Online Accounting MBA Overview
An effective business relies on accounting to function at full capacity. And while accountants may be relegated to the stereotypical world of audits and number-crunching, these skills are vital to any business. As a result, professional opportunities are endless when you couple strong accounting knowledge with a nuanced understanding of leadership and business operations.
The following guide explores online MBAs in accounting, some of the best schools, and what you can do with your B school degree upon graduation. Additionally, we take a close look at the admission process and highlight how you can cut tuition costs. Continue reading to learn more about this widely applicable, in-demand degree.
What Can I Do with An MBA In Accounting?
Organizations prize employees with strong accounting skills. And when you combine top-level accounting knowledge with advanced B school coursework, you've got a recipe for career advancement, leadership roles, and augmented earning potential. Keep reading as we highlight some common accounting careers, salaries, and career outlooks.
Accounting MBA Salaries, Careers, And Outlook
- Median Salary: $73,560
- Career Outlook: +7% (2020-2030)
- Required Education: Bachelor's Degree
Accountants and auditors use their deep financial knowledge to assess and prepare financial records. These workers also lean on a solid working knowledge of state and federal tax law while recommending best financial practices for their organization.
- Median Salary: $134,180
- Career Outlook: +17% (2020-2030)
- Required Education: Bachelor's Degree
A significantly growing career field, financial managers manage investments while developing financial plans for individuals and organizations. These professionals review market trends and seek out opportunities for financial growth. Financial managers also work closely with other executives to make solid, data-driven financial decisions.
- Median Salary: $107,680
- Career Outlook: +8% (2020-2030)
- Required Education: Bachelor's Degree
Top executives often utilize both big-picture business skills and a nuanced understanding of accounting principles. These professionals often manage an organization's budgetary and financial concerns while working closely with other executives and managers. Top executives also develop plans, programs, and training initiatives to improve productivity and efficiency while cutting costs.
Earning An Online MBA Degree in Accounting
Distance learning programs seemingly skyrocketed in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic for obvious reasons. And while online attendance grew, online MBAs have been a popular option for working professionals for quite some time. These flexible academic tracks allow working professionals the chance to complete coursework while keeping up with personal and professional obligations. While online MBAs are an excellent option for some students, others thrive in a traditional on-campus environment. We highlight some pros and cons of online programs below.
Pros And Cons of Online Programs In Accounting
- Complete coursework at your own pace
- Sometimes cheaper than in-person options
- Same degree as on-campus learners
- Significant flexibility for working professionals
- MBAs can be expensive
- Lacks the structure of on-campus options
- Students must rely on strong self-discipline to complete self-guided classes
- Some online programs require more professional experience to gain admission
How Long Do Online Courses Take to Complete?
The length of your online MBA classes can vary between programs, but most offer classes that take between 6-8 weeks to complete. And while traditional MBA programs find students completing courses over 2-3 years, accelerated programs find students completing classes at a faster clip.
Courses In Accounting MBA Programs
During your online MBA in accounting, you’ll find that classes pull from two areas: foundational MBA classes and accounting-based coursework. Core MBA classes make up the bulk of your curriculum, usually between 20-30 credits. Accounting concentration classes usually encompass about nine credits. Additionally, accounting classes bleed into core requirements as accounting is often a critical part of any MBA experience. We've highlighted some core classes and specialization courses below.
Core MBA Classes
- Leading People and Organizations
- Brand Optimization
- Organizational Strategy
- Strategic Opportunity Management
- Leading Organizational Change
- Financial Reporting
- Tax Factors in Business Decisions
- International Accounting
- Fraud Detection through Data Analytics
- Intermediate Financial Accounting
Skills Learned in Accounting MBA Programs
Accounting is an essential element to any industry, business, or organization. As a result, earning an MBA in accounting affords graduates significant career opportunities and earning potential. Alongside core MBA classes, accounting coursework highlights essential skills that apply to diverse careers. We've highlighted some of those skills below.
- Leadership skills
- Organizational skills
- Financial Records Management
- IT for Accounting
- Communication of Financial Data
- Financial Analysis
- Impact of Taxation
- Fraud Detection and Deterrence
- Financial Planning
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Accounting MBA?
