Best MBA Programs in Accounting 2022

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Updated September 26, 2022

Wondering if a master's in business administration is the right option for you? Discover the difference between this program and other accounting master's degrees.

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The master of business administration (MBA) degree dates back to 1908. Over the past century, this graduate program has flourished. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), business programs consistently ranked as the most popular master's degrees from 2010-2019.

With such high demand, many schools offer MBA programs with concentrations like accounting. Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) reported a 30.3% enrollment increase in MBA programs with concentrations between 2011-12 and 2016-17. The accounting concentration ranked as the most popular.

An MBA in accounting combines financial, business, and leadership topics. Yet an accounting MBA program provides a broader business education than a master's in accounting program.

Students interested in accounting, financial, or managerial positions may consider an accounting MBA program. Below, we have ranked the top MBA programs with this accounting concentration. You can also learn about admissions requirements, popular courses, and potential careers.

Why Get an MBA Degree in Accounting?

  • Increased Salary: An MBA imparts an advanced credential and many marketable skills, like leadership and strategy planning. Employers may offer higher salaries for this desirable skill set. As of April 2022, Payscale reported that finance and accounting MBA graduates earned an average salary of $95,000. This totals $20,000 more than the reported average wages for accountants with a bachelor's degree.
  • Job Diversity and Security: An accounting MBA program combines finance, business, and marketing topics. This comprehensive education often allows graduates to pursue various career paths. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also showed that higher education can offer more job security. It reported a 1.4% lower unemployment rate in 2020 for workers with a master's degree than those with a bachelor's degree.
  • Certification Preparation: An MBA degree in accounting can prepare students to become certified public accountants (CPAs). An accounting concentration covers CPA exam topics like financial accounting and auditing. Certain MBA accounting programs may offer a CPA preparation track. Graduates can also pursue other certifications like certified internal auditors or certified management accountants.

What to Expect From an Accounting MBA

Most accounting MBA programs require 33-36 credits. Prospective accounting MBA students can pursue this degree online or on campus, depending on their preferences and availability. Many online programs feature asynchronous attendance that allows students to watch lectures on their own schedule. This format makes it possible for working professionals to complete their degree during after-work hours.

MBA timelines vary, with part-time, full-time, and accelerated timelines available. The traditional full-time MBA takes two years to complete, but accelerated programs can take as few as 12 months. Part-time programs may take more than two years, but accelerated part-time options sometimes allow students to finish within two years by taking courses year-round.

Accounting MBA admission requirements vary by program, but often include an accredited bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and adequate GMAT or GRE scores. Many MBA programs also require 1-2 years of business-related professional experience. Applicants typically submit a resume, a personal statement, transcripts, and standardized test scores. Some programs may require interviews.

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Degree and Concentration Options

MBA programs in accounting combine core business administration courses with accounting specialization courses. The business core usually includes coursework in economics, finance, marketing, and management. Accounting courses may explore taxes and business strategy, financial accounting, and auditing theory and practice.

Many online accounting MBA programs allow students to further specialize their degree by earning concentrations based on specific roles, fields, or disciplines. Concentrations may include healthcare management, international business, operations management, or finance.

Some MBA programs feature cohort-based learning, and most involve some sort of collaborative learning. Professors also use case studies to give students opportunities to analyze and solve realistic business problems. Many MBA programs also feature an internship or experience component.

MBA With an Accounting Concentration vs. Master's in Accounting

Common degree alternatives to an MBA in accounting include a master of science (MS) in accounting or a master of accountancy (MAcc). These master's programs share many similarities with an MBA in accounting degree. Yet the classes and potential career paths can vary. The chart below compares several key factors of both program types.

