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Best Value Online Master’s in Accounting Programs 2020

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Graduate Accounting Programs for Future Professionals

Accountants can work in a variety of professional settings, including large corporations, small and medium-sized companies, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. Accountants can also set up a private practice that allows them to serve clients from various industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that accountants made a median annual salary of $71,550 in 2019, which is well above the national median for all occupations.

Graduates of an undergraduate accounting program typically qualify for entry-level positions in the field, such as bookkeeper and accounting clerk. To earn certified public accountant (CPA) credentials, most states require aspiring accountants to have at least 150 postsecondary credits and pass an exam. CPAs can represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service in matters of audits, payments, and appeals. Employers often seek CPAs for leadership and management positions.

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Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Since a bachelor’s degree only comprises 120 credits, many bachelor’s in accounting graduates complete a master’s degree in accounting to meet the minimum credit requirement for the CPA exam. This guide provides important information about online graduate programs in accounting, including common courses, requirements, and concentrations.

Top 10 Best Value Online Master’s Programs in Accounting 2020

Online Master’s in Accounting Overview

Accounting appeals to professionals with strong numerical skills and a penchant for details. Accountants also need solid communication skills, knowledge of tax laws and current regulations, and familiarity with commonly used accounting software.

Traditional accounting duties include preparing and filing taxes, reviewing financial statements, and optimizing fiscal operations. Accountants can also specialize their skills for particular careers. For example, forensic accountants investigate crimes, such as fraud and tax evasion. They often work with law enforcement officers to aid in their investigation. Some accounting practitioners work in international investing, helping clients make lawful decisions regarding tax shelters and benefits.

The accounting field continues to expand and offer fresh career opportunities. Colleges and universities develop programs that correspond to these growth areas, thus increasing the professional options of qualified accountants. Many online master’s programs in accounting offer concentrations in emerging areas, like information management and technology assurance, sports accounting, and environmental accounting.

Aspiring accountants can expect to enter a high-paying, robust job market poised for growth. These professionals earn a median annual salary well above the national average, and the BLS projects jobs for accountants to grow 6% between 2018 and 2028.

Common Master’s in Accounting Courses

Common Master’s in Accounting Courses

In this course, students learn how to organize and distribute relevant information internally and externally. Students also learn how to conduct client interviews to draw out needed information.

Learners practice writing a variety of industry-specific accounting documents and familiarize themselves with current terminology and various communication techniques and devices. They also develop interpersonal skills that help them relate comfortably and professionally with their peers, superiors, and clients.

Forensic Accounting

This course teaches students how to examine financial statements to detect fraudulent information and false financial reporting. Learners study computer fraud, methods of unlawful concealment, and different types of fraud schemes. They also examine various countermeasures to prevent and mitigate instances of fraud, including advanced analytical techniques and effective internal controls.

The course also exposes students to litigation support services and recent legislation that addresses this type of crime, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Additionally, learners study several self-regulating measures adopted by the accounting profession over time to help detect and prevent fraud.

Modeling Financial Statements

In this course, students learn how to evaluate a company’s operational sustainability, financial performance, and capital structure to develop stable and robust fiscal projections. Students then use this information to generate investment options based on an appropriate risk and reward equilibrium.

Because forecasting is not an exact science, students model several scenarios based on available data and anticipated results. They learn to formulate educated fiscal projections that help business owners, private equity groups, institutional investors, and credit analysts make responsible financial decisions.

Professional Conduct and Responsibility

This course examines how law, ethics, and business intersect. Students learn to formulate and exercise their own ethical judgements in various business scenarios. They also develop a clear understanding of the role that ethical assumptions play in business decisions.

The course typically includes the examination of various ethical issues in the workplace, such as drug testing, preferential hiring, and sexual harassment. Students also explore ethical conflicts that arise in the international business arena.

Taxation of Individuals and Business Income

This course examines federal income tax laws as they relate to individuals and businesses. Learners study what constitutes income according to current tax laws and explore topics such as preferential income tax rates, profit and loss, classes of income, and non-statutory principles of taxation.

Students also review case histories that demonstrate the application of the Internal Revenue Code in real-life scenarios. They study the different policies that underlie tax laws, how tax laws are applied, and how tax judgements are appealed.

Master’s in Accounting Concentrations

Online master’s programs in accounting often offer concentrations that allow students to specialize their skills and prepare for specific careers after graduation. For example, some schools may offer a concentration in environmental accounting, which involves identifying and measuring the impact of business activity on the environment. Environmental accountants often help clients use their resources more efficiently while limiting the negative effects of their activities on the environment.

Schools may also offer a concentration in information management and technology assurance, which involves the management and protection of financial data. This concentration often includes coursework in internal controls, risk assessment, cybercrime detection, and business intelligence.

