15 Best Online Master’s in Accounting Degree Programs 2021

A master's in accounting can pave the way for a profitable and rewarding career in accounting, taxation, or financial management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median annual wage of $71,550 for accountants and auditors as of 2019. The BLS projects a 4% growth rate in the field from 2019-2029, meaning a master's in accounting online may provide both job security and employment opportunities.

Employers consistently seek professionals with in-depth knowledge of accounting principles, assurance services, and tax codes. A master's in accounting can give applicants a competitive edge over candidates with just a bachelor's degree.

Read on for detailed information about the best online master's in accounting programs. We also explain why both budding and seasoned accountants may want to pursue a master's in accounting online, which factors to consider when selecting an accounting program, and the pros and cons of taking a master's in accounting online.

2021's Top 10 Best Online Accounting Grad Schools

Rank School Location
1 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
2 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA
3 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
4 University of Missouri Columbia, MO
5 Saint Joseph’s College of Maine Standish, ME
6 University of Miami Coral Gables, FL
7 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
8 Regis University Denver, CO
9 University of Scranton Scranton, PA
10 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
See Detailed Rankings

Why Get an Online Accounting Master's Degree?

An in-demand credential on the job market, an online master's degree in accounting provides graduates with a versatile skill set that applies across occupations and industry sectors. Industries employing accounting professionals include tax preparation services, hospitality businesses, healthcare providers, and government agencies.

A master's in accounting may appeal to budding entrepreneurs, seasoned professionals aspiring to move up the corporate ladder, and college graduates seeking careers in finance.

To run efficiently and ensure compliance with financial regulations, businesses across virtually all industry sectors need accounting professionals. The high demand for accounting specialists makes pursuing a master's in accounting online a reliable path to job stability.

While the cost of a graduate degree can be significant, alumni from quality accounting programs can expect a worthwhile return on investment (ROI). This is especially true of graduates with an MBA in accounting: According to the Princeton Review, graduates of MBA in accounting programs at top-ranked schools may see an ROI of more than 300% within 10 years of graduating.

Below, we provide three additional reasons to consider an online master's degree in accounting.

  • Specializations: Most accounting programs offer concentrations in fields like market psychology, computer programming, and data analytics. Pursuing a specialized master's in accounting can give graduates an advantage in landing niche, in-demand jobs that pay well.
  • CPA Certification: Many states require 150 academic credits to sit for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam. As a typical bachelor's degree comprises only 120 credits, earning an online master's degree in accounting can help degree-seekers satisfy the academic qualifications for CPA certification.
  • Career Advancement: An online master's degree in accounting delivers the in-depth accounting skills needed for midcareer accountants to secure more advanced positions that offer higher pay.

The Top Online Master's in Accounting Schools of 2021

Advance in the lucrative and secure industry of accounting with a master's degree. This guide ranks the top 15 online master's in accounting programs in 2021. Follow the link below for more information about how we rank schools.

Our Ranking Methodology

What the Best Accounting Programs Have in Common

Each college offers a unique experience, but leading programs usually share the following characteristics.

  • They are accredited. Accreditation ensures that students receive an education that meets strict criteria set by regional, national, and/or global agencies. For example, a school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) fulfills or surpasses the rigorous academic and professional requirements set by the AACSB board.

    All of the schools on our ranking hold accreditation from one of the following agencies:

    • ⚬ Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
    • ⚬ 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 Colleges (SACSCOC)
    • ⚬ WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

    Many also hold accreditation by a program-specific accreditor, such as:

    • ⚬ AACSB
    • ⚬ The Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
    • ⚬ The International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)

  • They offer academic excellence. Top schools offer a supportive learning environment, a robust curriculum, and renowned faculty. For example, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign boasts 29 Pulitzer Prize winners and 24 Nobel laureates among its alumni and faculty. Likewise, Pennsylvania State University graduates received 13 Fulbright scholarships from 2019-2020.

