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Best online master's in taxation degrees 2022: Top picks

A master's in taxation is designed for established accountants and tax specialists. Graduates tackle high-responsibility tax advising and consulting roles.

Are you looking to become a certified accountant specializing in tax law? Consider pursuing a master's in taxation. This rigorous finance degree will make you an expert in U.S. tax law and regulation.

Despite the popularity of online tax services, accountants and tax specialists remain an important resource. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that accountants will see a 7% employment growth rate through 2030. 

Earning a taxation master's will qualify you to provide your community with an essential service requiring strong critical thinking and memorization skills. Read on for our rankings of the country's top online taxation master's degrees, along with our guide on what to expect from this degree.

Top 5 online schools for master's in taxation

College

Program stats

How much?

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

  • Master of Business Taxation for Working Professionals
  • Acceptance rate: 11%
  • Graduation rate: 92%
  • Designed to accommodate working tax professionals

Avg. annual net price: $29,528

Application fee: $155

Villanova University

Villanova, PA

  • Master of Taxation
  • Acceptance rate: 28%
  • Graduation rate: 90%
  • Includes hands-on learning opportunities

Avg. annual net price: $41,027

Application fee: $50

Florida Atlantic University

Boca Raton, FL

  • Executive Master of Taxation
  • Acceptance rate: 63%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • No classes during tax season

Avg. annual net price: $10,186

Application fee: $30

Bentley University

Waltham, MA

  • MS in Taxation
  • Acceptance rate: 47%
  • Graduation rate: 89%
  • Optional internship in tax practice

Avg. annual net price: $38,986

Application fee: Free

University of Denver

Denver, CO

Master of Taxation

Acceptance rate: 59%

Graduation rate: 75%

Hands-on learning through the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic

Avg. annual net price: $32,361

Application fee: $75

The best online master's in taxation degrees

Before browsing our rankings, take a moment to check out ZDNet's ranking methodology. This page explains how we select programs from around the country based on their affordability, academic merit, and level of prestige.

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, College Scorecard, and each program's website.

1. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California

About the program: USC offers a 30-credit online master of business taxation for working professionals designed for learners employed full-time as tax specialists. Admission requires one year of full-time tax-related work experience.

  • Acceptance rate: 11%
  • Graduation rate: 92%
  • Avg. annual net price: $29,528
  • Time to completion: Two years; part-time only
  • GRE/GMAT: GMAT required for non-certified public accountant (CPA) learners
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online

2. Villanova University

Villanova, Pennsylvania

About the program: VU's 30-credit online master of taxation prepares learners for work as senior-level tax advisers. Elective options include wealth tax, executive compensation, and charitable gift planning.

  • Acceptance rate: 28%
  • Graduation rate: 90%
  • Avg. annual net price: $41,027
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • GRE/GMAT: Required for non-CPA applicants
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions
  • Course delivery methods: Online

3. Florida Atlantic University

Boca Raton, Florida

About the program: FAU's online master of taxation, offered through its School of Accounting Executive Programs, caters to learners working full-time. Course topics include international taxes and IRS practices and procedures.

  • Acceptance rate: 63%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Avg. annual net price: $10,186
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • GRE/GMAT: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions
  • Course delivery methods: Online

4. Bentley University

Waltham, Massachusetts

About the program: Bentley offers a 30-credit online master of taxation with a real-world, practical focus. Among the elective options is an internship in tax practice.

  • Acceptance rate: 47%
  • Graduation rate: 89%
  • Avg. annual net price: $38,986
  • Time to completion: Two years; part-time pace offered
  • GRE/GMAT: GMAT score of 550 or GRE score of 154 on each section
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions
  • Course delivery methods: Online

5. University of Denver

Denver, Colorado

About the program: DU offers a 24-28-credit online master of taxation focusing on the IRS code and treasury regulations. The program offers a unique hands-on learning experience through the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

  • Acceptance rate: 59%
  • Graduation rate: 75%
  • Avg. annual net price: $32,361
  • Time to completion: One to two years; part-time pace offered
  • GRE/GMAT: Optional
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions
  • Course delivery methods: Online

6. University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, Ohio

About the program: UC offers a 30-credit online master's in taxation balancing theoretical and interactive coursework. The program culminates with a capstone project in which students must demonstrate their mastery of tax research and technical knowledge.

  • Acceptance rate: 77%
  • Graduation rate: 66%
  • Avg. annual net price: $21,843
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • GRE/GMAT: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions
  • Course delivery methods: Online

7. DePaul University

Chicago, Illinois

About the program: DPU offers a 46-credit online master's in taxation tailored to the needs of working learners. Elective topics include consolidated returns, concepts of deferred compensation, and federal tax valuation.

  • Acceptance rate: 68%
  • Graduation rate: 68%
  • Avg. annual net price: $30,090
  • Time to completion: Two to three years; part-time pace offered
  • GRE/GMAT: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions
  • Course delivery methods: Online

8. St. John's University (New York)

Queens, New York

About the program: St. John's offers a 31-credit online master's in taxation emphasizing research and writing skills. Elective options include global taxation systems, individual tax planning, and estates and gifts. The degree can be combined with an MBA.

