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 Location
1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
2 Villanova University Villanova, PA
3 Northeastern University Boston, MA
4 Boston University Boston, MA
5 Bentley University Waltham, MA
6 New York University New York, NY
7 University of Denver Denver, CO
8 University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH
9 DePaul University Chicago, IL
10 St. Johns University Queens, NY
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Best Master's in Taxation Online Degrees for 2020

How We Rank Accounting Programs

Want to know how we create our rankings? We assess schools based on academic quality, affordability, and online flexibility.

Subfactors for Affordability

When considering affordability, schools rank higher when they have a low net price, a high percentage of students receiving financial aid, and a low percentage of graduates defaulting on their student loans.

Subfactors for Quality

A variety of specialized accounting programs, a low student-to-faculty ratio, and a high retention rate (students returning after their first year) all play into high rankings for school quality.

Subfactors for Student Success

Student success is measured in these rankings by a combination of a high graduation rate and a high 20-year net present value (i.e., a student's projected return on investment from their tuition 20 years after graduation).

Subfactors for Online Flexibility

Hybrid programs (ones that allow for some online courses) get consideration for online flexibility, but more weight is put on those with a high percentage of fully online students.

University of Southern California

Online Master of Business Taxation

The University of Southern California welcomed its first class of learners in 1880. Today, enrollment at this private institution numbers nearly 50,000, including over 250 National Merit Scholars. In 2019, the school boasted a 91% six-year graduation rate and awarded over 16,000 degrees. U.S. News & World Report ranks USC as the 37th best value school and fifth best college for veterans in the nation. The school is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

The Leventhal School of Accounting delivers a master of business taxation to prepare current professionals for advancement. Students who pursue this 30-credit master's in taxation online explore courses in tax research, ethics, and taxation electives. Students must attend set class times online each week. However, assignments follow an asynchronous format. Candidates can graduate in under two years.

Applicants need at least 12 months of relevant experience, as well as coursework in economics and financial accounting. Learners must provide bachelor's transcripts and should hold at least a 3.0 GPA. Other admission materials include GMAT scores, a resume, a personal statement, and a possible interview. Admitted students can enroll in summer or fall term.

USC's career center provides resources such as career choices, resumes, job searches, and interviews. The university also offers a career mentoring program for distance learners. Online candidates can also access virtual library materials.

Average Net Price of Program: $36,161
Program Website

Villanova University

Online Master of Taxation

Villanova University was founded in 1842 by the Order of Saint Augustine, and Catholic traditions still influence the school's programs and mission today. Located in Pennsylvania, the school enrolls nearly 11,000 students across six colleges and schools, and 2019 graduation rates surpassed 96%. Villanova is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Villanova School of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

The Villanova School of Business and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law offer a master of taxation degree. The program blends theory with application of tax concepts and prepares learners for careers in private and public settings. The degree also emphasizes communication skills for presenting tax-related information.

This 30-credit online tax degree includes coursework in partnership taxation, survey of tax, and electives. Students can also complete certificates in state and local tax, estate planning, or employee benefits. Learners can graduate from this master's in taxation program in two years.

Ideal candidates for this master's hold a bachelor's in a relevant field. Candidates should submit scores from either the Certified Public Accountant Exam or a graduate-level admission test such as the GMAT. Villanova also requires a resume, recommendation, and essay for admission.

The university's career center offers numerous resources for distance learners, including career guides, job search options, and Focus 2 self-assessment tools.

Average Net Price of Program: $36,958
Program Website

Northeastern University

Online Master of Science in Taxation

Founded in 1896, Northeastern University enrolls more than 16,000 learners and boasts over 255,000 alumni around the world. The university accepts less than 20% of applicants and features an 88% graduation rate. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranks this university as the ninth most innovative school in the country. Northeastern is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

The D'Amore-McKim School of Business delivers a master of science in taxation for current professionals. The program examines laws and planning strategies related to tax practices. The curriculum features core classes and electives on topics such as state and local taxation, estate and gift taxation, and retirement plans. These classes incorporate case studies for practical application of taxation concepts. The university also offers related online certificates in corporate finance and business administration.

Degree-seekers can focus on taxation of individuals or taxation of entities and may begin courses on six entry dates throughout the year. Learners can complete the MS in taxation online in 16 months, and many pursue careers as auditors, bankers, tax attorneys, and management consultants.

Applicants must submit evidence of 24 months of field experience and an undergraduate degree. Other materials include a resume, two recommendations, and an essay. Online learners have access to virtual library resources, including e-books, journals, and databases. Candidates can also search WorldCat to determine which local libraries have print resources. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International accredits this program.

