By Iris Stone
A master of accounting degree is a must-have credential for many professional accountants. The reason is that earning any sort of specialized credential – as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CPA), or Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), for example – typically requires a great deal of academic coursework beyond the undergraduate level. Fortunately, there is no shortage of MSA degree programs available across the country. The challenge is not in finding a good option, but in finding the best one.
Ranking the 50 Best Master’s Degrees in Accounting 2017
There are hundreds of accounting programs out there, and ranking the 50 best was no small feat. We started by using College Navigator to acquire a list of all the colleges and universities (public or private non-profit only) that provide a graduate program in accounting. We then compared this list to data on recent degree conferments and eliminated any inactive or low-active programs (i.e. those that graduated fewer than 15 students in 2015).
We then cross-referenced this new list with the membership directory from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AASCB International) and narrowed down our selection to only include schools with both business and accounting accreditation.
Finally, we used a four-factor methodology to rank the programs still in the running.
- CPA Exam Average Score: (Weighted 25% of Total Score) Using the most recently available data from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) we looked at each school’s reported average overall performance for the students who took the exam in 2015.
- CPA Exam Overall Pass Rate: (Weighted 35% of Total Score) Using the same data set, we also looked at how many graduating students in the program ultimately passed the CPA exam that year (not to be confused with first-time pass rate).
- Relative Popularity for Business Students: (Weighted 25% of Total Score) Turning again to data on degree conferments from College Navigator, we calculated the percentage of students who chose to earn a degree in accounting over another business or finance discipline. In some ways, this was comparable to measuring the size of the school’s accounting program relative to its entire business department.
- Average Tuition: (Weighted 15% of Total Score) Using data from College Navigator, we calculated the average annual tuition and fees (factoring in both resident and non-resident rates for public schools) a student could be expected to pay for attendance. Of course, we gave preference to programs with lower costs.
After weighting the categories and adding the points across the board, we gave each program a final score out of 50. Many of these colleges’ accounting programs are very closely matched; some even received tie scores! Scroll down to find out more about the 50 top Master of Accountancy schools.
50. University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics is home to not only one of the most affordable MSA degree programs in the country, but also one of the most effective. In addition to a comprehensive curriculum of accounting and business fundamentals, Kentucky’s MAcc also features a robust CPA exam prep component. And these review courses clearly have an impact on testing performance; each graduating class consistently achieves a first-time pass rate of 90% or higher. What’s more, 95% of domestic students in 2016 received at least one job offer in their field within two months of graduation.
Annual Tuition: $18,921
49. Oakland University
Rochester Hills, MI
At Oakland University, aspiring accountants will find a versatile program that can help them get a leg up wherever their career takes them, from the corporate world to the courtroom. With elective specializations in diverse fields like Assurance, Tax and Regulation, and Treasury, Oakland’s affordable Master of Professional Accounting degree is as unique as each graduate’s ensuing career. Students don’t have to wait long for a payoff, either. Not only does this program take just one year to complete, but 80% of MAcc candidates land job offers while they’re still taking classes – a figure that jumps to 97% by graduation!
Annual Tuition: $20,184
48. University of Toledo
Without a doubt, one of the fastest and most cost effective ways to earn CPA licensure in Ohio is through the University of Toledo’s top master’s degree in accounting. In just 30 credits over 12 months, master of accounting candidates at Toledo learn all the best practices of the profession. Financial reporting, taxation, business valuation, and even managerial training are all required components of the university’s graduate accounting curriculum. Accounting students at Toledo also have the opportunity to pursue electives in targeted subjects like corporate finance, strategic marketing, and supply chain management.
Annual Tuition: $19,889
47. Florida State University
Ranked among Accounting.com’s best MSA degree programs for 2015, Florida State University’s Master of Accounting (MAcc) has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best values in professional business education. And one of the most valuable qualities of FSU’s program is its versatility; the degree is available full- and part-time, in accelerated and traditional formats, and with customized curricula for students from both accounting and non-accounting backgrounds. MAcc candidates can also choose from concentrations in Taxation, Assurance and Advisory Services, and General Accounting. This impressive range of customization options makes FSU attractive to students with a variety of interests and career goals.
