By advancing your education with one of the top 30 affordable online master’s in accounting degrees, you can qualify for the CPA credential, cultivate in-demand specialized skills, and make more money.
Can you really get a quality online master’s in accounting for under $30,000, $20,000, or even $15,000? The most affordable online master’s degree programs in accounting are a better investment than you might expect. The degree you earn can help boost your earning potential by thousands of dollars per year. Many of these economical MS in accounting programs are 100% online programs. This makes it easier to earn your accounting degree. Read one to find the most affordable online master degree!
What will you learn with this master’s in accounting?
Today, the field of accounting encompasses much more than generating financial data. Technology plays a bigger role than ever in accounting and finance. Accounts payable clerks, financial analysts and IT auditors need advanced skills in accounting technology. This technology includes the use of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
You can learn these cutting-edge, specialized skills in a master’s in accounting program. Accountants with the most in-demand specialized skills are now seeing strong demands. This means that taking a new job with a new employer could net them a salary increase well in the double-digits range.
If you want to work in nonprofit accounting, financial management, governmental accounting, corporate financial management, accounting firms these master’s in accounting programs will prepare students for these careers.
What certifications or licenses can you get that will increase salary?
For many students, the point of earning a master’s in accounting degree is to meet the 150-credit requirement for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential. On average, CPAs make 10 to 15% more than non-CPAs, according to the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA). You might also use your graduate accounting education to prepare for one of the following credentials:
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
- Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
What are the Best Online Master’s in Accounting Degrees?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking. Accredited Online College considers the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online. To learn more, visit our methodology page.
Accounting Online Programs
One of the most affordable online master’s in accounting comes from the American Public University. This accounting degree costs $6,300 for both in-state and out-of-state students. The general cost of attendance is $370 per credit. Students who qualify for a military grant pay $250 for credit.
Generous financial aid packages are available. Among students who received financial aid during the 2017-2018 school year, the net price for the entire degree was $10,366. Aspiring CPAs should check whether this program, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), meets their state’s requirements to take the Certified Public Accountant exam.
Courses start monthly at this online-only school. Students in American Public University’s online Master of Science in Accounting program choose a concentration. Concentration options include:
- Government Accounting
- Health Information Management
- Internal Auditing
Any of these concentrations from this affordable master’s in accounting will equip you with specialized graduate-level accounting knowledge and prepare you for a variety of accounting careers.
National University charges full-time graduate students an average tuition cost of $15,480. The same price applies to in-state and out-of-state students. The university, located in California, offers 100% online classes so that graduate school is more convenient. Courses for this affordable online degree are offered in both synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous formats.
Online courses at National University consist of four-week courses instead of traditional semesters. It might sound daunting to complete an entire class in a month. However, this setup allows students to focus on one subject at a time. Students can start pursuing the degree at any time.
The Master’s of Accounting program has two options. Students with an undergraduate accounting background take six core courses and three electives to complete the degree. Students without a background in accounting have to take nine core courses. Both options end with a mandatory capstone course, Cases in Accounting & Auditing.
Possible accounting online courses include:
- Forensic Accounting
- Advanced Managerial Accounting
- Legal Issues in Accounting
Arizona residents seeking an online affordable accounting master’s degree are in luck. In-state tuition for the online master’s in accounting program at the University of Arizona is $11,716. Out-of-state students of this 100% online program are looking at tuition costs of $33,065.
The University of Arizona’s program builds upon an established background in accounting. In the in-person version of the degree, students take all six prerequisite accounting courses during the program. Online students, however, must complete Introduction to Financial Accounting before starting.
This is a 10-course program. Students must take six courses in accounting and four non-accounting electives. The accounting requirements include choosing three core courses from:
- Advanced Accounting
- Business Law
- Advanced Federal Taxation
- Principles of Auditing
- Financial Statement Analysis (not online)
In addition, students need three accounting electives to complete this affordable online degree.
At Penn State University’s World Campus, the average net price for the degree among students who were awarded grants or scholarships for the 2017-2018 academic year is $8,811.
