The Most Affordable Online Master's Degrees in Accounting



A master's in accounting prepares graduates for a variety of well-paying, stable careers in accounting and auditing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 4% growth rate and strong demand for accountants and auditors from 2019-2029. Accounting professionals with a master's degree can earn better salaries and qualify for higher-level jobs than those with a bachelor's.

Graduate school is a big financial investment, and finding affordable options is crucial for many pursuing a master's in accounting. An affordable education improves the return on investment for everyone.

The ranking below includes the best affordable online master's in accounting programs. We also explain what to expect from a typical master's in accounting program, the types of jobs and salaries graduates can expect, and how to choose the right program.

Top 10 Affordable Online Accounting Master's

Rank School Location
1 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT
2 American Public University Charles Town, WV
3 Columbia College Columbia, MO
4 University of Southern Indiana Evansville, IN
5 Boise State University Boise, ID
6 Colorado State University-Global Campus Aurora, CO
7 Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME
8 Indiana Wesleyan University Marion, IN
9 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
10 DePaul University Chicago, IL
See Full Rankings

What Is a Master's Degree in Accounting?

Accountants record, analyze, report, and audit financial transactions for businesses. Master's in accounting programs provide a strong foundation in advanced accounting theory and practice. This degree best serves working accounting professionals and students coming straight from undergraduate accounting programs. Most programs offer concentrations in areas like financial accounting, management accounting, auditing, and forensic accounting.

Those who do not want to commit to earning a master's degree can consider an online accounting graduate certificate, a short graduate-level program for people with a bachelor's degree. Master's in accounting students gain the skills for careers as internal auditors, public accountants, management accountants, and financial accountants. Those seeking careers as public accountants should consider pursuing certified public accountant (CPA) certification. A master's in accounting meets the minimum education requirements to sit for the CPA exam.

Why Get an Affordable Accounting Degree?

A master's in accounting can open the door to a better-paying, higher-level career, making it a good investment in your future. Potential students should consider their career goals, time available, and budget before pursuing an online master's in accounting. Those entering master's programs include students coming straight from undergraduate accounting programs, accounting professionals seeking better career opportunities, and those looking to change fields completely.

Many people struggle to afford graduate school, so finding an affordable online program is often necessary.

Choosing an affordable master's in accounting program offers a better return on investment and the opportunity to take on less student loan debt.

Some learners can pay for their degree upfront and avoid debt completely by choosing an affordable option.

  • Good Return on Investment: By lowering the expenditures for your master's in accounting, you can expect a faster return on investment than you would gain from earning a more expensive degree.
  • Less Debt: Choosing an affordable accounting program offers the possibility of taking out fewer loans. Some learners avoid student debt completely by paying for tuition up front.
  • Less Risk: Students who earn cheap accounting degrees have less to lose than those paying expensive tuition. If you should unexpectedly need to leave the program before finishing your degree, your loss may be reduced.

The 20 Cheapest Online Master's in Accounting Programs, 2020

The rankings below include our 20 most affordable accounting programs for distance learners. Use this list to find the best place to earn your master's degree in accounting online.

These cheap accounting degrees offer low tuition while providing the advanced accounting skills and knowledge that graduates need for professional accounting careers. Affordability is important, but prospective students should also consider other factors when selecting a program. Key criteria to think about include program length, concentrations or specializations available, admission requirements, and student services.

We rank all schools using deliberate methodologies. For our most affordable rankings, we order online accredited programs based solely on cost per online credit for nonresidents.

Western Governors University

Private university in Salt Lake City, UT, accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

An online university based in Salt Lake City, Utah, WGU emphasizes competency-based education that lets students progress through demonstrating skill mastery. WGU offers online business, education, nursing, and IT degrees.

Online Master of Accounting

WGU's online master of accounting explores finance laws, tax structure, and government regulations. With programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, this program prepares students to sit for the CPA exam, certified management accounting exam, and certified internal auditor exam. Most learners graduate in two years.

Available fully online, the degree includes classes in advanced financial accounting, strategic management, fraud and forensic accounting, and financial management. The flexible program features asynchronous learning designed with working professionals in mind.

WGU's Affordability

As a completely online university, WGU charges flat-rate tuition for each six-month term. The more classes a student takes each term, the more affordable their degree becomes. Online graduate tuition in the business school costs $4,180 per term, plus a $145 resource fee. In-state and out-of-state learners pay the same rates.

