Online Graduate Accounting Programs

Online Accounting Graduate Programs are often tailored for accountants and busier students. Those who want to work towards CPA licensure or expand their current skill set to more closely align with new tax regulations. Far from one-dimensional, an online accounting graduate degree could be a dynamic program of study. Distance learners may refine their niche in areas such as auditing, forensic accounting, and management.

Online Accounting Graduate Programs Online Accounting Graduate Programs: An Overview

Numerous colleges and universities maintain accredited online Accounting Masters Programs. These are often for those interested in graduate level accounting education. Students could choose from a range of online Masters in Accounting programs. These include PhD and DBA in Accounting degrees, or certificates. At any of these levels, online accounting courses may be supplemented by independent research. This is especially true at the doctoral level, internship(s), and academic writing. Those who focus on business administration programs could also expect to study managerial processes and business strategy. Many online master of accounting programs may be built for experienced accountants. There may also be online learning programs suited for non accounting majors. These may introduce online students to preliminary classes. This is often in order to bring them up to speed before continuing into a graduate curriculum.
DID YOU KNOW? According to the BLS, job applicants who have a master’s degree in accounting or a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in accounting also may have an advantage.

CPA Requirements

One of the main reasons that students might consider working towards an online accounting graduate degree may be to prepare to take – and successfully pass – their state CPA exam. Many states require aspiring Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) to complete at least 150 semester hours of study. This is to become licensed. Students generally get credit for 120 hours via a traditional bachelors in accounting degree program. To earn the required 150 hours, some schools may offer the option of a combined 5-year bachelor’s and Master’s degree program. Otherwise, students could pursue a Masters in Accounting on its own (usually 30 credits +). Or through an online MAcc Bridge program. This is one example of an online masters in accounting for non-accounting majors. The latter are typically planned out for students with an approved bachelors degree in a business field other than accounting. So, not to be daunted if you are someone who aspires to pursue an advanced career in corporate or public accounting and lack some of the prerequisites.

Types of Online Accounting Graduate Degrees

The important thing to understand about online Accounting Graduate programs is there are often multiple opportunities that may meet distinct student goals. Students should thus identify their aims and reflect on how the completion of each degree might aid them in meeting those aspirations.

8 Things to Think About

  1. If my goal is CPA licensure, does the program meet eligibility requirements in my residential state?
  2. Is the program 100% online, or are there some on-campus or on-site degree requirements?
  3. Do distance learners have access to the same networking experiences as campus peers?
  4. Does the program’s curriculum include CPA exam preparation?
  5. How convenient is the schedule? Are there flexible options, such as part-time versus full-time study?
  6. Is the program accredited, and by which agency? Three national agencies that accredit accounting graduate programs are the AACSB, ACBSP and IACBE
  7. Does the university offer the concentration I am interested in?
  8. Would the type of research I want to conduct be possible through this university?
A review of each type of online accounting graduate degree is given below as a guideline but the ideal window into a course plan is that provided by the schools on your list. However, here is a list of some common courses in an Masters in Accounting Program:

Advanced Auditing:

This course often goes beyond basic auditing and accounting principles. Topics may include financial statement analysis and ethical concerns for auditors. This course may look at government accounting and data analytics.

International Accounting:

This course aims to look at global accounting. It may cover issues with taxation, financial and managerial accounting on an international level. This is often an advanced accounting option for management accounting.

Business Law:

This course often looks at how legal issues regulations are studied in a business context. Decision making and interpretation may be key parts of this course. The course may look at contracts, tort, and employment law. Tax law is also often a part of this course. Governmental accounting may be a topic.

Tax Research Methodology:

This course aims to look into federal tax research for those with an accounting concentration. The rules and procedures for being a client representative may be covered.

Online Masters in Accounting

Through an online Masters in Accounting program, accounting and non accounting majors alike could study to build skills. They may also get knowledge in preparation for CPA licensure. Students who decide to pursue a Masters in Accounting online could gain a deeper grasp of theories, laws, and regulations. They may also learn how to apply these concepts in everyday business situations. Online Master of Accountancy (MAcc) and Master of Science in Accounting programs (MS) generally admit students with undergraduate degrees in accounting or a related field. The Master of Business Administration in Accounting (MBA) and the Master of Professional Accounting (MPAc) programs may enroll candidates from a wider array of undergraduate majors.