You can get into this Master of Professional Accounting program with any bachelor’s degree. If your undergraduate degree isn’t in accounting, you must complete courses in the following areas:
- Financial and managerial accounting for decision making
- Federal taxation
- Cost accounting
- Intermediate financial accounting
Penn State’s online master’s in accounting requires ten courses. Required courses include the capstone course Forensic Accounting and Litigation Support. These core courses range from auditing theory and practice to business tax planning. The curriculum is set up to help prepare you for the Certified Public Accountant exam.
Are you looking for an online accounting master’s, no GMAT required? Then Liberty University might be your answer. To get into Liberty University’s program, you will need a bachelor’s degree and a GPA of at least 3.0. The accounting degree is accredited by the ACBSP.
Liberty University’s tuition is affordable, as well. Both in-state and out-of-state students are looking at a tuition cost of $7,904. The average net price for the degree among students who were awarded grant or scholarship aid from 2017-2018 was $27,432. First responders, in particular, have numerous financial benefits, including a 25% tuition discount.
The Master’s of Science in Accounting program requires 30 hours (10 courses). You can complete this degree in three semesters. Seven courses are core courses, which include:
- Advanced business law for accountants
- Tax research & jurisprudence
- Advanced auditing
- Accounting ethics
The other three courses are business electives.
On its Indiana campus, Purdue University offers highly-respected traditional education programs. Purdue University Global is an option if you are looking for an online master’s in accounting. The public nonprofit school is accredited by regional accreditation agency the Higher Learning Commission.
Out-of-state students are looking at a tuition cost of $28,010 at Purdue University. Indiana residents enjoy a discounted rate of $9,208. On average, full-time students take one and a half years to complete their degree. Full-time students should expect to spend 20 hours on their studies per week.
Students in this program can choose from three concentration areas. Aspiring CPAs should choose the public accounting option. Those interested in the CMA credential can pursue the private/corporate accounting option. There’s also a tax concentration to consider if you want to focus on tax preparation and planning. Whatever professional accounting interests you, you’ll find a concentration for this master’s degree.
Looking for a cheap online master’s in accounting? Consider the University of South Dakota’s Online Master of Professional Accountancy. The low tuition costs of $5,869 for in-state graduate students and $11,283 for out-of-state students make the program affordable for everyone.
The coursework in this online program helps students prepare for the Certified Public Accountant CPA exam. Specific course requirements for CPA certification vary by state, so check your state’s requirements. The 30 credits that make up this AACSB-accredited degree program are just what’s needed to add to a bachelor’s degree to meet the 150-credit hour requirement for CPA eligibility.
There are three options for this program, all of which require seven core accounting classes. Plan A requires a thesis and three to six hours of restricted electives. Plan B students take nine hours of restricted electives or an accounting analytics specialization. Plan C requires an accounting internship.
Western Governors University (WGU) is another cheap master’s in accounting option. Tuition for both in-state and out-of-state graduate students averages $7,500. WGU uses a 6-month term payment plan rather than charging per credit. This structure is part of WGU’s goal to help you graduate with little to no debt.
During a six-month term, most students focus on one course at a time. When they’re ready, students take an assessment to prove course completion and can then move on immediately. You are able to work at your own pace and can take as many classes per term as you want.
No GMAT or GRE scores are required to apply to WGU’s accounting master’s degree program. By not requiring the GMAT or GRE, Western Governors University makes it easier to prepare for the CPA, CMA, and other certification exams. Most WGU students finish their master’s in accounting degree within 23 months.
Tuition at the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) averages $8,244 for in-state graduate students. Out-of-state students pay an average of $11,862. The University of Maryland offers military tuition rate reductions to active members, spouses, and dependent children.
Applicants to UMGC’s master’s in accounting program should have 15 credits of undergraduate accounting coursework under their belts. Applicants to UMGC’s master’s in accounting program should have 15 credits of prior accounting coursework. What if you don’t have a recent background in finance, accounting, and/or statistics? You can enroll in 0-credit courses that give them the foundation they need to succeed in the program.
UMGC requires graduate students to take an orientation course. You must also take the following three core courses:
- Organizational Theory and Behavior
- Financial Decision Making for Managers
- Statistics for Managerial Decision Making
In addition, you must complete all five specialization courses, two electives, and the capstone course.