American Public University

Private University in Charles Town, West Virginia, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

As a fully online institution, APU offers more than 200 distance education degrees. The school awards credit for prior life experience, military service, and college courses, which enables students to earn their degree more quickly and affordably.

Online Master of Science in Accounting

APU's online master's in accounting provides an immersive learning experience with labs, simulations, and a year-long research thesis based on a current problem in the field. With accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, this degree requires 36 credits and accepts up to 15 transfer credits.

Courses last eight weeks and start monthly. Students choose from concentrations like applied business analytics, health information management, and internal auditing. Notable classes include individual tax planning and global management. The program does not require the GRE or GMAT.

APU's Affordability

Master's in accounting students pay $370 per credit hour, regardless of where they live. Those eligible for a military grant pay $250 per credit hour. APU provides textbooks and e-books at no charge to recipients of the military tuition grant.

Columbia College

Private University in Columbia, MO, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Established in 1851, CC started as a women-only institution. Today the school serves more than 18,000 students, including nearly 5,000 online learners.

Master of Business Administration with Accounting Emphasis

CC's accounting MBA prepares students for management careers and emphasizes finance, communication, and ethical issues in business. Students can enroll part time or full time, online or in person. Learners take classes like information systems for management, legal and ethical environment for business, and an integrative accounting seminar.

The program accepts applications year-round. Prospective learners need a bachelor's degree in any field, but those without a business background must complete 11 prerequisite courses with a grade of B or higher.

CC's Affordability

CC's accounting MBA features graduate tuition of $490 per credit. Service members currently in the military pay a reduced rate of $325 per credit. Financial aid opportunities include scholarships, grants, and student loans.

University of Southern Indiana

Public University in Evansville, IN, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Founded in 1965, USI serves more than 10,000 students. The school offers study abroad experiences in more than 60 countries.

MBA in Accounting

The fully online accounting MBA from USI takes as few as 11 months to complete and is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Students develop leadership and managerial skills and learn to analyze financial information. The 30-credit program requires classes like accounting regulation and compliance, a seminar in auditing, and managerial economics.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree, a minimum 2.5 GPA, and satisfactory GMAT/GRE scores (waivers available). Prospective military or veteran students do not pay an application fee.

USI's Affordability

USI's MBA in accounting costs $430 per credit. Learners may qualify for financial aid opportunities such as federal loans, student employment, scholarships, and graduate assistantships.

Boise State University

Public University in Boise, ID, accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

Founded in 1932, Boise State offers more than 200 areas of study and serves as Idaho's largest graduate institution. The school enrolls more than 26,000 learners.

Online MS in Accountancy

Full-time students can complete Boise State's fully online, accelerated MS in accountancy in as little as 12 months. The 30-credit degree includes classes like data analytics for accounting, financial reporting theory, and accounting for income taxes. The school also offers a 33- to 48-credit expanded master's for those without accounting backgrounds.

Admission requirements for the accelerated MS include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university, completion of accounting prerequisite courses, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and acceptable GMAT/GRE scores. The accountancy master's degree is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

BSU's Affordability

Boise State's affordable accountancy MS costs $495 per credit for online students in and out of state. Financial assistance options include scholarships, payment plans, military benefits, and employer reimbursement.

Colorado State University-Global Campus

Online Public University in Aurora, CO, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Established in 2007, CSU-Global offers completely online degrees and certificates. The university is the first nonprofit online state university in the country.

Master's in Professional Accounting

CSU-Global's fully online master's in professional accounting emphasizes teamwork, leadership, communication, and planning skills. Students take classes like advanced cost accounting, advanced auditing and assurance services, and accounting ethics. The program prepares learners to become CPAs.

To earn unconditional admission, applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a major or concentration in accounting. Those who do not meet this requirement can seek special admission if they complete at least 15 upper-division credits in accounting and have professional accounting experience.

CSU-Global's Affordability

The affordable program offers fixed low tuition rates with no student fees, a tuition guarantee, tuition planning, and employer partner discounts. CSU-Global accepts GI Bill and VA benefits, and members of the military receive discounted tuition.

Saint Joseph's College of Maine

Private University in Standish, Maine, accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

The only Catholic college in the state, SJC was founded as a women's college by the Sisters of Mercy in 1912.

