15 Best Online Master's in Taxation 2021



A master's in taxation is a 24- to 30-credit graduate degree providing advanced education in tax concepts, laws, and procedures.

Earning a tax master's degree is a valuable option for accounting professionals who want to advance through certification and specialization. A master's degree fulfills the education requirements to sit for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this certification provides an advantage in the job market, where accountants earn a median annual salary of $71,550.

Recommended Online Accounting Programs

Outside of accounting, graduates may go on to secure careers in consulting, auditing, or law. Schools offer taxation degrees in several different formats to meet a variety of professional interests and goals.

In the following guide, we discuss the benefits of pursuing an online master's in taxation and offer essential tips for choosing the right program. The guide also includes a ranked list of the best tax master's degrees, updated annually.

2021's Top 15 Master of Taxation Online Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL
2 University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Brownsville, TX
3 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
4 Rutgers University Newark, NJ
5 Villanova University Villanova, PA
6 University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH
7 Bentley University Waltham, MA
8 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
9 University of Denver Denver, CO
10 DePaul University Chicago, IL
See Detailed Rankings


What Is Taxation Accounting?

A master's in tax trains students in advanced theoretical and technical aspects of taxation. Taxation master's programs vary in curricula, objectives, and outcomes. A master of science in taxation focuses exclusively on taxation principles and practices. An accounting degree with an emphasis in taxation integrates fundamental accounting knowledge and advanced taxation content.

While all accountants must maintain general knowledge of taxation regulations, practices, and principles, a degree in taxation focuses specifically on state and federal tax laws and codes. Coursework for a taxation master's degree includes tax accounting methods, partnership taxation, and corporate transactional taxation. With a degree in taxation, individuals can work as tax accountants, tax examiners, and tax consultants.

Practicing and future attorneys may want to pursue a master of law (LL.M.) in taxation. The BLS projects a 4% job growth for the legal profession from 2019-2029. An LL.M. in taxation trains accountants and financial professionals in the regulatory, policy, and judicial elements of tax law.

Most master's programs in taxation meet the educational requirements to pursue the CPA credential. Coursework prepares students to take the Uniform CPA Exam, the premier certification for accounting professionals.

Comparing Tax Accounting to General Accounting Degrees

At the master's level, taxation and accounting degrees offer similar courses and learning outcomes. This can leave some prospective graduate students unsure of which program to pursue. You can use the following table to make a more informed choice between these two popular degrees by comparing key factors like program focus, length, and goals.

Comparing Taxation and General Accounting Programs
Master's in Taxation Master's in Accounting
Focus Focuses narrowly on tax laws, practices, theory, and procedures. Covers specialized areas including individual, corporate, and estate tax. Focuses more broadly on accounting, business, and finance concepts. May offer specialization options, including taxation.
Types of Classes Courses involve lecture, class discussion, practical assignments, and projects. Courses involve lecture, class discussion, practical assignments, and projects.
Student Demographics Ideal for early-career to midcareer professionals looking to specialize or advance in the field of taxation. Suitable for early-career to midcareer professionals looking to specialize or advance in accounting and related fields.
Course Load Typically 1-2 classes each term or semester. Typically 1-2 classes each term or semester.
Program Length Offers completion times as brief as 9-10 months when studying full time. Typically takes 12-18 months to graduate when studying full time.
Program Goals Prepares graduates for advanced and/or specialized careers in taxation. Satisfies education requirements for CPA certification. Prepares graduates to pursue careers in accounting, auditing, consulting, and other related fields. Satisfies education requirements for CPA certification.

The 15 Best Master's in Taxation Degree Programs, 2021

This newly updated 2021 ranking showcases 15 of the nation's top online master's in taxation programs. Expert analysts evaluated these schools according to a proprietary methodology, which you can explore at the link below.