  • They are reputable. A degree from a reputable college can help further your career and open up job and internship prospects at prestigious institutions. For instance, at University of Missouri, over 95% of graduates are hired into full-time accountant positions, earning an average annual salary of $53,901. In another example, almost 100% of University of Arizona accountancy graduates find jobs after graduation.

  • They are affordable. The best colleges are affordable for a variety of students, offering competitive financial aid packages or minimizing attendance cost with fully online options. For example, at Regis University, more than 95% of students receive financial assistance.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Public university in Chapel Hill, NC, accredited by SACSCOC and AACSB

The nation's first public university, UNC-Chapel Hill first opened its doors to students in 1795. Founded on the principles of "lux libertas" (light and liberty), UNC-Chapel Hill strives to educate future change-makers, and instill critical thinking in its students.

Online Master of Accounting

Ranked as the best graduate university for accounting professionals and the best online master of accounting (MAC) program, the UNC-Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School offers a prestigious accounting program for professionals interested in furthering their careers. Formatted to accommodate students coming from diverse academic backgrounds, the course load increases in technical complexity throughout the program.

Students may choose a specialization such as tax, audit, financial analysis, or reporting, and can elect to take MBA courses during their accounting program. Live discussions and group projects serve to build rapport between students and faculty.

Applying to UNC-Chapel Hill

The online MAC offers four start dates each year. In addition to an online application, students must submit unofficial transcripts for all previously attended schools, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a current resume, GMAT/GRE scores (based on prerequisites), and complete an interview with the MAC admissions committee.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $1,446/credit
  • Required Credits: 26-48 credits (depending on prior coursework)
  • Program Length: 12-24 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or on campus

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

Public university in University Park, PA, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB

Penn State World Campus is part of the Pennsylvania State University, which was founded in 1855 as one of the country's first agricultural science schools. Penn State has since grown to over 100,000 students from more than 130 countries, employing 17,000 faculty and staff.

Master of Professional Accounting

Students pursuing a master of professional accounting through Penn State World Campus can expect a curriculum that prepares candidates for CPA licensure. This program fulfills the 150-credit education requirement to sit for the CPA exam in Pennsylvania and most other states. A capstone course incorporates components of classes and projects, with an emphasis on forensic accounting and support.

Full-time faculty use their wealth of experience in online teaching to provide a flexible framework for completing coursework. Upon graduation, Penn State alumni join the largest alumni association in the world, with over 700,000 members.

Applying to Penn State World Campus

Penn State World Campus offers three start dates every year. Interested applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. Candidates submit official transcripts, GMAT/GRE scores, two references, and a current resume in addition to the online application. An undergraduate degree in accounting or prerequisite accounting coursework is required.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $971/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Public university in Champaign, IL, accredited by HLC and AACSB

The University of Illinois was founded in 1867 with a vision of creating a leading research university. U of I endeavors enriches the lives of its students and the surrounding community through innovation and collaboration.

Online Master of Science in Accountancy

Expert accounting faculty at U of I Gies College of Business have developed the online master of science accountancy (iMSA) curriculum to build proficiency in current accounting practices and ensure readiness for the CPA exam.

Ranked by Public Accounting Report as the second-best master's in accounting program, this iMSA program offers a self-paced course schedule. Students can access video lectures at their convenience, engage in interactive exercises, and directly interface with faculty for support.

Classes in the iMSA program include coursework covering accounting analysis, managerial accounting, auditing, and federal taxation.

Applying to U of I

The iMSA program offers two start dates each year. In addition to an online application, interested candidates must submit unofficial transcripts, a professional resume, personal statement, three letters of recommendation, an iMSA coursework form (detailing prerequisite coursework), and any supplemental materials (including GMAT/GRE scores).

