MS in Accounting

Master of Science in Accounting

MSA Admissions

The SMU Cox School of Business faculty, staff, and students are honored to have you consider admission into the SMU Cox MSA program. We seek to admit ambitious students with strong academic capabilities and leadership potential to our rigorous program.  Your application, supporting documents are very important in the selection process, since they present you to the SMU Cox MSA Admissions Committee.  We hope you will provide us with the most complete and honest picture of yourself.

Because the coursework of the SMU Cox MSA Program contains strictly graduate level curriculum, applicants must demonstrate proficiencies in the required prerequisites prior to beginning their program.  All students must have completed at a minimum introductory accounting courses (equivalent to Fundamentals of Accounting I and II) prior to being considered for admission to the MSA program.  Students who have not completed required prerequisites at the time of application may be offered admission conditional on successful completion of remaining prerequisites prior to commencing the program.  The SMU Cox MSA Program does not have a work experience requirement as the majority of our students enter the program in preparation for a career in public accounting.

2018 Entry (Summer and Fall)
Round 1: Early Admissions & Scholarship Consideration November 1
Round 2: Deadline for Scholarship Consideration January 20
Deadline for International Applicants   March 15
Final Deadline* May 31

*Admissions will be on a rolling basis after Round 2 

Application Packet

Apply On-Line

Students are admitted to the MSA for the fall or summer term.  Applicants are required to submit the following items for admission consideration:

  • Application Form 
  • Resume 
  • Essays 
  • GMAT Score Report (not required for SMU Cox undergraduates) 
  • Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (including SMU if you are a prior or current student) 
  • Contact information for two professional references (Inputted while completing the online application) 
  • TOEFL, IELTS or Pearson PTE Score Report (International only)

Please see the application for complete instructions on how to apply.

Official Transcripts

  • We can accept official electronic transcripts sent directly from the university or transcript service to Briann Stegall,
  • To send official, hard-copy transcripts, please the mailing address below:

    Mailing Address:
    SMU Cox School of Business
    ATTN: MSA Admissions
    PO Box 750521
    Dallas, TX 75275

Test Scores and Grade Point Average

The admission committee's evaluation of applicants does not employ strict cutoffs on test scores or grade point average.  Instead we look for a weight of evidence to determine whether a student would be expected to succeed in our rigorous program of study.  A minimum GMAT score of 600 and a minimum GPA of 3.0 are required for admission consideration.

All applicants except those who earned an SMU Cox undergraduate or graduate degree within five years of starting the MSA Program are required to take the GMAT (no waivers available). Scores on the GMAT are valid for MSA Program start dates up to five years after the month in which the exam is taken. The school code to release the GMAT to SMU is HWG-KN-59.

International Applicants

All applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit a TOEFL, IELTS or Pearson PTE score report.  The TOEFL/IELTS/PTE may be waived for international applicants who hold undergraduate or graduate degrees obtained in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, or United Kingdom.  The admission committee's evaluation of applicants does not employ strict cutoffs on TOEFL/IELTS/PTE, but a minimum total score of 100 (TOEFL) is required for application consideration.  Scores on the TOEFL/IELTS/PTE are valid for MSA Program start dates up to two years after the month in which the exam is taken. Our TOEFL institution code is 6660.


The SMU Cox Program accepts students from a wide variety of educational backgrounds.  Currently, over 25% of our MSA students do not have an undergraduate degree in accounting. No matter the background, applicants must demonstrate the necessary background for success in the program.

Most students who have attended colleges outside the US and those without a prior accounting degree will need to complete additional background courses at SMU during the summer to allow them to begin the MSA Program in the fall. Offers of admittance will indicate if background courses are necessary.

Faculty in the MSA Program assume that students enter the program with a minimum level of prior knowledge related to accounting. Therefore, we require that all students have a background in US reporting that includes:

  • Intermediate Accounting based on US GAAP. Having studied Intermediate Accounting in classes that focused on IFRS or another jurisdiction's standards is not sufficient preparation, as the level of familiarity with US GAAP will not be present. 
  • Taxation that is focused on the US Tax Law. Again, having studied taxation under another jurisdiction or studied taxation theory is not sufficient, as the familiarity with US Tax Law will not be present to allow for advanced studies.
  • Auditing that is focused on the US SAS and PCAOB Requirements. Again, having studied audit under another jurisdiction or studied audit theory is not sufficient, as the familiarity with US requirements will not be present to allow for advanced studies.

The goal of the MSA Program's background course requirements is to ensure students are prepared for and therefore not overwhelmed by the content, pace, and rigor of their graduate classes.

Description of Prerequisite and Background Courses


Application prerequisite requirements

Applicants must have completed introductory accounting courses prior to being considered for admission to the MSA program. Descriptions of the topics covered in these courses are:

Fundamentals of Accounting I (SMU's ACCT 2301) – Provides students with a comprehensive introduction to financial accounting under U.S. GAAP.  Students will gain an understanding of the principles and procedures of accounting, be able to construct basic financial statements including the cash flow statement and begin to read and interpret U.S. corporate financial reports.

Fundamentals of Accounting II (SMU's ACCT 2302) – Provides students with a comprehensive introduction to managerial accounting focusing on the use of internal accounting systems for planning, decision-making and control purposes.  Students will gain an understanding of topics such as cost estimation, cost volume profit analysis, management control and capital budgeting and learn how to use these concepts and tools to make operational and strategic decisions.


Background courses required prior to program

Accounting majors should have the necessary knowledge related to Intermediate Accounting and Federal Income Tax described above. At SMU, accounting undergraduates would have taken:

Intermediate Accounting I and II (SMU's ACCT 3311 and 3312) – Provides the necessary foundation for comprehension of the information in U.S. GAAP financial statements by both users and preparers.  Intermediate Accounting I focuses on the conceptual framework, revenue recognition and assets and Intermediate Accounting II -  focuses on liabilities and stockholders' equity.

Federal Income Tax (SMU's ACCT 4315) – Provides an introduction to U.S. Federal income taxation and involves a study of the general concepts of taxation, income and deductions primarily relating to individuals and/or corporations.

Audit Risks and Controls (SMU's ACCT 5314) – Provides an introduction to U.S. requirements related to understanding, developing, and analyzing financial and management accounting systems and internal control functions.

Those who have studied internationally or who have not completed courses covering this material will need to complete these courses during summer as a part of their MSA Program1. In such instances, the offer of admission will communicate that your course of study includes these background courses expanding your MSA program from 32 hours up to a maximum of 40 hours.

1Graduates of SMU Cox MBA Programs applying to the MSA Program may satisfy the Intermediate Accounting prerequisites by prior satisfactory completion of ACCT 6210 and ACCT 6212.

Satisfaction of Prerequisites

The summer schedule at SMU offers Intermediate Accounting I and Federal Income Tax in the first session (roughly the month of June) and Intermediate Accounting II and Audit Risk and Controls in the second session (roughly the month of July). These courses would be taken while enrolled as a graduate student during the summer prior to beginning the standard MSA curriculum in the fall (charged at applicable part-time tuition rates).

For those without the background courses who are unable to attend during the summer, the admission offer can be deferred to the following year's entrance allowing the courses to be completed elsewhere during the school year or at SMU during the following summer. Background courses cannot be taken concurrently with the MSA Program under any circumstances.

Some students may have had the background courses many years ago or in a format that did not facilitate retention of the material. If you feel that you may be unprepared by your prior studies of with to "brush up" prior to beginning the MSA Program, it may be possible to take the background courses again. If interested in voluntary completion of the background courses during the summer, please reach out to the MSA Program Director upon receiving your offer of admission to the MSA Program.