Best Accounting Graduate Programs & Schools: Masters & PhDs in California
What are Accounting Graduate Programs?
Accounting graduate programs may give students the knowledge and skills for the CPA exam. They may extend studies to include applied research and direction in leadership. The wide range of acct grad degrees offers room to select a program that lines up with an accounting career. Job areas may be tax accounting or financial accounting. Other areas include internal auditor, fraud and forensic accounting or business administration.
Students could look for Accounting Grad Programs at all levels. These include a Certificate to Masters in Accounting and Accounting Ph.D. programs. Graduate accounting programs often feature independent study. They may have internship experiences with accounting firms. They may cover topics in tax regulations. Consider the length of the program in your decision making.
There are many more career options to think of with advanced degrees. Look at data analytics, financial management, and financial analyst. Public accounting and accounting information systems are also jobs to look at.
Prospective acct grad students should identify their accounting career goals. Know how the completion of each accounting grad degree might aid them to reach goals. A review of each type is given below.
How to Choose a Master’s in Accounting?
A Masters in Accounting program often includes a blend of core courses and electives. This is to prepare for CPA licensing. Some acct grad schools also allow students to tailor graduate level studies. This is through an added area of emphasis. These include finance or taxation. These may be referred to as “tracks” or “concentrations.” Finding the right one to meet your needs is key. To be able to have success and to learn what you need research the schools. Look at all the options and compare. Use different schools and programs to see what is best.
Popular Schools with Accounting Degrees in California
Internships and Research
Students in some programs might need to complete an internship. These are made to gather real world experience. they also engage with course work. They may be mandatory for CPA licensure. Other possible assignments could involve a capstone project or research thesis. These vary based on the type of Accounting Masters program. Look to see what is needed to complete the program chosen. See how it fits with your goals and make sure you are able to complete it.
written by Rana Waxman
Credits and Courses
The total number of courses or credits required for graduation varies. Each school and program has its own. The number generally falls between 30 and 60 credit hours. Some programs accept students who do not have a Bachelor’s degree in accounting. These schools may tend to include more courses and prerequisites. Applicants with previously earned accounting degrees might expect less time to complete. This may be about one year or less of study.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), throughout a masters degree program, students undertake dedicated courses. These help to deepen their knowledge and develop relevant skills. Below is a list of some of the classes graduate students could expect to take.
- Advanced Managerial Acct: Has a strong emphasis on data analysis. A managerial accounting course could help students learn to use cost information. They also learn to plan out and control business activities.
- Advanced Business Law: Students could learn how to create and analyze contracts. They may also navigate securities regulations.
- Advanced Financial Accounting: Students might delve into business consolidations and foreign currency transactions. Translation of foreign currency financial statements.
- Tax Strategy: Participants may learn current tax system regulations. They may study the research software and strategic methods used for tax preparation
DID YOU KNOW? Per the BLS, Some employers prefer to hire applicants who have a master’s degree, either in accounting or in business administration with a concentration in accounting.
Online Accounting Programs That Could Be Completed in 15 Months or Less
|University||# of Credits Required||Start Dates||Minimum Months to Complete|
|Emporia State University||30||2 Starts Through the Year||12|
|Sacred Heart University||30||1 Start Through the Year||12|
|St John’s University||33||2 Starts Through the Year||12|
Multiple Options for Masters Students
Students who want to earn a Masters in accounting should research many online programs. Enrollment should take time. There are many options. Master of Accountancy (MAcc) and Master of Science in Acct programs (MS) often admit students with undergraduate degrees. These degrees may be in accounting or a related field. These are focused on the finer points of accounting – theory, practices, and current compliance.
The Master of Business Administration in Accounting (MBA) and the Master of Professional Accounting (MPAc) programs often enroll students from a variety of majors. Some undergraduate majors include information technology and humanities majors. These online programs usually lead students through a generalized series of courses. These courses cover the functional aspects of business management and operations. Accounting courses provide a focal area and may be used to refine skills. They may also help to prepare for the CPA.
To ensure that an accounting degree program could support one’s goals, it is important to review a program. Make sure it is accredited. Look at course lists, experiential learning opportunities and student career services. Want to avoid the GMAT? You can find Online Masters in Accounting Prog that don’t require the GMAT!