Other popular concentration areas include auditing, taxation, and managerial accounting. Prospective students should research each potential program’s curriculum to ensure it offers concentrations aligned with their interests and goals.

Master’s in Accounting Requirements

Admission requirements vary by school, but most online master’s in accounting programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, preferably in accounting. However, many schools consider applicants with a degree in a related field, such as economics or business. Non-accounting degree-holders may need to enroll in prerequisite courses prior to beginning their master’s program.

Admission requirements may also include a minimum GPA, often a 3.0, and GMAT or GRE scores. Few institutions require minimum scores on graduate entrance exams, but those that do usually require applicants to score at least 500 on the GMAT or 150, 153, and 3.5 on the GRE’s verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing sections, respectively.

Additional admission requirements may include an essay, a current resume, and letters of recommendation. These documents give schools insight into the applicant’s background, current accomplishments, and future professional plans. Some schools also require an interview prior to making a final determination.

Master’s in Accounting Skills

Online master’s degrees in accounting give students the hard and soft skills they need to succeed in the field, such as critical thinking skills and proficiency in industry software. Companies and individuals often rely on accountants to craft a dynamic financial strategy for them, requiring accountants to approach each client’s situation with a critical eye and an analytical mind.

Rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission change frequently, requiring accountants to keep their knowledge and skills current and sharp. Many states require accountants to complete continuing professional education (CPE) credits prior to licensure renewal. Taking CPE classes remains one of the best ways to keep accounting knowledge current.

Accountants can now take advantage of several software programs that perform the more tedious aspects of accounting work. However, they still must know how to organize data and present their findings to clients. Proficiency with Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet programs is critical to accounting success.

Additionally, accountants must often interpret and communicate complex data, which requires well-developed written and verbal communication skills. Clients value an accounting professional who can translate complicated charts and graphs into information they can grasp and use to make sound financial decisions.

2020 Best Value Online Master’s Programs in Accounting

  1. Western Governors University
    Location

    Salt Lake City, UT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    In 1997, governors from 19 states came together to create an online, competency-based institution called Western Governors University. Comprising four colleges, WGU offers bachelor's and master's programs to students from all over the country and around the world.

    The College of Business offers an MBA accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs that requires the completion of 11 courses and offers several specialization areas including accounting. The curriculum includes coursework in data-driven decision-making, global economics for managers, management communication, and accounting for decision-makers. Students must also complete a capstone project.

    WGU charges students a flat tuition fee per six-month term. Students can take as many courses as they can master within each enrollment period, which can lead to significant savings over time.

    Western Governors University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

  2. Bellevue University
    Location

    Bellevue, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Since its founding in 1966, BU has focused on providing for the educational needs of working professionals. It currently enrolls more than 9,000 students across four campus locations and online. BU comprises four academic colleges offering over 80 programs at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.

    BU offers an online master's program in accounting comprising 36 semester credit hours. The program maintains two optional specialization areas in finance and tax accounting. Students who choose to specialize must complete at least nine credit hours in their area of specialization.

    The curriculum includes coursework in advanced cost accounting, taxation of business entities, accounting for government and nonprofit entities, and accounting information systems (controls and forensics). The program provides an excellent foundation for graduates who plan to seek CPA licensure. Students with bachelor's degrees who complete the program meet the 150-credit requirement for the CPA exam.

    Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

  3. University of Maryland-University College
    Location

    Adelphi, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1947, UMGC was formerly called the University of Maryland University College. It offers more than 90 online programs in several academic areas including business and management, data analytics, healthcare and science, and public safety.

    UMGC offers an online master's program in accounting and financial management comprising 36 credit hours. Students enroll in 15 credits of accounting coursework and 18 credits of financial management courses. A capstone class constitutes the remaining three credits. The master of science curriculum includes coursework in federal income taxation, financial decision-making for managers, investment valuation, and government and nonprofit accounting.

    Applicants must complete at least 15 credits of undergraduate accounting coursework with a grade of C or higher in each course before consideration. Students can transfer up to six credits from an accredited institution.

    The University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

  4. Averett University-Non-Traditional Programs
    Location

    Danville, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Chartered in 1859 as Union Female College, Averett began accepting male students in 1970. Today, the university enrolls nearly 1,500 students and offers more than 30 undergraduate majors and five master's programs.

    Averett offers an online master's degree in accounting as part of its Individually Designed Education for Adult Learners (IDEAL) program. IDEAL students work closely with an advisor to craft an individualized study plan that supports their educational and professional objectives.

    The program requires 30 credit hours for completion and meets the educational requirements for the CPA exam for students who already hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. The curriculum includes courses in federal tax research and analysis, advanced accounting information systems, issues in business law and ethics, and forensic and investigative accounting.

