Last Updated: January 13, 2021
MBA programs are known for producing well-rounded business leaders and lucrative job opportunities. Schools typically offer a variety of MBA concentrations to accommodate individual career goals. Among the most common is the MBA in accounting, which qualifies graduates for top jobs as accountants with expertise in tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services.
MBAs also help qualify students for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam, which is required for CPA licensure in all U.S. states. Earning an MBA in accounting enables students to meet the coursework requirements necessary for CPA licensure. Online MBA programs can offer subsidized tuition, accelerated completion times, and local field experience.
Online accounting programs offer a positive return on investment (ROI). Accountants and auditors earned a median annual wage of $71,550 as of 2019. The BLS projects accounting and auditing jobs will increase by 4% from 2019-29.
While not required at the entry level, employers prefer candidates with an MBA in accounting for positions such as top executive or finance manager.
The following sections explore the key characteristics of the nation's best online accounting programs.
2021's 10 Best Online Accounting Degrees
|1||University of Maryland-College Park||College Park, MD|
|2||Pennsylvania State University-World Campus||University Park, PA|
|3||Seton Hall University||South Orange, NJ|
|4||Eastern Illinois University||Charleston, IL|
|5||University of La Verne||La Verne, CA|
|6||Florida Atlantic University||Boca Raton, FL|
|7||Ohio University||Athens, OH|
|8||Maryville University||St. Louis, MO|
|9||Liberty University||Lynchburg, VA|
|10||Upper Iowa University||Fayette, IA|
What Is Accounting?
Accounting, the practice of recording, summarizing, analyzing, and reporting business and financial transactions, dates back to ancient civilizations, which developed counting and measurement systems for finances and traded in their own forms of currency.
As global commerce evolved, the need for accountants in all areas of business crystallized. Established in 1887, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants developed an exam leading to CPA licensure, now required by all states of accountants who file reports through the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The accounting profession has endured throughout the centuries as a dynamic and essential business practice.
Nearly all industries and organizations require the services of accounting professionals, including finance and insurance groups, government entities, and management companies.
Nearly one-quarter of accountants nationwide work in accounting, bookkeeping, tax preparation, and/or payroll services.
By earning an MBA in this specialization, accountants achieve a well-rounded business education. An MBA emphasizes accounting and broad communication, analytical, and organization skills. The degree exceeds entry-level requirements for some accounting jobs; even so, employers often prefer candidates with an accounting MBA, especially if the degree is focused in global business.
The U.S. employs nearly 1.3 million accountants, naturally concentrated in the most populous states including California, Texas, and New York. Nationwide, the BLS projects a 4% job growth from 2019 to 2029 for both entry-level and senior positions. MBA accounting graduates often pursue careers as CPAs but also qualify for positions such as financial analyst, tax consultant, or top executive.
Why Get an Accounting MBA?
Considered the most popular postgraduate degree in the nation, MBAs require a significant investment of time and money. Many students wonder whether an MBA in accounting is worth the effort; however, this degree offers unmatched professional and financial ROI.
Most recent MBA graduates earn 50% more than before they enrolled, and many double their salaries after five years. Additionally, MBAs emphasize a broader skill set for management careers (see below) than nonbusiness online accounting programs. Flexible, accelerated online programs offer additional benefits.
- Adaptable Management Skills: Consistently ranked among the most popular college majors across the U.S., business administration programs develop skills adaptable to a variety of management careers. MBA graduates demonstrate a mastery of skills including communication, leadership, problem-solving, teamwork, and initiative.
- Networking Opportunities: Known for enrolling a diverse group of students, MBAs provide access to an exclusive set of networking opportunities. MBAs often include global business specializations, international experiences, and unique mentorships.
- High Salary Potential: Some reports show MBA graduates earning an average salary of $134,990. Achieving a significant ROI through high salary growth potential makes the MBA especially attractive to career-oriented business students.
Ranking the Top 15 Online MBAs in Accounting, 2021
An MBA in accounting can help boost your career in management, accounting, auditing, or financial consulting. Learn more about how we evaluate online accounting programs at the link below, and read on to explore our ranking of the top 15 degrees of 2021.
What the Best Accounting MBAs Have in Common
While the college experience differs widely from one student to the next, you can identify several common characteristics among top MBAs with an accounting concentration.
