Page Content

FAQs Overview
4 Advantages
Choosing the Best Program
Tips for Choosing the Best Program
Spotlight schools
Spotlight schools
Typical Courses
Typical Courses
Skills You’ll Earn
What Comes Next?
Most Affordable Programs
Most Affordable Programs
Accredited Programs
Accredited Programs
Best Online Master's in Accounting
Best Programs

Benefits of Earning a Master’s in Accounting Online

online accounting master’s degree

While it’s possible to work in the accounting field without a master’s degree, many aspiring accountants pursue an advanced degree in accounting because of its lasting benefits —
expertise in their field; salary increase potential; and an easy and quick way to sit for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA Exam).

Given its importance in shaping a student’s future career, it’s no wonder master’s in accounting programs are so popular especially those offered online.

An online accounting master’s degree offers master’s student affordable program options, flexibility and self-paced courses while working and raising a family, and opportunities to explore concentration areas that can open up new employment horizons. Learn more about online master’s in accounting programs, courses and benefits in the guide below.


FAQs Overview: Online Master’s in Accounting Programs

So, what is an online accounting master’s degree, and why is it important? Discover more about this important and popular program in the FAQs below.

Why does this degree matter?

A master’s degree in accounting is the primary qualification in taking the CPA Exam. Most state boards of accountancy will require exam applicants to complete 150 credit hours of college level coursework, yet the typical bachelor’s degree consists of only 120 to 130 credit hours. This means an extra year of full-time coursework is necessary to be eligible to take the CPA Exam. A master’s degree in accounting helps master’s in accounting students meet this requirement.

What are the admission requirements?

Each program will have its own admissions requirements, but most will require a bachelor’s degree in business or accounting plus the completion of 15 to 21 credit hours of basic and upper level accounting courses. Additionally, many programs will require master’s applicants to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). However, for interested students looking for online master’s in accounting programs with no GMAT or GRE, they are in luck: there are plenty of programs that don’t require these test scores or make them optional.

How long does it take?

Most online master’s in accounting programs require the completion of 30 credit hours, which is the equivalent of one academic year for a full-time student. However, some master’s in accounting students can take as few as 10 months if they accelerate their curriculum or have extensive transfer credits accepted by the accounting program. Those who choose to complete their degree at a slower pace can expect to take 15 to 22 months to earn their master’s degree.

What certifications does the degree lead to?

To make the most of an accounting career, graduates should look into becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). It’s a prestigious designation that can open up many professional growth opportunities. When a CPA enters the workforce, this certification can help attract new clients and bring additional business to an accounting firm.

Which master’s degree should I pursue?

There are typically three options for accounting master’s degrees: the MSA (Master of Science in Accounting), MPAcc (Master of Professional Accounting) and MAcc online degrees (Master of Accountancy). On a practical level, there is little to no difference beyond the degree titles. Some schools might have slightly different curriculums, but all three degrees will fully prepare master’s students to sit for the CPA Exam.

What does tuition look like?

Students can expect an online accounting master’s degree to cost anywhere from $14,000 to $24,000. Of course, this will vary widely based on a school’s tuition rates, students’ state of residency and if a student has completed any outside coursework that will transfer to the master’s program.


4 Advantages to Completing a Master’s in Accounting Program Online

Distance learning has revolutionized how master’s students earn complete graduate programs and accelerate their learning to achieve their degrees in very little time. Now more than ever, master’s students have greater opportunity to pursue additional education without having to give up their job, sit in a classroom all day or pay for pricey programs. Below are four advantages to earning a master’s in accounting online.

online master’s accounting programs

Flexible scheduling

Most online master’s accounting programs will allow graduate students to take all or almost all of their coursework requirements through asynchronous learning methods. This means students can not only attend class from anywhere there is an Internet connection, but they can also choose to attend at any time that fits their schedule. This is perfect for those with busy work hours or family obligations.

Distance learning

Learn from anywhere

Distance learning is just that – and it doesn’t matter how far that distance is from the physical school. There are no commutes to and from campus. Without distance learning, master’s students could only apply to programs that were near their home – or those they were willing to pack up and move to – and they had to be okay with attending class on campus during set hours. With online learning, grad students no longer have to accept these limitations.

Online programs


Online programs offer students the option to self-pace their learning. Those with busy schedules can take their time and complete their degree at a part-time pace. For those who have the drive and time to do so, they can load up on classes and finish several months early.

online master’s degree program in accounting

Development of time management and organizational skills

For many grad students, the hardest part of online learning is not the academic material. Rather, it’s finding the discipline to create your own schedule, buckle down and complete the assignments in a reasonable timeframe. Completing an online master’s degree program in accounting is not only a testament to the student’s accounting prowess, but it also highlights their ability to stay disciplined and effectively manage their classroom and non-academic obligations, such as taking care of family members or working full-time.


Tips for Choosing the Best Master’s in Accounting Online Programs

When researching online master’s in accounting degree programs, there are several things to keep in mind when choosing the best program that fits students’ needs and goals. Below are a few helpful tips for finding the right accounting master’s program.


