Master’s in Accounting Program – MSA Degree

Master of Science in Accounting

Offered By: Colangelo College of Business

Study Advanced Business Law, Information Systems and Accounting Concepts

The Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) degree is a graduate-level learning opportunity for students who hold a BS in Accounting. In this program, you will have opportunities to develop advanced skills in financial reporting while building your foundational knowledge of specialized accounting topics. The master’s in accounting is offered by the Colangelo College of Business at Grand Canyon University. 

GCU is a private Christian university that embraces the positive values of servant leadership and ethical problem-solving. Explore ethical best practices and issues pertaining to legal compliance while preparing to take the Uniform CPA Examination. Work to extend your knowledge of business law, information systems and public accounting practice with the MS in Accounting. It’s recommended that you sit for the Uniform CPA Exam during the program, as the capstone courses are dedicated to preparing you for the test.

Benefits of Pursuing Your MS in Accounting From GCU

There are many reasons to consider earning your MSA degree, from preparing to pass the Uniform CPA Exam to broadening your career possibilities. The completion of a master’s in accounting program is not necessarily an eligibility requirement for the Uniform CPA Exam, depending on the individual requirements of your state and whether you earned a sufficient number of semester hours in accounting during your baccalaureate program.1 However, earning a graduate degree, regardless of examination requirements, can allow you to improve upon your previous accounting knowledge. Although no degree program can guarantee a particular career outcome, earning an online master’s in accounting can provide you with the opportunity to position yourself for potential career advancement.

The interactive online learning platform at GCU can allow working professionals to take courses on a flexible, convenient schedule. By earning your online master’s in accounting, you do not have to choose between your job and your education. Complete coursework on a schedule that fits your lifestyle while benefitting from engaging discussions with your peers.  

If you prefer to complete your accounting courses in person, you may decide to take classes in the evenings on our campus. Like online learning, evening learning offers another convenient route for busy adult learners to complete their desired degree. Evening classes take place one class at a time, one night a week. 

The master’s in accounting  program requires a total of 34 credits for completion. Most of the online classes are eight weeks long. As part of this degree program, you are required to complete a capstone course toward the end of your studies. The capstone course enables you to reinforce the concepts you were taught throughout the program in preparation to take the Uniform CPA Exam.

Develop Advanced Accounting Skills Through Relevant MSA Coursework 

This online MSA program provides you with an in-depth look at relevant topics in accounting, such as:

  • Auditing
  • Data analytics
  • Financial research
  • Compliance
  • Managerial and cost accounting

Throughout this MSA program, you will be taught to:

  • Develop your research skills 
  • Enhance your understanding of the quantitative methods of data analysis
  • Examine key topics in financial reporting and accounting 
  • Study ethical practices 
  • Develop and apply decision-making skills 
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Prepare for the Uniform CPA Exam

You will also take three capstone classes during your evening or online master’s in accounting  program, including:

  • Capstone I: Introduces you to the Uniform CPA Exam and covers the Accounting and Data Analytics Core sections of the exam 
  • Capstone II: Examines the Audit and Accounting Information Systems Core portion of the test
  • Capstone III: Can help prepare you for the Tax Core section of the exam

Study Analytical and Ethical Concepts in Accounting

While working toward your MSA degree, you will examine a range of learning objectives. These include:

  • Factors that affect the use of cost information for decision-making purposes
  • Meeting ethical obligations under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  • Advanced data analytical concepts to support financial data
  • Core auditing concepts, including financial reporting for government and not-for-profit entities

Career Possibilities for MSA Degree Holders

After completing an online master’s in accounting program or on-campus evening program, advanced management positions in corporate or public accounting may be within your reach. Job applicants with a master’s in accounting degree may set themselves apart from other candidates without this credential. 

Although no degree program can guarantee a specific career outcome, some of the careers that can be related to this MS in Accounting may include the following:

  • Accountant and auditor
  • Appraiser of personal and business property
  • Budget and credit analyst
  • Financial risk specialist
  • Tax preparer 

Some accounting career paths require candidates to pass the Uniform CPA Exam.

Institutionally Accredited Accounting Degrees

Before you choose a university at which to enroll in an online MSA program, it’s important to ensure the school is institutionally accredited. Institutional accreditation speaks to the quality of the instruction at the university. GCU is proud to be an institutionally accredited institute of higher education. For more information, visit our accreditation page. 

Master’s in Accounting Program FAQs

Even if you’re currently working in the accounting field, you may have some questions about the future of your career path and how further education may benefit you. Explore our frequently asked questions to learn more about pursuing a career in accounting and earning your MSA degree.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) does not specifically require a graduate-level degree to become a CPA. However, you will need a total of 150 credit hours, which you may earn by completing a graduate degree on top of your bachelor’s.1 It is imperative to have the knowledge, skills and fundamentals from an academic program, such as an MSA, to be properly prepared to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam.

An MSA degree can provide you with a deep study of accounting through a curriculum specially curated to prepare you to become a CPA or other accounting professional. Meanwhile, an MBA in Accounting covers important business, marketing and economic principles while integrating accounting courses.3 If your career goals involve managing financial aspects related to business, then you may want to consider learning more about an MBA with an Emphasis in Accounting.