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $850/credit (accounting courses); $302/credit (non-accounting elective courses)
  • Required Credits: 32 credits
  • Program Length: 18-36 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

University of Missouri

Public university in Columbia, MO, accredited by HLC and AACSB

Inaugurated in 1839, Mizzou belongs to the elite Association of American Universities. With 48% of students graduating debt-free, Mizzou presents an accessible education from which over 330,000 alumni worldwide have benefited.

Master of Accountancy

Trulaske College of Business offers a master of accountancy (MAcc) program designed for professionals pursuing leadership roles or fulfilling CPA licensure requirements. Courses follow a 100% online format and cover foundational topics such as auditing, ethics, forensic accounting, and taxation.

With a focus on career development, Mizzou's MAcc program encourages its students to participate in career fairs, professional development workshops, and symposia, while 80% of MAcc students complete professional internships.

The MAcc program produces a high rate of graduates who pass the CPA exam, and many Mizzou MAcc degree-holders go on to find full-time accountant positions soon after graduation.

Applying to Mizzou

Interested students must submit an online application, an unofficial transcript from an accredited university, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of objectives.

Applicants must complete prerequisite courses and have strong undergraduate GPAs. Work may substitute for some requirements. An interview may be required, and students must submit an official transcript upon admittance.

Mizzou accepts applications on a rolling basis, with three start dates throughout the year.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $814/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

Private, nonprofit university in Standish, ME, accredited by NECHE

SJC sits on the shore of Sebago Lake, with a view of Mount Washington and the White Mountains. As the only Catholic college in Maine today, SJC was founded with the mission of supporting its learners' holistic growth.

Online Master of Accountancy

The SJC online master of accounting (MAcc) curriculum focuses on problem-solving and critical thinking through class projects and written assignments. The MAcc is formatted to strengthen professional communication and leadership. The program material supports learners in certification and CPA licensure preparation.

Faculty cover integral subject matter, offering a diverse range of courses such as legal environment/business law (ethics), advanced topics in disclosure and financial reporting, and (applied) corporate financial management.

With five start dates throughout the year, SJC presents a flexible option for working professionals. Experienced faculty support students in an asynchronous format, structuring courses to fit a 10-week term.

Applying to SJC

Terms start in January, March, May, July, and October. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for most graduate studies at SJC. Interested students must have a 2.5 GPA from an accredited school, and a 2.7 GPA in prerequisite courses. In addition to an online application, candidates must submit a resume, and an official transcript. GMAT/GRE scores are not required, and professional experience may be accepted in lieu of some requirements. Students without an undergraduate degree in business may take preparatory courses to prepare.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $574/credit
  • Required Credits: 30-36 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year (full time) or 2 years (part time)
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

University of Miami

Private, nonprofit university in Coral Gables, FL, accredited by SACSCOC and AACSB

UM was established in 1925 by a collection of Miami citizens who wished to support their growing community. Now a premier research university, UM spends $324 million in research and sponsored program expenses every year.

Master of Professional Accounting

Led by the same exceptional faculty who teach on campus, the UM online master of professional accounting (MPrA) program is one of several options formatted to meet professionals' career interests and needs. Students may take the accounting practice certification while pursuing an MPrA, or they may enroll in an MBA with an accounting specialization.

While a background in accounting is not required for this program, students often have professional business and accounting experience from employers such as Bloomberg, State Farm, and USAA.

UM offers its online students an optional orientation, where learners can network in person at an alumni panel and faculty meetup.

Applying to UM

Interested students must submit an online application, unofficial and official transcripts from all academic institutions, GMAT scores, a resume, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation. UM may waive the GMAT requirement for applicants with academic and professional experience.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $2,170/credit
  • Required Credits: 32 credits
  • Program Length: 16-20 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

Georgia Southern University

Public university in Statesboro, GA, accredited by SACSCOC and AACSB

In 1908, Georgia Southern started its first academic year with four faculty members and 15 students. In the last 100 years, Georgia Southern has grown to encompass campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, and Hinesville, welcoming over 2,000 faculty and staff members and 27,000 students.

