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Masters in Accounting Online

online accounting master’s degree

While it is possible to work in the accounting field without a master’s degree and only a bachelor’s degree, many aspiring accountants pursue an advanced degree in accounting because of its lasting benefits such as expertise in their field, the potential for a salary increase, and an easy and quick way to go through the uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA Exam) or Certified Management Accountant Examination (CMA Exam). Given its importance in shaping a student’s future career, it is no wonder that online master’s in accounting programs are so popular.

An online master’s in accounting offers students affordable program options, flexibility, and self-paced courses while working and raising a family. It also provides opportunities to explore concentration areas that can open up new employment horizons, such as in fraudulent financial reporting, financial analysis, tax research, financial accounting, business law, managerial accounting, financial reporting, federal taxation, and accounting information systems, to name a few. Read on to learn more about online master’s in accounting programs, the courses and benefits they offer, and more.


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Best Online Masters in Accounting

As with finding a good bachelor’s degree, when searching for online master’s in accounting programs, students will find that there are a lot of universities that offer online master programs. However, not all programs are the same. Students have to carefully consider the program’s affordability, reputation, graduation rates, ease of access to online content, and many other such factors when deciding which graduate accounting program qualifies as the best. OMC has made this task easier and created a list of the best online master’s in accounting programs, based on a host of key factors:

Link to this Page
College Name & Address Tuition Graduation Rate
#1
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
103 South Bldg Cb 9100, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599
$10,55291%
#2
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
601 E John Street, Champaign, Illinois 61820
$14,99785%
#3
University of Connecticut
52 Mansfield Road, Storrs, Connecticut 06269
$16,30084%
#4
University of Scranton
800 Linden Street, Scranton, Pennsylvania 18510
$11,58083%
#5
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
374 Whitmore Building 181 Presidents Drive, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003
$14,01482%
#6
Saint Joseph’s University
5600 City Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19131
$17,33481%
#7
Colorado State University-Global Campus
585 Salida Way, Aurora, Colorado 80011
$9,000 NA
#8
University of Miami
University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida 33146
$37,80083%
#9
Bentley University
175 Forest St, Waltham, Massachusetts 02452
$38,400 90%
#10
Syracuse University
900 South Crouse Ave., Syracuse, New York 13244
$38,88083%
#11
Golden Gate University, San Francisco
536 Mission Street, San Francisco, California 94105
$19,620NA
#12
Auburn University
Auburn, Alabama 36849
$9,82879%
#13
University of Missouri, Columbia
105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, Missouri 65211
$9,26471%
#14
George Mason University
4400 University Dr, Fairfax, Virginia 22030
$12,14471%
#15
DePaul University
1 E Jackson Blvd, Chicago, Illinois 60604
$19,58474%
#16
Seton Hall University
400 S Orange Ave, South Orange, New Jersey 07079
$23,58073%
#17
University of Oklahoma, Norman
660 Parrington Oval, Norman, Oklahoma 73019
$6,58370%
#18
University of Texas, Dallas
800 West Campbell Road, Richardson, Texas 75080

$13,87470%
#19
Maryville University, Saint Louis
650 Maryville University Drive, Saint Louis, Missouri 63141
$14,34671%
#20
Rutgers University
249 University Avenue, Blumenthal Hall, Newark, New Jersey 07102
$17,73669%
#21
University of North Dakota
264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58202
$10,53461%
#22
Regis University
3333 Regis Blvd, Denver, Colorado 80221
$14,44164%
#23
Western New England University
1215 Wilbraham Rd, Springfield, Massachusetts 01119
$25,05665%
#24
University of Alabama, Birmingham
Administration Bldg Suite 1070, Birmingham, Alabama 35294
$8,10063%
#25
Western Governors University
4001 South 700 East Suite 700, Salt Lake City, Utah 84107
$7,50021%

Source Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Most Affordable Online Masters in Accounting

A master’s degree can be substantially more expensive than a bachelor’s degree. Fortunately, there are many affordable online master’s in accounting programs to choose from among stellar graduate schools. Here is a list of the most affordable online master’s in accounting programs:

Link to this Page
College Name & Address Tuition Graduation Rate
#1
Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Rd, Administration Bldg., Room 339, Boca Raton, Florida 33431
$5,46750%
#2
University of Oklahoma, Norman
660 Parrington Oval, Norman, Oklahoma 73019
$6,58370%
#3
California State University, San Bernardino
5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, California 92407
$7,17655%
#4
California State University, Sacramento
6000 J St, Sacramento, California 95819
$7,17655%
#5
Western Governors University
4001 South 700 East Suite 700, Salt Lake City, Utah 84107
$7,50021%
#6
University of Alabama, Birmingham
Administration Bldg Suite 1070, Birmingham, Alabama 35294
$8,10063%
#7
Colorado State University-Global Campus
585 Salida Way, Aurora, Colorado 80011
$9,000 NA
#8
University of Missouri, Columbia
105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, Missouri 65211
$9,26471%
#9
Auburn University
Auburn, Alabama 36849
$9,828 79%
#10
University of North Dakota
264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58202
$10,53461%
#11
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
103 South Bldg Cb 9100, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599
$10,55291%
#12
SUNY Polytechnic Institute
100 Seymour Rd, Utica, New York 13502
$11,31057%
#13
University of Scranton
800 Linden Street, Scranton, Pennsylvania 18510
$11,58083%
#14
University of Arizona
1401 E University, Tucson, Arizona 85721
$11,93865%
#15
George Mason University
4400 University Dr, Fairfax, Virginia 22030
$12,14471%
#16
University of Texas, Dallas
800 West Campbell Road, Richardson, Texas 75080
$13,87470%
#17
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
374 Whitmore Building 181 Presidents Drive, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003
$14,01482%
#18
Maryville University, Saint Louis
650 Maryville University Drive, Saint Louis, Missouri 63141

