The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Accounting Programs

Online master’s in accounting programs can set graduates up for a wide array of career choices, including tax auditing, corporate management, financial information systems, investigative or forensic accounting, and more. The field is growing, and accountants and auditors are expected to enjoy a boom in demand.

Badge with 2-Line TitleOnline Master'sin Accounting2017
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Many of the nation’s finest business schools now offer affordable master’s in accounting (MAC) programs completely online, giving students the opportunity to continue to work while earning credit toward a professional degree that will give them an edge in the increasingly competitive world of business. Master’s graduates are more desirable than accountants with undergraduate degrees, and they earn more right out of the gate. Corporations from all over actively court MAC accountants before they even finish school.

The accounting industry is projected to add more than 160,000 jobs by 2022, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Accountants, of all people, know the importance of getting the most value for their dollar, including dollars spent on education. It’s not enough to simply go with the cheapest online master’s in accounting program in terms of tuition dollars. Students should consider what they get for their investment and make a holistic evaluation of affordability. That’s why we’ve ranked the following online MAC programs using our unique College Affordability Score, which looks at the quality of education, total cost, financial aid opportunities, and potential future earnings.

There’s a difference between an affordable online education and a cheap one, and these schools promise a return on investment. They have track records of providing rigorous academic experiences while keeping costs affordable, and their graduates have been able to land jobs at salaries that make paying back their loans a relatively comfortable proposition.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 94.71 3/5 90% Chapel Hill, NC

Enrolling more than 29,000 students annually, UNC is one of the largest colleges in North Carolina and the oldest, tracing its origin back to 1789. UNC’s online master’s in accounting offers concentrations in income tax accounting or auditing. Both paths include core courses, concentration courses, and electives to help students specialize their skills. UNC offers the same tuition rate to students regardless of residency status. An MBA and a master’s of accounting are a popular combination, and students who already possess an MBA from an AACSB-accredited school may be able to earn their accounting degree faster, with just 37-40 credits required for graduation. The general program requires 45 credits. Most learners complete the program within one to three years. Students from accounting and non-accounting backgrounds are encouraged to apply, and those with significant accounting experience may also be able to complete the degree with fewer credits. Courses are delivered through live web-cam sessions, pre-recorded lectures, and messaging systems.

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2 Rutgers University-Newark 84.61 3/5 67% Newark, NJ

Rutgers, founded in 1766, is one of the oldest colleges in the country and the largest in New Jersey, operating campuses in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden. The school’s master of accountancy in governmental accounting is a 30-credit, part-time program that gives students the option to take some classroom courses at the school’s Newark or New Brunswick campuses. The curriculum prepares students for positions in government accounting, financial management, and auditing. The program consists of 21 credits of core courses, such as government budgeting systems, public financial management, and public sector auditing. The program also has learners take nine credits of electives, which allows them to explore professional interests. Students have the opportunity to pursue a 12-credit graduate certificate in financial management, which can be applied towards the degree. Rutgers offers in-state tuition to all online students, regardless of state residency, which makes the school’s master’s in accounting online a smart choice for government employees in all states.

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3 The University of Texas at Dallas 77.84 3/5 67% Richardson, TX

UTD, part of the University of Texas System, serves over 26,000 students from its campus in Dallas and through online offerings. The college’s Jindal School of Management is nationally recognized for its business programs, including an online master’s of accounting. The degree has two enrollment options: cohort and flex. The cohort program has a group of students complete all courses together in the same sequence. The flex program allows students to work at their own pace and choose their own sequence of courses. Students in the flex program can pursue specializations in assurance services, taxation, public accounting, corporate accounting, internal auditing, or accounting systems. The cohort format requires learners to specialize in public accounting. The flex program offers start dates during the fall, spring, and summer semesters, while the cohort program only offers one start date in the fall. Both tracks require 36 credits for graduation.

