Master of Science in Accounting

  • Overview

    Go beyond accounting fundamentals and master finance, information technology and tax, as well as soft skills like communication that are vital to launching and running with a career. Through rigorous classroom and hands-on learning you'll get a real-world education, including the global business experience that employers are looking for, and graduate one step ahead of the pack. Plus, you have the option to study for your CPA certificate — our students' results in this exam consistently surpass national averages.

    Launch Your Career in Accounting

    As an accounting professional, the bottom line among prospective employers and clients is your proven proficiency in technical knowledge, critical thinking and communication skills. Now you can enhance your credibility and expand your career options in the fields of accounting and finance by building on your undergraduate education while you prepare for CPA certification. The Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University offers a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) degree. Our 32-hour program (up to 41 hours required for those with a non-business or international background) is designed to heighten your broad-based business knowledge to meet employers' expectations while satisfying the CPA licensing requirements.

  • Curriculum

    The SMU Cox MSA Program may be pursued full-time in nine months over two semesters (twelve months beginning in the summer for those requiring background courses) . All SMU Cox graduate classes are offered in eight week modules (half-semesters) with two modules offered in the fall and two in the spring term. Each class is worth two credit-hours.

    Students coming into the program with a degree from a four-year university who have completed the required background courses (see Admissions page for detailed information) will begin classes in August. These students will be waived out of the required 8 hours of background courses that are completed by some students in the summer, and they will complete 32 hours over two semesters to earn the degree.

    Students coming into the program who have not completed the required background courses (see Admissions page for detailed information) will begin classes in late May. These students will take up to 8 hours of classes during the summer term before beginning more advanced courses in August. They will complete 32 more hours of classes over the fall and spring semesters to earn the degree. 

    All students must have completed introductory accounting courses (equivalent to Fundamentals of Accounting I and II) prior to being considered for admission to the MSA program.

    The program may be completed on a part-time basis in some instances. Flexibility in scheduling is required for students pursuing the MSA on a part-time basis, as not all courses will be available in a night offering. Full-time students take four courses within each module while part-time students take two courses in each module. Please note that scholarships are not available to part-time students.

    International students must be full-time students due to visa restrictions.

    Track Overview

    In the SMU Cox MSA Program, students can choose from either our Assurance and Advisory Track or our Tax Track. The core of the two tracks overlaps as a base accounting knowledge is required for both the CPA Exam and success in the areas of business, accounting and finance. The differences between the tracks allows students the opportunity to signal an area of expertise to prospective employers while also gaining advance training that will equip them for their career. Students pursuing the Assurance and Advisory Track generally obtain initial positions in the areas of audit or consulting while students pursuing the Tax Track generally obtain initial positions in taxation or transaction services.

    A sample* curriculum for a full-time student pursuing the Assurance and Advisory Track would be:

    Summer Term – Required for some students (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)

    The summer term is required for students who have not previously gained the required background. See Admissions page for detailed background course information.

    Intermediate Accounting I
    Federal Income Tax
    Intermediate Accounting II
    Audit Risks and Controls

    Fall Term – Module A Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
    Corporate Taxation
    Financial Reporting & Analysis I
    Mergers & Acquisitions
    Accounting Analytics and Big Data

    Fall Term – Module B Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
    Entity Taxation
    Financial Reporting & Analysis II
    Accounting Information Systems
    Leadership in the Accounting Profession or Finance Theory and Practice

    Spring Term – Module A Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
    Audit Research
    Advanced Topics in Accounting
    Non Corporate Entity Accounting
    Financial Statement Analysis

    Spring Term - Module B Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
    Assurance Methodology
    Accounting for Income Taxes
    Accounting-Based Valuation
    Forensic Accounting and Financial Statement Fraud or Emerging Issues in Financial Accounting
     

    A sample* curriculum for a full-time student pursuing the Tax Track would be:

    Summer Term – Required for some students (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)

    The summer term is required for students who have not previously gained the required background. See Admissions page for detailed background course information.

