Completely Online Graduate Programs

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    Does anyone have any suggestions for completely online masters program? I'm open to either an MBA or an Accounting degree.I have all of my hours to sit for the CPA Exam, but I am still wanting to get a masters degree. I work full-time though in auditing and have to travel a lot so a traditional school isn't really an option. Thanks!

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    Thomas Edison State College is one…they're mid-states accredited.

    I took audit with them…class was VERY rigorous.

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    Aaron and always remember, YMMV

    I profit from your CPE frustration. You're welcome.


    This is my own personal opinion. General rule: Make sure you know exactly what you want to do with your MBA before getting it. Make sure that the MBA achieves what you need, adds that value above and beyond it's (post-tax) cost and foregone income, and make sure it doesn't provide said value via networking in your case because an online MBA really is not able to provide that. That's just an unfortunate truth.

    My bias is that if you don't want to be an investment banker, strategic consultant, or are not near-executive level and have your corporation paying for you to get it dressing for a promotion….you shouldn't get an MBA.

    Also make sure the MBA is a well-ranked one. Truthfully, there are more MBA grads than there are MBA specific jobs. Ask the online program about their career placement services, how they match up students to employers, what employers do they work at afterwards, income, etc. and ask if they have placement statistics.

    If they don't keep score/track of that or say “yea we place at XYZ” and you later find they only successfully place one or two people…that tells you…

    Speaking to a masters, presumably in accounting, it means nothing. When I went into the big four, I had the opportunity to get one before entering – I asked everyone what they thought of it. Partners, associates with them, associates without them…everybody (and i mean everybody – even those with them) said they were near valueless outside of the scope of making the most of the extra hours needed to get to 150 (which you already have – and I was just a little short of then).

    Grad programs teach research and accounting is too tangible to be researched…My advice would be that if you wanted to work for a big four firm going to a good accounting program would get you in the face of recruiters. That's the value of a grad program aside from more credits. And that value can be very well worth it.

    For the same logic of the MBA, make sure it will give you what you want. At my school, our MAcc program was highly rated, but it was filled 10% by those who needed credits (of which many had jobs lined up after) and 90% by those from other undergrad programs that hadn't landed a good job. Employers knew about it, so the very top ones (like investment banks perhaps) would put on the career services application site “applications – extended to undergrads only.” The big four firms did not do that, but my assumption was they were simply more diligent with candidates (seeing if they changed their minds on a career path late in the game, came from a tiny school beforehand, etc).

    It seemed a little harsh at times (very much so with high finance and consulting companies) and the program was top 20.

    You seem to have something nice right now at a firm. I'd try to build on that. I understand that desire to keep pushing the envelope, being ambitious, and growing. Maybe the CFA, CISA, or some additional credential that would apply directly to your work (or slightly – yet on a path that interests you more like finance idk), which doesn't cost an arm and a leg – is much better.

    Heck, I bet your employer would pay for it depending on what it is.

    There is a great study in fact about portfolio managers – they get paid a lot for fund management yet 80% of their performance is due to those around them. High performers switch to larger funds – and their performance falls to less than prior. Just be sure the reason you are trying to “upgrade” is for reasons that are transferrable – look at it with an objective perspective. Personally, it keeps me in my seat – and not get a wandering eye when I get a decent performance review.

    Make sure you are not fixing a career path that you like and is not broken.

    I hope this helps.


    I can't speak for the OP, but I found the above post valuable.

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    Aaron and always remember, YMMV

    I profit from your CPE frustration. You're welcome.


    Word on the street is to make sure that the program is AACSB accredited. Don't fall for the for-profits like U of Phoenix (I hope I don't offend anyone). I may go the online MBA route once I finish up my exams.

    Here's a list of a few of the accredited programs:

    The 137 Most Affordable AACSB Online MBA Programs

    CPA (2017)

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    @cjsoccer3 I completely agree with you about masters not being worth it unless you have specific career goals in mind. Honestly, this is more for personal reasons than professional reasons. For the exact reasons you just listed, I originally decided to forgo a masters degree to just get enough hours to be CPA eligible. But the more I've thought about the more I really want a masters degree. I realize it most likely will not be worth the money at all, but this is something I've thought about a lot lately and really want to do.

