Best Online Master’s Degrees in Accounting: 2017

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Advanced Programs, Career Paths & Salaries

A 2014 survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council found that 45 percent of employers were actively seeking to hire graduates with a master’s of accounting degree, up from 36 percent just a year before. But to get the job opportunities and higher earnings that come along with completing an online master’s in accounting, students must first put in a lot hard work. From admission to graduation, knowing what to expect can help graduate students prepare for their time in the educational trenches.

Best Online Master’s in Accounting Degrees: 2017

There is a reason so many people choose to get their education online — the flexibility of online courses allows students to continue working in their current job and handle all the other responsibilities of a busy life while working toward their degree. Given the popularity of this approach, the number of accounting degree programs available online has risen drastically over the last several years. How can a student narrow down the options from a field of excellent opportunities? Our ranking of the Best Online Master’s in Accounting Degrees for 2017 is an excellent place to start.

Rank University Name Score Net Price Financial aid percent Online Programs Aavailable Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate University Information Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services
1 Freed-Hardeman University Score99.80
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate54%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
2 St John's University-New York Score99.67
Net Price
Financial aid %98%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate59%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
3 Brenau University Score99.30
Net Price
Financial aid %98%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate45%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
4 New England College Score98.88
Net Price
Financial aid %78%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate43%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
5 University of the Southwest Score98.00
Net Price
Financial aid %98%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate22%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
6 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Score97.89
Net Price
Financial aid %45%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate89%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
7 Southern Adventist University Score97.87
Net Price
Financial aid %97%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate58%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
8 National University Score97.78
Net Price
Financial aid %1%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate23%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
9 Gardner-Webb University Score97.43
Net Price
Financial aid %96%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate45%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
10 University of Alabama at Birmingham Score97.42
Net Price
Financial aid %66%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate48%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
11 Webster University Score97.39
Net Price
Financial aid %94%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate64%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
12 University of Saint Mary Score97.26
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate37%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
13 Southern New Hampshire University Score97.10
Net Price
Financial aid %71%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate59%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
14 Shorter University Score96.95
Net Price
Financial aid %97%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate47%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
15 Bentley University Score96.92
Net Price
Financial aid %65%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate84%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
16 Charleston Southern University Score96.91
Net Price
Financial aid %97%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate38%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
17 Northeastern University Score96.84
Net Price
Financial aid %69%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate79%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
18 Saint Leo University Score96.73
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate43%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
19 Indiana Wesleyan University Score96.59
Net Price
Financial aid %50%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate70%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
20 Nova Southeastern University Score96.53
Net Price
Financial aid %94%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate42%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
21 Creighton University Score96.50
Net Price
Financial aid %98%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate75%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
22 Auburn University Score96.48
Net Price
Financial aid %65%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate68%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
23 Stetson University Score96.40
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate64%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
24 Edgewood College Score96.38
Net Price
Financial aid %97%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate53%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
25 Florida Atlantic University Score96.30
Net Price
Financial aid %43%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate41%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
26 Albertus Magnus College Score96.28
Net Price
Financial aid %81%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate43%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
27 University of Connecticut Score96.27
Net Price
Financial aid %64%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate82%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
28 Saint Joseph's College of Maine Score96.26
Net Price
Financial aid %97%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate51%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
29 University of Tulsa Score96.17
Net Price
Financial aid %86%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate66%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
30 Cleary University Score96.11
Net Price
Financial aid %77%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate47%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
31 Marywood University Score96.05
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate68%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
32 SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica-Rome Score95.99
Net Price
Financial aid %80%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate33%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
33 University of Massachusetts-Amherst Score95.75
Net Price
Financial aid %60%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate70%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
34 Boston University Score95.58
Net Price
Financial aid %51%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate84%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
35 Golden Gate University-San Francisco Score95.38
Net Price
Financial aid %N/A
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad RateN/A
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
36 Kansas State University Score95.36
Net Price
Financial aid %65%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate58%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
37 Southern Utah University Score95.04
Net Price
Financial aid %63%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate36%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
38 Western New England University Score94.90
Net Price
Financial aid %97%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate62%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
39 Syracuse University Score94.83
Net Price
Financial aid %66%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate82%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
40 Webber International University Score94.81
Net Price
Financial aid %98%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate33%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
41 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Score94.78
Net Price
Financial aid %59%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate54%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
42 LIU Post Score94.67
Net Price
Financial aid %92%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate42%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
43 Liberty University Score94.59
Net Price
Financial aid %78%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate46%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
44 Cleveland State University Score94.56
Net Price
Financial aid %41%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate34%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
45 University of Denver Score94.32
Net Price
Financial aid %81%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate76%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
46 Regis University Score94.22
Net Price
Financial aid %95%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate59%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
47 Rutgers University-Newark Score94.14
Net Price
Financial aid %43%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate61%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less

