Why earn a master’s in accounting online?
Prepare to excel in your career
Develop a broad skill set in accounting principles through a flexible format that features a blend of live online classes, asynchronous coursework, and practical training.
Become an accounting leader
Get ready to sit the CPA, CIA®, or CMA® exams and ultimately grow your organization through quantitative data.
Create data-driven value for your organization
Build cross-disciplinary business skills, network with peers, and apply your education to advance your career and grow your organization.
Browse online master’s degrees in accounting New
What is an online MS in accounting?
A master’s in accounting is the next step for those who’ve completed a BA in business or a similar field and are ready to pursue mid- and senior-level roles. Master’s in accounting programs are designed to enhance and deepen your grasp of auditing, taxation, cost accounting, and financial accounting. Programs typically focus on analyzing accounting data, addressing risk management and legal issues, exploring compliance strategies, and more. An MS in accounting will give you access to the type of material that will be tested on exams such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Internal Auditor® (CIA®), and Certified Management Accountant® (CMA®).
Online master’s in accounting requirements
The different online master’s in accounting programs all have a different set of requirements, including their specific GRE or GMAT requirements. Typically, in order to enroll in a master’s in accounting, you should have completed the following:
A BS in a related field from an accredited university, with a GPA of at least 3.0 out of 4.0
Any relevant prerequisite courses
Transcripts from previously attended institutions where you earned credits
Letters of recommendation
A personal essay or statement of purpose demonstrating your knowledge, goals, and career aspirations
If you’re not quite ready to embark on your master’s in accounting, explore general online bachelor’s degrees or dive into earlier-stage programs that study the management of assets, like the online bachelor’s in finance and the online accounting bachelor degree.
How to apply
Before you begin the application process for an online master’s in accounting at the schools of your choice, research the necessary application deadlines, tuition, and grant and scholarship opportunities, and prepare for the individual school’s admission requirements.
What you’ll learn
The master’s in accounting curriculum varies from university to university. Generally, the goal is to build the technical competency that can lead to advancing your career through core courses, electives, and concentrations.
Here are some examples of courses typically offered in a master’s of accounting:
Financial accounting and reporting
Corporate financial reporting
Accounting information systems
Aside from embarking on a master’s in accounting, you can also pursue a number of adjacent courses and programs. You can learn management accounting if you’d like to gain the skills to analyze complex financial data, learn accounting to protect the financial stability of any organization, or learn taxes and contribute to your organizations' financial strategies. Alternatively, you can explore edX’s offering of online accounting executive education programs specifically designed for busy professionals.
Master’s in accounting concentrations
Different schools offer different concentrations to help students specialize in accounting. Your choice of concentration will depend on what you’d like to pursue post-graduation. Concentrations may include a public accounting (CPA) or private/corporate accounting (CMA) track or a tax accounting, forensic accounting, tax, finance, or auditing track.
What can you do with a master’s in accounting?
Earning your master's in accounting can open up many diverse, lucrative career avenues. Here are just some of the careers you may explore:
Certified public accountant (CPA): Audits financial records, prepares tax returns, and provides financial advice to individuals, businesses, and organizations.
Financial analyst: Assesses financial data, market trends, and investment opportunities to provide recommendations for informed financial decision making.
Management accountant: Focuses on providing financial information and analysis to help organizations make strategic decisions, control costs, and optimize operational efficiency.
Internal auditors: Evaluates an organization's financial practices, internal controls, and compliance with regulations to identify weaknesses, mitigate risks, and improve operational efficiency and financial integrity.
Forensic accountant: Investigates financial irregularities, fraud, and financial disputes by analyzing financial data, conducting audits, and providing expert testimony in legal proceedings.
Chief financial officer (CFO): Plays a pivotal role in molding an organization's financial wellbeing and strategic direction by overseeing financial planning, budgeting, reporting, and strategic decision making.
Master’s in accounting salary and job outlook
The consistent demand for professionals in accounting and related fields is driven by the ongoing evolution of financial regulations and the need for precise financial reporting. In addition, the profession is changing technologically, presenting openings for individuals with robust analytical and digital capabilities. These are some of the reasons why accountants and auditors tend to enjoy job stability. Between 2022 and 2032, job growth will be an estimated 4%Footnote 1, commensurate with average market growth.
Frequently asked questions
Acquiring an online master's in accounting takes about 12 to 24 months if you’re enrolled full time, with most programs mandating 30 to 36 credit hours of coursework. You can earn your degree by studying for two concentrated semesters or you can study over several years part time. The timeline may differ as a result of your academic background and the program prerequisites. Some students may opt for specialized accounting master's tracks in taxation or forensic accounting or add MBA electives, which could potentially lead to variations in credit prerequisites and program durations.
The cost of this type of master’s program can vary widely across the United States and depends on several factors, including the school you’d like to attend, the program duration, your residency status, and any financial aid or scholarships you may receive.
This graduate program requires a firm grasp of accounting fundamentals, analytical abilities, and meticulous attention. The curriculum will delve into intricate subjects such as taxation, auditing, and financial reporting, which involves dedicated study. Moreover, managing academic responsibilities alongside other obligations can prove challenging. Nevertheless, those dedicated to pursuing careers in the field find this degree challenging but necessary for unlocking the advanced, fulfilling careers they seek.
Pursuing a master's in accounting is a significant investment of time and finances. Still, it provides graduates with improved career prospects, a more extensive professional network, increased earning potential, and expertise in an in-demand field. Many learners who’d like to sit CPA, CIA®, or CMA® exams find a master’s degree useful in preparing them to do so. The degree’s value varies depending on your personal objectives, financial situation, and previous educational background. Carefully consider the tuition expenses and the time investment required for study and weigh this up against the potential gains in career growth and the higher income that often accompanies obtaining a master's degree in accounting.
Yes. Many schools offer financial aid and/or scholarships, including grants, loans, and other financial incentives. As eligibility criteria vary between institutions, it’s best to research these and discuss details around the financial support you could expect with the school.
Although the two may overlap, these degrees differ in scope, and the careers graduates are suited for. An MBA offers broad business knowledge across disciplines, including leadership skills, management, and entrepreneurship. A master’s in accounting sometimes offers MBA-type electives to learners. But overall, it’s a degree that’s highly focused and specialized in the study of accounting for those who wish to practice accounting in its many forms. A third option for those who wish to earn an MBA in accounting is a program that focuses on business management but offers an accounting concentration.