Accreditation serves as a form of independent verification that a school or academic program meets a basic level of quality. No matter which accounting school an individual decides to attend, they need to make sure it’s accredited by one of two organizations. The first is AACSB International. Also known as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, it has traditionally accredited accounting programs that place a greater emphasis on research. The second organization is the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Unlike AACBS International, the ACBSP focuses more on teaching.

Read more about Accreditation here.

A variety of online options

Many academic disciplines are online, yet require on-campus visits or in-person practicums. Accounting is different in that most grad students can receive their accounting education fully online, with no in-person visits required. Some programs may have on-campus or professional events, but they are often not mandatory. Other programs may require students to meet a residency requirement by attending a special program for a few days on campus. Choosing the right school for you means looking carefully at these options and requirements.


Before immediately dismissing a program because it has higher tuition, master’s students should consider other things that can factor into the total cost of attendance. For example, a school might have lower tuition but higher-than-typical fees. Or a program might be very generous with handing out scholarships to enrolled students. Also keep in mind that many schools offer online students the much lower in-state tuition rate, regardless of their state of domicile.

faculty and staff

Another way to choose a program is to examine the quality of the faculty and stuff. Professors with a terminal degree in accounting, published research and extensive work experience in the accounting field are usually strong signs of excellent faculty.

for the CPA exam

The main reason most people get a master’s degree in accounting is to become a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA. To become a CPA, individuals must pass the CPA exam, which consists of four sections. The national average passage rates for each section vary from 40 percent to 60 percent. Programs with much higher passage rates are usually among the best master’s in accounting online programs available.


Cheap Online Master’s in Accounting Programs: Spotlight Schools

There are many affordable online programs to choose from among stellar graduate schools, but compiled below are some of the cheapest, top-quality schools offering online master’s in accounting programs.

Colorado State University

University of Missouri

University of North Dakota


No GMAT or No GRE Online Master’s in Accounting

For accounting and business graduate programs, the GRE or GMAT is a standard portion of most admissions applications. However, many schools no longer require either test or make them optional. For example, at DePaul University, neither test is required. And at Auburn University, the GMAT is required unless a student is eligible for a waiver. There are multiple ways to get this waiver, such as possessing a particular graduate degree (such as a JD, MD or Ph.D.), have an undergraduate accounting degree with a minimum GPA or significant executive level work experience.


Typical Courses in the MACC Online

Most master’s level accounting programs will require grad students to complete the same or similar core coursework. Some of these classes include:

Advanced Auditing and Assurance Services Federal Tax Research Situational Ethics in Accounting Advanced Cost Accounting Accounting for Government and Nonprofits
This course explains the methodology for providing accurate and trustworthy accounting information and examines its importance to others who rely on that information to make business decisions. Master’s students will learn the basics of representing individuals and corporate clients before the IRS. Grad students will examine potential situations they might face in the accounting profession and the ethical dilemmas they must learn how to navigate. Theories and techniques for utilizing financial information to make business and management decisions are taught in this course. For-profit corporations and businesses aren’t only organizations that benefit from accounting services. This course teaches students about the unique features of this particular area of accounting.

In addition to these core courses, most accounting programs will provide ample opportunity for students to focus on a specific area of accounting by allowing them to take courses of particular interest. Potential concentration areas include:



Forensic Accounting

Management Accounting


Skills You’ll Earn in Master’s in Accounting Programs

Whether it’s an MSA, MPAcc or MAcc online program, master’s in accounting students will learn a particular set of skills while earning their degree. Many of these skills will help them achieve their professional goals and make the most of their education and training.

Attention to detail Analytical skills Mathematical skills Communication skills Judgment
Accounting is a profession where one little mistake, such as a misplaced period, can turn an otherwise useful financial statement into not just a worthless document, but a harmful one as well. In the business world, accountants are the creators and gatekeepers of information that management and investors rely on to make key decisions, so it’s imperative the information an accountant creates contains no mistakes. One of the most important skills for an accountant is the ability to take a seemingly random or confusing set of numbers and glean useful information. This can result in identifying the source of a business loss or being able to more accurately anticipate future business cycles. Accounting is essentially based on math. The fundamental math isn’t that complex for an accounting graduate, but applying those mathematical concepts to a financial or business context is not so simple or basic. An accountant must effectively communicate their analyses to others. Whether working with a coworker, business owner or corporate client, an accountant will need to know how to write and speak effectively and explain complex situations and concepts to those with a far more basic understanding of accounting. Accounting is all about numbers, yet it’s amazing how uncertain many decisions can be, especially concerning compliance with laws and regulations. Professionals in the accounting industry will face ethical conundrums and gray areas while they work and will need to make ethical decisions to not only protect themselves and their clients from liability.

How to Pay for an Online Master’s in Accounting Program

Figuring out how to pay for graduate school is usually at the top of any prospective student’s list of things to consider. Luckily, there are a number of resources to help students pay for their education. Keep in mind that most financial aid awards – even loans – will require the attending an accredited accounting program.



