Accounting is a valued and honored profession, and one that's been around for a long time. By all accounts and purposes, accounting is here to stay — even in the times of Bitcoin and electronic currencies, or perhaps even because of them. If you've worked in the profession and obtained an undergraduate degree in the field, you already know that you love what many others dread — numbers and making sense of them. But you're far from alone: According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, during the 2017-2018 academic year, 207,806 people earned a bachelor's degree in accounting and 3,208 obtained a master's.
Whether it's keeping the books at a small, family-owned business or working in an accounting department at a large corporation with thousands of clients and hundreds of vendors across several continents, accounting can be a thrilling occupation for math lovers. Now, if you want more opportunities for advancement in your current position or want to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you might want to consider getting an online master's in accounting. Read on to learn the necessary numbers and details on earning an advanced degree in the field.
While some degrees may require that students attend classes on campus, accounting master's degree programs generally do not since they have no lab component. As a result, many programs can be completed entirely online, which is the perfect education solution if you're a busy professional juggling work and personal responsibilities with your education.
A master's degree in accounting can lead to numerous high-level jobs with healthy salaries, so it can be a good investment for professionals who want to move up the ladder of their careers and increase their earning potential. Additionally, the cost savings that can come with earning a degree online contribute to making a master's in accounting a worthwhile endeavor.
Online master's in accounting are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
From chief financial officers to fraud examiners to independent accountants, the field is full of professionals who use their knowledge and skills to play an integral role in the financial world. But in order to reach these levels of success, it takes more than job experience; it takes an advanced degree and prestigious credentials too.
This explains why many working professionals choose to pursue an online master's in accounting as they move up the ladder in the industry. In order to get the most out of your program, you can concentrate your studies on a specialized area within the accounting field, such as taxation, financial accounting, forensic accounting and auditing. In addition, schools may offer the choice of a master's in accounting or a master's in business administration with an accounting focus — which allows you to explore advanced accounting concepts as you sharpen your business acumen. No matter which path you choose, however, a graduate-level accounting degree can help you move further along in your chosen career path.
How long does an online accounting degree program take?
Depending on the program you enroll in, you may expect to dedicate anywhere from two to three years to earning an accounting master's degree. However, if you enroll in an online accounting degree on a part-time basis, it can take longer.
What are the requirements to start an online master's accounting degree?
Students who apply to an online master's in accounting degree program are expected to complete a bachelor's in accounting with a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Also, you may need to earn a high score on the GRE or GMAT and have an active CPA license. When you apply, you may be required to submit letters of recommendation, a personal statement explaining why you want to earn this degree and a resume.
Why earn a master's online accounting degree?
If you want to move forward in your career by landing higher-level positions, earning a higher salary or even beginning your own consulting business, then a master's online accounting degree can help you achieve your goals. These programs allow you to learn advanced accounting concepts and gain expertise in a specialization that can position you to get to where you want to go in your career.
Years one and two
During the first year of an accounting program, you take core classes designed to deepen your existing knowledge and elevate your skills. In the second year, you take coursework related to your area of concentration, as well as electives.
Choose a specialization and take elective courses:
When you choose a specialization, you take courses that build on your prior accounting knowledge so you can take a deep dive into the area you're interested in focusing on. In addition, you can take elective coursework that allows you to explore other accounting topics.
Masters in Accounting Concentrations
Earning a master's in accounting allows you to become more competitive in the workforce, making you more likely to get promotions and larger salaries. Part of what helps you do this is being able to choose a concentration that can make you an expert in a specialized area of the field. The following are examples of concentrations you may be able to enroll in.
Taxation. Whether accountants work with individuals, private companies or nonprofit organizations, a specialization in taxation can help them address numerous issues that arise when preparing clients' taxes. Students in this concentration learn about corporate tax strategies, international tax laws and forensic accounting.