Tuition for the online Master of Accounting program at the University of North Carolina (UNC) ranges from $10,243 for in-state students to $27,454 for out-of-state students. This program is open to all students, regardless of their undergraduate major. It normally takes students 12-36 months to complete the program.
While open to all students, there are requirements for your application. You will need an unofficial undergraduate transcript. Also, an online survey must be completed by two recommenders. You must provide a statement of purpose, a resume or link to your LinkedIn profile, and your GMAT/GRE score.
Students in the online master’s in accounting will choose from core courses to help learn accounting principles and develop their leadership and communication skills. Additionally, students are able to choose one of the following concentrations:
- Financial analysis and reporting
Also, students will select electives to help develop their accounting skills. Whether the want to do financial statement analysis, be involved in accounting information systems, corporate financial management this master’s degree will prepare students for various accounting careers.
Tuition for only $3,630 for a Master of Science in Accounting may sound too good to be true. For in-state graduate students at Texas A&M University-Commerce, though, it’s reality. Out-of-state students will pay more to enroll in this program, with a tuition rate of $11,100.
The College of Business at Texas A&M University-Commerce is nationally accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The core curriculum for accounting graduate students includes classes in:
- Advanced Managerial Accounting
- Advanced Income Tax Accounting
- Forensic & Investigative Accounting
- Government and Not for Profit Accounting
Beyond the core accounting coursework, students can choose electives to customize their degrees. Texas A&M graduate accounting students can pick from 11 minors and five certificates. Possible studies include subjects like:
- Financial planning
- Business analytics
- Real estate
- Corporate management
- Auditing and forensic accounting
If you are looking to do advanced financial reporting, do accounting analysis, or work in the global business environment this program prepares students for such careers.
Georgia Southern University’s average tuition was $6,636 for in-state students and $26,518 for out-of-state students. There is also an institutional fee of $290 for students enrolled in five hours or more. This fee drops to $145 for students that are enrolled in less than five hours.
If you wish to apply for Georgia Southern University’s Master of Accounting program, you must write a statement of purpose essay. You should also be ready to provide the following:
- Past academic performance
- Professional experience (optional)
- Competitive scores on other tests
- Letters of recommendation (optional)
The online Master of Accounting Degree (WebMAcc) requires the following core courses:
- Seminar in Financial Accounting
- Taxation of Corporations and Partnerships
- Seminar in Auditing
- Seminar in Accounting Information Systems
- Fraudulent Financial Reporting
- Law and Ethics for Accountants
Students must also complete 12 credit hours of approved electives in any subject area. The courses will prepare you for the CPA exam.
#13. Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University offers a cheap, high-quality master’s in accounting program. Both in-state and out-of-state graduate students pay an average tuition rate of $8,498. The average net price for the degree among students who were awarded financial aid in 2017-2018 was $20,036. This 30-credit program helps students meet the 150-credit requirement for CPAs.
To graduate, students in Saint Leo University’s program must maintain a 3.00 GPA in the following core accounting courses:
- Government and Not for Profit Accounting
- Fraud Examination
- Contemporary Issues in Auditing
- Federal Taxation for Business Entities
- Advanced Cost Accounting
- Forensic Accounting
- Accounting Theory
- Using Financial Accounting Information
- Managerial Economics
- Corporate Finance
Students also complete mandatory but 0-credit Master of Accounting Orientation. This non-credit course is taken during a student’s first term on a pass/fail basis. In addition to information on the Master of Accounting program, it covers the history, values and policies of Saint Leo University.
#14. Franklin University
Franklin University has an online affordable accounting master’s degree. Both in-state and out-of-state graduate students pay an average tuition rate of $16,080. The average net price for the degree among students who were awarded grants or scholarship aid for the 2017-2018 academic year was $18,684.
While you must complete 30 semester hours, you can shape your own academic career. As part of their core curriculum for this master’s degree, students choose either Introduction to Research in Accounting or Introduction to Tax Research. The core courses for this online accounting master’s degree all students take are:
- Financial Accounting Theory
- Management Control Processes & Systems
- Accounting Research Seminar
The rest of the courses in Franklin University’s master’s in accounting program depend on your area of focus. When choosing an emphasis in taxation, students take coursework in personal income taxation and taxation of different types of business entities. The financial operations concentration includes courses such as forensic accounting.
