A Comprehensive Course Guide on Masters in Accounting in USA

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    Sonal Vaid

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    Masters in Accounting in the USA is a 1-2 years program for students aspiring a career in professional accounting. The course also prepares students for the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) examination.

    • Students with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and curriculum including statistics and calculus can apply for this program.
    • As per the QS Global Rankings 2020, 28 top universities in USA are ranked among the best Accounting and Finance institutes of the world. 
    • Accounting professionals can expect a median salary of 70,000 USD annually.

    As a fact, accounting studies are of great demand making it a worthwhile program for international students to study in USA.

    Study in the USA: Face the facts

    There is hardly any reason for not pursuing higher education in the USA. Here’s why:

    • About 5.5% of the higher education population in the US are international students.
    • Times Higher Education Employability Ranking for 2019 found the US topping the list with 56 of its universities finding prominent places.
    • More than 80% of the population of the US speaks English for which international students do not face problems in communicating.
    • As per WES reports, 82% of international alumni receive a satisfactory job within 6 months from program completion.
    • The report also claimed that 74% of employers value a US degree more. Thus, it greatly boosts a career even after students return to home countries. 

    Why study Masters in Accounting in USA?

    The USA is the largest economy in the world and so most of the biggest companies are headquartered here. This makes employability a favorable factor for international students in the USA.

    • Top accounting firms termed as ‘Big Four’: Ernst &Young, Deloitte, PwC, and KPMG are headquartered in the US. These firms provide an entry-level package of 85,000 USD to accounting postgraduates. 
    • As the accounting industry of the US contributes 156 billion USD of revenue, graduates can expect the most lucrative jobs as well.
    • However, only 20% of accounting graduates take up a master’s program. As a result, there is a greater demand for accounting postgraduates in the industry.
    • Accountants earn an average wage of 90,000 USD annually with 2.64% growth every year.
    • As per the data of 2018, around 11.5 million accounting workforce in the USA projects a net growth of 3.14% every year.
    Number of Accountants in USA

    Additionally, the US accounting industry also exhibits a wider global and ethnic diversity with India upholding maximum share among all non-US employees. 

    Top Universities offering Masters in Accounting in USA

    More than 16 colleges in the US have made it to the top 50 Accounting and Finance colleges of the world. Among these, the 10 US universities offering masters in accounting with details are listed below:

    University QS Ranking Degree Offered Program Duration (year) Annual Tuition Fees (in USD)
    University of Pennsylvania 7 MBA Accounting 2 81,378
    New York University (NYU) 10 Master of Science in Accounting 1 56,140
    Columbia University 12 Master of Science in Accounting and Fundamental Analysis 1-1.5 76,195
    University of Michigan 26 Master of Accounting 1 55,328
    Northwestern University 31 MBA with Accounting Major 2 73,404
    Cornell University 34 Master of Professional Studies in Management (Accounting Specialization) 1 58,586
    University of Texas 37 Master of Professional Accounting 1 45,321
    Boston College 51-100 MS in Accounting 1 56,580
    Michigan State University 51-100 Master of Science in Accounting 1 51,855
    Ohio State University 51-100 Master of Accounting 9 months 56,426

    Masters in Accounting in USA: Course and Curriculum

    Master of Accounting in USA is usually a 30-credit score program spanning over 1 to a maximum of 2 years. 

    • The curriculum focuses on core accounting concepts along with business strategy, and finances.
    • Some common concentrations include:
      • Accounting Information System
      • Financial Reporting and Services
      • managerial, Forensic and Government Accounting
      • Control
      • Audit
      • Assurance
    • On completion of this program, students can also apply for CPA (Certified Public Accountant) examination. 

    Course Highlights

    Course Masters in Accounting
    Duration 1-2 years
    Eligibility Undergraduate degree in Accounting
    Examination pattern Semester-wise
    Exams RequiredAdmission process GMAT/GRE and TOEFL/IELTS
    Tuition fee 54,000 USD- 82,000 USD/year
    Job roles Auditor, Financial Analyst, Managerial Accountant, Corporate Controller, Forensic Accountant, Chief Financial Officer, etc.
    Entry-level package 58,000 USD-85,000 USD/ annually

    Types of Degrees Offered

    Masters in Accounting for international students is offered through different types of degrees at universities in the USA which are as follows:

    • Master of Science (MS) in Accounting or Master of Science in Accounting and Fundamental Analysis: This course is a STEM discipline and more mathematical and analytical in its approach.
    • Master of Business Administration (MBA) Accounting-Major: This course is tailored for students seeking a career in business and specifically in the accounting field.
    • Masters of Accounting (MAcc)/ Master of Professional Accounting (MPA): This professional course that allows students to prepare for CPA examinations.