  • Acceptance rate: 72%
  • Graduation rate: 60%
  • Avg. annual net price: $27,130
  • Time to completion: Two years; part-time pace offered
  • GRE/GMAT: Not offered
  • Minimum GPA: Not offered
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions
  • Course delivery methods: Online

9. University of New Haven

West Haven, Connecticut

About the program: UNH's 30-credit online master of taxation prepares learners for executive-level tax specialist positions. Elective options include qualified retirement plans, tax-exempt organizations, and state and local taxation.

  • Acceptance rate: 83%
  • Graduation rate: 60%
  • Avg. annual net price: $33,400
  • Time to completion: Two years; part-time pace offered
  • GRE/GMAT: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions
  • Course delivery methods: Online

10. Golden Gate University

San Francisco, California

About the program: GGU offers a 45-credit online master of science in accounting data analytics with a concentration in taxation. The concentration includes three courses: Advanced federal income taxation, tax research and decision making, and property transactions.

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 45%
  • Avg. annual net price: Not publicly available
  • Time to completion: Two to three years; part-time pace offered
  • GRE/GMAT: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online

What to expect in an online master's in taxation degree program

An online master's in taxation prepares you for work as a tax specialist assisting both individuals and businesses in corporate, government, and nonprofit settings. 

As a student, your coursework will blend theoretical and practical knowledge, immersing you in industry-standard software and practices while also covering complex tax regulations and laws. Some programs may incorporate hands-on opportunities, such as experience in a low-income taxpayer clinic.

High-quality taxation master's programs typically come with Association to Advance Collegiate Colleges of Business (AACSB) accreditation. 

To succeed in any online accounting or taxation program, you need to cultivate strong skills in critical thinking and business communication skills.

Master's in taxation courses

All taxation master's programs feature coursework in three core areas: Taxation fundamentals, tax research, and tax procedure. Programs also feature varying required and elective coursework on corporate taxation, partnership taxation, estate and gift taxation, and more.

The following course list represents standard course offerings among taxation master's programs.

Fundamentals of taxation

This course overviews foundational principles in the taxation of individuals and businesses in the U.S. federal tax system. Students learn to account for income recognition, property transactions, and expense deduction.

Tax research

This course covers essential methodologies and techniques used in tax research. Students learn to assess research sources, detect risk, and uncover potential tax problems. Argumentation and critical thinking are emphasized.

Tax procedure

For this course, learners investigate ethical guidelines for tax advisors and standard procedures for resolving tax controversies with the IRS. Topics include statutory notices, filing obligations, and examination and collections procedures.

Corporate taxation

This course provides an overview of the federal income taxation of corporations. Students explore how tax law affects issues such as tax-free mergers and acquisitions, dividends, and redemptions.

Taxation degree levels

Different degree levels serve different professional goals. Your best bet for working as a tax specialist upon graduation is likely a taxation master's. 

However, lower-level degrees in accounting can be a stepping stone to a master's degree or an accounting position specializing in tax issues. Choose the degree that best fits your long-term plans.

Associate in taxation

Length: Two to three years

Cost: $2,000-$5,000

Post-grad careers: Accounting assistant, payroll clerk, bookkeeper

More commonly called an associate in accounting, this affordable degree is often used as a stepping stone to a bachelor's in accounting. Other learners use an accounting associate to transition to a payroll clerk or accounting assistant job.

To succeed in an associate in taxation program, you need strong skills in business communication, critical thinking, and attentiveness to detail.

Bachelor's in taxation

Length: Four years

Cost: $40,000-$150,000

Post-grad careers: Financial analyst, management accountant, certified public accountant

A bachelor's usually takes four years to complete and takes the form of an accounting degree with a concentration in taxation. Learners in a taxation bachelor's program study advanced business and tax law, accounting software tools, and management science. Graduates are prepared to sit for CPA certification.

Though this degree aims to prepare graduates to work as CPAs, a taxation bachelor's can help you secure finance, management, and accounting roles.

Master's in taxation

Length: Two to three years

Cost: $50,000-$100,000

Post-grad careers: Financial planner, tax advisor, tax specialist

A masters' in taxation can make you a competitive applicant for tax and financial services-related roles. The degree covers legal and regulatory aspects of taxation in the U.S.

To succeed in a master's in taxation program, you need analytical and critical thinking skills. You will leave the program equipped to research and resolve tax-related issues for both individuals and businesses. Sometimes this program is paired with an optional graduate certificate in accounting.

Doctorate in taxation

Length: Three to five years

Cost: $50,000-$150,000

Post-grad careers: Research scientist, university professor, economic consultant

Though not frequently offered, a doctorate in taxation is the terminal degree. The degree can take the form of a J.D. in tax law or a Ph.D. in taxation. The Ph.D. caters to tax specialists interested in academic research and educating on contemporary tax issues.

As with any Ph.D. program, students need to prepare a dissertation and defense. To succeed in the program, discuss your research topic with faculty in advance.

In conclusion

A master's in taxation is a challenging, somewhat-uncommon degree. If you choose to pursue it, though, you will be ahead of the curve as a tax professional who can succeed without relying on modern shortcuts. That level of specialization has the potential to boost your earnings, not unlike a master's in forensic accounting.

For more information on the master's in taxation degree, consult tax service organizations in your community or your local college's career center. 

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