The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Accounting Programs

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

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.

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.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Receiving Loans Location Description    
1

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

97.113/532%Chapel Hill, NC

campus_university_of_north_carolina_chapel_hill

UNC at Chapel Hill uses an asynchronous format for its online master’s in accounting program, allowing students to access and study material on their own schedules. While many manage to power through the program in as few as 15 months, others complete coursework within a span of three years.

UNC’s online school accepts both accounting and non-accounting students and offers waivers for classes completed at the undergrad level, which both speeds up the master’s process and makes for one of the cheapest online master’s in accounting available. Students who have more than five years of experience in the field or those who have served in the military may be able to waive the GRE/GMAT requirements. An optional winter internship is also part of the curriculum. The school boasts an exceptional placement rate--99% of its students are employed within three months of graduation.

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2

Bellevue University

84.613/544%Bellevue, NE

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Nebraska’s largest private university, Bellevue U, is well known for producing leaders. Located in the Cornhusker city of the same name, the school has a 36-credit online master’s in accounting (MAC) program that’s been cited as one of the best values in the country based on data from the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Bellevue works hard to find transferable credits from the undergraduate level, and does not require many of the additional fees and add-ons that many universities do. The school’s curriculum emphasizes real-world accounting situations, including advanced cost accounting, accounting theory, auditing, taxes, business ethics, and accounting information systems. Students are prepared to step right into their careers or to sit for the CPA exam. Admission requires a baccalaureate degree and a GPA of 2.5 or better on the last 60 undergraduate credits.

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3

Southern Utah University

81.583/534%Cedar City, UT

campus-southern-utah-university

SUU established its master of accountancy program 18 years ago to ready students for the CPA exam, and it has been refining the course ever since. The program remains a great choice for those wanting to sit for the exam. Students also have the opportunity to complete a joint MAC and master in business administration (MBA) degree through the school.

The MAC program at SUU can be completed in 30 credit hours and as little as two semesters. There are 10 courses required, including four core MAC courses, four additional MAC electives, and two more MAC or MBA courses. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree, the GMAT or the GRE, and an Index Score of 1500 or better. Index Scores combine the GMAT or GRE score with the applicant’s last 60 credit hours, multiplied by 200. SUU accountants have a tremendous success rate--almost 100% of graduates find work in their field.

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4

Syracuse University

50.924/555%Syracuse, NY

campus-syracuse-university

Accounting students in Syracuse’s online master of science in professional accounting (MSPA) program are put into one of three tracks depending on their educational background.

The accounting sequence (30 credits) was designed for students with an undergraduate degree in accounting; the business sequence (33-42 credits) is for undergrads with baccalaureate degrees in business; and the foundational sequence (45-48 credits) is for students whose undergrad degree is in another discipline. Everyone emerges with a master’s and is prepared to take the CPA exam.

The MSA program is designed in a collaborative web-based format, and also includes real-world experience, and coursework that can be structured around a busy schedule. Course content can be accessed 24/7, and graduates have lifelong access to it. Online students don’t pay any of the health, technology, or other fees campus students pay.

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4

Rutgers University – Newark

78.822/557%Newark, NJ

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The master’s of accountancy program at Rutgers University is the only professional degree in the growing field of governmental accounting offered entirely online. Rutgers is considered one of the best business schools in the northeast, ranked highly by the Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, the Financial Times, and BusinessWeek.

The online MAC program is also affordable; Rutgers offers the same in-state tuition that New Jersey residents pay to any government employees anywhere.

The 30-credit course prepares students for careers in state and federal accounting, but the foundations are the same as any other accounting work. No GMAT is required for admission, and up to six credits can be transferred from the undergraduate level. Students who don’t have the required background can take the prerequisite accounting for managers course in the summer to qualify. The course is delivered by eCollege learning system.

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5

University of Connecticut

81.163/550%Storrs, CT

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UConn’s master of science in accounting (MSA) program is delivered in an asynchronous format and can be completed through both full-time and part-time options. The MSA can be completed entirely online, aside from one mandatory four-day week-in-residence course, which helps students become familiar with technology used in the program. A total of 30 semester credits are required to complete the degree.

UConn has some of the nation’s most knowledgeable faculty when it comes to tax, information systems, auditing, forensic, financial, and managerial accounting. The school’s courses get students up-to-speed in generally accepted accounting principles and tax codes. The UConn MAC program is accredited by the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and it has received a nod from the United States Distance Learning Association for best practices in online education.

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6

Florida Atlantic University

67.181/540%Boca Raton, FL

FAU hosts several master’s in accounting programs, but only the executive master’s of accountancy is designed to be completed completely online. A two-year, 30-hour curriculum, the program includes 10 required courses and strongly emphasizes forensic accounting.

