Best Online Master's Degree Programs in Taxation 2020

Compiled and Written By Staff

Tax professionals provide vital services to individuals, businesses, and organizations across economic sectors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 6% employment growth rate in accountant and auditor jobs from 2018 to 2028. For tax examiners and revenue agents, the BLS expects changes in employment growth to rise or fall in accordance with government budgets at federal, state, and local levels.

Accounting professionals can pursue a master's degree in accounting with a taxation emphasis, a Master of Law in taxation, or Master of Science in taxation. All three programs build expertise in complex tax principles and processes.

Students pursuing an online tax degree can gain insights into advanced tax regulations and legislation while honing research, quantitative, and analytical skills. As taxation becomes increasingly technology-based, an online master's in taxation can also provide a skill boost in taxation software use and principles of data security.

The Top 10 Online Master's in Taxation

Rank School Affordability
1 University of Cincinnati $21,050
2 Northeastern University $30,784
3 Florida Atlantic University $10,100
4 University of Akron Main Campus $16,863
5 University of Southern California $32,892
6 The University of Alabama $19,993
7 Villanova University $35,491
8 University of Denver $35,163
9 Nova Southeastern University $26,740
10 St. Johns University - New York $25,981
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Best Master's in Taxation Online Degrees 2020

The University of Cincinnati, established in 1819, is a public research university. Today, there are more than 44,000 students. UC provides a variety of options for completing graduate school online. The Carl H. Lindner College of Business offers an online Master's of Science in Taxation. Students can use classes in the UC Taxation program as coursework required to sit for the CPA exam. The program ranked at No. 4 for graduate online public tax programs by U.S. News & World Report. Faculty in the UC Taxation program are experts working in taxation, including CPAs, tax lawyers, and accountants.

If students want to begin UC’s online Master's of Taxation and do not have an accounting or business background, students will need to complete Business Basic Knowledge courses. There are eight semester hours in accounting, finance, business analytics, economics, and management. Once students have the necessary background for the MS in Taxation, students can begin work on the 30-credit program. The MS in Taxation is available as a 12-month accelerated program or a 24-month program. Students complete seven-week courses in Individual Tax, Corporate Tax, and Federal Tax Research. Electives include International Taxation, IRS Practice, and Accounting for Income Taxes. Students will complete various research papers on current tax topics. A final Research Capstone project gives students a chance to show their mastery to the tax knowledge you've learned in the program.

Affordability: $21,050

Boston-based Northeastern University, established more than a century ago, offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. Northeastern's D'Amore-McKim School of Business provides an entirely online  Master’s of Taxation. The AACSB-accredited school has faculty members who are industry experts in taxation. Students study the Internal Revenue Code and tax legislation. Northeastern's MS in Taxation ranks as one of the Best Online Graduate Business Programs by U.S. News & World Report.

Students can complete Northeastern's 30-credit MS in Taxation program in 16 months. Students choose from either a Taxation of Entities or a Taxation of Individuals track. Admission into the online program requires at least two years of work experience. Students must have completed at least one taxation course before admission. While students need GMAT scores for admission, students may bypass the exam for tax experience and a JD, CPA, or CFP.

Affordability: $30,784

Florida Atlantic University, founded in 1964, offers degrees through ten colleges. Students can attend class at one of seven Florida campuses or online. FAU offers an Executive Master of Taxation degree. The online degree is available through the School of Accounting Executive Programs. SOAEP is a department within the AACSB-accredited College of Business. This flexible program is ideal for busy accounting professionals. Most students complete the MTX degree in seven semesters over two years. There are no courses during the busy tax season. Faculty in the MTX program includes scholars and tax practitioners. They focus on real-life practices to help students develop tax careers.

Students attend the MTX program via web-based distance learning. Students can stream lectures live or watch them on their own schedule. If studentswant to connect with other students, there are optional live lectures on the Fort Lauderdale campus each Saturday. FAU welcomes all majors to the MTX program. If students don’t already have their business and accounting background, students can complete foundation courses. During their taxation degree, students study Federal Income Tax, Tax Research, and Corporate Taxation. Students can apply for either September or January admission. The Executive Master of Taxation helps students meet the education necessary to sit for the CPA exam.

Affordability: $10,100

The University of Akron is a public research institute in Ohio. Founded as Buchtel College in 1870, it now offers degree programs for more than 20,000 students. UA programs focus on real life, giving students a blend of academic research and real-world experiences. The George W. Daverio School of Accountancy offers a Master of Taxation online. The MTax Direct, taught by the same faculty who teach on campus, helps students begin a taxation career. The program is for accountants and attorneys. Students without an accounting degree or JD must take foundation courses before admission. Those two foundation courses take place each summer.