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4 Golden Gate University-San Francisco 76.76 3/5 48% San Francisco, CA

Golden Gate University, based in the city's financial district, offers a range of professional graduate degrees, including a master’s degree in accounting online. The program prepares students to sit for either the certified public accountant or certified management accountant examinations. The self-paced degree can be completed in 2-4 years, with options for full-time or part-time study. The degree offers three concentrations: generalist, forensic accounting, or taxation. Each track requires 45 credits for graduation. The core consists of 33 credits dedicated to business law, communication and analysis of financial information, and accounting responsibility and ethics. The concentration requires students to earn 12 credits. Each concentration includes a set of required courses along with electives that allow students to delve deeper into specific subjects. GGU encourages all students to participate in an internship and can help arrange local opportunities for online students.

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5 George Mason University 76.08 3/5 67% Fairfax, VA

George Mason is the largest public college in Virginia, serving more than 34,000 students annually through in-person and online programs. The school’s master of science in accounting offers courses in a modular, quarterly format, allowing students to take two courses every 10 weeks. The degree is only available in a part-time format and can be completed in two years. The 30-credit curriculum includes five core courses that cover topics such as fraud examination and advanced issues in taxation. A professional accounting colloquium is required. Elective courses comprise the other half of the degree, allowing students to pursue any area of accounting that interests them (with approval from a program advisor). All online students must take a three-credit global accounting environment course, which includes a weeklong residency abroad.

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6 Bellevue University 75.69 3/5 37% Bellevue, NE

BU, based in Bellevue, Nebraska, is a public college with a focus on nontraditional education. The school’s fully online master of accounting helps students develop skills in communication, critical analysis, and technical accounting practices. The program meets education requirements for the certified public accountant exam and also prepares graduates for other positions such as controller and internal auditor. The curriculum includes 36 credits, with 27 dedicated to core courses such as financial auditing, accounting information systems, and accounting theory. Students take nine additional credits from the school's MBA program, which includes business analysis, financial management, and operations and logistics. Students also have the option to specialize in tax or finance, which requires an additional nine credits. Students can complete a three-credit internship course as part of the core curriculum, which requires a professional accounting organization and an approved plan of study by a faculty member.

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7 Western Governors University 75.10 3/5 18% Salt Lake City, UT

WGU is a unique, online college that emphasizes professional education for nontraditional students, including a flexible online master’s of accounting program. The program emphasizes the technical, analytical, strategic, and communication skills necessary for success. The curriculum prepares students to sit for industry standard professional exams, including certified public accountant, certified management accountant, and certified internal auditor. The program requires students to earn at least 30 credits to graduate. Major courses cover topics such as management communication, advanced tax concepts, strategic management, and forensic accounting. WGU uses a competency-based model, allowing students who possess relevant subject knowledge to easily test out of courses covering material they already know. Coupled with the school’s flexible curriculum organization, which allows students to complete as many courses as they want each semester, this can help online students save on tuition.

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8 Southern Utah University 75.20 3/5 52% Cedar City, UT

Southern Utah's online master of accountancy gives students an understanding of tax code and financial regulations for the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The degree consists of 30 credits, with concentrations in management, public accounting, or taxation. Students are not required to choose a concentration. Students take 12 core credits, including courses in business law, auditing, and accounting ethics. The remainder of the curriculum includes six credits in concentration courses and 12 credits in additional electives, which includes the option for a three-credit internship. Accounting students can also pursue a dual degree that pairs the accounting curriculum with an MBA, requiring an additional 15 credits to earn both degrees. SUU boasts a strong job placement rate, with 99% of accounting students finding employment in the field within six months of graduation.

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9 University of Connecticut 74.02 4/5 82% Storrs, CT

UConn, located in Storrs, is one of the most prestigious public colleges in New England. The master of science in accounting was the school’s first online master’s degree, and today, the program is one of the most acclaimed in the Northeast. The curriculum combines elements of accounting and the school’s MBA, allowing students to gain hard skills in tax code and financial analysis, along with soft skills in business communication and management. UConn offers a flexible course selection, allowing students to design their own program of study; the degree requires only two core classes. Students select eight additional electives to complete course requirements. Students can pursue a selection of accounting topics, including data analytics, fraud examination, global financial reporting, and advanced assurance services. The program is offered entirely online except for one mandatory, four-day campus residency in Hartford.