Timeline of an Online Master’s in Accounting

Getting in: The Application Process

Once a student has a list of two or three online accounting master’s programs that might be suitable for them, it’s time to start the application process. The following checklist goes over the items most schools want to see in their admission packet.

  • Bachelor’s degree.

    Applicants for an online master’s in accounting program need to have earned a bachelor’s degree or be on the path to earning it prior to the first day of classes in the graduate program. Schools want to see a transcript detailing this educational experience.

  • Minimum GPA.

    Students must satisfy a minimum GPA in their undergraduate studies as well as a minimum score in certain classes that pertain to accounting or business. Students seeking admission into the top master’s accounting programs should have considerably higher GPA scores.

  • GRE or GMAT scores.

    Schools typically require the Graduate Record Examination, the Graduate Management Admission Test or both. Online accounting master’s programs require a minimum score on these tests to be considered for admission. Prospective students should contact individual accounting schools or visit the schools’ websites for specific test score requirements.

  • Prerequisite courses.

    Certain foundational courses must be completed prior to admission or before the first day of class. These courses might include basic accounting, business or management classes.

  • Letters of recommendation.

    Most schools look for three letters that explain why the student is an excellent candidate for admission. These letters can be written by former professors, work colleagues or anyone else who has knowledge of the student’s academic and professional experience in accounting.

  • Resume.

    Some schools require a set amount of work experience for admission, but most simply want to see what a student can contribute to the program and classmates.

  • Personal statement.

    This is an opportunity for prospective students to make a lasting impression by explicitly laying out why they should be admitted. Students should explain not only how a master’s program would help them grow professionally but also what they bring to the table in terms of skills, experience and interests in the accounting field.

  • Interview.

    Applicants who make it through the first rounds of admissions cuts will be invited to an interview. This interview is mandatory, and though many schools prefer for it to happen in person, those who plan on distance learning can conduct their interview through Skype or other video services.

Admissions requirements vary by accounting school, so always check with the school’s website or call the admissions office to ensure all requirements are understood.

Year 1

The first year of study includes core courses such as introductions to accounting, management and statistics. These courses create a firm foundation on which to build knowledge during the second year. Students meet with an advisor during this first year to determine what their accounting concentration will be (if any) and what courses need to be completed to stay on track for graduation. Students should also consider joining accounting-related student associations to help forge a stronger connection with classmates.

Year 2

During this year, students choose courses that focus on their chosen specialty – such as forensic accounting, auditing or taxation. They also work on finding the right internships, completing a capstone project or thesis, and ensuring that all academic requirements are met (both for graduation and possibly to sit for the CPA exam). Though most students can complete their final requirements within their second year of full-time study, those who are enrolled in a dual MBA/accounting program might take three years to finish.

Testing & Graduation Requirements

Students enrolled in an online master’s in accounting program not only take the appropriate classes, but also face certain testing and graduation requirements that must be completed before they receive their degree. These requirements vary from one school to another, but these are some of the most common requirements students can expect to complete:

  • Master’s thesis.

    Students often begin preparing for their thesis during their first year of study and complete it at the end of their second or third year. Some schools require that the thesis be presented to a panel.

  • Master’s capstone project.

    Some accounting schools don’t require a thesis, but instead look to the master’s capstone project for an accurate representation of what a student has learned over the course of the program.

  • Internship.

