuition for the 33-credit program costs $30,591.

Applying to Creighton

To be considered for the program, applicants must submit:

  • • A resume
  • • A personal statement
  • • Two letters of recommendation
  • • Transcripts
  • • GMAT score

To qualify for admission, students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and have completed prior coursework in accounting.

University of Virginia - Main Campus

Public university in Charlottesville, Virginia, accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, UVA traditionally refers to students by year of study rather than as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors. This is grounded in Jefferson's belief that college marks the beginning of lifelong learning.

Master of Science in Accounting

UVA's 30-credit MS in accounting takes nine months to complete. Students can choose between two tracks: tax consulting and financial reporting and assurance. Both cultivate analytical thinking, strategic problem-solving, communication, and leadership skills.

In addition to core courses, students can elect courses that fit their specific interests, including negotiation strategy, cybersecurity, and forensic accounting. The program also provides opportunities for global learning experiences.

The program costs $40,880 for in-state tuition and fees or $45,818 for out-of-state tuition and fees.

Applying to UVA

To be considered for the program, applicants must submit:

  • • A resume
  • • Two letters of recommendation
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

To be eligible to apply, students must have prior coursework in specific areas of accounting, taxation and auditing.

Loyola Marymount University

Private Jesuit university in Los Angeles, CA, accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Founded in 1911, LMU is a private, Catholic research university rooted in Jesuit and Marymount traditions. The university leverages its diverse Los Angeles location, which provides a rich context for a well-rounded education.

Master of Science in Accounting

LMU offers a 30-credit MS in accounting, which can be completed full time in nine months or part time in 18-36 months. When combined with the course prerequisites, the degree satisfies the 150-hour requirement for the CPA exam in California.

For candidates pursuing CPA licensure or more professional growth potential, this program trains students in critical and ethical reasoning, effective communication, social responsibility, effective problem-solving, and sustainability in business and personal decisions.

Tuition and fees for the full program cost $33,000.

Applying to LMU

To be considered for admission, applicants must submit:

  • • A resume
  • • A personal statement
  • • An essay on ethics
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Prerequisites include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and coursework in core areas of accounting. All candidates are considered for merit scholarships.

University of Miami

Private university in Miami, FL, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Founded in 1925, UM is a private research university with campuses in Coral Gables and downtown Miami, Florida. In addition to its impressive academic achievements, the school is also known for its football team, the Hurricanes, which has won five national championships since 1983.

Master of Science in Accountancy

UM's Miami Herbert Business School offers a master of science in accountancy (MSA) and a master of accountancy in taxation (MST), which take one academic year to complete. The school also offers accelerated versions of the MSA and MST programs to UM undergraduate students.

The MSA program provides two tracks: assurance, which prepares learners for public accounting, and corporate accounting, for students planning to become CFOs, controllers, or financial analysts.

Tuition and fees for the program cost $65,100.

Applying to UM

To be considered for the program, applicants must submit:

  • • Resume
  • • One letter of recommendation
  • • Transcripts
  • • GMAT scores

Short-listed applicants will be invited to an interview.

Bentley University

Private university in Waltham, MA, accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education

Founded in 1917 as a school of accounting and finance, Bentley University is now one of the nation's leading business universities. Bentley educates a variety of non-business majors at the undergraduate level, but its graduate program is primarily a business school.

Master of Science in Accountancy

Bentley offers a master of science in accountancy with core courses in auditing; accounting information systems; and financial, managerial, and tax accounting. Students can use their electives to obtain certificates in areas like business ethics, financial planning, fraud, or forensic accounting.

The program offers flexible scheduling including full-time and part-time tracks, with the option of taking select courses online.

Tuition for the full-time MSA program costs $43,200.

Applying to Bentley

To be considered for the program, applicants must submit:

  • • A resume
  • • Two essays
  • • Two letters of recommendation
  • • Transcripts
  • • GRE or GMAT scores

Admission decisions are based on the entirety of applicants' qualifications, including test scores, learning objectives, and prior work experience.


What To Expect From Your Accounting Master's Program

In typical accounting master's programs, students delve into core and specialty topics such as public and corporate accounting, financial analysis, auditing, taxation, compliance, and forensic accounting. The degree culminates in a capstone project or thesis.

In some accounting master's programs, learners have the option of choosing a specific concentration in accordance with their interests and career goals. Many schools also allow working professionals to customize their studies by choosing part-time, online, or accelerated degrees.

