Accounting Analytics Master’s Degrees

But what is accounting analytics exactly? What jobs does it qualify you for? And where can you go to learn more? We’ve got the answers in our comprehensive guide to earning an accounting analytics master’s degree.

Sponsored Schools

Syracuse University info

Master of Science in Applied Data Science

Syracuse University’s online Master of Science in Data Science can be completed in as few as 18 months.

  • Complete in as little as 18 months
  • No GRE scores required to apply

Southern Methodist University info

Master of Science in Data Science

Earn your MS in Data Science at SMU, where you can specialize in Machine Learning or Business Analytics, and complete in as few as 20 months.

  • No GRE required.
  • Complete in as little as 20 months.

University of Denver info

Master of Science in Data Science

Earn your MS in Data Science online in as few as 18 months. Bridge courses are available.

  • Complete in as few as 18 months
  • No GRE required

University of California, Berkeley info

Master of Information and Data Science

Earn your Master’s in Data Science online from UC Berkeley in as few as 12 months.

  • Complete in as few as 12 months
  • No GRE required

University of Dayton info

Master of Business Analytics

Gain in-demand analytics skills with an online master’s in business analytics. Complete in as few as 12 months.

  • Complete in as few as 12 months
  • GRE/GMAT not required

American University info

Master of Science in Analytics

American University’s online MS in Analytics program prepares students to apply data analysis skills to real-world business practices. The program can be completed in 12 months. No GMAT/GRE required. 

  • No GMAT or GRE scores required to apply
  • AACSB accredited
  • Complete in as few as 12 months

Pepperdine University info

Master of Science in Business Analytics

Earn your MS in Business Analytics online from Pepperdine University. Learn advanced tools like Python, Tableau, SQL, Hadoop, and Excel.

  • Complete in as few as 12 months
  • Delivered by an AACSB-accredited school
  • Earn a specialized business master’s degree

Syracuse University info

Master of Science in Business Analytics

Looking to become a data-savvy leader? Earn your online Master of Science in Business Analytics from Syracuse University.

  • As few as 18 months to complete 
  • No GRE required to apply

info SPONSORED

What kinds of education programs are available (skip ahead to our complete list)?

What is Accounting Analytics?

Definition of Accounting Analytics

Accounting analytics is the application of data analytics and big data technologies to the field of accounting. In addition to helping accountants manage typical tasks, accounting analytics enables financial professionals to answer business questions, shape corporate strategy, forecast financial trends, thwart fraud, and more!

The Current Role of Analytics in Accounting

Budgeting, planning, data management, auditing—accountants are used to dealing with data. In fact, most professionals utilize two types of analytics:

Descriptive Analytics: By summarizing and interpreting raw data, accountants find answers to what has happened. For example, analysts frequently use sums, averages, and percent changes to calculate sales results, inventory stock, cost per customer, average dollars spent, year-over-year change in sales, etc. These data are used to generate reports (e.g. operations, finance, and sales).

Diagnostic Analytics: Accountants also deploy data analytics and data mining to discover why something happened. They create variance reports to show differences between budgeted amounts and actual income or expenses. They conduct financial audits to pinpoint fraud or errors. They employ tools and software to look for patterns and problems in large data sets.

Some accountants incorporate non-financial data into their analyses, predict financial performance, and advise their company on actions to take.

The Future of Analytics in Accounting

In order for accountants to act as financial counselors, they may have to master two more forms of analytics. Namely:

Predictive Analytics: Accountants can predict what will happen by analyzing historical data & patterns. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, point-of-sale (POS) software, credit scores, customer relationship management (CRM) systems—these are just a few of the sources that can be tapped to create financial forecasts, project appraisals, trend analyses, budget predictions, etc.

Prescriptive Analytics: Accountants can advise management on what should happen. Using advanced techniques (e.g. machine learning, optimization algorithms, computational modeling, etc.), accountants can analyze the outcomes of “what-if” scenarios, assess the trade-offs, and suggest the best course of action.

Whether you’ll use all of these tactics depends on your job title and your level of seniority.

Accounting Analytics Specializations

Auditing

Accountants use big data technologies to monitor and audit entire populations (i.e. full data sets) on a continuous basis. Transaction activities, vendor payments, payroll processing, healthcare charges—all of these and more can be analyzed and summed up in financial reports.

Internal auditors crunch data from multiple sources (structured and unstructured) to:

  • Generate strategic analyses, enterprise risk assessments, and business insights.
  • Develop internal audit plans and suggest quality improvements.
  • Create predictions & warnings for CEOs and stakeholders.

Financial Planning

Accounting experts who make sense of their financial data, can help their organization by suggesting ways to make money in the future.

For example, some businesses have embraced integrated reporting (IR). Creators of IRs use financial and non-financial data sets to assess an organization’s “strategy, governance, performance, and prospects” and value created over time. By breaking down silos and incorporating outside data, financial planners hope to create a more comprehensive view of the company’s situation.

The upshot of this work? Better corporate decisions on resource allocation, investments in intellectual capital, energy security measures, competitive strategies, and more.

Forensic Accounting

Forensic accountants are expected to act as experts in financial matters related to disputes or litigation. They often look for fraud and illegal activities (e.g. money laundering, insurance claims and personal injury claims), but they can also be involved in situations like bankruptcy, royalty audits, or insolvency.

With the right skills, forensic accountants can quickly identify and track down the source of anomalies in large datasets. This is no easy feat when there are so many disparate sources to analyze!