Online Master of Accountancy

SJC's interdisciplinary online master of accountancy develops research, accounting, auditing, and finance skills and satisfies the educational requirements to sit for the CPA exam. The program features small class sizes, personalized attention from teachers, and problem-based learning rooted in the real world.

Students can start the degree during any of the five-week terms each year, in January, March, May, July, or October. Full-time learners take two classes per term and graduate in one year. Those who enroll part time finish in two years and take one course per term.

SJC's Affordability

In-state and out-of-state online accounting students pay $574 per credit. SJC offers a tuition installment plan, traditional financial aid, and private loans. The college does not charge an application fee for online applicants.

Indiana Wesleyan University

Private University in Marion, IN, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

An evangelical Christian institution and the largest private school in Indiana, IWU offers over 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Founded in 1920, the university's students represent more than 80 Christian denominations.

MS in Accounting

IWU offers a fully online, 36-credit accounting master's degree that takes 18 months to complete and offers multiple start dates each year. Students can add a specialization in financial accounting, public accounting, or managerial accounting. Featured courses include ethics and business law, advanced auditing, forensic accounting and fraud examination, and accounting information systems.

The MS in accounting is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and a 2.5 minimum GPA.

IWU's Affordability

IWU's affordable master's in accounting program does not charge an application fee. All online accounting master's students pay $559 per credit. The university offers grants, scholarships, loans, and veterans benefits.

Bellevue University

Private University in Bellevue, Nebraska, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Founded in 1966, BU emphasizes career-relevant adult education with an enrollment of nearly 9,000 students at four campuses and online.

MS in Accounting

BU's 36-credit online master's in accounting satisfies all educational requirements to sit for the CPA exam. Students develop skills in auditing, advanced cost accounting, and tax accounting. The program offers optional concentrations in finance or taxation. Notable classes include a seminar in contemporary accounting, accounting internship, and international accounting.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university and a minimum 2.5 GPA in the last 60 credits of coursework completed. Applicants may need to submit letters of recommendation.

BU's Affordability

BU's affordable MS in accounting costs $595 per credit for all online learners. The university offers financial aid through scholarships, loans, work-study, and grants. Students can also reduce the cost of their degree by applying for credit through prior learning assessment.

DePaul University

Private University in Chicago, IL, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Founded in 1898 by the Congregation of the Mission, DePaul is a Catholic research university in Chicago serving more than 22,000 students.

MS in Accountancy

DePaul offers a fully online, comprehensive MS in accountancy that prepares graduates to sit for the CPA exam. The program uses real-world business problems to develop professional skills. Notable classes include business law for accountants, tax treatment of corporations and partnerships, and advanced topics in accounting theory.

The accountancy MS is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. DePaul designed the accounting program specifically for the online learning environment.

DePaul's Affordability

All online accounting master's candidates at DePaul pay $1,080 per credit and may qualify for federal subsidized loans. The university offers special tuition assistance for veterans and military students.

Liberty University

Private University in Lynchburg, VA, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

An evangelical Christian school founded in 1971 by the Reverend Jerry Falwell, Liberty boasts more than 450 online academic programs and serves over 100,000 students.

Master of Science in Accounting

The 30-credit MS in accounting from Liberty takes one year to complete. The fully online, asynchronous program features eight-week courses and accepts up to 15 transfer credits. Students choose from seven specializations, including audit and financial reporting, forensic accounting, leadership, and taxation.

Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit college transcripts, a complete application, and proof of English proficiency. Liberty's MS in accounting is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

Liberty's Affordability

Online accounting master's students at Liberty pay $565 per credit. Members of the military, veterans, and first responders may qualify for tuition assistance. The university also offers payment plans, scholarships, grants, and loans.

Post University

Private University in Waterbury, CT accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

Founded in 1890 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Post offers more than 25 online, in-person, and hybrid undergraduate and graduate programs. From 1990-200 the school maintained an affiliation with Teikyo University in Tokyo, Japan.

Master of Science in Accounting

Post's fully online master's in accounting meets the educational requirements to sit for the CPA exam. The program offers an optional CPA track that includes six study labs in addition to the regular accounting coursework. The practitioner-focused program teaches students to solve real-world problems and develop skills in leadership, innovation, and creativity.