Online Master of Accountancy (MAcc)

Many online MAcc programs may be 30-credits. This is often in order to prepare students to pursue their CPA credentials. It may be completed roughly within from 10 months (full-time) to 20 months (part-time). Typically, online master of science in accountancy students could study to gain a holistic grasp of financial management, economics, and financial reporting. Auditing, taxation and regulation, and ethics in accounting may also be topics. Participants might also learn how to apply advanced communication skills to accounting-related situations. This could include client care. Electives, which sometimes equal about 4 courses, may allow students to tailor studies. This could be in areas such as advanced auditing, advanced taxation, occupational fraud, and abuse. An applied accounting research capstone could enable students to build key research and presentation skills. These may be in accounting, auditing, and tax.

Online Master of Science in Accounting

An online Master of Science in Accounting(MSA) is like the MAcc degree. It usually readies graduates with skill. These may be in tandem with elective courses and a concentration to meet a student’s interests and goals. Often between 30 and 36 credits, some MSA programs may be built for BS in Accounting students. Students who pursue a MSA degree online might culminate their program with an advanced review of concepts. These topics are typically included on the Uniform CPA Exam. Graduates may thus be eligible to sit for professional certification examinations. These could include the Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA®), and Certified Management Accountant (CMA®) examinations. Potential MSA Concentrations Online MSA students often choose to refine their knowledge on a specific area. This may come about through prior work experience or to help problem solve in the workplace. The list below could provide potential students a reference point for thinking about areas of particular interest within the field of accounting. Then seek out schools with online Accounting Graduate Programs they could compare.
  • Online MS in Accounting – Auditing
Do you want to take a deeper look at auditing procedures, internal controls and forensic accounting concepts? Study concepts such as fraud examination and how to look for mismanagement of funds. A focus in auditing could add coursework such as methods to obtain evidence and interview subjects. One might also learn how to apply preventive, detective, and investigative strategies to identify the causes of fraud and ways to identify and manage risks.
  • Online MS in Accounting and Taxation
A MSAT degree program could provide students with extra focus on the concepts, processes, and information sources relevant to tax research, including the Internal Revenue Code, treasury regulations, and federal and state tax cases. Students might examine more deeply the United States income tax on foreign earned income and the taxation methods of other countries. Other potential topics could include federal estate and gift taxes, and the impact of income tax, interstate succession, wills, gifts, marital property, and more.
  • Online MS in Accounting – Finance
A focus in financial and assurances could help graduate accounting students research methods used to assess how accounting information impacts business and managerial decisions. Participants might explore the organic nature of risks and how to manage them as well as accounting control systems. Further topics might cover the relationship between international accounting, global business, and investment decisions such as the influences of culture, politics and economics. Students might also study financial reporting and analysis as well as advanced auditing.
  • Online MS in Accounting Government
Do you want to study the financial and managerial accounting concepts pertinent to the planning and administration of public, quasi public, and nonprofit organizations? A focus in government could familiarize students with ways to maintain and examine the records of government agencies. Topics of study could cover the development, design, and implementation of accounting information systems with an emphasis on internal controls, government regulations and taxation. Participants might also learn how to design and assess internal control systems and may build a solid grasp of risk assessment and management.

Online Master of Science in Taxation

An online MS in Taxation could provide a highly-focused taxation curriculum to ready graduates for the complexities of old and new regulations. Some MST programs may be built for currently licensed CPAs or students with an undergraduate accounting degree who want to meet the 150-hour requirement for CPA licensing in their state. Participants might enroll in a MST program to expand their grasp of tax issues that relate to financial institutions, financial products, employee compensation, real and intellectual property, and the practice of the tax professional. Masters in Accounting vs Masters in Taxation? Distinct from the MSAT degree, a Masters in Taxation could immerse participants in tax research and the key concepts, rules and practices in income taxation for individuals, corporations and partnerships, as well as excise tax on estates and goods.

Online MBA in Accounting

An online MBA in Accounting could provide a course plan that helps students develop a foundational grasp of managerial processes and may ready graduates to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and/or the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exams. That stated, this is something to verify with the schools you are considering. There are also MBA programs that may focus on areas such as Financial Crime and Compliance Management and Economic Crime and Fraud Management. The latter may prepare students to take the CFE exam with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), so again it is all about goals. In the core MBA business courses, students might learn ways to oversee all the functional areas of an organization. As well, how to take the lead and responsibility for the strategic direction of companies or specific business units within operations, sales, marketing, human resources, and administration. MSA vs MBA? Courses in an online MBA program could cover similar topics to those in an MSA program – auditing and assurance, financial accounting, taxation for business and financial management. The primary distinction between an MBA and an MSA may be breadth versus depth. An online MBA degree often offers a broader view of business management whereas an MSA degree program could help an individual enhance expertise in one functional area of accounting.