Students gain a deep understanding of fraud investigation and prevention, litigation support, valuation, expert testimony, dispute resolution, money-laundering research, and other types of criminal investigation. They learn the critical thinking, interpersonal communication, and writing skills of other programs, but the concentration is on financial investigation.

Admission at FAU requires a baccalaureate degree, and applicants with an undergrad degree in accounting are preferred. Students with a GRE of 1000 or better, or GMAT of 500 or more, will also receive preference. Undergraduate GPA is also a factor, with the last 60 credits weighted heavily. The admissions rate is 35%.

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7

Auburn University

75.923/535%Auburn University, AL

Auburn University has been offering an online master’s in accounting for more than 20 years, and it’s highly regarded nationally. Ambitious students can complete the program in a single year, or in as few as three semesters. Online students can complete the vast majority of their degree online, but tests are administered through a proxy. Students are also required to visit the school for a three-day on-campus residency during their final semester.

Auburn’s MACC Leadership Summit takes place that weekend, and includes an array of workshops, meetings, and networking opportunities.

The Harbert MAC is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and students who have a four-year degree from an AACSB school are not required to take the GMAT if their GPA is 3.5 or better. And there is an end-run available to students with poor GMAT scores—they can take the Graduate Certificate in Accounting Program, which doesn’t require GMAT, and then matriculate into the MAC program. Students who pursue this option only have four more courses to take.

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8

Golden Gate University

753/567%San Francisco, CA

GGU calls itself a “university for professionals,” and the San Francisco school’s online master’s of accountancy programs is a great example of that. The program is designed for both current accounting professionals and individuals making a career change, and it can be completed fully online at one’s own pace. Part-time students typically take 2-4 years to earn their degrees, depending upon course load.

The program gives a broad education in the basics of professional accounting, covering essential principles and doctrines, effective communication, international business, ethics and personal responsibility, auditing, and taxation. There is a 33-unit core requirement, which is augmented by a 12-unit general, forensic, or taxation concentration. The school also offers an online MBA with a concentration in accounting, a master’s of science in accounting, and several certificate programs.

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9

SUNY Polytech

71.843/557%Utica, NY

SUNY Poly set up its MSA program to provide professional development opportunities for current accountants, and to qualify students to sit for the CPA. The Utica-based school’s program requires a total of 11 courses and 33 credit hours. It was designed for students with an undergrad degree in accounting, but is open to anyone. SUNY Poly is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and follows the AACSB admissions guidelines.

These include the GMAT, with a minimum score of 400, and at least 1,000 points based on 200 points multiplied by the undergraduate GPA plus the GMAT score.

Though the coursework is delivered online--the format is asynchronous and can be taken at the student’s desired pace--students are also encouraged to pursue internships. Tutoring help is also available online day or night. More than 85% of students at SUNY Poly receive financial aid, and accountants in particular will appreciate the school’s Net Price Calculator.

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10

University of Massachusetts – Amherst

66.183/560%Amherst, MA

UMass Amherst's Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) program gives students a strong foundation in both accounting and business in general. The MSA provides students with the 150 hours they need to sit for the CPA exam, and waives the one-year of experience required to take the test in Massachusetts. The curriculum explores business ethics, financial valuation, the markets, and the tax implications behind business decisions.

Students will also gain experience with business writing and public speaking, readying them for the transition to the world of finance.

Thirty credits are required for UMASS Amherst’s MSA program, and the course can be taken completely online. Students typically take eight months to two years to earn their MSA here. Graduates of the program are heavily recruited by many top firms. The school boasts a “record of placement in public accounting that is second to none in New England.”

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11

University of Alabama at Birmingham

65.793/552%Birmingham, AL

UAB’s accounting program is one of the largest at the school, and it was among the first in the nation to receive a course-specific accreditation from the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the highest honor a business school can receive for its accounting program. A nationally ranked university, UAB offers not only a master’s in accounting online but also a concentration in internal auditing for students wishing to target their expertise.

UAB’s degree is known for its affordability, and the school offers generous scholarship packages. It also has a flexible credit transfer policy, which means students pay for fewer courses.

UAB’s MAC is open to anyone regardless of their undergraduate degree thanks to the school’s unique bridge course. The core curriculum consists of seven courses, and nine electives round out the 30 credits required. The program can be completed in as few as five semesters.

