Accountants work in every industry and setting imaginable. They prepare financial records for large companies, nonprofit groups, small businesses, and organizations of all kinds. As a result, accountants enjoy a healthy job market and a wide variety of career opportunities. While industry certifications like the CPA credential can further enhance candidates' marketability, many designations are reserved for professionals with advanced degrees. As with most high-level and executive positions, CPAs must hold a master's degree or a graduate certificate in accounting.
Accounting graduate programs are the key to higher salaries, more job opportunities, and high-demand certifications. Master's programs allow you to strengthen existing skills, build new ones, and develop a specialization like taxation or forensic accounting. In this guide, we take a look at some of the best accounting graduate schools in the country. Read on to find out more about what each program has to offer.
Founded in 1883, this public university is consistently recognized for performing innovative research in science and business. Known for providing exceptionally affordable MBA programs, the McCombs School offers a case-based MPA that can be customized to meet students’ interests and career goals. Candidates can choose a general track, or select from three concentrations: financial reporting and assistance; managerial accounting and control; and taxation. The school also offers an internal auditing certificate option, which is one of only 24 programs in the world recognized by the Institute of Internal Auditors. Students with an undergraduate accounting degree complete 31 credits, while those with a background in another area must complete 43 hours.
Non-Resident Tuition: $41,061
Home to the Sanger Leadership Center, Michigan Ross enjoys a world-class reputation and impressive student outcomes. In 2017, 100% of graduates found employment only six months after earning a graduate certificate in accounting or similar degrees, and the school boasts one of the nation’s highest CPA exam passing rates. Michigan Ross’ MAcc integrates core MBA material with field-specific coursework and engaging elective classes such as marketing law, negotiation and dispute resolution, and nonprofit leadership. The eight-month program includes a mandatory symposium in Washington, D.C., during which candidates attend lectures and network with industry leaders.
Non-Resident Tuition: $49,800
Unlike most accounting graduate programs, Illinois’ one-year MSA program holds STEM designation. Along with completing 32 hours of core and elective courses, students have the option of enrolling in a CPA exam preparation course and online exam review. While this course does not grant credits toward the degree, it meets Illinois educational requirements for the CPA exam. The school offers a variety of accounting-related workshops and presentations throughout the year, and sponsors networking events with professional firms in major U.S. cities. Application materials include GMAT scores, three letters of recommendation, and a personal resume. Individuals from accounting backgrounds receive preferential admission.
Non-Resident Tuition: $44,250
Located in Philadelphia, the Wharton School’s MBA with an accounting concentration stands out among accounting graduate programs for its high level of customizability. With 19 specialization options, many students choose to double major, or integrate multiple concentrations in an individualized study program. The 20-month accounting program combines core business concepts with specialized courses such as corporate valuation and cost management, as well as material specific to the CPA exam. Students are encouraged to complete a summer internship, and may apply to spend a semester studying at Penn’s San Francisco campus. All candidates receive access to MBA career management services, including job placement assistance.
Annual Tuition: $73,634
Known internationally as a top-tier educational institution, Stanford is also home to one of the world’s best accounting graduate schools. Spanning two years, the university’s accounting graduate program builds a solid foundation in finance and management before delving into field-specific topics. Candidates spend their entire second year of study exploring advanced concepts like accounting-based valuation, mergers, and board governance. In keeping with the program’s international focus, MBA students are required to fulfill a global experience component, which may take the form of study abroad sessions, exchange programs, or internships with foreign companies. Admission is highly competitive, and applicants may need to complete an in-person interview.
Annual Tuition: $66,650
It’s easy to see why Notre Dame is frequently shortlisted as one of the best accounting graduate schools. The South Bend, Indiana institution offers a 30-credit MS in accountancy with concentrated tracks in tax services and assurance and advisory that can be completed in only 10 months.
Despite the program’s accelerated timeline, students still enjoy the opportunity to spend two weeks studying in China, South Africa, or South America. In addition, each MSA candidate is assigned a personal career services coach, who helps learners develop an individualized career plan. Notre Dame’s annual Meet the Firms event allows students to meet representatives from the country’s top accounting firms.
Program Tuition: $50,326
This Los Angeles university provides a unique opportunity for individuals seeking accounting graduate programs that focus on the field’s technological aspects. Along with a general MAcc, USC Marshall offers a master’s in accounting with an emphasis on data and analytics. While both programs address core business and financial concepts, students pursuing an MAcc D+A explore the information technology systems used to collect and analyze financial data. Stressing experiential learning, the D+A track includes a mandatory internship, supervised fieldwork, and numerous lab requirements.
Both programs maintain an extensive list of prerequisite coursework, and all candidates must complete an interview with faculty before gaining admission.