In-state students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pay $8,100 tuition rates to pursue their Master of Accounting (MAc) online. For out-of-state graduate students, the average tuition cost is $18,540. UAB has a dedicated staff with a 24/7 technical help desk and award-winning industry experts.
To apply for the MAc program, you must have earned your bachelor’s degree in accounting from an AACSB-accredited school in the last five years. Prospective students without a bachelor’s in accounting can use UAB’s bridge program to fill any gaps and prepare for the MAc program.
The five required courses in UAB’s MAc program are:
- Advanced Financial Accounting
- Financial Accounting Research
- Advanced Auditing and Attestation
- Governance and the Business Environment
- Tax Research
For the remaining required courses for this online master’s in accounting, students can choose from a pool of electives. Options include everything from fraud examination to data science for business.
For in-state students seeking a master’s in accounting degree online, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) offers an affordable tuition price of $5,720. The average tuition rate for out-of-state students is $13,190. UTRGV also offers graduate scholarships to help students afford to advance their education.
One great thing about UTRGV’s Master of Accountancy (MACC) – Accelerated Online program is how fast it is. Students can complete the master’s in accounting in the span of just 12 months. Each course takes just seven weeks. This accelerated format allows students to save even more on tuition.
The MAAC online program encompasses the following five core courses:
- Advanced Accounting
- Business Law for Accountants
- Accounting Research and Communication
- Information Technology for Accounting and Control
- Professional Ethics
Students also pick four accounting electives, like International Taxation, and a business elective.
#17. New England College
At New England College in New Hampshire, online graduate students pay the same average tuition rate for full-time study regardless of whether they attend as in-state or out-of-state students: $13,560. The average net price for the degree among students who received financial aid for the 2017-2018 school year was $27,800.
New England College’s online accounting program is one of the longer programs on our list. Out of the 40 credits of graduate-level study, 24 credits make up core accounting coursework, such as:
- Graduate-level intermediate accounting
- International accounting
- Cost accounting
- Federal taxation
- Accounting for mergers and acquisitions
- Government and non-profit accounting
To earn this Master of Science degree, students must also take additional classes. Some, like Auditing and Attestation and Performance and Ethical Standards of the Audit Professional, are closely related to accounting. Others, like business law and finance for leaders, help accounting students develop their knowledge in a broader context.
#18. Post University
Post University is proof that for-profit colleges and affordable tuition rates aren’t mutually exclusive. Both in-state and out-of-state graduate students at the Connecticut university pay an average of $7,500 for full-time online study. The average net price for the degree among students who received financial aid during 2017-2018 was $9,395.
You can count on this affordable online program to provide a high-quality education. Post University as an institution has attained regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education. The master’s in accounting degree program, specifically—along with other programs in the Malcolm Baldrige School of Business—is accredited by the ACBSP.
The Master of Science in Accounting program at Post University is a 30-credit program that consists of technical accounting courses, accounting management courses and a capstone experience. A separate optional CPA track includes six additional one-credit courses. These emphasize preparation for the CPA Exam. Students typically graduate in 22 months from this affordable master’s in accounting.
The cost difference can be dramatic among schools with separate in-state and out-of-state tuition rates. At Clarion University of Pennsylvania, applicants from outside Pennsylvania don’t pay that much more. The $13,368 out-of-state tuition rate is less than 10% higher than the in-state tuition cost of $12,384.
The Master of Science in Accounting degree at Clarion University encompasses graduate-level studies in subjects like the following:
- Theory of accounts
- Management accounting
- Public accounting
- Advanced auditing
- Business Taxation
The curriculum of this affordable master’s in accounting also includes some coursework in broader business areas, including operations management and business law and ethics.