Master of Accounting Degree

The web-based master of accounting degree (WebMAcc) is offered through the Parker College of Business, along with its on campus counterpart. Both the online and in-person programs are taught by expert professors, with the WebMAcc presenting a flexible option for working professionals.

Formatted to meet Georgia's 150-credit educational requirement to obtain CPA licensure, the WebMAcc consists of 18 required course units and 12 elective units, covering subject matter such as managerial accounting, income tax, and auditing.

Students have the opportunity to build their professional skills through the Office of Career and Professional Development, where learners and program alumni may access support for networking, interviewing, and job-searching.

Applying to Georgia Southern

Interested students must hold a bachelor's from an accredited university, and meet prerequisite course requirements. Applications are due July 15 for fall term, November 15 for spring term, and April 15 for summer term. Candidates must submit a statement of purpose, evidence of GPA, and proof of completed prerequisite coursework and professional experience. Students may submit letters of recommendation to supplement their admissions package.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $527/unit
  • Required Credits: 30 units
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online or on campus

Regis University

Private, nonprofit university in Denver, CO, accredited by HLC

Regis is a Jesuit Catholic university founded in 1877 with the mission of supporting students in pursuing conscientious living and creating an equitable world. With 8,000 enrolled students, Regis is committed to engaging its learners in a life-changing academic experience.

Master of Science in Accounting

At the Anderson College of Business and Computing, students pursuing an online master of science in accounting (MSA) can engage with faculty and staff through the Innovation Center, where teachers, community members, and learners collaborate to continually refine the program’s curriculum.

Many MSA faculty draw from their professional experience as active business owners and accountants, incorporating real-life examples into their teaching.

MSA students may choose from several areas of specialization, including financial accounting, fraud/forensic auditing, IT accounting, and managerial accounting, depending on their professional goals. The rigorous course load fulfills the 150-credit requirement to take the CPA licensure exam.

Applying to Regis

In addition to an online application, interested students must submit official degree-bearing transcripts, a current resume, and an admissions essay. Some need to complete an interview. GMAT/GRE scores are not required. Regis offers five start dates throughout the year and does not charge an application fee.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $920/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online

University of Scranton

Public university in Scranton, PA, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB

Scranton was established in 1888 by the first Jesuit Bishop of Scranton, achieving status as a university 50 years later. As a Catholic Jesuit college, Scranton purports a vision of impactful learning for its students.

Master of Accountancy

The Scranton Kania School of Management online master of accountancy (MAcc) program is for accounting professionals looking to further their careers and build vital skills. The Scranton MAcc also accommodates students without accounting backgrounds, providing an option to take necessary prerequisite courses covering foundational material.

Learners may choose a concentration in forensic accounting or accounting analytics. They may also assemble a specialization based on their career goals.

The MAcc program is supported by experienced faculty, including the dean, who comes from a well-versed background in academia and has been published in numerous accounting journals.

The program concludes with a capstone project, which includes applied research and an emphasis on accounting management.

Applying to Scranton

Interested candidates must submit an application, official transcripts from all previously attended colleges, a resume, a statement of intent, three letters of recommendation, and a MAcc Academic Honesty Certification and Agreement Form. Students must have attained a 3.0 GPA and a bachelor's degree in accounting or non-accounting business. Prerequisite bridge courses may be required. Scranton offers rolling admissions with six start dates throughout the year.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $895/unit
  • Required Credits: 30 units (plus any units from bridge courses, as needed)
  • Program Length: 1.5 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online

Liberty University

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

Home of Sparky the eagle, Liberty was established in 1971 by the Reverend Jerry Falwell. As an accredited evangelical liberal arts institution, Liberty has grown to 15 colleges and schools.

Master of Science in Accounting

Created for accounting professionals aiming to move forward in their careers, the online master of science in accounting (MSA) from the Liberty School of Business offers a flexible course load.

