With demand for accountants and auditors expected to rise by 11% from 2014 to 2024,  which is significantly faster than average, becoming a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is quite appealing. However, the biggest problem in achieving this goal is state requirements, which usually include 150 hours of post-secondary education to sit for the CPA exam.  A bachelor’s degree falls short at 120 hours.
With the prospect of further education ahead, an appealing option for business and accounting undergraduates is a graduate degree that will not only allow them to become a CPA but will also add genuine value to their career prospects.
The Master of Science in Taxation degree provides students with a thorough understanding of state and federal tax law to help them become sought-after experts in taxation while allowing them to fulfill the 150 credit hours needed to take the CPA exam. The degree can be earned through on-campus or online programs over the course of one year with full-time study or two years for part-time study.
Make a difference in businesses
Accountancy is not only focused on compliance, but also advisory work. As a certified accountant you will be responsible for helping businesses reach new levels of success. Small business owners can increase their success rate by 89% by hiring an accountant,  which means you’ll be helping businesses to thrive with your expertise.
Become an expert in tax law
Federal and state tax laws are highly complex, and there will always be a need for lawyers, accountants, and other financial and business professionals to be specialists in the field. Plus, it’s a great way for law school graduates to improve their credentials in a highly competitive job market. Of the 2010 class of law graduates, around 25% aren’t actually practicing law, indicating a surplus of LL.B graduates.  By specializing in an area such as taxation, law students can kickstart their career with highly sought expertise and gain an edge in a crowded job market.
Earn your CPA and practice professional taxation
With the exception of the U.S. Virgin Islands, every U.S. jurisdiction requires students to complete 150 credit hours before taking the CPA exam.  By combining an undergraduate accounting degree with an MST, you can fulfill all requirements needed to take the CPA exam and become a professional accountant.
Maintain your license
Not only do professional accountants need to become certified, but they must continue their professional education to maintain their CPA status.  Although requirements vary from state to state, most require CPAs to demonstrate their commitment to improving their skill, and a master’s degree could be useful in this respect.
Find opportunities in varied industries
There are many job opportunities for CPAs in a wide range of industries.  Businesses and individuals working in every sector require professional accountants and tax law experts, and there are also opportunities in government agencies. Accountants are needed frequently for criminal investigations, or they may find work in nonprofit organizations or education establishments. Plus, those with master’s-level taxation expertise may find opportunities in teaching or consultancy positions.
Achieve higher salaries
Research from consulting firm Robert Half finds that those with a graduate degree or certifications such as the CPA typically earn from 5% to 15% more than their bachelor’s-educated colleagues. 
Enjoy job security
CPAs are in high demand, with the baby boomer generation reaching retirement and a skills gap in the market.  Opting for a master’s in taxation and pursuing accountancy certification can allow students to tap into a job market in which their skills will be in high demand for the foreseeable future. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountant and auditor jobs are expected to grow by 11% from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations. 
With impressive rates of job growth for accounting and auditing positions and a vast array of careers and industries to choose from, getting a master’s in taxation degree offers many job opportunities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accounting jobs are expected to grow by 11% between 2014 and 2024, faster than the 7% average. This equates to 142,000 new jobs,  demonstrating that graduates who complete the CPA exam can look forward to good job prospects and security in the future.
The reason for such fast growth is the growing demand for more scrutiny over finances in private, public, and government sectors. New laws relating to finance and tax means that organizations of all types and sizes must be more diligent and transparent, increasing the demand for accountants.
In addition, accountants must be proficient in dealing with the ever-changing and complex tax laws both in the U.S. and around the world as business becomes increasingly global. This means that individuals with a higher level of education and training are particularly sought after. 
Other careers, particularly those in the financial advisor field, are also demonstrating high rates of growth. Personal financial advisor jobs are expected to grow 30% from 2014 to 2024,  equating to 73,900 new jobs, while financial manager positions are projected to grow by 12% to create 32,300 new jobs from 2014 to 2024. 
Aside from simple accounting and auditing roles, graduates from a Master of Taxation program will have the expertise required to pursue a wide variety of exciting, well-paid careers.
Accountants and Auditors 
Financial Analyst 
Financial Manager 
Personal Financial Advisor 
Tax Manager 
International Tax Manager 
Tax Director 
Forensic Accountant 
Businesses of all sizes need accountants, not only to help navigate complex and ever-changing tax laws and regulations but also to advise them on investment opportunities. CPAs, financial advisors, and tax managers all play important roles in creating and implementing financial strategies that are aligned with business goals. With financial regulations becoming increasingly strict, private companies are being forced to become more transparent about their taxes and need to hire experts in taxation to help them fulfill legal obligations.
