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Best MSA Programs in Florida in 2021

September 27, 2021 | Staff Writers

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What Are the Best MSA Programs in Florida?

Florida has over 171 universities with about 22 business schools offering accredited graduate business-related programs. That is more than enough options to choose from for students who want to pursue a master’s degree in accounting. 

The Sunshine State, as Florida is fondly called, has excellent higher education institutions where students and working professionals can receive top-notch education both on-campus and in online learning formats.

The state of Florida has a considerable high demand for accountants and auditors, and a 10% increase is expected over the next decade or so, which is a faster rate than what is expected at the national level. Financial records will always need to be prepared and analyzed. This simply means that the demands for accountants will continue to be high for the foreseeable future.

Regardless of whether or not you have an undergraduate degree in a business-related field, you can pursue a master’s degree in accounting in most universities offering the program in Florida.

Prospective graduate students will find all the relevant information they need to make informed decisions about the best Master of Science in Accounting program they can apply to in Flora. 

Career Options with an MSA Degree

Earning a master’s degree in accounting is the golden standard if you want a more fulfilling accounting career with better prospects in terms of better roles and higher earning potential. Graduate degree holders can work as financial managers or other attractive positions and earn a generous salary. 

With a master’s degree in accounting, finding jobs in finance and other business-related or accounting fields gives the candidate an edge. The typical accountant who holds a master’s degree in accounting can expect to earn approximately $51,433 in the first year of work. The salary goes up to about $75,597 within the first five to nine years.

Understanding the possible accounting job prospects for someone with an accounting master’s degree, particularly a Master of Science in Accounting, can make the proposition even more attractive.  

For starters, MSA graduates are highly sought-after in many areas because of their specialized accounting knowledge and skills. Most MSA graduates are well equipped to take on the accounting profession’s challenges in different fields, such as consulting, taxation, assurance, and forensic accounting. 

What Accounting Jobs Can You Get With an MSA Degree?

If you are considering an MSA degree, here are some of the possible careers where you can find high-paying jobs:

  1. Staff Accountant: Staff Accountants work in accounting firms or accounting departments of a company. Their duties involve analyzing data from departments and general ledger systems, preparing consolidated internal and external financial statements, and maintaining automated, consolidated systems. They provide professional advice on general financial matters. The average salary for Staff Accountants in Florida is $54,789 per year, but the typical range is between $49,943 and $60,363, depending on factors like the city and organization. 
  1. Senior Tax Accountant: Senior Tax Accountants are responsible for preparing tax provisions, recommending tax strategies, and maintaining legislative materials to implement current tax laws. Senior Tax Accountants in Florida earn an average annual salary of $72,671. However, it can go as high as 84,701 in places like West Palm Beach and $82,420 in Springs.
  1. Non-Profit Accountant: Non-Profit Accountants manage the finances of non-profit organizations. Typical duties include overseeing employee payroll, managing accounts receivable and accounts payable, and completing tax documents. The average salary for a Non-Profit Accountant in Florida is $46,653 per year.
  1. Government Accountant: These accounting professionals work in government establishments, manage public funds, carry out research on emerging accounting issues, and prepare financial statement audits. They also investigate white-collar frauds. The average annual salary for a Government Accountant in Florida is $65,484. However, a Certified Public Accountant working in a government establishment in Florida can earn an average salary of $70,009 per year.
  1. Accounting Consultant: Professionals in this position are saddled with the responsibility of programming, implementing, and handling their company’s accounting processes. Typical duties include analyzing financial data, preparing end-of-year financial statements, and providing guidance on regulatory compliance issues. An Accounting Consultant’s average salary in Florida is $81,242 per year, but the typical range is between $74,080 and $89,210, depending on the city.
  1. Controller: A controller is a senior accounting position in a company with the role of overseeing all the organization’s accounting operations. Typical duties include creating financial reports, managing accounting records, and preparing internal and external financial statements. The average annual salary for a Controller in Florida is $210,166, but the typical range is around $177,330 and $247,507 per year.
  1. External Auditor: The accounting experts review organizations’ financial information and prepare comprehensive reports on their audit findings. Typical responsibilities include inspecting or investigating financial statements for fraud, errors, and misstatements. They also recommend improvements. The average salary for an External Auditor in Florida is $74,865 per year, with top earners receiving a salary of $113,944.
  1. Chief Financial Officer (CFO): CFOs are senior executives who oversee their companies’ financial operations. They also ensure that finance and accounting departments comply with company policies, applicable laws and operate efficiently. The salary for a Chief Financial Officer in Florida is in the range of $286,285 to $478,015 per year.
  1. Tax Partner: Tax partners have the responsibilities of managing all tax engagements, ensuring that staff complies with guidelines and policies. They also prepare and review corporate, partnership, and individual tax returns. Tax Partners in Florida earn an average annual salary of $166,442.
  1. Internal Auditor: Internal auditors play vital roles in any organization. Some of their major duties include objectively review a company’s business process, protect the organization’s assets from fraud and theft, and evaluating the efficiency of a company’s risk management procedures. The average salary for an Internal Auditor in Florida is $71,662 per year.

