Insights from the Girard School of Business

Accountants today have more control than ever over how they earn a graduate degree. The emergence of online learning has given students seeking a master’s degree in accounting a viable alternative to the traditional approach. Those who have decided to earn a master’s in accounting online degree often make that choice because of the flexibility in earning a degree online. Others may go the traditional route because they have more time and prefer face-to-face instruction. Either way, students now have more options in how they gain the skills and knowledge needed to earn the top jobs in accounting.

Breaking Down Barriers 

Online learning has broken down the barriers that once kept many people from entering a graduate degree program.  The latest figures indicate that a third of all college students take at least one class online, a growth of almost 6% in one year, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. The number of students who have enrolled in degree programs that are exclusively online has risen to almost 16% of all college students. More than 5.8 million students are enrolled in programs that are either part-time or exclusively online at public and private nonprofit universities and colleges, according to Inside Higher Education.

Quality of Online Programs 

The quality of master’s in accounting online programs now matches that of traditional classes. However, you want to ensure that the online degree program is offered by an accredited college. According to U.S. News and World Report, employers typically prefer nonprofit colleges over for-profit colleges.

A quality master’s in accounting online degree program offers students deep insights into the field, experienced faculty and advisors, and a curriculum that is aligned with industry expectations. The online learning system offers ways to seamlessly interact with both faculty and fellow students. Some schools, such as Merrimack College, also assign students an academic and career counselor to help guide them through the program based on their specific career aspirations.

Pros and Cons of Online and Campus-Based Learning      

Here are some factors students consider when making their decision to choose either a master’s in accounting online or in a traditional on-campus format :


Online learning benefits working adults who need the flexibility to study day or night.  On-campus programs are good for those who have the time to drive to campus for classes that fit their schedule.


Online may be the only option for those who live far from a college campus that has a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) program. For those who can easily drive to campus or take public transportation, then a traditional on-campus degree may be appropriate.


Faculty who teach online courses are available through phone, texting or email. Also, in Merrimack College’s online program, instructors integrate synchronous live online lectures to bring face-to-face interaction into the experience. On-campus, students can meet with professors face-to-face during office hours.

Demand for Accountants 

No matter the path you choose, entering the upper echelon of the accounting profession is worth considering. Accountants are steadily in demand and the next few years should be no exception. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 10% increase in the number of accountants by 2026.  In Massachusetts, the mean annual salary in May 2018 was $81,460, higher than the national average of $78,820 and Boston is among the top 10 metropolitan areas in the country for the number of accountants employed.

Clearly, whether you choose a traditional on-campus program or a masters in accounting online program, entering the accounting field is a solid career option.