Comparing an MBA and Master's in Accounting
Key Factor MBA in Accounting Master's in Accounting
Potential Career Paths Financial manager, senior management executive, chief financial officer, business development manager, CPA CPA, financial consultant, financial analyst, audit manager, accounting manager
Potential industries Government, finance and insurance, manufacturing Corporate finance, government, nonprofit organizations
Typical Student Profile Has bachelor's degree; aspiring manager or business owner; often no accounting background Has bachelor's degree, often in accounting; aspiring CPA, CMA, or CFE; working professionals
Program Length 10-24 months 9-24 months
Required Credits 30-54 credits 30-36 credits
Example Classes Financial reporting, marketing and strategy, leadership, operations management, quantitative methods, international accounting Accounting and business analysis, auditing, taxation, fraud examination, financial reporting, ethics in accounting
Program Tuition $10,300-$33,600 $18,700-$38,600
Admission Requirements GMAT/GRE scores, transcripts, resume, recommendation letters, essays GMAT/GRE scores, transcripts, essays, resume, recommendation letters, prerequisite accounting courses

As shown above, the two programs have similar program lengths and tuition. Both degrees may also prepare graduates for the CPA exam. Yet those looking for an intensive accounting core might pursue a master's in accounting.

Likewise, aspiring executives and managers can opt for an MBA in accounting. The MBA program includes a comprehensive curriculum that covers management, leadership, and accounting. The broad education also allows graduates to pursue various career paths.

Admissions Process

Most schools expect MBA applicants to hold at least a bachelor's degree. Some programs expect students to have completed undergraduate accounting or economics courses. Yet others accept applicants with any educational background.

Students must submit an online application and all college transcripts. Many institutions set a 3.0 minimum GPA requirement. However, individuals that prove work experience can often apply with lower GPAs.

GMAT — and often GRE — scores can also supplement applications. However, some schools have completely removed these testing requirements. Other programs only expect these scores for students with lower GPAs or limited professional experience.

Other common application materials include a resume, recommendation letters, and essays. Many schools charge an application fee, which can range from $20-275.

Popular Master of Business Administration Courses

A typical accounting MBA includes a business core that covers leadership and management topics. Some programs also include introductory classes for students with no undergraduate business or accounting experience. These courses may explore business foundations or intermediate accounting courses.

The accounting concentration generally includes three classes, although several programs require more. Students can often select at least one elective. Some programs offer specific accounting courses for aspiring CPAs. An MBA program generally finishes with a capstone project.

Four standard accounting MBA courses can include:

  • Marketing Management: This course explores the entire marketing process, from research to advertising. Students may review case studies and analyze strategies to attract new customers. The class prepares learners to manage a firm and lead a marketing team.
  • Legal and Ethical Environment of Business: Students learn how the law applies to various business issues, exploring ethics and law in corporate, government, and nonprofit sectors. This course may also review how to use ethics and law when developing policies and strategies.
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting: This course is often part of the accounting concentration. Some programs require two courses on this topic. It covers how to analyze and prepare financial statements. Students learn about valuation and revenue recognition. The class gives learners an advanced look at liabilities, error analysis, and consolidations.
  • MBA Capstone Course: During the final semester, this course typically combines theory from all business areas. Students apply learned material from marketing, accounting, and economics classes. They explore policy formation and strategic planning. This course helps develop analytical and decision-making skills.

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How Much Do Accounting MBA Programs Cost?

Costs for accounting MBA programs vary greatly depending on the institution type and program format. The total tuition generally ranges between $15,000 and $30,000. Some more prestigious institutions may charge over $150,000 for the two-year program.

Tuition can also vary within an institution. Many schools increase per-credit costs for out-of-state students, potentially doubling the overall expenses. Students may also pay technology, graduation, and activity fees.

Yet, affordable accounting degree options exist with some totaling just over $10,000. These cost-effective programs often occur online. The virtual format often cuts costs for institutions and students alike. Many online programs lower costs for out-of-state students and remove extra fees.

Accounting students can consider various financing options to help cover the costs. They can apply for financial awards, like grants and scholarships. Many graduate students also pursue fellowship opportunities through their school. Other options include federal or private loans.

Should You Get Your MBA in Accounting Online?

In 2019, the NCES reported over 7.3 million distance education students. Online learning continues to increase in popularity, especially at the graduate level. According to the Education Data Initiative, graduate students are almost 19% more likely to choose online learning than undergraduate learners.