Annual Tuition: $18,759
46. Seton Hall University
South Orange, NJ
Seton Hall University has a unique place on this list as one of the only institutions to offer three top MSA degree programs. These aren’t just specializations, either. Accounting grad students at SHU can actually choose from three totally separate degrees: an MS in Accountancy, a Master’s in Professional Accounting, and an MBA in Accounting, all of which are AACSB-accredited. The first is the most traditional program and provides a great transition into the field for general business and finance majors. On the other hand, undergraduate accounting majors who simply need to complete the required hours for the CPA exam should choose the MPA, while the MBA is best suited for aspiring executives.
Annual Tuition: $21,066
45. Oklahoma State University
Like Seton Hall, Oklahoma State University features two pathways by which grad students can pursue a top master’s degree in accounting. The more traditional option is what OSU calls their 4/1 Program, which is designed for those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than accounting. In just two semesters, this program provides a comprehensive introduction to the field while also satisfying the 150-hour requirement to sit for the CPA exam. The second option is the Professional Program in Accounting, which allows accounting undergrads at OSU to begin pursuing an MSA in their senior year of college.
Annual Tuition: $14,307
44. Mississippi State University
Mississippi State University, MS
Mississippi State University has not just a department, but an entire school devoted to specifically to accounting. It should hardly come as a surprise then, that the Adkerson School of Accounting provides more than one way to earn a professional degree. Within its top master of professional accounting degree program, students can stick with a general course schedule or opt for a unique concentration in Systems, which requires specific elective classes like Fraud Examination and Advanced Database Design. What’s more, the school also offers a Master of Taxation program for those with a specific interest in wealth management, trusts and estates, and general tax procedures.
Annual Tuition: $13,822
43. Marquette University
Marquette University’s School of Management hosts a top master’s degree in accounting that will all but guarantee a bright future in business for its graduates. In fact, Marquette’s MSA program boasts a 90% job placement rate, and many new alumni find careers at such top firms as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Allen Edmonds, and Ernst & Young. This one-year program is also notable for its strong generalized business core, which overlaps significantly with Marquette’s MBA curriculum. Spanning management, finance, and marketing, the diverse course list will leave students with all the skills they need to hop the fast track to leadership roles in companies around the world.
Annual Tuition: $18,900
42. University of New Orleans
New Orleans, LA
With an average net price of under $15,000 a year, it’s easy to write off the University of New Orleans’ accredited MSA degree program as a budget option. But while some students may choose UNO primarily for its low sticker price, many more recognize that this program offers perks they won’t find just anywhere. For one, UNO’s rich accounting curriculum rivals that of much more expensive schools, with degree concentrations in Accounting Information Systems, Auditing, and Finance. Even more impressive, UNO is one of the few schools in the country that offers an Internal Auditing Program endorsed by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA).
Annual Tuition: $14,657
41. Loyola University Chicago
Consistently recognized by US News for the high caliber of its business school, Loyola University of Chicago is home to one of the best part-time graduate accounting programs in the region. By efficiently packing a plethora of advanced topics into just 12 courses, this program wastes no time in providing aspiring CPAs with the skills and experience they need to climb the corporate ladder. Loyola’s accredited MSA degree program also holds classes in the evening to accommodate working students, many of whom either have degrees in business or finance or bring relevant professional experience to their education.
Annual Tuition: $18,886
39. Old Dominion University (Tied)
While most schools that offer top master’s degrees in accounting are satisfied with a curriculum that prepares students for the CPA exam, Old Dominion University’s School of Accountancy sets the bar higher. To be sure, ODU’s CPA exam pass rate is nearly 20% above the national average, but they haven’t used their success as an excuse to take it easy. Instead, the university has developed coursework to prepare program members for a number of other certification exams, including the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Management Accounting (CMA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) exams. What’s more, ODU offers the four specific classes that the IIA requires to endorse auditing programs.
Annual Tuition: $19,290
39. Middle Tennessee State University (Tied)
Small class sizes, experienced faculty, and abundant career resources define MTSU’s affordable master of professional accounting degree as one of the best in the region. Thanks to a 5:1 student-faculty ratio within the department, accounting students at Middle Tennessee State build close relationships with their professors, many of whom have connections with executives at international firms like Deloitte and Ernst & Young. Other networking advantages of MTSU include the Career Center for counseling and recruitment; eligibility for affiliate membership with the American Institute of CPAs; and the school’s chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, “an honor organization for financial-information students and professionals.”
