Boost Your Future with a MS in Accounting
- $627/credit (36 credits total)
- Transfer up to 12 graduate credits
- Program accredited by ACBSP
- Continue your path toward a CPA
- Aligned to AICPA™ (CSOs/SSOs)
- Enrolling accounting students since 1932
Master's in Accounting Program Overview
Designed for corporate accountants, auditors, fraud examiners and financial analysts, our Master of Science (MS) in Accounting program can help you move into high-level positions in banking, taxation, insurance or any company with a financial division. CPAs looking to advance their careers and those hoping to eventually earn CPA certification (subject to state-by-state requirements) will find this degree valuable.
Continue your journey toward a CPA with our graduate accounting degree, which satisfies the education requirements to sit for the exam in most states.
"The overall purpose of accounting is to tell the financial story of an organization (or individual) to allow for informed decision making," said Mona Stephens, CPA, MSA, and accounting faculty lead at SNHU. "Accountants now need to have good communications skills, technology skills and the ability to analyze large amounts of data."
You'll enhance your analytical skills, deepen your knowledge of accounting principles and learn from instructors with real-world expertise.
Learn how to:
- Appraise the effectiveness and limitations of financial accounting and reporting practices
- Generate complex financial statements for internal and external users
- Minimize the tax liability of individuals and organizations
- Communicate the significance of accounting information as it relates to strategic plans
- Prepare components of financial statements in accordance with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)
- Assess an audit plan for compliance with Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) audit standards
SNHU’s master’s in accounting online aligns with the Content and Skill Specification Outlines (CSOs/SSOs) set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
You can also specialize your skills with one of our 4 industry-driven concentrations: auditing, forensic accounting, management accounting and taxation.
Accounting (MS) - Auditing
With this specialized concentration, you can design internal and external audits and information assurance plans that adhere to auditing best practices and principles and comply with established national and international auditing standards.
The online Master's in Accounting with a concentration in Auditing can increase your chances of landing the auditing job you want. You'll learn about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 – the federal law that set requirements for public company boards, management and public accounting firms – and what steps companies must take to comply with these requirements. And you’ll also use the latest technologies to solve common auditing challenges.
By earning your master's, you can develop your ability to succeed in middle and senior management positions, and improve your advancement potential by helping corporations meet the demand for greater transparency in financial reporting.
The need for accountants and auditors remains steady, with 6% projected growth through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 And as the economy grows, more could be needed to examine financial records.
In May 2019, the median pay for accountants and auditors was $71,550.1
Some types of auditor roles you could consider include:
- External auditors: Review financial statements and ensure that they've been correctly prepared and reported.
- Internal auditors: Identify ways to improve processes for finding and eliminating waste and fraud.
- Information technology auditors: Review controls for computer systems to ensure that financial data comes from a reliable source.
Courses may include:
- Detection and Prevention of Fraudulent Financial Statements
- Introduction to Forensic Accounting/Fraud Exam
- Seminar in Audit and Information Assurance
Accounting (MS) - Forensic Accounting
Enhance your accounting career by gaining the skills to investigate fraud with an online Master's in Accounting with a concentration in Forensic Accounting.
You'll learn how forensic accounting principles can be applied in complex financial transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies and contract disputes.
You’ll also discover how forensic accounting findings are used in court cases to prosecute white-collar criminals.
Financial crises and legislative demand for greater transparency in financial reporting continue to fuel growth in forensic accounting.
Graduates from forensic accounting programs can move into jobs in which they evaluate, review and describe financial and business matters in a variety of settings, including accounting firms, insurance companies, law offices and governmental agencies.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6% employment growth through 2028.1 In addition, the median annual salary was $71,550 for accountants and auditors in May 2019.1
Courses may include:
- Detection and Prevention of Fraudulent Financial Statements
- Interview Techniques/Legal Aspects of Fraud
- Investigating with Computers
Accounting (MS) - Management Accounting
Become a strategic partner in your organization by providing financial information that can guide the internal management of employees, managers and executives, inform decision-making and improve performance.
The online Master's in Accounting with a concentration in Management Accounting offers focused studies in accounting as preparation for academic qualifications required for becoming a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and for a broader study of management related to the application of accounting theory and best practices.
You'll examine functions of controllership, global, government and nonprofit accounting to achieve an advanced understanding of accounting and financial management decision making and analysis.
Adding the management accounting concentration is a good option if you're interested in working in and leading the accounting division of a business, nonprofit or government agency rather than as a CPA. Instead of preparing tax documents, management accountants more often work as controllers to manage an organization's books, including accounts payable and receivable, payroll and more. The concentration courses will help you prepare to manage an organization's accounting department and prepare financial statements for senior management.
