Accounting gets a bad rap. Blame it on popular culture, which hasn’t exactly built up the profession (think Angela Martin and Kevin Malone on The Office).
But do you know who else were accountants? South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, MMA Fighter Chuck Liddell, and Itzhak Stern (the guy who helped Oskar Schindler save thousands of Jews during WWII). Still think accountants are boring?
But then if you are here looking for online master’s programs in accounting, I’m probably preaching to the choir. You probably know that with the passing of legislation like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other recent legislation accountants are busier than ever learning, interpreting, and applying the new laws.
Top 10 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Accounting Degrees
||Western Governors University
||Salt Lake City, UT
||American Public University (Tie)
||Charles Town, WV
||Western International University
||La Jolla, CA
||University of South Dakota
||Saint Joseph's College of Maine
||Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Recommended Online Programs
They’re so busy in fact, that we’ve put together a wide range of different accounting-related rankings. And if you’re looking for other affordable graduate programs, have a look at the College Choice list of the most affordable graduate schools.
Demand has resulted in a record upswing in students choosing accounting as a major. This is not a fad. Accounting is one the most dependably in-demand fields there is, even during the depths of a recession. It’s also one of the most dependably lucrative fields, with a median pay of $67,190 per year, and opportunities to make even more, especially those with advanced degrees.
Why go on for a masters degree in the accounting? Remember when I mentioned that recent upswing in students? That means that there is more competition. Anything you can do to polish that resume is going to help you. Plus, more time as a student means more time networking in online forums and through fraternal organizations like Beta Alpha Psi.
But the most common reason people go on to get a Master’s degree is to complete the credit unit requirements to take the CPA exam. This test is notoriously demanding (only 50 percent pass) and the further education you get with a masters in accounting is going to help you knock it out of the park. If your goal is to sit for the CPA exam, please check out your state’s requirements to ensure the super-affordable programs College Choice has discovered for you will fit with your professional goals.
What are the most affordable online master’s degrees in accounting?
If you’re interested in a Master’s degree in accounting, you have likely already completed- or are soon to complete- a bachelor’s degree in the field or a closely related field (like statistics or finance). If not, allow College Choice to help you find the very best bachelor’s degrees or online bachelor’s degrees in accounting. However, if you don’t have an accounting undergraduate degree and don’t intend to get one but are still interested in a graduate degree in the field then stick around, there are a couple of programs on our list designed for people in your situation.
See our rankings methodology page.
Western Governors University
Salt Lake City, UT
The most affordable option for a masters in the field of accounting belongs to Western Governors University. WGU is an online, private, and not-for-profit university headquartered in Salt Lake City and founded in 1997 at the behest of the Western Governors Associations call for increased outreach to adults without access to higher education. Among many other online degrees, WGU offers a 30 unit Masters of Science in Accounting.
In addition to those moving toward examination and accreditation as a CPA, CMA, or CIA, WGUs program is also intended for working accountants hoping to advance their career with additional graduate education, as well as those who simply want to improve their knowledge and skills in the field. These objectives are met through such courses as Fraud and Forensic Accounting, Management Communication, Strategic Management, and Government and Non-Profit Accounting. WGU has been regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
American Public University (Tie)
Charles Town, WV
American Public University is a private, online, for-profit university owned by American Public Education Inc. They offer a 36 credit Master of Science in Accounting that has received specialized accounting accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
All of APUs degree programs are designed and reviewed by a panel of industry professionals to make sure that course content is as up to date and relevant to current employment needs as possible. With courses like Forensic Accounting, Advanced Federal Taxation, and Individual Tax Research and Planning, students will learn to keep track of changing standards in accounting and apply that knowledge to complex financial transactions. APU has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Western International University
Western International University is a private, for-profit university owned by Phoenix, Arizona-based Apollo Education Group, which also owns and operates the University of Phoenix. They offer two different online masters degrees in accounting, a 39 credit Masters of Science in Accounting and a 39 credit MBA in Accounting. All of Western International Universities programs have been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The MS in Accounting, like National Universitys program, is designed for students with little or no background in accounting. With a focus on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards, the program offers a grounding in the fundamentals of the discipline and provides an entry into the field of accounting or (after 110 or so more credit hours of accounting education) a chance to take the CPA exam. The MBA in accounting is intended for those who have finished an undergraduate degree in accounting or a related field. In addition to a higher level of accounting skills, this degree aims to instruct students in business leadership and management.