Benefits of Earning an MSA Degree in Florida

Whether or not you have an undergraduate degree in a business-related field, earning a master’s degree in accounting puts you on the fast track to becoming a highly valuable and marketable professional in the accounting profession. This is particularly the case in a state like Florida, where accounting jobs have a projected increase of 13.9% between 2018 and 2028. 

The accounting job demand means accountants earn generous salaries, especially if they gain more education and training, such as an MSA, MAcc, or MBA with Accounting concentration offers. With a low unemployment rate of 4.7 (compared to the national unemployment rate of 6.2), the state generally pays less in unemployment benefits for its citizens. In other words, students who earn a graduate degree in accounting are likely to find jobs quickly, considering the low unemployment rate in the state.

Top Three Benefits of Earning an MSA Degree in Florida

Schools in Florida offer several types of master’s degree in accounting, including a Master of Science in Accounting (MAS), Master of Accounting (MAcc), Master of Science in Accounting and Financial Forensics (MSAFF), and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an accounting concentration. Many schools offer both a traditional learning format and an online MBA program for individuals who want more flexibility. 

Apart from the high-quality education available in the various universities and business schools in Florida, here are the top three benefits of earning a Master of Science in Accounting degree from the Sunshine State:

1. Plenty of Opportunities for Career Advancement

Pursuing a master’s degree in accounting presents unique opportunities for students to network with other students, faculty, and industry experts. Students in Florida who build and leverage their network can quickly rise through the ranks and increase their earning potentials within the first year of working as accountants. 

Individuals can combine their accounting skills and professional certifications (CPA license) and expand their career options to fill top positions such as Controller, Tax Accountant, Budget Analyst, Auditor, and Certified Public Accountant. 

An MSA and exceptional accounting skills enhance a candidate’s resume and make them more desirable by employers. A bachelor’s degree in accounting is a good first step toward building a prestigious accounting career. But earning a master’s degree significantly enhances the opportunities for advancement. 

2. Attractive Pay Range for Accountants

With an average salary of $65,100 per year, accountants in Florida have one of the most enticing entry-level salaries, with top earners receiving annual salaries of $76,033. Interestingly, pursuing an MSA and even obtaining a CPA certification can significantly up the figures. 

3. Possibility to Start Your Own Business

Becoming an entrepreneur is possible with sound accounting knowledge and skills offered through a master’s in accounting degree. Accountants in Florida have tons of opportunities to build their network while they are on the job. The experience gained from working for firms, corporations, or public accounting organizations combined with their network of business contacts makes for a solid foundation to start a private business. 

Those with a passion for starting their businesses can venture into tax accounting, consulting, or whichever area that appeals more to them. For this reason, it is usually best for students to choose a master’s degree in accounting with a concentration in the specific area where they want to specialize. This will make it easy to switch from working for an organization to establishing their business. 

How Is an MSA Degree a Great Career Booster for Graduates?

Besides standing out among the completion and the potential for earning higher salaries, an MS in Accounting typically fulfills the requirement to sit for the CPA exam in Florida. Becoming a Certified Public Accountant is a huge plus, as it opens the door to better opportunities to work in either private or public accounting 

Graduate-level studies in accounting make students more marketable by:

  • Exposing the learners to emerging and advanced accounting concepts
  • Reinforcing undergraduate knowledge in core financial and managerial studies
  • Enhancing the student’s qualifications (and certifications) for leadership positions
  • Broadening their understanding of the accounting profession, practice, and principles
  • Arming the student with the skills for advanced analytical and critical thinking to meet the dynamic demands of the business environment