Various elements impact how long it will take you to earn your accounting MBA. Traditional MBA programs typically take full-time students between 2-3 years to graduate. That said, part-time learners will take a smaller course load, resulting in a slightly longer program. Conversely, some programs offer an online MBA where students can graduate in just one year. When researching which program is best for you, make sure the academic schedule allows you the time necessary to complete coursework successfully.
Choosing The Best Master of Business Administration in Accounting
At universities.com, we take an objective, data-based approach when ranking schools. And while numbers help us discern which programs to highlight, in the end, the best program is the one that mirrors your academic needs, career goals, and financial requirements. When deciding which program is right for you, consider elements like academic specializations, cost, and the resources available to online learners.
Universities.com’s Top Accounting Schools
When ranking the best online accounting MBA programs, universities.com considers essential factors such as academics, cost, diversity, and graduates rates. You can learn more about our objective, metrics-based ranking methodology here.
Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University plays home to an online MBA in accounting that full-time students can complete in about one year. This ACBSP-accredited program offers a strong foundation of business knowledge while providing degree-seekers with the accounting knowledge required to manage complex business environments.
Alongside core MBA coursework, students complete accounting classes that include tax factors in business decisions and two sections of financial reporting. Applicants to this 100% online MBA program must hold an accredited bachelor's degree. SNHU does not require GRE/GMAT scores for admission.
Located in Denver, Colorado, Regis University offers an online accounting MBA that students typically complete in 12-24 months. Through online, 8-week terms, students complete various core management classes alongside accounting and finance courses. Finance and accounting specialization courses include topics such as interpreting accounting information, financial decision making, and investment analysis and portfolio management.
Interested students must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. In addition to a completed online application, prospective students also submit official transcripts, a professional resume, and an admission essay outlining career goals.
University of Massachusetts-Lowell
The University of Massachusetts-Lowell offers a flexible MBA in accounting that students can complete entirely online. Full-time students can complete this program in as few as 12 months while gaining marketable skills that translate to myriad careers in settings worldwide. Boasting AACSB accreditation, MBA students complete general business classes and various accounting electives covering topics spanning from cost management to forensic accounting.
Alongside foundational MBA classes, accounting coursework includes courses such as contemporary accounting issues, taxation of business entities, and globalization and accounting. MBA applicants must submit an online application along with a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and a professional resume. Applicants with significant business experience may receive a standardized test waiver.
Consistently ranked as one of the best online MBA programs, the University of Maryland offers an accounting MBA that prioritizes the analytical thinking, communication, and decision-making skills that underscore effective business leadership. This flexible online MBA boasts a worldwide alumni network of over 66,000 graduates. Throughout this program, students hone data-centric strategies designed to enhance business performance.
Students complete various core MBA requirements along with accounting courses such as the impact of taxation on business entities, fraud examination and deterrence, and financial planning and control systems for managers and consultants. MBA applicants should have a minimum of two years of relevant professional experience. Along with an application, prospective students submit letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, GRE/GMAT scores, and a personal essay outlining career goals.
If you're looking for other schools that offer online Master's in Accounting programs, check out the Find Your Perfect "U" tool. You can search over 6,000 colleges and universities with 11 different filters to find the perfect school for you!
CPA Accounting Certification and Licensure
While an accounting MBA is designed to provide students with essential business and management skills, students can use this degree as a pathway towards CPA licensure. CPA licensure requirements vary between states, but most require around 30 credits of accounting coursework. As most MBA specializations only require the completion of about nine credits, students interested in pursuing CPA licensure may need to complete additional accounting coursework.
When beginning your school search, one of the first steps should involve seeking out online MBA programs that hold both regional and programmatic accreditation. Schools that hold regional accreditation offer academic programs and student services that meet rigorous standards. Additionally, the best MBA programs hold programmatic accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. When reviewing potential programs, be sure that they have this stamp of approval.
When spotlighting the best schools, universities.com only includes MBA programs with regional and programmatic accreditation. You can use the US Department of Education's accreditation database when reviewing potential B schools.
Applying to Online Accounting Programs
Application materials and admission requirements may vary between MBA programs, but there are some standard elements that you can expect. When reviewing potential accounting MBA programs, take time to research each program’s unique expectations for GPAs, professional experience, and standardized test scores.
