Best Online Master’s in Taxation Programs

Launch or advance your career as a tax professional by earning your master’s in taxation online from a top university. This guide gives everything you need to take the next step.

An online master’s in taxation is the ideal degree for individuals currently working or who have prior experience in the tax business and are interested in advancing their careers into leadership roles without quitting their current job. It’s also a great choice for professionals in fields like accounting, finance, business, and law seeking to increase their expertise and value by providing innovative tax solutions to employers and clients.

This guide is packed with useful information on the best online master’s in taxation programs offered by some of the top business schools. It tells you what to look for when selecting a program, what knowledge and skills are gained during coursework, and how much you might pay in tuition. You will also discover potential jobs for taxation master’s graduates and learn how much money you might make after earning your degree.

College Spotlights: Top-Ranked Online Master’s in Taxation Programs in 2021

Factors to look for in an online master’s in taxation online program include accreditation, affordability, study convenience and flexibility, quality faculty, and access to student services. The three programs spotlighted below are among the best available when it comes to the combination of these factors, and they exemplify what you want in a program. They also preview our full program rankings of online taxation master’s programs coming later this year so be sure to check back for a look at even more top-quality programs.

Northeastern University

Northeastern University’s Online Master of Science in Taxation program features content and structure designed with working professionals in mind. The 30-credit hour curriculum consists of 15 credits in subjects like federal tax analysis, corporations and shareholders, estate and gift taxation, and tax research. The credits of elective coursework are determined by focus areas of either Taxation of Entities or Taxation of Individuals. The 100% online program has no campus residencies or other in-person requirements. Six start dates are available yearly, and students can complete degrees in a few as 20 months while continuing full-time employment.

Admission requirements include an undergraduate degree from a properly accredited college or university. Applicants with a non-tax undergrad major must complete an undergraduate or graduate course in taxation before enrollment. Applicants must additionally possess a relevant professional credential (i.e., CPA, CFP, JD, or Enrolled Agent) or have at least two years of professional tax experience.

University of Cincinnati

Study convenience stands out in this online Master of Science in Taxation program from the University of Cincinnati. Coursework is 100% online in an asynchronous format, so students can access content anywhere and at any time. Both full-time and part-time study is available, and the entire program can be completed in as little as one year.

Convenience is also reflected in the program’s admissions requirements, which are among the most flexible of any online taxation master’s program. They include a previously-earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university. Applicants whose bachelor’s degree is not from a regionally-accredited school may still apply but will undergo an audit of their undergrad coursework. No GMAT or GRE test scores are required. Admission into the program is selective and based on factors that include professional and academic achievement, solid communication skills, and record of effective leadership.

University of Southern California

Probably no online master’s in taxation program is more focused on individuals currently employed in the tax field than the University of Southern California’s Master of Business Taxation for Working Professionals (MBT-WP). The 30-credit hour program is split between foundational coursework and electives that provide the most current and advanced knowledge and skills in taxation and the research techniques crucial to professional success. The program is only in part-time format and completable in as few as five semesters (i.e., about 21 months). However, students can complete the program at their own pace.

All coursework in the MBT-WP program is offered entirely online and presented synchronously, requiring online attendance one night weekly. Students can combine online courses with in-person classes at USC’s downtown Los Angeles campus.

Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in any major from a regionally-accredited institution; completed prerequisite courses in micro or macroeconomics and intermediate financial accounting; and at least one year of tax-related work experience. Applicants without a completed Uniform CPA exam must submit GMAT test scores.

Advantages of Earning an Online Master’s in Taxation

A taxation master’s degree is one of the best ways to advance your career in the professional tax field. Below are three of the biggest advantages of earning your degree through one of the many top online master’s in taxation programs.

  1. Online study geared to the working professional

    You don’t have to be employed as a tax professional while earning your degree. If you are, though, you’ll find that online master’s in taxation programs make your academic study as convenient as possible. Features include highly flexible, self-paced formats, and coursework you can access and complete at any time. One program, Florida Atlantic University’s Executive Master of Taxation, even suspends study during the tax season so students can focus on their jobs.