Annual Tuition: $15,903
38. Boise State University
Accredited by the AACSB since 1979, Boise State University’s business school has been producing corporate executives for nearly half a century. And of course, BSU’s Master of Accountancy program is a major contributor to this effort. The caliber of this program is self-evident not only in its CPA exam pass rate (which is well above the national average – and climbing), but also in the resources it provides. Program members even have the opportunity to acquire valuable hands-on experience in the industry through an internship/practicum. Plus, a combination of daytime and evening classes makes this affordable master of accounting degree program ideal for traditional students and working professionals alike.
Annual Tuition: $15,191
37. University of Oregon
The University of Oregon’s accredited Master of Accountancy offers more than just another way to meet the credit hour requirement for the CPA exam. Taking its impact a step further, this comprehensive program also integrates coursework in myriad business and management topics to provide graduates with an unparalleled set of professional skills. In fact, the program devotes an entire two semesters of its core curriculum to general professional development. And as an added perk, students can fill nearly half of their degree requirements with elective courses, enabling them to pick and choose from unique classes like “Negotiation,” “New Venture Planning,” and “Managing Global Business.”
Annual Tuition: $20,994
36. Cleveland State University
Like most schools on this list, Cleveland State University’s affordable master’s degree in accounting offers a direct path to careers in business, internal auditing, and public accounting. But Cleveland’s program distinguishes itself by pushing beyond career prep, encouraging students to develop a thorough understanding of the principles and practices of the field – while also satisfying the requirements for the CPA (and/or CIA, CMA, CFE, and CISA) exam, of course! Along the way, accounting grad students will choose between two 30-credit hour professional concentrations—Financial Accounting/Auditing or Taxation— to help them transition seamlessly into their chosen careers after graduation.
Annual Tuition: $13,832
35. College of William and Mary
Although its annual cost may exceed $20,000 a year, that hasn’t stopped the College of William and Mary from developing one of the best Master of Accounting degrees for the price. Indeed, this resource-rich program provides value at every turn, starting with a curriculum that boasts specialization options far beyond the typical spread. In addition to the usual suspects, the college also sports special emphases in Accounting Research, Informational Technology, and Valuation. But the advantages don’t end there; from Summer Boot Camp for non-accounting majors to the Integrated Winter Field Experience, accounting students at William and Mary will never doubt that they’re getting what their money’s worth.
Annual Tuition: $20,971
34. Gonzaga University
Ranked in U.S. News’ Top 20 programs for multiple years running, Gonzaga University’s affordable master of accounting degree is a tried-and-true pathway to success in the world of business. In fact, the university has practically staked its reputation on graduate success, from its impressive 1st-time CPA exam pass rates (another stat that puts it in the top 20) to its 97% job placement rate by graduation. And as if that weren’t enough, more than half of Gonzaga’s accounting graduates typically receive offers from Big 4 accounting firms. Considering this degree costs about $15,000 a year (and can be completed in as little time), it’s easy to see what makes this program one of the very best.
Annual Tuition: $15,090
33. University of Memphis
At less than $15k a year on average (and cheaper for Tennessee residents!), the University of Memphis’s accredited MSA degree program is already one of the best deals in graduate education. But Memphis offers much more than an affordable degree; from robust specialization options in Taxation and Data Analytics to practical experience via internships and fellowships, an accounting education from Memphis provides all the same benefits of a program double the price. Plus, accounting students can use their internships to subsidize the already low tuition costs, pushing the value of this program into a class all its own.
Annual Tuition: $14,602
32. Villanova University
Like many other top master of accountancy programs on this list, Villanova University’s MAcc provides graduates with the skills and credit hours they need to take (and pass) the CPA exam. But how many schools claim a partnership with KPMG to train select students – through an exclusive Analytics specialization – to join the audit and tax firm’s incoming class of new hires? Not many, but Villanova certainly does! Yet this is just one of many ways Villanova separates itself from the pack of MPA programs. In fact, one of the university’s biggest perks is its career support services, which offers resume workshops, CPA exam prep, networking skills seminars, and even an annual Philadelphia MAcc Alumni networking event.