    Real-world experience might be a requirement for students in the accounting program. This includes work in an internship or other position that calls for hands-on experience under the supervision of a seasoned accountant or business professional.

  • CPA prep course.

    Students in a concentration that ultimately leads to the designation of Certified Public Accountant might be required to complete the prep course, which boosts their chances of passing the CPA exam.

  • Comprehensive exam.

    This examination covers the key points students should have learned during their two years of study, thus proving their proficiency in accounting and related subjects.

Search Online Master’s Degrees in Accounting

Choosing to attend an online accounting master’s program is the first step, but figuring out which schools deserve to be on the short list is the next one. We have made that process much easier with a handy search tool that allows students to narrow down the options by location, school size, school type, degree level and tuition. The tool even includes mapped results that detail the acceptance rate, so students can understand just how competitive admission is.

Student Population:
School Type:
see map

Career & Salary Potential with a Master’s in Accounting

The online master’s in accounting program offers numerous concentrations tailored to those who want to specialize in order to enjoy better job prospects. These concentrations often lend themselves to more than one career path. Here’s what students can expect from the most common concentrations, as well as what jobs might be in their future.

Concentrations
Auditing

The auditing concentration focuses on the accuracy of financial data. Coursework covers auditing methods, research methods, ethics, statistics and risk assessment. Those who work in this field might work as auditors for employers like the IRS. Some may delve further into fraud investigations.

Career:
Auditor
Auditor

Reviews financial documents to ensure that businesses and individuals are in compliance with local, state and government laws. Auditors might also work on investigations for the IRS.

Fraud Examiner
Fraud Examiner

Works for government organizations such as the IRS or FBI or is hired by private companies or organizations. Fraud examiners evaluate financial and other documents to determine if crimes, such as embezzlement, have occurred.

Controller
Controller

Manages the bookkeeping and accounting departments for a business or government office. Responsibilities of this job include handling payroll and producing quarterly financial statements.

Forensic Accountant
Forensic Accountant

Works with fraud investigators to figure out where the money went. Forensic accountants can follow money trails, figure out how money was spent, and find discrepancies that might signal problems.

Finance

This concentration prepares students to take on a wide variety of financial duties through courses that include budgeting, auditing, financial records evaluation, cost analysis and tax laws. This broad concentration can lend itself to dozens of positions in the financial world, especially in government and private industry.

Career:
Financial Manager
Financial Manager

Works with businesses, organizations or individuals to figure out ways to make money work harder, including choosing the appropriate investments to meet long-term goals.

Budget Analyst
Budget Analyst

Looks at ways to raise profits and efficiency of an organization while simultaneously complying with all laws and keeping shareholders happy.

Ballot Processor
Ballot Processor

Tabulates and processes ballots during election time, but also works for private companies, such as those that offer awards based on voting.

Forensic accounting

Following the money is what students are taught to do through this concentration, which focuses on the many ways that finances can take a nefarious turn. Courses may focus heavily on auditing and tax laws, as well as common frauds. Several computer-based classes teach students how to find hidden information.

Career:
Forensic Accountant
Forensic Accountant

Works with fraud investigators to figure out where the money went. Forensic accountants can follow money trails, figure out how money was spent, and find discrepancies that might signal problems.

Fraud Examiner
Fraud Examiner

Works for government organizations such as the IRS or FBI or is hired by private companies or organizations. Fraud examiners evaluate financial and other documents to determine if crimes, such as embezzlement, have occurred.

MBA

The MBA combines accounting principles with the finer points of business management. Courses might focus on team development, human resources, management skills, budgeting and investment portfolios. Those who graduate with this concentration are well-suited to move into leadership positions in business.

Career:
Financial Manager
Financial Manager

Works with businesses, organizations or individuals to figure out ways to make money work harder, including choosing the appropriate investments to meet long-term goals.

Chief Financial Officer
Chief Financial Officer

Handles reporting of finances, conducts long- and short-term financial planning, and sometimes sits on the board of directors. In most business organizational charts, the CFO is just under the executive and operating officers.

Budget Analyst
Budget Analyst

Looks at ways to raise profits and efficiency of an organization while simultaneously complying with all laws and keeping shareholders happy.

