Boost Your Future With a Master’s in Accounting Online
- $637/credit (30 credits total)
- Aligned with the 2024 CPA Exam
- Accredited by ACBSP
- Can be paired with a specialization certificate
- Offered as a respected program since 1932
- Accessible online 24/7 with no set class times
Master's in Accounting Programs Overview
Designed for corporate accountants, auditors, fraud examiners and financial analysts, Southern New Hampshire University's 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. Students hoping to earn their Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification will find this MS in Accounting degree valuable, as earning it may satisfy the education requirements needed to sit for the 2024 CPA Exam, depending on state regulations.
"Some of the new skills that accountants must possess are business communication, technology, data analysis and research skills. Our program includes real-world applications to address these skills," said Ann McLaughlin, associate dean of business.
Companies of all sizes rely on professionals with financial expertise to influence their decisions and strategies. With the help of expert instructors, this program will help you enhance your analytical skills, deepen your knowledge of accounting principles and put you on the path to career success.
What You'll Learn
- Communication methods to provide solutions
- Technologies to offer business operation insights
- Analysis skills to identify solutions and implications
- Regulations to prepare financial documentation
- Strategies to solve complex problems and advance goals
How You'll Learn
At SNHU, you'll get support from day 1 to graduation and beyond. And with no set class times, 24/7 access to the online classroom and helpful learning resources along the way, you'll have everything you need to reach your goals.
Prepare for the CPA Exam With These Graduate Certificates
As part of the revised 2024 CPA Exam, candidates will be required to select 1 of 3 specialized discipline areas in which to demonstrate greater knowledge. To offer additional preparation for this change, SNHU has developed corresponding online CPA Certificates you can earn while pursuing an MS in Accounting.
- Business Analysis and Reporting
- Information Systems and Controls
- Tax Compliance and Planning
Interested in a Different Accounting Path?
SNHU offers several certificate options for accounting professionals who'd like to specialize their skillset by earning other designations, like Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). Even better? You can pursue the certificate of your choice at the same time as an MS in Accounting and earn both for 36 credits or less.
Aligned with content from the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Exam, this graduate certificate is ideal for those who would like to pursue a role in internal private accounting. You'll learn how to use internal reports and financial statements to inform decisions related to a company's bottom line or business performance.
Learn more about earning a graduate Management Accounting Certificate.
Forensic Accounting & Fraud Examination
This graduate certificate — aligned with the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) Exam — is specifically designed to focus your accounting education on the investigation of financial records to detect fraud. You'll build a strong foundation of traditional accounting knowledge, explore the auditing process in depth and gain key investigative skills to identify, document and prevent fraud and cyber crime.
Learn more about earning a graduate Fraud Examiner Certificate online.
Break Into Advanced Accounting As a Beginner
Want to move into advanced accounting, but have an unrelated undergraduate degree? Consider starting with SNHU's Graduate Accounting Certificate. Should you choose to continue on to a master's degree, your certificate credits can be applied.
Learn more about earning a graduate Accounting Certificate online.
The Best Place to Earn Your MS in Accounting
When it comes to SNHU’s master’s in accounting program, affordability and flexibility are just the beginning. Press play to learn what else it has to offer.
SNHU’s Graduate Accounting Programs Explained
Want to take your accounting career up a notch? SNHU offers 8 graduate-level degrees and certifications to choose from, so you can find the perfect fit.
Our master's in accounting online degree program will put you in a great position to pursue a career in any number of fields.
Though, thanks to technological advancement, some routine accounting tasks may potentially become automated in the future, the change is not expected to reduce overall demand.1 In fact, the automation of routine tasks (like data entry) will make accountants' advisory and analytical duties more prominent.1
Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that globalization, a growing economy and complex financial regulations are expected to continue leading the strong demand for accounting professionals, making it a very promising area of study.1
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, career opportunities for accountants and auditors are expected to grow 6% through 2031.1
The median annual salary was $77,250 for accountants and auditors in 2021.1
Becoming a more experienced accounting professional could lead to a range of career-focused areas, from auditing to financial analysis.
"Accountants are data storytellers. In today’s work environment, they utilize technology to expedite manual processes, improve accuracy, perform research, and analyze financial data. These skills serve to help accountants communicate with stakeholders about a company's financial health," said Ann McLaughlin, associate dean of business.
Where Could You Work?
Maintain accounts, track banking activities and perform audits to ensure accounts are accurate — making corrections as needed.
Examine, analyze and interpret accounting records in order to prepare/evaluate tax statements and make recommendations to clients.
Review business documents and financial records of companies to ensure they are paying the proper amount of insurance premiums.
Review the records of government agencies and audit private businesses/individuals whose activities are subject to government regulations or taxation.
