Earning a master's degree in taxation online is a great option for currently employed accounting professionals looking to advance in their careers. While bachelor's degrees may allow graduates to perform managerial accounting, most companies require employees to have earned public accountant certification.
Every year, more Americans turn to tax professionals for help in navigating the tax code. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that careers in accounting and related fields may increase 10% by 2026. This lucrative career field offers a wide variety of occupations to suit professionals' interests and needs, including jobs within the FBI and the opportunity for self-employment.
What to Know About Online Master's in Taxation Coursework
Master's in taxation programs help students build accounting knowledge in tax law, tax codes, budgeting, and tax practices. Students can often tailor degrees to niche areas, such as estate planning, auditing, gift taxation, or income tax. Earning this degree online gives students the option to maximize learning potential with the flexibility of distance education. Most students who enroll in online master's in taxation programs currently work in the field and aim to maximize career potential.
Program flexibility affects the timeline in which learners can earn degrees, though most programs require an average of 35 credit hours for completion. Students generally earn the master's in taxation degree within two years, but individuals who opt for accelerated programs may graduate in just 15 months. Online and on-campus programs may differ based on the school and the program, but the same professors often teach the same curriculum for both on-campus and online courses.
What's the Difference Between a Master's in Taxation and an MBA in Taxation?
While a master's in taxation and an MBA share commonalities, these advanced degree options include varying coursework and long-term goals for graduates. Master of taxation degrees can make ideal choices for students looking to learn specifically about taxation. These degrees include coursework in corporate taxation, partnership taxation, taxation in real estate, and tax research and writing. Students seeking a master of taxation often choose to work in law or accounting. An MBA covers an even broader range of business in addition to taxation. These programs typically consist of 49 credits within one to three years of schooling. Typical coursework includes financial accounting, information systems management, and organizational behavior. Most graduates find work in administrative and business-related careers, such as financial management, human resources, marketing, and executive positions.
What Common Courses are Offered in a Master's in Taxation Program?
While specific courses vary by school, most accredited programs offer similar curricula with foundational classes. The sample curriculum provided below may differ from your school of choice but still details some courses and essential information you can expect to learn during your master's in taxation studies.
Estate and Gift Taxation
Classwork covers the taxation of gift transfers at the federal level. Students learn the fundamentals of estate tax and gift planning in relation to individuals and businesses as a result of transactions and life events. Estate and gift-giving includes property and gratuitous transfers of money.
This class benefits students already familiar with the basic principles of financial auditing. Coursework looks beyond financial audits and prepares graduates to deal with the results of poor auditing. Classes also cover the ethics surrounding auditing. Students complete independent case studies relating to current trends in auditing.
Situational Ethics in Accounting
Like any field that involves working with the public, many ethical issues surround taxation and auditing. Students learn to combine academic research with ethical decision-making. Students examine ethical situations as they arise in business and accounting and learn how to handle these situations as they occur.
Coursework dives into the legal and regulatory sides of business and taxation. Students assess the impact of organization and decision-making in the field. Classes cover contracts and torts, product liability, and internet law. Students often look into the ethical and legal implications of outsourcing businesses.
Not every program requires students to complete a capstone project, but it is a common requirement among master-level programs. Capstones analyze a student's understanding of skills gained during the program.
What Specializations are Available in a Master's in Taxation Program?
Concentrations offer students the opportunity to tailor degrees toward career goals. A master's in taxation online program prepares you for most careers in this field, but by obtaining further specialization, graduates can advance in specific areas of taxation and accounting. Each school likely offers varying concentration opportunities. The examples below comprise common potential specializations offered in a master of taxation program.
Audit and Assurance Services
This concentration prepares students for careers in public accounting and internal auditing. Students gain a technical knowledge of common accounting issues and internal, operational systems. Coursework ranges from advanced auditing to accounting theory and system risks control.
Like the above concentration, this field of study focuses on auditing, though students of this specialization delve deeper into accounting issues and practices. Graduates can implement, maintain, and manage public and private auditing systems. Students complete courses like financial legislation, internal controls, and business income tax.
As the name suggests, this concentration focuses on the understanding of estate planning and law, including the financial pieces of creating an estate. Coursework may include federal and state taxes on trust funds, estates, and retirement plans.
What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?
In addition to tests and examinations, many online programs require students to complete assignments in taxation as they relate to practical examples. To graduate with an online master's in taxation, many programs also require students to complete a final thesis or capstone project. These final projects highlight knowledge gained throughout the program and to demonstrate that the student can apply knowledge to real cases. Post-graduation, students can obtain further certification through a CPA exam or by earning a certificate in benefits law or estate planning.