Admission requirements include a bachelor of science and completion of three credits in managerial accounting or financial accounting. Applicants must submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

Post's Affordability

Master's in accounting online learners pay $625 per credit. Post provides federal student aid, scholarships, and grants to help learners finance their degree. Online master's candidates with a minimum 3.9 GPA upon graduation can apply for the Post University Scholars Scholarship.

Southern New Hampshire University

Private University in Manchester, NH, accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

One of the fastest-growing institutions of higher learning in the country, SNHU serves more than 135,000 online students and offers over 200 programs.

Online Master of Science in Accounting

The 36-credit online master's in accounting from SNHU is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. The program is also aligned with the content and skill specification outlines set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

The program offers concentrations in auditing, management accounting, forensic accounting, and taxation. Notable courses include tax research methodology, managing through communication, and advanced topics in financial reporting. The MS requires an accounting capstone. Incoming students can transfer up to 12 credits towards the degree.

SNHU's Affordability

SNHU charges $627 per credit for online students in the accounting master's program. Students can lower the cost of their degree by transferring previously earned credits, applying for grants, and creating a plan with the university's student financial services team.

University of Massachusetts Lowell

Public University in Lowell, MA, accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

As a public research institution, UMass Lowell serves more than 18,000 students across six colleges. The school started in 1894 as a teaching college.

Master of Science in Accounting

UMass Lowell's fully online master's in accounting offers focus areas in corporate leadership accounting, business analytics, and international business. The program is one of only a few in the U.S. to achieve recognition from the Institute of Management Accountants and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

The 30-credit degree requires classes in federal income taxation, globalization and accounting, and contemporary accounting issues. Application requirements include official undergraduate transcripts, GMAT scores (waivers available), three letters of recommendation, and a resume.

UMass Lowell's Affordability

Online accounting students at UMass Lowell pay $655 per credit. The university offers financial aid opportunities including grants, loans, student employment, and a variety of merit scholarships open to online learners.

University of Maryland Global Campus

Public University in Adelphi, MD, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

UMGC focuses on online education, offering more than 90 accredited programs and specializations. The school got its start with the goal of serving servicemembers and working adults.

Accounting and Financial Management Master's Degree

UMGC's online master's in accounting features classes like government and nonprofit accounting, long-term financial management, behavioral finance, and an accounting and financial management capstone. The 36-credit program accepts up to six transfer credits. Faculty members boast extensive experience in the field and work as accounting firm partners, portfolio managers, and investment advisors.

Admission requirements include at least 15 undergraduate accounting credits with a grade of 'C' or better in each course or a certified public accountant license. The program offers a student accounting and finance community club.

UMGC's Affordability

Out-of-state online accounting students pay $659 per credit. The university offers discounted tuition to members of the military and their dependents. Federal employees may qualify to save up to 25% on out-of-state tuition at UMGC. The school offers no-cost digital course materials.

California State University, San Bernardino

Public University in San Bernardino, CA, accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

One of 23 campuses of the California State University system, CSUSB serves more than 20,000 students. Founded in 1965, the school boasts the second highest enrollments of African Americans and Latin Americans at public universities in California.

Master of Science in Accountancy

CSUSB's 33-credit online MS in accountancy includes coursework in international accounting, internal auditing, corporate and partnership taxation, and accounting for governmental and nonprofit organizations. Students can complete an optional accounting internship.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited postsecondary institution, a statement of purpose, and completion of graduate entrance writing requirements. Applicants must earn minimum scores on the GMAT or GRE or hold a bachelor's degree from an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business-accredited program and a minimum 3.2 GPA.

CSUSB's Affordability

Master's in accountancy students may qualify for a variety of financial aid opportunities at CSUSB, including scholarships, federal work-study, grants, and federal loans. Learners pursuing an undergraduate accounting degree at CSUSB can pursue an accelerated master's that costs less.

Saint Leo University

Private University in St. Leo, FL, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

The oldest Catholic postsecondary institution in Florida, Saint Leo boasts more than 50 degrees and serves nearly 13,000 students online and at the main and regional campuses across the state.

Online Master of Accounting

Saint Leo's online master's in accounting program prepares students to pass the CPA exam. The 30-credit curriculum focuses on tax law, professional standards, analyzing financial statements, and ethical issues in accounting. Students take classes like cost accounting, auditing, and accounting information systems.

Degree-seekers must complete nine prerequisite courses in areas like cost accounting and business law. Saint Leo accepts applications year-round and offers six start dates per year. Admission requirements include two professional recommendations, a resume demonstrating at least two years of relevant experience, and official GMAT scores of at least 500.