Students can complete the MTax Direct program in 15 months. The degree is flexible, designed for working adults. Courses take place during five 10-week terms, except for tax season. Students may attend live classes in Akron one night per week, or via web live-streaming. For those who must miss a class for work obligations, they can view the recording. Students will complete 24 credits in taxation and another six credits in electives. Required courses include Tax Research, Corporate Taxation, Tax Policy, and Tax Accounting. Electives include Tax Crimes and Forensics, Estate Planning, or Mergers and Acquisitions.

Affordability: $16,863

The University of Southern California is a private research institute in Los Angeles. Founded in 1880, USC offers on-campus and online degrees. The USC Marshall School of Business offers a Masters of Business Taxation for Working Professionals. The MBT.WP has classes available on campus and online, ideal for working adults. USC is a top-three graduate program for taxation. The online program enables students from around the world to study in this prestigious program. To apply for the MBT.WP program, students must have one year of full-time work in a tax-related position. USC can waive GMAT scores for students who have passed the CPA exam. Students must have prerequisite courses in economics and accounting.

USC's MBT.WP program requires ten courses. Students can complete the program in five semesters over 20 months. The online format gives students the flexibility to take longer if necessary. Online classes meet one night each week. During that time, students can discuss concepts and topics with their instructor and other students. Students then complete work and assignments during the next week. Courses include Tax Research, Tax Theory, and Taxation of Corporations. The program starts in Fall or Summer, with courses offered Fall, Spring, and Summer.

Affordability: $32,892

The University of Alabama, founded in Tuscaloosa in 1831, was the state's first public college. Ranked one of the country's top 60 public universities, UA also offers online programs. The Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law awards an online Juris Master in Taxation. The JM is a 30-credit, two-year program. It gives non-attorney professionals a chance to earn an advanced tax degree without a JD. The program, which qualifies students to sit for the CPA exam, is ideal for working accountants and CPAs. The online cohort program begins each August. Students take an online orientation program before classes begin. UA also offers an online LL.M. in Taxation for those pursuing an advanced tax law degree. Lawyers receive the LL.M. after completion of 24 credit hours.

UA's JM degree is a practical online solution for advanced tax law training without a law degree. Required courses in the JM program include Capital Transactions, Partnership Tax, Corporate Tax, and Tax Research. Tax electives include Tax Accounting, International Tax, Estate Planning, and Ethics. Business Law electives include Securities Regulation, Intellectual Property, Mergers and acquisitions, and Business Bankruptcy. Students must pass comprehensive exams for all first-year required courses. While the degree is available online, students must complete the exams in person at the Law School.

Affordability: $19,993

Villanova University, a Catholic school outside Philadelphia, is a top 50 university according to U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1842 as a liberal arts school, the university now offers many degrees. The Charles Widger School of Law provides an entirely online  Masters of Taxation. Offered in cooperation with the Villanova School of Business, the MT combines taxation studies with hands-on learning. There is also an LL.M. in Taxation for those with a JD degree who want a tax law career. Both the MT and LL.M. courses use the same tax faculty that teaches in the on-campus programs.

Students can complete the 30-credit MT in two years of full-time study. Students complete six required courses, including Survey of Tax, Taxation, and Professional Responsibilities. Students select six electives. Those electives might include Tax Procedure, International Tax, or Estate Planning. The online program gives students a deep understanding of tax law. It also offers the opportunity for students to get practical tax law experience with hands-on learning.

Affordability: $35,491

The University of Denver, established in 1864, is a top-100 university. Colorado’s DU awards both undergraduate and graduate degrees in 10 schools and colleges. DU offers an online Master of Taxation degree through Sturm College of Law. The 45-quarter-credit-hour interdisciplinary program introduces accounting students to tax law. The Graduate Tax Program, created in 1975, trains students to become tax specialists. DU also offers an online Tax LL.M. for lawyers.

Students can complete the MT online. Students can view all their courses when live-streamed or review them online later. The exceptional quality helps students feel as if they’re experiencing the classroom. DU creates all materials for the tax program. It offers a comprehensive look at today's taxation industry. Students complete six courses in Civil & Criminal Tax Procedure, Corporate Taxation, and Tax Accounting. Students will also complete two courses in Tax Principles, Research & Writing. Remaining electives might include Employment Tax, Ethics, or International Tax. Students can select an Estate Planning or Corporate Taxation Track. DU encourages MT students to complete an externship to gain real-world experience in taxation. Students may also create a specialized field of study with an independent study course.

Affordability: $35,163

Nova Southeastern University, founded in 1964, has a campus in Fort Lauderdale, FL. NSU's H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business & Entrepreneurship offers a Master of Taxation. The online MT helps students understand U.S. tax codes and regulations. Students can complete the 36-credit hour program in 21 months. It gives working adults a chance to continue work while completing the degree. There are start dates in August, January, and May. All students take a one-week, non-credit Internet Technology course before beginning the program. This introduces students to online research skills. There are no prerequisites for the Master of Taxation degree.

