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Accounting Master’s Degrees: Best Programs, Jobs, and Salaries

Farah Abdullah - November 04, 2021


The accounting field will continue to need professionals as it is a vast, demanding, and competitive industry. While the field is growing, it is a great idea to earn a Master’s Degree in Accounting. This will give you a competitive advantage in the job market.

Accounting graduates have a strong foundation in finance and business. With the right skills and education, you can become a public accountant, government accountant, corporate accountant, or forensic accountant. This guide features the best master’s degree programs in accounting at top schools and what career opportunities and salaries you can expect post-graduation.

What Is Accounting?

Accounting involves the maintenance of financial accounts and records. Financial transactions are recorded and reports are created. They are then analyzed to interpret and generate information. These reports and analyses help guide the financial strategy and management of businesses.

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What Is an Accounting Master’s Degree?

A Master’s Degree in Accounting is an educational program completed over one to two years. Many programs are no longer limited to on-campus. There are hybrid courses and programs where some courses are available online. Many programs are now available fully online.

A degree in accounting can enhance your prospects to work for public accounting firms, private administration, not-for-profit organizations, and government accounting agencies. You can handle accounts and consult in academia, healthcare, taxes, and insurances. Whichever area you want to enter into, you will be prepared for it.

Accounting Master’s Degree Requirements

The main admission requirement for most programs is to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting or Finance. Some universities require a GMAT or GRE while others waive this prerequisite.

You are expected to be familiar with accounting principles and the accounting cycle. Analytical and research skills will help you get the most out of your education journey. Basic computer literacy is important to be able to use accounting software.

How Much Does an Accounting Master’s Degree Cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of tuition and required fees for a graduate degree is $19,314 in public institutions. Private school graduates pay an average of $25,929. The exact costs of your master’s degree will vary by total credit hours and cost per credit for the program.

Accounting Master’s Degree Financing Options: How to Pay for Your Accounting Degree

There are different ways to finance your graduate studies including scholarships, financial aid student loans, and research and teaching assistantships. You can always contact a university financial advisor to discuss your individual case.

Best Accounting Master’s Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Bellevue University Master of Science in Accounting Higher Learning Commission
Bradley University Master of Science in Accounting Higher Learning Commission
Brigham Young University Master of Accountancy Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Indiana University Master of Science in Accounting with Data and Analytics Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
University of Delaware Master of Science in Accounting Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
University of Hartford Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Accounting and Taxation Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
University of Miami Master of Science in Taxation Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
University of Nevada, Reno Master of Accountancy Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
University of Oklahoma Master of Accountancy Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
University of Toledo Master of Science in Accountancy Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Best Colleges for Accounting: Top Accounting Master’s Degree Programs

A Master’s Degree in Accounting allows you to gain advanced knowledge of the principles of accounting. Courses in accounting also teach auditing, financial trends, tax, legislation, and accounting software. Most programs are divided into core courses and elective courses. They also prepare you for Certified Public Accounting (CPA) certification after graduation.

The list below features the best campus programs and accounting schools for prospective students.

Master of Science in Accounting | Bellevue University

Bellevue offers affordable tuition for quality education from experienced faculty. It will help you progress in your career and earn the required credits for the uniform CPA exam. The curriculum covers topics like cost and internal accounting, audits, and tax accountancy. The university offers many services like career advising, accommodations, housing, and dining services.

Master of Science in Accounting | Bradley University

Completing this accounting program grants you the necessary 150 credits to sit for the CPA exam. The Bradley University accounting program has a high rate of students who pass the CPA exam the first time. Students can excel in not-for-profit, private, and public accounting firms. You will enjoy high-end facilities with the feel of a close-knit community at Bradley.

Master of Accountancy | Brigham Young University

This accounting program has a professional and a tax concentration. The professional accounting program is for business management topics. The concentration in tax teaches taxation in public accountancy. This Christian university offers scholarships, assistantships, and loans. You will benefit from professional clubs and guest lectures from industry experts.

Master of Science in Accounting with Data and Analytics | Indiana University

This is an intensive, STEM-focuses, one-year curriculum that encourages collaborative learning. You learn through case analyses, consulting projects, and presenting your work. You also have the option to do an internship. There are nine campuses and many resources and facilities.

Master of Science in Accounting | University of Delaware

The University of Delaware places great value in research in all fields. This program accommodates busy professionals who want to pursue an advanced degree. There are four concentrations for students of different interests, which are financial management, controllership, management information systems, and analytics.

Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Accounting and Taxation | University of Hartford

This is a dual degree program ideal for professionals with no business education who wish to become accountants. Students take courses for an MBA along with one of two learning tracks: financial and assurance services or taxation.

Master of Science in Taxation | University of Miami

This is a specialized, STEM-designated master’s degree that can advance the expertise of accounting professionals. You can become an expert and advisor of federal taxes or use your tax knowledge in public, private, and government accounting jobs.