Saint Leo's Affordability

Online MAcc students at Saint Leo pay $740 per credit. Members of the military receive discounted tuition. The university offers grants, scholarships, loans, and corporate assistance partnerships to help make the accounting program more affordable.

Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Public University in Clarion, PA, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Founded in 1867, Clarion offers more than 175 academic programs, including dozens available online. The school serves 4,400 learners.

Master of Science in Accounting

Clarion's fully online master's in accounting degree prepares students to pass the CPA exam. The program emphasizes managerial decision-making, analysis of financial statements, and using accounting information systems. Accounting majors can participate in Clarion's student accounting club.

The 30-credit degree requires classes like operations management and information systems, database management systems, and theory of accounts. Degree-seekers must complete five accounting prerequisite courses before enrolling. Full-time learners can graduate in one year, but Clarion also offers part-time options.

Clarion's Affordability

Out-of-state accounting master's students at Clarion pay $770 per credit. The university offers a variety of financial aid opportunities open to distance learners, including grants, loans, and scholarships.

Maryville University

Private University in St. Louis, MO, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Located 22 miles outside of St. Louis, Missouri, Maryville is the second-fastest growing university in the country. Over 7,000 students participate in more than 30 online programs available through Maryville, with enrollees from all 50 states.

MS in Accounting

Ideal for professionals in accounting or other fields, Maryville's completely online master's in accounting degree takes as little as 10 months to complete. The school also offers a bridge program that brings individuals without an accounting background up to speed through additional courses in accounting, economics, finance, and business law.

The 60-credit program prepares learners to sit for the CPA exam and includes Becker CPA preparation classes as part of the for-credit curriculum. Applicants do not need to take the GRE or GMAT.

Maryville's Affordability

Online accounting master's students at Maryville pay $765 per credit. Financial aid opportunities for distance learners include federal grants, loans, employer assistance programs, and student employment.

Stetson University

Private University in DeLand, FL, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

Founded in 1883 in central Florida, Stetson enrolls more than 4,400 students. The school's mission emphasizes service, fortitude, respect, and courage to build a better world.

Master of Accountancy

The 30-credit online master of accountancy (MAcc) from Stetson features accelerated five-week sessions and takes as little as one year to complete. The program offers three-course tracks in taxation or data analytics. The completely online, asynchronous degree includes optional live interactive classes with teachers.

The online MAcc is fully accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Prospective students can apply year-round. Admission requirements include GMAT/GRE scores, official college transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

Stetson's Affordability

Online MAcc candidates pay $1,000 per credit. Stetson offers a variety of financial aid, including scholarships, grants, loans, and student employment.


What To Expect From Your Accounting Master's

Master's in accounting programs provide a foundation in advanced accounting theory and practice. Concentrations available include forensic accounting, government accounting, taxation, and auditing. Classes explore topics like internal auditing, advanced cost accounting, project management, and accounting information systems.

The average master's in accounting requires 30-36 credits and takes 1-2 years to complete. Program length varies by type of accounting degree and whether you attend full time or part time. Students can complete their master's in accounting online, in person, or in a hybrid format. Degree cost varies by type of school, total required credits, and financial aid opportunities. Typical admission requirements include a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and satisfactory GRE/GMAT test scores.

Comparing Degree Types: MBA vs. MS vs. MAcc

Prospective students choose from a variety of master's in accounting programs, including a master of accountancy (MAcc), an accounting MBA, and an MS in accounting or accountancy. MAcc and MS in accounting programs typically do not differ significantly. An accounting MBA focuses on general business knowledge with an accounting emphasis.

Comparing Accounting Master's Programs
MBA MS MAcc
Program Length 1-2 years 1-2 years 1-2 years
Potential Careers Financial manager, accounting manager, accountant, top executive, entrepreneur Accountant, auditor, CPA, personal financial advisor Accountant, auditor, CPA, personal financial advisor
Thesis Required? No No No
Capstone Required? Yes Yes Yes
Credits Required 30-36 30-36 30-36
Concentrations Available? Accounting is usually the concentration for an accounting MBA Forensic accounting, government accounting, auditing, taxation Forensic accounting, government accounting, auditing, taxation
Types of Classes Leadership, marketing, data analysis, economics, accounting, partnership taxation Accounting information systems, advanced cost accounting, managerial finance, research in financial reporting Accounting information systems, advanced cost accounting, managerial finance, research in financial reporting
Admission Requirements Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university, minimum 3.0 GPA, GMAT/GRE, letters of recommendation, resume, statement of goals, three years of relevant professional experience, leadership potential Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university, minimum 3.0 GPA, GMAT/GRE, letters of recommendation, resume, statement of goals Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university, minimum 3.0 GPA, GMAT/GRE, letters of recommendation, resume, statement of goals

