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Online Master's in Accounting Without a Bachelor's in Accounting

A Master's in Accounting can be completed online in one to three years through many schools. Programs require a bachelor's degree with a qualifying GPA, and some requirements can be waived with others. Read more below.

How to Earn a Master's Degree in Accounting Online without a Bachelor's in Accounting

All Master's in Accounting programs require a bachelor's degree for admission, but very few require that degree to be in an accounting related field. Programs typically take around two years, and common courses covered in online programs include some of the following.

Accounting Research

In a key course for most graduate accounting programs, students learn how to properly research using quality sources. Students will learn how to set research criteria, gather data, evaluate data, and form a conclusion based on their research. Students will typically complete several research assignments within the course.

Auditing

Most programs may have standard or advanced auditing courses within the framework for the graduate degree. In an auditing course, students learn the standards and ethics of accounting, as well as the procedures of auditing. A student will learn about the role of both internal and external auditors, why they are necessary, and how to effectively perform audits.

Financial Accounting

Some programs will feature a financial accounting course, while others may separate the topic into other courses (such as corporate accounting). Advanced financial accounting courses review accounting principles that effect different types of businesses and government entities. Students will develop a deeper understanding of financial statements and financial analysis, as well as how to best make organizational decisions using that knowledge.

Managerial Accounting

This course covers accounting topics from a managerial perspective. Subjects covered include budgeting, cost analysis, performance management and decision-making. Students will learn how managerial accounting applies to operations and meeting organizational needs.

Fraud and Forensic Accounting

Fraud and forensic accounting courses teach students how to detect and prevent fraud relating to business reports. Topics covered include a more in-depth look at fraud legislation, cases of fraud, types of fraud, and how to address fraudulent allegations.

Accounting Information Systems

In an accounting information systems course, students develop skills in various accounting programs. A course will likely consist of hands-on practice with spreadsheets and databases. Students will learn to create and journalize transactions and documents within the covered programs.

Business Law for Accountants

Business law classes cover topics such as taxation and the judicial system. This course is a staple for anyone considering a CPA exam path. Students not aiming for a CPA career will still benefit as they learn legal implications for businesses.

Cost Accounting

Some programs may have cost accounting covered more heavily in another course (such as managerial finance), while others will feature a standalone course. Within the course, students will learn how to effectively cost products and services for businesses, and how to apply that knowledge within a business.

Admittance Requirements for a Master's in Accounting

All Master's in Accounting programs require a bachelor's degree, but not all schools require the degree to be in an accounting field. Typically, programs will require some combination of the following items, although program requirements vary between schools.

  • GPA
  • Bachelor's in accounting related field or a specific number of accounting credit hours
  • GRE or GMAT
  • Work experience or CPA certification

Most online programs consist of 30 credit hours, so it's beneficial to students to already have some accounting credits that may be substituted for new classes. For students who have no accounting college credits, some programs offer prerequisite courses as a bridge to their master's degree program.

Master's in Accounting Career Paths

Accountant or Auditor

Accountants and auditors are essential to business operations, and employers often prefer a candidate with a master's degree because of the technical knowledge required for daily tasks. Accountants cover tasks such as consulting, financial preparation and tax assistance. Auditors apply their education by ensuring accuracy and detecting fraud.

Cost Estimator

Cost estimators are responsible for assessing costs such as materials, labor, and time. They develop prices for products or services, and can do so much more effectively with the knowledge of pricing gained within a master's program.

Postsecondary Teacher

Community colleges often hire applicants who hold a master's degree in the field they are trying to teach in, due to the subject knowledge that they've obtained. College instructors will prepare and carry out lessons while assisting and grading students. Individuals who have competed a master's in accounting will have extensive knowledge of accounting topics that they can apply and share as an instructor.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts assist managers in creating and maintaining budgets for organizations. The analysts will usually review proposals, check them for legal compliance, and make recommendations. Spending is then monitored to ensure that the budget is maintained and adjusted when needed. By obtaining a master's degree, candidates will have fundamental knowledge about budgets and compliance, enabling them to complete job duties more effectively.

Tax Examiners

Tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents calculate taxes owed, or overpaid, and collect or issue the funds. Each may review tax returns, complete audits, and contact taxpayers about any discrepancies. The specific duties of each of these will vary depending on their role within their organization. A master's degree in accounting provides job seekers with detailed knowledge in tax topics and regulations, allowing them to effectively conduct their work.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Accountant/Auditor $70,500 6%
Cost Estimator $64,040 9%
Postsecondary Teacher $78,470 11%
Budget Analyst $76,220 4%
Tax Examiner $54,440 -2%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Within an online Master's in Accounting program, students will learn about a large range of accounting topics and the corresponding legal implications. After receiving the degree, an individual could obtain employment within many positions such as a college teacher, or even as a tax collector.