This program runs in an asynchronous format, allowing learners to transfer up to half of the degree's credits from applicable coursework. This lends to a highly accessible program for busy professionals.

MSA students can pursue a general track of accounting coursework or select from a variety of specializations, including audit and financial reporting, business, financial services, forensic accounting, leadership, and taxation.

Applying to Liberty

In addition to an online application, candidates must submit a bachelor's degree bearing official transcripts from an accredited institution. Students must have attained a 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate coursework and completed accounting prerequisite coursework. The application fee may be waived for certain active members of the military and veterans. Liberty offers eight start dates throughout the year.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $561/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

Syracuse University

Private nonprofit university in Syracuse, NY, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB

Founded on the ideals of "suos cultores scientia coronat" ("knowledge crowns those who seek her"), Syracuse University has welcomed students into its halls from 1870. Since then, Syracuse has expanded to 13 colleges and schools, offering 200 majors, 100 minors, and numerous online programs.

Online Master of Science in Accounting

Students pursuing an online master of science in accounting (MSA) through the Martin J. Whitman School of Management can learn from a faculty of experienced accountants, accounting managers, and CFOs.

Small class sizes and weekly live sessions create a dynamic class environment, where learners can participate in discussions and group coursework. MSA students may choose either a fast-tracked, 12-month accounting schedule or a schedule spread over 15 months with two courses per term.

After graduation, students can plug into the broad alumni community, networking with graduates who work at organizations like Audible, KPMG, and Lockheed Martin.

Applying to Syracuse

The online MSA program at Syracuse offers four start dates throughout the year. Applications for an April start date are due by February 11. Interested students must submit an online application, a summary of work experience, two essays, two letters of recommendation, a resume or CV, GMAT/GRE scores (if applicable), and official transcripts. An admissions panel interviews a select number of candidates.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $1,683/credit
  • Required Credits: 30-48 credits (depending on accounting background)
  • Program Length: 12-15 months (with accounting background); 24 months or less (with no accounting background)
  • Delivery Format: 100% online or on campus

Seton Hall University

Private university in South Orange, NJ, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB

A historic diocesan college, Seton Hall University was established in 1856 by Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley. Seton Hall University is named after Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first saint born in the United States.

Online Master of Science in Accounting

The online master of science in accounting (MSA) program through the Seton Hall University Stillman School of Business is formatted for learners without a background in accounting. The MSA provides students with a comprehensive education that supports skill-building in accounting and business and CPA exam readiness.

Students may design their degree around a concentration, including financial accounting, taxation, or ERP systems. Learners can also participate in a simulated audit using SAP enterprise software.

Graduates of the Seton Hall University online program often go on to work as financial controllers, tax managers, senior tax managers, and tax directors.

Applying to Seton Hall University

Students must submit a statement of purpose, a resume, a letter of recommendation, GMAT/GRE scores, and an online application. GMAT/GRE score waivers are available for some qualified applicants.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $1,305/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 18-20 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

University of Arizona

Public university in Tucson, AZ, accredited by HLC and AACSB

The legacy of the Arizona wildcats began in 1895, with the first graduating class of three students. UofA faculty and students have received prestigious accolades such as Fulbright Scholarships, Guggenheim Fellowship Awards, and the Nobel Peace Prize.

Master of Science in Accounting Online

The Eller College of Management at the UofA offers three graduate-level degrees in accounting. The on-campus master of science in accounting (MSA) is for learners without academic backgrounds in accounting. UofA's on-campus master of accounting program best suits students looking to expand on their undergraduate accounting degree.

The online MSA program is flexible to accommodate working professionals' busy schedules. The same qualified faculty teach the online and on-campus programs.

All MSA students are encouraged to optimize their graduate degree experience by joining the Accounting Students Association, Beta Alpha Psi, for networking opportunities with recruiters and accounting firms.