Employee taxes such as Medicare and Social Security often require the support of a CPA or financial advisor working within the HR department. Other benefits such as 401(k) plans, paid holidays, health and dental insurance, and life insurance all require the support of tax and accounts experts to ensure compliance and financial health.
The most experienced and knowledgeable CPAs and financial advisors often have the opportunity to work as consultants. This may be on behalf of an accounting firm or on a self-employed basis. Consultants usually work with multiple different businesses at one time and to a certain extent can pick and choose the hours they work, but they may find themselves busiest during tax season.
With tax laws constantly changing and become stricter, the need for specialist lawyers with expert knowledge of taxation is vital. Lawyers with a master’s in taxation will have the opportunity to work in law firms that specialize in tax, or access senior positions in firms that are eager to have tax experts on their team. Some law firms may also be interested in working with CPAs to support them in cases.
CPAs and financial advisors are vital for government agencies to help manage their finances. However, forensic accountants are also in demand to help state and federal agencies with investigations into tax fraud, tax evasion, or money laundering.
Although nonprofit organizations aren’t subject to federal taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes, they must pay employee taxes such as Social Security and Medicare.  This means CPAs are still in demand in the nonprofit industry, and their support in managing budgets, investments, and overseeing the financial health of nonprofits is vital.
Unlike MS in Accounting programs, which tend to focus on the technical aspects of accounting, Master of Taxation degrees focus heavily on tax law. Although both programs will satisfy requirements for the CPA exam, it is vital that you understand the differences between the core courses of each to ensure you pursue the proper program to meet your career aspirations. The core courses for MST programs should give a solid overview of tax law in the U.S. and perhaps internationally.
Here are some examples of common core courses in MST curriculums:
It’s also important to note that current JD students or existing members of the bar association may be required to complete different core courses in alignment with their career, so be sure to refer to curriculums and track options for individual programs. It may be possible for these applicants to transfer credit from tax law courses they have already completed.
Master of Taxation programs typically require 30 credit hours to graduate. This equates to a year of full-time study or two years of part-time study. Students typically complete 3 to 4 courses per semester, depending on the credit requirements for each course and the semester calendar of the university.
Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.
You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.
While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.
In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.
For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.
Some business schools will require MST candidates to submit GMAT or GRE scores as part of the application. GMAT tends to be most popular for admission to business schools, because it assesses analytical, integrative reasoning, quantitative, and verbal skills, all of which are important when studying business degrees such as taxation. 
However, some schools are moving away from test scores and placing more emphasis on work experience to assess the skills of candidates. This may be particularly helpful for career changer applicants or individuals who have been working in the industry for a while before returning to education.
This degree tends to give a practical overview of accounting practices and may be best suited to individuals who are focused on general public accountancy. It will not go into great detail about tax law and is therefore not suitable for those who want to pursue strictly tax-related careers. However, it may be ideal for those who are not sure exactly where their future career might take them and want to keep a wide range of job prospects open while fulfilling the credit hour requirements to become a CPA.
With a focus on business skills, this degree will give a thorough overview of business strategy, finance, marketing and human resources, as well as the basic accounting principles. It is particularly useful for individuals who are interested in business management roles, and although taxation will likely be touched upon in the curriculum, it will not be covered in as much detail as the Master of Taxation degree. MBAs are often particularly useful for professionals who already have work experience and want to expand their career prospects.
These degrees cover much of the same aspects as the regular MBA but with a focus in accounting or taxation. Compared to the MST or MAcc, students can develop a wider understanding of general business principles while still getting some specialist knowledge.
A Master of Law degree is often an excellent choice for those with an LL.B. or JD who want to develop advanced knowledge in a specific area of the law. Compared to the MST, the LL.M. in Taxation is geared toward students who already have a strong understanding of U.S. law and is unlikely to include the business finance elements MST curriculums often offer.
Individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree in accounting may not wish to take on another degree to complete the 150 credit hours needed to take the CPA exam. An alternative would be to earn the extra credits through a series of classes at a university or community college. This option isn’t available at every school and could be more expensive, but it may be more suitable for individuals who would prefer not to commit to a full-time master’s degree in favor of continuing their professional work. Career changers who do not have a bachelor’s degree in accounting may not fulfill the state CPA requirements for business and accounting credit hours if choosing this option and should carefully check the demands for their state. 
American Institute of CPAs (AICPA): The AICPA sets the standards for public accounting practices in the U.S. and is an advocate for high standards. It offers educational materials for its members, grades the Uniform CPA Examination, and monitors and enforces compliance within the industry in regards to both technical and ethical standards. 
Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA): The IIA is an international association for professional auditors which acts as the voice, authority, chief advocate, and main educator for professional internal auditors. It offers a wide range of certifications and qualifications, with the CIA (Certified Internal Auditor) being of most interest to MST students. 
Institute of Management Accountants (IMA): A global association of accountants and business finance professionals, the IMA has more than 85,000 members across 140 countries and strives to grow the skills and boost the careers of its members through advocacy, standard-setting, and education. It offers CMA (Certified Management Accountant) and CSCA (Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis) certification. 
American Woman’s Society of Certified Public Accountants (AWSCPA): This association is designed to support women CPAs, address gender equity in the accounting profession, and ensure women have good opportunity to develop their professional careers. It provides training, mentorship, and networking opportunities to its members. 
National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA): NASBA is the unifying association that connects the individual state boards which regulate the accountancy profession. It has a wide variety of information on becoming a CPA which prospective students may find useful. 
National Association of Black Accountants (NABA): A nonprofit organization dedicated to maximizing opportunities for people of color within various business professions, including accounting, finance, and consulting. With more than 200,000 members, it helps to develop the professional skills of its members, supports minority students in entering the accounting field, and represents the interests and issues currently facing minority professionals in the business sector. 
National Association of Certified Public Accountants in Education (nACPAE): This association supports the needs of teaching CPAsto help maintain high standards of education within the accounting profession. 
American Tax Policy Center (TPC): Created by the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, the TCP provides independent analysis of the tax issues currently facing America and provides reports to policymakers. With detailed research, commentary, statistics, and predictions about tax policy, it is an excellent resource for Master of Taxation students on a wide range of tax issues. 
American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC): This association is designed for lawyers who specialize in estate planning, wills, trusts, and all related areas of the law. It provides valuable resources, research, and meetings for its members. 
Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF): The FAF is an independent organization that oversees, administers, and finances the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). The FASB maintains standards of accounting and reporting for public and private companies and nonprofits. The GASB maintains the same standards for state and local government bodies. 
American Taxation Association (ATA): As part of the American Accounting Association (AAA), the ATA is an advocate for tax education and works to create curricula, educational materials, and accreditation to maintain high standards among educational organizations, academics, and tax professionals. 
There are three major accrediting bodies for business schools in the U.S. — the AACSB, the ACBSP, and the IACBE. The vast majority of business schools are accredited with at least one of these bodies, and for the master’s in taxation program, it is the AACSB which sets the education standards.
Although it is not compulsory to attend an accredited business school, doing so will give you peace of mind that you’ll receive a high level of education. Plus, it may help to reassure potential employers that you’ve been educated to a good standard and are therefore highly competent in taxation. Having an MST degree from an AACSB-accredited institution may give you an edge against candidates who have graduated from non-accredited institutions.
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB):T Established in 1916, the AACSB serves more than 1,500 member organizations and accredits 785 business schools all over the world. It is dedicated to advancing business education. 
TAccreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP):T As the only global body which accredits business programs at all levels, including associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degrees, it has more than 13,000 individual members and 1,200 member campuses in more than 60 countries across the world. 
TThe International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE):T The IACBE bases its accreditation on outcome-based standards and was first established in 1997 to help institutions gain accreditation for business degrees that weren’t recognized by the prescriptive standards of other accrediting bodies. It has accredited more than 1,300 business programs throughout the U.S., Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. 
One of the most compelling reasons students pursue the MST program is to fulfill the 150-hour requirement to take the CPA exam. However, there are other certification options that students may pursue instead.
MST applicants should ensure that the curriculum of any program they’re considering offers specializations and electives that are relevant to the certification they would like to pursue. Although a master’s in taxation degree won’t directly prepare you for certification exams, the education it will provide will be beneficial, particularly if courses are relevant to the certification.
CPA – Certified Public Accountant: This certification is provided by the State Societies of Certified Public Accountants. Requirements vary by state, but typically include 150 credit hours and sometimes work experience in the industry. 
CMA – Certified Management Accountant: Provided by the Institute of Management Accountants, this certification requires a bachelor’s degree in a related subject and two years of continuous professional experience. 
CIA – Certified Internal Auditor: This certification is offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors. It requires a four-year postsecondary degree or higher, plus 24 months of internal auditing experience, but a master’s degree can substitute for 12 of these months. 
CFSA – Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA): Provided by the Institute of Internal Auditors, this certification requires a four-year postsecondary degree or higher, plus 24 months of internal auditing experience. 