They are accredited. Accredited colleges and universities meet minimum standards set by third-party evaluators. Accreditation agencies look at academic rigor, faculty qualifications, and student-learning outcomes. All the schools included in our ranking are accredited. Regional and programmatic accrediting agencies to look for include:
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- They are affordable. Net price and affordability entail both tuition and financial aid. Affordable schools typically have a high percentage of students receiving scholarships, a high average amount of aid awarded, and low loan default rates among graduates. In our ranked list, affordability highlights include Ohio University's automatic scholarship eligibility for certain students and Eastern Illinois University's low in-state tuition rate of $307/credit.
- They are reputable. A school's reputation impacts admission, student experiences, and graduate success. Reputable universities see a high percentage of students accepting admission offers, and degrees from these schools often result in high average earnings for graduates. We see an excellent example of academic prestige, name recognition, and overall reputation at the University of Maryland, where nearly 60% of online MBA graduates receive a new job offer before graduation.
- They offer strong academic programs. High student retention rates, graduation rates, and the number of full-time faculty can each be used to evaluate a university's academic strength. When looking at an online MBA in accounting, it is equally important to evaluate the emphasis a school places on master's-level education and graduate student support. St. Bonaventure University helps to foster graduate student success by offering virtual professional development experiences to online learners
1. University of Maryland-College Park
|Public university in College Park, MD, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB|
The University of Maryland educates more than 41,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Located just outside of Washington, D.C., UMD offers easy access to enriching field experiences in law, government, art, and education.
UMD's online MBA in accounting combines the benefits of synchronous class interaction with the flexibility of asynchronous coursework. Online learners enjoy a high level of engagement through audio and video messaging, integrated multimedia, and collaborative workspaces.
The 54-credit degree requires concentration courses in fraud examination and detection, the impact of taxation on businesses, and financial planning for managers and consultants. The program begins with a three-day, on-campus residency and culminates with a final capstone simulation experience.
UMD offers extensive career services to online students, including virtual career coaching and an online recruiting system. Nearly 60% of online MBA graduates start new positions before graduation.
Applying to UMD
To apply, individuals must provide one recommendation letter, GMAT or GRE scores, a resume, and an essay. A minimum of two years of work experience is highly recommended. A nonrefundable $75 application fee applies.
Program at a Glance
2. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
|Public university in University Park, PA, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB|
Pennsylvania State University boasts 24 campuses, a major online presence, and an international student body of 100,000. Fifteen of the university's academic disciplines rank in the national top 10 for research expenditures.
Accounting is one of 22 concentrations available within Penn State's online MBA program. The nine-credit concentration requires coursework in taxation, auditing, and managerial accounting. Learners with a bachelor's in accounting or relevant work experience may study advanced accounting concepts like strategic cost management and governmental accounting.
The MBA core develops skills in data analysis, leadership, and marketing. Most of Penn State's online courses use asynchronous formatting, allowing access to course materials 24/7.
At the start of the program, all students attend a five-day, on-site residency to meet with peers, professors, and advisors and receive technical training for their online studies.
Applying to Penn State
Prospective students must submit contact information for two references, a resume, an essay response, and GMAT or GRE scores, unless eligible for a waiver. The admission committee schedules interviews on a case-by-case basis. A nonrefundable $65 application fee applies.
Program at a Glance
3. Seton Hall University
|Private university in South Orange, NJ, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB|
Founded in 1856, Seton Hall University operates a 58-acre campus in South Orange, New Jersey, just 14 miles from Manhattan. Over 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students attend the private Catholic institution each year.
Designed for students with an interest in corporate accounting and finance, the MBA in accounting at Seton Hall requires four courses: financial reporting, auditing standards and problems, cost accounting, and essentials of federal taxation. The remaining MBA core develops a broad understanding of business operations and management.
The 40-credit program combines asynchronous learning with applied coursework, featuring live consulting projects and guest lectures from top executives. The degree culminates with a hands-on consulting experience capstone that requires learners to integrate skills and tools from prior courses.
New students must attend a two-day, on-campus orientation.
Applying to Seton Hall
Applicants must demonstrate a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Required admission materials include a resume, statement of purpose, one letter of recommendation, and GRE or GMAT scores, unless eligible for a waiver. A nonrefundable $75 application fee applies.