Taxation

At the heart of this concentration is the very intricate U.S. tax code and its application for individuals and businesses. Coursework centers on applications of the tax code and other regulations, as well as how to keep all clients in compliance. Those who go through this concentration sometimes choose to further their studies by pursuing a law degree.

Career:
Tax Accountant
Tax Accountant

Focuses strongly on taxes for individuals, businesses, organizations and government entities. The job might include filing tax returns at an employer like H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt.

Tax Attorney
Tax Attorney

Uses both an accounting degree and a law degree to specialize in the legal aspects of the tax code. Tax attorneys are especially helpful when representing clients battling an IRS audit.

Auditor
Auditor

Reviews financial documents to ensure that businesses and individuals are in compliance with local, state and government laws. Auditors might also work on investigations for the IRS.

Fraud Examiner
Fraud Examiner

Works for government organizations such as the IRS or FBI or is hired by private companies or organizations. Fraud examiners evaluate financial and other documents to determine if crimes, such as embezzlement, have occurred.

Potential Salary Increases with a Master’s Degree

Accountants who choose to earn an online accounting master’s degree often do so because they are enticed by the idea of better pay. Fortunately, that’s not just a rumor: According to Becker Professional Education, people who earn their CPA credential — something quite likely for a master’s degree holder — can expect to earn 10 percent more than those who don’t. That increase can equal over a million dollars more in lifetime earnings.

According to data from PayScale.com, people who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting made up to $89,716 annually, while those who earned a master’s degree made up to $98,535 and had titles such as corporate controller, accounting manager and senior accountant. Those who choose to earn their CPA or other credential might make more than these reported numbers.

Potential Growth 13%
Average salary $65,940

Additional Resources & Links

The following resources can offer excellent opportunities for students to learn more about accounting or discover the benefits they can take advantage of as professionals.

Best Online Master’s in Accounting Degrees

Methodology here.

RANK COLLEGE SCORE TEACHER/STUDENT RATIO COST GRADUATION RATE
1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 100.00 13:1 90%
2 Rutgers University-Newark 98.25 11:1 66%
3 University of Connecticut 95.00 16:1 81%
3 Edgewood College 95.00 11:1 62%
5 Saint Joseph’s College of Maine 94.00 11:1 63%
5 Auburn University 94.00 17:1 71%
7 Concordia University-Wisconsin 92.75 13:1 61%
8 Indiana Wesleyan University 92.00 16:1 63%
9 University of Alabama at Birmingham 91.75 18:1 56%
9 Southern Adventist University 91.75 14:1 52%
9 Brenau University 91.75 11:1 47%
12 Southern Utah University 91.50 18:1 50%
12 Saint Joseph’s University 91.50 13:1 73%
14 Shorter University 91.25 12:1 45%
14 Franklin University 91.25 11:1 14%
16 Gardner-Webb University 91.00 13:1 54%
16 Freed-Hardeman University 91.00 14:1 52%
18 Stetson University 90.75 12:1 61%
19 Baker College Center for Graduate Studies 90.50 13:1 20%
20 Western New England University 90.25 13:1 59%
21 Marist College 90.00 16:1 78%
22 University of Massachusetts-Lowell 89.75 18:1 54%
23 Regis University 89.00 14:1 59%
24 Syracuse University 88.75 16:1 80%
25 SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica-Rome 88.50 18:1 43%
25 Florida Atlantic University 88.50 24:1 46%
27 Albertus Magnus College 88.25 14:1 50%
28 Saint Leo University 88.00 15:1 45%
28 Cleveland State University 88.00 17:1 39%
30 Kennesaw State University 86.75 21:1 35%
30 Liberty University 86.75 18:1 50%
31 Nova Southeastern University 86.00 16:1 46%
32 Southwestern College 85.50 28:1 19%
32 Charleston Southern University 85.50 15:1 34%
34 National University 85.00 20:1 40%
35 University of Maryland-University College 84.75 22:1 8%
36 Bellevue University 84.50 32:1 29%
37 University of the Southwest 84.25 17:1 17%
38 Southern New Hampshire University 82.75 28:1 50%
39 New England College 80.25 18:1 36%