Applying to UofA

Interested students must submit an online application, unofficial transcripts, GMAT/GRE scores (may be waived), a letter of recommendation.

Competitive candidates must hold bachelor's degrees and a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. They must also have completed prerequisite courses.

The online MSA program offers six start dates per year, with each application deadline set 3-4 weeks before the term begins.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $1,000/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or on campus

University of Massachusetts Lowell

Public university in Lowell, MA, accredited by NECHE and AACSB

In 1975, a teaching college and a technical school combined to form UMass Lowell. Situated in the birthplace of Jack Kerouac, UMass Lowell now offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees across six colleges.

Master of Science in Accounting

The online master of science in accounting (MSA) degree through the UMass Lowell Manning School of Business best suits students seeking to further their careers in accounting while preparing for the CPA licensure exam.

The MSA offers an online orientation for students new to the program, allowing learners to approach the program with a comprehensive understanding of its layout and offerings.

MSA students may select from several specializations including business analytics, corporate leadership accounting, and international business. Learners currently enrolled in lower credential programs may roll over their credits into the online MSA program, adding to the degree’s accessibility and flexibility.

Applying to UMass Lowell

Interested candidates must complete an online application and submit an official transcript, a GMAT score (waivers are available), three letters of recommendation, a resume, and an essay detailing career and academic goals.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $655/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year (full time); 3 years (part time)
  • Delivery Format: 100% online

California State University, Sacramento

Public university in Sacramento, CA, accredited by WSCUC and AACSB

Home of Herky the Hornet, Sacramento State was established in 1947. Sacramento State now offers 64 bachelor's programs, 51 master's programs, and five doctoral degrees, along with 28 post-baccalaureate certifications and 10 credential programs.

Master of Science in Accountancy

With a year-round term schedule, the online master of science in accountancy (MSA) at Sacramento State presents a flexible option for working professionals. Students begin the Sacramento State online MSA program with an average of six years of accounting work experience.

Sacramento State's career center provides MSA students with an opportunity to develop career goals with the support of staff and interact with community partners and industry recruiters.

The MSA program is conducted at an accelerated pace, with expert faculty making a variety of course materials accessible online. The online MSA degree concludes with a capstone project, integrating elements of accounting and ethics covered throughout the degree's rigorous course load.

Applying to Sacramento State

In addition to online applications to the College of Business Administration and California State University, Sacramento, interested candidates must submit two letters of recommendation, a current resume, official transcripts, a bio and photo, and applicable test scores. Competitive candidates demonstrate a minimum 2.5 GPA in their undergraduate studies. GMAT/GRE requirements may be waived for certain qualified applicants.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $630/credit (foundation courses); $740/credit (program requirement and elective courses)
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 18+ months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

What To Expect From Master's in Accounting Online Programs

Earning an online master's degree in accounting enables degree-seekers to sharpen their knowledge of finance and accounting and develop specialized accounting skills. During their study, learners can expect to explore topics like financial statement analysis, federal taxation, and assurance services.

Program length varies with degree type and format. Each school offers its own unique degree programs, with the three most common being a master of accounting (MAcc), a master of science in accounting (MSA), and an MBA with a concentration in accounting. The MAcc and MSA take around one year to complete, while an MBA normally takes two years.

Cost of tuition and fees depends on factors such as the degree format, the prestige of the degree-granting institution, and the number of academic credits required for graduation.

Admission Requirements

To apply for a master's in accounting program, students typically submit a resume, a statement of purpose, transcripts, letters of recommendation, written essays, video essays, and GRE or GMAT scores. Many programs require students to have a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5-3.0.

While some accounting programs only accept applicants with a bachelor's in accounting or business administration, most schools consider applications from students with degrees in other disciplines, so long as they have completed prerequisite coursework in the field. Some master's in accounting programs may also require relevant work experience.

Degree and Concentration Options

Types of accounting degrees vary by program. Commonly offered accounting degrees include an MAcc, an MSA, and an MBA with a concentration in accounting. Each degree type has its own advantages.