Comparing Degree Types: MBA vs. MS vs. MAcc Programs

Different schools offer different master's degrees in accounting. Common degrees include a master of accounting or accountancy (MAcc), a master of science in accounting (MSA), and an MBA with a concentration in accounting. Take a look at how these degrees stack up against each other.

Comparing Accounting Master's Programs
MBA MS MAcc
Bachelor's in Accounting Required No Varies Yes
Length Two years One year One year
Course Load 40-60 credits 30 credits 30 credits
STEM-Designated No Yes Varies
CPA Eligibility Varies Yes Yes
Cost > $100,000 $30,000 - $100,000 $30,000 - $100,000

A standard MBA develops managerial and leadership skills, which may qualify graduates for positions as financial managers or CFOs down the line. However, an MBA may not qualify learners to sit for the CPA exam, while MAcc and MSA programs normally satisfy exam requirements.

MSA curricula normally entail more rigorous, quantitative courses than the MAcc, including those in financial analytics, statistics, and information technology.

Admission Requirements for Accounting Programs

A master's in accounting typically requires 30 credit hours in topics like public and corporate accounting, auditing, taxation, and business law. Completing a 30-credit master's degree in accounting full time takes around one year. The exception is the MBA, which typically takes two years of full-time study to complete.

Top-tier accounting master's programs often require an undergraduate degree in accounting or a related area, but some cater to students with any bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Most top-ranked schools require GMAT or GRE scores.

Popular Master's in Accounting Courses

A standard master's curriculum entails classes aimed at developing basic accounting skills, elective courses focusing on specialty areas, and a final capstone or thesis. See below for some examples of courses you may encounter in a standard accounting curriculum.

  • Federal Taxation

    In this course, students gain advanced insight into key concepts of federal taxation, such as personal exemptions, estate tax, tax deductions, capital losses, shareholder tax, and abusive tax shelters. The course helps learners develop the expertise to prepare personal and corporate federal tax returns and identify strategies to minimize federal income tax liabilities.

  • Assurance Services

    A course in assurance services trains students to assess companies' processes and controls with the aim of reducing the information risk for economic decision-makers, such as company leaders and shareholders. This sharpens students' skills in financial statement analysis, analytical review procedures, and statistical sampling.

  • Managerial Accounting

    In this course, students learn to gather, analyze, and present the kinds of financial information managers need to make economic decisions. The course helps degree-seekers develop the skills needed to conduct cost-volume-profit analysis, calculate overhead rates, and identify the costs and benefits relevant to a specific financial decision.

  • Forensic Accounting

    Forensic accounting courses train students to use accounting, auditing, and analytical skills to investigate and present evidence on financial crimes, such as fraud, embezzlement, and money laundering. The course develops the expertise needed to trace, identify and recover assets, conduct due diligence reviews, and produce evidence that can withstand scrutiny in court.


The Master's Capstone or Thesis

Many accounting master's programs, especially MBAs, culminate in a thesis or a capstone. A thesis is a research paper tackling a theoretical issue, such as the effects of managerial accounting on a company's financial decisions or the difficulties of implementing cybersecurity to protect a company's financial information.

A capstone project offers up a solution to a practical problem, often for a real corporation. A capstone could involve preparing a quarterly earnings forecast for a public company or producing a complete financial statement for a private company planning to launch an IPO.

Working with a real company can be a rewarding experience and provide an opportunity to grow your professional network. Capstones tackling issues for real corporations can be quite labor intensive, so students often collaborate on these types of projects.

What Jobs Can a Master's Degree in Accounting Get You?

A master's in accounting can lead to a lucrative and rewarding career. The BLS projects a 4% growth in accountant and auditor jobs from 2019 to 2029. The bureau projects even stronger outlooks for other occupations for master's in accounting graduates, such as the following.

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts analyze and assess companies' financial health, present their findings to management, and offer advice about future financial decisions.


  • Required Education: A bachelor's degree in accounting or related area is required at the entry level, but a master's in accounting can improve job prospects.
  • Job Outlook: +5% (2019-29)
  • Median Annual Salary: $81,590
Financial Examiner

Financial examiners check corporations' financial records for compliance with laws governing financial institutions and transactions. They present findings to management and make best practice recommendations.


  • Required Education: A bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field is required at the entry level; however, many employers prefer accountants with CPA certification.
  • Job Outlook: +7% (2019-29)
  • Median Annual Salary: $81,090
Financial Manager

Financial managers assess financial risks and opportunities, implement revenue strategies, set financial goals for the future, and make financial decisions.


