Best Online Master’s in Accounting 2021

by TBS Staff
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Students interested in graduate accounting programs can earn a master's in accounting online, giving them the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations.

Online master of accounting programs prepare students to enter a growing field -- the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the accounting and auditing field will increase the total number of jobs by 6% from 2018 to 2028.

Choosing the right online accounting master's program entails weighing important factors like tuition costs, available courses, and degree requirements. Students should choose the program that best fits their needs, lifestyle, and goals.

This page ranks the best online master's in accounting programs to help students find the right program for their needs. It also covers other important information for prospective students, including common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

The Best Online Master's in Accounting Programs

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $11649

    UNC's master of accounting degree combines academic rigor and a high-caliber curriculum with real-world experiential learning to create an educational experience that is ideal for working professionals. The program may be completed in 12 to 36 months.

    Required classes include accounting analytics, accounting system essentials, and financial reporting. Students may select tax, audit, or financial analysis and reporting concentrations. A total of 48 credits is required for completion but up to 12 of those can be gained through prior education history.

    Applicants must submit transcripts from undergraduate studies/degree, and post-graduate studies, if applicable. Other application materials include two recommendations, a statement of purpose, and resume or LinkedIn profile.

  2. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $21678

    The 30-credit master of professional accounting degree offered through Penn State World Campus trains candidates in auditing approaches, tax laws, and technical services important to the industry. The program also prepares participants to take the CPA exam.

    Classes include financial reporting, auditing theory and practice, business tax planning, and strategic cost management; a forensic accounting capstone completes the degree.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution; accounting major preferred. Additional materials include official transcripts, two references, and a resume.

  3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    Tuition

    $15829

    U of I's master of science in accountancy (iMSA) offers a hands-on, practice-oriented curriculum. The program teaches expertise in accounting fundamentals, including financial reporting, audit and control, and taxation.

    Course requirements for the 32-credit program include accounting analysis, federal taxation, and managerial accounting. Participants may obtain additional credits to sit for the CPA exam.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree (3.0 GPA minimum), and submit academic credentials, a resume, personal statement, and two reference letters.

  4. Georgia Southern University
    Location

    Statesboro, GA

    Tuition

    $15435

    The master of accounting program at Georgia Southern allows candidates to continue specialized studies in accounting. The 30-credit program prepares students for the CPA exam, while they learn practical and theoretical accounting concepts.

    Coursework includes seminars in financial accounting, auditing, and accounting information systems, and legal issues.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; accounting emphasis preferred. Other admission requirements include recommendation letters, and essay. Prerequisites include auditing, income tax, and managerial accounting courses.

  5. Mississippi College
    Location

    Clinton, MS

    MC's master of accountancy degree targets candidates interested in expanding their undergraduate accounting understanding. It is the first 100% online M.Acc. program in Mississippi. This 30-credit degree teaches advanced analytical skills.

    Requirements include federal tax accounting, auditing concepts and applications, accounting theory, and law and ethics. The program builds on undergraduate courses to equip participants for a CPA license.

    Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution (3.0 minimum GPA), and must submit official transcripts.

  6. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
    Location

    Edinburg, TX

    Tuition

    $4319

    The UTRGV master of accountancy — accelerated online program prepares students for jobs in business, government, and public accounting firms. The degree satisfies Texas State Board of Public Accountancy's requirements for the CPA exam. Candidates may pursue concentrations in auditing or taxation.

    Required courses for the 30-credit program include professional ethics, business law, and information technology.

    Admission requirements include GMAT scores, two recommendation letters, a letter of intent, and resume. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree (BBA accounting preferred), minimum 3.0 GPA.

  7. University of Missouri-Columbia
    Location

    Columbia, MO

    Tuition

    $17833

    Mizzou's 30-credit master of accountancy emphasizes professional development and career services. It trains candidates interested in taking the CPA exam, and those who wish to advance to leadership positions within their accounting careers.

    Coursework includes auditing, forensic accounting, taxation, and fraud examination. Participants may also complete a professional internship.

    Admission requirements include an undergraduate degree (3.0 minimum GPA), transcripts from previously attended colleges and universities, two recommendation letters, and an objectives statement.

  8. Syracuse University
    Location

    Syracuse, NY

    The master of science in professional accounting offered through Syracuse helps candidates advance within their accounting careers, or transition into finance roles. Graduates from the program communicate effectively, and obtained an understanding of accounting principles.

    Participants in the synchronous program study international accounting and reporting, taxes and business strategy, and auditing. The coursework prepares students to sit for the CPA exam. Live virtual class sizes are small, and available as a recording afterwards.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution (3.0 minimum GPA), essay, and GMAT/GRE score.

  9. Emporia State University
    Location

    Emporia, KS

    Tuition

    $13670

    The 30-credit master of accountancy program at ESU prepares candidates for public accounting careers, and leadership roles in internal auditing, forensic accounting, tax accounting, and controllership. The program meets the 150-hour requirement for the CPA exam.

    Studies focus on accounting theory, information systems, advanced auditing, and management accounting.

    Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with an accounting major or business (with accounting courses completed) from a regionally accredited institution (minimum 2.65 GPA), and official transcripts.

  10. Shorter University
    Location

    Rome, GA

    Shorter's master of accountancy degree is designed for individuals with an accounting undergraduate degree or equivalent. The program offers professional preparation for careers in accounting as well as providing educational credit toward the CPA exam.