As the most versatile master's in accounting, an MAcc prepares learners for accounting jobs across all major industries. This degree type typically focuses on preparing learners for the CPA exam.

The MSA curriculum tends to be more heavily STEM-focused than the MAcc curriculum. Common accounting STEM courses include statistical analysis, computer science, and micro- and macroeconomics. An MSA degree also tends to prepare learners for the CPA exam.

Earning an MBA with a concentration in accounting teaches students about accounting through a business lens. Accounting MBAs often take two years to complete, although many schools provide accelerated tracks. A typical accounting MBA curriculum offers a combination of electives that prepares aspiring certified public accountants for the CPA exam.

Working professionals who cannot commit to the workload or cost of a master's in accounting may want to consider an accounting graduate certificate. While these certificate programs are not as intensive as full degree programs, they do provide training and credentials in specific areas, making them a shorter, cheaper alternative to a master's in accounting.

Popular Accounting Courses

While accounting curricula vary across programs, all graduate accounting programs require students to complete a set number of foundational accounting courses such as federal taxation, financial accounting, and fraud examination.

Popular electives include data visualization, information technology, and business intelligence. Many accounting curricula also feature an accounting capstone or thesis. Below, we provide detailed descriptions of five popular accounting courses.

  • Assurance Services

    A staple of the traditional accounting curriculum, assurance services teaches enrollees how to gauge the accuracy of a corporation's processes and controls. Topics include professional engagement methodology, types of assurance services, and professional ethics and industry standards.

  • Federal Taxation

    In this course, learners acquire the skills needed to complete corporate and individual tax returns, apply knowledge of tax regulations to investment and business decisions, and determine economic and social implications of different tax codes.

  • Advanced Auditing

    This class focuses on cultivating a deeper understanding of the financial, technological, and legislative aspects of public and private sector auditing. Enrollees learn how to gather evidence of fraud and apply their knowledge of tax codes to simulated or real-life audits and fraud examinations.

  • Financial Report Analysis

    This course teaches learners how to analyze financial business reports. Through hands-on experience, students learn how to use analytic tools, such as trend analysis, cash flow analysis, and risk-benefit analysis to calculate risk, project quarterly earnings, and assess operating efficiency.

  • Capstone Seminar

    In the capstone seminar, enrollees work in teams to apply the advanced accounting skills acquired throughout the program to a real-life accounting problem. The final project can take the format of a research paper, a poster, or a presentation.

How Much Will a Master's in Accounting Cost?

Various factors influence the costs of a master's in accounting: whether the school is public or private, student residency status, and program format. Tuition for master's in accounting programs starts around $30,000.

Other costs include living expenses, student fees, and costs associated with studies abroad, short on-campus residencies, and internships.

Pursuing a master's in accounting online can entail further savings for students who would otherwise need to pay relocation or commuting expenses.

Financial options such as scholarships, financial aid, grants, and student loans can also help reduce the costs of earning an online master's degree in accounting. Prospective students interested in pursuing graduate education at a lower cost can also peruse our page for affordable accounting master's programs.

Jobs for Master's in Accounting Graduates

A master's in accounting can boost salary expectations and professional opportunities. According to the BLS, the median wage for accounting professionals nearly doubled the national median for all employees as of 2019. CPA certification and other accounting licensure can further increase employment outlook and earning potential.

Master's in accounting graduates secure jobs across many sectors. Examples of advanced accounting jobs include financial analyst, financial examiner, and actuary. Below, we provide additional information about some employment options available with a master's in accounting.