Annual Tuition: $17,219
31. University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA
There’s no better benchmark for quality than success, and University of Iowa accounting graduates have it in spades. Boasting the #1 CPA exam pass rate in the state as well as an 80% first-time pass rate and a 100% job placement rate, Iowa graduates can confidently say they have earned one of the best master’s degrees in accounting available today. Indeed, the value of an Iowa education is simply undeniable, from the professional specialization options – which span Managerial Accounting, Finance, Tax, and even Business Analytics – to the 30 hours of intensive accounting coursework that will set students up for long-term success.
Annual Tuition: $18,282
30. DePaul University
An accredited Master of Accounting degree from DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business is one of the most cost-effective ways to achieve CPA licensure and launch a career. Designed for those who already possess a bachelor’s degree in accounting (or at least have completed the requisite coursework), this 30-credit hour, one year program provides the professional development students need to excel in the business world. For evidence, just look at the university’s accounting job placement rate, which stands at 91%! What’s more, DePaul is just one of 15 schools in the country recognized by the IIA’s Internal Auditing Education Partnership (IAEP) Program as a “comprehensive-level school for internal audit education.”
Annual Tuition: $18,330
29. Bradley University
Bradley University’s affordable MSA degree program is designed for “maximum flexibility.” Aside from 15 credits’ worth of required, core accounting classes (spanning such topics as Financial Accounting Theory, Fraud Examination, and Internal Auditing), accounting graduate students at Bradley are free to structure the curriculum around their personal goals and interests. This often means drawing from general business electives, but it can also take the form of internships and/or research courses. Bradley students can also earn a degree concentration in Internal Auditing by taking nine or more hours of graduate coursework in select topics.
Annual Tuition: $15,190
28. Iowa State University
At Iowa State University, studying abroad isn’t just for undergrads. That’s right—just one of the many perks of pursuing an accredited master of accounting degree from Iowa State is the opportunity to travel to London for three weeks’ worth of management and accounting electives! Of course, there are plenty of practical reasons to choose Iowa State, as well – first and foremost probably being the business school’s 95% graduate placement rate. But for those who want to earn a valuable and affordable degree in style, Iowa State is undoubtedly the place to be.
Annual Tuition: $15,634
27. University of Kansas
With low tuition and a high graduate job placement rate, the University of Kansas has one of the best MSA degree programs in the US. But beyond these attributes, KU can at least partially attribute the success of its accounting graduates to the ample career advisement and networking services they provide. Program members also have access to numerous hands-on learning opportunities, from required internships to teaching assistantships. And to top it all off, KU’s one-of-a-kind Xplore program sponsors trips to metropolitan markets like NYC and San Francisco to help students carry out their job search in person.
Annual Tuition: $16,003
26. University of Arizona
The University of Arizona’s accredited Master of Accounting degree is available in two tracks: Audit and Tax. But while some schools struggle to differentiate concentration options by more than a few courses here and there, Arizona has had no trouble designing two completely distinct course options. In addition to the technical differences in the course topics, the two tracks also differ in their basic requirements. For example, audit specialists take more professional development/communications courses, while tax specialists focus on information technology. But the two programs do share one obvious feature: both require students to pass a written comprehensive examination before graduating.
Annual Tuition: $21,209
24. The University of Alabama (tied)
The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce offers a duo of affordable Master of Accounting degrees to match the industry’s two prevailing career paths. On one side is the Master of Accountancy program, which is designed for those who wish to follow the more traditional trajectory of general accounting and assurance services. On the other side, a Master of Tax Accounting program provides students with a slightly specialized twist and a narrower focus; it also presents greater opportunities for working in-house in the corporate sector. But despite their differences, both programs provide students with the hours and skills they need to take (and pass!) the CPA exam after graduation.
Annual Tuition: $18,060
24. Georgia State University (tied)
In 2015, accounting graduates of Georgia State’s J. Max Robinson College of Business reported an average 28% salary increase—thanks in no small part to the university’s accredited master’s degree in accounting. And yet that statistic is hardly surprising, considering that alumni of Robinson’s MPA program often head to top accounting firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and Bennett Thrasher. But what is surprising is the time it takes to earn a degree from this prestigious program; although the coursework is rigorous, GSU students can complete all 30 hours of advanced accountancy coursework in just three semesters.
