A distance learning Master of Accounting degree program enhances opportunities for employment by qualifying graduates to become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). These online graduate-level programs are commonly available and can be found at traditional four-year colleges and universities. Distance learners can often earn their accounting master's degree in one to two years fully online, although some schools do offer hybrid programs in that require short on-campus residencies.
Prospective accounting students should check with their state's specific jurisdiction to determine if an online program meets the standards of the National Association of State Boards of Accounting (NASBA). Those interested in applying to an online master's program must have a bachelor's degree and often need to have met prerequisite course requirements in accounting principles and other related areas. Resumes, recommendation letters and graduate admission tests are other typical factors in admission decisions.
Distance learners access virtual classrooms to obtain lessons or lectures, complete assignments and hold discussions with peers or professors. An online master's degree program in this field may include the following coursework:
- Accounting information systems
- Financial accounting
- Forensic accounting
Accounting Information Systems
In accounting information systems, students learn about auditing the information system and how to work with business information systems. Covered topics include the following:
- Business processes
- Data flows
- Database concepts and tools
- Internal control and risks
- Performing audit functions
Financial accounting teaches the basic concepts of corporate financial statements and how they relate to investors and other parties of interest. Basic accounting concepts, financial statements, fixed assets and inventory, present value of bonds, stockholder's equity, cash flow statements and error correction are studied.
Communications for accountants teaches a student how to effectively communicate with clients or groups. The online coursework might highlight the following areas:
- Culture and conflict
- Formal communications
- Group communication
- Group formation
- Influence in organizational communication
- Organizational change
- Public communications
Forensic accounting teaches students how to conduct fraud examinations. Students learn about fraud and abuse, financial statement fraud and forensic evidence. The procedures for cash outflow irregularities, asset irregularities and examination reporting are also presented.
Taxation covers the tax issues of corporations and the people who own them. Topics covered include alternative minimum tax, calculating basis, gains and losses and property transactions. Students also learn about S-corporations, tax entities and partnerships.
Public accountants perform a variety of jobs, such as accounting, auditing and consulting for both companies and private clients. Accountants working with investors may audit financial statements and attest to investors or authorities that the statements are correct. Other careers include:
- Tax examiner
- Budget analyst
- Internal auditor
- Management accountant
Online Master of Accounting programs cover advanced finance topics as well as communication and legal subjects related to business and finance. Graduates have the thorough training they need to take the CPA exam or to pursue other upper-level careers in money management.