Accounting is a stable, in-demand career field with growth opportunities. Earning a master’s degree in accounting can expand your knowledge and open doors to higher salaries and leadership roles. However, a graduate program comes with substantial costs. Scholarships and financial aid can help make a master’s in accounting affordable.
Why Pursue a Master’s in Accounting?
A master’s in accounting provides numerous benefits for your career:
Higher Salaries and Promotions
Those with a master’s typically earn 5-15% more than peers with only a bachelor’s. A master’s also qualifies you for management positions like controller or chief financial officer faster. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for accountants and auditors with a bachelor’s is $73,540 compared to $82,620 for those with a master’s.
Specialized Knowledge and Skills
A master’s program expands on your core accounting foundations with advanced courses in areas like tax, audit, analytics, and systems. You’ll gain expertise that prepares you for the evolving industry and certifications like the CMA or CIA. Advanced technical skills are valuable to employers in both public and private sectors.
Flexibility and Career Changes
An accounting master’s allows career changes more easily than other fields. You can transition between areas like private, government, and nonprofit, or shift from audit to tax with extra education. It also gives flexibility if you want to teach or work internationally later on.
Top Scholarships By Countries
|Available Australia Scholarship
|Available Slovakia Scholarship
|Available United States Scholarship
|Available Taiwan Scholarship
|Available Italian Scholarship
Long-Term Career Stability
Accounting consistently ranks as one of the most stable and in-demand professions. Jobs are projected to grow 12% in the next decade, much faster than average. Continuing your education demonstrates your commitment to lifelong learning and keeps you competitive for opportunities.
Finding the Right Program
When choosing a master’s in accounting program, consider the following factors:
Look for AACSB accreditation, which indicates rigorous standards for curriculum, faculty qualifications, and other criteria. This accreditation carries more weight with employers. Regional accreditation is also important for eligibility for federal financial aid.
Most programs are offered full-time (12-18 credits/semester) or part-time (6-9 credits/semester). Part-time caters to working professionals but takes longer to complete. Accelerated 12-month full-time options are also available. Consider your schedule and preferences.
Programs often focus on general accounting or allow electives in specialized areas like financial accounting, audit, tax, or data analytics. Research faculty expertise and courses to determine the best fit for your goals. Dual degrees are also an option.
Extracurricular opportunities for interacting with professors, alumni, and employers vary between schools. On-campus recruiting events, professional chapters, and internship coordination can aid your career development and job search.
Cost and Financial Aid
Tuition ranges from $15,000-30,000 annually depending on in-state vs. out-of-state rates and program format. Research scholarship options to offset costs, will be covered in the next section. Public schools tend to have lower costs.
With these factors in mind, explore programs at both public and private universities that align with your interests and meet your needs. Reach out to several accounting admissions offices for more details.
Masters in Accounting Scholarship Resources for 2024
Now that you have an idea of the top master’s programs, here are some of the most competitive scholarship opportunities available for 2024:
AICPA Jeffrey Ackerman Scholarships
The American Institute of CPAs offers 50-60 need-based scholarships of $5,000 each. Awards are based on academics, recommendations, and financial need. The application period opens in November and the deadline is late January.
Beta Alpha Psi Scholarships
This honors society offers numerous merit-based awards annually for master’s accounting students. Awards range from $1,000-7,500. Candidates must have a 3.0+ GPA and apply by early March.
IMA Scholarship Program
The Institute of Management Accountants provides scholarships specifically for students pursuing an accounting master’s with an emphasis on management accounting. Meritorious applicants may receive up to $5,000. January deadline.
AAA Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship
The American Accounting Association provides $4,000-$10,000 scholarships for groups with historical marginalization including women and minorities pursuing an accounting graduate degree. March application deadline.
The Institute of Internal Auditors partners with educational publisher Gleim to award a $5,000 scholarship for master’s students interested in internal auditing. Consider students’ academic excellence, essays, and recommendations. March deadline.
In addition to these national awards, research scholarships are specific to the schools you apply to. Major universities often offer merit-based, need-based, and specialty graduate assistantships. Ask about application deadlines and be sure to meet priority filing dates for optimum consideration and maximum aid. Having multiple applications could significantly enhance your scholarship prospects to fund your studies.
Some schools also offer research assistant or teaching assistant positions providing tuition remission or stipends in exchange for work. This allows you to gain experience and potentially save thousands on your education expenses throughout the program. Ask program advisors about these opportunities and how to apply.