    Intermediate Accounting I
    Federal Income Tax
    Intermediate Accounting II
    Audit Risks and Controls

    Fall Term – Module A Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
    Corporate Taxation
    Tax Research
    Mergers & Acquisitions
    Accounting Analytics and Big Data

    Fall Term – Module B Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
    Entity Taxation
    Taxation of Mergers & Acquisitions
    Accounting Information Systems
    Leadership in the Accounting Profession or Finance Theory and Practice

    Spring Term – Module A Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
    Advanced Topics in Accounting
    Tax Research
    Audit Research
    Financial Statement Analysis

    Spring Term – Module B Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
    Assurance Methodology
    Advanced Partnership Taxation
    Non-Corporate Entity Accounting
    Accounting Based Valuation

    Some students' schedules may be adjusted to include other courses necessary for CPA Exam eligibility or specific interests.

    *Curriculum is subject to change

    MSA with Tax Concentration

    With the aid of a generous gift from the Ernst & Young Foundation in 2008, SMU Cox began offering a Tax Track in its MSA Program.  This track addresses the increased demand for tax expertise and practitioners in the wake of Sarbanes-Oxley.  The Tax Track embeds in the nine-month 32-hour MSA Program specific courses designed by tax professionals to prepare students for the business world.

    Successful completion of the Tax Track enables individuals to enter the accounting profession as highly trained tax professionals and increase their overall marketability.  The Tax Track is regarded by employers as equivalent to students having completed a Masters in Taxation.  Job placement rates have been extremely high and program alumni have secured great interest from large national and regional public firms.

    Discover for yourself why national and regional accounting firms find that students completing the MSA Tax Concentration at SMU Cox are highly sought after.

    Texas Required Ethics Class

    To be eligible to sit for the CPA Examination in the state of Texas, a three credit-hour board-approved ethics course must be taken.  This requirement can be met at SMU Cox by having taken ACCT 3391 as an SMU Cox undergraduate student or by taking BL 6325 Ethics and Related Legal Issues for Accountants. Classes meeting all other specific requirements for CPA Exam eligibility are also available to MSA program students. If courses are necessary, the student's schedule will be adjusted to assist in ensuring CPA Exam eligibility is satisfied.

  • Electives

    The SMU Cox MSA Program gives you the flexibility to differentiate your learning experience in a rigorous academic environment through elective courses within the rigorous academic environment of a top MBA Program. An SMU Cox MSA will not only provide you with accounting fundamentals, but you will also learn in the areas of finance, information technology and tax. Through pioneering faculty research and teaching techniques, SMU Cox puts students on the leading edge of business and provides unparalleled opportunities to succeed. Gain the knowledge, skills and contacts you need to launch your career in accounting with an MSA from SMU Cox.

  • Beyond the Classroom

    The best way to gain leadership experience and confidence is by connecting with people in leadership positions and immersing yourself in real world business environments. At SMU Cox, we bring opportunities for hands-on experience to life outside the typical classroom setting, tapping our strong ties with business leaders in Dallas and beyond. Among your experiential learning opportunities at SMU Cox:

    • Thanks to our global connections, the Business Leadership Center is able to schedule a robust seminar series led by Fortune 500 executives and forward-thinking entrepreneurs.
    • Applied leadership opportunities include the Nonprofit Consulting Program, which gives you the option to join a team of peers in addressing the challenges of a local not-for-profit organization.

    See what you can do at the BLC

  • Highlight: Global Immersion Trip to London

    Gain a global view of your field at SMU Cox in the classroom and beyond — we know how important it is today to understand business from an international perspective. As part of your studies, you'll have the option to study at an MBA consortium school.  Or, join a professional development trip with a group of Cox graduate students similar to a recent Cox MSA trip to London. Each day included a morning group office visit as well as time to explore the city.