MBA in Accounting

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For brand-new start-ups or multinational companies around for generations, properly reconciling revenue and expenses, keeping track of budgets, and putting internal and external security controls in place are all vital. In addition, having sound accounting practices is the law. U.S. companies are required to follow established Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in all public financial statements. More in-depth financial reporting and regularly scheduled independent audits of these statements are also required for public companies through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ultimately, whether an organization is big, small, or somewhere in-between, the need for proper accounting methods and balanced ledgers never changes. While basic accounting training and a CPA certification are useful, a prospective accountant with an MBA may be even more valuable to a company. These specialized business degrees provide holders with instruction in management, ethical decision-making, analysis, and communication, among other subjects.

An MBA in accounting can be ideal for those seeking management-track and top leadership positions, and can also open doors for other potentially lucrative positions within a company, including finance director, risk manager, business manager, or business development manager. Having an MBA in accounting can also open up opportunities as an auditor or investigator in the public sector, or opportunities as a financial planner, forensic accountant, or tax specialist in the private sector.

Overall, there are MBA programs in accounting available both on campus and online. This guide explores the wealth of distance-based MBAs in accounting and three outstanding faculty members from schools offering these programs.

Featured Online MBA in Accounting Programs

1Maryville University, John E. Simon School of BusinessView Full Profile

Maryville University’s accelerated one-year program is designed for recent bachelor’s degree graduates as the program does not require work experience. The 39-credit curriculum can be completed entirely online.

Students in the accounting concentration take eight core courses in business ethics, strategic marketing, and organizational behavior, among others, as well as four specialization classes. These include tax planning and decision making, strategic accounting issues, financial statement analysis, and data analysis. Students can apply without submitting GMAT scores, but must have at least a 3.0 GPA for all previous coursework.

Location: St. Louis, MO
Tuition: $700/credit-hour
Time to Completion: As little as one year
Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
2University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business SchoolView Full Profile

The online MBA@UNC with a specialization in finance can be completed part-time and from anywhere. However, students are expected to complete a three-day immersion where they travel to major business centers around the world to work with and learn from leading companies in the business community; previous companies include Virgin Group, General Mills, and Google.

The program is broken down into 66 credits of core, elective, and cross-university courses. Accounting-related elective classes include corporate finance, financial statement analysis, and global finance and emerging markets, among others. Students who can travel to campus can take elective courses from the school’s full-time on-campus program, as well as its executive MBA program. While students are not required to have a minimum GPA from previous schooling, they must have at least two years of professional experience before being accepted into the program.

Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Tuition: $1,728/credit-hour
Time to Completion: 18-36 months
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)
3Seton Hall University, Stillman School of BusinessView Full Profile

This MBA can be completed almost entirely online, but students must participate in a two-day campus orientation for new students at the beginning of the program. Students take 25 credits of core courses and 15 credits of electives, for a total of 40 credit-hours. In the core classes, students learn about corporate social responsibility, market decision making, internet technology management, and all other fundamental concepts for modern-day business. The accounting portion of the program consists of four classes, which includes instruction in financial reporting, auditing standards and problems, cost accounting, and essentials of federal taxation. Work experience is not required for admission; however, students must have had at least a 3.0 GPA in their previous schooling.

Location: South Orange, NJ
Tuition: $1,305/credit-hour
Time to Completion: 24-36 months
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)
4Syracuse University, Whitman School of ManagementView Full Profile

Syracuse University’s online MBA has been ranked in the top ten programs of its kind by the Financial Times. It is also considered one of the best programs for military veterans by The Military Times. Students pick from six concentrations, one of which is accounting. Core classes that all MBA candidates must take include data analysis and decision making, microeconomics, managerial finance, the legal and ethical environment of business, and more. In the accounting specialization, students learn about taxation, financial reporting, auditing, and cost accounting.

While most of the coursework is online, students must take part in three in-person residencies throughout the 54-credit program. Applicants must have at least one year of professional work experience and a minimum 3.0 GPA in previous schooling. GMAT scores are necessary with application; however, a waiver is available for qualified applicants.

Location: Syracuse, NY
Tuition: $1,500/credit-hour
Time to Completion: Two years
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)

This online MBA in accounting program provides an overview of finance, portfolio management, and budgeting. SNHU students learn the tools for proper planning and analysis, general operational management, and the latest technology in proper and compliant financial reporting. Effective legal and ethical decision-making is stressed along with discussions of tax structure, business law, and business environments. The online format allows students to log in anytime and learn at their own pace, and no GMAT/GRE is required for admission.