Choosing a Masters Concentration
When determining which master’s in accounting concentration or focus area fits your goals, consider your undergraduate major, interests, and career goals:
Students with Undergraduate Business Degrees
If you majored in accounting, finance or other business field, natural next steps include the CPA exam preparation track or specializing in an area like taxation or financial analysis. Advanced business courses complement your existing knowledge base.
Coming from outside business, the best fit may be a general accounting track to gain core competencies before continuing to a concentration. Some schools offer integrated BS/MS programs or prerequisite courses to expedite preparation for the CPA.
Masters in Taxation
A popular specialty for those seeking careers as tax accountants and consultants or aiming for the CPA Tax license. Options for specializing in areas like international, business, or estate/gift taxation. Advanced Certified Tax specialty certifications are also attainable.
Audit and Assurance Track
Geared towards internal, external, and government auditing roles. Dives deep into auditing standards, data analysis skills, forensic accounting techniques, and CPA exam requirements. Leads well to the Certified Internal Auditor or Certified Information Systems Auditor credentials.
Accounting Information Systems
Blends technology knowledge with accounting core. Ideal if desiring to work at the intersection of accounting and IT or be an internal business controls consultant. Many MIS and IT audit roles are attainable post-graduation.
Thoroughly research course plans, faculty, and student outcomes from each program to find the track that matches your interests and long-term goals. Don’t hesitate to ask schools about typical career paths for graduates of each concentration.
Preparing Your Application
The competition for masters in accounting scholarships and admission is fierce. Your overall profile should demonstrate leadership potential, academic achievement, and motivation for advanced study in the field. Focus on:
Aim for a 3.0+ undergraduate GPA, especially in accounting and other major-related courses. Submit all undergraduate transcripts. High GRE or GMAT scores can offset a lower GPA to some extent.
Obtain two to three thoughtful letters from accounting professors or employers who can attest to your classroom performance, critical thinking ability and fit for graduate work.
Clearly express your career aspirations, skills, and motivation for advanced study. Relate your background to program objectives and explain why you stand out as a candidate. Have others review for quality.
List relevant accounting work experience, internships, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, publications/presentations, and honors or awards. Provide details to demonstrate well-rounded experience.
Practice behavioral and technical questions using the STAR format. Show enthusiasm for the program and field. Demonstrate communication and critical thinking skills in person or virtually.
With careful planning and execution, you should be well-equipped to submit competitive applications and stand out among qualified candidates seeking limited scholarship funds and seats in top accounting master’s programs. Best of luck with the admission process!
Congratulations — your hard work has paid off and you’ve been accepted to your master’s in accounting program of choice! Here is a checklist of items to complete before beginning your studies:
- Submit enrollment deposit by deadline (typically $100-500 required 30-90 days before start)
- Contact the assigned advisor about course registration procedures
- Read required summer assignments or pre-course materials
- Request official transcripts be sent from all prior colleges if not already submitted
- Complete the FAFSA form and additional financial aid paperwork
- Watch for orientation details, housing applications, parking passes, etc.
- Request transcripts or certifications of any external licenses/credentials
1. What types of internships should I seek during my master’s program?
Popular options include public accounting firms, private companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Pursue internships related to your intended career focus like tax, audit, or financial analysis. On-campus or virtual internships are also options if needed for flexibility.
2. Is it possible to work full-time while earning a master’s in accounting?
Some programs cater better to working professionals with part-time formats taking 2-3 years. Carefully consider course loads alongside your work schedule. Full-time programs are challenging to complete while working 40+ hours weekly without financial support. Online or hybrid options may provide more flexibility.
3. How long does it take to complete a fully online master’s in accounting?
Most accredited online programs take 2 years to complete on a part-time basis, just like on-campus options. A few accelerated options can be completed in 12-18 months if attending full-time, taking 6-9 credits per semester year-round. Budget adequate time for coursework, studying, and internships/projects.
4. What certifications should I pursue alongside my master’s degree?
Common goals are the CPA exam, CMA, CIA, or specialty certifications. The master’s itself does not confer licensure – you must pass the relevant professional exams. Planning to sit for exams during or shortly after your program prepares you for certification. Consult with your school about integrated study options.
5. Is relocating for a master’s in accounting degree worth it?
Leading schools often have excellent recruitment partnerships and networks. However, student loan debt and living expenses must be weighed realistically. Online options provide geographic flexibility while leveraging a well-regarded institution and faculty. Consider costs, career goals, and support needs.