Combine accounting and financial information to guide business decision making and understand how to integrate financial/non-financial data.
Examine financial statements of private businesses and individuals to ensure they are accurate and comply with laws and regulations.
Note: Licensing requirements to sit for the CPA exam vary from state to state, with many requiring 150 semester hours of education from an accredited college or university. Students are encouraged to review their state-specific board requirements prior to enrolling in a graduate accounting program. State-by-state educational requirements can be found on the website of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Completion of an aligned educational program does not guarantee success on the CPA exam.
Start Your Journey Toward an Accounting Master’s Online
Why SNHU for Your Online Accounting Degree
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
As part of our mission to make higher education more accessible, we’re committed to keeping our tuition rates low. In fact, we offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation.
Prior coursework and work experience could also help you save time and money. SNHU’s transfer policy allows you to transfer up to 12 credits from your previous institution. You could also earn college credit for previous work experience.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 160,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), a regional accreditor, which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, SNHU 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 300,000 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 the field. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
93.6% of online students would recommend SNHU (according to a 2022 survey with 17,000+ respondents). Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Expanding 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:
- Completed free application
- Undergraduate transcripts, which we can retrieve for you by submitting a transcript request form
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 5 graduate terms.
Preparing You for Success
Mona Stephens, accounting faculty lead
"Accounting is a great major, because there are so many [career] options."
Courses & Curriculum for the Master’s in Accounting
As a student of this program, you'll explore the role of ethics and global awareness in relation to responsible business practices. You'll develop marketable skills in data analysis, communication, research and strategic thinking, using industry-relevant tools and technologies to gain experience.
This knowledge will be built throughout the following 9 core classes and 1 free elective:
- ACC-550 Cost Accounting: Study the concepts, procedures and practices of accounting systems that record, classify and report cost data.
- ACC-640 Auditing: Explore the various aspects of completing an engagement for an audit, applying industry frameworks and governing standards to the audit planning process.
- QSO-511 Business Analytics: Learn the fundamental concepts and tools needed to understand the emerging role of business analytics in organizations.
- ACC-645 Advanced Auditing: Advance your knowledge of auditing topics, applying Standards for Accounting and Review Services to specialized engagements.
- ACC-676 Audit of Accounting Information Systems: Explore the specialized area of auditing specific to accounting information systems and internal controls.
- ACC-690 Advanced Topics in Financial Reporting: Explore advanced financial reporting topics in accounting for investments, foreign currency transactions and governmental accounting.
- ACC-696 Situational Ethics in Accounting: Participate in an in-depth exploration of ethical issues and considerations for accountants.
- TAX-655 Federal Income Tax Corporations and Partnerships: Explore taxation regulations, legislature, and procedures specific to corporations and partnerships.
- ACC-740 Culminating Experience for Accounting: Integrate your knowledge across accounting, including auditing, cost, tax and ethics within an authentic, workforce relevant project. >
- Free Elective: Select a course that complements your degree program (an advanced ACC, TAX or business course is recommended) or use this space for a certificate course not included in the MS Accounting core to more efficiently satisfy requirements if you're enrolled in both programs.
The core curriculum of SNHU's MS in Accounting has been updated to align with the 2024 CPA Exam, reflecting its emphasis on the more technologically advanced work tasks of modern accountants.
For those who would like additional CPA Exam prep, SNHU offers three optional certificates to correspond with its new discipline areas — Business Analysis and Reporting, Information Systems and Controls, and Tax Compliance and Planning. Though not required, you can pursue one of these certificates at the same time as an MS in Accounting (the programs conveniently share courses) and ultimately gain two credentials instead of one.
Don't have an accounting or business background? SNHU offers foundation courses for students who have neither an accounting degree nor a business degree. While students need only an undergraduate degree to be eligible for the MS in Accounting program, foundational requirements ensure that students are prepared for its advanced business and accounting content. The program includes up to 12 courses of accounting foundations and/or 6 credits of business courses. Other programs or courses may be be eligible to support foundation waivers if a student has an undergraduate concentration in accounting, finance or business. Students should discuss any previous college experience and earned credit with their admission counselor.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|MS in Accounting|
|Courses May Include|
|MS in Accounting Online|
|ACC 550||Cost Accounting||This course provides a comprehensive study of the concepts, procedures, and practices of accounting systems that record, classify, and report cost data. These systems are designed to aid in the cost-effective operation of for-profit and non- profit organizations. This course focuses on cost behaviors, alternative cost systems, and accounting tools for planning and control. Additional topics studied would include relevant cost analysis for management decisions, cost/ revenue allocation methods, inventory management, and transfer pricing.|
|ACC 640||Auditing||This course is a study of the concepts and methods of professional auditing.|
|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 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 students 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.|
|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.|
|QSO 511||Business Analytics||This course will provide you with the fundamental concepts and tools needed to understand the emerging role of business analytics in organizations. You will learn how to apply basic business analytics tools in a spreadsheet environment, and how to communicate with analytics professionals to effectively use and interpret analytic models and results for making better business decisions.|
|Total Credits: 36|
Minimum Hardware Requirements
PC (Windows OS)
Apple (Mac OS)
Currently supported operating system from Microsoft.