Program Tuition: $51,648
One of the country’s top research universities, Ohio State is also home to one of the country’s best accounting graduate schools. The highly selective MAcc program provides a personalized educational experience through small, intimate classes and a customizable curriculum. With elective courses comprising nearly 80% of the MAcc curriculum, students can build specialized knowledge in one of many focus areas, including operations management, auditing, and logistics. Candidates also have the option of completing an independent study project over the course of a semester-long internship. Applicants with an undergraduate degree in a field other than accounting are encouraged to complete a pre-MAcc seminar in late summer.
Program Tuition: $53,290
Taking a multidisciplinary approach to the field, Chicago Booth’s comprehensive accounting graduate program integrates hands-on learning with core coursework, area-specific electives, and leadership training. Consisting of 20 classes and an intensive leadership course, the holistic MBA with accounting concentration curriculum explores financial analysis, management, and business strategies from multiple perspectives. Accounting majors enjoy exclusive opportunities to work alongside seasoned professionals, participate in competitions, and perform research in Chicago Booth’s state-of-the-art labs. Most students take three or four courses each quarter, ultimately earning their degree in 21 months. The university sponsors several merit-based scholarships and fellowships for MBA candidates.
Annual Tuition: $66,650
NYU Stern’s acclaimed accounting graduate program promises to make students CPA exam-ready in only one year. Featuring courses such as forensic accounting, business acquisitions, and professional responsibility, the curriculum explores the industry from numerous angles. Candidates learn to manage internal control systems, uncover financial fraud, and communicate effectively with clients.
The university is also home to the Vincent C. Ross Institute of Accounting. Founded in 1971, the Ross Institute supports large-scale accounting research initiatives, publishes academic journals, and hosts professional conferences. MBA candidates can take advantage of the Institute’s large research library, or apply for one of several accounting scholarships.
Program Tuition: $51,500
Do you want to make a radical career change? UNC is one of the best accounting graduate schools for individuals without an academic background in business. The MAC program is available online as well as on campus, does not include prerequisites, and welcomes applicants with undergraduate degrees in any field, seasoned professionals, and returning students. The program takes one year to complete, and includes concentrations in taxation or auditing. While applicants are expected to provide GRE or GMAT scores, waivers may be available under certain circumstances. Prospective students who pass the preliminary screening must schedule an interview, during which they are placed under consideration for merit-based scholarships.
Program Tuition: $39,333
For more than a century, Columbia Business School has built and maintained a reputation as one of the best accounting graduate schools in the country. The New York City institution immerses MBA candidates in a thriving, competitive business culture as they gain a top-down look at the accounting industry.
Building upon a leadership-focused core curriculum, the two-year MBA program stresses social intelligence, innovation, and the use of emerging technologies in finance. Students pursuing an accounting concentration explore financial strategy, modelling, and analysis. A unique two-part value investing course offers an immersive experience centered upon Graham and Dodd investing principles.
Program Tuition: $137,584
Fairfield may be Connecticut-based, but it strives to provide a comprehensive accounting graduate program that meets most states’ CPA education requirements. The 30-credit, career-focused MS in accounting addresses field-specific considerations many other programs avoid, including topics in healthcare and nonprofit accounting. Students may also select a concentration in either taxation or assurance. The unique curriculum structure provides candidates with time off to sit for the CPA exam, and includes paid internships and a final taxation or accounting practicum. The university’s Career Planning Center offers numerous job services, from resume critiquing to networking events.
Program Tuition: $26,250
UGA’s top-ranked master of accountancy program bolsters Terry’s reputation as one of the nation’s best accounting graduate schools. Featuring a rigorous core curriculum and intensive specialization options, the highly selective program boasts exceptional graduate employment rates and earnings. MAcc candidates enjoy support from UGA’s career center, which has helped graduates land positions with top organizations around the world.
Students can select from audit, advisory, or taxation specializations, or pursue the challenging MAcc with data and analytics program, which emphasizes emerging financial technologies. A JD/MAcc program is also available for those with a background in legal studies. Credit requirements vary considerably between specializations.
Program Tuition: $33,660
The Foster School’s Seattle location presents one-of-a-kind opportunities to learn through partnerships with local companies like Amazon and Microsoft. Influenced by the city’s high-tech atmosphere, the master of professional accounting curriculum emphasizes data-driven financial analysis. Using a team-based class model designed to foster innovation, the program encourages collaboration through a series of intensive projects. During interactive courses, students work alongside seasoned professionals at nearby companies such as Costco and Deloitte. The accelerated 48-credit program culminates in an internship and an independent research project, in which students synthesize and reflect on the knowledge acquired during their internship.
Program Tuition: $24,600
Are you looking for an accounting graduate program that lets you combine your interest in technology with business and finance? Do you want to jump-start a career in state or federal government? MSU’s 30-credit MS in accounting lets you take charge of your career path with one of three specialized academic tracks: taxation, public and corporate accounting, and information systems. Requiring between 12 and 15 credits, each concentration offers an in-depth look at tax regulations, advanced auditing, or financial database systems. All tracks prepare candidates to sit for the CPA exam, and take approximately 12 months to complete.