Admission Requirements for Accounting Master's Programs

Common admission requirements for master's in accounting programs include a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and minimum GRE/GMAT scores. Some programs offer a GRE/GMAT waiver for applicants with high GPAs.

Prospective students submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Some programs require relevant professional experience in accounting. Applicants typically do not need an undergraduate degree in accounting, but may need to complete prerequisite accounting courses. Almost all programs require online applications.

Popular Master's in Accounting Courses

The variety and types of courses available vary by school. Master's in accounting programs usually include core, elective, and concentration courses. Accounting graduate students often complete a capstone project, but most schools do not require a thesis. Below, we describe some popular master's in accounting courses.

  • Accounting Information Systems

    This class explores common information systems used in accounting. Enrollees learn database management and how to use IT strategies for auditing and accounting. They gain skills in communicating financial information and using relational database management systems.

  • Project Management

    Learners plan, budget, manage, and control accounting projects. Enrollees in this course gain skills in risk management, leadership strategies, and preventing cost overruns.

  • Advanced Cost Accounting

    Advanced cost accounting examines strategies for economic decision-making, cost-benefit analysis, and cost-volume-profit analysis. The class also covers linear programming, budgeting, and management control systems.

  • Governmental Auditing

    Students learn about governmental auditing theories and practices, such as the Single Audit Act and Yellow Book. They explore case studies to understand accounting practices and principles for government agencies.


The Master's Capstone or Thesis

Master's in accounting programs may require a capstone or thesis. A capstone and a thesis both synthesize knowledge and skills gained during a program into a final research project. Consider the differences between the two.

As a culminating experience that occurs in the final semester of the program, an accounting capstone focuses on applying knowledge to a practical, real-world problem. A capstone may include group work with classmates, and often involves solving a problem for a local business.

A thesis usually takes longer to complete, often lasting the entire second year of a master's program. It requires significant research and writing and includes a presentation in front of the student's thesis committee.

Master's in accounting programs rarely require a thesis. As a professional degree, most accounting programs require a capstone and emphasize developing practical, career-relevant skills.

What Jobs Can Accounting Master's Degrees Get You?

A master's in accounting expands career options and salary expectations:

Accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $71,550 as of May 2019, according to the BLS — much higher than the median annual salary of $39,810 for all workers.

Certification as a CPA or in another specialized area of accounting can further improve career opportunities.

Potential jobs for graduates with a master's in accounting include accountant, auditor, personal financial advisor, and financial manager. We describe what to expect from these careers, education requirements, and salary and career outlooks.

Accountants and Auditors

Accountants and auditors ensure the accuracy of financial records, assess organizations' formal financial reports, and help them run efficiently. Typical job duties include organizing records, finding ways to cut costs, and making recommendations to management. Accounting services, finance and insurance, government, and management companies employ accounting professionals.


  • Required Education: Master's degree preferred.
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): 4%
  • Median Annual Salary: $71,550
Certified Public Accountant

CPAs oversee auditing, accounting, reporting, and tax processes for individual clients, companies, and government agencies. They prepare documents related to financial matters, work long hours during tax season, and specialize in areas like taxation, financial planning, or valuation. Each state sets its own requirements for CPAs, but individuals must complete 150 credits to sit for the CPA exam.


  • Required Education: Master's degree preferred.
  • Job Outlook (2019-29):
  • Average Annual Salary: $67,143
Financial Manager

Financial managers help maintain the financial health of an organization. They supervise employees who do budgeting, analyze market trends, help management make decisions, and create financial reports. Types of financial managers include controllers, credit managers, treasurers, and insurance managers. The finance and insurance industry employs many financial managers.


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

Personal financial advisors help people make well-informed financial decisions. Job duties include meeting with clients and explaining financial services, recommending investments, researching investment opportunities, and helping clients plan for life events like retirement or estate transfers. The majority of personal financial advisors work in securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investment industries.