With coursework covering the functions of controllership, business law and governmental, nonprofit and international accounting, SNHU's master's in management accounting can open up opportunities in the private and public sectors, as well as nonprofits.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6% employment growth for accountants and auditors through 2028.1 In addition, the median annual salary was $71,550 for accountants and auditors in May 2019.1
Courses may include:
- Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting
- International Accounting
Accounting (MS) - Taxation
The online Master's in Accounting with a concentration in Taxation introduces you to rules and practices in income taxation for individuals, corporations and partnerships, as well as excise tax on estates and goods.
A master’s in taxation not only helps you meet CPA exam requirements, but you’ll be prepared for the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) professional certification exams.
Courses may include:
- Estate and Gift Taxation
- Special Topics in Taxation
- Tax Research Methodology
Complex financial regulations have increased demand for accounting professionals. Career opportunities in this field are expected to grow 6% through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1
In addition, the median annual salary was $71,550 for accountants and auditors in May 2019.1
After you earn your master's in accounting online, you set yourself up for positions like:
- Financial analyst: Evaluate financial data, study economic trends, examine financial statements to determine organizational value and regularly communicate with company leadership to gain insight for the future.
- Risk manager: Perform risk evaluation, prepare plans to lessen the chance of risk and seek out financial, safety and security risks within an organization.
- Senior accountant: Apply accounting principles, evaluate and/or implement recording procedures, prepare financial statements and help define goals for organizational departments.
- Senior audit manager: Develop and execute audit plans, participate in critical business and technology initiatives, and work strategically with business partners to project, identify and prevent control breakdowns that could cause damage to the company.
- Tax manager: Manage the preparation and review tax returns and forms, develop and implement strategic tax planning and monitor tax law developments.
"Accounting is a great major because there are so many options," said Mona Stephens, CPA, MSA, and accounting faculty lead at SNHU.
Those other options include such cross-functional roles as:
- Controller: Audit finances, analyze information, develop and track budgets and standards, track expenses and use financial software.
- Direction of accounting and finance: Lead the charge on accounting, credit administration, financial data processing, financial planning, IT technology and security, profitability and strategic planning.
Note: Students cannot earn CPA certification simply by earning a college degree. If you wish to follow the traditional CPA track upon graduation, you'll need to verify you meet all requirements to sit for the exam. Licensing requirements to sit for the CPA exam vary from state to state, so it's best to review your state-specific requirements. For state-by-state educational requirements, consult the website of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). For state-by-state CPA licensing requirements, consult the Accounting Licensing Library, powered by the NASBA. The content of our programs aligns with the Content and Skill Specification Outlines (CSOs/SSOs) set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and fulfills the educational requirements for CPA certification in most states.
Start Your Journey Toward an Online Accounting Degree
Why SNHU for Your Master's in Accounting
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, plus financial aid for those who qualify. We also make it easy to transfer to SNHU by accepting up to 12 credits from your previous institution.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, Southern New Hampshire University has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
- “Most Innovative” regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
- Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate your industry. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
Founded as an accounting school, Southern New Hampshire University has been graduating successful accountants since 1932.
At that time, what's now known as SNHU was just a two-room business school above a nondescript storefront in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire. Originally named the New Hampshire Accounting and Secretarial School, the tiny enterprise enrolled fewer than 10 day students and 35 evening students in bookkeeping, accounting and secretarial courses.
The school’s founder, Harry Alfred Benjamin “H.A.B.” Shapiro, launched courses at SNHU to train bookkeepers in the theory and method of accounting. Shapiro, who was still running his accounting practice at the time, believed passionately in the value of knowing the “why” of accounting and not just the “how.”
To this day, business programs – including accounting – are some of the university's most popular degrees that students enroll in.
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU.2 Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Part of our mission to expand access to quality higher education means removing the barriers that may stand between you and your degree. That’s why you can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials — with no GRE or GMAT required.
Master's degree candidates must also submit a personal statement. Students with an undergraduate GPA below 2.75 are eligible for provisional acceptance.
To apply, use the online application.
How to Apply
- Completing a graduate application
- Providing undergraduate transcripts
Courses & Curriculum
While you'll practice traditional accounting practices throughout your coursework, you'll also have the benefit of learning current accounting software, giving you a deeper understanding of the business.