Program at a Glance
4. Eastern Illinois University
|Public university in Charleston, IL, accredited by HLC and AACSB|
Situated on a compact, 320-acre campus, Eastern Illinois University enrolls more than 7,000 students and offers nearly 100 program options. Nine years after graduation, EIU alumni report a satisfaction rate of 99%.
EIU offers their MBA with an accounting concentration to students with an undergraduate degree in accounting. Unlike many business programs, EIU's degree prepares graduates to take the certified public accountant examination.
Students can complete the majority of their MBA requirements online, but the four accounting concentration courses are only available on campus in Charleston. Required areas of study include financial accounting standards, advanced auditing, and the legal environment of accounting.
The program culminates with an advanced management simulation course, in which students apply learned knowledge and skills to a series of real-world business challenges.
Applying to EIU
All applicants must submit official transcripts. EIU recommends students interested in graduate assistantships supply a professional goal statement, GRE or GMAT scores, and references. A nonrefundable $30 application fee applies.
Program at a Glance
5. University of La Verne
|Private university in La Verne, CA, accredited by WASC|
The University of La Verne operates a central campus, several regional campuses across Southern California, and a robust online learning environment. The school's 5,000 enrolled learners enjoy a low 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
La Verne designed an online MBA in accounting for midcareer professionals. The 33-credit professional degree emphasizes the real-world applications of functional business concepts, leadership, and management strategies.
The accounting concentration requires four courses in corporate accounting and reporting, federal taxation, auditing, and cost accounting. To accommodate changing career plans, MBA alumni can return to La Verne at a later date to add a second concentration.
While La Verne offers all its MBA courses remotely, online students can attend on-campus courses if they choose. Learners can also access on-campus support services through phone and video conferencing.
Applying to La Verne
Prospective graduate students must have at least three years of work experience. Applicants must supply letters of recommendation, a statement or purpose, and a $50 application fee. La Verne prefers a minimum 2.5 GPA on an applicant's last 60 credits of undergraduate coursework.
Program at a Glance
6. Florida Atlantic University
|Public university in Boca Raton, FL, accredited by SACSCOC and AACSB|
Florida Atlantic University stands out as the most diverse public university in the Sunshine State. Since its founding 1961, FAU has matriculated more than 177,000 alumni. More than 30,000 students attend each year.
The online MBA at FAU offers a general track and ten concentrations, including accounting. Students progress through the program in an asynchronous cohort format, with no on-campus residencies required.
To pursue the accounting concentration, students must either hold an undergraduate degree in accounting or taxation, or complete the required specialization prerequisites. Upon acceptance, learners take two accounting core courses and select four accounting or taxation electives.
New MBA students can begin their studies in May, August, or January. The program comprises a total of 40-46 credits, depending on eligibility to waive two foundation courses in financial accounting and managerial finance.
Applying to FAU
Prospective students need four years of work experience, a bachelor's degree, and a minimum 3.0 GPA in their last 60 credits of undergraduate coursework. FAU requires submission of a resume, letters of recommendation, and GMAT/GRE scores unless eligible for a waiver.
Program at a Glance
7. Ohio University
|Public university in Athens, OH, accredited by HLC and AACSB|
Located in the Southeast Ohio foothills, Ohio University educates over 30,000 students each year, both on campus and online. Bobcats can choose from a catalog of more than 250 academic programs.
Ohio's 35-credit online MBA in accounting enhances business skills. Enrollees learn to measure and report business revenues, expenses, investments, and liabilities. Required courses cover intermediate and advanced accounting concepts like risk assessment and tax planning.
A majority of program activities allow for asynchronous completion, with occasional live lectures required in some courses. Students must attend at least one weekend-long professional development workshop on campus. Two additional workshop weekends are optional.
The Ohio college business offers automatic scholarship eligibility to returning Ohio alumni, veterans, active military, and corporate partner employees.
Applying to Ohio
Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and at least two years of professional experience. Applicants should provide a current resume, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.
Program at a Glance
8. Maryville University
|Private university in St. Louis, MO, accredited by HLC and ACBSP|
Named the second fastest-growing private university in the nation by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Maryville University prides itself on offering a comprehensive and innovative education focused on student outcomes. More than 11,000 students attend each year.
Maryville's flexible online MBA in accounting offers six start dates each year, requires no on-campus visits, and welcomes learners without any prior business experience. The practical, 39-credit curriculum uses current case studies to teach students to solve hands-on business challenges.