Our Ranking Methodology

What the Best Online Master's in Taxation Degrees Have in Common

While every school offers a unique learning experience, the best tax master's programs all share several critical features:

  • They are accredited. Two types of accreditation apply to many of the programs on this year's list. Specialized agencies, such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), bestow programmatic accreditation. These optional endorsements complement regional credentials conferred by the following organizations:

    • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
    • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
    • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
    • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
    • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College (SACSCOC)
    • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

  • They offer academic excellence. In evaluating a program's academic quality, our rankings experts consider three main quantitative factors: retention figures, graduation rates, and robust faculty employment. Retention rates consider the number of students who return to the program from one academic year to the next, while graduation rates recognize the percentage of enrolled students who earn degrees. Robust faculty employment measures the proportion of faculty who hold full-time, permanent positions, along with the school's overall student-to-faculty ratio. These metrics provide important insights into student satisfaction rates and institutional commitments to instructional excellence.

  • They are reputable. Programs with strong reputations are more selective and deliver superior returns on student investment. Post-graduation placement rates offer a key indicator. For example, Bentley University's master of taxation program sports an impressive 95% domestic placement rate, which significantly contributed to its success on this year's list.

  • They are affordable. Related metrics look beyond the "sticker price" to consider the cost of attendance after applying nonrepayable forms of financial aid. Analysts also consider the availability of financial aid and the median debt levels of program graduates.

Florida Atlantic University

Public university in Boca Raton, FL, accredited by SACSCOC and AACSB


Opened in 1964 with a dedication from President Lyndon B. Johnson, FAU embraces an innovative and creative institutional philosophy committed to accessible, affordable education for all qualified learners.

Executive Master of Taxation

Available in online, in-person, and blended formats, FAU's program roots its intensive focus in technical aspects of tax law and tax policy. Degree-seekers develop fundamental advocacy skills, learning to navigate tax reporting and negotiate settled outcomes to the advantage of their clients.

The program's flexible structure accommodates the needs of working tax and accounting professionals looking to upgrade their education. The admissions department accepts learners from all academic backgrounds, and students who access coursework online can choose from synchronous and asynchronous formats. Participants who prefer a campus-based experience can attend live lectures on Saturday mornings at FAU's Davie campus.

Applying to FAU

FAU accepts applications year-round for fall and spring program start dates. Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited U.S. institution or the equivalent. Officials mainly consider academic performance over the final two years of the candidate's bachelor's program and may request supplemental materials from certain applicants.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: Contact FAU for executive program tuition rates
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous), on campus, or hybrid

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Public university in Brownsville, TX, accredited by SACSCOC and AACSB


Founded in 2013 following an act of the Texas state legislature, this innovative institution serves one of the fastest-growing areas of the United States. It already ranks among the nation's largest Hispanic-serving postsecondary schools.

Master of Accountancy - Accelerated Online Program

This 100% online program offers affordable tuition, an accelerated graduation timeline, and thorough instruction in the technical, professional, and analytical aspects of accountancy. Learners specialize by enrolling in the accountancy program's taxation concentration, which centers on business and corporate tax policy, international taxation, and special considerations related to wealth transfer management, estates, and trusts.

The program's design advantages learners with undergraduate or graduate degrees in business or accounting, but qualified applicants from all academic backgrounds receive equal consideration. With a total estimated cost of less than $15,000, the program also delivers excellent value and a strong return on investment.

Applying to UTRGV

Required application materials include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, a resume, a personal statement of intent, two letters of recommendation, and GMAT scores. Applicants with certified public accounting licenses or graduate degrees from AACSB-accredited business schools can apply for GMAT waivers.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $472/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year
  • Delivery Format: 100% online

University of Southern California

Private university in Los Angeles, CA, accredited by WSCUC and AACSB


USC, home of the Trojans, also hosts the historic AACSB-endorsed Marshall School of Business, which ranks as Southern California's oldest accredited business school.

Master of Business Taxation for Working Professionals

Featuring small class sizes and world-class instructors, USC's master of taxation program delivers an intensive education in enterprise tax policy over a compact 10-course curriculum. Open to qualified learners who possess at least one year of professional experience in a taxation-related capacity, the degree offers a flexible format that includes campus-based, online, and blended learning.