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    I'm enjoying my MBA program – it's AACSB-accredited, but not ridiculously expensive. About $12k or so, but with tax savings (just counting lifetime learning credit 20%), it's a little under $10k net cash loss. I'm going through Louisiana State University – Shreveport (

    I would disagree with the prior poster who said “if you don’t want to be an investment banker, strategic consultant, or are not near-executive level [sic] you should not get an MBA”. However, I will say that it's not a first-thing-in-your-career move. If you get it too early, I think it makes you too qualified education-wise for what you're qualified for experience-wise. However, school is easier when you're younger (people get degrees at age 70, but doesn't mean it's easier then), so if you're in a financial position to be able to afford the degree younger, it might not be a bad thing, as long as you're willing to not list it for positions that it's too much over-qualified. I heard someone say once that any “good” MBA school wouldn't let you in with less than 3 years of professional experience. I don't think that person was right at all, but I've kept it in my head as a guide of when you've been working long enough to even think about it. (Not that I think the OP is too early in his/her career – sounds like a career-established individual – just throwing this out there for future readers.)

    How to evaluate the school depends on what your goals are from it. If you're looking to get a job through the program, then you'll need one with good career resources; if you've already got a job and don't anticipate wanting or needing the school's career resources, then that doesn't matter. Personally, I've never used a school's career resources, and knew picking one across the country would make that impossible, but I don't mind; I've got a job, and got it without school resources, so am quite sure I can do the next one without them, too. 😛

    One big thing I would suggest is that you be aware of what reputation the school has, specifically in your area if any. That's one thing I like with LSUS; LSU is known as a state school, so there's an assumption of a certain level of standards. Since I'm across the country, I don't know if it has a reputation as a party school or anything like that, but what it is known for is being a decent size school due to football programs and such, so that's a reputation I'm fine with. However, something like University of Pheonix unfortunately has a reputation as being the way to get a degree when you can't get a “real” one. Probably not fair to the students, since a good student can still learn very well, but that's the reputation, so you've gotta take it into consideration. More locally, there's a college a couple hours away that has virtually no admission requirements, and will take and somehow graduate anybody. If I had a degree from there, it would look like I was too much of an idiot to go to a “real” school – even though I'm sure they have some smart students, there's too many that aren't. I've heard many people just laugh when they hear that someone is going there. So…moral of the story: be aware of what reputation – if any – the school has where you'll be looking for a job, and make sure it's a reputation that will be OK for your purposes.

    P. S. I am getting my MBA primarily for personal reasons at present. $9-12k was something I could justify for personal reasons. I've wanted to get a MBA for quite awhile, and now seemed like a good time to do it. I don't expect any immediate pay increases or anything like that; I think down the road it will be helpful (there are many job openings I've looked at that list MBA as preferred), but for now, it's just for me. It might not yield results for 5, 10, or 15 years, but I'd rather do it now while I know I can devote the time etc., than wait 10 years and find out I don't have time when I need it. ‘Sides, I want it; that's enough reason for me. 🙂


    Where is this online MBA (Most Beautiful Accountants), you guys keep talking about?!

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    @lilla I looked into the program you mentioned and it looks like a really good option! How do you like it there? Also how is the testing done there? I was never sure how these completely online programs did tests.

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    I got my MBA from LSU-Shreveport also. I thought it was a good program. I didn't need the hours or particularly need an MBA but my company paid for it 100% so I figured why not get it if it is free?

    All the tests are online, and each teacher has their own spin to them, but in general most are 30-40 MCQ with some True/False mixed in. Some classes are not very test heavy, but are graded by writing assignments. These classes typically have “forums” similar to A71 where you have to post your response to an assigned topic and then read other class mates responses and make educational replies. You could easily have to write 3-4 pages worth of material a week to get a good grade.

    My favorite part of the LSU-S program though was the speed of it. Classes are only 7 weeks long with typically a week break before the next class starts. And of course as Lilla mentioned the costs are very reasonable.

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    I have a master's from snhu but if you're getting a CPA, the ROI for having a master's is negligible. So do it for one of two reasons–it's a personal goal just to say you did it, or it's on someone else's dime.

    Old timer,  A71'er since 2010.

    Finance manager/HR manager




    The testing at least in my program was all done in blackboard. You'd launch a test, the timer would start and you'd only have one attempt to complete it. Very nerve wracking if your internet connection was unreliable.

    Old timer,  A71'er since 2010.