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12

Brenau University

62.763/547%Gainesville, GA

Brenau’s online professional accounting degree comes as part of its MBA program. The accounting MBA is a 45-hour, 15-course program that leads to an MBA with a concentration in either public or management accounting. The former is for accountants interested in the CPA exam and work in taxation, forensic accounting, and consulting. The latter is for students who want a career as a CFO, controller, accounts manager, or other management-level position in the private sector.

Students complete 10 core courses for their MBA and then add five electives for certification in accounting fields. Classes take place year round. Students can earn credits for work experience. All students are considered full-time when it comes to financial aid status and are eligible to apply for state and federal help. Each student is assigned a personal financial aid counselor.

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13

University of Massachusetts – Lowell

61.322/557%Lowell, MA

UMass Lowell’s reputation has been growing in recent years, and its Manning School of Business is now nationally ranked for quality. Manning offers an MSA that is both highly regarded and recognized as one of the cheapest online master’s in accounting in the nation country. The curriculum was designed to prepare students for the CPA exam.

The MSA is a 10-course, 30-credit program which can be pursued full- or part-time and entirely online. Full-timers can typically earn their degree in a single year, while part-time students average about three years. Internships are highly recommended. Admission requires an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and the GMAT exam, though this can be waived with a GPA of 3.5 or above and a letter of recommendation from a faculty member.

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14

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

53.034/565%Standish, ME

The online version of St. Joe’s master’s of accountancy program is offered year-round, and applications are reviewed regularly, making it easy to jump into any one of the five ten-week terms. Classes begin in January, March, May, July, and October.

The school’s program was designed for learners with an undergraduate degree in business. Those without that foundation may only need to take five courses to meet the school’s prerequisites. The curriculum emphasizes problem solving, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills, and includes coursework in ethics and leadership as well as accounting. St. Joe’s has a fast-track option for undergrads with accounting degrees, which lets them pursue their MAC in only one year. Students can waive up to six credits if they had at least a B in intermediate accounting I and II.

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15

Gardner-Webb University

51.184/540%Boiling Springs, NC

Gardner-Webb is a private, Christian school in North Carolina, and its Godbold School of Business looks at business through a Baptist tradition. The school’s online MBA program is nationally ranked, and its online master’s of accountancy is highly regarded, as well. It’s designed to be flexible, allowing for career-specific degree tracks like forensic accounting and taxation, and can include general business classes.

The program explores accounting as it applies to finance and economics, international business, management, information systems, marketing, operations, and statistics. And it emphasizes leadership, decision making, written and oral communication, and, of course, ethics. Graduates will be prepared to take the CPA exam.

The degree requires 30 credit hours, including 15 core hours, nine elective hours, and six graduate business hours. Gardner-Webb is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and Godbold is further accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

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17

National University

50.134/541%La Jolla, CA

One of the largest non-profit universities in the country, National has campuses all over the country. Thanks to its innovative online system, the school can be accessed from any corner of the United States. The NU online master’s in accounting is unique in that it was not designed for students with an undergrad degree in accounting. Rather, it’s for learners with a baccalaureate degree but no previous background experience.

The 14-course curriculum is based on the published content specifications of the Uniform CPA exam and includes basic accounting, taxation, accounting information systems, auditing, and managerial accounting.

Admission requires at least a 2.5 GPA, and students with a lower GPA can pass muster if they have decent GRE or GMAT scores. NU uses “quarter units” rather than traditional credits. The master’s of accountancy degree is a 63-quarter-unit program. Accreditation is through the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.

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18

Regis University

49.344/556%Denver, CO

The online MSA from Regis has a large ethics component, which is understandable considering the Colorado school’s Jesuit traditions.

The program is designed for flexibility, allowing for students to concentrate in interest areas rather than forcing them into a rigid structure. It’s broken up into 10 credit hours of foundation courses, six credit hours of required courses, 21 credit hours of electives, and a three credit-hour capstone course. Each class is taught in an asynchronous, eight-week format. Semesters begin in January, March, May, June, August, and October.

Admission requires an undergrad degree, and the GMAT. In 2013-14, Regis provided more than $142 million in state, federal, and institutional financial aid. Regis allows students to save money by substituting a written essay and a spreadsheet analysis for the GMAT. Graduates of the program interested in sitting for the CPA can prepare through Regis’ partnership with Becker.

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19

Edgewood College

47.894/575%Madison, WI

A Catholic school in Wisconsin, Edgewood has seen its profile rise in recent years, and today enjoys national rankings in several areas, including business. The school’s online master’s of science in accountancy has received the desirable Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business seal of approval and remains quite affordable. Edgewood allows students to pay on a flexible schedule, after grades are released, so that reimbursement from employers is possible.