Many online graduate programs — particularly MBA programs — cater to working professionals. The scheduling flexibility allows learners to continue working while pursuing a degree. Online accounting MBA programs may also provide an affordable learning experience.

Yet students should weigh all factors before applying to an online program. Online learners need excellent time-management skills. An online MBA in accounting may also require significant time and resource investments.

Explore more reasons to earn an accounting master's online to find out if the distance education experience suits you.

MBA Jobs and Salaries

MBA graduates can pursue various career paths, often in management. According to the BLS, management positions offer the highest salaries. In May 2021, the median salary for managers totaled $102,450.

An MBA accounting concentration compares to a finance concentration. Graduates from both programs may become financial managers or analysts. Yet an accounting concentration often explores tax and auditing in depth.

Depending on the program, the accounting concentration can prepare students to become tax consultants, auditors, or CPAs. The BLS reports a median salary of $77,250 for auditors and accountants.

Financial Analysts

Financial analysts advise businesses on economic decisions. They review current trends and stock performance to advise companies on investments. Some financial analysts focus on developing and managing a business' investment portfolio. Others may analyze risks and advise on how to limit losses.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree, typically in business; many employers expect a master's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): +6%
Median Annual Salary: $81,410
Source: BLS

Financial Managers

Financial managers advise company executives or senior managers on how to create more profit. They prepare financial reports and track investments. Some financial managers specialize in cash flow or risk management. Professionals often work in the finance and insurance sector.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree, typically in business
Job Outlook (2020-30): +17%
Median Annual Salary: $131,710
Source: BLS

Business Development Manager

Business development managers help companies increase their profits. They primarily analyze overall sales performance. Their responsibilities include creating strategies to increase revenue and targeting new leads. As managers, they often lead and train a team. Business development managers need communication and financial skills to create sales strategies.

Required Education: At least a bachelor's degree; many employers expect a master's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): +11%
Median Annual Salary: $120,130
Source: BLS

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

CPAs act as financial advisors and officers. They may work in government, public or corporate accounting, and nonprofit organizations. Like public accountants, CPAs work in auditing and tax consultation. Yet CPAs comply with extra educational and work requirements to receive their license. Many aspiring CPAs complete a master's degree to fulfill examination requirements.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree (typically in accounting) and 150 credits or a bachelor's-to-master's accounting program
Job Outlook (2020-30): +7%
Average Annual Salary (April 2022): $70,160
Source: BLS and Payscale

Selecting the Right Graduate Program

Selecting the right MBA program requires careful consideration. Aside from cost, you should take into account several other factors:

  • Accreditation: School accreditation shows that the program meets high education standards set by accrediting bodies. Apart from national and regional school-wide accreditation, look for program-specific accreditation. MBA programs often receive accreditation from the AACSB and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
  • Required Admission Materials: Expectations vary by school. Some request GMAT scores, work experience, and high GPAs. Other programs waive the testing requirement and only expect undergraduate transcripts.
  • Program Length: Most master's degree programs last two years. Yet many schools offer accelerated MBA programs. Students looking to quickly apply for managerial positions may select a shorter MBA program. Likewise, working individuals can opt for part-time courses that may take longer than two years to complete.
  • Networking Opportunities: Many schools connect students to an alumni network. Enrollees can seek mentoring or meet with potential employers. These networking opportunities can help launch your career post graduation.

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Top Accounting MBAs

An accounting MBA prepares managers who can provide advanced financial services. The degree may also prepare enrollees for the CPA exam and other certifications. This page ranks five of the top MBAs in accounting and outlines our methodology.

#1

University of California-Los Angeles

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 12%
Graduation Rate 92%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of California, Los Angeles is a research college recognized for rigorous academics and a world-class athletics program. UCLA enrolls about 40,000 students in programs taught by faculty that include Nobel laureates and MacArthur fellows.

Full-Time MBA in Accounting

UCLA's Anderson School of Management offers a master of business administration (MBA) with an extensive number of specializations. Students complete the MBA in accounting on a full-time basis. The required MBA core develops managerial expertise across functional business areas. 