    Finance manager/HR manager




    I am currently in an online MBA program at Morehead State University. I chose it because (1) it's the same school I got my BBA of Acct and (2) it is somewhat close to where I live so it isn't a school I've never physically attended. It is a smaller school but is AACSB accredited. What I like about it is that the class sizes are pretty small (usually 30 or less students) so the instructors respond quickly and are very approachable. All of the classes go through blackboard and have tests like @mla11692 mentioned. I really enjoy it. Just because it's online does not mean it is easy. The classes contain the same material as in-person classes and it isn't a “made up” university. Here is a link if you're interested:

    I'm taking four courses a semester which is one class over the “normal full-time load” but since I went straight from undergrad to grad, I don't find it too overwhelming. Price for four courses is a little over $7,000 so I'm going to be paying about $20,000 total. I'm personally getting my MBA because I have been in contact with a recruiter from Robert Half in the city I'm interested in moving to and he said having both a CPA license and MBA will put me one notch above other potential employees because most just have one or the other. Plus I just wanted to get the degree and I needed the hours, as well.

    "The more I practice, the luckier I get."

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    Really depends on your career goals. If you want to make a lot of money, hold off on the MBA, get experience and study for the GMAT and see if you can get in to a top program. If you're just going to grad school to check a box off, then go to a reasonably priced and ranked MBA program as people advised earlier in this thread. If you're planning on paying anything more than, say, $40,000 on an MBA, it better be worth it.
    The reason I say hold off is because once you get that MBA, it generally closes the window on getting a second one from a prestigious school, should you desire to.

    Other options depending on area of interest: MS in Tax for tax route/starting a CPA business, MS in Finance to have a broader range of employment options, MS in MIS and some certifications like CISA and CISM for a more tech-focused career.

    The CPA is nice in that it opens a lot of doors.


    The MAC Program at UNC is wonderful! They have a fully online format and it's extremely interactive and gives all the same benefits as being in the classroom.

    They also have the classes in the evening so you can still work during the day (can't afford to leave a job for school!) and allow you to pick the pace that works for you.

    The Kenan-Flagler Business School is AACSB accredited as well.

    Check out the info here:


    I did my MBA in person but I just want to give some contrarian views on the online only MBA or other masters programs.

    In big cities like Seattle, the Bay area, LA, etc…forget having an online degree. They have 200 qualified applicants for any job that pays 40-150k. But where I live graduate degrees are very rare and that changes the equation. Many jobs in particular fields (like education and government) will require a MBA or other masters degree. These jobs will often post and get re-posted because they cannot find a qualified person. If you have a CPA as well, you're going to be the most qualified person to apply for these jobs.

    I am currently the CFO of a community college. I got the job because I have a CPA and I”m the first CPA to ever hold the job at the college I work out. However, one of the requirements is a MBA. If my degree had been an online MBA I would have still gotten the job, the position just has to check that box.

    Many people in government can get automatic raises if they have a masters degree too, keep that in mind.

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    I'm taking my Pre-MSA @ UMass Amherst this summer, then start MSA this fall. Their MSA is very flexible (on-campus, 100% online or hybrid). The professors are very knowledgeable, professional, nice, friendly and are doing everything to help you. I'm enjoying my classes very much… You should check it out…

    And their Accounting Transitions Program:

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    I know this is a bit of an older post, but I thought I would chime in. I work in a private company in the finance group, that “prefers” to hire MBAs. Essentially my entire group has MBA's except me.

    One gentlemen got his MBA online from Penn State University. Which is a relatively well known school, which adds some credibility. There is also a new online MBA program through the University of Illinois in partnership with It sounds like a very innovative program and it might be worth looking into. It is very affordable, with a projected total cost at just over $22k. Link below.

    Lastly, I do have a Masters, but mine is in Information Technology Management from the University of North Carolina – Greensboro. This gave me the 150 hours necessary to sit for the CPA exam in Illinois. I have an undergraduate degree in Accounting that met all the accounting requirements. Link for MSITM Degree.

    There are a ton of options out there, it is mostly a matter of determining what fits best with your situation. Education is one of the few things that can never been taken from you, so it's not something I would discourage.

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    Clarify if you want a MBA or MSA (Accountancy).
    At my level of experience, I thought an Executive MBA at Wharton was beneath or behind me a bit.
    Things changed and I needed a masters despite my level of work experience, yet I was sort of stranded in a place where the nearest
    Masters of any repute was going to be a several hour drive each week.

    At the time there weren't many schools doing online masters in Accountancy. I ended up doing SUNY-IT, now rebranded SUNY Polytech, and being very happy with most of the program. There were 2 weak teachers but also a half dozen ones as competent as any professors I have ever had. Most of the classes were a lot more educational and thought provoking than I anticipated- worth the money.

    I see Post University now offers a masters in Accountancy. They did not when I started. I had to take several post bacc classes there to satisfy SUNY requirements. It was a better and more rigorous school than I would have thought, but seems to be growing and changing each year. I moderately recommend them, but from experience 5 or 6 years ago.


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