Insights from the Girard School of Business

Online Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) programs offer working accountants a great deal of flexibility in how they earn their graduate degree. The question everyone must face is: Which online MSA program is right for me?

Choosing the right online MSA program is largely a function of asking the right questions.  Some students are determined to go to a specific school. Others are more interested in comparing what each school offers and then making the best choice possible to further their education and career. Following are some important questions you’ll want to ask when comparing online MSA programs.

How Much is the Tuition? 

Costs vary by school. Make sure you know the costs for the schools on your list, including any technology fees that might apply for online courses. Keep in mind that you may qualify for financial aid and scholarships. Military members and veterans also can expect to find lower tuition costs.

How Long Will It Take? 

Online programs have far more flexibility in the length of time it takes to earn your degree. In many cases, it’s faster than going the traditional program route. For example, the Merrimack College MSA program can be completed in 16 months. However, students can also do the program at a slower pace if that fits their needs.

Who are the Faculty? 

Quality online programs offer faculty who have both academic credentials and industry experience. Learning from them prepares you with the latest theoretical knowledge and strategies for applying that to your current professional position.

How Do I Interact With Professors and Classmates? 

The best online education systems offer a way to routinely communicate with professors. You should also have the ability to talk with classmates through the online learning system so you can collaborate on projects and set up study groups.

Some programs have someone assigned to each online student to help guide them through their degree. For example, Merrimack College has an academic and career advisor who will work one-on-one with online students. The advisor helps to develop a curriculum plan for each student, advises students on when and how to prepare for the CPA exam, makes sure students stay on pace to complete the degree program, and works with students to develop the best plan to accomplish their career goals.

What Courses and Electives Do I Take? 

As with a traditional on-campus program, you’ll want to know exactly what courses you need to take to earn your degree and whether the program requires onsite visits. At Merrimack College, your program courses are dependent on your previous education. Students who have an undergrad accounting degree, business degree or a non-business non-accounting degree will have different program requirements.

How Are Courses Structured 

Colleges and universities structure their online programs in various ways. In the case of the Merrimack College MSA, students earn 32 credits to complete their degree.

  • Each class is either four or two credits.
  • Four-credit classes run for eight weeks.
  • Two-credit classes run for four weeks.

Other schools will have their own way of structuring their online MSA program. As you compare online degrees remember to ask the right questions to determine which program is right for you.