Master of Accountancy | University of Nevada, Reno

With this degree, you have access to state-of-the-art tools and methods to broaden your knowledge and expertise. The curriculum teaches well-rounded knowledge in business and completes the necessary educational needs for licensure for most states.

Master of Accountancy | University of Oklahoma

This program covers a broad overview of business and focused accounting concepts. GMAT results are needed for admission. You can also combine this with your undergraduate accounting coursework as an accelerated BA/MAcc degree. Some of the required courses include professional development and accounting theory.

Master of Science in Accountancy | University of Toledo

This program can be completed in as little as 10 months for full-time students. The free Alan Barry Accounting Lab is a one-of-kind lab licensed for the CPA and CMA review material. The classes are small so you receive complete attention. The university offers scholarships as well.

Best Online Accounting Master’s Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Pittsburg State University Master of Business Administration in Accounting Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
Purdue University Global Master of Science in Accounting Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, Higher Learning Commission
Southern New Hampshire University Master of Science in Accounting Finance Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, New England Commission of Higher Education
University of Arizona Master of Science in Accounting Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
University of Hartford Master of Science in Accounting and Taxation Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
University of Nevada Reno Master of Accountancy Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
University of North Dakota Master of Accountancy Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
University of Oklahoma Master of Accountancy Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
University of Scranton Master of Accountancy The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
Western Governors University Master of Accounting Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Best Colleges for Accounting: Top Online Accounting Master’s Degree Programs

Online graduate programs provide the convenience and flexibility needed by many part-time students. Many accredited schools now offer online Master’s Degree in Accounting or Finance programs to fit your life and work. You also have the flexibility to complete the program on a full or part-time basis.

Master of Business Administration in Accounting | Pittsburg State University

This is an MBA program at the Kelce College of Business focusing on advanced accounting along with business acumen. The coursework focuses on in-depth learning of accounting, taxation, and auditing. At the end of the program, you will have had broad exposure to financial strategic planning, marketing analysis, and control systems.

Master of Science in Accounting | Purdue University Global

Purdue’s online Master of Science in Accounting program offers three concentrations: tax, public accounting (CPA track), and private/corporate accounting (CMA track). To apply and be accepted into the program you’re required to have a previous degree in a business area. International students are eligible for a 25 percent reduced tuition.

Master of Science in Accounting Finance | Southern New Hampshire University

This master’s degree combines the complementary fields of accounting and finance. The curriculum prepares you for the for-profit, non-profit, or municipal sectors. It has four concentrations: auditing, forensic accounting, management accounting, and taxation.

Master of Science in Accounting | University of Arizona

This program can be completed in one to two years. In addition to expanding accounting knowledge, you can also choose elective courses from other areas such as business analytics, marketing, accounting information systems, and information security. With 30 credits in total, you can take the CPA license exam after this master’s degree.

Master of Science in Accounting and Taxation | University of Hartford

This is a master’s degree program with ten courses and two tracks for students to follow. You can take courses as a full-time or part-time student. This innovative curriculum is designed by the Barney School of Business. Whether you choose the financial and assurance services or taxation track, you complete the required hours to sit for the CPA or CMA examinations.

Master of Accountancy | University of Nevada, Reno

This program makes it possible to hone your technical, communication, teamwork, and critical thinking skills. The program prides itself on its strong faculty support and specialty in research. Considering your undergraduate study, the GRE/GMAT waiver might help you too.

Master of Accountancy | University of North Dakota

This master’s degree program offers a fundamentals track, which is ideal if you lack a background in accounting or hold an undergraduate degree from another field. This track provides the accounting knowledge needed to take the CPA exam at the end of the course. It is possible to have some courses waived if you have an undergraduate accounting degree.

Master of Accountancy | University of Oklahoma

This program is among the best in the nation for its cohort-based structure and small class size. You can complete this degree in less than two years while working full-time. It’s much easier to sharpen the accounting skills you need in a strong community with support from expert instructors. You also get networking opportunities and interact with the business community.

Master of Accountancy | University of Scranton

To attend this program, you are required to have an undergraduate degree in accounting or business. The Master of Accountancy program lets you choose a concentration in forensic accounting or accounting analytics. You also demonstrate what you’ve learned through a capstone project towards the end of the program.

Master of Accounting | Western Governors University

The online courses cover topics including forensic accounting, financial accounting, managerial accounting, auditing, taxes, and strategic and financial management. The online model allows students to prepare for CPA certification. Upon graduation, they can also benefit from free CPA exam prep.

What’s the Average Accounting Master’s Degree Salary?

According to Payscale, the average annual salary of accountants with a master’s degree is $73,000 . Those in the finance and insurance industries earn higher than other industries like the government.

Top Accounting Master’s Degree Jobs and Salaries: Overview

Accounting Master’s Degree Jobs Average Salary
Financial Manager $134,180
Chief Financial Executive $107,680
Personal Financial Advisor $89,330
Management Consultant $87,660
Financial Controller $85,714
Financial Analyst $83,660
Financial Examiner $81,430
Budget Analyst $78,970
Auditor $73,560
Claims Examiner $68,270

Best Accounting Master’s Degree Jobs Explained

Financial Manager

Financial managers monitor the accounts of a firm, evaluate financial performance, set performance criteria, and identify financial goals. They implement financial policies and take steps to enforce laws throughout the organization. These professionals need strong communication skills, as they often manage teams of other accounting professionals.