The salary expectations of those in the accounting field will depend on their specific employer, as well as their own academic qualifications, certifications or licensure and years of experience. As of 2022, the median annual salary for accountants and auditors was $78,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).4 

The length of time required to earn an MS in Accounting will vary, depending on the school and program you choose. It also depends on your schedule. If you’re enrolled as a full-time student, it will take less time to earn your degree than if you enroll as a part-time student.

The MSA degree program at GCU consists of 10 classes for a total of 34 credits. The majority of the classes are eight weeks in length, while a few are four weeks long. To better understand how long it might take you to complete your degree, fill out the form on this page to request a consultation with a university counselor. 

Only you can decide which specific field is right for you. Take some time to reflect upon your career goals. A degree in finance can set you up to pursue positions that focus on financial strategy, projected future growth and management of a business’s present and future financial numbers, as well as how to influence those numbers. Accounting, on the other hand, revolves more around the day-to-day financial aspects of a business, processes, principles and reporting on past and present figures.

It’s always a smart idea to explore the growth rate for a particular profession before furthering your career qualifications. The BLS estimates job growth for accountants and auditors to be 4% from 2022 through 2032, as fast as average. This rate of job growth indicates that employers expect to hire about 67,400 new accountants and auditors through 2032.

A master’s in accounting may  be worth it for you if you’re passionate about the field and interested in enhancing your career qualifications. A master’s degree can allow you to better prepare to take the Uniform CPA Exam if you would like to earn your CPA license. It can also provide an additional qualification for your resume, which may set you apart from other job applicants as you pursue higher-level positions.

Prepare to pursue your CPA license and position yourself for potential career advancement in the accounting field by earning your MSA degree at GCU. Apply today for enrollment in online or on-campus evening classes. Fill out the form on this page to learn more.

1Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. (n.d.). 150 hour requirement for obtaining a CPA license. Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. Retrieved August 24, 2023. 

2 Johnson-Dunlop, Z. (n.d.). Accounting schools in Arizona. Masters in Accounting. Retrieved August 24, 2023.  

3 Turner, H. (2023, January 30). MBA in Accounting or Master’s in accounting: Which is right for you? MBA.com. Retrieved August 24, 2023. 

4 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Accountants and Auditors as of May 2022, retrieved on Sept. 12, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as accountants and auditors. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates.  

5 Josephson, A. (2023, March 19). Accounting vs. finance: What’s the difference? Smart Asset. Retrieved August 24, 2023.

6 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accountants and Auditors, retrieved on Sept. 12, 2023. 

TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 34
Online: 8 weeks
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TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
TUITION RATE:
Online: $640 per credit [More Info]

Course List

Major:
34 credits
Degree Requirements:
34 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course is designed to prepare students for the graduate learning experience at Grand Canyon University. Students have opportunities to develop and strengthen the skills necessary to succeed as graduate students in the College of Business. Emphasis is placed on utilizing the tools for graduate success.

Course Description

This course provides students with applied research experience using electronic databases to determine proper application of GAAP, IASs, and IFRSs to practical situations. Students develop the skills needed to access accounting and auditing rules and regulations, company financial statements, and related industry data used for analyzing financial statements.

Course Description

This course explores advanced managerial and cost accounting methods frequently used in accounting. Students apply managerial and cost accounting methods that are commonly tested on the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR) discipline.

Course Description

This course explores advanced data analytics techniques frequently used in public accounting. Students apply financial data analytics methods that are commonly tested on the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam: Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR) Discipline.

Course Description

This course explores advanced accounting theories and practices frequently used in public accounting. Students apply advanced accounting methods that are commonly tested on the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam: Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR) Discipline.

Course Description

This course explores accounting theories and practices used for governmental and not-for-profit entities. Students apply governmental and not-for-profit accounting methods that are commonly tested on the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam: Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR) Discipline.

Course Description

This course is a review of concepts frequently tested on the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam: Auditing and Accounting Information Systems Core (AUD). Students reinforce concepts learned in undergraduate work and apply them by completing questions and simulations similar to those found on the Uniform CPA Exam.

Course Description

This course is a review of concepts frequently tested on the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam: Regulation and Taxation Core (REG). Students reinforce concepts learned in undergraduate work and apply them by completing questions and simulations similar to those found on the Uniform CPA Exam.

Course Description

This course is a review of concepts frequently tested on the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam: Accounting and Data Analytics Core (ACC). Students reinforce concepts learned in undergraduate work and apply them by completing questions and simulations similar to those found on the Uniform CPA Exam.

Course Description

This course is a review of concepts frequently tested on the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam: Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR) Discipline. Students reinforce concepts learned throughout the program and apply them by completing questions and simulations similar to those found on the Uniform CPA Exam. Prerequisites: ACC-653, ACC-656, ACC-657, and ACC-658.

Program Locations

GCU Online Student


Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

GCU Evening Student


Grand Canyon University’s evening programs cater to the demands of working professionals who prefer an in-person learning environment. Our night classes meet just once per week and offer the interaction and discussion of a typical college classroom.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.

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