The program offers particular appeal to certified public accountants, who comprise about 95% of its enrollment. Experts complement full-time permanent faculty in leading courses, which include required classes in tax research, tax theory and ethics, corporate taxation, and professional communications. Specialized electives make up half the total credit requirements, offering strong opportunities for enrollees to develop skills in targeted areas.

Applying to USC

Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree, at least one year of full-time professional experience in taxation, and an academic background that covers intermediate accounting. GMAT requirements also apply to candidates who have not passed the certified professional accountant licensing examination.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $1,995/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous and synchronous), on campus, or hybrid

Rutgers University

Public university in Newark, NJ, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB


Rutgers counts among the oldest higher education institutions in the United States. As one of only nine colleges chartered during the country's pre-independence era, the prestigious school traces its history to 1766.

Master of Accountancy in Taxation

Noted for its commitment to academic excellence and the professional success of its alumni, Rutgers' master of taxation program uses a unique delivery format. Learners can attend traditional campus-based classes, stream live lectures remotely in real time, or engage with asynchronous learning on their own schedules.

The program identifies mastery of the technical details of Internal Revenue Service tax codes as its key educational objective. Courses also deliver valuable explorations of the practical, legal, ethical, and procedural aspects of professional practice. Each enrollee benefits from access to a dedicated career services representative, and the curriculum incorporates a career management course at no additional cost.

Applying to Rutgers

Rutgers describes an "ideal candidate" for this program as having a bachelor's or master's degree in an accounting-related subject or commensurate professional taxation experience. Rutgers Business School requires a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $1,155/credit (in state); $2,004/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous), on campus, or hybrid

Villanova University

Private university in Villanova, PA, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB


Founded in 1842, Villanova is the only U.S. higher education institution formally affiliated with the Augustinian Catholic church. Its $805.4 million endowment ranks as particularly impressive, given its relatively small learning community of about 11,000 students.

Master of Taxation

This interdisciplinary online master's in taxation program combines courses in accountancy, business, and law, giving it a unique profile that includes experiential learning opportunities. More than 60 dedicated faculty members participate in the program, including professionals from organizations including the United States Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, and the "Big Four" accounting firms.

Course content reaches beyond tax law's codified technicalities into the real-world application of statutes and theories. Villanova has created an immersive and interactive online learning experience that empowers students to apply developing knowledge under the tutelage and supervision of expert instructors to closely mirror traditional classroom education.

Applying to Villanova

Villanova requires each candidate to possess a bachelor's degree in business, accounting, or a related field from a regionally accredited university. An applicant must submit a personal essay, a resume, academic transcripts, and at least one academic or professional letter of recommendation.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $1,550/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years minimum
  • Delivery Format: 100% online

University of Cincinnati

Public university in Cincinnati, OH, accredited by HLC and AACSB


UC, home of the Bearcats, boasts an alumni network with more than 300,000 members, including 27th U.S. President William Taft and trailblazing astronaut Neil Armstrong.

Master of Science in Taxation

Designed to develop advanced proficiencies in personal and enterprise tax policy, the AACSB-accredited UC online master's in taxation maintains a strong focus on research. Deadline-driven assignments play a prominent role, reflecting the program's intention to replicate the professional realities of working tax professionals.

Degree-seekers proceed through an intensive sequence of technical and analytics-focused courses to a culminating capstone experience. The capstone project empowers enrollees to showcase their command of essential research skills and tax knowledge. The university also employs a test-free admissions policy.

Applying to UC

Each candidate must possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. UC prefers but does not require an academic background in accounting, business, economics, or finance. An applicant must also submit a resume, academic transcripts, a statement of purpose, and at least two letters of recommendation.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $12,467/semester (in state); $12,617/semester (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year minimum
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

Bentley University

Private university in Waltham, MA, accredited by NECHE and AACSB


This AACSB-accredited school specializes in business education. Bentley has earned national accolades for its innovative, results-oriented programs, excellent student outcomes, and groundbreaking use of educational technologies. The university also features a top-ranked career services department.