    CPA (Certified Public Accountant)

    • CPA exams give a successful accounting student the license to provide accounting services in the USA.This makes it a prerequisite for every accountant to pass this examination.
    • The exam is structured into 4 segments: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG) and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC).
    • Each section is awarded with 4 hours for completion. Students can complete more than 1 and even 4 sections in one testing window. 
    • Scores of the exam remain valid for the next 18 months.

    Masters in Accounting in USA: Admissions

    To apply for MS in Accountancy at the intended college, students need to keep a note of the admission application procedures in USA, deadlines and decision-making process stated below:

    How to Apply?

    • As requirements regarding admissions are specific to each university, students can always look up to the official websites for better comprehension. 
    • Application procedure is conducted online. As a fact students need to keep track of the admission dates and deadlines. 
    • Also, scanned and original copies of each document need to be handy to avoid any form of delay. 

    Dates and Deadline

    • Application to US colleges takes place for two sessions: Fall (mid-December to mid-April) and Spring (mid-October). 
    • For each session, there are about 2-3 cycles for accepting applications. 
    • Deadlines for each US university vary, however, students applying post-deadline are treated on a case-by-case basis.
    • International students are always encouraged to apply for admissions at least a year before their intended joining year. This is to ensure that they are able to apply for student visas and make travel arrangements to USA.

    Note: Incomplete applications are not accepted and definitely not reviewed for admissions. 

    Masters in Accounting in USA: Eligibility

    The academic requirements for Masters(MS) in Accounting in USA vary with universities, details for which are stated below:

    English language Requirement

    All international students who are not native English speakers, have to take English proficiency tests like TOEFL and IELTS.

    • The minimum score for TOEFL on paper-based is 600, on internet-based is 100 and 250 for computer-based.
    • Minimum band score for IELTS is 7.5.

    Entrance Examinations

    For entry into Masters in Accounting, students are required to provide scores of standardized exams to study in USA such as GMAT or GRE. Yet, some like Boston College certainly do not require GMAT for international applicants. 

    • There is no specific score earmarked for clear admission into the MS in Accounting programs.
    • However, following are the average scores for 2019 entering batches in some of the elite US universities:
      • GMAT: Students obtaining an average total score of 752 and more can expect to be through the admission process.
      • GRE: Average score for verbal should be 162 whereas for quantitative around 167. 

    University-specific Requirements

    University Minimum UG Requirement GMAT (Average Total) GRE (Average) TOEFL (iBT) Scores IELTS Scores Required Work Experience (years)
    University of Pennsylvania 83%-86% (3.0 GPA) 732 Verbal and Quantitative: 156 100 7.5 Not necessary
    New York University (NYU) 83%-86% (3.2 GPA) GMAT waiver GRE waiver 100 7.0 At Least 2.5
    Columbia University 90%-92% (3.7 GPA) 752 Quantitative:167; Verbal: 160 112 -- Not required, but desirable
    University of Michigan 89% (3.4 GPA) 612 Quantitative: 159;Verbal: 149 88 6.5 Relevant full-time job or internship
    Northwestern University 85% (3.0 GPA) 730 No minimum score required 90 6.5 2
    Cornell University 3.42 GPA 696 Not required 77 7.0 2-3
    University of Texas 87% (3.2 GPA) 704 300 79 6.5 Not required
    Boston College 91% (3.6 GPA) 660-700 Optional 100 7.0 Not required
    Michigan State University 85% (3.0 GPA) 674 Quantitative: 164; Verbal: 153 80 -- Not required
    Ohio State University 91% (3.6 GPA) 680 164 80 7.0 Not required

    Documents Checklist

    For a complete admission procedure, students must keep these documents handy:

    • Proof of online admission application
    • Current resume
    • Academic transcripts from each college/university that granted degrees
    • GMAT and GRE scores cards
    • Evidences of TOEFL/IELTS scores
    • Personal Essay
    • 2 Letters of recommendation

    Admission Decision

    • Admission decisions are made based on a number of criteria like GRE/GMAT scores, language proficiency, academic records, and work experience.
    •  All these factors determine the strength of applications arriving from different corners of the world. 

    Visa to Study in USA(F-1 Visa)

    Students applying for a full-time course can apply for an F-1 student visa to USA. This validates a student’s stay for the entire duration of the program.

