Answer: Yes, there are online master’s in accounting programs that are designed for part-time enrollment. Some online programs only offer a part-time track, while others have one or more designated plans of study that may include full-time and part-time tracks. There are also flexible online master’s in accounting programs that allow students to adjust the number of courses they take per term to fit a part-time or full-time schedule.
A part-time online master’s in accounting program is a graduate degree program that confers a master’s degree in accounting; provides all or most of its coursework and instruction using distance-learning technologies; and that does not require students to carry a full-time course load.
While there is no formal or universally accepted definition for what constitutes part-time enrollment versus full-time enrollment, the differences between the two are generally apparent. Students in a full-time master’s program are typically expected to devote up to 40 hours per week to schoolwork; part-time enrollment more commonly requires students to spend an average of 15 to 20 hours on schoolwork per week. In an online master’s in accounting programs, full-time enrollment might involve taking three or four courses per semester for a total of four of five semesters in order to complete the program. Part-time enrollment in a similar program would translate to taking one or two courses per semester for eight or more semesters.
Online master’s in accounting programs are commonly structured to accommodate students who intend to continue working while earning their degree and many programs provide more than one enrollment option. Indeed, there are various ways in which enrollment in an online master’s in accounting program may be structured.
Programs with flexible enrollment allow students to choose the number of courses they take per term based on how much time they are able to commit to schoolwork. These programs typically place a cap on the number of years students are allotted to finish the program requirements. Other programs may have designated tracks for part-time and full-time students. For example, a 45-credit online master’s in accounting program that requires students to complete 15 courses might have a full-time enrollment track for students who can commit to taking three or four courses per semester, and a part-time track for students who would prefer to take one or two courses per semester.
It is important to note that not all online master’s in accounting program adhere to the semester system. Rather than holding two 15-week semesters per year and a shorter summer term, some programs offer courses five or six times per year during five-week, eight-week, or ten-week terms. Full-time enrollment in a program that has five terms per year might only require the completion of two courses per term, while part-time enrollment in a program of this type would equate to taking one course per term.
Regardless of how and when a program offers its courses, full-time and part-time enrollment are correlated with the time it takes to complete a master’s in accounting program. Crediting and curricular requirements vary by program, but full-time students can general earn their degree in two years or less, while part-time students typically take more than two years to graduate.
The table below offers a comparison of part-time and full-time enrollment in an online master’s in accounting program that requires students to complete 12 three-credit courses for a total of 36 credits. The actual time to completion for an online master’s in accounting program may depend on several additional factors, such as whether or not the program holds a summer session and when required courses are offered.
|Type of Enrollment||Full-time||Part-time|
|Courses per Semester||3||1-2|
|Hours per Week||35-40||15-20|
|Time to Completion||12-16 months||2-4 years|
The list below provides an overview of part-time online master’s in accounting programs offered by accredited, non-profit colleges and universities.
Auburn University: Auburn offers a part-time online Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program that requires students to attend one on-campus residency for three days in their final semester. The program is designed for students who hold an undergraduate degree in business or accounting, although students who hold bachelor’s degrees in other fields may qualify for the program by completing several prerequisite classes. The ten-course, 30-credit MAcc program can be completed in five semesters by students who take two courses per semester. However, students may opt to take just one course per semester if they prefer.
George Mason University: The School of Business at George Mason University offers a part-time online Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) program that can be completed in two years by students who enter the program with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. The program utilizes a cohort model in which students complete five core courses as a group over a two-year period, including a Global Accounting Environment course that includes a one-week in-person residency abroad. Students who hold a bachelor’s in business or a related field are required to complete several prerequisite courses that can add an additional year to the time it takes to earn the degree.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC): The Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC offers an online Master of Accounting program that has flexible enrollment. Students have up to 36 months to complete the program curriculum, which includes nine core courses and four electives. Part-time students can complete the curriculum by taking one or two courses per semester over three years, while full-time students have the option of graduating in as few as 15 months by taking three courses per semester. Students in the program are required to attend an on-campus orientation session at the start of the program.
For additional details about online master’s in accounting programs, including programs that offer part-time and full-time enrollment options, refer to our Online Master’s in Accounting Degree Programs page.