Masters in Accounting: Your Guide to an Advanced Accounting Degree
MastersinAccounting.info strives to be the most comprehensive resource for those interested in earning a master’s in accounting (often abbreviated as MAc, MAcc, or MAcy) or master’s in finance. On our site you will find student reviews, a jobs board, possible career paths, career outlook information, and salary outlook information relating to advanced degrees in accounting, as well as profiles of top programs and their ratings from various sources. Prospective students can also research online master’s in accounting degree programs and schools. Use the directory below to find out more about launching your career with a master’s degree in accounting or finance.
Table of Contents:
- Earning a Master’s Degree in Accounting
- Reasons to Earn a Degree
- Course Requirements
- Educational Prerequisites
- Best Value Master’s in Accounting Schools with On-Campus Programs
- US News Top Masters in Accounting Schools
- Best Master’s in Accounting Schools According to Professors
- Accounting Schools with the Highest 2013 First-Time CPA Pass Rate
- Online Master’s in Accounting Degree Programs
- Accounting Schools by State
- Career Outlook for Graduates
- Career Interviews
- Salary Information
- Additional Resources for Prospective Students
Earning a Master’s in Accounting Degree
A Master’s in Accounting Degree (MAcc), also known as Master’s of Professional Accountancy (MPAcy), is an advanced, graduate-level business degree focused on a curriculum that prepares individuals to work in the accounting field in various roles, such as auditors at large accounting firms, management positions in corporate accounting, or as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) for individuals or businesses. Graduates are prepared to take the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, which is required for CPA licensure in most states and is expected for many advanced accounting jobs.
Reasons to Earn a Degree
The curriculum covered in a master’s in accounting degree program is focused primarily on fundamental concepts of accounting, effective accounting methods, and gaining the knowledge required to pass the CPA exam. An individual with talent and interest in working with numbers and strong attention to detail can excel in this career field. The demand for skilled accountants is strong and as a result, companies offer attractive salaries that can exceed six figures. There are also strong opportunities for accountants to advance to upper management positions such as CEO of a corporation. If you prefer to be your own boss, you can start your own accounting firm and provide accounting services for businesses or individuals.
A master’s in accounting degree program often takes one year of intensive study as a full-time student or longer as a part-time student. The course topics vary depending on the school and may include tax and auditing courses, business electives, and financial analysis courses.
Typically an undergraduate degree in accounting is not required in order to be admitted to a graduate accounting program, though if your degree was outside of business there may be prerequisite courses to complete before starting your master’s degree program. Prerequisite coursework may include basic accounting, pre-calculus, and statistics. A satisfactory score on the GRE or GMAT is usually required for admission as well as some prior work experience. Schools may also require a satisfactory grade point average in undergraduate coursework.
Master of accounting degree programs typically focus on advanced level accounting topics, methods, and theory. As such, the coursework for a master’s in accounting degree program may include:
- Financial Decision Making
- Applied Statistics for Business Decisions
- Financial Accounting
- Corporate Financial Reporting
- Financial Statement Analysis
- Auditing and Assurance
- Federal Taxation
- Contemporary Issues in Accounting
- Computer-based Information Systems
- Business Taxation
Best Value Master’s in Accounting Schools with On-Campus Programs
To help you in choosing the best master’s in accounting school for you, we have researched the top affordable schools in the country offering a master’s degree in accounting on-campus. To make our list, the schools had to have a graduation rate of 85% or above and a net annual price of less than $20,000. A high graduation rate is usually considered a benchmark for a university’s success and a low net price is important for students as they consider the overall investment represented by a master’s degree. In addition to this information, we have also included in the table below other important factors, including retention rate, transfer out rate, percentage of faculty with tenure, and US News & World Report rankings. You can sort the table by any header by clicking on it.
|School||Grad Rate1||Retention Rate*1||Transfer Out Rate**1||Student Loan Default Rate1||% Tenured Faculty2||US News National Rank3||Net Price1|
|University of Florida||90%||96%||3%||1.9%||52%||#35 tie||$11,313|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||89%||96%||6%||1.5%||46%||#30 tie||$11,649|
|Brigham Young University-Provo||86%||90%||N.Av.||1.3%||51%||#66 tie||$13,120|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||87%||95%||N.Av.||1.7%||48%||#49 tie||$14,169|
|University of Georgia||86%||95%||10||2.4%||54%||#46 tie||$15,539|
|College of William and Mary||91%||95%||6%||1.3%||47%||#38 tie||$15,622|
|University of California-Davis||86%||93%||N.Av.||2.0%||43%||#30 tie||$15,724|
|University of Maryland-College Park||86%||96%||9%||2.1%||44%||#63 tie||$16,790|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||92%||97%||N.Av.||1.5%||35%||#27 tie||$16,856|
|University of Virginia-Main Campus||94%||96%||4%||0.9%||54%||#25 tie||$17,845|
|University of Connecticut||85%||94%||8%||2.5%||39%||#63 tie||$19,650|
See Table Notes and References at bottom of page.
