The Online Accounting Master’s and Money
The cost of college weighs on the minds of many prospective students. Can I afford to earn my master’s? What sources of funding are available? These are great questions and, on the surface, the answers may seem unclear. However, a quick look at the numbers indicates not only that online master’s degrees in accounting can be affordable upfront, but they can also yield a nice return on investment (ROI) down the road. Let’s see how cost and salary for a program might compare.
Weighing the Costs
Tuition lies at the center of the master’s degree cost analysis. Some accounting programs charge tuition by the quarter or semester, others by the credit. Tuition can also vary by type of institution, with public universities likely on the lower end of the spectrum, and private schools coming with slightly higher price tags. When vetting online accounting master’s programs, however, it’s important to look at long-term cost. For example, if a degree program runs $300 per credit, and it takes 60 credits to graduate, that’s $18,000 – simple math for an accountant. Yet to fully understand the finances involved, creating a full budget -- one that includes tuition, fees, room & board and other living expenses – is key. This holds true for both campus-based and online students seeking a master’s in accounting.
Earning an online master’s in accounting doesn’t guarantee a higher wage, but it can make job seekers far more marketable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that some employers prefer to hire applicants with a master’s in accounting, or with a master’s in business administration with a specialization in accounting. An advanced degree signals more extensive knowledge and skills, and therefore can reduce the barrier to both employment and higher wages. Here’s how salaries for accountants stacked up in 2013:
Top 10 %
Further evidence of higher salaries for accounting master’s holders lies in a pair of studies conducted at colleges. In 2014, the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill reported that students earn from $60,200 - $77,000 annually during the first three years after graduation from their four-year accounting program. By years five through seven, salaries increase to $91,000 - $126,500 for those with the accounting master’s. According to a study conducted by Georgetown University in 2011, accountants with just a bachelor’s degree in the field earned a median wage of $63,000 per year in 2010, $3,000 more than the median for all business-related occupations. Yet accountants who held a master’s degree earned an estimated $86,310 per year, 37% higher than those who stopped at a bachelor’s.
Only 27% of accountants have a master’s degree
Accountants with master’s earn 37% more money, on average