Tasked with compiling and reviewing tax returns and other financial statements, accountants facilitate their clients’ financial operations and tax law compliance. Accountants also sometimes play advisory and/or bookkeeping roles for their clients. Skills required include comfort with numbers, attention to detail, and business acumen. BLS data on this profession reports a median salary of $70,500 annually and projects 6% job growth between 2018 and 2028.
Top 5 Online MBAs in Accounting 2021
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A top online MBA in accounting prepares graduates for lucrative business careers in accounting, taxation, financial management, and auditing, and distinguishes graduates from competitors with bachelor’s degrees. Accountants and auditors made a substantial median salary of $70,500 in 2018, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects healthy growth in accounting, auditing, and related business and financial careers between 2018 and 2028.
Designed to assist you in choosing the right online MBA in accounting program, the following page provides an overview of curricula, online program formats, and potential career paths for this degree. Also see below for relevant scholarships and professional organizations that can support your career journey.
What Is an MBA in Accounting?
Combining business fundamentals with accounting specialization, an online MBA in accounting contains courses such as financial analysis, auditing, and budget management. This versatile degree also usually meets education prerequisites for certified public accountant (CPA) certification, and many graduates become professional accountants in industries such as accounting, insurance, management, and government.
The BLS identifies transportation, government, and finance as top-paying industries for accounting and auditing professionals. Other popular careers for accounting MBA graduates include management analyst, budget analyst, and financial manager.
Online MBA Programs for You
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Why Should You Get an Online MBA in Accounting?
Earning an online MBA can benefit students in many ways. The advanced curricula of accounting MBAs enable students to build specialized skills and knowledge in areas of interest such as taxation regulation, forensic accounting, or accounting information systems.
Often boasting asynchronous attendance options, online degree options allow busy professionals to advance their careers without relocating or taking time off from work. For professionals or students from non-accounting-related backgrounds, this degree can pave the way for transition to new careers. MBA programs also offer excellent opportunities for internship and networking with professionals in your desired field.
For accounting and tax professionals with related bachelor’s degrees, the accounting MBA often opens doors for promotion and salary advancement. The BLS reports the median salary for accounting and auditing professionals at $70,500, and senior accountant salaries usually range from $58,000-96,000, according to PayScale.
What Can You Do With an MBA in Accounting?
Often employed in banking, insurance, or investment/securities industries, financial analysts help to guide client investments. Related job titles include risk analyst, ratings analyst, fund manager, and portfolio manager. These professionals need expert knowledge of financial markets and skills in advanced math, financial analysis, and decision-making. According to the BLS, these professionals earn a median annual salary of $85,660 and may anticipate a 6% job growth rate between 2018 and 2028.
Also called management consultants, management analysts advise executives on means for cutting costs and generating more revenue. These professionals analyze financial reports and other data, observe and meet with employees, and suggest solutions for increasing company efficiency. The BLS indicates that management analysts made an $83,610 median annual salary as of May 2018, and projects 14% job growth for this career between 2018 and 2028.
Responsible for organizational finances, financial managers perform financial monitoring, analysis, and reporting. These professionals also collaborate with executives on strategic planning, goal-setting, and decision-making. Financial managers boast skills in management, data analysis, and market trend analysis. BLS data places financial managers’ median annual salary at $127,990 and projects 16% employment growth between 2018 and 2028.
Budget analysts help with organizational finances by generating and reviewing budget proposals and reports, monitoring spending, and advising company executives regarding funding and finance organizing. These professionals are skilled in analysis, organization, and communication. Budget analysts make a median annual salary of $76,220 and may anticipate a projected growth of 4% from 2018-2028, according to the BLS.
Online MBA in Accounting Curriculum
While online accounting MBA programs vary in the concentrations and courses they offer, all programs include foundational business administration coursework and advanced accounting coursework. See below for sample courses available in most online accounting MBA programs.
This course teaches students how to formulate financial business strategies and plans. Financial analysis courses focus on how to analyze financial reports and assess investment suitability.
Taxes and Business Strategy
Particularly important to aspiring tax accountants, this course investigates the relationship between tax regulations and business activities such as investments, acquisitions, and employee compensation.
