Best Online MBA in Accounting 2021

by Genevieve Carlton

Updated September 2, 2021

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An online MBA in accounting offers graduate-level management and accounting training in a flexible format.

An MBA degree emphasizes business problem-solving, strategic management, and organizational leadership. By adding an accounting concentration, graduate students prepare for advanced accounting roles. The availability of online MBA accounting programs makes it easier than ever to earn a graduate degree.

The best online MBA programs prioritize accessibility and flexibility. Distance learners often continue working while earning degrees to advance their careers. Our ranking lists the best MBA in accounting programs for 2021.

Featured Online MBA in Accounting Programs

The Best Online MBA in Accounting Programs

  1. Penn State World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $21678

    Since 1998, Penn State World Campus has used quality educational practices to build its online student enrollment to more than 20,000.

    Penn State World Campus' online master of business administration with a concentration in advanced accounting provides the educational resources from the Smeal College of Business to professional accounting students. This 48-credit MBA in accounting features an interdisciplinary curriculum that exposes students to the full spectrum of business and accounting topics.

    Applicants must submit a completed online application, official transcripts from a regionally accredited U.S. institution, GMAT or GRE results, a resume, two references, and an essay.

  2. University of Maryland-College Park
    Location

    College Park, MD

    Tuition

    $16790

    In 1856, the Maryland General Assembly established the University of Maryland as a state agricultural school. This university has grown to over 40,700.

    UMD offers an online master of business administration with a concentration in accounting that focuses on managerial accounting skills for supporting asset management and business strategy development. As part of the Robert H. Smith School of Business, the program's curriculum features courses such as executive powers of negotiation, corporate finance, and entrepreneurship.

    Prospective students must submit official transcripts, a resume, GMAT or GRE results, a 300-word essay, and a copy of a bachelor's degree diploma.

  3. Florida Atlantic University
    Location

    Boca Raton, FL

    Tuition

    $9486

    Founded in 1961, Florida Atlantic University ranks as a top university by U.S. News and World Report. It has over 30,000 enrolled students.

    The online master of business administration with a concentration in accounting at FAU operates 100% online with an asynchronous class structure. With no residency requirement, the curriculum features the same highly qualified professors in the on-campus programs.

    Aspiring students must submit official transcripts from each college or university, GMAT or GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and personal statements.

  4. University of the Southwest
    Location

    Hobbs, NM

    The University of the Southwest originally started as Hobbs Baptist College in 1956. Over the years, it grew from a two-year college to a full-scale university.

    USW offers a master of business administration with a specialty in accounting for students seeking certification as a CPA and an accounting career. Since it's delivered 100% online, students can complete this degree as soon as 12 months. Also, this master's in accounting program is open to students with a non-business degree.

    Applicants must prove a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, a minimum 3.0 GPA, a 500-word personal essay, and a professional resume.

  5. Syracuse University
    Location

    Syracuse, NY

    Established in 1870, Syracuse University offered the first online school. Women were also among the school's earliest students.

    The online master of business administration degree at Syracuse offers an accounting specialization that covers global economics, financial markets, and business strategy. As part of a top nationally ranked online MBA program, this 54-credit accounting degree requires as little as two years to complete.

    Program candidates must submit official transcripts from all institutions attended, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal essay. GRE or GMAT scores are required for candidates with less than five years of work experience.

  6. Pittsburg State University
    Location

    Pittsburg, KS

    Tuition

    $13906

    Pittsburg State University opened its doors to 54 students in 1903. Today, around 6,400 students attend on-campus or online.

    Pitt State's master of business administration in accounting prepares students for the Uniform CPA Examination. Along with expanding their accounting knowledge, students can acquire a broader understanding of finance and management through the core curriculum. This low-cost, 30-credit MBA in accounting has a possible completion time of one year.

    Prospective students must provide official transcripts showing a 2.7 GPA in undergraduate work and a resume demonstrating three years of significant managerial experience.

  7. Eastern Illinois University
    Location

    Charleston, IL

    Tuition

    $13168

    Founded in 1895, Eastern Illinois University ranks as U.S. News & World Report's top independent public regional university in Illinois. It has more than 7,400 enrolled students.