What to Expect at an MSA Program in Florida

A master’s degree in accounting program should provide in-depth knowledge in the following crucial areas:

  • View the accounting field from different perspectives
  • Develop advanced analytical and critical thinking skills
  • Develop the key skills required to correctly frame problems and map out short- and long-term solutions to accounting issues
  • Improve good judgment and sound decision-making as it relates to accounting
  • The application of business and accounting in a global context
  • Teach learners professional and ethical standards of the accounting profession
  • Provide rigorous learning experience, covering accounting topics in the business context
  • Provide a deep understanding of the role of accounting in society and organizations

In addition to regional accreditation, it is also important to look out for the program’s accreditation. Florida’s top MSA programs have one of the following national/international accreditations:

  1. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  2. Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  3. International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)

A master’s degree in accounting should not only equip students with the knowledge of the accounting profession. It should also meet the Florida CPA requirements necessary to sit for and pass the CPA exam. Typically, the MSA program helps students to accumulate the required hours of experience for a CPA licensure. 

How Long is the Master of Science in Accounting Program?

In terms of time commitment, students can expect to complete a minimum of 30 semester hours or more, as the credit hours vary slightly between schools. Some hours of elective courses from 400-level coursework may count toward a Master of Science in Accounting degree requirement.

The MSA program length is typically between one to two years for most learners. However, the total duration can be affected by factors, such as the accelerated options available, internship requirements, and enrollment status. Candidates can take the course in an online format or opt for on-campus classes.

How Affordable are MSA Programs in Florida?

Paying for a master’s degree in accounting is not particularly cheap. However, schools like the Hodges University and the University of Florida offer comparatively affordable tuition rates and fees for their MSA program. On average, tuition for graduate programs in Florida is around $10,094 for in-state students and $23,421 for out-of-state students. 

Choosing an MSA Program in Florida

In addition to the core accounting and business courses, it is important to decide the area you want to specialize in when choosing an MSA program in Florida. Here is a simple guide to help you make the right choice.

Core Courses and Degree Specialization Options for MSA Programs 

A master’s in accounting (MAcc program) gives candidates a solid foundation in every major area of accounting. The MSA degree curriculum includes graduate core courses that prepare students to sit for the CPA exam. In most cases, the core courses have an accounting specialization.

Typically, the accounting courses include:

  • Advanced Managerial / Cost Accounting
  • Advanced Auditing
  • Advanced Accounting
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Business Communications
  • Corporate Financial Research and Reporting
  • Information Systems Design
  • Corporate Tax Decisions and Strategies
  • Ethical Issues in Business and Accounting
  • Federal Taxation
  • Entity Taxation
  • Regulation

In addition to the graduate-level courses, an MSA student can choose elective accounting courses that focus on specific aspects of personal interest and individual career goals. Areas of specialization usually include:

Accounting Information Systems

The accounting coursework in this area of study emphasizes developing key skills and knowledge necessary for competencies in information systems and business process management. Specializing in accounting information systems can lead to career opportunities in information technology auditing, internal auditing, consulting, and assurance services.

Typical accounting topics in this specialization include:

  • Information Security Management
  • Enterprise Information Technology Service Management
  • Advanced Business Analytics
  • Database Management Systems

Government Accounting

An accounting master’s degree with a concentration in government accounting equips students with the knowledge to advance in areas such as government financial management, auditing, and accounting. Typical accounting courses in this area of study include:

  • Government Accounting and Auditing
  • Public Sector Auditing
  • Governmental Budgeting Systems
  • Design and Development of Information Systems

Corporate Accounting / Financial Reporting

The focus of corporate accounting or financial reporting is to improve the quality of information available to business decision-makers. The accounting coursework in this area of specialization emphasizes problem-solving skills and effective communication. Accounting courses in this area of study include:

  • Corporate Finance
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Accounting Theory and Research
  • International Financial Reporting Standards

Taxation

A Master of Science in Accounting focusing on taxation gives an MSA student a broad scope of knowledge on tax-related topics. The coursework covers topics such as:

  • Multistate Taxation
  • Taxation of Estates and Trusts
  • International Taxation
  • Financial Reporting
  • Tax Compliance and Planning for Individuals, Corporations, Partnerships, and other business entities