Master of Science in Taxation

Bentley features a flexible curriculum designed to meet the needs of working professionals, with innovative technologies delivering online courses asynchronously or in livestream formats. More than half of enrolled learners study on a part-time basis. Leading companies, including the "Big Four" accounting firms, actively recruit graduates. An excellent career services division adds further value, guiding students into rewarding, lucrative jobs.

The core curriculum covers the essentials of professional practice, along with federal tax policy, corporate taxation, and multi-jurisdiction considerations. Learners customize their education through electives, including internships.

Applying to Bentley

Bentley admits candidates in the fall and spring semesters. Admissions officials consider all aspects of applicant profiles, including academic, professional, and life experiences, along with past educational achievements and test scores.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $5,124/course
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous) or on campus

Liberty University

Private university in Lynchburg, VA, accredited by SACSCOC and ACBSP


This accredited Christian liberal arts college has pioneered distance education since 1985. It was founded in 1971 with the participation of prominent televangelist Jerry Falwell, Sr.

Online Master's in Taxation

This flexible program delivers courses asynchronously in compact eight-week terms, creating routes to graduation in as little as one year. Learners engage with coursework in tax code, ethics, taxation theory, and jurisprudence. Graduates emerge with the necessary skills to advance into leadership positions in corporate accounting departments and professional tax service companies.

Key courses cover cost accounting, tax research and its legal applications, and special considerations related to estates and wealth transfer. The program is a part of Liberty's School of Business, which holds prestigious ACBSP accreditation.

Applying to Liberty

Each candidate must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA from a nationally or regionally accredited institution. Applicants with non-accounting backgrounds qualify but may need to complete prerequisite courses before entering the program.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $565/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year minimum
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

University of Denver

Private university in Denver, CO, accredited by HLC and the American Bar Association


Founded in 1864 as a seminary school, DU has matured into a world-class institution guided by an innovative educational philosophy that emphasizes experiential learning and small class sizes.

Master of Taxation

Offered through DU's Sturm College of Law, which holds accreditation by the American Bar Association, this master of taxation program offers a uniquely valuable cross-disciplinary experience. Learners study alongside law cohorts, engaging with an intensive curriculum focused exclusively on taxation. Faculty members developed the coursework using codified standards from the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

DU provides extensive career services, including campus-based recruitment and networking opportunities. Degree-seekers also benefit from a flexible structure that allows them to accelerate or decelerate their learning as needed to accommodate their outside commitments.

Applying to DU

Each candidate must possess an academic or professional background in accounting or finance. An applicant provides academic transcripts, a personal statement, a CV, at least one letter of recommendation, and GMAT or GRE scores. GMAT/GRE waivers apply to applicants with especially strong accounting or business administration backgrounds.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $27,480/semester (15 credits)
  • Required Credits: 24-30 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year minimum
  • Delivery Format: 100% online or on campus

DePaul University

Private university in Chicago, IL, accredited by HLC and AACSB


Based in Chicago with two campuses in the Windy City, DePaul has evolved into one of the largest Catholic universities in the United States by enrollment. The school traces its history to 1875 and launched educational operations in 1898 as St. Vincent's College.

Master's in Taxation

Offered through DePaul's AACSB-accredited Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, this program was among the first advanced degrees of its kind ever offered in the United States. The curriculum includes eight required courses and five electives, with core requirements providing detailed coverage of tax laws, policies, and reporting standards and electives offering a broad spectrum of specialization options.

Students enjoy excellent flexibility in scheduling and course delivery, engaging with coursework online, on campus, or a combination of both. Working professionals can also take a study break during tax season.