    EIU offers a master of business administration with an accountancy concentration for students with a bachelor's in accounting. Featuring a fully online format with an asynchronous class structure, this MBA program helps students qualify to take the Certified Public Accountant examination. Students also benefit from expert instruction from doctorally qualified faculty members.

    Prospective students must submit a completed online application, official transcripts from all institutions attended, and GMAT or GRE scores.

  8. University of Dallas
    Location

    Irving, TX

    The University of Dallas has operated as a Catholic, liberal arts university since 1956. It currently has nearly 2,500 students enrolled.

    UD's master of business administration with a concentration in accounting expands students' accounting knowledge while preparing them to sit for the CPA exam. Designed for working professionals, this MBA in accounting has a possible completion time of two to three years.

    Applicants must provide unofficial transcripts, a current resume, GMAT or GRE scores, and a completed online application.

  9. Union University
    Location

    Jackson, TN

    Founded in 1823, Union University consistently ranks as a U.S. News and World Report top-tier national university. More than 3,000 students presently attend this university.

    Union University offers an online master of business administration with a concentration in accounting for students with career advancement ambitions. Along with CPA exam preparation, this nationally ranked online MBA in accounting grooms students for managerial positions with courses such as analytical managerial accounting, operations management, and managerial finance.

    Potential students must provide a completed online application, official transcripts from previous institutions, an official GMAT or GRE score, and a resume.

  10. Saint Francis University
    Location

    Loretto, PA

    In a forest in Loretto, Pennsylvania, six friars from Ireland established a school in 1847. It would eventually become Saint Francis University, which now enrolls nearly 2,200 students.

    SFU's 100% online master of business administration with a concentration in accounting offers students the flexibility to attend online, on campus, or both. Students learn from highly credentialed professors with real-world experience. Plus, this MBA program provides a professional immersion with internships, business clubs, and networking.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts of all post-secondary schools and a completed online application.

Best Online Programs

Online MBA 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.

What Is an Online MBA in Accounting?

An online MBA program builds strong financial, analytical, and decision-making skills. Accountants also strengthen their leadership and management abilities to prepare for careers as CPAs, accounting managers, and accounting directors.

Most MBA programs take 1-2 years to complete. During that time, MBA students complete business and accounting classes. MBA programs also incorporate hands-on learning components, such as group projects and internships, to provide career-ready skills for graduates.

Earning an MBA can cost tens of thousands of dollars. However, many of the most affordable online MBA programs offer tuition discounts and financial aid for distance learners.

Why Enroll in an MBA in Accounting Program

An MBA in accounting provides focused training in business decision-making for accounting professionals. Other common MBA specializations, like healthcare management, project management, and financial management, lead to different career paths.

MBA programs often prefer applicants with professional experience. However, students can also enter business school directly after completing their undergraduate degrees. Many MBA in accounting students follow one of the following paths to their degree:

  • Recent College Graduates: These students enter graduate school within a year of earning their bachelor's degrees.
  • Professionals With Under Five Years of Experience: Many MBA students gain work experience before entering business school.
  • Professionals With More Than Five Years of Experience: These applicants often bring clear career goals to their programs.

Individuals with 10-15 years of professional experience often pursue executive MBAs.

What Is the Difference Between an MBA in Accounting and a Master's in Accounting?

An MBA in accounting and a master's in accounting both prepare graduates for advanced roles in the accounting field. However, an MBA offers a broader focus on management and leadership skills. The following information highlights some of the similarities and differences between the two graduate degrees.

MBA in Accounting

  • Typically takes 1-2 years and requires 33-36 credits
  • Offers business and management courses in addition to accounting classes
  • Often meets the requirements for a CPA license
  • Admits students with a background in business, such as an associate in business administration or a bachelor's in business administration
  • May require prerequisite courses in management, finance, and accounting
  • Prepares graduates for careers in business and accounting, including as a CPA, financial manager, or accounting manager

Master's in Accounting

  • Typically takes 1-2 years and requires 30-36 credits
  • Focuses on accounting courses with less emphasis on management
  • Almost always meets the requirements for a CPA license
  • Typically requires an undergraduate degree in accounting or a closely related field, including business administration
  • Generally requires prerequisite courses in financial accounting, management accounting, and auditing
  • Prepares graduates for careers in accounting, particularly as a CPA, accounting manager, or auditing manager

What Can I Expect in an Online MBA in Accounting Program?

