When considering any program for a master’s degree, there are a tremendous number of factors to consider. Those seeking an advanced degree in accounting can benefit from weighing factors that address the rigor of curriculum and post-degree benefits. To begin whittling down the best schools, we will be looking at four factors: tuition, business school accreditation, graduation rates, and first attempt CPA exam pass rate (where available).
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All costs are for a full-time graduate student for one academic year (two semesters). These costs do not include housing and are listed for out-of-state students. Some schools have reduced rates for in-state students.
In addition to accreditation done by regional bodies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, the field of accounting is also accredited at many business schools. This type of accreditation can be done by different bodies and is vital for those who plan to make accounting their career. There are three types of business school accreditation:
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)
These forms of accreditation are benchmarks indicating a college’s or university’s dedication to providing an excellent business and/or accounting education. They take into consideration things like the quality of the faculty and curriculum, and devotion of institutional resources to research. This gives prospective students greater insight into the academic quality of the program.
AACSB is better known and has a long history than the other two, and brings more prestige to a research-based program. It accredits business schools as well as individual accounting programs. AACSB is an accreditation that may weigh more heavily for students interested in pursuing careers in academia. All the top schools listed here are AACSB accredited.
While not among the schools listed here, ACBSP and IACBE are accreditations that are also considered indications of a quality program by prospective students. These forms of accreditation are often held by smaller and/or private programs for baccalaureate or master’s degrees.
Graduation and CPA Pass Rates
Graduations rates should be seen as a positive indicator because it helps to understand the program and the faculty’s ability to successfully matriculate students through a demanding program. While graduation rates are important, particularly for rigorous programs, the exams for Certified Public Accountants (CPA) are a notoriously difficult exam and can be an equal measure of preparedness after graduation. The overall pass rate for graduate degree holders is 58.3%, so any percentage significantly above that is a testament to a master’s in accounting program’s quality of instruction and preparedness. Where provided, successful first-time pass rates on the CPA exam are included.
|1||Brigham Young University||Provo, Utah|
|2||Rice University||Houston, Texas|
|3||Emory University||Atlanta, Georgia|
|4||University of Virginia||Charlottesville, Virginia|
|5||University of Wisconsin||Madison, Wisconsin|
What are the best Masters in Accounting Programs?
Brigham Young University
BYU offers both an integrated program for students who get their baccalaureate degree and master’s in accounting, and a non-integrated program for those who achieve their four-year degree from a different accredited college or university.
Rice’s Master of Accounting program welcomes all undergraduate majors and gives students the opportunity to sit for the CPA exam in only 10 months.
Emory offers a wide range of attendance options, from one- or two-year programs, to an Executive masters, or even an MS in accounting online.
University of Virginia
The Economist has ranked the university’s Darden School full-time master’s program number one for best business education experience in the U.S. for nine consecutive years.
University of Wisconsin
A career specialization model allows students the opportunity for experiential learning and engagement with high-level industry contacts.
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Available as a full-time or flexible option, both programs have access to the same high level of faculty and extensive alumni network.
University of Florida
UF’s Warrington College of Business offers flexibility in programs, combined degrees, and extensive specialization tracks.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
UI’s reputation as a top 10 public business school and access to one of the great US research institutions make it a good program to consider. It also ranked fourth as a business school with the best employment record in 2018.
New York University
The Stern School offers a one-year, full-time masters in accounting on campus in one of the world’s greatest financial capitals.
Home to Nobel Prize-winning economists, Stanford’s program has an MSx program designed to accomplish your goal in one year, a great advantage for mid-career professionals.
University of Chicago
With campuses in Chicago, London, and Hong Kong, students have access to the world’s leading business school faculty.
University of Michigan
Ranked in the top 10 (number 9) for full-time business graduate programs by The Economist, and the number one public university in the country, UM gives students real-world business leadership skills.
University of Pennsylvania
The Wharton School is world-renowned for its leadership development, innovation, and access to a vast global perspective.
University of Southern California
With three areas of focus in their master’s programs, students can choose from a standard Master of Accounting degree or one that emphasizes data and analytics, or business taxation.
The University of Texas
Uniquely located to take advantage of Austin’s entrepreneurial scene, this program is ranked first in the nation for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in accounting by US News & World Report’s Public Accounting Report.
The stated criteria of affordability and CPA first-time pass rate (where available) were a focus for ranking programs. Flexibility in timelines for degree completion was also considered.
If your school is included and you have comments or updates on your school’s information, please contact us.