Applying to DePaul

Required application materials include official academic transcripts, a personal statement, a resume, and an online institutional application. Candidates may also submit letters of recommendation to strengthen their applications.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $1,080/credit
  • Required Credits: 46 credits
  • Program Length: 1-3 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online, on campus, or hybrid

Stetson University

Private university in DeLand, FL, accredited by SACSCOC and AACSB


Based in Central Florida, Stetson opened in 1884. Its signature campus building, DeLand Hall, now ranks as the oldest continuously used higher education building in the Sunshine State.

Master of Accountancy (Tax Track)

Delivered in compact five-week terms, Stetston's master of accountancy program features a 100% online format and a concentrated track in taxation. Learners in the tax track focus on federal tax policies and research standards as they apply to corporations, partnerships, and other business entities.

Stetson has an impressive track record in preparing graduates for career success. In 2017, its master of accountancy program posted the top licensure exam pass rate in Florida among first-time candidates with graduate degrees. The school drives strong engagement rates among online learners through interactive sessions with faculty members and instructors, which take place in real time.

Applying to Stetson

Each candidate must complete an application and provide official academic transcripts, a resume, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation. GMAT/GRE requirements are waived through at least fall 2021.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $1,000/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year minimum
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous and synchronous)

Southern New Hampshire University

Private university in Manchester, NH, accredited by NECHE and ACBSP


Created in 1963 by a state charter, SNHU has enjoyed rapid growth in recent years. Under the leadership of visionary president Dr. Paul J. LeBlanc, SNHU's enrollment has grown from 2,800 students to more than 135,000.

Master's in Taxation Online

SNHU's online tax master's program prepares students for careers as tax specialists and supports enrollees preparing for certified public accountant licensure. Coursework builds advanced mastery of tax laws and policies, analytical and research skills, and auditing. SNHU offers flexible asynchronous delivery and maintains some of the lowest tuition rates of any private university in the United States.

Candidates with applicable graduate credits can transfer up to one-third of the total degree requirements, creating a path to graduation in as little as one year. Concentrated course content covers estates and wealth transfers, research methods, and special topics in federal taxation.

Applying to SNHU

SNHU maintains an institutional commitment to removing barriers to higher education and evaluates all applications on an individual basis. The university does not require GMAT or GRE scores for admission consideration.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $627/credit
  • Required Credits: 36 credits
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

St. John's University

Private university in Jamaica, NY, accredited by MSCHE


Established in 1870, St. John's maintains an affiliation with the Vincentian congregation of the Roman Catholic Church. The university features four campuses in the New York City area, along with satellite locations in Rome, Paris, and Ireland.

Taxation, Master of Science

This purpose-built program, created with the participation of respected tax experts, leads to a master of science in taxation degree. Completing this program signals the degree-holder's mastery of individual, estate, and corporate tax laws.

St. John's focuses on research and writing proficiencies, reflecting the program's orientation toward developing skills that reflect the daily duties graduates undertake in their professional careers. The curriculum comprises 11 courses, emphasizing Internal Revenue Code and relevant court rulings.

Applying to St. John's

Each candidate must possess a bachelor's degree and professional experience. St. John's favors applicants with undergraduate GPAs of at least 3.25. The university requires a resume, a personal statement, academic transcripts, GMAT/GRE scores, and at least two professional or academic letters of recommendation.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $1,320/credit
  • Required Credits: 31 credits
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or on campus

University of New Haven

Private university in West Haven, CT, accredited by NECHE and AACSB


New Haven celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2020. In addition to its West Haven main campus, the institution maintains two satellite locations, including an international campus in Prato, Italy.

Master of Science in Taxation

New Haven's master of taxation appeals to established tax, accounting, and finance professionals, along with learners aspiring to become certified public accountants (CPAs). This 100% online program features acceleration options that can lead to graduation in just one year.

Learners complete 10 courses, comprising seven core requirements and three electives, which combine to satisfy the academic requirements for CPA examination. Enrollees enjoy full access to the university's acclaimed Career Development Center, named one of the best in the nation by prestigious publications, including the Princeton Review.