Courses in the accounting concentration cover tax planning and decision-making, strategic accounting issues, financial statement analysis, and data analytics. Combined with core courses like business ethics, strategic marketing, and global business, Maryville's MBA prepares graduates to succeed in a variety of industries.
This career-driven, student-centered program is taught by active business professionals driven by current events rather than personal research interests.
Applying to Maryville
Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, supply official transcripts, and submit a personal statement explaining their qualifications for graduate study. Maryville does not require GMAT/GRE scores and charges no application fee.
Program at a Glance
9. Liberty University
|Private university in Lynchburg, VA, accredited by SACSCOC and ACBSP|
Liberty University is an evangelical Christian university and a national leader in distance education. Liberty offers more than 450 online programs and educates over 100,000 learners around the world.
Liberty's online MBA in accounting provides specialized training in financial management, budgeting, global economics, and tax research. The program emphasizes management ethics, and prepares graduates to pursue roles such as chief financial officer, financial consultant, and sales manager.
Outside of accounting, students complete core business classes covering strategic marketing management, organizational design, human resource management, and research methods. Asynchronous formatting allows learners to maintain their current work schedule and study at their convenience.
Liberty also offers an online master's in accounting for students interested in pursuing CPA certification.
Applying to Liberty
Prospective students can apply online or over the phone. Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school, a minimum 3.0 GPA, completion of undergraduate business prerequisites, and a $50 application fee.
Program at a Glance
10. Upper Iowa University
|Private university in Fayette, IA, accredited by HLC|
Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University provides higher education opportunities with five core values in mind: integrity, excellence, accessibility, respect, and stewardship. Approximately 5,000 students enroll at UIU each year.
UIU offers a 36-credit MBA in accounting online and at ten education centers across Iowa, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Texas. Courses in the accounting emphasis — including taxation for corporations, forensic accounting, and advanced managerial accounting — count toward the 150 credits required for CPA examination eligibility.
The MBA core explores current corporate law and ethics, organizational strategy, and product management. A final research seminar serves as the degree's capstone.
Students take two courses at a time in an asynchronous format for maximum flexibility. Remote learners can access free tutoring, writing center support, and online library services. Enrollees can choose from six program start dates each year.
Applying to UIU
Admission requires a completed bachelor's degree and a minimum 2.75 GPA. GRE and GMAT scores are optional. Prospective students who apply online do not pay an application fee.
Program at a Glance
11. St. Bonaventure University
|Private university in St. Bonaventure, NY, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB|
St. Bonaventure University is a Catholic Franciscan university offering nearly 70 programs of study to 2,500 students. SBU began offering online graduate degrees in 2013.
SBU's online MBA in accounting welcomes students from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds. The 42-credit degree requires core courses including financial management, marketing management, and accounting practices and analysis. The accounting track focuses on financial statement analysis, presentation, and advanced cost accounting.
The program culminates with a case-based capstone course in which students apply previous coursework concepts to organizational problems. Working in teams, learners develop and present solutions.
While enrolled, SBU students can contact faculty through email, video conference, and phone calls. The university's career center offers virtual professional development opportunities to support learners' future success.
Applying to SBU
Prospective SBU students must provide a completed application, resume, and transcripts from all colleges attended. Applicants with a 3.3 GPA or 3.0 GPA and two years of relevant work experience do not need to provide GRE/GMAT scores.
Program at a Glance
12. University of Scranton
|Private university in Scranton, PA, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB|
A Catholic institution in the Jesuit tradition, the University of Scranton places spirituality at the core of its mission. Approximately 5,000 undergraduate, graduate, and part-time learners enroll each year, enjoying a low 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Offering equal quality and rigor to the on-campus program, Scranton's online MBA in accounting enables learners to access course materials 24/7, with no campus visits required to graduate.
Students lacking the appropriate academic or work background may need to take up to 12 one-credit foundation courses at the start of the program. The main 36-credit curriculum includes core and specialization courses in managerial economics, accounting ethics, operations management, and advanced taxation.
The final capstone introduces methods for examining strategic policy issues of business organizations. This course asks learners to create, present, and defend policy solutions for a real-world company.
Applying to Scranton
Scranton requires three years of professional or supervisory work experience for acceptance into the MBA program. Prospective students must supply official college transcripts and three letters of recommendation.