Online PhD in Accounting

An online PhD in Accounting is often a research doctorate – usually in business administration – with focused accounting courses and directed inquiry. Students who choose to pursue a PhD in accounting online may aspire to teach, consult or lead in businesses rather than prepare to take the CPA or other credentialing exams. For this reason, applicants may already have a Masters degree. A PhD curriculum might hone in on topics such as ethics, global operations, accounting technology, academic writing, research, and might foster a systems thinking approach. Coursework is typically designed for the student to do research, determine the topic of their dissertation, and incorporate credited courses that are relevant on dissertation research.

What Is a DBA in Accounting?

A Doctor of Business Administration is often a practitioner doctorate and may be designed for experienced professionals who want to gain deeper business knowledge. Through a focus in accounting and applied research, students might fine tune managerial accounting methods that are essential to a company’s bottom line. DBA research often asks students to problem solve rather than come up with new theory (PhD).

Online Accounting Graduate Certificate

An online Certificate in Accounting Program (CAP) could be intended for persons who have a non accounting Bachelors degree and want to pursue an accounting career, but do not want the commitment of a second degree.

Accounting Certificate vs Masters?

Since a certificate could entail fewer than 30 credit hours, students may need to make up the rest of the credits through additional business courses and/or prerequisites to sit for a CPA exam.

Why Pursue an Accounting Grad Degree Online?

There is no ‘one’ format for online Accounting Graduate Programs. In some cases, students may take synchronous evening courses through a virtual classroom. In other schools, the program may be designed with no set log ins. This flexibility could suit at work professionals, students who live far from campus, and those who are both self motivated and organized, with excellent time management skills. When choosing a program consider a few factors before doing so. Does the program require the GRE or the GMAT? Is their financial aid available for this program? What accreditation process was used for this master’s program? Is a minimum GPA required? Do they offer open enrollment or have multiple start dates? Is the graduate school you are looking for provide classes for a financial analyst or financial manager.

Top Online Accounting Programs by Graduate 2019

We ranked our top 25 colleges with accounting degree programs. Our methodologies use data from the NCES based on 2019 graduates from the programs.
School NameAcceptance Rate (%)Number of GraduatesPrograms OfferedFinancial Aid Information
Southern New Hampshire University88357MS in Accounting, MS in Accounting Finance, MS in Taxation, MS in Management Accounting, MS in Auditing, MS in Forensic Accounting71% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $10,243. 65% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,482
The University of Texas at Dallas79326MS in Accounting71% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $16,263. 26% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $4,951
University of Phoenix-Arizona100288MBA in Accounting75% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $5,697. 78% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $7,274
The University of Texas at Austin32285MPA, PhD46% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $10,724. 38% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $3,908
CUNY Bernard M Baruch College44268MS in Accountancy74% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $9,657. 5% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $4,412
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill23235Master of Accounting44% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $16,394. 25% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $4,312
University of Houston65192MS in Accountancy78% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $9,677. 33% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $4,951
Western Governors University100192MS in Accounting43% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $5,369. 61% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,899
Liberty University51190MS in Accounting92% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $11,369. 56% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,489
Florida Atlantic University63189Mastetrs in Accounting Information Systems, Masters in Forensic Accounting, Masters in Tax70% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $10,878. 34% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,070
DeVry University-Illinois96171Masters in Accounting, masters in Accounting and Financial Management, MBA in Accounting, MBA in Finance97% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $5,829. 93% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $7,649
University of Missouri-Columbia81161Masters in Accountancy79% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $11,457. 42% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,410
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus76159Master of Accounting, Master of Professional Accounting50% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $8,676. 51% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,341
Rutgers University-Newark72156MACC in Financial Accounting, MACC in Governmental Accounting, MACC in Professional Accounting, MACC in Taxation74% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $14,304. 46% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,049
Binghamton University41150Masters in Accounting58% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $9,398. 49% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,499
Colorado State University-Global Campus99148Master in Professional Accounting, Master in Finance32% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $3,682. 41% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $7,338
Tulane University of Louisiana13142Master of Accounting76% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $32,275.26 % of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,296
University of Georgia45142Master of Accountancy95% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $11,001.29 % of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,255
University of Utah62142Master of Accountancy76% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $8,314. 27% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $8,021
Fordham University46141MS in Accounting90% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $30,636. 52% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,290
New York University16136MS in Accounting46% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $33,694. 29% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,180
University of California-Irvine27136Master of Professional Accountancy57% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $18,934. 32% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $4,706
University of Massachusetts-Amherst64135MS in Accounting82% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $9,517. 52% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,345
Michigan State University71130MS in Accounting51% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $12,200. 41% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,117
Texas A & M University-College Station58130MS in Accounting58% of students are awarded grants or scholarships on average of $10,984. 29% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,030

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