    Averett University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

  5. Wilmington University
    Location

    New Castle, DE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    WilmU started out as Wilmington College in 1968 with an initial enrollment of 194 students. WilmU currently supports over 20,500 undergraduate and graduate students pursuing over 200 programs across seven academic colleges.

    The online graduate program in accounting at WilmU holds accreditation from the International Accreditation Council for Business Education. The master of science program comprises 30 credits and meets the educational requirements for the CPA exam for students with an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. The curriculum includes core subjects such as advanced managerial accounting; fraud prevention and forensic accounting; international taxation and accounting; and federal taxation, policy, and research.

    Some online programs follow the regular 15-week semester schedule, whereas others adhere to an accelerated seven-week format. All students at WilmU (including online enrollees) pay in-state tuition regardless of where they live.

    Wilmington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

  6. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
    Location

    Edinburg, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded as recently as 2013, UTRGV currently supports a population of approximately 28,600 undergraduate and graduate students. UTRGV comprises 13 schools and colleges including a School of Medicine, which is the first in the region.

    The Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship offers an online master's in accounting with concentrations in auditing and taxation. The program maintains five enrollment periods per year and follows an accelerated delivery format with each course lasting seven weeks. Full-time students typically graduate from the program after one year of continuous enrollment.

    The 30-credit curriculum includes coursework in professional ethics, accounting research and communication, business law for accountants, and information technology for accounting and control. Students must complete four courses (12 credits) from their area of concentration. Applicants who hold a bachelor's degree in a non-accounting field may need to enroll in leveling classes prior to admission to the program.

    The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

  7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The first students arrived at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1795, six years after it was founded in 1789 as the first public university in the young nation. UNC-Chapel Hill comprises 14 degree-granting schools and colleges and currently enrolls over 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

    The Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill offers a flexible online master's degree in accounting that gives students up to 36 months to complete the requirements for the degree. Most full-time students, however, graduate from the program after one year of continuous enrollment. The total number of credits required to earn the degree depends on a student's academic background at the start of the program but is typically 36-48 credit hours.

    Students can choose from concentrations in tax accounting, auditing, and financial analysis and reporting. The curriculum includes core courses that cover subjects such as managerial and cost accounting, professional communication for accountants, auditing and assurance services, and data analytics for accountants.

    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

  8. Fitchburg State University
    Location

    Fitchburg, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    When Fitchburg State was founded in 1894 as the State Normal School in Fitchburg, it offered only one curriculum: a two-year teacher training program for women. Today, the university enrolls approximately 7,200 men and women, comprises four schools, and offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of academic disciplines.

    Fitchburg State offers an online MBA in accounting comprising 30 credit hours that can be completed in one year. The program follows an accelerated delivery format and supports four start dates throughout the year. The curriculum includes classes in organizational behavior and development, accounting information systems, strategic management, and advanced financial accounting issues. Courses follow an accelerated seven-week delivery schedule.

    Although applicants are not required to submit scores from a standardized graduate exam, such as the GMAT or the GRE, they must show a history of strong academic performance and have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.8. Online students pay in-state tuition no matter where they live.

    Fitchburg State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

  9. Florida Atlantic University
    Location

    Boca Raton, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Now serving more than 30,000 students, FAU began in 1961 and is the state's fifth public university. It comprises 10 colleges and offers more than 170 programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.

    The College of Business at FAU holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and offers an executive master's program in accounting online with five areas of concentration: forensic accounting, taxation, business valuation, digital forensics, and professional accounting.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA during the last 60 credits of undergraduate enrollment. Applicants who hold a bachelor's degree in a non-accounting field may need to take leveling courses prior to starting the master's program. The program requires the submission of GMAT or GRE scores no more than five years old.

    Florida Atlantic University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

  10. Concordia University-Chicago
    Location

    River Forest, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Established in 1864 as Addison Teachers Seminary, CUC began as a college exclusively for parochial education. Today, CUC maintains comprehensive academic curricula offering bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in over 100 areas of study.

    The College of Business at CUC is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. It offers an online MBA program with a specialization in accounting that prepares students to sit for the CPA exam. The program comprises 36 credits with courses following an accelerated format that makes it possible for students to graduate after one year of continuous enrollment.

    In addition to core MBA classes, students enroll in courses specific to the accounting field such as audit theory and practice, intermediate financial accounting, federal taxation, and business communication and organizational behavior. The program does not require applicants to submit GRE or GMAT scores or pay an application fee.

    Concordia University Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Thanks for reading our ranking of the 25 best cheap master’s degrees in accounting online!

Sources:
IPEDS Data Center
College Navigator

Related:
Accounting Scholarships
Top 20 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) Degree Programs.

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