$14,34671%
#19
Regis University
3333 Regis Blvd, Denver, Colorado 80221
$14,44164%
#20
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
601 E John Street, Champaign, Illinois 61820
$14,99785%
#21
University of Connecticut
52 Mansfield Road, Storrs, Connecticut 06269
$16,30084%
#22
Saint Joseph’s University
5600 City Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19131
$17,33481%
#23
Rutgers University
249 University Avenue, Blumenthal Hall, Newark, New Jersey 07102
$17,73669%
#24
DePaul University
1 E Jackson Blvd, Chicago, Illinois 60604
$19,58474%
#25
Golden Gate University, San Francisco
536 Mission Street, San Francisco, California 94105
$19,620NA

Source Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

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

Distance learning has revolutionized how master’s students go through entire graduate programs and accelerate their learning to achieve their degrees in very little time. Now, more than ever, master’s students have a 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, with 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

Self-pacing

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 earlier than usual.

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 is finding the discipline to create their own schedule, buckle down, and complete their assignments in a reasonable timeframe. Completing online master’s degree programs 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.

Understanding Online Master’s in Accounting Programs

Before enrolling in an online master’s in accounting, it is essential to understand the programs in detail. 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. Here are a few important aspects of masters in accounting programs:

Accreditation

Accreditation serves as a form of independent verification by independent private organizations and government agencies, 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 is an accredited college. A couple of organizations that offer accreditation are:

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.

Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) – Unlike AACSB International, the ACBSP focuses more on teaching.

Schools can also be regionally accredited by agencies such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), among others.

Read more about accreditation on the Best Accreditation Guide.

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 means looking carefully at these options and requirements.

Affordable Tuition

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. One should also keep in mind that many schools offer online students a much lower in-state tuition rate, regardless of their state of domicile.

Excellent Faculty and Staff

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

Preparation 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.


Online Master in Accounting Online – Degree Types

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


Timeline for graduation from an Online Master’s in Accounting Program

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.


Curriculum in Online Master’s in Accounting Programs

Most master’s accounting programs will require grad students to complete similar core and elective courses found in an accounting undergraduate degree, but at an advanced level. Some staple courses include:

Advanced Auditing and Assurance ServicesFederal Tax ResearchSituational Ethics in AccountingAdvanced Cost AccountingGovernmental Accounting and Not for Profit Accounting
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 cost accounting.For-profit corporations and businesses aren’t the only organizations that benefit from accounting services. This course teaches students about the unique features of this particular area of accounting.

Typical elective courses in a master’s in accounting are:

  • Accounting Principles
  • Data Analytics
  • Enterprise Risk Management
  • Accounting Analytics
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Advanced Financial Accounting
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Financial Accounting
  • Financial Operations
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Financial Reporting
  • International Accounting

Specializations in Accounting Programs

The online master’s in accounting will provide ample opportunity for students to focus on a specific area of accounting, by allowing them to take courses of particular interest. For example, the forensic accounting concentration dives deep into forensic accounting and financial statement analysis in the field. Some potential concentration areas include:

  • Auditing
  • Taxation
  • International Forensic Accounting
  • Management Accounting
  • Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting
  • Financial and Managerial Accounting
  • International Accounting

Admission Requirements for an Online Master’s in Accounting

Each master’s in accounting program will have its own admissions requirements, but most will require a bachelor’s degree in business administration 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, there are plenty of business schools that do not require these test scores, or that make them optional, provided the GPA of undergraduate degrees is on the higher side, and the candidate has some work experience.


Skills gained from Online Master’s in Accounting Degrees

Be it an MSA, MPAcc, or MAcc online program, accounting programs prepare students to take on a wide range of settings that include:

  • Corporate Financial Management
  • Tax Planning
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Cost Accounting
  • Financial Analysis
  • International Accounting
  • Financial System Analysis
  • Accounting Analysis
  • Financial Records & Book Keeping
  • Advance Collegiate Schools
  • Financial Statement Analysis

Online master accounting students learn a particular set of skills while earning their degree, all of which will help them achieve their professional goals and make the most of their education and training. By the end of their online college programs, graduates will be accounting professionals with enviable skills such as:

Attention to DetailAnalytical SkillsMathematical SkillsCommunication SkillsJudgment
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 the management and investors rely on to make key decisions, so the information an accountant creates must contain 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 is not 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 is 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 but also their clients, from liability.

