Accounting is one of the most stable disciplines around and also includes a variety of lucrative career paths. The National Taxpayers Union Foundation found that Americans spend approximately six billion hours per year complying with federal tax code and they often end up turning to taxation professionals for assistance. The life of a tax professional isn't always a boring desk job. In fact, approximately 15% of FBI employees qualify as special agent accountants. Regardless of your chosen path, a master's in taxation online can lead to a variety of rewarding positions.

What are the best taxation programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
2 Boston University Boston, MA
3 Northeastern University Boston, MA
4 Villanova University Villanova, PA
5 New York University New York, NY
6 Bentley University Waltham, MA
7 University of Denver Denver, CO
8 Golden Gate University San Francisco, CA
9 DePaul University Chicago, IL
10 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL

Choosing a Program

WILL THIS PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Yes. A bachelor's degree allows graduates to work in managerial accounting, although it does not meet the requirements needed for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation or for advanced taxation roles. An online master's in taxation also opens the doors for a variety of executive and advanced roles that are not available to those without an advanced degree.

DO I NEED PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE TO GET IN?

The majority of master's in taxation online programs do not require students to have previous work experience, but they may need to have taken a few prerequisite courses in accounting or a related subject. Students must also submit GMAT scores to be considered.

CAN I WORK WHILE I COMPLETE MY ONLINE MASTER'S in TAXATION?

Yes, many degree seekers continue to work while completing their online master's in taxation. However, they need to have excellent self-discipline and time management skills to be successful students. Classes typically require 10-15 hours of work per week to complete assignments, listen to lectures, and interact with students and professors.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO EARNING MY M.X. ONLINE?

Earning an online master's in taxation provides all the same benefits of an on-campus program while allowing students to advance their educations from anywhere and on their own schedule. Distance learners also have the opportunity to build their professional networks by connecting with their fellow students.

What Are The Best Online Master's in Taxation Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 92%

One of the world's leading private research universities, the University of Southern California welcomes more than 44,000 students each year. USC offers online undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in more than a dozen disciplines, including education, engineering, and library science. Among its flexible options is an online master's in taxation.

The business taxation program comprises 15 credits of core coursework and 15 credits of electives. Areas of study include tax theory and ethics, state and local tax concepts, and tax accounting methods. Each virtual class meets for approximately 60-90 minutes, with weekly assignments students complete asynchronously.

Prospective students should have a 3.0 GPA and at least one year of full-time work experience in a tax-related position. The GMAT is required.

2

Boston University

Boston, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 88%

Boston University operates three campuses, offering over 300 programs and serving more than 35,000 students annually. BU offered its first online program in 2002 and has since expanded its distance catalog to include dozens of concentrations, certificates, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.

First established in 1959, and now available through distance learning, BU's master of law in taxation law provides graduates with specialized tax training for legal professionals. The 24-credit curriculum consists of courses in federal income taxation, corporate tax, and tax procedure. No thesis is required.

Applicants must hold a degree in law. Admission requires two letters of recommendation, a statement of interest, and CV or resume. Qualified applicants will be interviewed by the program director.

3

Northeastern University

Boston, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 88%

Northeastern University operates a growing network of 11 global locations, with campuses in Boston, Toronto, London, San Francisco, and beyond. Northeastern connects alumni to more than 3,000 corporate partners, helping ensure that 93% of graduates find full-time employment within nine months.

The online master's in taxation program offers a part-time completion schedule of 16 months. Alongside core courses in tax research, practice, and ethics, students can select from two tracks: taxation of entities or taxation of individuals. Graduates find work as auditors, bankers, management consultants, and tax attorneys.

Applicants with an undergraduate GPA below 3.25 must submit GMAT scores. A minimum of two years of tax experience — or a JD, CPA, CFP, or Enrolled Agent credential — is required.

4

Villanova University

Villanova, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 91%

Villanova University is a private, Catholic institution serving more than 6,000 undergraduates, 3,000 graduates, and 800 law school students. The school of law offers a juris doctor, four joint degree options, and an online master's degree in taxation. Students can complete the program within two years.

Taxation students must earn a total of 30 credits, consisting of six required courses plus electives. Courses include advanced tax procedure, global tax planning, and wealth tax. If desired, students local to Philadelphia may apply for an internship with the Villanova Law School Federal Tax Clinic or the IRS Office of the Chief Counsel.

Applicants should hold an undergraduate degree in accounting or a related field. Currently licensed CPAs do not need to submit GRE or GMAT scores.

5

New York University

New York, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 85%

New York University is the largest private university in the U.S., with an annual enrollment of approximately 58,000. Accountants and financial professionals looking to advance their skills may consider NYU's online master of studies in law in taxation.

This asynchronous, part-time degree requires 24-30 credits and takes two years. Only one course — survey of tax procedure — is required, allowing students to customize their curriculum. The program culminates in a final written project addressing a timely topic in tax law or policy.

Admission requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum of three years of professional experience related to federal, state, or local tax issues. Applicants must also hold either a master's degree in a relevant discipline or CPA licensure.

