Pursue Masters in Accounting Online Programs

Earning a masters in accounting online degree could be a convenient way to further develop your understanding of accounting leadership techniques. As part of the online program, you could become familiar with methods to manage a business’ accounting initiatives. You might take courses in international accounting, auditing, and financial ethics. Programs may also cover ways to lead a team of your peers and guide them towards certain financial goals.

Why earn a masters degree in Accounting?

Through these and other classes, the masters in accounting online program may potentially help you prepare for the certified public accountant exam. As you study for the test, you could come to further understand vital topics to help bolster a company and your team.

Online Masters in Accounting Programs: The Basics

Online masters in accounting programs are graduate level professional degree programs that combine business management and advanced accounting subjects. Classes in these programs are delivered through an online platform and may spend a large portion of their time teaching managerial techniques to guide accounting practices. In addition to this, they may expand upon your previous accounting knowledge with more advanced accounting methods. This knowledge could be applied to larger organizations, or even global ones. It may also be useful in preparing for the certified public accountant (CPA) exams.

There are several types of programs that offer masters in accounting online degrees. Despite some slight variations in titles, each offers comparable curriculum. During your search, keep your eye out for the following masters program offerings.

  • Masters of Science in Professional Accountancy (MSPA)
  • Master of Accountancy (MAcc)
  • Master of Business in Accounting (MBA)

You may notice that some online masters in accounting programs are offered as masters of business administration (MBA) concentration. These courses may cover the same accounting material, but also supplement the curriculum with more business courses. These are often called “accounting specialization” programs.

Available programs may vary by school. Check with an admissions counselor for more information about the exact programs offered.

Why Earn Your Masters in Accounting Degree Online?

Online masters in accounting programs may closely mirror their traditional campus counterparts. The courses’ reliance on textbook knowledge and accounting software could make the curriculum easily transferrable to the digital classroom. Therefore, you could have access to the same programs that you would use in the classroom on your home computer.

And, earning a masters in accounting online degree could be a convenient way to add education to your daily routine. For example, you could log into your online classes as your time permits. That way, you could complete coursework when convenient and not just when a class is scheduled. Not to mention, the online classroom eliminates a commute to campus. This could save you valuable time during your day to spend on other tasks. This might be a great option for students who are simultaneously working while earning their degree.

Campus Seminars

It’s important to note that while the majority of your classes could be completed online, some online accounting masters programs may require students to visit campus once per semester. By requiring only one campus visit a semester, the hope is that students could fit this into a convenient time in their schedule.

Campus classes usually take the form of a short seminar. The course could cover a specific accounting topic that may not be covered in more general accounting classes, such as non-profit accounting. Since the coursework is more concise, the class length is typically shorter than other courses. The seminar could be offered for one day to two weeks.

The day long seminars may be offered on the weekend. This way, students who work could possibly travel to campus on their day off. The longer sessions tend to be scheduled during the winter or summer breaks, so that students may be able to take time off from work to visit campus.

By throwing in a bit of the campus experience, students could have a chance to interact with their peers and professors. Building report with your classmates could be your first step to creating professional contacts. Especially since many of them may go on to pursue careers in accounting as well.

Likewise, having face-to-face time with your professors could also be a valuable resource. Many professors are also industry professionals. During your seminar (or even in your online classes), you could have the chance to pick their brain about the accounting field.

Online Accounting vs. Finance Degrees

You may find that many schools offer both accounting and finance degrees separately. While both masters programs handle the monetary side of a business, how they interact with it is different.

Finance classes deal with methods to distribute a business' assets. This could include budgeting and investing. The methods in these courses could help ensure that companies have enough money to function, as well as some to help them continue to grow.

Accounting happens after finance steps in. It ensures that a company has met its budget and has complied with the appropriate rules and regulations. In short, accounting checks to see if anyone was overspending or doing something illegal. Think embezzlement or off-shore accounts. On the flip side, accounting may also be able to see if certain departments required less funds. In that case, they could inform the finance department of additional funds they could allocate.  

As you may see, instead of being the same degree, these two fields actually feed into each other. So, while you may come to understand the processes of finance in your online masters in accounting, your core curriculum could be vastly different.

Potential Online Masters in Accounting Program Curriculum

Masters in accounting online program classes teach management techniques to direct and support a business’s financial matters. In short, classes develop students’ understanding of financial rules and regulations. And, they also cover how to ensure that businesses are compliant with those guidelines. Topics in these courses may include ethics, financial reporting, and international accounting laws.

As part of masters in accounting online programs, you could have the chance to take some of the following courses.

  • Auditing
  • International Accounting
  • Managerial Economics
  • Financial Management
  • Accounting Ethics
  • Financial Reporting

These are only a few examples of potential classes. Course offerings may vary by school or semester. Contact potential programs for an up-to-date course guide.