Applying to New Haven

School officials consider each candidate's academic record and professional experience in evaluating applications. An applicant must possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. New Haven favors applicants with backgrounds in accounting, business, and law.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $965/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online

Golden Gate University

Private university in San Francisco, CA, accredited by WSCUC


Based in San Francisco with additional campuses in Silicon Valley and Seattle, Golden Gate University ranks among California's oldest private higher education institutions. The school specializes in flexible learning and offers a long list of evening, weekend, and online programs.

Master of Science in Accounting Data and Analytics

GGU's graduate program in accounting data and analytics offers a taxation concentration tailored to experienced finance professionals seeking to specialize in tax policy. Specialization requirements cover essential courses in income tax, decision-making strategies, and property transactions. Learners supplement these courses with one elective, including an internship option.

The program's general core focuses heavily on analytical approaches to data analysis, along with current and emerging accounting and taxation technologies. Incoming students require college-level proficiencies in algebra and economics. Otherwise qualified candidates lacking these prerequisites may complete a preparatory course sequence prior to entering the program.

Applying to GGU

GGU requires each candidate to hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. school or the international equivalent. The school prefers applicants with undergraduate GPAs of at least 3.0 but considers candidates with GPAs below this threshold if they submit resumes and personal essays.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $1,090/unit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online, on campus, or hybrid

What To Expect From Your Taxation Master's

To accommodate various career goals, universities offer several types of taxation degrees, including an MS, an LL.M., a master of legal studies (MLS), and a master of accounting (MAcc). We discuss the differences between these programs in the next section.

Regardless of degree choice, students pursuing their tax master's can expect to take 24-30 credits of coursework. Full-time students frequently complete all program requirements within 1-2 years, with part-time learners graduating in 3-4 years. Degree-seekers may pursue taxation degrees in both on-campus and online formats.

An online master's in taxation requires core and elective courses emphasizing tax procedures, along with advanced tax research and writing.

Learners study a variety of taxation areas, such as corporate taxation, state and local taxation, and estate planning taxation.

Admission requirements vary by program and may include prior work experience and a minimum undergraduate GPA. Applicants typically submit resumes, recommendations, and essays.

Different Degree Types and Specializations

Tax professionals seeking graduate education must choose from several different degree options. Each degree offers a unique academic focus and prepares graduates for careers in different industries and specialization areas.

Master of Science (MS)

The MS in taxation narrowly focuses on tax issues such as tax research, practice, and procedure. Graduates often plan to spend their full careers in taxation.

Master of Laws (LL.M.)

The LL.M. in taxation focuses on the legal issues surrounding taxes. An LL.M. requires applicants to hold a juris doctor. Graduates typically go on to pursue careers in law, securing positions such as taxation attorney.

Master of Legal Studies (MLS)

The MLS in taxation also focuses on legal issues surrounding taxes, but it does not require applicants to possess a law background. Instead, the degree aims to inform tax professionals about the legal environment in which they work.

Master of Accountancy (MAcc)

The MAcc in taxation offers a broader study of accounting and finance concepts, with several courses on taxation. It allows graduates to pursue careers in taxation, accounting, auditing, or consulting.

Admission Requirements for Tax Master's Programs

Both on-campus and online master's in taxation programs require applicants to fulfill similar prerequisites and admission guidelines. These include minimum GPA, test scores, supplemental materials, and application fees.

Most programs require official undergraduate transcripts showing a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 GPA. Depending on the degree you select, GMAT or GRE scores may be optional or required. Applicants must also provide a current resume, 1-2 letters of recommendation, an essay or statement of interest, and a $70-$90 application fee.

Different degree types often require different prerequisites. For an MS, MAcc, or MLS, any bachelor's degree that fulfills prerequisite course requirements (e.g. introductory accounting, economics, statistics) should suffice. LL.M. degrees require applicants to possess a bachelor's in law or a JD.

While not an explicit requirement for every program, the ideal taxation master's candidate should possess a significant amount of relevant field experience.