Annual Tuition: $16,753
23. Texas State University
San Marcos, TX
At less than $12,000 a year on average (and even cheaper for Texas residents), saying that Texas State University has an affordable MSA degree program would be a serious understatement. Although the value of this program should be self-evident, students will certainly have no trouble appraising its worth once they’ve actually their degree. After all, with their knowledge of business fundamentals and financial best practices, TSU accounting graduates are fluent in the language of transactions. And for those who would like to take their degree to the next level of technical mastery, TSU also offers a Master of Science in Accounting and Information Technology (MsAIT).
Annual Tuition: $11,695
22. Ohio State University
Ranked 6th among public colleges and 9th overall in Public Accounting Report’s ranking of large universities, Ohio State’s reputation precedes itself. But unlike many of the best Master of Accountancy programs out there, OSU doesn’t limit its talent pool to accounting and/or business students fresh out of undergrad. In fact, adults and working professionals of any age – and with any bachelor’s degree – are encouraged to apply! To cater this diverse crowd, OSU’s MSA program devotes a whopping 78% of the curriculum to business electives in order to transform students from varied backgrounds into well-rounded accounting professionals.
Annual Tuition: $22,161
21. Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
Like OSU, Michigan State is home to one of the most consistently high-ranking MSA programs in the country. But where OSU is geared towards generalists, MSU’s top Master of Accounting degrees are all highly specialized. The area of focus depends on the concentration – program members can choose from subfields in Taxation, Information Systems, and Public & Corporate Accounting – but each provides the kind of targeted training students need to find their niche in the professional world. And while MSU’s nearly $24k average annual price tag is the highest on our list, it’s easy to see how this 30-credit degree ultimately pays for itself.
Annual Tuition: $23,898
19. Kansas State University (Tied)
In just one calendar year, aspiring accountants and tax professionals can earn one of the best master’s degrees in accounting from Kansas State University. From core accounting classes like Advanced Financial Reporting to accounting electives in Corporate Taxation and Auditing, K-State’s College of Business Administration provides a comprehensive introduction to this highly technical profession for students of all backgrounds. K-State also offers specializations in three accounting subfields (Financial Accounting, Management Accounting/Controllership, and Taxation) while a wide range of general business electives elevate this program from good to great.
Annual Tuition: $15,715
19. Grand Valley State University (Tied)
Accredited by AACSB International, Grand Valley State University’s affordable Master of Accountancy program is among the best values in the country. With coursework that integrates technical specializations like international finance and business ethics into a comprehensive accounting curriculum, GVSU provides students with the tools they need to not only pass the CPA exam, but to find a promising career right out of school as well. In fact, GVSU’s accounting faculty have close relationships with West Michigan’s Accounting Advisory Board, which they leverage to help accounting graduates find jobs and internships.
Annual Tuition: $16,971
18. University of Virginia
At the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, full-time accounting students can earn a top master’s degree in accounting in as little as nine months. And with only six prerequisite courses and no work experience required, UVA’s accounting degree provides a quick and convenient option for individuals of all backgrounds. English majors and business school graduates alike stand to benefit from the program’s rigorous and comprehensive curriculum. Plus, UVA accounting grads boast an impressive 98% graduate placement rate (not to mention a 75% placement rate with Big Four accounting firms!).
Annual Tuition: $21,993
17. University of Oklahoma
According to the 2015 NASBA Report, the University of Oklahoma had the highest first-time CPA exam pass rate (82%) among Big 12 schools last year. And it’s no mystery why U of O students do so well on the exam: they have the backing of a robust curriculum that includes 18 hours of advanced coursework (with optional specializations in Assurance Services, Financial Reporting, or Taxation) and 15 hours of general business electives. Considering it takes just two calendar years to complete this affordable MSA degree program (33-credits and full-time attendance), this makes U of O one of the most cost effective ways to get started in the lucrative field of accounting.
Annual Tuition: $14,227
16. University of Nebraska
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s School of Accountancy offers three unique study options within its affordable master of professional accountancy degree. The first and most popular option is the standard MPA program, which provides a comprehensive overview of accounting, auditing and financial reporting practices. This is also the fastest route to a degree for those with a bachelor’s in accounting. Also available is an accelerated dual BSBA/MPA degree for undergraduates and a joint JD/MPA for aspiring lawyers and policy officials who hope to work in fields such as tax law or financial regulation.
