Master’s in Taxation Program Guide

Read this program guide to find out what you can do with a master's degree in taxation and how much money you can expect to make.

portrait of Bethanny Parker
by Bethanny Parker

Published on March 7, 2022 · Updated on May 6, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
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Master’s in Taxation Program Guide

A master's degree in taxation is a two-year graduate degree that provides comprehensive knowledge of tax law, tax procedure, and tax accounting. Students learn the skills they need to be effective tax professionals, including financial reporting and how to deal with a tax audit.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average tuition and fees for a graduate program in the 2019-20 academic year cost $12,410 per year for public institutions and $28,430 per year for private institutions. Nonprofit institutions are often more expensive than for-profit institutions.

It usually takes one to two years to complete a master's degree in taxation. The length of time depends on the number of credits required and the school's course schedule.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that job opportunities for accountants and auditors will increase 7% from 2020-30. Accountants and auditors earned a median salary of $73,560 in 2020.

Should I Get a Master's in Taxation?

Individuals with a master's degree in taxation often work as tax managers, tax accountants, certified public accountants, controllers, or Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents. Jobs for accountants and auditors are projected to increase by 7% over the next decade, about the same rate as other jobs.

When deciding whether to go to graduate school to pursue a master's degree in taxation, individuals should consider that it will take about a year or two to earn the degree, during which time they may not be able to work. If you have to take time off from work to earn the degree, you'll need to consider lost wages when deciding whether it is worth it.

If your bachelor's degree is in accounting, you can become a certified public accountant (CPA). To become a CPA, you must meet the minimum educational requirements set by your state and pass the four-part CPA exam. Becoming a CPA will increase your employment opportunities.

Other certifications that might come in handy for an individual with a master's degree in taxation are certified internal auditor (CIA), enrolled agent (EA), accredited tax advisor (ATA), accredited tax preparer (ATP), and certified financial services auditor (CFSA).

Popular Online Master's in Taxation Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Will I Learn in a Taxation Master's Program?

Students enrolled in a master's in taxation program learn about financial reporting, auditing, and tax law. They develop the technical and analytical skills to be successful accountants and tax professionals. This program prepares students to sit for the CPA exam.

Some common courses include professional tax practice, federal taxation of income, multi-jurisdictional taxation, and corporations and shareholders. You may also need to take graduate-level accounting courses such as intermediate accounting, cost accounting, auditing, and accounting systems. However, the specific courses you need to take will vary from one school to another.

Most master's degrees in taxation are master of science in taxation (MST) degrees. An MST degree requires about 30 college credits and prepares students for entry-level jobs in public and private accounting and taxation. Some taxation master's programs are a master of accounting science (MAS) degree with a taxation specialization.

Concentrations

Taxation

A taxation concentration focuses on taxation policies and practices. Students take courses in finance as well as taxation so that they create financial plans with special attention to taxation.

Estate Planning

The estate planning concentration focuses on estate law, including marital deduction planning, lifetime giving, and alternate forms of wealth transfer. Students learn about retirement plans and the laws regarding taxation of estates and trusts.

Analytics

Students specializing in analytics learn about advanced accounting analytics, business analytics, big data analytics, and data mining.

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What Can I Do With a Master's in Taxation?

Many people with a master's degree in taxation work in the accounting, bookkeeping, tax preparation, and payroll services industries. Others work in finance, insurance, government, or management.

Common job titles for tax professionals include tax manager, tax accountant, tax analyst, tax specialist, and tax preparer. Many people with this degree work as CPAs. Others work with the IRS as revenue agents, tax counsel, appeals officers, or team coordinators. Some professionals work as enrolled agents, helping those who need help dealing with the IRS.

Popular Career Paths

Popular Continuing Education Paths

How Much Money Can I Make With a Master's in Taxation?

The average base salary for someone with a master's degree in taxation is $90,000 per year, according to PayScale. Common job titles include tax manager, senior tax manager, senior tax accountant, tax director, and tax accountant.

In 2020, the average base salaries for these jobs were: $99,300 per year for tax managers, $131,200 for senior tax managers, $57,930 for tax accountants, $73,150 for senior tax accountants, and $153,700 for tax directors.