6

Bentley University

Waltham, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 89%

Bentley University is among the nation's top business schools, with 99% of graduates obtaining jobs within six months of graduation. Master's programs at Bentley offer flexible full-time, part-time, day, evening, and online scheduling to accommodate every learner's needs. Among these options is Bentley's master's in taxation, the largest graduate tax program in New England.

Ten courses are required, with studies in federal taxation of income, mergers and acquisitions, and international tax practice. Online students attend class in real time, fostering active discussion and collaboration with instructors and on-campus students. Graduates are prepared for careers in international accounting, corporate taxation, and wealth management.

Applicants must supply official undergraduate transcripts, two essays, two letters of recommendation, and a resume. The GMAT or GRE requirement may be waived for qualified individuals.

7

University of Denver

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 77%

The University of Denver is a private research institution with a global presence. The student population welcomes learners from more than 80 countries, and approximately 70% of DU undergraduates participate in study abroad programs. DU's 6,000 graduate students can select from dozens of programs, including an online master's degree in taxation.

The program offers cross-disciplinary experiences and perspectives by placing taxation students in courses alongside juris doctor and LLM students. With a rigorous curriculum covering individual, partnership, and corporate taxation, full-time completion is possible in just one year. Class recordings are accessible through both live and archived, on-demand streaming.

Applicants must submit official undergraduate transcripts. GMAT or GRE scores are required, with waivers available for undergraduate accounting majors, graduate degree-holders, and CPAs.

8

Golden Gate University

San Francisco, CA Graduation Rate: 77%

Since 1901, Golden Gate University has worked to serve the needs of adult learners looking to advance their careers. The private, nonprofit institution provides undergraduate and graduate opportunities in accounting, law, taxation, business, and related areas. Many GGU programs take place fully online.

Online students in the master's in taxation program can start in any term and progress at their own pace, with completion rates averaging 2-4 years. The degree requires a total of 30 credits of coursework, including courses in tax research, property transactions, and federal income taxation. Students are encouraged to participate in an optional internship.

GGU suggests applicants hold a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, but individuals with lower grades can earn admission through employment history, professional accomplishments, and recommendations.

9

DePaul University

Chicago, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

Each year, DePaul University's business school enrolls approximately 3,700 undergraduate and 2,200 graduate students. Professionals seeking advancement in taxation may pursue a 46-credit online master's degree in taxation.

Notable courses in the program include current problems in taxation, writing for tax professionals, and various international tax topics. Full-time scheduling allows for completion in just one year, while part-time students average a 2-3 year timeline. If necessary, students may take a semester off during busy periods like the winter tax season.

To apply, prospective students must submit an online application, essay, resume, and official transcripts. Letters of recommendation are optional, and GRE and GMAT scores are not required.

10

Florida Atlantic University

Boca Raton, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 52%

Florida Atlantic University is a major research university serving upwards of 30,000 students each year. FAU operates six campuses along the southeast Florida coast and extends learning opportunities to distance learners through e-learning. Online students can choose from more than 40 programs, including a master's in taxation.

Students in the program can view lectures in real-time through livestream or watch recorded lectures at their convenience. FAU does not hold classes during spring semester tax seasons. Learners can graduate within two years.

Prospective students must have a bachelor's degree with a competitive GPA. FAU accepts applications on a rolling basis, with program start dates occurring each summer and fall.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Taxation Program?

An online master's in taxation is the perfect option for those seeking to maximize their earning and growth potential while still enjoying the flexibility of distance learning. Whether a student lives in a rural area and can't easily reach campus or they're spending a year studying abroad, these programs allow them the autonomy to continue to live their life and earn their degree at the same time.

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN TAXATION

Each master's degree in taxation will have a different curriculum with its own unique course offerings. However, there are many common courses that you will find in any master's in taxation program. Below are a few examples of foundational taxation courses:

Estate and Gift Taxation: This course introduces students to federal tax requirements for gratuitous transfers, both during their client's life and when property transfers take place after their death. A special emphasis is placed on helping students develop strategies that will aid their future clients when encountering these types of taxation.

Advanced Auditing: Taxation includes both the preparation of tax forms and the review of those documents for accuracy. Auditing is the art of reviewing tax forms and this class introduces topics beyond basic auditing principles, such as behavioral and ethical concerns.

Graduate Tax Externship: Many programs require students to complete an externship to gain real-world experience in all of the topics they've covered throughout the program. In addition to working with a taxation firm, learners must complete a portfolio and seek answers to a common issue within taxation.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN TAXATION?

There are a variety of factors that can affect the length of a program, including the length of a semester, externship or thesis requirements, and whether courses are delivered synchronously or asynchronously. Asynchronous courses allow students to complete coursework at their own pace, while synchronous programs sort students into cohorts and require them to move through all coursework together. Online master's in taxation programs build upon foundational knowledge gained at the undergraduate level. Therefore, students whose bachelor's degree is not in a related subject may have to complete prerequisite classes in topics such as cost accounting, financial reporting, auditing, and federal taxation.

The majority of online master's in taxation programs require approximately 36 credits, with accelerated formats allowing students to graduate in just 15 months and traditional programs requiring roughly 24 months of study.

CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES A MASTER'S IN TAXATION PREPARES FOR

Certified Public Accountant: This license is offered by state boards of accountancy and requires candidates to complete at least 150 hours of coursework, meet experience and good character requirements, and pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

Employee Benefits Law Certificate: This optional certification covers topics ranging from deferred compensation to pension plans and helps those who successfully complete the program address nuanced questions about employee benefits. Coursework includes the study of executive compensation, health and welfare plans, qualified retirement plans, and benefits. This certificate can be completed in two years of part-time study.

Estate Planning Certificate: This certificate is ideal for those who want to develop a better understanding of tax law, charitable giving, and estate planning. The program emphasizes how complex many estates are that are encountered by tax planners. Students must complete two semesters of coursework in areas like income taxation of trusts, estate and gift tax, transfer tax, and private wealth planning.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Taxation Programs

When searching for the right online master's in taxation program for you, the first things you should look at is whether or not the program is accredited. Universities can apply for both national and regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is highly coveted and can take years to achieve, requiring schools to go through a rigorous set of steps to become approved. On the other hand, national accreditation is easier to attain and maintain, although it may make it difficult for students to transfer credits to other institutions or seek professional licensure. The other common type of accreditation is awarded to individual programs or degree paths. Within accounting and taxation, the two main accrediting agencies are the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) are both tasked with maintaining transparency and high standards among the nation's accrediting agencies. Students can see a full list of accredited schools by visiting the ED and CHEA websites.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Taxation Graduates

JOB PLACEMENT

A bachelor's degree in accounting and taxation opens the door to a variety of entry-level roles, while most advanced positions in management require an online master's in taxation. According to data supplied by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), salaries for individuals with advanced degrees in accounting or taxation were nearly 32% higher than those of their colleagues with only bachelor's degrees.

Business Careers Median Salary for Individuals with Bachelor's Degree Median Salary for Individuals with Master's Degree
Accounting/Taxation $69,000 $91,000
Business Economics $75,000 $100,000
Business Management & Administration $62,000 $81,000
Finance $73,000 $101,000
International Business $60,000 $79,000
Operations Logistics & E-Commerce $71,000 $97,000

Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW)

MASTER'S IN TAXATION SALARY

Depending on the type of taxation career you plan to pursue, salaries can be well above the national average. Salary can also be influenced by a variety of other factors, including the specific industry you're working in, years of experience, and the state and city where you live. The following table of data from Payscale highlights expected salaries at different stages of each career:

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20 years)
Tax Accountant $55,334 $53,160 $62,641 $71,445
Tax Analyst $58,257 $56,579 $63,115 $67,914
Tax Consultant $58,629 $57,121 $65,003 $113,750
Senior Tax Manager $130,149 $81,389 $126,012 $131,304
Tax Manager $95,733 $83,679 $93,471 $106,359

Source: PayScale

MASTER'S IN TAXATION CAREERS

Master's in taxation graduates can pursue several different career paths after graduation, all of which command higher-than-average salaries and significant opportunities for growth. The majority of these roles offer a stable 40-hour work week, but there are also several freelance and consultant roles available for the more entrepreneurial-minded.

Auditor

Auditors work with clients, either individuals or companies, to examine financial statements, inspect accounting records and systems to ensure that they comply with taxation laws, and write reports about the validity of existing tax records.

Median Annual Salary - $68,150
Projected Growth Rate - 11%

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts work with both private and public companies to review budget proposals, make recommendations for funding requests, monitor internal and external spending, estimate financial needs, and create overarching budgets.

Median Annual Salary - $73,840
Projected Growth Rate - 3%

Economist

Economists focus on the big picture. They are responsible for analyzing economic trends, collecting data, conducting research, interpreting market trends, and creating reports about their findings. They may also serve as consultants to businesses or corporations who are seeking expertise on specific economic issues.

Median Annual Salary - $101,050
Projected Growth Rate - 6%

Financial Analyst

These professionals are qualified to provide sound investment and financial advice and guidance to individuals and companies. Financial analysts may recommend investments, evaluate financial data, review trends, or prepare written reports about their investment projections.

Median Annual Salary - $81,760
Projected Growth Rate - 12%

Financial Managers

Financial managers can be found working as either consultants or as in-house counsel at large corporations. They oversee the monetary health of their client and are responsible for preparing forecasts and financial statements, monitoring legal requirements, reviewing financial records, and analyzing market trends.

Median Annual Salary - $121,750
Projected Growth Rate - 75

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Taxation law is vast and ever-changing, meaning that the most successful tax professionals are those who are lifetime learners. The following professional associations are well-known in the field for providing valuable continuing education initiatives and networking opportunities for their members:

Financing Your Online Master's in Taxation Degree

With the average annual cost of attending graduate school at $30,000 for public schools and $40,000 for private schools, completing an advanced degree can be a difficult financial decision. Fortunately, there are several ways for students to help fund their education. All students should start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out about federal scholarships, loans, grants, or work-study funds. If you plan to work for a nonprofit, you may also qualify for the federal government's Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Students can also find financial aid through private foundations, accounting associations, nonprofits, and individual schools and departments.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.