Study Auditing: Master's Degrees & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a auditing master's degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of master's degrees and potential careers.
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Auditing Master's Degrees: At a Glance

A bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field is sufficient to begin a career in auditing. However, if you want to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) you will likely need an extra year of education. As a result, many schools offer a 'fifth year' master's program (to be completed immediately after a bachelor's degree in accounting is obtained), in which students can learn advanced accounting skills and acquire specializations in their field.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that employment of accountants and auditors would grow 16% from 2010 to 2020, due to an increased business need to comply with new financial regulations. Applicants with advanced degrees and CPA certification typically have improved job prospects, according to the BLS. However, competition remains strong for employment with prestigious accounting and business firms.

Master's
Who is this degree for? - Bachelor's degree holders who want to sit for the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) or Certified Management Accounting (CMA) exam
- Experienced professionals who want to advance their careers
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary) - Accountants and auditors ($70,000 - may vary with experience)*
Time to Completion Typically two semesters for students with a bachelor's degree in a related field (full-time)
Common Graduation Requirements - Maintain GPA standards
- Complete coursework
Prerequisites - Transcripts from all undergraduate/graduate programs
- Meet GPA requirements
- GMAT results
- Letters of recommendation
- Interview, if applicable
- Prerequisite courses in accounting may apply for students who do not possess a bachelor's degree in accounting or related major
Online Availability Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 mean figures).

Auditing Master's Degrees

As a student in a typical master's degree program, you will learn advanced accounting skills, which will prepare you for taking the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam. Students should note that it may be challenging to find master's degrees in auditing; however, accounting master's degree programs provide similar curricula and are widely available. Degree programs may vary with each school, but they are generally formatted as a 30-credit Master of Science (MS) in Accounting (or similar title).

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • To sit for the CPA exam, you will likely need 150 hours of college-level coursework, which is more than a typical bachelor's degree program. As a result, many students go on to complete a one-year master's program.
  • According to the BLS, job applicants with master's degrees may have an edge over individuals with bachelor's degrees.
  • Some schools offer graduate assistantships, which can include tuition benefits or a small salary. Keep in mind that these opportunities may be competitive.

Cons

  • Professional experience is important in this industry, so you will likely need relevant work experience in addition to your master's degree.
  • In this field, it is common to work long hours at certain times throughout the year (particularly at the end of the budget year or during tax season).
  • If your undergraduate degree is not in accounting or a related field, you will likely need to complete prerequisite courses.

Common Courses and Requirements

To obtain a degree, you will need to complete coursework and maintain a satisfactory grade point average. You will likely study courses on the following topics:

  • Accounting and information systems
  • Financial statement analysis
  • Business law
  • Advanced auditing
  • International accounting

If you do not have a prior bachelor's degree in accounting (or in a related major), you will most likely need to complete prerequisite courses before you can begin your master's program. Typical prerequisite courses may include financial accounting, managerial accounting and financial reporting.

Online Degree Options

Like traditional on-campus programs, online auditing degrees may be hard to find, but similar accounting programs are widely available. Typically, admission and curriculum requirements are the same as on-campus programs. As a master's candidate in an online accounting program, you will likely devote several hours to independent study each week.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Graduates of accounting master's degree programs are qualified to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. Accountants and auditors with a CPA and several years of relevant experience are eligible to join professional organizations, such as the American Institute of CPAs, through which they can obtain additional credentials like the Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP). The Certified Internal Auditor credential is another popular certification for auditors. Most certifications require several years of professional experience in addition to education requirements.

Alternate Degrees

Students who are interested in financial and business topics may want to consider an alternate degree: the Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in accounting. MBA programs train future business leaders to manage projects, staff and budgets. MBA programs typically last two years and may include an internship component that provides practical professional experience.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MA-Accountancy
      • MA/Accountancy - Accounting
      • MBA - Finance
      • MBA - Media Management
      • MBA - Business Economics
      • MBA
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Accounting
      • MS in Accounting
      • MBA: Finance
      • MBA
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin: Accounting
      • Master: Accounting
      • Master of Business Admin: Finance
      • Master of Business Admin
  • Campus and Online Programs
    4. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - Internet Marketing
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Financial Management
      • Master of Science in Accounting
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA
      • MBA - Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Professional Accounting
      • Master of Finance
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
      • Master of Arts in Law - Business
      • Master of Arts in Law - Wealth Management/Financial Planning
      • Master of Business Administration - Finance and Investing
      • Master of Business Administration - Franchising
      • Master of Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting & Healthcare Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Human Resources
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
  • Online Programs Available
    10. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
      • Master of Business Admin: Finance

Featured Schools

Ashford University

  • MA-Accountancy
  • MA/Accountancy - Accounting
  • MBA - Finance

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • MBA: Accounting
  • MS in Accounting
  • MBA: Finance

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Master of Business Admin: Accounting
  • Master: Accounting
  • Master of Business Admin: Finance

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Full Sail University

  • M.S. - Internet Marketing
  • M.S. - Entertainment Business

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • MBA - Financial Management
  • Master of Science in Accounting
  • Master of Business Admin - General Business

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Master of Professional Accounting
  • Master of Finance

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
  • Master of Arts in Law - Business
  • Master of Arts in Law - Wealth Management/Financial Planning

What is your highest level of education completed?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

What is your highest level of education?