Students choose which courses they want to take in the accounting specialization. Enrollees receive training in areas such as corporate valuation, corporate financial reporting, and financial reporting and equity. The program uniquely allows students to complete up to two concentrations of 15 available options. 

Accounting students may choose to diversify their skills with a concentration such as marketing analytics or investment management. Enrollees can also choose to apply their accounting skills in a field such as real estate, exploring issues such as real estate law and taxation. MBA students complete a two-semester applied management research project.

UCLA's Specializations

Accounting | Brand Management | Corporate Finance | Easton Technology Leadership | Entertainment | Entrepreneurship | Global Management | Healthcare Management | Kayne Investment Management | Leaders in Sustainability | Marketing Analytics | Real Estate | Executive Development | Social Impact | Consulting

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public 
  • Accreditations: Institutional: WASC Senior College and University Commission; Programmatic: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Tuition: $61,506 per year
  • Required Credits: 94 units
  • Program Length: 24 months
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Admissions
    • Process: Admission requires a bachelor's in any major, school transcripts, a resume, and essays. Applicants should also submit information about certifications such as the certified public accountant or chartered accountant.
    • GPA: N/A
    • Standardized Tests: GMAT or GRE
    • Cost: $200
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#2

University of California-Irvine

School Information
Location Irvine, California
Admission Rate 27%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Founded in 1965, the University of California, Irvine is ranked among the nation's top public colleges. A major research institution, UCI enrolls about 37,000 in 222 degree programs.

Full-Time MBA With a Focus in Accounting

The UCI Paul Merage School of Business develops the master of business administration (MBA) to prepare business leaders for a digitally driven world. Students complete the 92-unit degree on campus in 18-21 months. The first year of the full-time MBA focuses on developing enrollees' business acumen. 

Students advance their studies by customizing the MBA with one of four immersions or a focused area of study such as accounting. Accounting students use elective credits to learn how to perform financial statement analysis. They can study data analytics for accounting and valuation or cybersecurity risk management. Participants can also explore how to drive profitability through managerial accounting. 

All MBA students apply their expertise during competitions, study abroad, and a summer internship. 

UCI's Specializations

Digital Transformation | Healthcare Management and Policy | Innovation and Entrepreneurship | Real Estate and Urban Development 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Institutional: WASC Senior College and University Commission; Programmatic: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Tuition: $47,559 tuition per year for California residents; $57,515 per year for nonresidents
  • Required Credits: 92 units
  • Program Length: 18-21 months
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Admissions
    • Process: Admission requires a bachelor's degree, school transcripts, and 2-6 years of professional work experience. Applicants should also include information about professional certifications such as certified public accountant.
    • GPA: 3.0 preferred
    • Standardized Tests: GMAT or GRE with waivers available for qualified applicants
    • Cost: $150
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#3

University of California-Davis

School Information
Location Davis, California
Admission Rate 39%
Graduation Rate 87%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

At the University of California, Davis, students can pursue 107 academic majors and 101 graduate degrees. UC Davis operates schools of law, medicine, nursing, and veterinary medicine. The graduate school of management offers an online and on-campus master of business administration (MBA).

Full-Time MBA With a Concentration in Finance/Accounting

UC Davis administers a full-time MBA designed with flexibility in mind. Students study on campus in a close-knit learning community, completing 72 units in 24 months. Enrollees begin the program with an orientation before they launch into the MBA's core curriculum. Students develop skills in core functional areas such as accounting, finance, and marketing.

MBA students complete the finance/accounting concentration in the second year. Students choose which skills they want to learn from a portfolio of options that include business taxation and managerial accounting and controls. 

MBA students showcase their skills during team consulting projects and immersions with top business executives. Students can also use independent study and field work to enhance their real-world expertise.