Master of Accountancy
A Master of Accountancy (MAcc) degree could enable experienced students to complete the 30 course credits to fulfill the education requirements of CPA licensure.
Full time students could complete these programs in 12 to 15 months. The curriculum is usually like that of a Master of Science in Accounting (MS). Foundational courses may help students to build soft skills. Skills like how to manage teams and client relationships. Students may also get to choose some electives. These could be in areas such as fraud detection and financial reporting.
MAcc bridge option programs are usually planned out for students with a non-accounting Bachelors degree. To begin the Masters courses, students may need to complete some prep accounting courses. This may tack another 12 or so credits onto the curriculum.
Master of Science in Accounting
A Master of Science in Accounting could foster a deeper grasp of accounting systems, theories, and ethics. It may also help with practical skills in accounting research and analytics. These proficiencies are usually defined by the AICPA Core Competency Framework. They often include the ability to think, problem solve, and make complex decisions. Other skills include being able to communicate, report, and leverage technology.
Students in an MS in Accounting prog may expect to complete from 30 to 36 credit hours. Some students could complete these programs in 12 to 18 months. The MS curriculum is like that of a Master of Accountancy (MAcc). It usually satisfies CPA licensure education requirements.MS in Accounting Concentrations
MS students could often choose a concentration. This would be a focus area of their courses and research. Accounting grad schools offer different emphases depending on faculty.
- Management Accounting
MBA in Accounting
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a professional and generalized degree. Students could focus in accounting in this program. Some MBA in Accounting programs might prepare students to pursue CPA licensure. If this is a goal, make sure to look for a program such as a joint MBA/MSA degree program. Check with the school first.
Students who strive towards an MBA in Accounting might expect to complete 40 – 60 credits of courses. Many of these programs are offered in accelerated formats. That means completion time will vary based on the number of courses students take each term.
How does an MBA differ from a Master of Science in Accounting?
One of the ways an MBA differs from a MAcc or MS in Accounting is that it leads students through a generalized business core curriculum. This typically covers managerial processes such as marketing, operations, strategy, and leadership.
In addition to courses in areas such as financial and managerial accounting, a concentration in accounting could expand on the theory and practice of financial reporting. It can also include the impact of taxes on business decisions. A course in cost analysis could expose MBA Accounting students to profit planning and strategy. The behavioral aspects of accounting information may also be included.
Master of Professional Accounting
A Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcc) curriculum is often designed to meet the upper level course work requirements of the CPA licensure system in the school’s home state. MPAcc programs may require 30 course hours of classes. Students might tailor their course plan to line up with specific interests. Some students could complete these programs in 9 to 15 months.
Some MPAcc programs are planned out for students who already have an undergraduate (or MBA) degree with a major or concentration in accounting. These programs might place emphasis on leadership and teamwork. They could also focus on planning, and communication skills.
Students may also need to complete a capstone project. This project might ask them to apply economic and financial concepts, principles, and theories to problems in business. An internship is usually required as well.
Master of Science in Taxation
In A Master of Science in Taxation (MST or MS Tax) program, students could expand skills and knowledge as related to tax issues. Most programs are comprehensive. They could feature courses in federal, state and local, international, and corporate taxes. Some programs cover partnership, individual, and exempt organizations. There may also be specializations in estates, gifts, and trusts.
What are the Costs Per Credit for a Masters Degree in Accounting?
|University||Degree Name||# of Credits Required||Cost Per Credit||Tuition Cost|
|University of Alabama at Birmingham||Master of Accounting||30||$534||$16,020|
|Southern New Hampshire University||Master of Science in Accounting||36||$627||$22,572|
Is a CPA a Masters Degree in Accounting?
Because this is 30 hours beyond the usual 4 year bachelors degree, some schools offer a 5 year accounting prog. This program rolls a Bachelors in accounting and Masters in accounting together. Technically, a Masters in Accounting is not a requisite to take the CPA exam. Some requirements to become a CPA could be fulfilled through a Masters degree program.
Every accountant who files a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is required by law to be a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). CPAs are licensed by their state’s Board of Accountancy. One requirement to be eligible to take the CPA exam is 150 semester hours of college classes.