Salaries can vary greatly depending on the area of the country you live in and the number of years of experience. For example, tax managers earn an average of $81,000 per year with less than one year of experience and an average of $106,000 per year with 20+ years of experience. Wages also tend to be higher in areas where the cost of living is higher.

How Do I Choose a Master's in Taxation Program?

When choosing a master's degree in taxation, graduate students should consider the cost, location, whether the classes are online or on campus, and what type of student support services the school offers. They should also consider whether the program is full-time or part-time.

In addition, graduate program candidates should check to see whether the school is accredited. Accreditation assures the student that the school offers a solid academic program and has qualified professors. In addition to regional accreditation, you should check to see if the taxation program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or another accrediting agency.

Ultimately, deciding which college to attend often comes down to cost and location. Many students prefer to attend college in their own state. Students can often save thousands of dollars by shopping around.

Find the Best Online Master's in Taxation Programs

How Do I Get Into a Master's in Taxation Program?

While the graduate admission requirements vary from one program to another, all schools require you to have a bachelor's degree before enrolling in a graduate program. You may have extra courses to take if your bachelor's degree is in something other than accounting or taxation.

Since grad school admissions can be competitive, you should plan on applying to at least four graduate schools. You'll most likely have to take the GRE for at least one of them. Be sure to prepare before taking the GRE so that you do as well as possible.

You may need work experience to qualify for a graduate program. You'll probably also need to write an essay and get letters of recommendation from your work supervisors or former professors.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Taxation Programs

Is a master's in taxation worth it? true

To determine whether a master's degree in taxation is worth it, you should consider the cost of the degree as well as the amount your salary will increase after earning the degree. For example, if the college charges $24,000 for tuition and fees, you have $20,000 in housing expenses, and you lose $50,000 in income while earning the degree, then the total cost of the degree is $94,000.

Now consider how much more you'll make. If you expect to make $20,000 per year more once you earn your degree, divide the cost of the degree by $20,000 to see how many years it will take the degree to pay for itself. You can use this information to decide whether it is worth it.

How long does it take to get a master's degree in taxation? true

It usually takes 1-2 years to get a master's degree in taxation. Most programs are 30-33 credits long. Graduate schools usually consider nine credits to be full-time, so that's 3-4 semesters. However, some schools offer accelerated programs that you can finish in 12-15 months.

You may also be able to enroll part-time, in which case it would take longer to complete the program. However, if you attend part-time, you may be able to keep working while you earn your graduate degree. This could make it much more financially feasible to get your master's degree.

How much does it cost to get a master's in taxation? true

The NCES reported an average cost of $24,820 for two years of graduate-level education at a public school or $56,860 for a private school for the 2019-20 academic year. That doesn't include the cost of housing or lost wages from not being able to work while you go to school. You need to consider these costs when trying to decide a master's degree in taxation is worth it.

Keep in mind that some schools are less expensive than others. The amount of financial aid available varies from one institution to another as well. Make sure to shop around for the best tuition rates and financial aid packages.

Is taxation a good career?

According to the American Institute of CPAs, careers in taxation are financially rewarding and provide a good work-life balance. They also provide many career growth opportunities. Tax CPAs are in demand and can earn over $100,000 per year.

Tax accountants typically have a busy season, which is the first quarter of the year. Once the business closes its books for the year, the tax accountant needs to start working on preparing tax documents. This can make it difficult to take vacations during this time of year, so most tax accountants plan their vacations for other times.

What are the highest paying jobs with a taxation degree?

Tax directors were paid $153,700 in 2020. Tax directors create, plan, and implement a tax strategy for the business. They must know all applicable tax laws and ensure that their company follows them. They also resolve any tax issues that arise. They may need to understand international tax laws if their company does business overseas.

Other high-paying roles for graduates of taxation programs include tax manager and senior tax manager. The average base salary for a tax manager was $99,300 in 2020. The same year, senior tax managers earned an average of $131,200. Tax managers and senior tax managers make sure their organization complies with all local, state, and federal tax laws. They prepare and file the company's taxes and try to find as many deductions as possible to ensure that the company is not overpaying its taxes.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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