Scholarships will be one of the most prized and commonly used forms of financial aid by any postsecondary student. Sometimes called fellowships, scholarships are forms of financial aid that don’t need to be paid back. Many of them are sponsored or administered by a variety of sources, including the master’s programs themselves, professional accounting organizations, charitable organizations and corporations.



Grants are similar to scholarships in that they are gift-based aid that doesn’t need to be paid back. However, they are usually awarded based on financial need while scholarships tend to be given based on individual merit. Many grants come from the state or federal government.



Loans are financial payments made for education purposes that must be paid back at a future time. These loans can come from a variety of public and private entities. However, the most common are subsidized and unsubsidized loans from the federal government. To apply for these (as well as many other forms of financial aid), grad students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA ®.

Employer pay

Employer pay

Many employers will pay for part or all of the educational costs for their employees to return to school to gain eligibility to take the CPA Exam. Each employer will have their own unique rules for their tuition reimbursement program, but one common characteristic is that recipients must agree to return to work for their employer for a minimum period of time after earning their degree.


Getting the Online Accounting Master’s Degree: What Comes Next?

After completing a master’s degree in accounting, graduate students will be ready to maximize their professional potential in their field. While nothing prevents someone with a master’s degree in accounting from working as a bookkeeper or auditing clerk, the main reason someone will attend a master’s program in accounting is to become a CPA.

The curriculum of most master’s accounting programs is specifically tailored to prepare students to take and pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA Exam). This exam consists of four sections that can be completed over two days. However, students may take only one section at a time as long as they complete and pass all four sections within an 18-month period.

Beyond passage of the CPA Exam, each state may have its own requirements. For example, most states require CPAs to have taken at least 150 credit hours of college courses. And once a person becomes a CPA, they must meet their states’ continuing education requirements to maintain their CPA license.

Beyond the CPA designation, accountants and auditors may obtain additional certifications, offered by professional organizations such as the institute of Internal Auditors, ISACA, Institute of Management Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

After earning the CPA credential, individuals will be able to maximize their ability to work as a public accountant or internal auditor. For example, it’s common for graduates to work at one of the “Big Four” accounting firms: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte or KPMG. One of the more notable services these companies provide is the auditing of financial statements prepared internally by major public corporations. To do much of this work, individuals are legally required to be a CPA.

Another popular career path is to become a financial examiner. These professionals review an organization’s finances to ensure they are following applicable laws and regulations. They may also evaluate credit risks and make other financial assessments.

The growth and earnings potential for accountants, auditors and financial examiners is very good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that accountants and auditors make a median salary of $70,500 with a projected 2016-2026 growth rate of 6 percent. As for financial examiners, their growth rate is projected to be 7 percent with a median salary of $81,180.


Affordable Master’s in Accounting Programs and Colleges

College Name & Address Tuition Graduation Rate
American Public University System
111 W Congress St, Charles Town, West Virginia 25414  
$6,600 79%
Colorado State University-Global Campus
7800 East Orchard Road Ste 200, Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111-0000  
$9,000 65.2%
Florida Institute of Technology-Online
150 West University Blvd, Melbourne, Florida 32901-6975  
$16,128 72.0%
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
128 Outreach Building, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802-1503
$22,276 25%
South University–Savannah Online
709 Mall Blvd, Savannah, Georgia 31406      
$13,535 72%
Walden University
100 Washington Avenue South, Suite 900, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401    
$12,671 20.04%
Georgia Southern University
Stateboro, Georgia    
$6,636 51.3%
Suny Polytechnic Institute
Utica, New York
$10,870 72.0%

Accredited Accounting Master’s Online Colleges

College Name & Address Tuition Graduation Rate
Creighton University
2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE 68178  
  – 75%
Shorter University
315 Shorter Ave, Rome, GA 30165
$12,931 47%
Liberty University
1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, VA 24515  
$815 per Credit 46%
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314
$755 per credit 42%
Webster University
470 E Lockwood Ave, Webster Groves, MO 63119  
$28,500 64%
Marist College
3399 North Rd, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
$14,500 80%
Southern Adventist University
4881 Taylor Cir, Collegedale, TN 37315  
$21,950 58%
Cleveland State University
2121 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44115  
$9,261 34%

Best Online Master’s in Accounting Schools

College Name & Address Tuition Graduation Rate
Ashford University
San Diego, California  
$10,386 – $15,192 48.6%
Purdue University Global
1515 W Cypress Creek Rd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
$8,473 – $11,009 24.5%
Fitchburg State University
160 Pearl St, Fitchburg, MA 01420  
$3,828 59.4%
Grand Canyon University
3300 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85017  
$10,555 58%
Liberty University
1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, VA 24515  
$8,475 51.8%
Colorado State University-Global Campus
7800 E Orchard Rd #200, Greenwood Village, CO 80111  
$9,000   –
Brenau University  
500 Washington St SE, Gainesville, GA 30501  
$12,730 37.2%

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