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Is An Online Master's In Accounting Worth It?

Considering studying an online Master's in Accounting? From flexibility to virtual networking, and salary prospects—find out if the degree is worth it


Wed Aug 17 2022

If you’re looking to develop your strategic and problem-solving skills in pursuit of a successful career in the accounting or finance space, then studying an online Master's in Accounting could be for you.

Studying a master’s degree in accounting online means you can benefit from being able to balance your learning around personal and professional commitments.

BusinessBecause spoke to an alum and a current student from the University of Illinois Gies College of Business to find out whether an Online Master's in Accounting is worth it.

Online Master's in Accounting costs

Studying your master’s degree online is often a more affordable option than joining a full-time, on-campus program. The University of Illinois online Master of Science in Accountancy (iMSA), for instance, costs between $20,600 - $27,000, depending on the chosen elective courses. Meanwhile, on-campus master’s in accounting tuition and fees can range from $30k to as high as $70k. 

To reduce costs even further, Gies online master’s in accounting students can apply for needs-based scholarships. These can cover up to 70% of tuition and fees.

Some students may use the master’s as a springboard into the accounting field, while others may be experienced professionals looking to advance to a senior position at a top firm. Regardless of which category you fall into, being able to study an online master’s in accounting means that you can continue to work toward you degree without having to quit your job or put your life on hold.

Online Master's in Accounting curriculum

A Master's in Accounting degree teaches accounting theory and practice alongside leadership and data analytics skills.

The core courses in the iMSA include topics like Accounting Analysis, Managerial Accounting, Auditing, and US Federal Taxation. Students can then choose electives in technical areas like data-driven decision making and machine learning. 

iMSA grad Mario Elizalde used his online Master's in Accounting to help him prepare for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. The CPA provides accounting professionals with a globally recognized credential that certifies their accounting expertise.

“The program is very hands-on. We worked on various team projects based on real-life business cases which taught me data analysis, how to formulate strategies, and has given me a broader perspective of the field of taxation,” says Mario. 

Whatever stage you are in your career, an online Master's in Accounting can further enhance your knowledge in the accounting industry. 

Michelle Lubbe is an MBA grad who is currently studying the online Master's in Accounting program at Illinois Gies. She’s continuing with her role as a financial director of mergers and acquisitions in a large chemical company while completing her master’s degree online.

Despite her experience and educational background, Michelle explains that she didn’t have the robust accounting knowledge and skills she desired. Studying the program online, she adds, helps her to immediately apply her learnings to her role and opens further career opportunities.

“Every time I picked up my book or engaged in a class, I learned something that I could apply directly to my work on a day-to-day basis.” 

Online Master's in Accounting networking opportunities

Even when studying a Master's in Accounting online, there are still plenty of opportunities to connect with other students, alumni, and faculty to build your professional network. 

During the Illinois iMSA, students use immersive online platforms that provide access to job postings. Learners also have access to Facebook Workplace, where Gies online students can connect and seek career tips and advice.

Mario says he’s used social media groups and online platforms to network even after receiving a job offer. 

“I didn’t expect the technology to be so flawless and to have such a direct connection with so many people—you really have that feeling of community,” he says.  

Studying online usually means working alongside people from all walks of life. The Illinois online Master's in Accountancy cohort is comprised of students from 30+ US states and nearly a dozen countries across the world.

“Even when I’m sitting at home, it feels like I’m in a classroom with everyone,” Michelle says. 

Online Master's in Accounting jobs and salaries

There’s an array of exciting job opportunities for Master's in Accounting grads across industries like advisory services, investment banking, tech, and accountancy.

83% of corporate recruiters plan to hire Master's in Accounting grads in 2022, according to the 2022 GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey.

Earning a Master's in Accounting degree can also increase your salary potential. At Big Four accountancy firm PwC, senior accountants earn around $80k including bonuses and compensation. Over in the big tech industry, Google offers salaries of around $124k to senior accountants. 

After recently graduating from the Illinois iMSA, Mario is starting a new role as an entry-level accountant and planning to work his way up the career ladder. 

Online Master's in Accounting programs helps students gain the skills and confidence to launch into accounting careers, while helping those who wish to advance to senior level roles within their current companies. This means that grads are likely to see a strong return on investment (ROI) after completing the degree. 

“Studying the online Master's in Accounting has made me the happiest I’ve ever been professionally,” Mario says.