National University is a private, non-profit university headquartered in La Jolla, California, but with 13 campuses throughout the state of California and one in Henderson, Nevada. They also have an extensive offering of online degrees, one of which is their 63 credit Master of Accountancy. The reason for Nationals larger than usual credit requirement is that it is intended specifically for students with little or no educational background in accounting.This makes National University an enticing option for students hoping to move into accounting from an unrelated field.
Entrance requirements are a bachelors degree in any field other than accounting. The program is designed to cover all the material in the Uniform CPA Examination. Because most states require students to have completed 150 units of education before taking the CPA exam, the expectation is that graduates of Nationals program will fulfill the remaining requirement through accredited CPA preparation courses. National University has been regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
University of South Dakota
The University of South Dakota is a medium sized public university located in Vermillion, South Dakota. Its well-regarded Beacom School of Business, which has been continuously accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) for 67 years, offers four different online programs, one of which is its Masters of Professional Accountancy.
Like many graduate programs, USDs graduate accounting program is intended primarily to fulfill the credit and course requirements to sit for the CPA examinations and attain licensure. However, their accounting degree can also be used to prepare students hoping to start careers in government, industry, and also teaching accountancy at the university level. Courses offered in the program include Production Operations Management, Legal Environment of Business, and Business Policy and Strategy. USD has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Kaplan University is a private, for-profit, and primarily online university owned by Kaplan, Inc. Kaplan offers a 52 credit unit online Masters of Science in Accounting. Because Kaplan has been involved in several controversies and lawsuits, students should be careful to read reviews of the program to make sure it is right for them. Kaplan has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
For those who have a good idea of what field of accounting they want to go into, a potential benefit of Kaplan is that they offer four different concentrations within the degree program. Those interested in auditing and forensic accounting can opt for the Audit Concentration. If your interest is to work in a business environment and analyze financial information, the Finance Concentration may be a good option. For an interest in government and public administration, Kaplan offers a Government Concentration. Finally, those interested in studying tax codes and preparing tax information can choose the Taxation Concentration.
Franklin University is a private, non-profit university headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, that has satellite campuses spread throughout the states of Ohio and Indiana. One potential benefit of applying for Franklins 30 credit online Masters of Science in Accounting is that if you have completed an undergraduate accounting degree at a regionally accredited school with a GPA of 2.75 or higher, you can apply to the program without having to take the GMAT or GRE. Franklins flexible online format also allows students to begin their program at any time of the year and to take individual classes at any time.
Franklins program offers two different tracks. For those hoping to go into a career for a corporation or nonprofit, Frankin offers a Financial Operations Program Track. For those interesting in taxation and auditing, they offer an Accounting Taxation track. Franklin University has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Saint Joseph's College of Maine
St. Josephs College of Maine is a small, Catholic, liberal arts college located in Standish, Maine. They offer a 36 credit online Masters of Accountancy program, though students who have earned a B or better in Intermediate Accounting I and II as an undergrad are eligible to have six credits waived- making it possible to graduate from the program in a years time.
In addition to the technical requirements of the degree that are intended to prepare students for examination and licensure as a CPA, St. Josephs program also emphasizes leadership, ethics, and interpersonal skills, all of which are attractive to potential employers. Courses include classes such as Leadership and Relationship Management, Advanced Topics in Disclosure Financial Reporting, and Applied Corporate Financial Management. St. Josephs College of Maine has been regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Shorter University is a small, Christian, liberal arts college in Rome, Georgia, affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention. Their 31 credit online Masters of Accountancy can be completed in as little as a year. Though Shorter wears its Baptist identity on its sleeve and requires its on-campus students to abide by a strict lifestyle code, the online coursework for their MAcc does not contain any religious content and should be acceptable to the religious and nonreligious alike.
Students who complete Shorters graduate program in accountancy will be eligible to sit for the CPA exams in most states, though students should know their own states requirements before applying. Coursework includes classes such as Advanced Managerial Accounting, Current Issues in Accounting, Accounting Information Systems, and Corporate and Partnership Taxation. Shorter University has been regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Clarion University of Pennsylvania is a small public university and member school of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Their Masters of Science in Accounting is an online-only program that can be completed in less than a years time. The program helps prepare students for careers in corporate accounting, public accounting, as well as work with government and not-for-profit organizations.
On completing the degree students will be eligible to sit for the CPA exam in any state in the US. Coursework includes classes such as Legal Environment and Ethical Conduct in Business, Advanced Auditing, and Advanced Forensic Accounting. Clarion University of Pennsylvania has been regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.