Studying Taxation: Master's Degrees and Online Class Information at a Glance
Even though accounting majors, master's in accounting and MBA candidates may study taxation as part of their degree programs, a master's degree in taxation program involves intensive study of taxation alone. With these degrees, you could be prepared for advanced positions in taxation through acquisition of technical and research skills. Your coursework might help you prepare for and meet requirements of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for its CPA examination or the Internal Revenue Service's Enrolled Agent test.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected job opportunities for all occupations to grow 14% overall from 2010-2020. Opportunities for accountants and auditors may grow 16%. You might find AICPA publications useful for identifying potential career paths.
|Who is this training for?|| Individuals who want mid to upper-level taxation positions |
|Common Career Paths (with approximate salary)|| - Tax accountant ($59,000 - bachelor's with 2-4 years of experience)* |
- Senior tax accountant ($75,000 - bachelor's and 4-6 years of experience)*
- Estate planning consultant ($83,000 - bachelor's with 7 years of experience)*
- Tax manager ($104,000 - bachelor's with 7 years of experience)*
- Tax director ($151,000 - bachelor's with 10 years of experience)*
|Time to Completion|| - 1 year full-time for master's in taxation or accounting |
- 2 years full-time for MBA
|Common Graduation Requirements|| - Approximately 30 credits for master's degree in taxation or accounting |
- Approximately 60-70 credits for MBA
|Prerequisites|| - Bachelor's degree |
- Students who did not major in accounting as an undergraduate may need to meet accounting prerequisites prior to or during the program.
|Online Availability||Online study is available for accounting or taxation master's degrees and MBA programs.|
Source: *Salary.com (2012 median salary).
Master's Degrees Covering Taxation
In a taxation degree program, you could learn to understand concepts and to research, analyze and solve tax problems. You might take a master's program in either taxation or accounting, or explore taxation as a concentration within an MBA curriculum. You could learn to address tax compliance and planning issues and to make appropriate decisions when faced with ethical problems. Programs sometimes collaborate with law schools.
Depending on your choice of advanced electives, you might prepare for a career in public accounting, private industry or government. You might specialize in areas that include but are not limited to bankruptcy, various types of corporate and business organizations, estate planning, pension and profit-sharing plans, real estate or tax-exempt organizations. Combined bachelor's and master's degrees or dual graduate degrees in law or business may be available.
Pros and Cons of a Master's Degree Covering Taxation
- You could learn to analyze tax statues, regulations and rulings.
- Combined with an undergraduate degree in accounting, this program could qualify you to take the CPA exam.
- Self-employment is an option.
- In-depth taxation knowledge gained in a master's in taxation program may be highly valued by employers.
- Success meeting goals may be influenced by degree selection, since master's degrees in taxation or accounting are targeted programs to develop practitioner expertise, while MBAs are broad-based management programs.
- Students without prior accounting background may have to make an extra effort to be competitive.
- Employers who want auditing or management consulting skills may prefer candidates with a master's in accounting or an MBA.
Courses and Requirements
You may be able to take more tax courses in a master's in taxation than in a master's in accounting or an MBA program. Depending on your undergraduate background, you may be able to waive some courses and substitute them with advanced courses. Core taxation courses could include federal, state and local taxation, corporate and partnership procedures and professional responsibility.
You might take advanced courses like these in a master's program covering taxation:
- Controllership and cost management
- Estate and gift taxation and planning
- Consolidated returns
- Trust and estates
- Pension and profit-sharing plans
- Taxation of financial instruments
Online Class Options
Completely online master's in taxation or accounting or MBA programs are available from both traditional and online schools. Schools may offer full or part-time programs. Flexible courses or programs could be convenient for students with work or other obligations who also meet the same requirements as for on-campus courses.
In some programs, you could view on-campus classes in real time, or on-demand at a time that better suits your schedule. You might participate in online discussions and take examinations with a local proctor. Organizations like AICPA may offer online training or CEU units.
Standing Out with a Master's Degree in Taxation
You might have part-time work, internship or tax clinic opportunities. Student organizations may provide leadership opportunities. You could attend AICPA conferences and networking events. You may have opportunities to work with a tax research institute to develop grant or research proposals. Some schools may offer study abroad options that could help you understand international taxation in the context of foreign culture, geography and politics. You might pursue a dual degree in law.