As a student in NSU's Master of Taxation, their courses help prepare students for a career as a tax advisor or accountant. Taxation courses include IRS Practice and Procedure, Tax Planning, and Corporate Taxation. Student electives might include Tax Policy, Real Estate Taxation, or State and Local Taxation. NSU also offers a Master of Accounting with a concentration in Taxation. The MAcc program trains accountants for tax careers. It includes core courses in accounting, taxation courses, and electives. The MAcc with Taxation program takes at least 12 months and begins in August and May each year. If students don’t already hold an accounting degree, students can complete foundation courses in accounting.

Affordability: $26,740

St. John's University, located in Queens, NY, is a private Catholic university. Established in 1870, the university now has more than 20,000 students. St. John's offers online courses taught by the same faculty as on campus. Online students have full access to advisors, career services, and library databases. The AACSB-accredited Peter J. Tobin College of Business offers an online Master of Science in Taxation. Students can complete the MST program in 12 to 24 months. The MST builds on existing knowledge of accounting and taxation. The 31-credit program focuses on technical issues of taxation, tax research, IRS codes, and tax regulations. Many faculty members in the MST program are CPAs with JD or LL.M. degrees in taxation. It ranked #45 Best Online Graduate Business Program by U.S. News & World Report.

Students must hold an undergraduate degree to begin the online MST at St. John's. If students have passed the CPA or CFA exam, St. John's can waive the GMAT entrance exam requirement. The MST requires core courses in Tax Research and Corporate Taxation. Students will complete a three-credit research project during their last 12 credits. The project results in a taxation article of publishable quality. Students also complete 21 credit hours in taxation electives. Those courses might include International Taxation, Real Estate, or Tax Accounting. Students can take a three-credit internship during the program. During the internship, students will work outside the classroom. Students will also complete a research paper and keep a journal of accomplishments.

Affordability: $25,981

Bentley University, founded in Boston in 1917, is a renowned business school. The university, nine miles outside Boston, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. The AACSB-accredited Bentley University Graduate School of Business offers an online Masters in Taxation. The MST ranks one of the Best Online Business Programs by U.S. News & World Report. It ranks one of the Best Masters in Taxation Degrees by College Choice. The program blends practical skills with a global perspective. The university embraces social responsibility and helps students adapt ethical taxation practices. The program meets the 150-hour education requirement for CPA licensure.

Bentley's MST program is the largest in New England. The flexible schedules are a practical solution for working adults. Most students are working professionals, with more than five years' accounting experience. Classes are a hybrid of an on-campus and online format. Both class formats take place at the same time. This lets students interact with other MST students. The 30-credit program requires ten courses. Five core courses include Professional Tax Practice, Federal Taxation, and Multi-Jurisdictional Taxation. Five electives might include Mergers and Acquisitions, Intellectual Properties, and Practices in Taxation. As a Bentley MST student, students may also elect to take part in the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic. This practicum gives students an opportunity to deliver taxpayer workshops and help with tax issues. Students will also need to complete a tax research paper with the practicum.

Affordability: $36,613

Golden Gate University, founded in 1901, is a private, non-profit university. There are now locations in San Francisco, Seattle, and Silicon Valley. Students can also take online courses. GGU offers a Master of Science in Taxation, taught by practicing professionals. The program focuses on practical knowledge for working tax professionals, with an average student age of 34. Students examine current tax trends, regulations, and practices. The cornerstone of GGU's curriculum is the IRS Code, tax regulations, tax treaties, and court cases. ranks the MST as one of the country's top-ranked graduate tax programs.

The online MS Tax program is self-paced, so students can choose to study, either, full-time or part-time. Students may complete their 30-credit-hour MST degree in two to four years. The university offers webinars to answer their questions about the MST degree program. As an MST student, students complete seven core courses. Those core courses include Tax Research, Federal Income Taxation, and Federal Tax Procedure. Students will need three electives. Those might include Mergers and Acquisitions, Derivative Markets, or Venture Capital. GGU recommends that students take Choice of Entity. Students may also take up to six units of course credit through an internship. Many MST graduates go on to work for the Big Four firms, as well as tax companies and government agencies.

Affordability: Not Reported to NCES

Chicago-based DePaul University is the largest Catholic university in the country. DePaul offers more than 175 graduate programs. Since instruction began in 1898, DePaul prides itself on small classes and innovative education. The university makes degree programs accessible through online learning. Students find unique online curriculum, advanced technology, and one-on-one interaction with professors. The Driehaus College of Business is AACSB-accredited. It offers a 100 percent online Master of Science in Taxation. The MSTAX, designed for working professionals, explores complex tax statues and IRS code. Students can select to take one or two classes each quarter, which enables them to complete the degree in two to three years. They can also choose a full-time online option, which lets them complete the MSTAX in one year. Students have the option of taking a quarter off if necessary during the winter tax season.