CFA – Chartered Financial Analyst: The CFA Institute offers this certification, requiring a bachelor’s degree and four years of professional work experience or a combination of professional work experience and education totaling four years. 
There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.
For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.
With the U.S. tax code having nearly 4 million words and changing approximately 4,680 times between 2001 and 2012, the tax industry is in a constant state of change, according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service’s 2012 Annual Report to Congress.  More than ever, taxation professionals are needed to help businesses and individuals navigate complex tax laws, ensure regulatory compliance, and prepare tax returns. A graduate degree in taxation can help equip you with advanced knowledge to serve the needs of your clients and business.
Qualified taxation professionals are in high demand, with 89% of public accounting firms forecasting that they will hire more graduates than the prior year.  Prospective employees with a master’s degree who have completed their 150 hours toward the CPA examination are valued, according to the American Institute of CPAs. 
Tax professionals with an understanding of taxation practices and the ability to apply this knowledge for individuals and businesses add tremendous value. They can ensure that their clients follow audit practices, meet transparency requirements, and are in compliance with government regulations.
There are many similarities between the Master of Science in Taxation and Master of Taxation programs, but their areas of focus differ slightly. The Master of Taxation tends to be the more broadly focused degree, teaching competencies in tax law, compliance, client relationships, and liability. The Master of Science in Taxation, on the other hand, tends to be more focused, with concentration on taxation as it relates to businesses or public groups.
A Master of Taxation degree typically requires 24 to 45 credit hours and one to two years to complete the program. A Master of Science in Accounting with a Taxation concentration typically requires 30 to 52 credit hours and 15 to 24 months to complete the program.
Generally there are supplementary costs apart from tuition. The tuition does not usually include the cost of books or additional fees. These additional costs will vary from program to program.
Some Master of Taxation programs may require students to complete undergraduate or graduate business or accounting foundation courses so they have an understanding of the accounting and taxation fields. Other program may require that you have a combination of years of professional work experience and credentials such as a CPA, CFP, or enrolled agent credential.
Many institutions offer this degree online.
Most institutions do not indicate on the degree that it was earned online.
Yes, typically schools follow the same curriculum for their online programs as they do for their campus-based programs.
The delivery method is the main difference between online and on-campus programs. Online programs provide students with the ability to complete work in a virtual space based on a specific course schedule. Some online courses are 100% online and provide students with the flexibility to study in an asynchronous space.
On-campus programs typically have weekly class schedules that students must attend in a traditional classroom setting. There are also hybrid programs that combine the elements of online and on-campus programs.
Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees. The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and class itself. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.
Each online program has different requirements. Some asynchronous online programs may have a weekly live session with a professor or instructor to help students learn key concepts for the course and provide an opportunity to ask questions. However, these live sessions are typically optional and are recorded for students who cannot attend. All other program components, such as discussion boards and assignments, are deadline-based, but can be completed based on a specific student’s schedule at any time of the day.
Top Master of Taxation programs will typically have accreditation and accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International — the highest standard of achievement for business schools worldwide.
Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also required for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.
SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses. 
Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. 
Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if it is a SARA institution) to confirm compliance.
It depends. Some graduate taxation programs may require a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) examination score or a comparable Graduate Record Examination (GRE) examination score.
Other graduate taxation programs waive the GMAT or GRE entrance exam based on additional requirements such as passing all four parts of the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam or having completed a bachelor’s in accounting with a specific GPA (typically 3.0 or higher).
Each institution has different requirements for its graduate taxation programs. Some programs do not require any taxation work experience, but many require students to have a bachelor’s in business or accounting degree and have passed all four parts of the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. Other programs require one to two years of taxation work experience that shows career advancement and knowledge in the taxation field.
Admissions requirements vary by institution. Some graduate taxation programs require that applicants have passed all four parts of the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam to waive the GMAT or GRE entrance exam requirement. However, since some students need 150 hours to qualify to sit for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, some master’s degrees do not have this requirement and provide enough accounting credits to meet the 150 hours. 
Taxation is a rewarding industry with various career paths available.  The taxation industry provides stable employment due to the universal nature of taxes for individuals and businesses, is fast-paced and challenging, and can be financially rewarding for those who progress into management over the long term.
Possible career paths include: 
In addition, taxation graduates can work as:
Taxation professionals have various career paths they can choose from such as tax accountant, auditor, or tax attorney. In 2014, there were 1.3 million tax accountants and auditors in the U.S., with an 11% (faster than average) job growth outlook over a 10-year period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The median annual pay is $67,190. Tax attorneys are individuals with a law degree who have specialized in tax law.
Taxation professionals work in a variety of companies, including:
No — attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.