Program at a Glance
13. Syracuse University
|Private university in Syracuse, NY, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB|
Syracuse University is a private, inclusive research university with nearly 22,000 students around the world. The central New York institution offers more than 200 undergraduate majors and 200 advanced degrees.
Students attending the online MBA in accounting at Syracuse participate in small, face-to-face online classes that facilitate collaboration and networking. Learners can also access recorded classes for later review, with searchable video transcripts and adjustable video speed.
As part of the accounting concentration, students select from elective courses including cost analysis and control, principles of fraud examination, and international accounting and reporting.
The MBA program requires attendance at three weekend-long in-person residencies held on campus and in major U.S. and global cities. Learners enjoy a conference-style experience, with opportunities to meet classmates and faculty, participate in workshops, and attend talks with prominent business leaders.
Applying to Syracuse
Applicants need a bachelor's degree and at least three years of full-time work experience. Syracuse requires two personal essays, two letters of recommendation, a resume or CV, and a $45-$75 application fee.
Program at a Glance
14. University of Dallas
|Private university in Irving, TX, accredited by SACSCOC and AACSB|
Founded in 1956 through the joint efforts of the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur and several lay professors, the University of Dallas welcomes students of all faiths. Today, UD attracts more than 2,500 students from around the world.
Available online or on campus, UD's MBA in accounting offers a business education experience integrated with ethical, sustainable, and inspirational leadership components. The 39-credit program draws on the industry expertise of full-time faculty with years of professional business experience.
The accounting concentration includes course options in entity taxation, financial statement analysis, cost accounting, and accounting information systems. UD's capstone experience connects learners with business organizations in a consulting role, through which they work to address strategic or operational issues and develop solutions.
Recent graduates have found employment in accounting and auditing positions with companies including MetLife, Deloitte, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Applying to UD
Prospective UD graduate students need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Several business and accounting prerequisites apply. Applicants must provide a resume and $50 application fee.
Program at a Glance
15. Florida Institute of Technology
|Private university in Melbourne, FL, accredited by SACSCOC|
Located near NASA and the Kennedy Space Center, Florida Institute of Technology emphasizes education for professionals. With almost 90% of the school's full-time faculty holding doctoral degrees, Florida Tech enjoys a distinguished reputation.
Florida Tech's online MBA in accounting supports diversity, leadership, team-building, and individual creativity. Required specialization courses include governmental and nonprofit accounting, international accounting and reporting, and advanced problems and current topics.
The Florida State Board of Accountancy approves all of Florida Tech's accounting courses for CPA exam credit requirements. Students complete a final strategic management capstone, consisting of case analysis and experiences made to simulate decision-making in top-level management.
Learners enjoy a flexible online format with asynchronous lecture video streaming, interactive course material, and peer connection opportunities through discussion boards, group study, and chat rooms.
Applying to Florida Tech
Florida Tech accepts applications year-round. Admission requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, two professional letters of recommendation, a current resume, and a statement of intent.
Program at a Glance
What to Expect From Master's in Accounting Programs
Many schools offer MBAs in accounting, and requirements may vary by program. Timeline expectations, for example, depend on degree type. Most traditional MBAs take two years to complete, though online MBAs in accounting may offer accelerated completion options over 12-18 months. Part-time MBAs take roughly three years to complete. Bachelor's-to-MBA programs may take up to five years.
Curricula also differ between online MBAs in accounting and other online accounting programs. An MBA in accounting requires a core module of business and finance coursework, culminating in a capstone experience or project. Some MBAs also include practicums or global experiences. By contrast, online master's in accounting programs focus on meeting minimum accounting education credits requirements for CPA licensure.
MBA programs typically comprise 36-55 credits. Students may enroll full or part time in traditional or online programs. Online MBAs may deliver courses synchronously, with set class times, or asynchronously, where students watch prerecorded lectures at their convenience. Most MBAs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree with an average 3.0 GPA and submit GRE or GMAT scores.
Accounting Concentration and Degree Options
Students may pursue a variety of paths leading to an online master's in accounting. While MBAs commonly offer accounting as a concentration, schools may offer other options such as an MS in accounting, a master of accountancy (MAcc), or a master of professional accounting or accountancy.
MBAs in accounting offer students the benefit of a broad business education with a focus in career skills for accountants. The MBA curriculum builds a foundation in core business skills like leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving, emphasizing accounting subjects like financial management and taxation. Graduates can apply their skills in a variety of management positions including financial analyst, business consultant, or chief executive officer (CEO).
