Online Master’s Programs in Accounting

Updated on: 11/24/18

Master’s programs in accounting can help you move past entry-level accountancy positions into financial leadership roles like Controller, Actuary, Treasurer or Budget Analyst. Employers for these jobs often prefer candidates who have completed master’s-level accounting work, and salaries for these positions can be substantially higher than entry-level accounting jobs. This guide provides insight into the best online master’s in accounting programs for 2018, what you can expect from a master’s program and potential careers you can pursue once you’ve completed your degree.

The Best Online Master’s in Accounting Programs of 2019

Methodology
2-Year Colleges

The rankings below represent the best online master’s in accounting programs for 2019. We used data gathered from the Department of Education, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and information provided from the schools listed to compile these rankings. Each program has been accredited, so students can be assured that each college listed here meets a high degree of educational excellence.

Filters
Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 Morehead State University $8,496 3 86% 49% 67% Yes Yes Yes

At Morehead State University, online students can complete a Bachelor of Science in Imaging Sciences with a concentration in Leadership in Medical Imaging. You will focus on topics such as fiscal management, program planning, healthcare law and policy and patient evaluation. This is a competitive application process with limited space. Prospective students should already have training and certification in a radiologic sciences field in an accredited program with a 2.5 GPA or higher. You should also have completed at least 15 credit hours of prerequisite courses in computer literacy, speech communications, English and mathematics before applying. MSU graduates typically move on to careers in imaging sciences administration or management positions.

2 Clarion University $7,238 2 94% 51% 41% Yes Yes Yes

Distance learners at Clarion University can earn a Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Sciences online. This is a 120-credit program that offers two concentrations: radiologic technology or ultrasound. Graduates are proficient in performing all types of imaging exams to meet ARRT requirements. The hybrid version of the program only accepts students who are already credentialed radiologic technologists, sonographers, nuclear medicine technologists, radiation therapists or medical dosimetrists. Clinical requirements must be completed in-person. Most students in this program transfer in 60 credits from another accredited program and complete the remaining major core requirements at Clarion. Applicants must submit their high school GPA and SAT or ACT scores.

3 University of Wisconsin-La Crosse $7,585 3 74% 69% 24% No Yes Yes

Students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse can earn their Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy in a blended format in approximately 4 years. WIth courses such as Radiation Physics, Pathophysiology, Patient Care and Medical Imagine, UWL will train you to administer radiation therapy and conduct x-rays for a variety of patients. Of the 120 required credits, a minimum of 30 semester hours must be complete in residence at UWL for graduation. Applicants should have at least a 2.75 GPA and 40 hours of observation in a radiation therapy department. Prospective students who need help accessing facilities to complete the observation requirements may contact the department for assistance or to schedule a visit.

4 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $6,881 1 27% 91% 41% No Yes Yes

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a blended Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science option for distance learners. In this medical imaging-driven program, you will focus on the administration of radiation and x-rays for disease diagnosis and injury evaluation. You will explore several main areas of the practice such as orthopedics, pediatrics and mammography, vascular imaging and computerized tomography. Graduates are prepared to sit for the ARRT national certification exam in radiologic technology. UNC requires a host of general education requirements and radiologic science pre-admission courses. Applicant must also have a 2.5 GPA or higher.

5 Weber State University $4,611 4 - 50% 58% Yes Yes Yes

Weber State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences entirely online. Courses are self-paced and take about 4 weeks to complete, although you may take longer if you wish. As a distance learner, you will receive training in advanced radiologic sciences specialties, sonography, nuclear medicine and radiation therapy. To enroll in this program, students must be certified in medical imaging and/or therapeutic radiation before enrolling. Incoming students must submit their official high school transcripts or GED documentation. ACT and SAT scores are not mandatory and no clinicals are required for graduation. At Weber, distance learners also pay a flat in-state tuition rate.

6 Ohio State University-Main Campus $9,168 1 54% 85% 80% No Yes Yes

Students can pursue 3 specialty areas in a Bachelor of Science Radiologic Science and Therapy degree program at Ohio State University. You can choose from a major in Radiography, Radiation Therapy or Sonography/Vascular Therapy, all of which can be completed in a blended format. In any track, you will be prepared for professional careers in clinical practice, administration, education and research. Whether you are treating diseases with radiation, conducting x-rays and CT scans or diagnosing a medical condition using sonography, OSU teaches you the essential critical thinking and technological skills to make the best evidence-based decisions for patients. Applicants must have a 2.5 GPA or higher and 8 hours of documented patient contact experience.