Our online Master's in Accounting degree curriculum is designed to enhance your understanding and skills in a range of areas such as:
- Accounting principles and practices
- Professional auditing methods
- Cost analysis for informed decision-making
- Using information technology to evaluate financial information
- Applications of financial regulations in business
- Quantitative analysis
- Individual and corporate tax preparation
The content of this program aligns with the Content and Skill Specification Outlines (CSOs/SSOs) set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
To become a CPA, the AICPA has 3 requirements, known as the 3 Es: experience, exam and education. SNHU's master's curriculum was designed by subject-matter experts working in the field specifically to meet the certification's educational requirements. In turn, the content in the MS program prepares you for the various sections of the CPA exam3:
- Auditing and attestation
- Business environment and concepts
- Financial accounting and reporting
Becoming a CPA allows you to join a network of over 430,000 who've earned the same certification.3
In addition, should you choose to add the management accounting concentration to your degree, the program was designed to allow you to meet the education requirements for the Certified Management Accountant exam. The Institution of Management Accountants lists its 12 competencies4 as:
- Corporate finance
- Cost management
- Decision analysis
- External financial reporting decisions
- Financial statement analysis
- Internal controls
- Investment decisions
- Performance management
- Planning, budgeting and forecasting
- Professional ethics
- Risk management
- Technology and analytics
Passing the exam puts you in good company: The IMA has awarded 70,000 CMAs to date.4
Don't have an accounting or business background? SNHU offers foundation courses for students who have neither an accounting degree nor a business degree. Students with 6 or more college-level credits in the disciplines of mathematics, economics and accounting are exempt from these courses. Other courses are eligible for exemptions or waivers if a student has an undergraduate major or concentration in accounting, finance or accounting/finance. Students should discuss with their admission counselor or academic advisor how previously earned credits could apply to their master's degree.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|MS in Accounting|
|Courses May Include|
|MS in Accounting|
|ACC 645||Advanced Auditing||This course is designed to introduce the student who is familiar with financial auditing principles to advanced auditing topics including 1) beyond the financial audit, 2) when audits go wrong, and 3) behavioral and ethical concerns for auditors. The course utilizes a combination of case studies, student presentations, and reviews of current auditing research and professional materials to assist students in increasing their knowledge of auditing. This is a reading intensive course.|
|ACC 646||Introduction to Forensic Accounting/ Fraud Exam||This course will develop the student's understanding of what forensic accounting and fraud examination is and how it pertains to both civil and criminal matters. The student will gain a basic understanding of the characteristics of fraud, fraud prevention and detection, investigative techniques, asset recovery, and the use of information technology in this interesting and growing profession.|
|ACC 675||Control/Audit of Accounting Info System||New auditing and quality control standards adopted by the PCAOB and the AICPA require auditors to have adequate technical training and must understand the role information technologies play in the maintenance and effective internal control of financial information. Knowledge of EDP auditing and control is particularly important in complying with Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), which requires auditors to attest to the standards of internal control and any material weaknesses disclosed by senior management. This course will give auditors the knowledge they need to comply with SOX Section 404 by allowing them to test the process rather than just the product of the financial information system. Select curricular standards set by ISACA will be addressed to assess and to improve auditing and internal control practices.|
|ACC 680||International Accounting||This course focuses on accounting in the global marketplace and reviews international accounting standards for financial reporting and introduces and compares taxation and financial and managerial accounting issues in the international environment. NOTE: ACC 680 can be used as an international business elective.|
|ACC 690||Advanced Topics in Financial Reporting||Students will utilize acquired accounting skills through statement preparation and analysis of business planning for advanced topics. Relevant themes prepare learners for roles that manage U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reporting, corporations in financial difficulty, foreign currency transactions, and government and nonprofit accounting. Emphasis will be placed on reporting standards and requirements outlined by governing bodies.|
|ACC 696||Situational Ethics in Accounting||This course deals with the application of academic research related to ethical decision making, identifying evolving ethical issues in the accounting and business environment, and evaluating and applying theories of ethics and justice. Students will be exposed to ethical situations affecting the accounting and business environments to gain a solid foundation on which to address possible circumstances they may face as accounting professionals.|
|ACC 700||Accounting Capstone||This capstone course is the culminating experience for the M.S. in Accounting program. The aim of the capstone is to assess students' ability to synthesize and integrate the knowledge and skills they have developed throughout their coursework, rather than introducing new concepts. This course is structured to support student success in fulfilling program requirements.|
|FIN 550||Corporate Financial Management||This course is a study of finance from a corporate perspective including investments, capital structure and re-structuring, budgeting, financial markets, policy, and portfolio management. Students will analyze a firm's opportunities and risk level within these categories to evaluate the impact on shareholder's value.|
|MBA 610||Business Law||This course provides a survey of the legal environment of business by looking at legal issues and regulations in a business context. The students assess the impact of business law on organizational decision making for informing strategic legal decisions. The course covers employment law, contracts, tort and product liability, internet law as well as other legal issues affecting the business environment. The students also assess the legal and ethical implications of US companies doing business abroad.|
|MGT 550||Managing Through Communication||Learn how to manage people and organizations effectively using communication as a tool. Enhance skills and techniques in motivating, leading change, developing relationships and team building through effective communication of core visions, active listening and providing feedback. Develop strategic management and communication skills that positively affect stakeholder behavior. Gain comprehensive, hands-on-experience in constructing documents and presentations that inform, persuade and influence the intended audience to achieve strategic goals.|
|TAX 655||Federal Income Tax of Corporations and Partnerships||This course studies the theories and practices of income taxation of corporations and partnerships and excise tax on estates and gifts.|
|TAX 670||Tax Research Methodology||Explore the methods and techniques of federal tax research. Learn the rules and procedures for representing clients before the Internal Revenue Service.|
|Total Credits: 36|
Tuition & Fees
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer a 25% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
|Online Graduate Programs||Per Course||Per Credit Hour||Annual Cost for 15 credits|
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)
Tuition rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
$150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with a master's in accounting?