Earning an online master's in accounting through an MS or MAcc allows students to specialize in a particular area of accounting and qualify for CPA licensure. Many online accounting programs offer more acute concentrations than an MBA, in areas like financial analysis, forensic accounting, and compliance. These programs may lack the MBA's broad business curriculum, but they prepare graduates for lucrative jobs including IT accountant, managerial accountant, and chief financial officer (CFO).
Popular Accounting Courses
MBAs in accounting provide a well-rounded business education, coupled with acute accounting skills. Individual course requirements may vary slightly by school and program, but most online MBAs in accounting include some form of the following course topics.
Foundational courses include financial and managerial accounting, cost management, and microeconomics. Some programs offer targeted communication courses, such as management-specific communication, as electives. MBAs typically culminate in a capstone.
- Financial and Managerial Accounting: This course introduces students to both financial and managerial accounting, exploring how these skills apply to nearly every aspect of a management career. Specific topics include preparing income statements and balance sheets and budgeting cash flow. This course serves a variety of aspiring accountants and financial consultants.
- Cost Management: Cost management coursework explores broad accounting concepts and practices, applicable in a variety of administrative careers. Learners commonly review case studies to better understand techniques including marketing, strategic, and value-analysis cost management.
- Microeconomics: Integral to an MBA's core curriculum, many programs include both basic and advanced microeconomics coursework. Learners explore concepts including supply and demand, consumer behavior, and competitive market equilibrium. Advanced coursework trains students to apply such strategies in financial management jobs.
- Management Communication: As communication continues to top the list of employers' most coveted job skills, MBAs emphasize coursework in advanced speaking and writing competencies. Students develop persuasive arguments through public speaking simulations and writing assignments.
- MBA Accounting Capstone: Formats differ by school and program, but most accounting MBAs culminate in a capstone experience. Many programs include field work in a local business, such as a tax preparation agency, and require students to review and prepare a set of complex financial documents for their final project.
Financing your Accounting Degree
Like most college programs, MBAs require a sizable investment and serious cost considerations. Most applicants require financial aid to help offset the costs of earning an online MBA in accounting. Undergraduate programs typically require applicants to submit the FAFSA to determine federal financial aid eligibility, but many graduate programs — including MBA programs — emphasize other aid options.
MBA candidates often pursue grants, loans, and scholarships to subsidize the cost of their degree. Students completing their MBA in person may also pursue teaching-assistant positions and work-study jobs on campus. Enrollees might also qualify for employer assistance or tuition reimbursement programs, or they can seek part-time employment.
What Jobs Can an Accounting Degree Get You?
MBAs can lead to top careers and higher salaries in many fields and industries. Online MBA in accounting graduates can apply their unique business skills as bookkeepers, as CFOs, and in other positions in between. Accounting professionals may also pursue specialized jobs in forensic, managerial, or tax accounting, or carve out their own niche as a financial consultant.
The BLS projects a 4% job growth from 2019-29 and a median annual wage of $71,550 for accountants and auditors. Most accountants work in the public, management, and government sectors. They may specialize in the industry in which they work; for example, accountants may provide risk-assessment or tax services for insurance or healthcare organizations.
Earning an online MBA in accounting prepares graduates for high-level executive jobs. While positions such as CFO and management analyst may require only a bachelor's degree, most corporations prefer candidates who hold an MBA in accounting and senior experience. As shown below, such top executives earn a median annual salary exceeding $104,000.
Accountant/Auditor: Accountants prepare financial records and auditors examine them. Accountants may specialize in management or government accounting. Auditors commonly perform either internal or external audits, or they work in information technology auditing. Each state maintains its own CPA licensure requirements. Entry-level jobs may require only a bachelor's; however, most employers prefer an MBA.
- Required Education: Bachelor's degree, MBA preferred
- Job Outlook (2019-29): 4%
- Median Annual Salary: $71,550
Top Executive: Top executives manage all aspects of a business or organization, including the financial and information technology departments. Top executives include positions such as CEO, CFO, and general manager. While some executive jobs require only a bachelor's degree, most nonprofits and large corporations prefer candidates with an MBA and management experience.
