Top 10 Best Online Master’s of Accounting Degree Programs 2015

Master's in Accounting Degrees - Top Online Master's DegreesBy Master’s in Accounting Staff
Posted May 2015

This ranking highlights the top 10 online master’s of accounting 2015.

Accounting masters programs online are growing in popularity in the United States, as are many distance education degree options. Given how many advanced accounting students already hold full-time jobs and have experience in business, it makes perfect sense that they would seek a more flexible option for their graduate training.

Methodology for Ranking the Best Online Master’s of Accounting 2015

Online accounting programs typically abide by the same standards as traditional programs, and many boast accreditation from the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. But there are also plenty of other factors to consider when applying to an accounting master’s degree program. How much does it cost? How ambitious are the students? How comprehensive are the online resources? How prepared are graduates? We sought to answer these questions in our version of the top 10 programs for 2015. In doing so, we collected information on universities in the following categories:

CPA Exam Pass Rate (Weighted 30%): Perhaps the best indicator of an accounting program’s ability to prepare graduates for the “real world” of public accounting is its students’ performance on the Certified Public Accountant exam. A notoriously difficult test, many students don’t even pass the first time, much less get admirable scores. As such, ranking services often assess schools based on the number of its students who do pass the first time. It can be very difficult to find such data online, as schools with low scores aim to protect this information from the general public. However, we were able to get scores for every school using the 2014 publication from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

Undergraduate GPA (Weighted 20%): Using data from U.S. News, we collected the average GPA of applicants to each college’s school of business. Universities with smarter applicants received more points, as this is an indication of the rigor, challenge, and reputation behind their accounting degrees.

Accreditation (Weighted 20%): Another extremely important factor to consider is a school’s accreditation. For all of these online degrees, we looked to see if the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AASCB) stands behind their curricula. We gave universities points based on their accreditation status, granting additional points to the schools that hold dual accreditation for both their business and accounting programs.

Delivery Modes (Weighted 20%): This category doesn’t have much to do with accounting specifically, but rather was a way to distinguish the colleges with the best online teaching methods. Using U.S. News data, we counted the number of features that each school’s distance education system offers, from live streaming video to virtual labs and simulations.

Tuition (Weighted 10%): While we didn’t want overall cost to factor heavily in our ranking, we do understand that tuition rates are important to most – if not all – graduate students. We gathered information on graduate-specific annual course costs from College Navigator, a government website that the National Center for Education Statistics runs. As far as we know, this information is up to date and reflects only the cost of full time attendance in a graduate program. Scholarships, online discounts, miscellaneous fees, and other factors could alter the amount you actually owe per year.

At the end of it all, we tallied the points and gave each online college a score out of a maximum 100. The ten schools with the highest scores are listed below (from lowest to highest ranking) for your reading pleasure. We hope you see this list as a great starting point as you look to make an incredibly important decision about your academic future.

Florida Atlantic University Online Master's in Accounting Degree

10. Florida Atlantic University

Online Master of Accounting

Students who complete the online masters of accounting program at Florida Atlantic University have the skills to work in industry, the government, or with top public accounting firms. FAC’s main accounting program features a mix of online and on-campus classes, although the school urges students not to rely solely on the distance education format. On the other hand, the “Executive” Accounting version of the degree is more suitable for students who can’t regularly make it to traditional classes. The average undergraduate GPA of admitted students is a 3.35, suggesting that the university attracts high caliber students who take their studies – and their futures – seriously.
Tuition: $5,467/yr (In-state) $16,695/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 66

University of South Dakota Online Master's in Accounting Degree

9. University of South Dakota

Online Master of Professional Accountancy

Students won’t have to travel all the way to the Northern Midwest to take advantage of USD’s top master’s in accounting program. The online degree has earned full accreditation from the AACSB and includes great resources for distance students, from library services to a virtual writing center. South Dakota’s masters program is also great for students who want to sit for the CPA certification exam, and in 2014 the university posted a first-time pass rate above 60%. The core requirements for the major – all of which are available online – reach beyond CPA prep as well, covering tax planning, nonprofit organizations, and business policy.
Tuition: $5,050/yr (In-state) $10,687/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 73

University of North Carolina Online Master's in Accounting Degree

8. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Online Master of Accounting

UNC is renowned for its top academic programs in a number of subject areas, including its prestigious business degrees at the Kenan-Flagler Business School. UNC offers accounting masters programs online and on-campus, and the department encourages those who already have some professional experience to choose the distance option. UNC’s graduates boast some of the best CPA exam performance scores, and its 2014 70% first time pass rate is the highest on this list. The university also self reports that 98% of its students are employed within three months of graduation and that their average salary after five to seven years tops $100,000.
Tuition: $4,371/yr (In-state) $17,816/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 78