  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree.
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): 4%
  • Median Annual Salary: $87,850

Making Cheap Accounting Degrees Even Cheaper

Students interested in cheap accounting degrees often look for other ways to cut costs. Only you can decide what is most important when looking at different master's in accounting programs and their costs. You may need to make tradeoffs between quality and cost. Below, we discuss some tips for saving money on graduate school.

Overload Credits

Taking more credits each semester can save you money on your degree. Many schools charge a flat fee for tuition over a certain number of credits per semester. If you can take 15 credits for the same price you would pay for 12, you save money and graduate more quickly. Do not take so many credits that you struggle to keep up with your coursework, however.

Rent Textbooks

You may not need to buy textbooks that you never plan to use after finishing your classes. Instead, many schools and bookstores offer textbook rental options that can deliver substantial savings.

Keep Working

If you work part time or full time, consider keeping your job while earning a master's in accounting. Only you can decide if the stress of balancing work with school is worth it, but you may be able to take out fewer student loans and graduate with much less debt by staying employed.

Apply for Scholarships

Accounting scholarships offer one often overlooked way to save on the cost of graduate school. Companies, foundations, and universities all offer aid, including need- and merit-based opportunities. Some scholarships are limited to students of particular states, while others are open for any U.S. resident or citizen. Make sure to fill out the FAFSA, a requirement of applying for many types of financial assistance.

Selecting the Right Affordable Accounting Program

Choosing the right affordable accounting program requires you to weigh your priorities. A variety of key factors besides cost go into selecting the right school. Some of these issues may be more important than price, so you may need to reevaluate whether cost is your primary criteria. Consider the following factors when making your decision:

  • Is the university regionally accredited? Choosing an accredited institution is essential for many reasons, particularly to meet CPA requirements.
  • How long does it take to complete your master's in accounting? A typical full-time program lasts 1-2 years.
  • Do you meet admission requirements? Consider the program's competitiveness and acceptance rate. Typical application requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and letters of recommendation. Most programs also require GRE or GMAT scores.
  • What types of concentrations/specializations can you pursue? Make sure the available options align with your career goals.
  • What types of student resources does the university offer? Look for a career development office, tutoring, robust library and research services, and mentorship opportunities.
  • Does the school cultivate a functioning alumni network? Many students and recent graduates find career and internship possibilities by participating in their college's alumni events.

Explore Other Top-Ranked Account Master's Degrees

Why You Should Get Your Master's in Accounting Online

Earning a master's degree in accounting online offers convenience, flexibility, and affordability. Most distance education programs let students log on to a virtual classroom and complete coursework asynchronously, anywhere and anytime.

Online degrees may cost less than traditional on-campus programs. Some colleges provide reduced or in-state tuition for out-of-state distance learners. Online programs also often offer accelerated options, which frequently cost less than those that take longer. Distance learners also save money on gas and parking by eliminating the commute to campus, and may pay fewer student fees than their on-campus counterparts.

Distance education interests working professionals, those with families, and other nontraditional learners. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, online learning appeals more to almost everyone, and in some cases, may be necessary when physical campuses must shut down because of outbreaks. The choice between online, in-person, and hybrid programs is personal. Only you can decide if distance education makes sense for your learning style.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get a master's in accounting online?
Many colleges offer affordable fully online and hybrid accounting degrees. Changes due to COVID-19 may make online accounting programs even more common.
How much does an accounting degree cost?
The cost of an accounting degree varies considerably by school. In general, public schools offer less expensive options than private schools, and in-state students pay much less tuition than out-of-state learners. Many colleges offer affordable online master's degrees.
Is a master's in accounting worth it?
Only you can decide if earning a master's in accounting is worth it. Consider the time and money you must spend to earn your degree and compare that to your expected salary after graduation to calculate your return on investment. A graduate degree in accounting can help you qualify for more career opportunities with higher salaries.
Should I get an MBA or MS in accounting?
The type of accounting master's degree to pursue depends on your career goals. An accounting MBA opens the door to general business and accounting positions, while an MS prepares students primarily for accounting and auditing careers.
Can you get a CPA license without a degree?
A CPA license requires at least a bachelor's degree and 150 credits. Most bachelor's programs require 120 credits, so prospective CPAs can either earn a master's in accounting or complete an additional 30 credits to meet the education requirements for the CPA exam.

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