- Required Education: Bachelor's degree or MBA
- Job Outlook (2019-29): 4%
- Median Annual Salary: $104,690
Management Analyst: Management analysts, also called management consultants, work with businesses and organizations to improve their productivity. These professionals work closely with the organization's managers to minimize costs, increase revenue, and streamline short- and long-term operations. Entry-level jobs require only a bachelor's degree, but most employers prefer candidates with an MBA.
- Required Education: Bachelor's degree, MBA preferred
- Job Outlook (2019-29): 11%
- Median Annual Salary: $85,260
Selecting Your Accounting MBA Program
Learners should begin with accredited programs in their search for MBAs in accounting. Beyond regional or national accreditation, an MBA program might hold programmatic accreditation from AACSB International, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education. The following list shows some of the most critical considerations for prospective MBAs.
- School Size: Students may prefer larger student networks or more intimate learning environments.
- Student-to-Teacher Ratio: Some learners need smaller classes with personalized attention, while others may not.
- Staff Credentials/Diversity: Many schools employ well-known, experienced business people as MBA professors.
- Cost/Financial Aid: Online accounting programs may offer in-state or set tuition rates.
- Location: Online MBAs can bring global learning experiences to students in any location.
- Concentrations/Specializations: Since MBAs offer so many choices, students may select a school primarily based on whether it offers their desired specialization.
- Program Length: Many online MBAs in accounting offer accelerated programs and shorter completion times.
- Program Culture/Composition: MBAs commonly offer programs with a global business or global commerce focus, connecting students across the world.
- University Resources/Career Services: Career services staff can help MBA students hone their career skills and ensure they meet CPA exam qualifications.
- Extracurriculars: Many MBA students pursue extracurriculars through activities such as student government or volunteer fundraising.
- Prestige/Reputation: Prospective MBAs may prefer a school with a prominent business school or prestigious master's program.
- Earning Potential: Generally, the MBA yields high expectations for graduates, so an especially high earning potential may add incentive.
- Alumni Network: Many schools boast an impressive roster of successful MBA alums.
- Competitiveness/Difficulty/Cost of Admission: The most exclusive programs are often the most expensive, and they may also require high admission fees.
- Required Admission Material/Test Scores: Some schools require the GMAT or GRE for admission, while others may not.
Why Should You Get an Online MBA?
Amid the general prevalence and success of online education, online MBAs in accounting particularly suit the distance learning experience. For example, online MBAs provide adaptable technology skills for the virtual business environment. MBAs also increasingly offer global concentrations in international business markets.
Additionally, online MBAs in accounting can save students time and money over traditional degrees. Many schools offer accelerated MBAs online, which take less than two years to complete. Learners may choose whether to enroll part or full time, or in a dual-degree program. Some schools combine their bachelor's and master's in accounting into a 4+1 online MBA.
Affordable tuition is among the most attractive features of an online MBA. Many schools offer tuition discounts for undergraduate alumni.
Online programs commonly offer in-state tuition or reduced rates for distance learners, regardless of their home state.
Additionally, many online enrollees spend less on tuition by completing accelerated programs, which also save on housing and commuting expenses.
While online learning offers significant benefits, there are also potential drawbacks. Some learners prefer the immersive social environment on campus to independent learning online. Additionally, enrollees pursuing an online MBA in accounting must demonstrate rigorous time management skills. Students should also consider whether they prefer self-led learning or more personalized in-person attention from instructors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is an MBA in accounting worth it?
Yes. Earning an MBA in accounting leads to a high ROI and diverse career opportunities. Students who complete an MBA with an accounting concentration qualify for their choice of high-level management and finance jobs.
What can I do after an MBA in accounting?
Students equipped with an MBA in accounting can enter a variety of management fields involving business, finance, and executive leadership. Many graduates become CPAs.
What kind of accounting degrees are there?
Schools commonly offer MBAs with accounting concentrations, though some feature standalone master's in accounting degrees. Students should consider which degree best suits their unique career goals.
Is it better to have an MBA or master's in accounting?
The MBA and master's in accounting each offers individual benefits. MBAs in accounting offer a broad business curriculum for aspiring accountants, managers, and entrepreneurs. Master's programs emphasize professional accounting skills and CPA exam preparation.
Are accountants in demand?
The BLS projects a 4% increase in job growth for accountants and auditors from 2019-29. While competitive, the job market favors licensed CPAs with a master's or an MBA in accounting. Generally, employers prefer candidates with an MBA in accounting over entry-level bachelor's degree requirements.