The graduate curriculum builds upon an undergraduate foundation in accounting. For students who haven’t met the program’s prerequisite courses—those who don’t have a bachelor’s degree in accounting—the program also offers a degree plan that incorporates the following foundational courses:
- Intermediate accounting
- Financial accounting
- Managerial accounting
- Federal taxation
#20. Shorter University
Graduate students at Shorter University in Georgia pay an average full-time tuition rate of $12,360, regardless of where they live. The majority of Shorter University students—95 percent—receive financial aid. The average net price for the degree among students awarded financial aid for the 2017-2018 year was $19,395.
It takes as little as 12 months to complete the 100% online Master of Accountancy program at Shorter University. The 31-credit program is intended to meet the educational requirements for CPA licensure. Therefore, it includes required coursework in subjects such as:
- Managerial accounting
- Advanced financial accounting
- Financial statement analysis
In accounting, and particularly in public accounting, ethics and honesty are crucial. Shorter University’s graduate accounting program curriculum includes coursework in the legal and ethical issues involved in accounting as well as studies in auditing and fraud in internal accounting. Students may also gain experience through a graduate-level business internship.
Utah residents get a bargain on the cost of a Master of Accountancy degree at Southern Utah University. The average in-state tuition for full-time graduate students is just $7,574. Out-of-state students pay an average of $23,784.Tuition waivers are also available for full-time students.
Online students at Southern Utah University take between one and four courses per semester. They may start in the fall, spring or summer semester. This affordable master’s in accounting is impressive on numerous fronts, including its 25-year history at the institution and a job placement rate of nearly 100%.
To earn their online Master of Accountancy, students take classes in auditing and advanced cost and managerial accounting. Courses such as corporate tax and estate and gift tax emphasize knowledge of tax procedure and principles. Specific courses of interest may include:
- Taxation of pass-through entities
- Forensic accounting
- Property transaction taxation
Sacramento State University is one of the 23 campuses that make up the sprawling California State University system. California residents pursuing an online Master of Science in Accountancy degree through Sacramento State University get a significant discount, with in-state tuition amounting to $7,176 and out-of-state tuition of $16,680.
At Sacramento State University, graduate accounting students complete 27 credits of required coursework plus a three-credit culminating experience project. Required courses include a sequence of classes in financial reporting. Also required for this affordable online degree are studies in the following:
- Cost analysis
- Taxation of individuals and business entities
- Government and non-profit accounting
Sacramento State University’s MS in Accountancy is great for aspiring CPAs because its curriculum aligns with CPA Exam subject matter, covering coursework that fits in all four CPA Exam sections. On average, students of the program are 30 years old and have six years of accounting work experience.
#23. Regis University
Both in-state and out-of-state students seeking online Master of Science in Accounting degrees at Colorado’s Regis University pay an average tuition rate of $13,177. At Regis University, where 100% of students receive financial aid, the average net price for the degree among students awarded financial aid for 2017-2018 was $26,273.
Students pursuing this 12- to 24-month affordable online degree can start their studies during any of the eight-week terms that begin in January, March, May, July, August, and October. Regis University graduate accounting students may focus on one of the following specializations:
- Financial accounting
- Managerial accounting
- Fraud and forensic accounting
- IT accounting
The required coursework for MS in Accounting students at Regis University builds upon foundational accounting knowledge in subjects like introductory through intermediate principles and procedures of financial and managerial accounting and auditing. Students must take the following classes:
- Financial communication
- Interpreting accounting information
- Accounting ethics
The San Bernardino campus marks California State University’s second appearance on our list of the 30 most affordable online master’s in accounting programs. Like the Sacramento State University campus, California State University at San Bernardino charges in-state students $7,176 and out-of-state students $16,680 in average graduate tuition costs.
Since both the San Bernardino and Sacramento locations award a Master of Science in Accountancy, you might expect the curricula of these degree programs to be identical, or at least, nearly identical. In fact, although both degree programs include one three-credit culminating experience, the coursework differs between these two campuses.
Students of the San Bernardino campus have more choices in their curriculum. Their 18 credits of required courses include studies in areas like:
- Internal auditing
- Advanced corporate taxation
Twelve credits of elective coursework, which may include studies in areas like international accounting and government accounting, flesh out the curriculum.