7 Mitchell Technical Institute $3,488 1 - 70% 26% Yes Yes Yes

Online students at Mitchell Technical Institute can earn certificates in Advanced Medical Imaging (AVI). You may choose from programs in Computer Tomography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging or Advanced Medical Imaging. Each certificate requires 10, 12 or 18 credits to complete, respectively. The AVI certificate is a combination of the Computer Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging tracks. Upon completion of the program, you will be eligible to apply for licensure. This program is only open to ARRT-registered technologists in Radiography, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Nuclear Medicine or Radiation Therapy. Applicants must complete an online or paper application and submit their ACT, Accuplacer, SAT or Compass scores.

8 Armstrong State University $3,886 2 80% 35% 8% Yes Yes Yes

The Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences at Georgia Southern University-Armstrong teaches online learners how to administer radiation, ultrasound, and magnetism to treat diseases and injuries. Students choose between 5 career specialties: Cardiovascular/Interventional Science, Nuclear Medicine, Radiation Therapy, Radiography or Sonography. This is a hybrid program consisting of 5-10 online courses over the course of 5 semesters, depending on chosen specialty. Graduates can sit for the national certification exam. Applicants must have a 2.5 GPA or higher, and should have 50 semester hours of general education requirements completed. Students with lab experience in a radiologic field are more likely to be admitted to this program.

9 Misericordia University $29,150 1 74% 72% 100% Yes Yes Yes

Distance learners can take advantage of Misericordia University's online Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. In this hybrid program, you will complete a curriculum that balances sonography education and liberal arts courses. The core curriculum is on-campus every other weekend with a few courses online. Approximately 110 credits are needed for graduation. All applicants should have a minimum GPA of 3.0 or be in the top half of their high school graduating class. Students should also have taken 3 years of mathematics and 2 years of science before applying. ACT or SAT scores are required. Graduates are prepared to sit for the ARRT Sonography exam.

10 Siena Heights University $24,390 2 72% 53% 99% Yes Yes Yes

Siena Heights University offers distance learners the chance to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology through its Adrian and Southfield campuses. Students must complete a minimum of 60 credit hours while maintaining a 2.0 GPA. To satisfy graduation requirements, students complete a minimum of 18 credits through SHU. A maximum of 9 credit hours of prior learning credit, including CLEP, Excelsior College Exams, Michigan Occupational Competency Exams and military and police academy certification, can be counted toward the associate degree. SHU subscribes to a rolling admission policy and requires applicants to submit only an online undergraduate application and high school transcripts. Online students pay $530 per tuition credit regardless of their location.

11 St Catherine University $31,042 1 91% 61% 98% Yes Yes Yes
12 Baptist College of Health Sciences $9,864 1 54% 51% 83% Yes Yes Yes
13 Southern Illinois University-Carbondale $8,691 5 77% 46% 74% Yes Yes Yes
14 Minot State University $5,192 1 60% 42% 70% Yes Yes Yes
15 Carolinas College of Health Sciences $11,086 1 31% 33% 25% Yes Yes Yes
16 Bellarmine University $37,850 1 82% 68% 100% Yes Yes Yes
17 University of St Francis $30,520 1 49% 57% 100% Yes Yes Yes
18 Boise State University $4,872 3 82% 44% 41% Yes Yes Yes
19 Ball State University $8,992 1 62% 62% 40% Yes Yes Yes
20 University of Washington-Seattle Campus $9,694 1 45% 86% 38% No Yes Yes
21 Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania $7,238 1 78% 66% 6% Yes Yes Yes
22 University of Vermont $15,096 1 69% 76% 92% No Yes Yes
23 Texas State University $7,234 1 71% 59% 12% Yes Yes Yes
24 University of Missouri $8,286 1 75% 71% 64% No Yes Yes
25 Concordia University-Wisconsin $27,640 1 63% 62% 98% Yes Yes Yes
26 University of Sioux Falls $27,160 2 91% 54% 100% Yes Yes Yes
27 Saint Cloud State University $6,820 1 85% 48% 41% Yes Yes Yes
28 Notre Dame of Maryland University $33,785 1 59% 60% 98% Yes Yes Yes
29 Ferris State University $11,144 1 78% 51% 69% Yes Yes Yes
30 Clarkson College $11,976 5 52% 17% 58% Yes Yes Yes
31 Pennsylvania State University-Worldwide $12,718 1 83% 49% 56% Yes Yes Yes
32 Newman University $26,416 1 58% 47% 100% Yes Yes Yes
33 University of Charleston $20,564 2 52% 37% 94% Yes Yes Yes
34 National University $13,016 1 - 50% 4% Yes Yes Yes
35 Drury University $24,750 2 70% 64% 83% No Yes Yes
36 Missouri Southern State University $5,311 1 94% 39% 69% Yes Yes Yes
37 Lakeshore Technical College $3,910 1 - 58% 6% Yes Yes Yes
38 Washburn University $7,644 2 - 38% 64% Yes Yes Yes
39 Oregon Institute of Technology $8,110 1 73% 50% 60% Yes Yes Yes
40 Northeast Community College $2,700 1 - 48% 40% Yes Yes Yes
41 Briar Cliff University $27,684 1 - 48% 98% Yes Yes Yes
42 Northern Kentucky University $9,000 1 91% 40% 61% Yes Yes Yes
43 Southwestern Oklahoma State University $5,295 1 91% 38% 65% Yes Yes Yes
44 Drexel University $48,660 1 75% 68% 97% Yes Yes Yes
45 University of Hartford $35,036 2 72% 56% 98% Yes Yes Yes
46 Saint Louis University $40,100 2 65% 72% 91% No Yes Yes
47 University of Akron Main Campus $8,618 1 96% 45% 62% Yes Yes Yes
48 Fort Hays State University $3,789 1 91% 44% 73% No Yes Yes
49 Arkansas State University $6,060 2 70% 41% 70% No Yes Yes
50 Emory University $47,300 1 25% 91% 48% No Yes Yes