Location: Manchester, NH
Tuition: $1,881 per three-credit class, $627 per credit-hour
Time to Completion: 15-24 months
Accreditation:

  • SNHU is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Its MBA program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs/ACBSP

Students in the accounting specialization of the professional MBA program receive training in a variety of accounting principles, including financial strategy, creating proper financial controls, tax planning, and professional decision-making. The 48-credit program focuses on creating and analyzing required compliance forms and correct paperwork for publicly traded companies. Requirements include 30 hours of core classes plus 12-15 hours for electives in any specialization. The program can be completed entirely online, in a hybrid format, or entirely in-person on the Denver or South Denver campus. Dual degree options are also possible with this MBA, including a medical doctorate, a master of architecture, or a graduate degree in urban planning.

Location: Denver, CO
Time to Completion: 11 months for accelerated on-campus program; two years for part-time online/hybrid programs
Tuition:

  • Resident: $11,006/year (based on 12 credits/term)
  • Non-resident: $28,212/year (based on 12 credits/term)
Accreditation:

  • The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • CU’s Business School is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business/AACSB International
7University of Delaware, Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics

The Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics offers an accounting concentration within its MBA program, including nine credits focused on topics such as financial statement analysis, international accounting methods, and accounting controls. Emphasis in the program is placed on strategic planning, understanding taxes, and current technology such as information systems. The online program is ideal for students who want to set their own pace or aren’t able to take a break from their current jobs to attend on campus. The basic program requires completion of 44 credits, and double and triple concentrations are also available. The double concentration requires 47 credits and the triple requires 53.

Location: Newark, DE
Tuition: $812.50/credit-hour, $35,750 for full 44-credit program
Time to Completion:16-36 months
Accreditation:

  • University of Delaware is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • The Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business/AACSB International
8University of Scranton, Kania School of Management

The Kania School of Management provides several focus areas for its 36-credit-hour MBA program, including healthcare management, international business, and operations management. Students can also pursue an accounting specialization that provides practical skills such as creating and understanding reports, using technology, and effective communication and decision-making. The non-profit private Jesuit research university also emphasizes the importance of ethics, leadership, and social responsibility. Courses in the online program cover research, fraud detection and prevention, and financial management marketing. A dual degree MBA/master’s in health administration is also available.

Location: Scranton, PA
Tuition: $965/credit
Time to Completion: 1-4 years
Accreditation:

  • The school is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • The Kania School of Management is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business/AACSB International

Indiana Institute of Technology’s online MBA in accounting program is designed to provide people with skills in fraud examination, government work, or not-for-profit fiscal management. The program provides a foundation of business skills and preparation for the CPA exam, as well as instruction in problem-solving skills, marketing management, ethical reasoning, statistics, and methods to identify external threats and opportunities, among other subjects. The 42-credit program highlights some of the specialty credentials that can be earned such as a certified fraud examiner or certified government auditing professional. Students can enroll in accelerated courses in the evenings and weekends on campus, or an online program at their own pace.

Location: Fort Wayne, IN
Tuition: $515/credit-hour, $1,545/three-credit course
Time to Completion: 15-24 months
Accreditation:

  • Indiana Tech is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
  • Its College of Business is a candidate for accreditation by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education/IACBE

The 37-credit accounting program shares knowledge of various accounting principles, taxation, and more. The program requires 19 credits of foundation classes, nine specialization credits, and nine credits of electives. Students learn business functions, problem-solving skills, and ethical and social considerations required to resolve corporate and public issues. Lynn University’s MBA program also provides a focus on leadership and decision-making at local and international levels. Notably, Apple recognized Lynn as a Distinguished School based on Lynn’s educational focus, innovation, and leadership. All undergraduates, MBA, and EdD students enrolled at Lynn receive an iPad loaded with various educational resources and related apps. Students in the online program are encouraged to check-in daily. Online discussions can also be scheduled with faculty or fellow students.