These classes usually equal around 30 credit hours. Roughly, you could earn a masters in accounting online degree in 1 to 2 years depending on enrollment. Online program length may differ between schools. Admissions representatives may be able to provide more details about specific program timelines.

Studying Online for the CPA Exam

Many masters in accounting online programs focus their curriculum in a way to hit the main points of the certified public account (CPA) exam. The knowledge covered in courses within these programs generally reflect what could be tested. For example, the CPA may test the following accounting topics.

  • Auditing and Attestation
  • Business Environment and Concepts
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Regulation

Before you may be permitted to take the CPA, some states might ask you to complete 150 hours of accounting education. Your online masters in accounting classes could be put toward that time requirement. By doing so, you could study and potentially fulfill pre-requisite criteria at the same time.

After passing the exams, you may be able to pursue a career as a CPA. These roles generally oversee other public accountants and help ensure a business meets their financial goals. CPAs may be valuable member of a team because they are also able to sign and submit necessary documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission.i

Be aware the CPA certification requirements may vary from state to state and not all programs may help prepare you for the exam. Check your specific areas requirements prior to completing the CPA exam.

Masters in Accounting Online Program Admissions

To apply to an online masters in accounting program, many schools require applicants to already hold a bachelors in accounting degree. Courses in these programs often deal with advanced accounting topics that use the bachelor’s curriculum as a foundation. Schools may also ask perspective students to submit a 2.75 to 3.0 undergraduate GPA and require GRE or GMAT scores.

This doesn’t mean that students who have not earned a bachelors in accounting degree are unable to apply. In these cases, you may be required to submit additional materials to demonstrate why you want to attend a certain masters in accounting online program. This could include providing letters of intent, recommendations, or professional resumes.

These materials are then usually given to the head of the department. They may be placed in charge of determining if you’re ready to jump into the program. They may also request an interview to further assess your aptitude. Online students may be able to complete this portion via video conference. 

Students who are accepted this way may be required to take remedial accounting courses prior to taking required courses. By doing so, you could study the fundamentals necessary to understand the more advanced accounting topics.

Admissions criteria vary from program to program. For specific admissions details, contact a counselor from potential programs.

Accredited Online Masters in Accounting Programs

When looking for masters in accounting online programs, you may want to consider programs that are accredited by the Associations to Advance Collegiate Business (AACSB). Typically, the AACSB accredits general business programs. In fact, you might see online MBAs with an accounting specialization accredit by them. But, the AACSB also offers a specific accreditation for accounting programs.  

By becoming accredited by the AACSB, online programs may demonstrate that they update their coursework to reflect current accounting practices. This could include incorporating new financial techniques into their curriculum. Or, it could mean acquiring new accounting software. Either way, it means the classes are trying to keep their students at the cutting-edge of the industry.

In order to remain accredited, programs may have to go through a yearly evaluation. During this process, they might be asked to submit current work materials, syllabi, and curriculum outlines. In addition, the AACSB might send a representative to visit certain classes for a first-hand view of the school’s teaching practices.

Besides specific business and accounting accreditation, online programs in general may be accredited. In these cases, accrediting agencies look at how the online programs are presented and how intuitive and helpful they are for students. These accreditations may vary by region or state.

Accreditation may vary from program to program. For more information about a school’s status, speak with an admissions counselor.

What Careers Could You Pursue with an Online Masters in Accounting Degree?

Students who earn a masters in accounting online degree typically go on to pursue careers as an accountant. Accountants could have the chance to work in a number of different fields. For example, you could pursue a career as some of the following types of accountants.  

  • Public Accountant
  • Management Accountant
  • Government Accountant

People in these positions may be tasked with ensuring that a company adheres to their budgets, as well as laws and regulations. As part of these responsibilities, they may have to complete the following.

  • Ensure finances comply with laws and regulations
  • Compute and pay taxes
  • Assess current financial operations
  • Suggest enhancements to current accounting procedures
  • Research ways to reduce costsii

Some employers may require that entry-level applicants have already earned a bachelors in accounting or a related field. For others, additional certifications may be required such as becoming a certified public accountant (CPA).iii Earning a masters in accounting online degree may be a great way to study and prepare for the CPA exam prior to applying for these positions.

Students looking to pursue this career may find the amount of available positions are currently on the rise. Accounting positions are projected to grow by 11% from 2014 to 2024. This projected increase is faster than the national average. In 2016, people within these roles earned a median salary of $68,150. iv

Pursuing a Perfect Masters in Accounting Program Online

Using this information as a guide, you might be ready to start your hunt for a perfect masters in accounting online program. For your next step, browse the list of programs on this page. To hear more about a particular program, click its link. This could provide with a brief description about the program and its course offerings.

While you’re there, you could also request more information. This way, the school could provide you with specific details like admissions deadlines, faculty bios, and more. It might also be a great way to start speaking with the admissions team directly. They may be able to help guide you to your perfect masters in accounting online program!


[i] bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-2 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-2 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-4 | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-1

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