PhD in Accounting Programs
A PhD in Accounting is the highest level of academic award. This is a research focused doctoral degree. Some accounting grad schools may roll the Masters and PhD into one continuous program. Other PhD Accounting prog may enroll students who are CPAs and hold a Masters.
A full time PhD accounting prog may take, on average, 4 to 7 years to complete. This is based on concentration. First, students have to complete about 2 to 3 years of classes. Each seminar in the coursework might explore a specified area of accounting. This is to challenge participants to think about it more deeply and examine it from all angles. See below for examples.
- Applied Research Methods
- Multivariate Modeling
- Financial Reporting
- Forensic Accounting
Depending on the program, students might receive a full spectrum of business management and accounting courses. They will also see approaches to interrelated issues. Apart from the emphasis on student research, most programs feature classes in scholarly writing. They also contain ethical theory and global practices. You may also learn the latest accounting technology, and a systems thinking approach.
Once the classes are completed, students must typically pass a broad exam. They will then work to produce independent projects and a thesis. While the classes may be easily mapped out on a timeline, the dissertation may take about 2 to 3 years.
What Is a DBA in Accounting?
A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Accounting is a terminal doctorate. It includes core business courses and a concentration of courses in accounting. A DBA degree may highlight leadership in professional management, human resource development. It may also contain strategy for optimized performance and bottom line growth. See below for further examples.
- Accounting Ethics
- Managerial Accounting
- Tax Jurisprudence
- Financial Crime and Compliance
Applicants to a DBA in Accounting prog may have an MBA or Masters level degree in a related field. While students in PhD Accounting prog usually research to add new insights to their field, DBA learners might want to refine skills in tax research to problem solve a workplace challenge. This type of inquiry is synthesized in a DBA dissertation.
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||$86,450||115,210|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$84,230||12,470|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$82,080||26,240|
|Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA||$80,830||2,190|
Graduate Certificate in Accounting
Of all the Accounting Grad Programs, a Certificate in Accounting is a non-degree award. This cert has a few Masters level courses. These may not be intended or delivered specifically as a prep course for the CPA exam. If this is the goal, make sure to check your state CPA requirements.
Typically a Graduate Certificate in Accounting may consist of about 21 credits. In their courses, students might examine auditing theory, managerial cost acct, and intro to taxation. A choice of electives may round out the cert requirements. Students in these programs may not have to conduct research or a final thesis.
Accreditation for Accounting Graduate Schools
Accounting graduate schools may be regionally accredited schools. They may house accounting grad programs that have been recognized by professional accreditors. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) is one. Accreditation often speaks to program standards. It also tries to align them with current ethical practices in the profession.
This process is done in different ways. It is based on the region and the degree level. There are different orgs that conduct the cert on the schools.
Earn a Graduate Degree in Accounting Online or On Campus
Do you prefer to interact? Would you like to study accounting abroad? Are you an at work professional who wants to fit studies in when you are at your home desk or on your laptop? Either way, refine your search for any level of acct grad prog by format – online or campus.
Online study may not be in real time. Some schools may use live video conferencing. Scheduling could be convenient and planned around a person’s other duties. Duties could be a family or a job.
On campus programs may feature guest lectures. It may be easier to network and build up professional connections. Many accounting grad schools know students are on the go. These schools have classes scheduled at night and/or weekends. This makes classes just as easy to attend as online formats. It really is a question of what you prefer. It also depends on how you learn.
Finding the right style and format of program will be what leads to success. Look at all of the options out there and see which will work best. See how it meets your needs in time and how it will fit into your budget.
No matter how you earn your degree apply it. Use it to advance your career and to pursue a goal you want. There are many ways to fit it in to meet your needs and to achieve the goal you want from this type of program. Whether you are looking to work at an accounting firm in New York, or to just improve your skill set.
Top 18 Graduate Schools with Accounting Programs in California
Saint Leo University
Southern New Hampshire University
University of Delaware
University of New Haven
Purdue University Global
Grand Canyon University
California State University, Northridge
American InterContinental University, a member of the AIU System
Golden Gate University
California State University, Fullerton
William Howard Taft University