Average Net Price of Program: $28,308
Program Website

Boston University

Online Master of Laws in Taxation Law

The history of Boston University dates back to 1839. Today, the institution boasts more than 300,000 alumni across the globe. Students at this private institution learn through an interactive 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, and around 96% of BU alumni enter professional, military, fellowship, or academic opportunities within six months of graduation. The institution ranks in the top 50 on U.S. News & World Report's lists for national universities, best colleges for veterans, best value schools, and most innovative schools in the country. BU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

The BU School of Law's master of laws in taxation law prepares graduates to apply taxation concepts across different industries. The 24-credit curriculum explores topics such as federal income taxation, partnership tax, and corporate tax. Online courses use Blackboard technology and may include asynchronous assignments and synchronous video conferencing sessions.

Candidates must finish the program in four years, and full-time students can graduate in two terms. Over 75% of graduates from this program gain employment in law and accounting firms. Learners can also further specialize their career by completing one of BU's online certificates in areas such as financial management, corporate finance, and investment analysis.

Current students and alumni can engage in 45-minute meetings with counselors who have experience as attorneys. These meetings provide guidance on interviews, resumes, and networking. Students and alumni may also attend BU's tax attorney recruiting events and search virtual career databases. Additionally, BU's online learners benefit from tutoring through Smarthinking and have access to library resources.

Average Net Price of Program: $29,154
Program Website

Bentley University

Online Masters in Taxation

Founded in 1917 with just 30 students, Bentley University now hosts 4,228 undergraduates in classes with an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Located in Waltham, Massachusetts, the institution ranks as the second best regional university in the North, eighth best value school, and third most innovative school in the U.S., according to U.S. News & World Report. Bentley is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Bentley's master of science in taxation emphasizes research, analysis, and planning for ethical tax practices. Program courses include multi-jurisdictional taxation, federal taxation of income, and transactions. This curriculum may fulfill a portion of the necessary hours for certified public accountant credentials in several states. Learners may study part time or full time.

Online courses may incorporate synchronous audio and video components. Full-time learners can finish the program in 18 months. Graduates often pursue careers as tax managers, executive directors, senior associates, and senior tax analysts for companies such as Baker Newman Noyes, JPMorgan, PwC, and the Boston Scientific Corporation. Learners can also enter the university's doctoral programs in accounting and business.

Bentley's graduate learners may earn assistantships to help pay for tuition. These award programs often involve research or administrative tasks. The university also participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program for military personnel.

Distance students can use online library materials and tools, including research guides, databases, and ebooks.

Average Net Price of Program: $38,270
Program Website

New York University

Online Master of Studies in Law in Taxation

Since its founding in 1831, New York University has educated over half a million learners. Today, this private nonprofit institution enrolls more than 58,000 students across multiple campuses and online. The school accepts only 16% of applicants, and students enjoy a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Additionally, NYU reports 96% of its 2016 alumni entered the workforce or an advanced program within half a year. NYU is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The university's master of studies in law in taxation explores consultation strategies for tax professionals who work with businesses and entrepreneurs. Degree-seekers examine legal factors as they relate to business processes such as mergers and pricing.

Candidates must earn at least 24 credits to graduate, which includes one mandated class in tax procedure and a culminating project in the final term. All other credits are earned through electives, making this degree highly customizable. Coursework for this part-time master's in taxation typically includes videos of in-person lectures, which learners watch on their own time within specific deadlines. Learners must graduate in five years, though full-time students can earn their degree in just two years.

Applicants to this program must possess a bachelor's degree at minimum. They should also have a master's in a related field -- such as accounting or finance -- or certified public accountant credentials. Candidates should also boast relevant field experience.

NYU also offers online certificates in corporate taxation, international taxation, and estate planning, which can help students pursue more advanced careers. Online degree-seekers can access online library documents and benefit from virtual tutoring through the University Learning Center.

Average Net Price of Program: $39,935
Program Website

University of Denver

Online Master of Taxation

The University of Denver was founded in 1864 and established one of the nation's first business schools. This private research institution in Colorado ranks among U.S. News & World Report's top 100 national universities, best colleges for veterans, and best value schools in the nation. The university holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

The Sturm College of Law's master of taxation program examines legal concerns and the Internal Revenue Code for tax practices, as well as business concepts related to taxes.

Courses for this online master's in taxation cover topics such as criminal tax procedure, partnership taxation, and property transactions. Students complete 24-30 credits to earn their online tax degree. Online courses feature 10-week sessions and are powered by Canvas technology. The asynchronous format uses a blend of discussion forums and videos. Full-time students can graduate in 12 months.