What to Know About Online Master’s in Accounting Coursework

Online master’s in accounting programs are for working professionals who hold undergraduate degrees in accounting or a closely related field and want to further their education to enhance their career options. The intensive financial coursework in these programs prepares students for many different potential careers and specialized financial positions that otherwise would be unavailable.

Online programs vary in length depending upon the institution. Some master’s programs can be completed in a little as nine months to one year of fulltime study. Others will take between two or three years for part-time students. Students are usually required to complete between 30 and 48 credit hours, depending on prior work and educational experience.

Students who complete online master’s accountancy programs gain deeper knowledge of:

  • corporate and federal taxation
  • financial and managerial accounting
  • cost accounting
  • auditing
  • business law

What’s the Difference Between a Master’s in Accounting and an MBA in Accounting?

Master’s of science in accounting programs typically have a sharp focus on advanced accounting and financial practices and principles. Master’s in Business Administration in Accounting programs, meanwhile, have a stronger emphasis on business coursework so graduates have more well-rounded overall business acumen.

Common Courses Offered in Online Master’s in Accounting Programs

Curriculum varies, but many online master’s in accountancy programs offer similar core coursework. The following are some examples of classes students can expect.

Auditing

Coursework examines concepts and principles of examining financial statements, as well as auditing responsibilities and standards.

Business Taxation

Coursework focuses on applications of IRS revenue codes and federal regulations, tax laws and tax policies, tax treatments of gains and losses, tax theories and ethics, and the taxation of partnerships, S-Corps and corporations.

Corporate Finance

Coursework examines the financial decisions and challenges that corporate managers must face and overcome. Topics include budgeting, business valuations, capital sourcing structures and mergers and acquisitions.

Financial Reporting

Students study financial reporting principles and their link to corporate financial statements. Students also learn how alternative financial reporting decisions impact financial statements, such as reported income and asset values.

Managerial Accounting

Coursework focuses on the principles of financial reporting to department heads, investors, regulators and corporate managers. Coursework has a strong emphasis on cost, profit and price and the tools necessary to make important and informed financial decisions.

What Specializations are Available in a Master’s in Accounting Program?

Master’s in accountancy programs offer many opportunities for financial specializations. Here are some of the most common ones.

Managerial Accounting

Master’s programs in managerial accounting have a strong emphasis on topics such as cost management, cost measurement and estimating, decision making, differential analysis, budgeting, performance evaluation, cash flow and trends and ratios.

Forensic Accounting

This specialization is for accounting majors who wish to fight financial fraud. Coursework includes fraud examination and detection, principle of forensic accounting, interview techniques and computer forensic investigation.

Auditing

This specialization is for students who wish to enter private, public or government careers as auditors. Curriculum includes fraud examination, auditing techniques, forensic accounting, financial reporting and financial statement analysis.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

Depending upon the program, students may be required to complete a master’s thesis or capstone project. These projects typically are the culminating classes of the degree path. Thesis projects typically involve an in-depth examination of case studies or tax laws and their applications. Accountancy capstone projects might involve preparing income statements for businesses, tracking stock market trends and compiling comparative data, or comparing a financial analysis of different companies. Not all online master’s programs in accounting require these terminal projects, however.

How Can I Choose a Quality Online Master’s in Accounting Program?

Choosing the right college is one of the most important decisions students can make. Choosing a properly accredited institution ensures curriculum adheres to high standards of excellence since all programs are peer-reviewed by the accrediting body. Additionally, regional and programmatic accreditation for master’s in accounting programs means colleges and universities advance curriculum designed to improve business and accounting practices. There are more than 570 U.S. colleges and universities accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In addition to meeting 15 distinct criteria for business accreditation, these institutions also meet six additional standards for accounting accreditation.