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10 Auburn University 72.06 3/5 69% Auburn, AL

AU, located in Auburn, Alabama, offers one of the top online master’s in accounting programs. The degree helps students build skills in research, technical accounting, and communication, preparing them to pass the uniform CPA exam. Auburn graduates boast a high success rate on the exam, with more than 80% passing on their first try. The curriculum includes a total of 30 credits, with 12 credits dedicated to core courses, such as advanced auditing, federal tax research, and integrated accounting applications. Students complete the other 18 credits through elective courses, with options including real estate finance, advanced business law, and information risk analysis. While all course material is delivered online, students must attend a three-day campus residency that takes place during their final spring semester. The campus session allows students to participate in the Auburn MAcc Leadership Summit, with opportunities for business seminars, workshops, and social events.

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11 SUNY Polytechnic Institute 68.14 3/5 45% Utica, NY

SUNY Poly, established in 1966 in Utica, New York, serves as the state’s public polytechnic college, offering professional education to over 3,000 students annually. The school’s master of science in accountancy was created to satisfy demand for trained accountants who can pass the certified public accountant and certified management accountant exams. Graduates are prepared for positions in public, private, non-profit, and government accounting sectors. While the program is primarily intended for students with undergraduate accounting degrees, those without a significant accounting background may enroll after fulfilling additional prerequisite coursework. Students are required to earn at least 33 credits, with 15 dedicated to core accounting courses, 15 to core business courses, and three to electives. SUNY Poly offers an optional concentration in forensic accounting and valuation. The concentration requires students to take three additional courses: fraud examination, financial statement investigation, and either accounting information systems or business and forensic valuation.

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12 Regis University 67.65 4/5 59% Denver, CO

Regis, a private Roman Catholic college in Denver, Colorado, is one of the top educational institutions in the state. The school offers a flexible course schedule, with start dates every eight weeks. The online master’s of accounting program requires 30-48 credits, depending on student experience. Those with a strong accounting background can typically forgo the 18 credits of foundation courses, completing the degree with just 30 credits. The program core includes nine credits in financial communication, accounting ethics, and interpreting accounting information. Students also take 18 credits in electives that allow them to pursue professional interests and customize their degree, with options including forensic accounting, controllership, and international accounting. For interested students, Regis offers the opportunity to perform a three-credit internship in a professional financial environment. All students end the accounting program with a three-credit capstone course that focuses on business planning and strategy.

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13 University of Maryland-University College 66.47 3/5 6% Adelphi, MD

UMUC, a public college in Adelphi, Maryland, offers a master of science in accounting and financial management that’s designed for mid-career professionals looking to move into management positions. The degree teaches students the skills they need to manage financial operations and make long-term decisions about company finances. The 36-credit program includes 27 credits of core courses, focusing on major topics such as behavioral finance, investment valuation, and federal income taxation. Students choose two additional elective courses, with options including government and not-for-profit accounting, fraud examination, accounting ethics, and international accounting. The program concludes with a three-credit capstone course in accounting and financial management, which has students integrate course material to analyze a relevant issue in the field. Graduates are prepared to sit for a range of professional certification exams in areas such as accounting, financial management, auditing, fraud, information systems, and taxation.

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14 University of Massachusetts-Amherst 65.00 3/5 74% Amherst, MA

UMassOnline, created in 2001, is the UMass System’s online education platform, which offers more than 150 degrees and 1,500 courses entirely online. The master’s of accounting online requires a total of 30 credits, with 15 credits of core courses, six credits of accounting electives, and nine credits of business electives. Students in the program gain an in-depth understanding of concepts in governmental and nonprofit accounting, corporate finance, advanced auditing, globalization, and forensic accounting. The curriculum prepares learners for upper level positions in government, nonprofit, and corporate accounting environments. Online students receive a range of support services, including technical support, tutoring, and library services. Students also have access to academic advisers and program coordinators, who can help with course selections, degree planning, and other academic issues. Due to state regulations, UMass is unable to admit online students who are residents of Arkansas, Kansas, and Minnesota.