Forensic Accounting

The coursework for this concentration emphasizes fraud detection by exploring a variety of fraud examination techniques. In addition to exploring how to prevent illegal activities, such as wagering, embezzlement, and money laundering, the accounting courses in this area also focus on teaching complex issues, including lost profits, valuation, economic damages. The coursework covers the following topics:

  • Forensic Accounting in Family Law
  • Fraud Auditing
  • Disputes in Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Economic Damages
  • Intellectual Property
  • Lost Wages and Employment Litigation

Auditing

An MSA focusing on auditing equips learners with the key skills and in-depth knowledge to evaluate risk management. Students also learn effective system control within an organization and gain a sound knowledge of business culture, processes, and systems. The topics for this area include:

  • Advanced Auditing
  • Accounting Theory
  • Internal Auditing Concepts
  • Strategic Business Planning

Best MSA Programs in Florida

1. The University of Central Florida, Kenneth G. Dixon School of Accounting 

The University of Central Florida has over 230-degree programs through 13 different colleges. The Master of Science in Accounting program is offered through the Kenneth G. Dixon School of Accounting. Students can choose from three specializations, which are Taxation, Management, or Assurance. 

Each of the program tracks has a business curriculum that equips students with the skills and knowledge to work as consultants and professional accountants in government, financial institutions, non-profit organizations, and public accounting. 

The tuition for in-state students is $369.65 per credit hour, while students from other states pay tuition of $1,194.05 per credit hour.

  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Program Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

2. Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech), Bisk College of Business

Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech) is a top-notch university with four academic colleges, including the world-renowned College of Aeronautics for students who want to gain expertise in the aviation industry. 

The Brisk College of Business offers a Master of Science in Accounting and Financial Forensics (MSAFF) for students interested in looking beyond general accounting functions. The school has dual accreditation from AACSB and IACBE, making it one of Florida’s best schools to pursue a master’s degree in accounting. 

The graduate accounting degree equips learners with critical thinking skills, advanced investigation techniques, and financial auditing expertise to work in a variety of accounting areas, including:

  • Information security and data intelligence 
  • Fraud examination
  • Financial and tax accounting research
  • Portfolio analyses
  • Financial management
  • Information systems and internal auditing

With the knowledge and skills gained in the program, individuals can prevent financial fraud in organizations and present complex financial information in easy-to-understand terms for CEOs, lawyers, investigators, and members of a jury. The MASFF degree also provides the 150 credit hours required to take the CPA exam in Florida.

  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Program Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)

3. The University of Florida, Warrington College of Business

The Warrington College of Business offers a Master of Accounting degree that lets students choose three concentrations. Individuals can choose from a concentration in Auditing, Taxation, or no concentration. 

The graduate degree curriculum prepares students for a professional career in accounting. Students seeking admission to the Warrington College of Business need to meet the following requirements:

  • GMAT score (a minimum of 550)
  • A minimum score of 100 in TOEFL (for international students)
  • 3.0 GPA

Upon completion of the programs, students would have accumulated the 150-credit hours required to sit for the CPA exam.  

  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Program Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

4. Hodges University, Johnson School of Business 

The Johnson School of Business at Hodges University offers various accounting programs, including associate degree, bachelor’s degree, and master’s degree in accounting. The online master’s degree does not require GRE or GMAT scores. Hodge University offers one of the lowest tuition rates in the entire Florida region. 

  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Program Accreditation: International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)

5. Florida Atlantic University (FAU), College of Business

Florida Atlantic University offers over 170-degree programs, covering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The master’s degree program offered at FAU’s College of Business instills the skills needed by CPAs to advance business communities. 

Students are well-equipped to take on roles in government, industry, and public accounting, in addition to being prepared for the CPA exam and licensure. Classes are delivered mainly through in-person formats, usually on Monday to Thursday evenings. An online format is also available for busy individuals, although the program is not designed to run 100% online. 

  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Program Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

6. Barry University, Andreas School of Business

Barry University is a private, non-profit institution with over 100-degree programs to choose from, including graduate certificate programs. 

The Andreas School of Business offers an MBA program specializing in six different areas, including Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, International Business, and Health Services Administration. 

The Accounting specialization of the MBA program covers general MBA core courses in addition to accounting courses, such as:

  • Contemporary Accounting Theory and Research 
  • Advanced Auditing
  • Business Taxation
  • Not-for-profit and Government Accounting

Students are required to take the general MBA courses, regardless of their preferred concentration. An online MBA is available for increased flexibility.

  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Program Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

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