  2. Gain in-demand advanced tax knowledge and skills

    Every year brings hundreds of changes in federal and state tax codes. Your master’s in taxation online program provides a comprehensive and advanced base of tax-specific knowledge to refine your tax planning techniques. You also develop solid research skills needed for keeping up with ever-changing tax laws and regulations, an ability always in high demand by employers and clients.

  3. Gain important leadership skills

    Your online master’s in taxation provides critical communication and leadership skills you likely didn’t receive in your undergraduate or CPA training programs.

What You’ll Learn in a Master’s in Taxation Online Program

Most master’s in taxation online programs feature a balance of foundational courses in core tax subjects, like the five described below, and elective courses in a range of related topics that allow students to focus their studies and enhance their unique professional practices. Online master’s in taxation degree programs are didactic coursework-based, and only a few, like those from Portland State University and St. John’s University, include research or capstone projects. None of the programs mentioned in this guide require a thesis.

Popular Courses

  • Corporations and Shareholders

    This course is an in-depth examination of the numerous tax issues related to corporations and the tax implications of corporate shareholders. Topics include corporate and capital formation and structure, corporate operations, liquidating and non-liquidating distributions, redemptions and partial distributions, and tax issues in the sale of the corporate business.

  • Estate and Gift Taxes

    Courses on estate and gift taxes provide a comprehensive analysis of federal estate and gift tax laws and the consequences of lifetime and testamentary transfers. Subjects also include the decedent’s final tax return (i.e., gross estate inclusion, deductions, permitted credits, etc.), the application of gift tax deductions and exclusions, generation-skipping transfers and exemption allocation rules, asset valuation rules, and more.

  • Partnership Taxation

    Partnership taxation courses detail the provisions of subchapters K and S of the Internal Revenue Code along with the various uses of partnerships in tax planning. Topics include capital formation, partnership operations, transactions between the partnership and its partners, distributions, the sale of interests in the partnership, and partnership termination and liquidation of assets.

  • State and Local Taxation

    This course examines state and local tax laws related to property, sales and use, and franchise and corporate income. Topics include important litigation issues and federal limitations (i.e., Commerce and Due Process Clauses of the Constitution) on state and local government powers to tax businesses within and across jurisdictions.

  • Research and Ethics in Professional Taxation Practice

    Using case studies, this course analyzes the theories and methods employed in tax research along with the corresponding legal and ethical issues involved. Subjects include tax research procedures, sources of tax authority, and the role and responsibilities of the tax professional in representing taxpayers with the IRS. This course is often a first-semester requirement for taxation master’s programs.

Accreditation for Master’s in Taxation Online Programs

There are two basic forms of postsecondary-related accreditation: programmatic and institutional. Programmatic accreditation refers to the vetting of individual degree programs and is typically administered by one or more professional associations. There are no professional associations currently providing programmatic accreditation for U.S.-based master’s of taxation programs.

Institutional accreditation refers to the vetting of colleges and universities (and the academic programs they offer) as a whole. Institutional accreditation of U.S. postsecondary schools is administered by several regional and national accrediting agencies approved by the Department of Education. In addition, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) institutionally accredits the business schools and departments within colleges and universities that house Master of Taxation degree programs. All the programs in this guide are from schools with both regionally and AACSB accreditation.

Current information on accreditation status can usually be found on program and school webpages. You can also check accreditation status at the Department of Education and AACSB websites.

What You Can Do with a Master’s in Taxation

One of the biggest goals of online master’s in taxation programs is preparing students for leadership roles within the profession, something reflected in the career opportunities available to taxation master’s graduates. Five of the most popular of those careers and their salary estimates are highlighted below. Keep in mind, however, that your actual salary depends on several factors, including location, specific employer, and previous work experience.

