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Curriculum

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.

One step ahead of the pack.

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 31-hour program (up to 40 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 six-week modules (half-semesters) with two modules offered in the fall and two in the spring term. Almost all classes are 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 9 hours of background courses that are completed by some students in the summer, and they will complete 31 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 9 hours of classes during the summer term before beginning more advanced courses in August. They will complete 31 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 one of three tracks: Assurance and Advisory, Taxation, and Information Systems. The core of the tracks overlaps, as a base knowledge is required for both the CPA Exam and success in all areas of business. The differences between the tracks allows students the opportunity to signal an area of expertise to prospective employers while also gaining advanced training that will equip them for their career. Students' track choices generally align with their initial career positions.

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 Nine 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
Information Systems and Assurance

Fall Term – Module A Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
Advanced Corporate Taxation
Financial Reporting & Analysis I
Business Ethics for Accountants
Mergers & Acquisitions OR One Elective (M&A required unless you've taken Advanced Accounting at the undergraduate level)

Fall Term – Module B Courses (Four Courses Totaling Nine Credit Hours)
Accounting Data Analytics
Financial Reporting & Analysis II
Audit Procedures
Advanced Topics in Accounting OR One Elective (Advanced Topics required unless you've taken Advanced Accounting at the undergraduate level)

Spring Term – Module A Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
Audit Research
Accounting-Based Valuation
Accounting for Income Taxes
One Elective

Spring Term - Module B Courses (Three Elective Courses Totaling Six Credit Hours)
Electives to choose from:
Taxes & Business Strategy
Advanced AIS
Sustainability Reporting
Non-corporate Entity Accounting
 
A sample* curriculum for a full-time student pursuing the Tax Track would be:

Summer Term – Required for some students (Four Courses Totaling Nine 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
Information Systems and Assurance

Fall Term – Module A Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
Advanced Corporate Taxation
Tax Research
Business Ethics for Accountants
Mergers & Acquisitions OR One Elective (M&A required unless you've taken Advanced Accounting at the undergraduate level)

Fall Term – Module B Courses (Four Courses Totaling Nine Credit Hours)
Accounting Data Analytics
Taxation of Mergers and Acquisitions
Audit Procedures
Advanced Topics in Accounting OR One Elective (Advanced Topics required unless you've taken Advanced Accounting at the undergraduate level)

Spring Term – Module A Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
Accounting for Income Taxes
Entity Taxation
Seminar in International Taxation
One Elective

Spring Term – Module B Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
Advanced Partnership Taxation

One or Two Electives from the list below:
Advanced AIS
Taxes & Business Strategy
Sustainability Reporting
Non-corporate Entity Accounting

*Curriculum is subject to change

** Some students' schedules may be adjusted to include other courses necessary for CPA Exam eligibility, as a result of prior coursework, or due to specific interests.

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

Summer Term – Required for some students (Four Courses Totaling Nine 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
Information Systems and Assurance

Fall Term – Module A Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
Advanced Corporate Taxation
Tax Research
Business Ethics for Accountants
Mergers & Acquisitions OR One Elective (M&A required unless you've taken Advanced Accounting at the undergraduate level)

Fall Term – Module B Courses (Four Courses Totaling Nine Credit Hours)
Accounting Data Analytics
Taxation of Mergers and Acquisitions
Audit Procedures
Advanced Topics in Accounting OR One Elective (Advanced Topics required unless you've taken Advanced Accounting at the undergraduate level)

Spring Term – Module A Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
Accounting for Income Taxes
Entity Taxation
Seminar in International Taxation
One Elective

Spring Term – Module B Courses (Four Courses Totaling Eight Credit Hours)
Advanced Partnership Taxation

One or Two Electives from the list below:
Advanced AIS
Taxes & Business Strategy
Sustainability Reporting
Non-corporate Entity Accounting

*Curriculum is subject to change

** Some students' schedules may be adjusted to include other courses necessary for CPA Exam eligibility, as a result of prior coursework, or due to specific interests.

CPA Exam Eligibility
Classes meeting  the specific requirements for CPA Exam eligibility are available to MSA program students. Depending on which courses are necessary, the student's schedule will be adjusted to assist in ensuring CPA Exam eligibility is satisfied. Most students begin studying for and taking the CPA Exam during fall and have taken all sections by graduation from the program. Filing of CPA Exam eligibility documents, connection to CPA Exam review providers, and coordination of studies is guided by the program director.

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. Students often pursue courses in Finance, Negotiations, Entrepreneurship, or Leadership to supplement their core and track-related requirements.

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

Opportunity: Global Exposure Trips

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 join a professional development trip with a group of Cox graduate students from various programs. Short-term trips are organized through the Office of Global Operations, which provides Cox graduate students with the chance to study and experience political and economic trends outside the United States firsthand. MSA students may participate in international programs at the end of fall or over spring break if in good academic standing within the program. While some trips provide academic credit, these do not count toward the degree requirements. For assistance in reviewing academic plans, students should meet with student services or the program director early in the planning process.