Auditing. This concentration prepares students to assist their clients when they need an annual internal audit, which helps them make future business decisions. Coursework may cover accounting research, auditing practice techniques, information systems assurance and financial reporting.
Finance. If you're interested in the relationship between how accounting impacts an organization's finances, this specialization may be for you. In a finance concentration, you can take classes in valuation, financial modeling, asset pricing and financial statement analysis.
Risk management. If you want to help clients assess and mitigate financial risks, this specialization can give you expertise through courses in forensic accounting, controls for operational risk and advanced auditing.
Government accounting. This concentration provides an understanding of the latest tax research, which may include topics related to local, state and federal cases. Coursework may also focus on the latest treasury regulations and Internal Revenue Code.
MBA in Accounting
If you want to increase your business expertise to add more value to the services you offer, you may want to consider earning an MBA in accounting. In this program, you can gain expertise on management theory and best practices. Also, an accounting MBA program focuses on advanced principles related to pensions, stockholders' equity, financial reporting and income tax. In addition to coursework, your program may require a capstone project.
These professionals are largely responsible for the financial health of the organization that employs them — be it a small business or a large corporation. Job duties include preparing financial statements and reports, analyzing market trends and oftentimes supervising employees. If you pursue this career, you can be required to have both financial and accounting knowledge, as well as the ability to conduct high-level analyses. Many employers in the field may prefer applicants with master's degrees in accounting or finance.
For both individual clients and companies, financial analysts perform essentially the same role — providing investment and financial advice. They do so by evaluating the client's current situation, studying the markets and developments and evaluating historical data. They are oftentimes called securities analysts and investment analysts and can be divided into buy-side and sell-side analysts. For advanced positions, it's oftentimes necessary to hold a master's degree.
These positions are usually part of the compliance department of corporations, government agencies or nonprofits. Financial examiners essentially ensure that the company is doing business in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations. They review financial statements and analyze them for accuracy while using their financial acumen to detect any inconsistencies. Most financial examiners hold a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree is typically required for advancement within the field.
As an auditor, you may work on an internal or external basis. Internal auditors are hired directly by an organization to identify waste and fraud that may be going on in the company. On the other hand, if you work as an external auditor, you can review financial statements on behalf of clients outside of an organization, such as a company's investors, to ensure that these documents are correct and complete.
If you want to apply your accounting knowledge to legal cases, this is the career path for you. Forensic accountants review financial documents in order to determine if fraud has occurred, as well as identity theft and other crimes. In addition, these professionals testify in court to explain their findings to a judge and jury.
|State Name||Average Salary||Annual Job Openings||Projected Job Growth Potential|
|District of Columbia||$103,930||1,230||6.6%|
As you search for the right school to help you meet your career goals, you are probably thinking about how you can pay for your advanced education. Below you can find information about financial aid options you can explore to defray the cost of a master's in accounting.
Applicant must have completed at least 120 hours of college work and intend on taking the written exam conducted by the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy to receive a certificate of "certified public accountant." Selection based upon financial need and scholastic ability and performance. Applicant must be a resident of Texas attending a participating Texas college or university.
Applicant must be a minority student who has a minimum 3.0 GPA and is enrolled full time. Selection is based upon academic achievement, leadership, volunteerism, and commitment to becoming a licensed CPA professional.
Applicant must be attending an institution in New Jersey. Application, resume, transcript and accounting teacher recommendation are required to be submitted.
Applicant must be a current or potential member of NABA of ethnic minority, be enrolled full-time in an United States college or university, and meet a minimum GPA. Personal statement, resume, two letters of recommendation and an essay are required to be submitted.
Applicants must be women of any age pursuing a business or business-related program who demonstrate outstanding potential. Applicants must also have an outstanding academic record in their college career, and they must show intent to complete a business program.
Applicant must be a high school senior or college freshman, sophomore, or junior who will graduate or have graduated from high school in Middle Tennessee and will be enrolling in a four-year not-for-profit college or university. Applicant must be a business major or STEM major and be able to demonstrate financial need. Minimum 2.5 GPA required.