UC Davis's Specializations

Business Analytics and Technologies | Entrepreneurship and Innovation | Finance/Accounting | General Management | Marketing | Organizational Behavior | Strategy | Technology Management

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public 
  • Accreditations: Institutional: WASC Senior College and University Commission; Programmatic: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Tuition: $42,849 per year for California residents; $55,094 per year for nonresidents
  • Required Credits: 72 units
  • Program Length: 24 months
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Admissions
    • Process: Admission requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited college, school transcripts, essays, and a resume.
    • GPA: 3.0
    • Standardized Tests: GMAT or GRE with limited waivers available
    • Cost: $125
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#4

CUNY Bernard M Baruch College

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 43%
Graduation Rate 70%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 7% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Baruch College is part of the 25-campus City University of New York system. Baruch students study on a campus close to Wall Street and the headquarters of many global corporations. About 19,500 students enroll in programs that include 56 graduate-level specializations.

MBA in Accountancy

The Zicklin School of Business offers a master of business administration (MBA) in accountancy for students without an accounting or business degree. The curriculum, which is 61-73 credits, prepares students to sit for New York State's certified public accountant exam and other certifications. The MBA in accountancy provides foundational training in business management theory and practices.

Enrollees learn how to perform accounting duties such as financial reporting, auditing, and income tax preparation for individuals and business corporations. Participants can use elective credit to learn data analytics for accounting. Students can pursue the degree on a full-time or part-time basis, completing the degree in 24-48 months.

Baruch's Specializations

N/A

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Institutional: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; Programmatic: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Tuition: $725 per credit for New York State residents, $8,155 flat rate tuition per term for full-time students (12+ credits); $1,110 per credit for nonresidents
  • Required Credits: 61-73 credits
  • Program Length: 24-48 months
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Admissions
    • Process: Admission requires a bachelor's degree in any major, school transcripts, and at least two years of postbachelor's work experience.
    • GPA: N/A
    • Standardized Tests: GMAT, GRE, or Executive Assessment scores with waivers available 
    • Cost: $75
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#5

University of Dallas

School Information
Location Irving, Texas
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 71%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 24% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Dallas is a Catholic private school offering a comprehensive catalog of undergraduate and graduate programs. Students study on a campus centrally located in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.

MBA With a Concentration in Accounting

The Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business develops business programs for full-time students who work. UD's master of business administration (MBA) in accounting provides flexible on-campus and online schedules. Students can complete the 39-credit degree in 24-36 months. Enrollees learn how to manage various aspects of business operations from scholar-practitioners. 

Enrollees study the characteristics of effective leaders and how they manage complex organizations. Participants develop accounting expertise in areas such as financial accounting, auditing, and financial statement analysis. 

Students showcase their business acumen when they address an organizational challenge for a capstone consulting experience. All enrollees pay the same affordable tuition, regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency status.

UD's Specializations

Accounting | Business Analytics | Cybersecurity | Finance | Healthcare Analytics | Marketing | Strategic Leadership | Supply Chain Management | Technology Management

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Institutional: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Programmatic: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Tuition: $1,250 per credit
  • Required Credits: 39
  • Program Length: 24-36 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous), hybrid (online and on campus), and on campus
  • Admissions
    • Process: Admission requires a bachelor's degree, school transcripts, and a resume.
    • GPA: N/A
    • Standardized Tests: N/A
    • Cost: $50
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Common Questions About MBAs in Accounting

What can you do with an MBA in accounting?

An MBA in accounting can prepare graduates for various manager and executive positions. Many professionals also become certified public accountants (CPAs). Some positions include business development managers and chief executive officers.

What's the difference between an accounting master's and an accounting MBA?

An accounting master's focuses on accounting courses. Graduates often become CPAs, auditors, or tax consultants. An accounting MBA includes a business core with several accounting classes. It prepares graduates for various career paths in management.

How much does an MBA program cost?

An MBA program can cost between $10,000 and $150,000. Yet most range from $15,000-$30,000. The price depends on the school's prestige and the delivery format. Out-of-state students may also pay a higher cost per credit.

Can you get an accounting MBA degree online?

Yes, you can complete an accounting MBA degree online. Some schools offer the same program on campus and online. Others provide accelerated online MBA in accounting degrees. The online options may cost less overall than in-person programs.

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