  • Required Education: A bachelor's degree and at least five years of work experience in a related area; however, many employers prefer CPAs or MBAs with accounting concentrations and work experience.
  • Job Outlook: +15% (2019-29)
  • Median Annual Salary: $129,890
Forensic Accountant

Forensic accountants examine financial statements and data in order to identify fraudulent or illegal activity. Many forensic accountants find employment with the FBI.


  • Required Education: A bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field is required at the entry level; however, many employers prefer accountants with CPA certification.
  • Job Outlook: +4% (2019-29).
  • Median Annual Salary: $71,550

Selecting the Right Accounting Master's Program

Universities accredited by one of the six regional accrediting commissions satisfy minimum standards for academic quality. The nation's most prestigious universities hold regional accreditation. However, institutional accreditation is only one type of accreditation to consider — program-specific accreditation is important as well.

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International is the leading accrediting agency for programs in business administration and accounting. Earning a degree from an AACSB-accredited school can make a difference to job prospects, career advancement, and earning potential.

AACSB accreditation is particularly important if you aspire to become a CPA, as a master's in accounting from a school without AACSB accreditation may not qualify you to sit for the CPA exam.

STEM designation also signals to future employers that a program emphasizes analytical rigor. Some STEM-designated programs offer information technology concentrations. Earning a degree that integrates accounting and technology can significantly increase your earning potential and job outlook.

Should You Get Your Master's in Accounting Online?

If you can't commit to pursuing school full time or on campus, pursuing an online accounting degree. Online degrees are generally more cost-effective, especially when you include cost of living.

Online degrees used to be considered subpar compared to on-campus degrees. This assessment was fuelled by the poor quality of the online platforms and the limited opportunities for networking for online students.

Thanks to technological advances, however, the quality gap between online and in-person learning is shrinking. Students in top-tier online programs can expect an immersive learning experience, complete with online networking events and recruitment opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created further incentive for online learning. Despite promising developments on the vaccine front, it's unlikely that a vaccine will become widely available until well into 2021, which may make a 2021 online master's degree particularly appealing.

Compare Top Online Accounting Master's Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get a master's in accounting online?
Yes, you can earn a master's in accounting online. Distance learning is becoming increasingly popular, as prospective students discover its wealth of advantages, including cost effectiveness and unbridled flexibility.
Is a master's in accounting worth it?
A master's in accounting can significantly increase earning potential. According to the BLS, the median salary for accountants and auditors is $71,550, about 33% higher than the median salary for all occupations. A master's in accounting can also qualify you to sit for the CPA exam.
Should I get an MBA or MS in accounting?
It depends. If you have your sights set on a managerial career, an MBA is preferable to an MS. However, an MBA may not qualify you for the CPA exam, so it may not offer the same job prospects in accounting as an MS.
What is the best master's degree for accountants?
University of Pennsylvania’s MBA with a concentration in accounting is currently the nation’s highest ranked master’s degree in accounting. But the number one program in the country may not necessarily fit your interests and career goals. To find the optimal match, check out our review of the nation’s 25 best master's in accounting programs.
How much do accountants with master's degrees make?
The median annual salary for all accountants and auditors is $71,550. With a master's in accounting, you can expect a substantially higher salary down the line, especially if you pass the CPA exam. The median annual salary for financial managers, for example, is $129,890.

Professional Organizations in Accounting

Professional organizations can help accounting students find scholarships, connect with mentors, and access useful educational resources. Working accountants who join professional organizations enjoy benefits such as networking conferences, job boards, continuing education opportunities, industry news, and certifications. Below you can learn about some major professional organizations for accounting graduates.

  • American Institute of CPAsEstablished in 1887, this organization supports certified professional accountants by setting standards and advocating for legislation. AICPA also offers credentials, continuing education, publications, and career guidance.
  • Institute of Management AccountantsIMA has served accountants and financial professionals since 1919 and now includes over 125,000 members. The institute offers certification, career resources, journals, newsletters, and research on the latest trends in management accounting.
  • National Association of Tax ProfessionalsNATP joins 23,000 federal tax professionals and supports them through professional development resources. The organization advocates for tax professionals, offers guidance on the federal tax code, and offers both in-person and online education opportunities.
  • Professional Association of Small Business AccountantsThis organization represents accounting professionals who provide services to small businesses. Membership benefits include professional development seminars, national and local meetings, and networking opportunities.
  • The Institute of Internal AuditorsThis international organization joins over 200,000 professionals in fields such as risk management, IT auditing, and governance. Members benefit from local chapter events, a career center, members-only webinars, and training events.

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