Forecasting courses cultivate knowledge and skills in operating budget preparation and spending decision-making. Students learn to analyze business trends and risks, cut costs, and consider legislation that affects business.
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How to Choose the Right Online MBA in Accounting Program
As you research online MBA in accounting programs, choose from well-reputed programs only. Attending a highly regarded school in your desired geographical area can make sense; however, getting your degree online means you can apply to high quality programs anywhere, so do not hesitate to apply to distant but well-known schools.
Also keep in mind that students at either nationally or regionally accredited schools may receive federal financial aid, but credits and degrees from nationally accredited schools do not usually transfer to regionally accredited schools because the latter meet higher academic standards.
The best online MBA programs also boast programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).
Earning an accounting MBA can get expensive, so compare tuition rates carefully. Regionally accredited schools sometimes charge higher tuition, but they may offer more financial aid and work-study opportunities. Note whether schools charge per credit or a flat rate per semester, as taking more credits at schools with flat semester rates can save you money. Accelerated programs offering more academic terms per year can also save you money, provided you have adequate time for intensive academic study.
Busy working professionals often opt for part-time online MBA programs that allow them to continue their education without relocating or taking time away from work. However, many programs require internship experience, periodic on-campus visits, and/or a capstone thesis or project. Before applying, make sure that you can meet extracurricular requirements.
Scholarships for Accounting MBA Programs
Students seeking financial support should take the time to examine the many need-based, merit-based, and identity-based scholarships offered to college students by schools, professional organizations, private funders, and governments. Students pursuing an online MBA in accounting should consider scholarships specifically designed for accounting students. See below for a selection of these scholarships.
American Institute of CPAs John L. Carey Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Designed to encourage students new to accounting, this scholarship awards $5,000 to non-business degree holders pursuing CPA licensure and graduate degrees in accounting.
Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance Master's Scholarship
Who Can Apply: AFWA grants this scholarship to women master’s degree students enrolled in master’s programs at accredited schools.
American Institute of CPAs Minority Scholarship
Who Can Apply: AICPA grants this scholarship to minority students enrolled full time in accounting-related degree programs. Eligible applicants must hold a 3.0+ GPA and must be a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen.
Alice L. Haltom Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal residents pursuing an Illinois accounting degree and CPA licensure. Applicants need to demonstrate financial need, progress in accounting coursework, and have a 3.0+ GPA.
New York State Society of CPAs Excellence in Accounting Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Created to support worthy accounting students, this need-based scholarship provides $1,250 to part-time and $2,500 to full-time accounting students.
Professional Organizations for Accounting
The professional organizations described below provide education, networking, mentorship, and employment resources for accounting professionals and students. Offering a wealth of information on related fields, careers, and industries, accounting professional organizations may help you clarify your career interests, identify compatible MBA programs, and advance your career.
Founded in 1916, the AAA supports accounting academics and others interested in accounting research and education. The organization provides annual conferences, publications, and educational resources.
The AFP provides events and networking, treasury professional certification, and training for treasurers and other financial professionals. The AFP website provides current industry trend information to help you plan your career path.
This organization provides networking, leadership, and continuing education for management accounting professionals. The IMA also runs the certified management accountant certification and publishes white papers, books, and reports.
The NSA advocates for accountants’ rights, provides continuing education, and shapes ethical and practical standards for the profession. Member benefits include subscription discounts and a tax help desk.
IAA leads the internal auditing field by establishing practice standards, advocating for auditors, and providing continuing education. Member benefits include access to industry-specific networks and discounts on team development training.
2021’s Top Online MBA Programs in Accounting
When making that all-important decision on where to earn your MBA, it’s important to have all the facts. For 2021, we’ve found the top five online MBAs in finance. All the schools in this roundup are regionally or nationally accredited, and some programs also hold industry-specific accreditations. An independent review process, accreditation serves as assurance of a school’s educational value. Relevant accrediting bodies for our ranked schools include:
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Accredited Online College Programs
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Earning an MBA should increase graduates' purchasing power, not cost them an arm and a leg. Learn more about the most affordable online MBA programs and how to apply.
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