US News Top Masters in Accounting Schools
US News & World Report ranked the following schools as having the top 10 accounting graduate programs in the country based on factors such as recruiter assessment, mean starting salary, employment rates, and student selectivity.2
1. University of Texas-Austin (McCombs)
The McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas-Austin offers a Master in Professional Accounting (MPA) that is open to students who hold a bachelor’s degree in any academic field. Students with an accounting background can typically complete the program in 36 credit hours or three semesters, while students from other academic backgrounds usually complete a 42 credit hour program across four semesters. Team competitions, workshops, distinguished speaker lyceums, and internships are integrated with the curriculum. Students may choose one of four specialized tracks in financial reporting and assurance, managerial accounting and control, taxation, or an individualized generalist specialization. Graduates of the program are prepared to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination. The MPA program is consistently top-ranked by US News & World Report and the Public Accounting Report, among others.
2. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania awards a Master of Business Administration in Accounting with a focus on concepts and applications for accounting data and analysis as well as training for leadership. This three-year degree program is offered through the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking and typically qualifies students to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. Students may have the opportunity to complement the core curriculum with electives such as Advanced Corporate Finance, Competitive Strategy, and Entrepreneurship and Venture Initiation. Wharton also offers distinctive opportunities such as Global Career Treks and the Wharton International Volunteer Program. Wharton’s business school faculty are distinguished by their top publication and citation rates, and students further benefit from individualized career advising and access to Wharton’s extensive alumni network.
3. University of Chicago (Booth)
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business offers a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting that can be pursued full- or part-time. The full-time program is 21 months in length, while the evening and weekend programs are designed to be completed part-time in 2.5 to 3 years. In all programs, the curriculum is built around one required course in Effective Leadership, allowing students an exceptional degree of personalization in choosing courses to complement individual career goals and objectives. Students pursuing an MBA at Chicago Booth may additionally take up to six free courses after meeting graduation prerequisites through the Take 3 and Alumni Post-Graduate programs. Chicago Booth has developed what it calls the “Chicago Approach to Business Education”, which emphasizes conceptual knowledge as well as real world applications for executives, and its faculty are internationally renowned for their academic and professional contributions to accounting practice and policy.
4. University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign offers a Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) program that emphasizes career development for students with both limited and strong backgrounds in accountancy. The MSA program cohort begins in June of each year and requires 32 semester hours to complete. The curriculum for the MSA can be customized according to the student’s background and individual career and education objectives. Courses are led by faculty with extensive experience, with a focus on hands-on training as preparation for in-demand advanced career fields including public accounting, banking and financial services, and consulting. The undergraduate and graduate accounting programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are consistently ranked among the best accounting programs in the US by such publications as BusinessWeek, US News & World Report, and the Public Accounting Report.
5. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (Ross)
The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor offers a Master of Accounting (MAcc) degree program that prepares students for the increasingly cross-disciplinary focus of accounting practice by combining the study of accounting, finance, and management. The MAcc is a full-time, cohort program that begins in the fall semester. MAcc students take courses integrated in the Master of Business Administration curriculum, including accounting and finance electives. In the final spring semester of the program, students attend the Ernst & Young Accounting and Public Policy Symposium in Washington, DC as part of a graduate research seminar. This allows students to experience the interaction between public policy and business firsthand. Graduates of the program are qualified to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam and receive career search advice beyond graduation through the University of Michigan Alumni Career Services department.
6. Stanford University
The Stanford Graduate School of Business offers a Master of Business Administration program that can be tailored with a concentration in accounting through electives during the second year curriculum. The MBA program typically requires two years of full-time study to complete and emphasizes leadership, analysis, and creative thinking to encourage business innovation. During the first year of the program students focus on general management perspectives and foundations and complete a required global experience through one of many international study options. The second year of study is devoted to fulfilling degree requirements through electives, which may also include compressed courses in the form of intense business seminars between one and two weeks in length. Stanford University is globally recognized for the quality of its business education programs, and its faculty include Nobel Laureates and other leaders in academics and research.
7. Brigham Young (Marriott)
Brigham Young University offers a Master of Accountancy degree through the BYU Marriott School of Management. This full-time program can generally be completed in one and a half to two years. Students may enter one of two standard tracks or “stems” upon acceptance to the program, professional accountancy or taxation. Students in either track may additionally elect to pursue a second focus area in Accounting Information Systems by tailoring elective choices to courses within the accounting information systems core. Students in all tracks graduate with a deep understanding of accounting and auditing practice, standards, and ethics, and are prepared to assume positions of leadership in the accounting field. The Marriott School of Management has been cited as a top-ranked graduate school by numerous publications, including the Public Accounting Report, US News & World Report, and Forbes.