Currently supported operating system from Apple.
8GB or higher
8GB or higher
100GB or higher
100GB or higher
Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.
Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.
SNHU Purchase Programs
5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency
5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency
- Laptop or desktop? Whichever you choose depends on your personal preference and work style, though laptops tend to offer more flexibility.
- Note: Chromebooks (Chrome OS) and iPads (iOS) do not meet the minimum requirements for coursework at SNHU. These offer limited functionality and do not work with some course technologies. They are not acceptable as the only device you use for coursework. While these devices are convenient and may be used for some course functions, they cannot be your primary device. SNHU does, however, have an affordable laptop option that it recommends: Dell Latitude 3301 with Windows 10.
- Office 365 Pro Plus is available free of charge to all SNHU students and faculty. The Office suite will remain free while you are a student at SNHU. Upon graduation you may convert to a paid subscription if you wish. Terms subject to change at Microsoft's discretion. Review system requirements for Microsoft 365 plans for business, education and government.
- Antivirus software: Check with your ISP as they may offer antivirus software free of charge to subscribers.
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.
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.
*Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.
Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions about Accounting
What is changing about the 2024 CPA?
The 2024 CPA exam update is the result of a complete reimagination. The core exam will shed new light on core accounting fundamentals, like auditing and taxation, and include an increased emphasis on technology throughout.
Over the years, technology's impact on accounting has been instrumental. It's made many tasks that once required significant manual intervention much more efficient.
Ann McLaughlin, SNHU's associate dean of business, agrees: "Accountants are data storytellers. In today’s work environment, they utilize technology to expedite manual processes, improve accuracy, perform research and analyze financial data. These skills serve to help accountants communicate with stakeholders about a company's financial health."
For the first time, the exam will also allow candidates to choose 1 of 3 discipline areas in which to demonstrate greater knowledge and specialize:
- Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR)
- Information Systems and Controls (ISC)
- Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP)
McLaughlin thinks the new exam will appeal to the next generation and reshape the field of accounting as it "requires students to understand how to perform data analysis and research, which shifts the narrative of the traditional accounting role."
She also notes SNHU's redeveloped MS in Accounting program "takes into account these movements within the profession to ensure our students are prepared for this new environment.”
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 Certified Public Accountant (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.
An on-campus or online 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 in Accounting program is an ideal stepping stone for anyone who wants to teach accounting. It's also well suited to those who would like to take either the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Exam.
Because the CPA Exam requires 150 hours of education for eligibility in most states, an MS in Accounting is often the best path. Even better? SNHU offers graduate certificates that align with the exam's three new discipline areas, so you can be even better prepared.
Similarly, SNHU offers a Management Accounting Graduate Certificate for those who want to specialize their skill set before taking the CMA Exam.
What can you do with a CPA license?
A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is an accounting professional who has passed the CPA Exam. They’ve also fulfilled all the education and work experience requirements to become a licensed CPA within the state where they intend to work.
You can work as an accountant without becoming a CPA, but it's widely considered the industry-standard designation of quality and trust. For non-CPA candidates with an accounting degree, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends these positions1:
- Management accountant
- Government accountant
- Internal auditor
- External auditor
- IT auditor
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?
Yes, you can. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are accountants who have passed the official CPA exam, which requires them to have minimum education and work experience.
You can work as an accountant without becoming a CPA. For non-CPA candidates with an accounting degree, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends these positions1:
- Management accountant
- Government accountant
- Internal auditor
- External auditor
- IT auditor
Is a master's in accounting equivalent to a CPA license?
No — a master's in accounting is not equivalent to a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license.
Put simply, they are different credentials. An MS in Accounting is a degree granted by an accredited university once you successfully graduate. A CPA license, on the other hand, is a certification administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) once you meet specific education, experience and exam requirements.
Which credential you choose to earn depends greatly on the career you want to pursue. If you want to advance in public accounting, a CPA license is key. If you want to become an industry accountant, a CPA license may not be necessary.
That being said, many accountants choose to pursue both an MS in Accounting and a CPA license, since they are complementary credentials and can help you stand out in a competitive job market.
Sources & Citations (1)
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 Jan. 9, 2023). Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Licensure and Certification Disclosures
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.