Financial Managers

A financial manager’s job duties are broader than those for other tax-related occupations and include all aspects of an organization’s financial activities and health. Financial managers prepare financial statements and business reports like budgets and financial forecasts. They also advise senior management in developing financial strategies to meeting long-term organizational goals.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$68,370

$129,890 $208,000 (or greater)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Senior Tax Accountants

Senior tax accountants typically work in managerial positions with private tax accounting firms providing services for business clients and in larger businesses with their own in-house accounting staff. Duties include overseeing and reviewing tax returns prepared by junior staff and meeting with senior management and clients to resolve problems related to taxes, tax filings, and estimated tax payments.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$58,000 $73,000 $92,000

Source: PayScale, 2021

Tax Consultants

Tax consultants are typically self-employed professionals, most often CPAs, working independently for individual clients on a range of tax-related issues, particularly those involving document preparation and tax filing. Tax consultants may work for a client for a single tax season or be retained for years by a business or estate with long-term complex financial and legal concerns.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$48,000 $61,000 $85,000

Source: PayScale, 2021

Tax Examiners and Collectors and Revenue Agents

Among the biggest employers of master’s in taxation graduates are federal, state, and local government tax agencies. Duties include reviewing filed tax returns for accuracy and compliance to tax laws and regulations, conducting investigations and audits, communicating with taxpayers regarding filing and payment issues, collecting unpaid taxes, and issuing refunds for overpayments.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$33,090 $54,890 $101,780

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Tax Managers

Tax managers make sure their company or organization meets all reporting and compliance requirements for federal, state, and local tax authorities. It’s the tax manager’s job to minimize their organization’s audit risk. Duties include developing tax strategies, preparing and filing tax returns, and keeping abreast of the latest tax laws and regulations applicable to their employer’s business.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$72,000 $98,000 $129,000

Source: PayScale, 2021

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Master’s Degrees in Taxation

Like most prospective students considering a taxation master’s program, you probably wonder how you might pay for the degree. Fortunately, there are many financial aid resources to consider. The most common is the student loan, and the biggest source for student loans is the federal government. Other funding sources include scholarships, grants, graduate fellowships and assistantships, and work-study jobs. CPAs and other working tax professionals should also check with employers about employer tuition assistance. To learn more about these and other financial aid opportunities, visit our financial aid page.

What Your Online Master’s in Taxation Could Cost

In the chart below, you’ll find tuition figures for three online master’s in taxation programs. This gives an idea of what to expect to pay, but they do not include the costs for application fees, internet access fees, the cost of books and supplies, etc.

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Total Tuition Cost

Portland State University

45

$510 (Oregon residents and WICHE)

$671 (non-resident)

$22,950 (Oregon resident and WICHE);

$30,195 (non-resident)

St. John’s University

31

$1,320

$40,920

Villanova University

30

$1,525

$45,750

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Taxation Master’s Degrees

What are the admissions requirements for an online master’s in taxation?

The following requirements are likely similar to those for any program you choose. Remember, though, that specific admission requirements vary by program.

  • Previously-earned degree: All programs require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. college or university (or international equivalent) earned with a minimum GPA (3.0 to 3.25 is common). A major in an accounting or business-related field is typically not required. Villanova University’s Master of Taxation is one exception. Completion of prerequisite courses in taxation, accounting, and/or economics may be necessary for students with bachelor’s degrees in unrelated major subjects.
  • Graduate admission test scores: GRE/GMAT requirements vary among programs. Most programs that require them waive the requirement under certain circumstances. For example, the University of Akron’s MTax program waives the requirement for students who passed the LSAT or bar exam or have previous tax-related work experience.
  • Work experience: Most online taxation master’s programs require some, typically two to three years, previous work experience in the taxation or broader accounting field.

Other common application requirements include letters of recommendation, a current resume or CV, and a personal statement of purpose. TOEFL or IELTS scores are additionally required of international applicants as proof of English language proficiency.

How long will it take to finish my master’s in taxation online?

Completion times for online master’s in taxation programs vary among programs. Most can be completed in one to two years of full-time study or two to three years of part-time study. Program length depends on many factors, including total credits required, minus any transfer credits, and individual study pace.

Can I earn a master’s in taxation 100% online or do I need to visit campus?

Most online master’s in taxation degrees feature coursework that can be completed 100% online with no on-campus or in-person requirements. A few include one or more on-campus requirements. For example, Portland State University’s online Master of Taxation program requires students attend one in-person residency each term. Some programs include a mandatory or optional internship that may or may not require in-person participation.