Admission materials for this program may include GMAT scores, a personal statement, a resume, and a recommendation. Applicants may qualify for merit-based scholarships worth up to 50% of tuition costs.

The university allows distance learners to communicate with advisors through technology platforms such as Canvas, Zoom, and Skype. UD's libraries provide additional support to distance learners, including access to online materials and research consultations with faculty through Zoom.

The institution offers study abroad opportunities to places such as France, Morocco, and Sweden. DU also participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program for military veterans and servicemembers.

Average Net Price of Program: $34,337
Program Website

University of Cincinnati

Online Master of Science in Taxation

Founded in 1819, the University of Cincinnati enrolls more than 46,000 students across 400 programs and 14 schools and colleges. The public school also boasts an extensive alumni network of over 300,000 graduates. U.S. News & World Report ranks UC as a top 100 public school and a top college for veterans. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

UC's master of science in taxation addresses legal regulations and tax concepts to prepare learners for advisory positions in companies of various sizes. Candidates who work in areas such as venture capital, estate planning, and business may particularly benefit from this master's in tax concepts.

This 30-credit program includes seven-week courses on topics such as corporate tax, individual tax, IRS procedures, and gift taxation. UC students use Blackboard and Canvas technology for these asynchronous online classes. Degree-seekers can fulfill all program requirements within 12 months. Graduates often pursue careers as financial planning consultants, IRS revenue agents, staff auditors, and assurance specialists.

Distance learners can access virtual documents through UC's libraries, including over 1.5 million ebooks and nearly 2.5 million articles. Students can also connect with librarians who specialize in various fields or use the ask-a-librarian feature for research help.

Applicants must submit a resume or CV, proof of a bachelor's degree, a goals statement, and at least two recommendations for admission. Military students may benefit from tuition assistance through the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Average Net Price of Program: $20,085
Program Website

DePaul University

Online Master of Science in Taxation

A private Catholic institution based in Chicago, DePaul University was founded in 1898. Today, the school enrolls more than 22,000 students and maintains a 17-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. According to U.S. News & World Report, the university ranks as the 87th best college for veterans, 59th best value school, and 42nd most innovative school in the country. DePaul is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

The Driehaus College of Business and the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business deliver an online master of science in taxation that examines cases and regulations for positions related to accounting. The 46-credit program includes classes in research and writing for tax careers and explores national and international tax concepts. Learners can also take electives in areas such as estate planning, tax-exempt organizations, and federal tax valuation.

Part-time students can complete the program in three years if they enroll in at least two courses per term, and full-time learners can finish the program in 12 months. All DePaul students pursuing this master's in taxation online must complete course requirements within six years.

Applicants must submit an interest statement, transcripts, a resume, and recommendation letters. Students in this program may qualify for departmental scholarships.

Distance learners can search for books through DePaul Worldcat Discovery and obtain research assistance through the ask-a-librarian chat tool. The Kellstadt Career Management Center provides Handshake software to all learners. Students can also access resources for the Certified Public Accountant Exam and virtual assistance from the University Center for Writing-based Learning.

Average Net Price of Program: $30,584
Program Website

St. John's University

Online Master of Science in Taxation

The Vincentian Community founded St. John's University in 1870. Located in Queens, this private institution is rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition. Today, the school enrolls more than 20,000 learners across its undergraduate and graduate programs. St. John's is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accredits the taxation program.

The Peter J. Tobin College of Business delivers a master of science in taxation that addresses taxation regulations and processes at local and federal levels. Students examine different types of taxation, including real estate, international, and gift taxes. Learners also discuss the tax implications of situations such as mergers. Furthermore, the program explores research and communication techniques for taxation concepts.

Students pursuing this 31-credit master's in taxation online complete coursework in tax research and writing, corporate taxation, and practice and procedure. The department also requires tax electives that address topics such as tax accounting, global taxation systems, and tax planning. Learners also complete a research project. St. John's offers all courses online in an asynchronous format.

Students can graduate in 1-2 years. Alumni often qualify for specialist or leadership positions, such as tax manager or chief financial officer, and may work in private and public organizations. Candidates can simultaneously earn this MST and a master of business administration in accounting to enhance their career options.

Ideal applicants should hold a minimum GPA of 3.25, a bachelor's degree, and professional experience. Individuals should submit adequate scores for the Graduate Record Examination or Graduate Management Admission Test. Other application materials include a resume, recommendation letters, and a goals statement.

Average Net Price of Program: $25,816
Program Website

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.

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.