|1 – Affordable Options
|2 – Introduction
|3 – Curriculum
|4 – Career Options
|5 – Should I get a MBA in Accounting?
|6 – FAQ
Online MBA in Accounting
Accounting is one of the world’s most stable and trusted fields, and finding the right MBA with accounting concentration online can make all the difference in the pursuit of a career in that field. Accredited schools can help you prepare for work as a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor, or Certified Management Accountant, to name a few possibilities. If you’re considering an online MBA in Accounting and don’t know where to start, this page will provide you with resources to help you get started.
This page is broken out into six sections below, covering everything from the definition of an online MBA in accounting to the coursework it involves, the kind of careers it can lead to, and how it compares with other degrees.
Affordable Online MBA in Accounting Programs
Researching and choosing the online MBA in accounting program that fits both your needs and budget can be a daunting task. To help make this process easier, we have researched and ranked the most affordable online Masters of Business Administration degrees available in the US.
A list of over 265 schools was obtained and evaluated first on their MBA program’s distance format. We have only included programs that are 100% online/distance learning.
Then each program was reviewed based on accreditation. Every program included in this ranking is both regionally accredited by one of the accrediting agencies recognized by the US Department of Education and CHEA and additionally holds accreditation by one of the following three business school accrediting institutions: IACBE, ACBSP, and AACSB-International.1-5
Next, we checked all remaining programs on our list are from not-for-profit or public institutions.
Lastly, we ranked the MBA programs based upon the estimated tuition of each program. The program tuition information was collected from the most recent data available on each school website or US News & World Report.6 The cost data was calculated for the entirety of the degree but does not include ancillary costs like books, library fees, etc.
100% Online | Fully Accredited | From Public or Non-Profit Institutions
The 10 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs in Accounting for 2020.
|University of the Cumberlands
|Jacksonville State University
|University of North Alabama
|University of Southern Indiana
|Clarion University of Pennsylvania
|Texas A&M University-Commerce
What is an MBA in Accounting?
An online MBA in accounting is specifically designed to prepare postgraduate students to take on high-level accounting, auditing, business, and financial analysis. It teaches the accounting discipline principles and provides a substantial grounding in the skills and concentrations needed to apply those principles to the workplace. This makes an MBA in accounting ideal for those with specific career goals in tax auditing, accounting, or even managing a major corporation’s finances in a position such as a financial manager or chief financial officer.
Online MBA programs in accounting provide students with a solid foundation in business and finance. After completing the program, graduates are typically skilled in business management and accounting procedures, tax law, financial reporting, and occupational and securities fraud.
When considering an MBA in accounting, students should strongly analyze their specific long-term career goals and weigh the pros and cons of obtaining this specific degree against those goals. It’s typically the right choice for anyone interested in a high-responsibility or specialized accounting, auditing, or a tax-related career.
MBA in Accounting Curriculum
The curriculum of an online MBA in accounting is typically focused on expanding and refining students’ skills in the management of information, people, resources, and operations in the context of a fast-paced modern marketplace.7-9 The primary aim is to build new generations of business leadership with an organization-wide perspective, equipped with a comprehensive grasp of corporate governance and financial management. Additional courses teach a variety of business skills, including marketing, management, and ethics.
Some common topics covered in MBA accounting programs include:
- Management and business accounting
- International finance and accounting procedures
- Ethics of accounting
- Preparing financial reports
- Detecting and preventing fraud in financial reports
- Conducting financial research and analyzing financial statements
- Financial management marketing
The topics of curriculum offerings focused specifically on business management usually include:
- Business communication
- Business law
- Supply chain management
A more detailed look at some of the typical course offerings gives a strong sense of the kind of problem-solver that a dedicated graduate of an accounting MBA online can become:
- Financial Reporting: This course typically covers specific financial accounting theories and teaches students to be liable for their own accounting procedures through detailed reports and measurements.
- Advanced Financial Reporting: Students learn how to apply their financial reporting skills to real-world scenarios such as income tax preparation, pension planning, and creating statements of changes.
- Tax Planning: This course teaches students to consider specific tax laws when preparing budgets and financial plans for clients and businesses. It reviews current tax laws and provides students with the necessary skills to recognize issues that may arise while creating financial plans easily.
An MBA with an accounting concentration has some overlap with the curriculum of a master’s of accounting, but there are some important differences. Master’s of accounting programs vary widely from one institution to another, but their course offerings are generally focused on students who have recently completed an undergraduate accounting degree and are looking to pass the CPA exam. Typical subjects of study for master’s of accounting programs include (but are not limited to):
- Financial statement analysis
- External reporting
- Public accounting practice
- Business valuations
- Tax policy
- Computer-assisted audit techniques
What unique career paths can I pursue with an MBA specializing in accounting?
Students who graduate from MBA programs with an accounting specialization can obtain professional job roles across various industries. Every business type requires a financial expert to manage revenue (including profit and loss), prepare taxes, and oversee accounts payable and accounts receivable. This means there is a consistent demand for those with a sophisticated grasp of accounting procedures and principles. Having an MBA with a concentration in accounting makes you well-placed to compete for these prestigious and responsible positions.