Program Tuition: $41,175
As one of the country’s only free-standing institutions dedicated exclusively to the subject, it’s no surprise that the Fisher School of Accounting is consistently ranked among the best accounting graduate schools. Along with a general MAcc program, the university offers concentrated curricula for students interested in taxation or auditing. While each program consists of 34 credit hours, the Fisher School maintains rigorous admission guidelines and an extensive list of prerequisite coursework. Applicants must fulfill all academic requirements before gaining admission to the MAcc program, and must demonstrate a total GMAT score of at least 550 and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better.
Program Tuition: $40,174
Candidates who hold an undergraduate accounting degree can take their studies to a higher level with Mays Business School’s MS in accounting graduate program. Featuring 37 credit hours of career-specific coursework, students have the opportunity to explore the finer points of taxation or information management as they prepare to take the CPA exam. While learners are not required to compose a thesis, all students must complete an accounting communications course prior to graduation. The school maintains partnerships with the Big Four accounting firms, and students are encouraged — though not required — to pursue spring or summer internships with a partner company.
Program Tuition: $33,622
Kellogg’s accounting graduate program is ideal for hands-on learners who appreciate a global perspective on business and finance. From practicums and internships to study abroad opportunities, Kellogg encourages MBA candidates to explore concepts and strategies beyond the school’s Evanston, Illinois campus. Candidates pursuing an accounting concentration fulfill their independent study requirement in Kellogg’s world-class labs and business facilities before completing fieldwork with a local company or nonprofit organization. In addition to their accounting major, students may further refine their studies by selecting one of seven available pathways, including social impact, entrepreneurship, data analytics, or real estate.
Program Tuition: $91,716
Whether you hold an undergraduate accounting degree or want to take on a new career path entirely, NIU has an accounting graduate program to fit your academic background. The master of accounting sciences degree builds on students’ prior knowledge in the field, introducing advanced financial concepts and technical skills along with broadly-applicable leadership principles. In contrast, the part-time master of accountancy program is designed for candidates who do not hold an accounting degree but wish to pursue the CPA credential. Before enrolling in the MAcc program, students must complete a two-course principles of accounting series and several general business courses.
Program Tuition: $24,573
The Culverhouse School of Accountancy offers two ways to earn an MMA. Candidates who select Plan 1 complete 24 hours of coursework and six hours researching and composing a thesis. Plan 2 also requires 30 course hours, but does not include a thesis component. Instead, students must either pass a comprehensive examination or complete a capstone experience, which may consist of an internship, presentation, or field practicum.
While the school maintains a list of prerequisite courses, students who demonstrate sufficient subject knowledge through testing or equivalent coursework may apply for a waiver. Prospective students must provide GMAT, GRE, or MAT scores upon application.
Program Tuition: $26,950
Founded in 1979, the Patterson School of Accountancy was the first institution in Mississippi to obtain programmatic accreditation for both undergraduate and accounting graduate programs. Home to the National Library of the Accounting Profession, the institution frequently enjoys a spot on national rankings of the best accounting graduate schools.
The comprehensive master of accountancy program covers integral financial concepts like income taxation, managerial accounting, and auditing. Elective course options include international accounting, estate taxation, corporations, and information technology auditing. The 30-credit curriculum fulfills educational requirements for the CPA exam in 46 states.
Program Tuition: $23,608
Los Angeles-based LMU makes it convenient for working professionals to earn an MS in accounting. Featuring evening classes and a part-time enrollment option, the 30-credit accounting graduate program can be completed by full-time students in only two semesters. Due to the intensive curriculum and accelerated timeline, applicants are expected to hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting, or to have completed at least 24 semester hours of accounting or business coursework. All students must complete seven hours of ethics-related study, at LMU or as undergraduates. Full-time candidates are eligible to apply for one of several merit-based scholarships offered through the university.
Program Tuition: $29,700
Focused on providing an intensive, individualized learning experience for every student, this highly selective MAcc program admits only 50-55 candidates each year. Small, intimate classes, a rigorous curriculum, and a strong emphasis on experiential learning have all contributed to Miami’s status as a top Big Four recruiting university and one of the best accounting graduate schools. Over the course of two semesters, students interact with global accounting professionals, participate in exciting competitions, and apply their acquired skills in the field. Candidates also have the option of spending a semester abroad at the University of Seoul in South Korea.
Program Tuition: $37,799
Unlike many accounting graduate programs, UVA’s 30-credit MS curriculum focuses on more than just passing the CPA exam. Although the nine-month program addresses concepts featured on the exam, it takes a holistic approach to accounting that covers leadership training, collaborative project development, and negotiation strategies. Students may select one of two specialized tracks: tax consulting or financial reporting and assurance. The university also sponsors several study abroad programs developed exclusively for MS candidates. Students can explore the London Stock Exchange on spring break, or take a global immersion course in Australia, India, or Costa Rica.
Program Tuition: $37,796