    Coursework for the 30-credit curriculum includes advanced financial accounting, financial statement analysis, legal and ethical issues, and business analytics.

    Admission requirements include a minimum 2.5 GPA for the bachelor's degree, and a GMAT score of 450 (the GMAT may be waived in lieu of professional experience).

Best Online Programs

Online Master's in Accounting Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Online Master's in Accounting Programs

What Is an Online Master's in Accounting Degree?

Online master's in accounting programs provide busy students with a flexible option for earning their degree. These programs vary in length and course requirements, but all of them prepare students to sit for the CPA exam and work as professional accountants. Professionals with an established career in accounting, including those who hold a bachelor's in accounting, may choose to pursue a master's to increase their salary potential and/or take on leadership roles.

Students earning a master's in accounting online study topics in areas like business ethics, finance, leadership, and information management systems.

Choosing an Online Program

When researching online accounting master's programs, students should consider a variety of factors, such as delivery format. For instance, online learners should research whether prospective programs feature any on-campus requirements. They should also consider whether online programs offer asynchronous or synchronous courses. Other key considerations include tuition costs, course requirements, and program length. Learn more about how to choose a program through the link below.

What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Accounting Program?

Course offerings will vary across schools, meaning the exact curriculum of each online accounting master's program is different. That said, however, certain classes are likely to appear in most programs, as they make up an integral part of the knowledge and training needed in accounting.

Master's in Accounting Curriculum

  • Auditing: This class addresses basic concepts related to internal and external auditing, such as internal control, evidence collection, and ethical standards. Learners may be required to evaluate case studies and apply standards and procedures to conduct audits in the public and private sectors.
  • Fraud Examination: Covering common types of financial fraud, such as concealment and employee embezzlement, this course introduces methods of identifying and investigating corporate dishonesty. Prospective forensic accountants develop practical fraud detection and prevention skills, along with working knowledge of relevant legal procedures.
  • Government Accounting: Coursework explores financial issues related to government and nonprofit organizations, including budget reporting, program analysis, and tax levies. Students learn to prepare financial statements according to Governmental Accounting Standards Board regulations and perform government audits in compliance with national standards

Accounting Certifications and Licenses

Accountants who receive this certification qualify to perform a broad range of functions. CPAs may provide public accounting services, write government-sanctioned audit reports, represent clients before the IRS, and prepare taxes. Prospective CPAs need at least one year of relevant work experience before seeking licensure. Known as the gold standard of financial certifications, this designation is awarded to individuals who complete the CFA educational program and pass a three-part exam. Topics include portfolio investments, inputs, and financial analysis. Candidates must have at least a bachelor's degree and four years of professional experience in finance or investing.

Accounting Professional Organizations

The American Accounting Association seeks to advance scholarly research in the field. Along with educational resources and exclusive webinars, AAA members gain access to the organization's extensive digital library. Promoting professional excellence through certification and legal advocacy, this society offers its members resources that include insurance plans, tax preparation tools, and continuing education opportunities. Setting quality standards for CPAs in the U.S. and abroad, the AICPA has more than 418,000 members worldwide. Its Young CPA Network provides students with support, career assistance, and networking opportunities.

Careers in Accounting

An online master's in accounting degree provides graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to work in several capacities throughout the financial sector. While many students go on to become treasurers, auditors, or budget analysts, others work in law enforcement as forensic accountants. The positions listed below rank among the most popular with graduates.

$71,550 Accountants
Median BLS Salary (2020) $71,550
Projected Job Outlook (2019-2029) 6%

In addition to preparing and assessing clients' financial records, accountants maintain financial operations, oversee and inspect accounting systems, and complete tax returns. While most entry-level accounting positions require only a bachelor's degree, many employers prefer to hire candidates with a graduate degree.

$129,890 Financial Managers
Median BLS Salary (2020) $129,890
Projected Job Outlook (2019-2029) 16%

A financial manager's duties depend largely on their setting and industry; most focus on data analysis and cost reduction, while other professionals also prepare budgets, monitor cash flow, assess financial risks, and/or direct mergers and acquisitions. Employers typically prefer candidates with a graduate degree and industry certification.

$116,720 Human Resource Managers
Median BLS Salary (2020) $116,720
Projected Job Outlook (2019-2029) 7%
Recommended Degree

Human resource managers oversee the administrative functions of an organization, including hiring, benefits plan development, and other staffing issues. These workers serve as liaisons between an organization and its employees. Along with a master's degree, candidates for many high-level human resource management positions need extensive work experience in a related field.

Frequently Asked Questions

true How long does it take to complete a master's in accounting program?

Most online master's in accounting programs comprise 30-36 credits and take 1-2 years to complete.

What can I do with a master's in accounting?

Graduates can work in roles such as certified public accountant, auditor, or financial analyst. They can also pursue various careers in business.

Is a master's in accounting better than an MBA?

Both degrees prepare students to pursue advanced roles in business and finance. However, a master's of accounting serves as a more specialized accounting degree, whereas an MBA emphasizes various business concepts and skills.

What is an accountant?

Accountants manage and analyze financial records for businesses and individuals. They often assist in preparing taxes and help businesses and individuals make informed financial decisions.

What is a CPA?

A CPA, or certified public accountant, is an accountant with certification from a state accounting board. CPAs have passed their state's required exam and completed the required number of practice hours and college credits.

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