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15 University of Alabama at Birmingham 57.06 3/5 55% Birmingham, AL

UAB serves more than 18,000 students annually and is one of the largest colleges in Alabama. The school is well known for its online programs, including a master’s degree in accounting online. The 30-credit program consists of 21 credits in core courses, building advanced knowledge in topics such as business law, corporate governance, tax entities, and auditing. Students are required to complete at least nine credits of electives, giving them the opportunity to explore topics in forensic accounting, fraud examination, governmental accounting, and teaching. Students can earn their degree in five semesters. The program is offered full time or part time. For students who lack an undergraduate accounting degree or significant work experience in the subject, UAB offers a 24-credit bridge program that covers the fundamentals of accounting and prepares students for graduate study.

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16 Emporia State University 54.02 3/5 40% Emporia, KS

Emporia State, one of six public colleges in Kansas, boasts strong business programs that date back to 1868. The School of Business is also accredited by the AACSB International, a distinction held by fewer than 5% of all business schools worldwide. The master of accountancy is available either fully online or in a hybrid format that allows students to take some campus courses at the school’s Emporia and Kansas City locations. Students are required to earn at least 30 credits, which are split equally between core courses and electives. Core courses focus on topics in auditing, management, accounting theory, and information systems. Electives allow students to explore specialized subjects such as enterprise resource planning, managerial economics, law of commerce, and business analytics. ESU caters to working students, offering full-time and part-time options that allow students to complete the program at their own pace.

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17 University of Scranton 52.75 5/5 81% Scranton, PA

US, a Catholic, Jesuit college in Scranton, Pennsylvania, has offered comprehensive education informed by Christian ethics since 1888. Focusing on technical skills, communication, management, and ethics, the master of accountancy prepares students for leadership roles in the global business environment. The program combines practical skills with a Jesuit perspective of social responsibility. The 30-credit degree includes 15 credits in core courses, 12 credits in advanced electives, and a three-credit capstone course, which has students apply overall program learning to an accounting research question. Scranton is committed to student success on the Certified Professional Accountant exam, and the school offers accounting students a discount on the Wiley CPAexcel preparation program. Offering a video lecture format and comprehensive analytical tools to help students track progress, the CPAexcel program leads to a 90% pass rate on the CPA exam, with free course repeats offered for students who don’t pass on their first try.

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18 Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion 50.98 4/5 64% Marion, IN

Indiana Wesleyan, a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Wesleyan Church denomination, has offered Christ-centered educations since 1920. The school’s master of science in accounting emphasizes a legal, ethical, and biblical framework, integrating technical knowledge with a Christian approach to business. The program operates in a cohort model, allowing the same group of students to move through the curriculum together and provide mutual support for one another. Courses are generally taken one at a time in a set sequence, with 30 credits required for degree completion. Major topics include critical thinking and business communication, advanced managerial accounting, corporate taxation, and accounting information systems and control. This fully online program offers several start dates throughout the year, providing maximum flexibility for working students. IWU also offers the same tuition rate regardless of state residency and requires no campus visits.

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19 Mississippi College 50.39 3/5 53% Clinton, MS

MC, based in Clinton, Mississippi, is the second oldest Baptist college in the country, with a history that dates back to 1826. With more than 5,000 students, MC also ranks as the largest private school in the state, and online students can pursue a range of graduate degrees, including an online master’s in accounting. The degree is offered as a master of business administration with an accounting concentration, combining general business and management knowledge with technical accounting skills. The curriculum requires 30 credits, split evenly between business and accounting courses. The MBA core includes courses in financial management, policy formulation, and global economy, while the accounting component covers subjects such as federal tax accounting, auditing concepts, and accounting theory. Online students can also pursue a graduate certificate in accounting, intended for bachelor’s degree holders who did not major in accounting but wish to sit for the CPA exam or change careers.

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20 Wilmington University 50.00 3/5 37% New Castle, DE

New Castle, Delaware, is home to Wilmington University, a private college that serves more than 20,000 students annually. As one of the largest schools in the state, Wilmington boasts a large selection of distance education programs, including an online accounting master’s degree. Students explore the theories and practices of accounting, gaining the skills to serve as certified public accountants, managerial accountants, or certified fraud examiners. The program consists of 30 credits, with 24 credits of accounting major courses and six credits in accounting electives. Students learn to apply reliable measurements to financial data, identifying and analyzing business and audit risks. Depending on availability and location, students may be able to take some courses in person.