    • Visa acceptance rate for the US is 80%, hence availability will not be a bigger issue if conditions are strictly followed.
    • Students need to submit an online application for a visa to study in the USA with an amount of 180 USD.
    • Applicants need to make sure that bank balance supports the entire study duration. 
    • Keep in hand bank statements proving scholarships (if offered)
    • Documents required for a student visa application to USA:
      • Online application form (D-160)
      • Valid passport
      • Fee payment receipt (SEVIS)
      • 1 copy of interview letter
      • Birth Certificate

    Masters in Accounting in USA: Cost of Study

    Cost of studying MS in Accounting in the USA can be broadly categorized into pre-arrival expenses, tuition fees, cost of living, etc. The estimates for each segment are stated below:

    Pre-Arrival Expenses

    Pre-arrival expenses are related to visa-application, airfare, standardized tests, etc. Before heading to the US, these are some expenses to be borne which are as follows:

    Types of Expenses Expenses (USD)
    Visa application 190
    IELTS 174
    TOEFL 180
    GRE 205
    GMAT 250
    Airfare 1,050

    Tuition Fees for Masters in Accounting in USA

    Tuition fee for masters in accounting studies in the USA ranges between as low as 50,000 USD and as high as 85,000 USD per year. This excludes all the additional expenses pertaining to admission and semester fees, library charges and books or other supplies.

    Annual Tuition Fees for Masters in Accounting in USA

    Cost of Living

    Cost of living is an important aspect for students planning to study in a foreign land. Among all the expenses, US student accommodation crunches most of the budgets. Here’s a peek into the estimates for living in USA:

    Types of Expenses Expenses per month (USD)
    Share Rental/ Hostel 500
    Groceries 300
    Eating Out 50
    Public Transport 100
    Phone bills and internet 100
    Electricity 100
    Health Insurance 450- 700

    Thus, international students can expect ± 1150 USD a month. This amounts to approximately 14,000 USD per year. However, this cost estimation is subject to change if individual spending habits are taken in consideration.

    Masters in Accounting: Scholarship

    Tuition fees for MS in Accounting in the USA are undoubtedly pretty up the scale. However, there are suitable arrangements for paying this hefty price through scholarships available in abounds. Here are a few of the popular scholarships for international students in USA:

    Scholarship University Eligibility Scholarship Award (USD) Application Deadline
    Penn GSE Merit-Based Scholarship University of Pennsylvania International students in first year of master's education Not disclosed Application not required
    Master of Science in Accounting Scholarship New York University Master of Science in Accounting 10,000 Apply at the time of admission
    MPA Merit Scholarships and Tuition waiver University of Texas Students applying for MPA program, merit-based Variable Application not required
    John School Scholarship Cornell University Merit-based 5,000-10,000 Additional application not required
    Partial Fellowship Columbia University Meritorious MS applicants Not disclosed Additional application not required
    Merit-Based Scholarship Boston College Meritorious MS in Accounting students 7,000 Require indication at the time of admission

    Masters in Accounting: Scope & Job Opportunities

    Studying in the USA has the potential to add a much-needed edge to a student’s career path. Aside from world-class education, the US has something more to offer an aspiring accountant:

    • Quoting the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupations in accounting operations will see a projected growth rate of 7% by 2028. 
    • Global market, tax systems, and regulators are heightening complexities in accounting practices. Thus, creating a demand for 591,800 accountants and auditors in the USA.
    • Median salary of accountants in the US is around 68,350 USD, unlike other occupations that have an annual wage of 38,640 USD.
    • With less than 25% of accounting professionals earning a minimum of 57,000 USD a year, high-paying jobs are a normality.

    Below stated are some of the probable job opportunities in USA after MS in Accounting: 

    Job Roles Annual Median Salary (USD)
    Loan Officer 63,040
    Cost Estimator 64,040
    Purchasing Manager 67,600
    Insurance Underwriter 69,060
    Accountants and auditors 70,000
    Budget Analysts 76,220
    Financial Examiner 80,180
    Financial Analyst 85,660
    Personal Financial Advisor 88,890
    Financial Manager 124,250

    Bottom line is, despite the high tuition fee and living expenses to bear with, the quality of education surpasses all these demerits. Also, both employability rate and annual payoffs for accounting professionals are higher on the scale. These factors are the only reasons why studying a Masters in Accounting in USA makes it worthwhile. 


    Ques. What is the basic eligibility requirement to study Masters in Accounting in US?

    Ans. Students need to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or related subjects equivalent to a US-based 4 -years bachelor’s degree.Topics like precalculus and statistics should be a part of the curriculum. Minimum GPA of 3.0 (85%) is acceptable.

    Ques. Is a Masters in Accounting in USA for international students worth it?

    Ans. Yes, even though tuition fees are high, students can expect an entry-level package of 75,000 USD to 85,000USD. This makes the study worthwhile.

    Ques. Is there a possibility to study masters in accounting in US without GMAT?

    Ans. Yes, there are universities like New York University (NYU) that do not require either GMAT or GRE score for admissions in masters in accounting studies. 

    Ques. Which are the best one year masters in accounting programs?

    Ans. Some of the best one year master’s in accounting programs are offered by New York University, Boston College and University of Pennsylvania.

    Ques. Are there masters programs in accounting for non-accounting majors in bachelors?

    Ans. Yes, a masters in accounting courses provided by University of Kansas, University of North Carolina, Florida State University, University of Virginia. These cover students who do not take accounting in bachelor’s.