How Can I Choose a Quality Online Master's in Taxation Program?
With so many online schools offering master's degrees in taxation, it can be hard to decide which program suits you best. When choosing a school, look at the program's accreditation, one of the most important factors in selecting a school. Attending an accredited school guarantees that your education meets high standards and can put you ahead in the job market. Within accounting and taxation, schools should receive accreditation from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In addition to accreditation, look for other factors of a trustworthy program, such as graduation rates, a qualified faculty, course curriculums, and content.
Career Opportunities With a Master's in Taxation Degree
Earning an online master's in taxation prepares graduates for many careers in finance, auditing, accounting, and law. The occupations below make up a few jobs available to graduates with this degree. Obtaining a master's degree in taxation does not automatically guarantee eligibility for employment, however, as many careers in this industry require additional study and certification.
Auditors and accountants examine and prepare financial records for individuals and businesses of all sizes. These professionals ensure that financial records remain up-to-date, accurate, and get completed on time. Accountants must assess financial practices with efficiency and organization.
Median Salary: $69,350 per year
Currently Employed: 1,397,700
Expected Job Growth in Next 10 Years: 10%
Financial managers maintain the financial well-being of a company or organization. These professionals generate financial reports, manage investments, and create strategies for long-term financial aims. Financial managers work in virtually every industry, including insurance and banking.
Median Salary: $125,080 per year
Currently Employed: 580,400
Expected Job Growth in Next 10 Years: 19%
Tax Examiner/Collector/Revenue Agent
Tax collectors and examiners determine how much an individual or company owes in taxes. These professionals collect taxes from businesses and individuals on behalf of local, state, and federal governments, depending on employment. Collectors and examiners also review tax returns and calculate additional payments.
Median Salary: $53,130 per year
Currently Employed: 62,100
Expected Job Growth in Next 10 years: -1%
Source: BLS, 2018
What's the Expected Job Growth for Taxation Careers?
Overall, careers for professionals working in taxation, accounting, and finance are projected to increase over the next ten years. According to the BLS, most professions in finance and taxation have experienced an increase in job opportunities. More Americans turn to tax professionals for assistance in managing finances and filing taxes every year, making now a great time to earn your online master's in taxation.
Professional Organizations for Careers in Taxation
Professional organizations and associations consist of like-minded individuals looking to further a particular field. These typically non-profit organizations may also offer educational resources, networking opportunities, and access to annual conferences for members.
National Association of Tax ProfessionalsThe NATP assists tax professionals in serving clients through resources, connections, and by giving them a voice in the industry. Members gain access to networking opportunities and a library of almost 400,000 tax-related publications unavailable to the general public.
National Society of Tax ProfessionalsMembers of the NSTP enjoy access to numerous publications related to taxation. As one of the largest tax-related professional organization in the country, the NSTP offers many networking opportunities and financial bootcamps held all over the world.
The American Association of Finance and AccountingFounded in 1978, the AAFA comprises financial professionals at all career levels, from new employees to executives. This association boasts numerous educational and training opportunities and countless networking opportunities for members.
The Institute of Internal AuditorsProfessionals in the IIA typically focus on the auditing side of accounting and taxes. With more than 180,000 members worldwide, this professional community helps ensure the ethical practice of accounting.
Young CPA NetworkA branch of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, this organization aids aspiring CPAs looking for networking opportunities and mentorship from established professionals in the field.
How to Pay for a Master's in Taxation Degree
It should come as no surprise that earning a higher education comes with a large price tag. Students unable to pay tuition without assistance can find financial support through many resources, such as scholarships from professional organizations, programmatic scholarships offered through your school, and participation in research roles and fellowships.
Federal Financial Aid
Students seeking master's degrees should fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Grant money is offered to students through a needs-based system. Students who receive financial aid obtain funds though grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs.
Professional Organizations and Associations
Many professional organizations offer financial assistance to students earning degrees in accounting and taxation. Some organizations offer funds on the condition that students join the association after graduating from the program, while others focus on furthering the field by recruiting well-educated professionals. Students can view scholarship opportunities on each organization's website.
Nationwide Scholarship Opportunities
Anyone seeking a higher education can find scholarship opportunities on both the internet and through local postings. Many groups and benefactors offer scholarships to students of all study fields. Accounting and taxation scholarships can come from both the state and national level.
Large financial offices and institutions with community ties often support local students and colleges through grants, scholarships, and endowments. Some corporations offer this money in exchange for guaranteed employment upon graduation.