The curriculum is rigorous and pays close attention to American Institute of CPA standards, integrating critical thinking, real-world experience, and an ethical foundation. Class sizes are small, allowing for plenty of interaction with faculty and attention to each individual student. Graduates will work towards an electronic portfolio that demonstrates AICPA core competencies, and leave the program ready to sit for the CPA exam.

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20

Nova Southeastern University

46.184/558%Fort Lauderdale, FL

Nova Southeastern’s online master’s of accounting is the biggest program of its kind in Florida. The program broadens the knowledge of working professionals and prepares entry-level students for careers in accounting and for the CPA exam. The 39-credit program was designed by faculty, with input from corporate professionals. It meets CPA requirements and goes well beyond, giving an education that readies graduates for work in financial institutions, government, industry, non-profits, and public practice.

The school’s MAC program can be pursued entirely online at the student’s own pace. Several scholarships and grants are available. The school has a unique Debt Squad set up to help guide students through the maze of financing options as well as a multitude of payment plan options.

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21

Baker Center for Graduate Studies

46.183/569%Flint, MI

Baker Center offers an online Master of Business Administration degree program with an accounting emphasis. Students who wish to pursue this degree must have completed at least 16 credit hours of undergraduate-level accounting coursework, including eight hours of 'principles of accounting' and four hours of 'intermediate accounting'.

The 53-credit master's program is divided into two components. Twenty credit hours of coursework are directly related to accounting, while the remaining 33 credits cover business-oriented topics like human resource management and strategy in a global environment. A one-credit graduate seminar is also required.

The MBA in accounting at Baker Center is available entirely online. Program candidates must provide an undergraduate transcript showing a 2.5 cumulative GPA or higher, as well as a current resume that includes at least three years of professional experience. Most students in the program rely on grants and scholarships for financial aid; according to the school's website, fewer than 10 graduates received federal, private or institutional loans.

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22

Stetson University

45.534/569%DeLand, FL

DeLand-Florida-based Stetson University has been ranked in the top three of Southern master’s-granting universities, and its online master’s of accountancy program is fully accredited by the elite Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The program even has its own code of honor, setting high standards for ethical behavior among participants.

The Stetson program was launched to prepare students to take the CPA exam, and many classes are tailored specifically for certain parts of the test. For example, accountants planning to take the auditing section of the CPA exam will find courses like advanced auditing and contemporary issues in accounting information systems helpful. Likewise, students preparing for the regulation section of the CPA exam will find contemporary issues in business law and tax research useful. The Stetson MAC can be completed in as little as a year and the diploma earned is equivalent to the one students pick up in DeLand.

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23

Southern Adventist University

454/558%Collegedale, TN

Southern Adventist's Master of Business Administration degree with an accounting emphasis is in an exclusively online format, and some students are able to complete the program within a year. Twelve credits of coursework in financial accounting, intermediate accounting and principles of accounting are required for the degree; students who have not completed these courses as an undergraduate must take them.

Nine additional credit hours in accounting and a three-credit elective (such as business administration, economics or finance) are needed for the accounting emphasis. The remainder of the program covers business topics like organizational behavior, marketing management and strategic decision making.

Applicants must submit scores from a GMAT exam taken within the past five years. Additionally, candidates must show a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.25 or higher, or a 3.0 GPA accompanied by a resume indicating at least five years of managerial work experience. Graduate assistantships are available for students who wish to supplement their education with paid on-campus employment; assistants may work up to 20 hours per week.

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24

Concordia University – Wisconsin

43.824/567%Mequon, WI

At Concordia, the online master’s in accounting is combined with an award-winning MBA. Concordia’s MAC program prepares students to take the CPA exam and provides a solid foundation for a career as a CFO, corporate accountant, financial planner, controller, consultant, entrepreneur, or countless other positions. The 39-credit course covers advanced auditing, taxes, global production, information systems, public speaking, statistics, human resources, ethics, and more.

Concordia does not require the GMAT, the GRE, or a written thesis, instead relying on a capstone course that comes at the end of the program. Online courses are offered year-round. The school accepts up to 90 transferable credits from the undergraduate level, and accreditation is through the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.

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25

Saint Johns University

40.924/564%Collegeville, MN

St. John’s University’s MSA online program comes with five different seals of approval, including the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, Internal Auditing Educational Partnership, the Institute of Management Accountants, and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. The 30-33-credit program helps students understand the role accounting plays in the global marketplace.

The curriculum delves deeply into decision making, financial analysis, risk management, and professional responsibility and social awareness. Courses are asynchronous, and St. John’s uses the Blackboard system to administer them. Admission is open only to students with undergrad degrees in business, and GMAT scores are required.

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