Online and taxation master's degree programs most often lead to a Master of Taxation (MTax), although some programs offer a Master of Science in Taxation (MST) or Master of Law and Taxation (LL.M.). The LL.M. programs are available through law schools and require a Juris Doctor and possibly attorney licensure, while MST and MTax are offered through 4-year universities. Depending upon the program, students may be required to visit campus and/or take a comprehensive exam.
MTax and MST programs are primarily for accountants and other business professionals seeking specialized education in taxation principles and methods. Master of Law programs are geared towards law school graduates and practicing attorneys. Masters-level programs in taxation generally take two years part-time or 18 months full-time.
Admission to an online master's taxation program is usually in keeping with the requirements for campus-based programs. Master of Taxation and Master of Science programs require a bachelor's degree and, in some cases, a resume or curriculum vitae. Students lacking an appropriate undergraduate background in business or accounting may be admitted but required to take additional foundational courses. Schools offering distance learning LL.M. degrees require students to submit law school transcripts, LSAT scores and a resume as part of the admissions process.
Some online graduate taxation programs offer few courses beyond their required income, business and property tax classes, whereas others let students choose from taxation electives covering specific business and personal tax situations. Some common courses include:
- Individual federal income taxation
- Corporate and shareholder taxation
- Partnerships, partners and S-corporations taxation
- Taxation of fiduciary Income
- State and local taxation
- International taxation
Online MTax programs commonly use an asynchronous approach in courses, which provides no real-time interaction. Students access lectures, assignments and other learning aids from within a virtual classroom. Some instructors provide videos of campus-based classes for distance learning students to watch. E-mail and message boards are common methods for interacting with peers and professors.
The second approach, used by the LL.M. and MST programs, mixes synchronous and asynchronous technologies. Courses have at least one online class a week at a designated time; students attend these live classes via the Internet using webcams, and interact with the class and professor in real time. Students review the coursework on their own, using online course materials, electronic databases, and video and audio streaming. Audio and video podcasts of classes are later available so a student can review a class as often as he or she wants. Message boards and e-mail are an integral part of these programs also.
Although most online taxation programs have no required time on campus, a few may require short attendance on campus once or twice during the program for orientation at the beginning of the program, or a comprehensive exam at the program's conclusion. Sometimes both are required.
Graduates with a taxation-related master's degree have many career possibilities. The LL.M. is the only taxation program that prepares students to be tax lawyers. Careers open to graduates of MST and MTax programs include:
- Public accountant
- Management accountant
- Government accountant
- Government auditor
- Tax examiner
- Revenue agents
- Paralegal for a tax lawyer
For accountants and other business professionals seeking a specialized education in tax principles and methods, a Master of Taxation, Master of Science in Taxation and Master of Law and Taxation are all available online. These programs explore topics such as individual state and federal taxation, taxation methods for business organizational structures, and taxation at the local, state and international levels.