Quite a lot, actually. Like many professions, accounting has become much more diverse, and while CPA is one avenue, there are also many others.
Transparency in financial reporting has taken on far greater importance in the corporate world than it once had – and with it, the need for accounting professionals to help maintain that transparency.
Intrigued? You might consider specializing in auditing. Along with improving financial reporting, many auditors serve the critical function of helping companies develop growth strategies based on long-term goals.
As businesses strive to compete in a global marketplace, accounting plays a broader strategic role in general. Master’s degree candidates who specialize in management accounting improve their odds of becoming the kind of strategic partner who can help guide the management of internal resources at every level, help executives make decisions and improve performance.
And then there are accountants whose passion for numbers is rivaled only by their passion for digging into them. With a concentration in forensic accounting, you’ll apply those innate critical thinking skills to complex financial transactions like mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies and contract disputes. Is criminology your thing? You’ll learn to investigate corporate fraud too.
In addition to these career directions, a few equally good alternatives include financial examiner, financial analyst, finance manager, comptroller, CFO, budget analyst or business and financial consultant.
What is the difference between an MS in Accounting and an MBA?
While both enhance your skills and advancement potential, one focuses on depth of knowledge, the other on breadth. The MS in Accounting deepens your accounting expertise. The MBA in Accounting broadens your business acumen.
The MBA program is for students "who want to move into higher levels of management that require more overall business skills and fewer accounting skills,” according to Mona Stephens, an accounting faculty lead at SNHU – but that's not the program's only audience, she said. As professionals advance their careers, it's vital to develop a better understanding of skills like accounting: By undertaking a more holistic approach to business, you can build better organizational strategies and make financially sound decisions.
Courses in the master’s in accounting dig into more complex accounting topics and foster critical thinking of accounting theory and practice. Stephens says this degree makes sense “for accountants who want to expand their accounting knowledge and perhaps specialize in a certain type of accounting, like management accounting or taxation.”
The MS Accounting is also an ideal stepping stone for the CPA or CMA exams or for anyone who wants to teach accounting.
What can you do with a CPA license?
According to the CPA Accounting Institute, a certified public accountant is an accounting professional who has passed the CPA exam.5 They’ve also fulfilled all the education and work experience requirements to become a licensed CPA within the state where they intend to work.
The CPA credential gives you the experience and expertise to perform functions a non-certified accountant can’t do, such as audits and reviews and taxation services.
Non-certified accountants are not allowed to audit public companies, issue audit reports or opinion letters, or review public company financial statements for the SEC. And only a CPA can sign a client’s tax return as a paid preparer and represent the client in front of the IRS.
Can you become an accountant without a CPA?
Certified Public Accountants are accountants who have passed the official CPA exam, which requires them to have minimum education and work experience, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).6
You can work as an accountant without becoming a CPA, but the AICPA considers it the industry-standard designation of quality and trust. For non-CPA candidates with an accounting degree, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics1 recommends these positions:
- Management accountant
- Government accountant
- Internal auditor
- External auditor
- IT auditor
SNHU has provided additional information for programs that educationally prepare students for professional licensure or certification. Learn more about what that means for your program on our licensure and certification disclosure page.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
This program and its concentrations are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Student achievement data can be found on College Navigator.
Sources & Citations (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm (viewed June 9, 2020). Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
2 According to more than 9,200 SNHU online students in survey responses from the fall of 2019.
3 American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, CPA Study Exam Study Materials, on the internet, at https://www.aicpa.org/becomeacpa/cpaexam/examinationcontent.html (viewed March 3, 2020)
4 Institute of Management Accountants, CMA Certification, on the internet, at https://www.imanet.org/cma-certification (viewed March 3, 2020)
5 CPA Accounting Institute for Success, on the internet, at https://www.ais-cpa.com/become-a-cpa-without-an-accounting-degree/ (viewed Feb. 21, 2020).
6 American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Frequently Asked Questions, on the internet, at https://www.aicpa.org/BECOMEACPA/GETTINGSTARTED/FREQUENTLYASKEDQUESTIONS#CPAs_vs_Accountants (viewed March 17, 2020).