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2023 Most Affordable Online Master's Degrees in Accounting

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 4/17/2023


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We rely on the skills of accountants to help us manage money wisely and adhere to current tax laws while minimizing the risk of financial loss. An online master’s degree in accounting can help professionals develop advanced skills in order to meet job demands and the requirements for Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensure, such as performing business valuations, managing financial forensics, and defending tax returns. 

We’ve ranked the top programs based on affordability so you can decide on the best degree according to your budget. Similarly, an affordable online master’s degree in finance or taxation may be of interest if you are considering a slightly different career path. View our methodology for details about rankings or learn more about us. You can also check out our overall list of the most affordable online degrees for inspiration.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Locations Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Athens State University Athens (AL) $4,875
# 2 #2 Fitchburg State University Fitchburg (MA) $4,934
# 3 #3 Northeastern State University Tahlequah (OK) $5,095
# 4 #4 Union College - KY Barbourville (KY) $5,100
# 5 #5 Amberton University Garland (TX) $5,130
# 6 #6 Midwestern State University Wichita Falls (TX) $5,196
# 7 #7 Jacksonville State University Jacksonville (AL) $6,150
# 8 #8 Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville Edwardsville (IL) $6,300
# 9 #9 University of Southern Indiana Evansville (IN) $6,333
# 10 #10 Southern Illinois University - Carbondale Carbondale (IL) $6,446
Annual Tuition: $4,875
Annual Tuition: $4,875
Annual Tuition: $4,875

Athens State University is a public institution offering an online Master of Accountancy to help students prepare for leadership roles and meet CPA licensure requirements. This 30-credit program may take full-time students as little as one year to complete, though two and three-year plans are also available.

Athens State students use Blackboard as their learning management system (LMS) to access the online accounting program curriculum. Accounting students take a wide range of courses, such as Tax Research, Accounting Information Systems, Corporate Controllership, and Advanced Cost Accounting. Graduates often pursue senior-level accounting roles, such as financial analysts, controllers, cost analysts, tax managers, and risk managers.

  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,438
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 235
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
Annual Tuition: $4,934
Annual Tuition: $4,934
Annual Tuition: $4,934

Fitchburg State University is a public institution offering an online Master of Business Administration in Accounting in an accelerated format. Full-time students in this master's program may complete the required 30 credit hours within a year since two sessions are available each term, including summer.

Fitchburg State delivers its virtual coursework and instruction via Blackboard. Students in the online accounting program can enroll in classes such as Marketing Management, Accounting Theory, Organizational Behavior and Development, and Accounting Practices for Managers. Students must also complete a capstone to graduate. Overall, the accounting program curriculum can help prepare students for roles as forensic accountants, auditing managers, and financial analysts after graduation.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Average SATs: 980 -1180
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 532
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,304
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: NECHE
Annual Tuition: $5,095
Annual Tuition: $5,095
Annual Tuition: $5,095

Northeastern State University (NSU) is a public, Native American, non-tribal institution offering an online Master of Business Administration in Managerial Accounting and Finance. Graduating from this online program requires completing 36 credit hours of coursework — 18 in the concentration — which can take full-time students at least two years. Students can also earn an embedded certificate in an area such as Data Analytics, Health Informatics, or Operations Leadership.

NSU's online students access courses and instruction via the Blackboard LMS. Classes within the online master's degree in managerial accounting and finance include Derivative Securities: Analysis and Accounting, Quantitative Methods in Accounting and Financial Analysis, Computer Modeling in Accounting and Financial Analysis, and Oil and Gas Accounting.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Average SATs: 878 -1085
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,773
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 804
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Union College - KY

Barbourville (KY)
Annual Tuition: $5,100
Annual Tuition: $5,100
Annual Tuition: $5,100

Union College - Kentucky is a private, nonprofit, Methodist-based institution offering an online Master of Science in Managerial Accounting. Terms are eight weeks long, and there are six starting points throughout the year. Students must complete 30 credit hours to graduate, which may take two years if attending full time.