Annual Tuition: $15,033
15. University of Akron
At the University of Akron, business graduates and liberal arts majors alike can take advantage of a one of a kind, affordable MSA degree program. What makes Akron’s MSA so unique is its flexible and accommodating approach to accounting education. For example, those without any business experience or education whatsoever can take advantage of the program’s pre-MSA foundation and financial reporting summer courses, which will bring them up to speed before the fall semester begins. At the same time, qualified students and accounting professionals can exchange their relevant experience for tuition and credit waivers.
Annual Tuition: $12,068
14. University of North Texas
The University of North Texas’s affordable master’s degrees in accounting represent some of the best deals available at any business school. For just over $10,000 a year, grad students at UNT can pursue an accounting degree with one of two distinct concentrations: Audits or Management and Entrepreneurial Accounting (there is also a separate program available in Taxation, although it does not technically qualify as an accounting degree). While these tracks diverge substantially in their elective coursework, their greatest value is where they overlap—that is, in a solid business core that encompasses marketing, finance, information technology, and, of course, accounting principles.
Annual Tuition: $10,675
13. Utah State University
For the past three years, 93% of all accounting master’s degree students at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business have secured job offers by graduation, proving that Utah State boasts one of the highest success rates around. What’s more, USU has earned rankings in the Public Accounting Report’s annual Top 50 programs for several years running. As if this weren’t enough to solidify its status as one of the nation’s best master of accountancy schools, just take a look at the tuition. With a cost of just $12,500 a year – not including potential out-of-state tuition waivers and graduate fellowship opportunities – Utah State easily earns its reputation as a smart investment for future accountants.
Annual Tuition: $12,521
11. Texas Tech University (Tied)
One of the biggest attractions in Texas Tech University’s Rawls College of Business is its combined BBA/MSA degree, a thorough 150-hour, five-year program that provides a reliable and affordable pathway to becoming a CPA. But while it might not be quite as popular, TTU’s affordable MSA degree program offers all the same advantages as the combined option. Plus, its average job placement rate over the past 25 years has been nearly 100%, making it an almost unbeatable force in terms of career preparation. In addition to guaranteed internships and proven high-level coursework, accounting graduate students at TTU can take advantage of concentrations in either Audit/Financial Reporting or Taxation to take their education to the next level.
Annual Tuition: $10,900
11. San Diego State University (Tied)
San Diego, CA
At over 70%, San Diego State University boasts one of the highest accounting graduate CPA exam pass rates of any school in California (third, to be precise). Of course, SDSU’s superior performance is primarily due to the caliber and work ethic of its students. But the university undoubtedly helps them along the way to success by offering a high-quality, accredited MSA degree program complete with part-time options, evening classes for working students, and competitive scholarships. To make the curriculum as engaging and relevant as possible, SDSU’s program also features professional specialization options in Accounting Information Systems, Financial Reporting, and Taxation.
Annual Tuition: $12,706
10. Northern Illinois University
Months before we published this article, Northern Illinois University earned recognition from the Accounting Degree Review as one of the 30 most affordable schools for a master’s degree in accounting. But the cost of attending NIU is just one small factor in our ranking; more importantly, this MSA degree is unique, innovative, and effective. In fact, the curriculum’s powerful combination of traditional accounting and business courses with essential professional and managerial topics has earned the program a reputation for being strong on leadership. And at the end of the day, this integrated approach provides NIU accounting grads with the tools they need to realize the height of their career ambitions.
Annual Tuition: $16,450
9. University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT
The University of Utah’s MAcc program stands among the best accredited Master of Accounting degrees in the country. It’s also seriously connected; a few of the faculty members have even served as academic fellows on the Securities and Exchange Commission! These kinds of perks contribute not only to some of the highest CPA exam scores and pass rates in the country, but a near-perfect 95% job placement rate within three months of graduation. Utah’s academic excellence is matched only by its unparalleled flexibility and convenience; full-time students can earn their MAcc in only two semesters, while part-timers take just four.