FAQs Overview: Online Master’s in Accounting

So, what is an online accounting degree, and why is it important? Here are the answers:

Q: Why does this degree matter?
A: 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 that an extra year of full-time coursework is necessary to prepare students to be eligible to take the CPA Exam. An accounting degree helps master’s in accounting students meet this requirement.
Q: What certifications does the degree lead to?
A: To make the most of an accounting career, graduates should look at becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). It is 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.

Online Master in Accounting No GMAT

For accounting and business graduate programs, the GRE or GMAT is usually a standard requirement of most admissions applications. However, many schools no longer require either test scores or make them optional. For example, at DePaul University, neither the GRE nor GMAT is required. And at Auburn University, the GMAT is required only if the student is not eligible for a waiver. There are multiple ways to get this waiver, such as possessing a particular graduate degree, professional degree, or doctoral degree (JD, MD, or Ph.D.), have an undergraduate accounting degree with a minimum GPA, or significant executive-level work experience. A few more universities that offer an online masters in accounting no GMAT are:

Accelerated Online Master’s in Accounting

Typically, online masters in accounting degrees can take anywhere between two to three years, depending on many factors. But several universities offer accelerated online masters in accounting programs, which can shorten the time to graduation. The requirements for these accelerated graduate programs vary by university and the student’s background. While some universities provide credits for a few courses if the students have an accounting background, others provide credits if the students have a certain level of experience or another master’s degree. In certain cases, some universities offer accelerated programs without any conditions, but these programs can get intensive with 5-8 week courses that will need a lot of dedication and time. Here are some universities that offer accelerated online masters in accounting programs:

Franklin University – 17 Months

University of Miami – 16-20 Months


One Year Online Master’s in Accounting

While many universities offer accounting graduate programs that are accelerated, some universities offer one-year online master’s in accounting. Such 1-year programs are designed with classes that last for just a few weeks of intense coursework, followed by tests. These programs can be started many times throughout the year. Also, core courses are available throughout the year in an asynchronous way, so that students can finish their coursework fast. Here are some one-year online master’s in accounting:

Shorter University – 12 Months

Syracuse University – 12-15 Months

Free Online Master’s in Accounting

There are a very limited number of educational institutions that offer a free online accounting degree, but these institutions are not accredited and may not help students in their careers. The good news, however, is that there are plenty of recognized educational institutions that offer free online courses that are graduate-level. Some of these courses are taken from previous years’ masters of accounting programs, and some are offered by famous universities on third-party platforms. Here are some free courses in accounting:

How to Pay for a Masters in Accounting Online Program

Figuring out how to pay for an online master’s degree is usually at the top of any prospective student’s list of things to consider. Fortunately, federal student aid and several other resources can help students pay for their degree program. Here are a few common forms of financial aid:

Scholarship

Scholarships

Scholarships are arguably 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 do not need to be paid back. Many of them are sponsored or administered by a variety of sources, including the degree programs themselves, professional accounting organizations, charitable organizations, and corporations.

Grants

Grants

Grants are similar to scholarships, in that they are gift-based aid that does not 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

Student Loans

Student Loans are financial payments made for educational purposes that must be paid back at a future time. These loans can come from a variety of public and private entities, although 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 and gain eligibility to take the CPA Exam. Each employer will have its own unique rules for its tuition reimbursement program, but one typical characteristic is that recipients must agree to return to work for their employer for a minimum period, after earning their degree.

Career Paths for Masters in Accounting Students – What’s Next?

The entry-level education for many accounting jobs is a bachelor’s degree, which only prepares students to take on smaller roles in their field. But after completing an online master’s degree in accounting, graduate students will be ready to maximize their professional potential and be better placed to take on more responsible roles. While nothing prevents someone with an online master in accounting from working as a bookkeeper or auditing clerk, the main reason students will attend accounting master’s programs is to become a Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA).

The curriculum of most master’s accounting programs in business schools and advance collegiate schools, 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 18 months.

Beyond passage of the Certified Public Accountant 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.

And 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. An example of such certification is the Certified Management Accountant (CMA).

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 is 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.

When compared to individuals who have only an undergraduate degree in accounting, the growth and earnings potential for accounting professionals who have graduated from an online master, are very good. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that accountants and auditors take home a median annual salary of $73,560 with a projected 2019 to 2029 growth rate of 4%. As for financial examiners, their growth rate is projected to be 7%, with a median annual salary of $81,430, while that of financial managers is expected to grow 15%, with a median annual salary of $134,180.

Graduates of accounting degree programs can also go on to work in a global accounting environment, and other areas of accounting or areas related to accounting, some of which include but are not limited to:

  • Data Analytics
  • Accounting Analytics
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Financial Management
  • Business Administration
  • Advanced Auditing
  • Professional Accountancy
  • Business Law
  • International Accounting
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Tax Planning
  • Financial Reporting
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Advanced Financial Accounting

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