Union College provides access to access to online curriculum via uLearn. Students enrolled in the online managerial accounting program can choose from courses such as Decision-Making Tools in Accounting, Managerial Accounting and Organizational Performance, Financial Reporting and Analysis, and Managerial and Leadership Analysis. This online curriculum can help to prepare graduate students for job advancement in the field after graduation, including remote work.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Average SATs: 955 -1148
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 123
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 149
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Amberton University

Garland (TX)
Annual Tuition: $5,130
Annual Tuition: $5,130
Annual Tuition: $5,130

Amberton University (AU) is a private, nonprofit, nondenominational faith-based institution offering an online Master of Business Administration - Accounting to help students prepare for job advancement and fulfill CPA licensure requirements. Graduating requires completing 36 credit hours, which may take full-time students two years. AU offers four 10-week terms throughout the year.

AU delivers online coursework and instruction via its e-Course Portal. Distance learners in the online accounting program take classes such as Accounting Information Systems, Financial Statement Analysis, Corporate Finance, and Data Analytics for Accountants. Students must also complete Strategic Management as their capstone course to graduate. The online program curriculum can help students prepare for careers as chief financial officers, chief operating officers, business consultants, management analysts, and chief executives.

  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 159
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 611
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Overview of the Most Affordable Online Master's Degrees in Accounting

Students can earn a master's degree in accounting entirely online.

To enroll, applicants must have a bachelor's degree from any field, and they'll need to submit the following with their application: GMAT or GRE scores, college transcripts, and other documentation, such as a personal statement or resume.

When searching for an online program to apply to, accreditation is key. Graduate programs in accounting are often accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or International Accreditation Council for Business Education. This stamp of approval guarantees a program's academic quality. Most degree programs require 30-36 credit hours and take about two years of full-time study to complete. Graduate-level courses cover advanced accounting principles and accounting's role in an organization's financial management and strategic planning.

Students pursue a master's degree in accounting for career advancement and to become a licensed CPA. All 50 states require graduates to accumulate 150 credit hours before sitting for the CPA exam. Since earning an undergraduate degree only requires approximately 120 credit hours, many students go on to pursue a master's degree. Before enrollment in an online master's degree program begins, however, prospective students may want to confirm with their state's licensing board that their degree will meet their state's licensure requirements.

How Much Does an Online Accounting Master's Degree Cost?

Online master's degrees in accounting are somewhat more expensive than other degrees. Our data shows that the median annual tuition rate for an online accounting master's degree is $16,128 based on 181 schools, while the median annual tuition for all online master's degrees is $14,278 across 871 schools.

When calculating the total cost of earning this degree, prospective students should also factor in additional expenses, such as books, supplies, and fees. Accounting students who intend to become CPAs may also want to include the costs associated with an exam prep course, sitting for the four CPA exams, and obtaining a license. Fees vary by state, but a reasonable estimate is $1,000 for the certification exams and $500 for the license. CPA exam study courses vary widely, from $1,200 to $3,500.

Accounting students may reduce the cost of attending graduate business school in several ways.

  • For example, they can apply for scholarships and grants funded by the government, schools, and private organizations.
  • Current and former military may be entitled to additional discounts and benefits. If available, students can request a prior learning assessment to determine if their school will grant transfer credits based on military or work experience.
  • Finally, working students may be eligible for tuition reimbursement through their employer.
  • While it is impossible to earn a master's degree in accounting for free without a full scholarship, some free courses in accounting are available on websites, like EdX and Coursera.

Are Online Accounting Degrees More Affordable Than On-Campus Programs?

Online master's in accounting programs may be more affordable than on-campus programs, especially for out-of-state students. Many schools charge online tuition that is comparable to or less than the in-state, on-campus rate. Although online students spend the same amount on books and supplies as their on-campus counterparts, they save on campus-related fees, room and board, and transportation costs to and from school.

For additional information about how to make college cheaper, read our article that contains some practical suggestions.