Popular Master's in Taxation Courses

An online master's in taxation covers an extensive body of knowledge. Core courses introduce and examine taxation of individuals, corporations, shareholders, and partnerships. Open electives invite students to advance their skills in specific areas of interest. The following list describes four common courses encountered in a taxation degree.

  • Federal Income Tax

    This course builds essential knowledge by introducing and examining topics surrounding individual federal income taxation, such as active, passive, and portfolio income; filing requirements and procedures; personal exemptions; and itemized deductions. Instructors may also cover federal income tax aspects of property acquisition, ownership, and disposition.

  • Corporate Taxation

    Taxation degree students typically take several courses covering corporate taxation. These courses discuss creation and operation of corporations, taxation of corporations by the federal government, and how corporations interact with shareholders. Students gain fundamental knowledge for working with corporations as a tax professional.

  • Tax Research

    This course gives learners the opportunity to develop and enhance tax research skills through practical exercises. Coursework explores procedures used in working with the IRS to access sources including the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury Regulations, and judicial decisions. Students learn to evaluate source authority and build research conclusions.

  • Writing for Tax Professionals

    Students in this course learn to draft common tax practice documents such as client letters, internal memoranda, and responses to the IRS. Coursework emphasizes understanding different audiences and tailoring writing appropriately. Enrollees build skills through various writing exercises in order to work toward a final assignment.


What Jobs Can Taxation Degrees Get You?

The advanced education provided by an online master's in taxation can help you secure rewarding careers in accounting, auditing, consulting, and law. According to the BLS, popular positions for tax master's graduates pay median salaries ranging from $55,000 to $120,000. Tax lawyers tend to earn the most, though this position also requires a law degree from a school accredited by the American Bar Association.

Top employers of taxation degree graduates include accounting firms, law firms, and government agencies. Motivated entrepreneurs can also start their own businesses to serve customer needs.

Below, we break down four diverse career options available to students pursuing a master of taxation online.

Accountant

Tax accountants specialize in preparing and submitting tax documents for individual and company clients. They advise clients on tax regulations, suggest ways to legally limit tax liability, and prepare presentations and reports as needed.


  • Required Education: Accountants need at least a bachelor's degree. Advanced education and certification can improve employment prospects.
  • Job Outlook: +4%
  • Median Annual Salary: $71,550
Tax Examiner or Collector

Tax examiners and collectors work on behalf of local, state, and federal governments. Primary tasks include reviewing tax returns, calculating taxes owed, conducting audits, and collecting overdue payments.


  • Required Education: Most positions require a bachelor's degree at minimum, though education and experience requirements vary by position and employer.
  • Job Outlook: -4%
  • Median Annual Salary: $54,890
Personal Financial Advisor

Personal financial advisors meet with clients and provide advice to help them manage their finances in the short- and long-term. Advisors who specialize in taxation can help explain tax laws relating to investments, income, and property.


  • Required Education: Financial advisors need at least a bachelor's. A master's improves employment and advancement opportunities.
  • Job Outlook: +4%
  • Median Annual Salary: $87,850
Lawyer

Lawyers advise and represent clients in legal disputes. Lawyers who specialize in tax law help clients navigate tax regulations in order to ensure the proper amount of tax is paid on income, profits, and property.


  • Required Education: Most states require lawyers to possess a JD degree from an accredited law school. An LL.M. in taxation allows lawyers to specialize.
  • Job Outlook: +4%
  • Median Annual Salary: $122,960

Selecting the Right Taxation Program

A comprehensive program ranking can give prospective students a leg up in their college search, but they should consult other resources as well. Additional factors influencing program choice may include the following.

Accreditation

Choosing an accredited university is vital to ensure the value of your education. Seek out a school with regional or national accreditation from a recognized agency. For an additional layer of quality assurance, choose a program with accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Cost and Financial Aid

Graduate school requires a significant financial investment, but you do not need to break the bank to get your degree. Keep your budget in mind while evaluating the cost of tuition and fees. Look for programs with generous scholarships and other financial aid options.