8. University of Southern California (Marshall)
The University of Southern California offers a Master of Accounting program through the USC Marshall School of Business and the USC Leventhal School of Accounting. This full-time, one-year program emphasizes conceptual thinking and problem solving as well as life-long professional development and learning. Graduates of the program will also have a firm understanding of accounting ethics and professional standards and be prepared to apply global perspectives in a business environment. The faculty of USC Marshall and USC Leventhal are productive academic scholars and business professionals with a reputation for advanced research. Students and graduates can find further benefits through the school’s Corporate Connections, which helps students find career resources and make connections with school alumni and others in the fields of accounting, business, and academia.
9. New York University (Stern)
New York University’s Stern School of Business offers a Master of Business Administration that can be customized with up to three specializations from across 24 fields including Accounting, Corporate Finance, and Financial Systems and Analytics. With full-time study the MBA program can be completed in two years, or students can elect to pursue part-time study in evening and weekend classes to complete the degree in two to six years. Students who specialize in accounting graduate with a comprehensive understanding of accounting, competitive advantages and information systems in accounting, and management practices. New York University Stern is ranked among the top schools in the world for research productivity, and New York University has been recognized as a top graduate school by US News & World Report, Times Higher Education, and other prestigious publications.
10. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
The Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has a Master of Accounting program that can be completed in one year of full-time study. Leadership and communication are focuses of this academically rigorous program, which is led by faculty with extensive academic and professional experience. Technical proficiency and development are emphasized through the integration of economics, behavioral science, and quantitative methods within each course in the curriculum. Courses are taught through 7 week or half-semester modules, or two modules per semester. Students can access competitive professional networking opportunities through the curriculum as well as through the university’s career services. Additional professional and research opportunities are available through the Kenan Institute and other professionally-focused business institutes and centers at UNC. The Kenan-Flagler Business School is highly-ranked by US News & World Report and the Public Accounting Report.
Best Master’s in Accounting Schools According to Professors in 2016
The Public Accounting Report ranks accounting programs annually based on a survey of accounting professors at over 200 colleges and universities across the United States.
- University of Texas
- Brigham Young University
- University of Illinois
- University of Notre Dame
- University of Michigan
- University of Southern California
- Indiana University
- University of Mississippi
- University of Alabama
- University of Georgia
Accounting Schools with the Highest First-Time CPA Pass Rates in 2015
This ranking includes schools with 10 or more reported candidates. For all candidates in the United States, the first-time pass rate was 55.0% in 2015 according to NASBA.org. You can find more information and specific statistics on the 2015 NASBA Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Performance Report, University Edition.
- University of Pennsylvania 90.6%
- University of Georgia 88.4%
- Washington University in St. Louis 86.9%
- University of Florida 85.5%
- Northwestern University 85.3%
- Brigham Young University 84.8%
- University of Wisconsin-Madison 84.5%
- Masters College and Seminary 84.2%
- University of Notre Dame 84.1%
- Vanderbilt University 83.2%
Online Master’s in Accounting Degree Programs
For prospective students who do not live near a campus that offers a master’s in accounting program or for those who prefer the greater flexibility and time savings of completing a degree from home, an online MAcc program may be right for you. Numerous colleges and universities maintain accredited online programs for those interested in a graduate-level accounting education. To learn more, visit our online master’s in accounting guide.
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Accounting School Information by State
We have researched and published accounting school information at the state level to help you become an accountant. On the following pages you will find quick facts, the top masters in accounting programs, profiles of well-known schools, top accounting firms, salary and job outlook information, as well as student reviews and other information to help you make an informed choice.
- Select One
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington DC
- West Virginia
Career Outlook for Graduates
The accounting profession is projected to experience faster job growth than most other professions over the next decade, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects that employment for accountants and auditors will grow by 10.7% from 2014 to 2024, with about 142,400 new jobs expected to be added during this period.1 Compliance with increased financial regulation is one factor driving demand for skilled accounting professionals.
Our accounting career interviews feature successful accounting professionals who share their career journeys and advice for students who are just starting out. You can click on the profile images below to read the individual’s interviews.
Principal, Clayton Financial and Tax
Associate Professor, Villanova University
Owner, Energized Accounting
Associate Dean, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
See all of the interviews on our accounting career interviews page.
The median salary of accountants and auditors is about $67,290 per year and the top 10% of accountants earn more than $118,000 per year.1 See our master’s in accounting salary and job outlook page for a sortable table of salary and projected job growth by state.
Additional Resources for Prospective Students
1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm
2. US News & World Report Best Accounting Grad Schools Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/accounting-rankings
Table Notes and References:
*The retention rate is the percentage of first-time, full-time students who continued to a second year of study at the same institution.
**The transfer out rate is the percentage of first-time, full-time students who transferred their credits to another institution within 150% of the normal time to complete their degree.
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. College Factual: https://www.collegefactual.com/
3. US News & World Report National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
4. US News & World Report Regional University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/regional-universities