For both in-state and out-of-state graduate students seeking an online Master of Accountancy from St. Joseph’s College of Maine, the tuition rate was $8,982. The average net price for the degree among students who received grants and scholarship aid in 2017-2018 was $27,221. Full-time students typically graduate in one year.
In the course of this 30- to 36-credit program, graduate accounting students complete core coursework in subjects like:
- Advanced management accounting
- Business taxation
- Audit, risk management, and assurance services
- Accounting information systems
This school is a particularly good option for experienced accountants, since the program awards credit for career experience.
Online master’s in accounting students at St. Joseph’s College of Maine don’t have to wait until traditional college term start dates to begin their studies. The program is offered in the form of five 10-week academic terms. New students may enter the program during any of these terms.
How long does it take to get a master’s in accounting?
Most master’s degrees in accounting are relatively short programs, encompassing 30 to 36 credits of graduate study. Full-time students can typically complete a master’s in accounting program in one to two years. Part-time students may take three years or longer to finish their studies since they complete fewer courses at a time.
It may take longer to earn your graduate accounting degree if you’re pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in accounting. Finishing a 40-credit or 55-credit MBA degree requires a lot more coursework. Also, it will usually take two to three years of full-time study, at least.
Is it cheaper to get an online master’s in accounting?
Online master’s degrees have a reputation for being more affordable. However, the cost depends on where you go to graduate school. Some online college programs cost less than traditional in-person programs. Others cost the same or even tack on extra technology fees. Similarly, some online schools charge separate in-state and out-of-state tuition rates. Other online programs cost the same no matter where the student lives.
If you want to make your education more affordable, consider financial aid packages as well as the “sticker” price of tuition. Keep in mind that even schools with high tuition rates may be more affordable than you expect. If you receive a lot of money in merit-based or need-based scholarships and grants, your costs will go down.
What is the best accounting degree for accountants?
Accounting degrees at the graduate level go by different titles, including:
- Master of Accountancy
- Master of Accounting
- Master of Science in Accounting
- Master of Professional Accountancy
- Master of Professional Accounting
All of these degree programs are specialized accounting programs, not business administration programs. They also can serve to help students qualify to sit for the CPA Exam or to pursue other types of professional certification in accounting.
However, there are some differences. Master of Accountancy and Master of Accounting programs provide graduate-level advanced knowledge of accounting in general and often allow for exploration of an area of concentration. Master of Science programs tend to involve more extensive quantitative coursework. Professional-focused programs tend to emphasize practical skills over theoretical knowledge. Any of these accounting degrees can help you advance your career.
There are substantive differences between these degrees and MBA in accounting degrees. MBA degrees cover core coursework in a broad business administration curriculum that you won’t find in most other accounting programs. While you will devote some of your studies to advanced accounting coursework you will also study more topics in leadership, management and operations than students in other graduate accounting programs.
If you want to work in specialized or senior-level accounting roles, any graduate accounting degree that caters to your intended specialization is a good choice. If you’re seeking promotion to managerial roles, opting for an MBA or other online graduate business programs is a better move.
What salary can I expect with a master’s in accounting?
Your level of education and any professional credentials you have can affect your earning potential as an accountant.
For accounting professionals in general, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median, or midpoint, salary of $73,560 in 2020. The lowest-earning 10% of accountants and auditors made less than $45,220. The highest-earning 10% of the occupation made upwards of $128,680, the BLS reported.
However, this data appears to be skewed by higher-earning accountants. Payscale reported the average accountant salary as just $52,286 in 2021. The website did list a near-$70,000 average salary for CPAs.
If you use your master’s degree to pursue CPA certification, you’re prepared to earn more money. The AICPA puts average salaries for junior-level public accounting roles in the range of $40,500 to $93,500. Salaries for senior-level roles range from $62,000 to $115,500. For corporate accounting positions, the AICPA lists junior-level salary ranges from $39,750 all the way up to the six-figure range. Top earnings can rise above $150,000 or even $180,000. CPAs can expect to earn between 10% and 15% more than colleagues without the credential.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out Top 30 Accredited Online Accounting Degree Programs and 30 Online Bachelor’s in Business Administration 2022!