Financial Aid Opportunities

Students enrolled in accredited online master's degree programs in accounting may be eligible for different kinds of financial aid. Federal, state, and college grants and scholarships are the best types of aid because they don't require repayment. Enrollees may also be offered student loans, but they should thoroughly review the terms before accepting one. Federal and state loans typically involve lower interest rates and more flexible repayment plans than private loans. To apply for financial aid, students should begin by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students can contact the financial aid office at their school with questions about financial aid or aid packages.

Students enrolled in accredited online master's degree programs in accounting may be eligible for different kinds of financial aid.

Professional organizations sometimes offer privately sponsored scholarships for specific student groups. For example, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants awards more than $1 million in scholarships and grants to hundreds of accounting students annually. Private scholarships usually require a separate application from the FAFSA, and applicants may be required to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay with their application. Numerous scholarship websites list opportunities for graduate accounting students.

Common Courses

The curriculum for an online master of accounting degree typically combines theory and application. Coursework is designed with core courses and electives to help students develop skills in standard accounting practices, tax research, and data analysis. Some programs end with a thesis or capstone project that challenges students to synthesize what they've learned. Most online programs require students to complete six or seven standard accounting courses, some of which are included below.

Accounting Information Systems

Most businesses and accounting firms use some type of accounting information system to store, process, and report financial records. This course often introduces students to information technology systems in use today and employs hands-on exercises to help students understand common processes and applications.

Advanced Auditing

Through real-world activities, students may learn to use software programs and electronic data processing to conduct internal and independent audits that ensure an organization's financial reporting is accurate. Coursework typically explains professional auditing standards, data collection, documentation of evidence, and related legal issues.

Advanced Financial Management

This course provides an overview of key financial principles and concepts, helping students understand how accounting fits into the larger context of an organization's planning and operations. Topics often include financial statement analysis, laws and regulations, the stock market, mergers and acquisitions, and financial evaluation. Coursework may also cover FinTech topics, such as AI and cryptocurrency.

Professional Development and Ethics

Organizations of all sizes have been rocked by financial scandals in recent years, which has placed a greater emphasis on ethical values in higher education accounting curricula. In this course, students explore ethical theories and frameworks that can be used to make sound decisions when faced with ethical dilemmas. Additionally, coursework may cover legal principles that govern the accounting profession.

Tax Planning

This course offers an in-depth study of the Internal Revenue Code, including its regulations governing various types of corporations and partnerships. Coursework also covers how to effectively manage an organization's taxes with this information, which could be valuable knowledge for those who want to enroll in a concentration, such as financial accounting. Some courses may also explore tax planning for estates and trusts.

Is an Online Accounting Master's Worth It?

Given the investment of time and money needed to earn a master's degree, you may wonder if it will be worth the effort. If your goal is to earn CPA certification, a master's degree can be a helpful step toward that objective because you'll need the additional credit hours to qualify. However, you should also consider your personal circumstances, such as financial resources, work commitments, and other goals and responsibilities. Before committing to an online master's in accounting program, you may want to consider some of the following points:

Potential Benefits

Accountants may have greater flexibility in their work environments. Some professionals work in offices, while others are allowed to work remotely from home, which is a desirable quality in a job for many people.

Online courses may give you more freedom in your schedule. Many online master of accounting programs are built on asynchronous courses specifically designed for busy, working professionals. The flexible structure of online learning may allow you to balance your education with other responsibilities, such as allowing students to study part-time.

Potential Drawbacks

Accountants report a low job satisfaction rate. According to a CareerExplorer survey, accountants give their career choice a 2.6 out of 5 rating, placing them in the bottom 6% of all careers in terms of job happiness.

Accountants may occasionally work long hours. According to the BLS, accounting professionals typically work full time but may need to put in additional hours for periodic audits or during tax season.

Online students may find it more challenging to build professional networks. Making meaningful connections with peers and instructors can be instrumental to the future growth of your career, so you may need to put more effort into establishing relationships in an online environment.

Interested in learning about similar degrees? Explore online master's degrees in finance, data science, or business administration.


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