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21 Southern Adventist University 49.90 4/5 56% Collegedale, TN

Southern Adventist, founded in 1892 in Collegedale, Tennessee, is the oldest Seventh-day Adventist college in the South, having provided a Christian-centered education for over 125 years. The school offers an online master of business administration with an emphasis in accounting, combining the MBA core with student-selected courses in accounting. The 36-credit degree includes 24 credits of MBA courses, focusing on topics such as financial management, organizational behavior, strategic decision making, and the integration of faith and business. Accounting courses make up 12 credits, though there are no course requirements, allowing students to explore the field as it fits into their personal and professional goals. The accounting component includes one three-credit elective in a related field, such as human resources, marketing management, or healthcare administration. Students who lack an accounting background can enter the program after taking 12 credits of accounting prerequisites, including financial accounting and principles of finance.

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22 Edgewood College 49.12 4/5 59% Madison, WI

Edgewood, a private, Dominican, Catholic college in Madison, Wisconsin, offers a flexible master of science in accountancy that can be completed within two to three years of part-time study or just one year of full-time study. Designed with working students in mind, the master’s in accounting online has three start dates: fall, spring, and summer semesters. The curriculum requires students to earn at least 30 credits, with 12 credits allocated to business courses, such as executive communications, business ethics, and business law. Students also take at least 15 credits of accounting courses and three elective credits, which can include an internship. The program prepares students to sit for the CPA or CMA exams. Accounting students receive a discount on Becker CPA Review and Gleim CMA Review courses--two of the most respected accounting test prep programs in the country.

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23 Nova Southeastern University 48.63 4/5 43% Fort Lauderdale, FL

Nova Southeastern, based in Davie, Florida, serves more than 24,000 students annually, with thousands enrolling in online programs. The school’s online master of accounting emphasizes value driven management, preparing graduates to pursue leadership positions in the field. This flexible program offers start dates in August, January, and May, and students can complete the degree in 21 months. The curriculum requires students to earn at least 39 credits. At least 18 credits must be in major accounting courses, such as financial statement analysis, fund accounting, and information and control systems. The remaining 21 credits are dedicated to elective courses that allow students to explore a range of accounting subject areas. Options include IRS practice and procedure, corporate taxation, financial accounting and research, and advanced business law. The master’s in accounting online program curriculum meets all requirements for the CPA and CMA exams, preparing students for Florida certification.

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24 Stetson University 48.24 4/5 63% DeLand, FL

Stetson, one of just 180 business schools worldwide to receive full accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, offers a flexible online master of accountancy. The program is designed for working students, allowing them to maintain career responsibilities while earning their degree. Students learn technical accounting skills along with related skills in business and information systems. Graduates are prepared to pursue mid and high-level career opportunities in the field. The degree, which requires students to earn 30 credits, includes 15 credits of core accounting courses and three credits in either data analytics or managerial decision-making. The remaining credits (12) are electives, which include topics in managerial accounting, information technology in business strategy, and business law. Students can complete the master’s in accounting online program with one year of full-time study.

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25 Western New England University 47.84 4/5 60% Springfield, MA

Western New England, located in Springfield, Massachusetts, is a private college that’s home to several online programs, including an affordable master of science in accounting. The online master’s of accounting can be completed with 15 months of part-time study or with 10 months of accelerated, full-time study. The curriculum prepares students to sit for the CPA exam in Massachusetts or Connecticut, while also teaching them advanced skills in analysis, evaluation, planning, and controlling. Students must earn 30-33 credits, with 21 credits dedicated to major courses that combine business and accounting skills, including cost-based decision making, corporate and partnership tax, and managerial finance. Students can pursue an optional nine-credit concentration in forensic accounting and fraud investigation, which explores techniques for examining financial fraud and offering litigation support. Students who forgo the forensic accounting concentration choose from an additional 9-12 credits in accounting electives, focusing on professional interests.

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