Students need an undergraduate degree for admission to the MSTAX program. Students will not need GMAT or GRE scores for this program. Students may enroll in any quarter. Students must complete 45 quarter credits to graduate. Before beginning the program, students must have Principles of Accounting and one introductory tax course. There are eight required core courses. Those include Tax Research, Taxation of Corporations, Federal Income Tax Procedures, and a course in international taxation. Students will also finish four electives. Those might include Federal Tax Valuation, Accounting for Income Taxes, or Advanced Concepts in International Taxation. Students have six years to complete the degree.

Affordability: $32,927

Based in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California State University, Northridge has nine colleges. Established in 1958, it offers 60 undergraduate, 41 master's, and 28 professional credentials. The Tseng College offers graduate degrees and certificate programs for mid-career adults. The AACSB-accredited David Nazarian College of Business and Economics ranked as one of the Best Business Schools by Princeton Review. The business college offers a Master of Science in Taxation. It ranked #17 of Top 25 Master of Science in Taxation Degree Programs by Best Accounting Schools. Students in the taxation program choose in-person or virtual learning. Local students have the option of selecting between on-campus and online each week.

Students must complete courses in Federal Income Taxation and Financial Accounting before beginning the MST. Once enrolled, students finish their MST with a cohort of fellow learners. This gives studentsan opportunity to work with a team. Students execute assignments on their own time but have a network of other taxation students. Every students’ first course is Tax Ethics, Research, and Communication. Students take five courses that present core taxation knowledge. Core courses include Income Tax Concepts, Accounting Methods, and Federal Tax Procedure. Students need another three courses in their specialization. Those courses might include Real Estate Taxation or Corporate Taxation. All students complete a two-credit Tax Planning Seminar. Students have the option of working with the Tax Challenge Project, Bookstein Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, CSUN VITA Clinic, Tax Development Journal, or Bookstein Community Outreach Tax Clinic.

Affordability: $5,958

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 in taxation. The BLS projects a 6% increase in job growth for the legal profession from 2018-2028. A Master of Law 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 certified public accountant (CPA) credential. Coursework prepares students to take the Uniform CPA Exam, the premier certification for accounting professionals.

Why Become a Taxation Specialist?

Most students can earn a taxation master's degree in 2-3 years. Accelerated online programs may allow learners to complete a degree in as few as 18 months. Part-time students typically obtain a master's in taxation online in 4-5 years.

Master's degrees in taxation include 30-45 credit hours. Curricula vary by program, but core classes emphasize corporate taxation, civil and criminal tax procedures, and advanced tax research and writing. Most programs also offer elective courses in areas such as partnership taxation, estate planning taxation, and state and local taxation.

Students interested in working as personal financial planners complete courses in estate planning and individual income tax problems. Accountants who seek employment with nonprofits benefit from classes in specialized topics such as low-income taxation and taxation of natural resources.

Practicing and aspiring accountants benefit from the detailed content within a taxation master's degree program. With specialized knowledge of a subfield within accounting, learners can establish themselves as experts in tax preparation and policy.

According to PayScale, accountants earn a median $51,000, while tax accountants' median annual salary is $57,000. Tax attorneys, based on PayScale reports, earn a $102,000 median annual salary.

Learn More About Accounting Degrees

How to Choose a Taxation Accounting Master's Program

When choosing a taxation master's degree, students should factor in their personal needs and professional goals. Practicing attorneys benefit from Master of Law programs that emphasize taxation, while current accountants may excel in a Master of Business or Master of Science program in accounting. An accounting degree with a taxation concentration best serves individuals intending to specialize in the field.

Full-time students typically earn a master's degree in taxation in two years. Part-time learners can take classes online at a pace that meets their needs. Online programs provide flexibility and convenience for working professionals who want to enhance their current positions or switch careers to tax accounting.

Some online programs cost less than on-campus programs. Many schools offer flat-rate tuition, giving students the option to take more than the traditional 15 credits per semester. The affordability of a master’s in taxation online also extends to costs such as accommodation, commuting, and fees. By studying from home, learners can avoid room and board, parking, and other on-campus expenses.

Students need to assess the demands and time constraints of taxation programs when choosing a degree. Taxation accounting programs often include a cumulative project, internship, or comprehensive research component. Working accountants and attorneys may find opportunities to integrate their current duties and activities with program requirements.

Professional Organizations in Taxation 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, 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.