Chief Financial Executive

Chief executives in finance oversee account transactions, budgets, and finances. They analyze financial reports to assess the spendings and incomes of the company. Their role also involves goal-setting, risk management, and policy-making. Job employers prefer candidates that have a master’s degree for this executive role.

Personal Financial Advisor

Personal financial advisors work closely with their clients to help them plan and achieve personal financial goals. With a master’s degree, you are more credible to clients looking for financial planning and decision-making guidance. Passing the CPA exam will further enhance your prospects for this accounting profession.

Management Consultant

Management consultants work for financial services companies or banks. They analyze a bank’s financial status and help them address financial concerns and accounting issues. Strong accounting background and creative-thinking skills allow them to provide effective solutions.

Financial Controller

  • Average Salary: $85,714
  • Job Outlook: 17%*
  • Number of Jobs: 681,700*
  • Highest-Paying States: New York, New Jersey, District of Columbia*

Financial controllers manage all the finance-related departments and managers within an organization. Accounting professionals with good reporting skills can excel in this accounting career.

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts study financial data, assess performance, and make financial recommendations. They work extensively with financial reports and research. Some financial analysts specialize in risk assessment, funds, investments, tax returns, securities, and bonds. They identify trends and make relevant forecasts.

Financial Examiner

Financial examiners review financial documents and processes to make sure that laws, regulations, and policies are being followed. They assess their impact on the process flow and organizational strategy. They monitor and make recommendations on how to achieve compliance with regulations.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts play an important role in the budgeting process of organizations. They analyze past budgets, resource allocations, and expenditures. They are familiar with finance principles and legislation for budgeting. They also make recommendations to get funding, improve budgets, and reduce spending.

Auditor

Auditors work with financial records of all kinds to examine their accuracy and compliance with regulations and laws. They work with taxes and accounting software. Employers often hire auditors that are also certified public accountants (CPAs).

Claims Examiner

Claims examiners work with insurance claims, compensations, and benefits. They evaluate if an organization must pay them or not. They have analytical skills that help them analyze information in depth and make decisions on claims carefully. Their job is crucial for insurance companies as they help to identify false claims and avoid fraud.

*These statistics are grouped under Financial Managers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Benefits of an Accounting Master’s Degree

A calculator, coins, cash, and pen on a table. Accounting Master's Degrees
Accountants who are good with numbers, calculations, and data analysis have tons of career options.

You might be wondering what the benefits of an accounting degree are. We have listed some of these for you to start with.

  • Committed instructors. Universities have faculty members with many years of industry and professional experience.
  • Research support. Graduate schools support and also financially fund accounting research.
  • Academic exposure. You get opportunities to attend and participate in conferences, seminars, and workshops. Accounting students gain knowledge and also practice effective communication with their peers.
  • Career advancement. Having a master’s degree creates opportunities for promotions and managerial positions that undergraduate students don’t have. You’ll gain professional skills to become job-ready through connections to industry professionals.
  • Higher CPA pass rate. Degrees in accounting by most accredited universities have a history of success with CPA or CMA certification exams.

Should You Get a Master’s Degree in Accounting?

You should get a Master’s Degree in Accounting to have a promising future in the accounting field. Corporate employers want to hire candidates who understand the financial jargon better than most accountants. A Master of Accountancy will equip you with a specialized skill set in accounting.

Accounting Master’s Degree FAQ

Is a CPA equivalent to a master’s degree?

No, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a license or certification awarded by a licensing body. It is obtained after passing an exam and show experience. A Master’s Degree in Accounting is an academic degree obtained from a university. It equips you with the skills and knowledge to easily pass the CPA requirements and exam.

What pays more, accounting or finance?

Finance jobs pay slightly more than accounting jobs. However, both are lucrative fields that pay well. Finance professionals have more responsibilities related to bigger financial decisions and maintaining strategy. This added set of duties often needs more experience and higher qualifications, resulting in a comparatively higher salary.

How long does it take to complete a Master’s Degree In Accounting?

Most programs take one to two years for full-time students but some programs allow you to complete it in as little as 10 months. Transfer credits or prerequisite courses may affect how many credits you need to complete before graduating.

Why is accounting hard to learn?

Accounting is often hard to learn because there is a plethora of information and a lot of it needs to be memorized. There are rules and theories related to taxes, business laws, management subjects, and different kinds of accounting. Most degrees in accounting cover mathematics which is difficult for some learners.

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Farah Abdullah

About the author: Farah is a writer, project consultant, and IT event organizer. She is a certified project management professional and an avid tech reader. Farah holds a BSc in Information Systems from Effat University in Saudi Arabia as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Project Management from the University of Roehampton in London.

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