University of Massachusetts Amherst Online Master's in Accounting Degree

7. University of Massachusetts Amherst

Online M.S in Accounting

The Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts is another great choice for students interested in an online master’s degree in accounting. The program focuses primarily on helping baccalaureate students gain the additional credits they need to qualify for CPA certification exam testing. The university offers a fully online option as well as a hybrid set of courses that includes a 12-week intensive course over the summer. UMass also distinguishes itself as one of the few universities with separate AACSB accreditations for both its business and accounting majors.
Tuition: $14,051/yr (In-state) $21,348/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 81

Bentley University Online Master's in Accounting Degree

6. Bentley University

Online Master of Accounting

Bentley University proudly touts “30 years of excellence,” as one of the top online accounting master’s programs and a friend to the “Big Four” accounting firms. Bentley has adjusted its curriculum to keep up with the times, admitting that “technology does the number crunching,” and that it is now up to professional accountants to provide analysis, insight, and consulting services. One of BU’s biggest appeals is its ACELAB, a high-tech business center that exposes students to sophisticated software and data modeling techniques that can help them get ahead. The average undergraduate GPA of Bentley applicants is an impressive 3.42, while those leaving the program pass the CPA exam on their first try nearly 60% of the time.
Tuition: $30,400/yr
Score: 81

Georgia Southern University Online Master's in Accounting Degree

5. Georgia Southern University

Online Master of Accounting

The “WebMACC” at Georgia Southern University appeals to many students who want to earn a master’s in accounting online. Its highlights include AASCB accreditation (for both business and accounting majors), 100% online classes, and a cohort learning model that emphasizes team-based projects. GSU also offers numerous other classes in a distance education format, and the school’s online portal provides live streaming video and audio, smartphone and tablet applications, and user-friendly virtual bulletin boards. Accounting program members in the College of Business take classes in Financial Accounting, Tax Research, Fraudulent Financial Reporting, Income Tax, and Auditing.
Tuition: $6,468/yr (In-state) $25,836/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 82

University of Connecticut Online Master's in Accounting Degree

4. University of Connecticut

Online M.S. in Accounting

The University of Connecticut’s strong business programs have earned it multiple top rankings from U.S. News, including impressive scores for its online degrees. UConn defines its online accounting program as flexible, relevant, and engaging, thanks to high caliber classes that both the AACSB and USDLA (United States Distance Learning Association) have recognized. Another interesting feature of this university is the unusual flexibility it gives its students – and not just in terms of scheduling. With only two required courses, UConn students have the freedom to design their own program by picking eight electives that match their professional goals.
Tuition: $11,456/yr (In-state) $29,740/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 83

University of Texas Dallas Online Master's in Accounting Degree

3. University of Texas at Dallas

Online Master of Accounting

UT Dallas’ impressive academics draw students from far and wide, and its average applicant undergraduate GPA is 3.53 – higher than any other university in this ranking. And with AASCB-accredited accounting and business programs, it’s easy to see why someone would choose the University of Texas for their graduate studies. The school welcomes all applicants, not just business majors, and can help anyone prepare for the CPA exam as long as they meet the credit requirements. Classes include Cost Management Systems, the Fundamentals of Taxation, Ethics for Professional Accountants, and Business Economics, among other topics.
Tuition: $11,940/yr (In-state) $21,606/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 83

University of Alabama at Birmingham Online Master's in Accounting Degree

2. University of Alabama at Birmingham

Online Master of Accounting

There are plenty of reasons to choose the University of Alabama Birmingham for a master’s degree in accounting, from its top-notch online resources to competitive academic coursework. The same qualified professors who stand at the helm of on-campus classes also guide online students through their studies, imparting important information about the “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles” and “International Financial Reporting Standards.” The MAcc is both comprehensive and broad in its coverage, allowing students to seek certification as management accountants, internal auditors, fraud examiners, or public accountants after graduation. Distance education students in particular appreciate UAB’s helpful blend of live lectures, online simulations, and mobile software that keep them engaged on the go.
Tuition: $6,804/yr (In-state) $15,444/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 84

Auburn University Online Master's in Accounting Degree

1. Auburn University

Online Master of Accounting

Auburn University secures the number one spot in this ranking for good reason. It’s average 3.2 applicant GPA, 61% first time CPA exam pass rate, and dual accounting/business AACSB accreditation offer more than enough evidence that this is a top program. Students can complete the online program in just three semesters, much like their on-campus peers, or take five semesters and continue working full time. Auburn’s academic rigor has also earned it high rankings from U.S. News and Accounting Degree Review and has contributed to its growing national reputation. Prior to graduation, all online masters of accounting program students must complete an on-campus residency in which they attend lectures, participate in leadership workshops, and prepare to succeed in a competitive job market.
Tuition: $8,262/yr (In-state) $24,786/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 87

College Navigator
U.S. News Online Education
Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
National Association of State Boards of Accountancy

A high resolution version of the award badge in this article can be found here. You are welcome to use the badge in your promotions and publications. This concludes our ranking of the best online master’s of accounting degree programs.