Program Format and Length

By studying full time, you can complete an online master's in taxation in as little as one year, but not everyone can handle the rigor of an accelerated course schedule. Consider, too, whether you prefer the flexibility of asynchronous classes or the engagement of synchronous classes.

Faculty Credentials

There is nothing like taking classes from a professor you genuinely want to learn from. Take time to look up faculty credentials, experience, and publications.

Should You Get Your Master of Taxation Online?

More of today's college students learn online than ever before. Small community colleges, large state schools, and top Ivy League universities all offer remote learning options. According to fall 2018 data from the NCES, just over 30% of all postbaccalaureate students enrolled exclusively online.

Pursuing an online master's in taxation means you can get your degree from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Some programs utilize synchronous learning, which requires students to login at set times for live lectures and discussion. Other programs offer flexible, asynchronous courses, which allow enrollees to access course material at their convenience.

In many cases, learning online also enables students to save money by avoiding campus-based fees, nonresident tuition hikes, and the cost of a regular commute.

Before you jump into an online program, make sure to consider the following:

  • Technology Requirements: Does your laptop or desktop meet the specifications required to attend class online?
  • Your Learning Environment: Does your home offer a quiet, distraction-free area you can use for class and studying?
  • Your Learning Style: Do you learn well independently? Do you feel comfortable communicating with peers and professors primarily through email and discussion boards?

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with a master's in tax?
Earning a tax master's degree enables graduates to pursue careers in fields like public accounting, tax consulting, and financial advising. Common employers include accounting firms, corporations, government agencies, and nonprofits.
Can you get a master's in taxation online?
Several top universities offer both on-campus and online master's in taxation programs. These degrees commonly offer accelerated pacing, with completion possible in as little as one year of full-time study.
What types of taxation degrees are there?
Graduate degree options for tax professionals include the MS in taxation, MAcc in taxation, LL.M. in taxation, and MLS in taxation. Each program prepares graduates for different types of careers.
Which is better: An MS or LL.M. in taxation?
An LL.M. best suits applicants with a law degree who want to enhance their knowledge of tax laws and regulations. An MS degree serves tax professionals looking to hone and advance their skills.
Can you get an MBA in taxation?
Taxation is one of many specialization options commonly available in an MBA program. Graduates possess broad knowledge and skills in areas including management, accounting, operations management, and corporate communication.

Professional Organizations in Tax Accounting

Professional organizations in accounting and taxation can help build strong networks of practitioners, researchers, and students at all stages of their careers. Members receive essential information about ethical tax practice and advocacy initiatives. Taxation professionals also gain access to the latest news and policy updates, plus continuing education programs and employment resources.

  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Representing the CPA profession since 1887, AICPA establishes professional standards and ethical guidelines for the field. AICPA offers members access to advocacy initiatives, professional development programs, networking resources, and research publications.
  • National Society of Tax Professionals Dedicated to promoting expertise, proficiency, and competency in the tax profession, NSTP provides educational programs and newsletters to its members. NSTP also offers discounts on workshops, insurance, and seminars to prepare for tax season each year.
  • National Association of State Boards of Accountancy As the forum for all 55 state boards of accountancy in the U.S., NASBA enhances the profession by uniting educators, practitioners, and regulators. NASBA offers extensive licensure, education, and exam information alongside news updates, publications, and annual events.
  • National Association of Tax Professionals Providing guidance on the application of federal tax code, NATP advocates for the profession within the government and fosters connections among tax professionals. Members receive weekly industry updates, exclusive publication materials, and access to webinars and self-study courses.
  • National Association of Enrolled Agents With nearly 11,000 members and affiliates in 43 states, NAEA provides education, collaboration, and networking opportunities to enrolled agents and students. Additional resources include a tax expert directory, bimonthly publications, weekly newsletters, and continuing education programs.

Additional Reading