While the career opportunities for those with an MBA in accounting are practically endless, some of the top jobs for graduates of these programs include:
C-Level Executive/Chief Financial Officer
C-level executives, such as chief financial officers (CFOs), are required to oversee all financial activities of the company they work for.4 A CFO is in a leadership role and empowered to make most financial decisions, provided they act within the guidelines of the company’s board of directors. C-level executives are typically employed across all industries and are at the top of all publicly traded companies and most private ones. While the daily tasks of a C-level finance executive vary depending on the company and industry, they may include:
- Discussing business strategies with other executives and the board of directors
- Auditing financial reports from all departments within the business
- Detecting and investigating instances of financial fraud
- Maintaining relationships with banks and investors
C-level finance executives’ salary varies depending on various factors such as industry, geographic location, and company size. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary earned by chief financial officers throughout the US as of May 2018 was $189,600. California, followed by Florida, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts, are prime spots to find chief executive jobs.10-12
Corporate controllers and auditors are responsible for preparing, maintaining, and analyzing a company’s financial records. In some cases, they may be internal employees of major corporations while in others, they may be contracted by small- to mid-sized businesses to perform external audits. Their main purpose is to ensure that the financial records of a given business are complete and accurate. Typical daily tasks may include:
- Reading and analyzing financial reports
- Detecting fraud and bringing it to the attention of management or authorities
- Preparing financial records or income tax statements
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of May 2018, the average annual salary for auditors was $74,690.13,14 Long-term occupational projections for this position predict a 10% increase in job opportunities by 2026.13,14
Financial analysts provide investment advice to businesses. Their job is primarily to analyze a company’s investments, determine how well they’re performing, and recommend the best course of action moving forward. Typical duties of a financial analyst include:
- Evaluating business trends and investment reports
- Determining the value of a company’s assets by reviewing financial statements
- Providing advice on investments and financial planning
- Preparing written statements and reports
Several types of financial analyst functions exist, and each one is responsible for a different work scope. Portfolio and fund managers are responsible for investment strategies, while ratings and risk analysts focus on debt and loss. They are also responsible for evaluating a company’s ability to repay debt and predict potential losses to better plan its financial future.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for financial analysts was $85,660 as of May 2018.15 Long-term occupational projections for financial analysts predict a 10% increase in job opportunities by 2026.15
Tax Examiner/Revenue Agent
- Reviewing detailed tax returns
- Conducting tax audits
- Collecting overdue tax payments
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual salary for tax examiners and revenue agents was $54,440 as of May 2018.16,17 Long-term occupational projections for tax examiners predict a 1% decrease in job opportunities by 2026.16,17
Business analysts are normally hired by companies to uncover opportunities or expose flaws in management processes and financial records. Reduced costs and increased revenue are typically a direct result of hiring a business analyst. Day-to-day duties for this position may include:
- Meeting with upper-level management to provide insight into the company’s financial records and processes
- Determining root causes of business challenges, including decreased profit and internal fraud
- Developing strategic plans to increase efficiency and revenue
- Building models using spreadsheets and advanced functions like macros and pivot tables
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, business (or management) analysts earned a median annual wage of $83,610 as of May 2018.18 Job growth opportunities for management analysts is expected to increase by 14% by 2026, which is above average when compared to other jobs throughout the US.18
Financial managers are responsible for ensuring the financial health of an organization, and they are often positioned just below C-level executives. Their expertise is relied upon to ensure the company is achieving financial goals and maintaining a positive financial portfolio. Daily duties usually include:
- Producing financial reports
- Calculating and analyzing profit and loss
- Detecting irregularities in financial reports from all departments to prevent fraud and theft
- Developing strategies alongside other management professionals to meet long-term financial goals
- Maintaining the company’s investment portfolio
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that financial managers earned a median annual salary of $151,610 as of May 2018.19 Job availability for financial managers is expected to increase by 19% by the year 2026, which is quite a bit faster than the average position.19
Should I get an MBA in Accounting?
If you’re considering an accredited MBA in accounting online, you should consider two things: whether you’re the kind of self-motivated learner who benefits from online classes and what your career goals are. As mentioned earlier, this concentration is specifically tailored to meet the needs of individuals pursuing a career in accounting or auditing and is heavily focused on providing students with a vast knowledge of accounting and tax procedures. Consider some of the following questions before deciding whether to pursue an MBA in accounting:
MBA in Accounting vs. an MBA in Finance
Finance and accounting are very distinct professions. Where accountants are tasked with reviewing and maintaining financial records, finance jobs are about investment: recognizing opportunities, analyzing trends, forecasting, and dealing with the practical realities of managing an investment portfolio. Deciding between these different career paths (both of which offer strong prospects for job growth) is the natural first step in determining what kind of MBA you’ll pursue. If you’re pursuing a career as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), an online MBA in Finance is certainly the better choice. (There are further differences between an MBA and a master’s in finance, but they’re outside the scope of this post.)