MBA programs train graduate students in business analytics, strategic decision-making, and organizational leadership. In an accounting concentration, MBA students also study advanced financial reporting, public accounting, and auditing. Successful online MBA students bring initiative, organization, and discipline to their degrees.

During an online MBA in accounting, degree-seekers complete coursework, group projects, exams, and assignments. MBA courses emphasize practical skills with immediate applications in the workforce. Many programs offer electives to further specialize the degree. MBA students often complete internships to strengthen their real-world skills, as well.

Earning an online MBA degree typically takes two years. Some programs offer accelerated one-year MBA degrees, and others feature part-time MBAs. Depending on the program, learners may enroll in synchronous or asynchronous courses. Before enrolling, prospective MBA students should learn more about the degree and consider ways to increase their chances of success.

Common Courses

During an online MBA in accounting program, graduate students take classes in business, leadership, management, and accounting. Common online MBA accounting courses include:

  • Financial management
  • Accounting theory
  • Business finance and accounting
  • Strategic management and decision-making
  • Auditing concepts
  • Advanced public accounting

Choosing an Online MBA in Accounting Program

When evaluating online MBA accounting programs, prospective applicants should consider several factors. For many students, cost, program length, and learning format rank as the most important considerations. However, MBA students should also research specialization options, internship opportunities, and whether they can apply MBA credits toward CPA requirements.

The cost of an MBA program continues to rise. However, MBA scholarships and other forms of financial aid can make expensive programs more affordable. Before submitting an MBA application, applicants should research online student services, the program's placement record, and the graduation rate.

Accreditation for Online MBA in Accounting Degrees

Prospective applicants should always pursue accredited schools and accredited MBA programs. Accredited programs meet the highest standards for educating students.

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the International Accreditation Council for Business Education, and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Program grant accreditation to MBA programs.

Accounting Careers and Salaries

An MBA prepares accountants for many career paths. The degree meets CPA licensure requirements, allowing licensees to unlock higher salaries. With an MBA, an accountant can also move into supervisory roles as an accounting manager or director of accounting. At the executive level, professionals with MBAs in accounting work as chief financial officers.

MBA salaries vary depending on the career path, business school, and location. The following information introduces common career paths for professionals with MBAs in accounting.

MBA in Accounting Career Path Outlook
Career Median Annual Salary (2020) Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)
Chief Executives $185,950 4%
Top Executives $107,680 4%
Management Analysts $87,660 11%
Accountants and Auditors $73,560 4%
Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics

Accounting Professional Organizations

ICPA represents certified public accountants. The association offers scholarships, education resources, and advice for students who want to become CPAs.

Founded in 1916, AAA represents accountants in academia. The association provides information on academic careers in accounting, publishes research in the field, and promotes collaboration and innovation.

This professional organization for management accountants offers several certifications, including the certified management accountant credential. Members also benefit from its education center, career resources, and publications.

FWA advocates for women in the accounting and finance field. The alliance offers networking, mentorship, and leadership opportunities to advocate for professional growth.

NABA advocates for Black professionals in accounting, finance, and business. The association offers career resources, educational tools, and campus student chapters to connect Black accounting students.

Common Questions About Accounting MBAs

Is an MBA Good for Accountants?

Yes. An MBA helps accountants qualify for the CPA exam and strengthen their management skills. With an MBA, accountants move into decision-making and supervisory roles.

How Much Do MBA Accountants Make?

According to June 2021 PayScale data, professionals with an MBA in accounting earn an average salary of over $92,000 per year.

Are Online MBAs Respected?

Yes. Accredited online MBA accounting programs meet the same standards as in-person programs and prepare graduates for career advancement.

What Can I Do With an MBA in Accounting?

Graduates with an MBAs in accounting can work as CPAs, accounting managers, executives, and management analysts. The degree also prepares accountants for entrepreneurial roles.

Portrait of Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University. After earning her doctorate in early modern European history, Carlton worked as an assistant professor of history at the University of Louisville, where she developed new courses on the history of science, Renaissance Italy, and the witch trials. Carlton has published five peer-reviewed articles in top presses and a monograph with the University of Chicago Press. She also earned tenure with a unanimous vote before relocating to Seattle. Learn more about Carlton's work at genevievecarlton.com.

Header Image Credit: Georgijevic | Getty Images

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