Location: Boca Raton, FL
Tuition: $740/credit-hour or $27,380 for the degree
Time to Completion: About two years; program must be completed in four years
Accreditation:

  • The school is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • The MBA program is accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education/IACBE

The 36-credit online program provides core knowledge in topics such as economics, organizational management, and management strategy. The accounting concentration is designed to help students build skills in auditing, forensic accounting, tax and business strategy, and gas and energy accounting. Topics discussed in Texas A&M’s program include fraud, general economics, assurance services for IT/e-commerce, and ethics and legal liability. An accelerated MBA program can be completed with just 12 courses if a student already has a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Location: Corpus Christi, TX
Tuition:

  • In-state: $410.45/credit, $14,776.44
  • Out-of-state: $857.19/credit, $30,858.84
Time to Completion: 12-24 months
Accreditation:

  • Texas A&M – Corpus Christi is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Its MBA program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business/AACSB International
12UMass Lowell, Manning School of Business

One of the goals of this interdisciplinary program is to impress upon students the value of business in our current world. Students pursuing the accounting concentration study a variety of business models, structures, and current issues. The Manning School of Business curriculum involves a discussion of the important roles of decision-making, problem solving, communication, political processes, and change management. The 42-credit program is available online or on-campus. The school also offers an online-only master’s of science in accounting, comprising 39 credits in auditing, financial theory, fraud examination, and taxation of business entities. Undergraduates can also pursue a bachelor’s-to-master’s program in five years.

Location: Lowell, MA
Tuition:$575/credit-hour
Time to Completion: 15-36 months
Accreditation:

  • UMass is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • The Manning School of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business/AACSB International
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Professors to Know from Schools with Online MBA Programs

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    Gail Amstutz, CPA, MBA - Indiana Institute of Technology

    Gail Amstutz has taught and worked in areas of corporate and public accounting for more than 20 years. Building on her teaching at Ivy Tech Community College and Indiana Wesleyan University, Professor Amstutz is currently an assistant professor teaching topics in accounting and finance. Notably, she volunteers to help Allen County residents with their taxes, and has experience assisting insurance companies with their financial reporting, analysis, and tax needs. She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Indiana University and her MBA from Taylor University, and is involved in a variety of civic projects related to risk management and diversity.

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    Araya Debessay, PhD, University of Delaware

    Dr. Debessay teaches accounting programs and has been part of UD since the 1980s. He received the accounting department’s Outstanding Teaching Award in 1980 and 1988, and the school’s Excellence in Teaching award in 1989. Dr. Debassay has received many other educational and industry awards and has been appointed to the state’s Board of Accountancy. Originally educated in Ethiopia, he earned his MBA and PhD from Syracuse University. Although currently inactive, Dr. Debessary has earned professional certifications as a Certified Management Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor, and Certified Public Accountant.

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    Johnny Morris, PhD, Lynn University

    Dr. Morris teaches a variety of graduate and doctoral online courses through this private school, including basic accounting and leadership. Dr. Morris received his Ph.D. from Capella University and his MBA from Nova Southeastern University. Previously, he’s held a variety of leadership positions in the financial sectors, including banks and public holding companies. His areas of research include strategic management, leadership, and organizational behavior, and he encourages companies to regularly look at their values and overall strategies.

Admission Requirements - Online MBA in Accounting

Drawn from the programs above, here are the common application requirements to earn admissions to an online MBA in accounting:

  • Completion of certain pre-requisite business and finance courses or an abridged overview for candidates with non-business backgrounds
  • A competitive GPA from a bachelor’s degree in a field that focused on business, finance, statistics, math, or economics
  • Some schools ask for a GMAT score; GMAT scores may be waived under certain conditions
  • A personal statement of goals and objectives
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Some professional experience in a business/financial field, often 1-2 years
  • International students must complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Accreditation

Accreditation means that a school or program has a curriculum which adheres to established standards in a discipline. The accreditation process, carried out by a third-party accreditation agency. Several accrediting organizations are common for business programs.

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) focuses on promoting and improving programs in business administration, management, and related courses such as operations, human resources, and real estate. It recognizes the importance of faculty research and providing solid knowledge foundations to students enrolled in business programs. AACSB accreditation has been awarded to about 799 schools in 53 territories, mainly larger programs with a stronger institutional focus. An additional 185 have a specialized accreditation for accounting programs.

Another related accreditation organization is the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). ACBSP is a newer organization that focuses on tangible learning outcomes and quality improvement, especially as workforce demands change. There are about 2,983 ACBSP accredited programs worldwide.

As a final note, because most students are interested in pursuing a CPA or more advanced accounting professional titles following graduation, some schools follow standards recognized by state or national accounting organizations such as the American Institutes of CPA or the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.