Annual Tuition: $15,102
8. Illinois State University
Illinois State University’s Master of Science in Accountancy Program is one of the best MSA degree programs for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in business or have professional experience in the field. Although it’s possible to take “deficiency courses” to make up for the difference, most who apply to the program already have a strong accounting foundation. ISU then builds on the basics with advanced coursework in financial accounting theory, research methodologies, federal taxes, and even upper level management development. Accounting master’s degree students at ISU also have the opportunity to develop their professional skills through graduate assistantships and internships provided by the university.
Annual Tuition: $13,208
7. Indiana University
In only 12 months, full-time MSA students at Indiana University can earn one of the most prestigious and affordable master’s degrees in accounting available nationwide. Using a cohort model and incorporating group projects and field work, this intensive degree program is able to pack three to four semesters’ worth of coursework into just two. Perhaps most notable of all is IU’s Field Consulting component, where MSA and MBA student teams conduct semester-long consulting projects for a local businesses. This emphasis on teamwork and practical experience undoubtedly contributes to IU’s 95% job placement rate for accounting graduates.
Annual Tuition: $18,928
6. University of Idaho
Like IU, the University of Idaho’s College of Business and Economics owes a significant amount of its graduate success to the implementation of robust hands-on learning opportunities. Where most top master of accountancy programs typically feature a semester-long internship requirement (at best), Idaho offers not one or two but five distinct initiatives for practical business training. From the Barker Capital Management and Training Program to the Business Process Center, accounting graduate students at Idaho will find a bevy of career-prep opportunities to help build their skills both in and out of the classroom.
Annual Tuition: $15,224
5. University of South Florida
Like many of the top master of accountancy programs, the University of South Florida’s MAcc comes with three different concentrations, enabling future accountants to personalize their degree while strengthening their career prospects. The first is the Generalist track, which provides a broad overview of accounting topics like estate planning, corporate taxation, and internal auditing. The second is a Tax track, which requires six additional courses in taxation beyond the two in the general curriculum. Lastly, an Audits track provides ideal training for professionals who want to become a CPA or work for the federal government.
Annual Tuition: $15,776
4. University of Florida
Like USF, the University of Florida’s Fisher School of Accounting features graduate concentrations in Taxation and Auditing, plus a “Traditional” track. But UF distinguishes itself from its in-state neighbor with a host of additional degree offerings. In addition to an accredited master’s degree in accounting, the University of Florida also boasts a dual JD/MAcc, a 3/2 (aka five-year) dual BSBA/MAcc, and a Post-Bacc deficiency program for those with bachelor’s degrees in fields other than accounting. Needless to say, this sheer volume of resources makes UF attractive to a wide range of prospective students.
Annual Tuition: $21,019
3. James Madison University
Upon first glance, James Madison University appears to offer a fairly typical MSA degree program; from its comprehensive breakdown of modern accounting theory to its satisfaction of the 150-hour requirement to sit for the CPA exam in Virginia, JMU checks all the right boxes for future MSA students. The data, however, tell a much more impressive story. For one thing, JMU accounting students average CPA exam score is well above the national average. And although the university’s annual tuition rate isn’t the absolute cheapest on this ranking, it ensures – along with scholarships and grad assistantships – that a JMU education is accessible and affordable to all.
Annual Tuition: $18,576
2. University of Georgia
Boasting the very best first-time pass rate for the CPA exam among large schools in 2015, the University of Georgia is clearly doing something right. But what exactly makes UGA home to one of the absolute best master of accounting degrees in the country? One likely explanation is the rigorous curriculum; courses are only available on-campus during the day, and all students must pursue their degree full-time. While some may argue that this approach disadvantages working professionals, it stands to reason that a serious program such as this should demand the full attention of all enrolled. Plus, students will need to focus to make sure they take advantage of all the incredible resources this prestigious program has to offer.
Annual Tuition: $18,549
1. University of Wisconsin
The numbers don’t lie; not only does the University of Wisconsin regularly report the highest CPA exam scores and pass rates for all of its accounting graduates, its students also achieve a full 100% job placement rate within three months of graduation –not just this year, but every year! So how do they do it? Well, between paid internships through the Career Services Center to professionally-focused degree specializations, Madison students have practically innumerable resources at their fingertips from convocation to graduation. And while these attributes don’t necessarily guarantee success, they certainly justify Madison’s ranking as a top master of accountancy school.
Annual Tuition: $18,533