When preparing your application, ensure that it's devoid of errors, omissions, or inaccuracies. Submitting a precise and carefully crafted application is vital.
Admission Requirements for Accounting MBA Programs
Admission requirements can undoubtedly vary between MBA programs, but as you review potential schools, you'll notice similarities in their admission requirements and materials. Below you can check some standard requirements you'll encounter when submitting a B school application.
- Fully completed application and fees
- A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
- Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts
- Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
- GRE or GMAT scores
- 2+ years of relevant professional experience
- Personal statement outlining academic and career goals
- Admission interview
Paying For An MBA in Accounting
Tackling an MBA in accounting requires a serious investment of both time and cash. The trade-off? An MBA can significantly expand career opportunities and earning potential. Additionally, an MBA arms graduates with the skills they need to take on leadership roles.
That said, an MBA does come with a serious price tag, but students can receive federal student loans and cut costs through scholarships, grants, business school fellowships, and tuition reimbursement plans through employers.
How Much Does an MBA Cost?
The cost of your MBA can vary significantly depending on the program you attend. As a general rule, public institutions offer more manageable tuition rates, while elite private institutions come with a steeper price tag. To demonstrate the dramatic differences in tuition rates, consider the cost of two schools—the University of Southern California costs online MBA students nearly $110,000 in tuition fees. Conversely, in-state students at Oklahoma State University pay about $20,000 in tuition. This disparity in tuition rates clearly shows that working professionals can find an online MBA in accounting that meets their financial requirements.
Scholarships For Accounting Students
National Black MBA Association—The National Black MBA Association offers various scholarships to Black students pursuing business education at the graduate level. By partnering with multiple colleges, this group also offers discounts on annual conference registration and access to networking resources. Participating schools include the University of Florida, Georgetown University, and Ohio State University.
Moynihan Scholarship Fund—Awarding between $500-$2,500 for students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in accounting, the New York State Society of CPAs Foundation's scholarship is reserved for students attending institutions in the state. Applicants must be New York residents and hold a cumulative 3.0 GPA.
Massachusetts Society of CPAs Educational Foundation Scholarship Program—The MassCPAs Educational Foundation awards scholarships ranging from $2,500-$10,000 each year. Applicants must submit an application, letter of recommendation, an unofficial transcript, and a short essay outlining interest in an accounting degree.
AICPA Scholarship Award for Minority Accounting Students—This scholarship offers between $3,000-$10,000 to top-performing minority students pursuing a degree in accounting. Applicants must be pursuing an accounting-related degree with a plan to secure CPA licensure. Applicants should maintain full-time enrollment with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.
AICPA Women’s Scholarship Award—This $5,000 annual scholarship is reserved for women pursuing an accounting or accounting-related graduate or undergraduate degree. Applicants must be enrolled as full-time students with a plan to secure CPA licensure. Applicants must also have a minimum 3.0 GPA.
You can search for more scholarship opportunities through universities.com’s online search tool.
Online MBA In Accounting FAQ
Is an MBA good for accountants?
- For working accountants, earning an MBA can offer a clear path towards expanded career options and leadership roles. Through an online MBA, accountants can shore up their already strong business skills with advanced leadership and management skills. Additionally, an accounting MBA can also prepare non-working accountants with the prerequisites they need to secure CPA licensure.
What kinds of jobs can you get with an MBA in accounting?
- Pursuing a job as an accountant may be an obvious choice for accounting MBA grads, but this degree opens up a vast array of career opportunities. In addition to accounting roles, graduates pursue careers as financial advisors, financial analysts, financial managers, budget analysts, and various executive positions.
How much do MBA accountants make?
- As an online MBA in accounting can lead to a wide variety of careers, salaries vary as well. While accountants and budget analysts don't always crest six figures, financial managers and various top executives can earn well over $100,000 per year. As MBAs traditionally underscore various leadership and management skills, MBA grads are uniquely prepared to earn the salaries accompanying leadership positions.
What is better, CPA or MBA?
- Just as a registered nursing license differs from a master's degree in nursing, a certified public accountant license is vastly different from a master's in business administration. A CPA license is a credential that verifies an individual's proficiency in the field of accounting. An MBA in accounting provides grad students—accountants and non-accountants alike—with the essential business, management, and leadership skills necessary for career advancement in the business world.
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