Applicant must be a graduate of a Virginia public school who is enrolled as an undergraduate and majoring in accounting at a Virginia college of university.
Applicant must be enrolled at the University of Missouri at Columbia.
Applicant must be enrolled in a Kentucky college or university and be at least a sophomore at the time of application. Principles of Accounting must have been completed by applicant.
Applicant must be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student (enrolled in at least 12 semester hours, or equivalent per term) at an accredited four-year college or university pursing a declared major in either accounting, business and finance, or criminal science. Junior college, community college, and high school students including graduating seniors are not eligible to apply. Application, official transcript, three letters of recommendation (including one from a Certified Fraud Examiner or local Association chapter), original essay explaining why applicant deserves the scholarship, and how fraud awareness will affect his or her professional career development, are required to be submitted.
Applicant must be a high school student who is majoring in accounting or a college junior, college senior, or student at the master's level who is a member of the Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants and able to meet the minimum credit requirements.
Applicant must be a New Jersey resident attending a New Jersey High School and intending to major in accounting in College. Application, transcript, SAT scores and essay are required to be submitted.
Applicant must have a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA. Preference is given in the following order to applicants majoring in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, accounting, and computer science.
Applicant must be a Maryland resident attending a Maryland college or university full time with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and at least 60 credit hours, including courses in accounting principles I and II. Applicant must plan to take the CPA exam, and be able to show financial need. Student aid report and transcripts required.
Applicants must be current FFA members and high school seniors or college students planning to enroll or currently enrolled full-time. Students must be pursuing a four-year degree in one of the following agricultural fields: business management, economics, sales and marketing or finance. They must be residents of California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota or Texas. Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA. Students only need to complete the online application one time to be considered for all FFA-administered scholarships. The application requires information about the student's activities and a 1,000-word essay. Awards may be used for books, supplies, tuition, fees and room and board.
Applicant must rank in the top 15% of class and demonstrate leadership skills.
Applicant must have a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA.
Applicant must be a Wyoming high school graduate, enrolled at a Wyoming university, community college, or approved trade school, planning to pursue a course of study leading to a career in the highway transportation industry.
Applicant must be a full-time student with a minimum 3.0 GPA, be a resident of the western slope of Colorado, and have financial need.
This highly-sought after credential provided by the CFA Institute is an international certification that demonstrates financial analysts work at the highest professional, ethical and educational standards in the industry.
Requirements: Candidates must have a bachelor's degree and at least four years of work experience.
Exam format: Three multiple choice and constructed response exams must be passed to receive this certification.
How long does the certification last? One year
This certification from The Institute of Internal Auditors is for professionals who want to prove their expertise in the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.
Requirements: A bachelor's degree and at least two years of internal auditing experience
Exam format: 325 multiple choice questions
How long does the certification last? One year
This is for professionals who have comprehensive knowledge of forensic accounting topics, like cybersecurity, valuations, fraud, risk management and rules of evidence.
Requirements: Must have at least a bachelor's degree, as well as a CPA license and work experience.
Exam format: 200 multiple choice questions
How long does the certification last? Varies
Those with expertise on auditing techniques — such as questioning, examining and evaluating — can qualify to earn this certification.
Requirements: Eight years of auditing experience, including three years in a decision-making role.
Exam format: 165 multiple choice questions
How long does the certification last? Three years
With 85,000 members, the ACFE is the largest anti-fraud organization in the world. The association provides education resources — such as webinars, publications and videos — as well as networking events and a job board.
Since 2011, the Association of Certified Chief Financial Officers has been helping CFOs grow as leaders by offering training and networking opportunities.
The IIA has 159 chapters around the country dedicated to supporting the work of internal auditors. The association offers discounts on training programs, networking events and content to help members be successful in their work.
Auditors who work in the health care field can receive education, news and career assistance from this organization.