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts help financial managers or individuals make informed investment decisions. Typical job duties include performing company inventories, studying market trends, and calculating risks and opportunities.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): +5%
  • Median Annual Salary: $81,590
Financial Examiner

Financial examiners ensure a corporation's compliance with tax codes and other financial regulations. Typical job duties include monitoring corporate accounts and investments, vetting financial reports, and reporting findings to compliance officers.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): +7%
  • Median Annual Salary: $81,090

Actuaries deploy quantitative tools to gauge profitability by assessing risk and volatility. Most actuaries work for corporations specializing in securities, stakes, or loans, such as insurance companies, investment firms, and bail bond agencies.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree and certification in actuary science
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): +18%
  • Median Annual Salary: $108,350
Financial Manager

Financial managers scrutinize financial reports, perform trend analysis, and prepare financial advice for corporate decision-makers. Typical job duties include managing corporate investments, developing long-term economic goals, and helping financial officers make informed business decisions.

  • Required Education: Master's degree preferred
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): +15%
  • Median Annual Salary: $129,890
Chief Financial Officer

Chief financial officers make executive financial decisions in large corporations. Typical job duties include analyzing the organization's overall financial health, budgeting for the future, and implementing economic measures to minimize loss during periods of financial uncertainty.

  • Required Education: Master's degree preferred
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): +4%
  • Median Annual Salary: $104,690

Choosing the Right Accounting Graduate Program

Before deciding where to apply, prospective students should factor in a number of considerations, including regional accreditation. This seal of approval ensures that the degree-granting institution meets standards of educational prowess.

Programmatic accreditation can further enhance the credibility of an online master's degree in accounting. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) sets the industry standard for business schools across the world, verifying that a program prepares graduates for careers in the field. Earning a master's degree from an AACSB-accredited school can add to the degree's value and marketability.

Another consideration is whether a program is STEM-designated. This designation signals that the program provides rigorous training in the STEM disciplines. Most master of science in accounting programs from well-ranked schools carry this designation.

Online students should also consider whether a program offers alumni networking-building events, either virtually or during brief on-campus residencies. Alumni events can be excellent opportunities for fostering professional relationships with successful alumni. Such professional networks can prove invaluable as a source of career advice and job recommendations.

Why You Should Get Your Degree Online

As more and more top schools offer online master's degrees in accounting, employers increasingly regard in-person and online degrees from reputable schools equally. In fact, because transcripts hardly ever cite degree format, corporate recruiters usually cannot tell whether a candidate earned their degree online or in person.

Business schools frequently offer their online degrees at a reduced cost, which can make an online master's degree in accounting more affordable than the on-campus alternative, especially after taking into account savings on commuter costs, campus activity fees, and living expenses.

Another asset of distance learning is its flexibility and convenience. While synchronous online accounting programs provide online lectures and class discussions in real time, asynchronous programs enable students to study at their own pace, provided that they meet set deadlines. Many programs also provide their distance learners with the option of studying part time.

An online master's degree in accounting is particularly suitable for prospective students who cannot commit to living and studying in a new location for 1-2 years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get a master's in accounting online?
Yes, you can get a master's in accounting online. Most high-quality master's in accounting online programs offer the same high-quality education as their on-campus counterparts.
Is a master's in accounting worth it?
Yes! While a master's in accounting can be costly, learners can expect a favorable ROI within a few years of graduating, and may see as much as a 300% return on investment within a decade.
Should I get an MBA or MS in accounting?
Whether you should get an MBA or an MS in accounting depends on your interests and career goals. An MS prepares students for a career as an accounting specialist, whereas an MBA in accounting prepares learners for a managerial or leadership position in finance such as financial manager.
What is the best master's degree for accountants?
Which master's degree is best for accountants depends on students' interests and needs. A master's in accounting and a master of science in accounting prepare learners for jobs as accounting experts, whereas an MBA in accounting trains degree-seekers in both accounting and business administration, which is a perfect combination for budding financial managers and aspiring CFOs.
How much do accountants with master's degrees make?
The pay for accountants with a master's degree starts around $70,000. Higher-paying positions, some of which may require several years of work experience, can earn six-figure salaries.

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