Students seeking to enroll in master’s in accounting programs should also ask about the professional credentials of the faculty, such as how many faculty hold terminal degrees in their fields and similar qualifications. Other factors to consider include graduation rate, class size, cost and program length.

Career Opportunities with a Master’s in Accounting Degree

Students who complete master’s degrees in accounting have many different career options. Here are common career pathways that dovetail nicely with the accounting skills learned in college. Students should note, however, that some positions may require additional training, certification or licensure beyond a master’s degree in accounting.

Actuary

Actuaries uses advanced math, statistics and financial theory to analyzes financial risk and the potential costs associated with certain events. They also design and administer a wide range of financial products, including pension plans, investments and insurance policies.

Median Salary: $101,560 per year

Currently Employed: 23,600

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +22%

Auditor

Auditors examine a company or organization’s financial records to ensure there hasn’t been any mismanagement of funds. Their work also helps organizations identify way to eliminate budgetary waste and reduce instances of fraud. External auditors are hired by companies to examine their financial data and report back to the federal government and investors that appropriate financial filings are correct.

Median Salary: $69,350 per year (for accountants and auditors)

Currently Employed: 1,397,700 (all accountants and auditors)

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +10% (for accountants and auditors)

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts work with departmental managers and corporate executives to prepare and develop organizational budgets. Many also compile departmental budgetary data to prepare comprehensive organizational spending reports. They also estimate the future monetary needs of their organizations.

Median Salary: $75,240 per year

Currently Employed: 58,400

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +7%

Financial Manager

Financial managers, which can include advanced titles such as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), are responsible for the overall financial health and strategy of a company or organization. While additional certification isn’t required, some financial managers choose to earn additional professional certifications such as Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

Median Salary: $125,080 per year

Currently Employed: 580,400

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +19%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

What’s the Expected Job Outlook for Accounting Careers?

Many accounting-related positions are expected to grow much faster than average through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth for actuaries, in particular, is expected to be especially high at 22 percent, versus the 7 percent for all occupations. This is due, in part, to the overall growth of the economy and globalization. The previous financial crisis has also increased the desire and need for risk management within companies, so accounting professionals with experience managing financial risk for companies and organizations may be in high demand.

Professional Organizations for Careers in Accounting

There are many different professional organizations accounting professionals should consider joining. Membership offers opportunities for networking, annual conferences, professional development and continuing education. Here are five of the leading accounting trade groups and organizations.

  • American Institute of CPAs

    The world’s largest organization of certified public accountants has more than 431,000 members globally working in all aspects of accounting and financial planning.

  • Institute of Management Accountants

    Founded in 1919, the IMA has more than 100,000 members worldwide. Its focus is to advance the profession of accountants in key management positions, such as controllers, treasurers and budget analysts. This group also offers the Certified Management Accountant credential.

  • Institute of Internal Auditors

    The IIA was established in 1941 as the global voice for internal auditing professionals. Today the IIA has more than 185,000 members worldwide who work as auditors, risk managers, controllers and in other related accounting professions.

  • National Association of Professional Accountants

    NAPA provides accountants with opportunities for continuing education, training, licensing and key credentials, such as the nationally recognized Accounting and Certified Public Bookkeeper certifications.

  • National Society of Accountants

    The NSA is a national organization that advocates for increased professional success for members working in accountancy and taxation roles through continuing education and the promotion of ethical standards for professional excellence.

  • International Federation of Accountants

    This global organization is dedicated to professionals working in the accountancy profession. Its membership numbers more than 3 million accountants in more than 130 countries.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Accounting Degree

Master’s degree programs can be quite expensive. According to the College Board, the average annual cost of tuition and fees for master’s degree programs at public four-year universities in 2017-2018 academic year was $8,670. Annual tuition and fees skyrocket to just under $30,000 at private nonprofit four-year colleges.

Students who enroll in online master’s programs will often find significant savings on tuition and fees, not to mention on room and board. In addition to these savings, students can explore these methods for paying for their degrees:

Federal Financial Aid

Federal student aid, such as student loans and grants, is a common way to fund a college education. Students can learn more about financial aid for online schools from our guide.

Organizational Scholarships

Many of the main accounting industry organizations offer scholarships. These include the National Association of Black Accountants, which offers approximately 50 scholarships each year ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate scholarships – the John L. Carey Scholarship for grad students is $5,000 per year. The Institute of Management Accountants offers a graduate scholarship to students who meet certain criteria.

Institutional scholarships

Private colleges and universities often offer scholarships to help lure top students to their programs. For example, Edgewood College automatically awards $5,000 to incoming master’s in accounting students with an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or higher.

Other ways of funding college include nation-wide merit based scholarships, prestige scholarships, and teaching assistantships, where grad students teach undergraduate accounting courses for reduced tuition costs and a cash stipend each semester.