MBA in Accounting vs. a Master’s in Accounting
Those pursuing a career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) should consider a master’s in accounting as a worthwhile alternative to an MBA. A master’s in accounting program is specifically focused on providing students with a solid foundation in business law and economics, and on preparing them for the CPA exam. It may be the more efficient alternative if you’re working toward these specific goals. The program graduates will also acquire a deeper knowledge of major specializations like tax, assurance, performance management, and finance. Furthermore, students in a master’s of accounting program don’t need prior business experience, which is often preferred of applicants into an MBA in accounting.
Are you willing to be held accountable for the financial investments and tax statements of other individuals and businesses?
Accountants and auditors are entrusted with access to financial records and accounts. As such, they’re required to act with the utmost integrity. In cases in which the numbers don’t add up, the accountability falls on the accountant or accounting department, and they may be subject to investigation if something is wrong. If you don’t work well under pressure, this career path might not be the right one for you.
Do you have a keen eye for detail?
Accountants spend most of their days staring at financial reports and analyzing numbers. Having an eye for detail is crucial when analyzing reports and attempting to detect miscalculations or fraud.
Are you pursuing a career path in accounting or auditing?
If your interests and goals lie specifically in accounting or auditing, and especially in pursuing related C-suite or specialist positions, an MBA in accounting is a great choice. If you’re pursuing a career as a CPA, a master’s of accounting might be a better option.
Can you commit to the heavy workload that’s required of an MBA student?
Studying to get an MBA is a commitment that takes time and dedication. If your schedule doesn’t permit several hours of focused study each week, this may not be the right time to dive in, especially if you are already employed in a full-time job. However, many MBA programs are specifically tailored to people who are already employed in the business sector full-time, so don’t be intimidated; it can be done.
Are online MBA programs always at accredited institutions?
No! However, DiscoverBusiness.us covers only programs that have regional accreditation with a CHEA-recognized body and national accreditation from the AACSB, ACBSP or IACBE. So while not all online MBA programs are created equal, you can be assured that the ones you find here are fully accredited.
How can I have an MBA in accounting advance my career as an accountant?
If you’re already working as an accountant or auditor, you might wonder if obtaining an MBA in accounting is worth the investment of your money and time. If you’re interested in advancing your career and being promoted to a higher or top-level management position, the business skills and advanced accounting skills you’ll take with you after graduating from an accredited MBA program in accounting are invaluable.
Is it better to obtain my MBA in a classroom setting instead of online?
Many students find themselves more committed and focused on learning when they attend a physical classroom on a regular schedule. For students with limited schedules, an online MBA program in accounting can be an excellent choice. Pursuing an MBA in accounting online requires self-discipline and motivation, as learning is self-guided, and tasks are usually done on your own time. If these are among your strengths, an online MBA may be right for you.
How long does it take to earn an online MBA in accounting?
While online MBA courses provide students with greater flexibility than classroom courses, it’s best to aim to complete an MBA program in about two years. Of course, there are also many accelerated MBA programs available that can be completed in as little as six to eight weeks. Still, accelerated programs usually require a full-time commitment.
Other Popular Pages
1. US Department of Education, Accreditation in the United States, Institutional Accrediting Agencies: https://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html
2. Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA): < a href="https://www.chea.org/" target="_blank">https://www.chea.org/
3. International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE): https://iacbe.org/accreditation/member-status-information/
4. Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP): https://www.acbsp.org/page/membership_list
5. AACSB International: https://www.aacsb.edu/accreditation/accredited-schools
6. US News & World Report, Best Online MBA Programs: https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/mba/rankings
7. Southern New Hampshire University, Online MBA: https://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/masters/mba-online/mba-in-accounting
8. The University of Scranton: MBA Accounting Online: https://elearning.scranton.edu/mba/accounting-specialization
9. Syracuse University, Online MBA with Accounting Specialization: https://onlinegrad.syracuse.edu/business/mba/specializations/accounting/
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Top Executives: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2018, 11-1011 Chief Executives: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes111011.htm#st
12. PayScale, Average Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Salary: https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Chief_Financial_Officer_(CFO)/Salary
13. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm
14. PayScale, Average Corporate Controller Salary: https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Corporate_Controller/Salary
15. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Financial Analysts: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm
16. PayScale, Average Tax Examiner, Collector, or Revenue Agent Salary: https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Tax_Examiner%2C_Collector%2C_or_Revenue_Agent/Salary
17. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/tax-examiners-and-collectors-and-revenue-agents.htm
18. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Management Analysts: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm
19. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Financial Managers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/financial-managers.htm
20. USNews.com Best Online MBA Accounting Programs https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/mba/accounting-rankings
21. Master of Accounting vs. MBA: Do You Know the Difference?: https://online.maryville.edu/online-masters-degrees/accounting/master-of-accounting-vs-mba/
22. The Differences Between a Master of Accountancy and an MBA: https://onlinemasters.ohio.edu/blog/the-differences-between-a-master-of-accountancy-and-an-mba/
23. CPA vs MBA | Which is Better for Your Career, Salary, and Wallet?: https://www.ais-cpa.com/cpa-vs-mba/
24. What’s the difference: MBA vs Master of Accounting degree?: https://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/news/whats-the-difference-mba-vs-master-of-accounting-mac-degree/