But it’s not just about the past. These data experts are also involved in their organization’s future—creating risk reduction procedures, finding new ways to deter fraud, advising on the safest investment decisions, etc. This kind of role typically requires advanced predictive and prescriptive skills.

CFOs & High-Level Decisions

This is where the field of accounting analytics becomes really interesting:

  • CFOs may want their staff to be able to predict customer behavior and financial trends.
  • They may need detailed risk assessments on everything from supply chains to government regulations.
  • They are likely to want to anticipate changes in the market and be able to act instantly to make money or save jobs.

If you’re aspiring to be a CFO, it helps to a) know your analytics stuff and b) be able to explain the rationale for your decisions to a non-technical audience.

Studying Accounting Analytics

What are Accounting Analytics Master’s Degrees?

Each university will have its own take on the curriculum. For example, some schools have chosen to go with themes of:

  • Auditing (e.g. financial reporting, IT auditing, taxation, international accounting, etc.)
  • Financial consulting (e.g. investment advising, equity and credit analysis, corporate consulting, etc.)
  • Or a combination of the above.

Other schools have made a point of focusing on a certain field (e.g. forensic accounting, fraud, financial advising, etc.). You can decide to keep your options open or specialize early—it’s up to you!

What to Look for in the Curriculum

Whatever choice you make, be sure that the tools and technologies covered in the curriculum match your career goals. For instance:

  • If you’re going to be managing data and information systems, you’ll most likely study ERP applications (e.g. SAP and Oracle).
  • If you’re going to be involved in business intelligence (BI), you might look for courses in data mining, data visualization, and advanced analytics.
  • If you’re interested in predictive and prescriptive roles, try working in areas like machine learning (ML), statistical modeling, and forecasting methods.

You can get even more specific. For example, an auditing degree may include:

  • Audit automation techniques (continuous auditing & continuous monitoring)
  • Auditing analytics tools such as IDEA and ACL: GRC
  • Computer-assisted audit techniques (CAATs)
  • Statistical inference and its usage in auditing
  • Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) approaches

The easiest way to assess a curriculum is to look at dream job descriptions and see what skills they require. Don’t forget that “soft skills” such as communication, teamwork, and an understanding of ethics & market issues will also have value to employers.

Accounting Analytics Program Checklist

Practical Considerations

  • Does the program list job placement statistics, average starting salaries, and typical employers?
  • Does the degree help prepare you for accounting certification exams (e.g. CPA)? If so, does the program publish pass rates?
  • Can you participate in career workshops, “meet the employer” events, company tours, and/or networking opportunities?
  • Is there an internship program? Which companies participate?
  • Is there a class profile so you can see who you’ll be working with?

Curriculum

  • Does the syllabus include team projects and real-world simulations?
  • Do faculty have useful ties to professional firms, corporate partners, and/or public accounting firms? What kinds of big data research projects are they working on?
  • Do guest speakers and local experts teach classes or make presentations?

Quality Markers

Innovative University Programs

KPMG & Multiple Universities

To drive more qualified analysts into its ranks, KPMG has developed a master’s degree program with Ohio State University, Villanova, University of Mississippi, University of Southern California and more.

Highlights of the program include:

  • KPMG covers full tuition and reasonable living costs (e.g. room & board, books, and technology fees).
  • Students work with software tools and data sets that are used by KPMG professionals. There’s a heavy emphasis on all forms of analytics (e.g. descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive).
  • Students participate in a spring semester/winter quarter internship and work full-time at KPMG after graduation. High performers have the chance to be promoted to Senior Associate after one year and to Manager after four years.

Rutgers & AICPA

Rutgers’s Accounting Web (RAW) is the university’s center of accounting research. We bring it up because RAW is where you’ll find the Rutgers AICPA Data Analytics Research Initiative (RADAR), a joint project with the AICPA to integrate data analytics into the audit process. RADAR’s research has helped to inform the AICPA Audit Data Analytics Guide.

On RAW, you’ll also find info on recent accounting research in data analytics & text analytics, links to big data development articles in AAA’s Accounting Horizons, and info on upcoming auditing conferences.

Getting a Job in Accounting Analytics

Major Employers

Inside Public Accounting (IPA) publishes annual rankings of the 100, 200, and 300 largest accounting firms in the United States. You can also look for jobs at:

  • DeloitteErnst & YoungKPMG, or Pricewaterhouse Cooper—these are known as the “Big 4” accounting firms
  • Global accounting firms who offer accounting, tax, audit & consulting services
  • Local or national CPA firms who deal with tax services, estate planning, accounting, auditing & consulting
  • Specialist accounting firms
  • Corporate accounting departments of large companies
  • Government auditing departments
  • Tax consultants
  • Investment consultants
  • Banking & financial institutions

Sample Job Titles

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Management accountant
  • Data analyst
  • Financial analyst
  • Financial consultant
  • Investment advisor
  • Equity or credit analyst
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Accounting Analytics Resources

Major Organizations & Certifications

  • American Accounting Association (AAA): AAA publishes Accounting Horizons, runs an accounting big data conference (see below), and produces webinars that occasionally focus on analytics. The two critical sections for aspiring accounting analysts are Accounting Information Systems (AIS), which gives out awards and provides info on meetings, and Strategic and Emerging Technologies (SET), which works on emerging technologies and artificial intelligence methods & techniques in accounting.
  • The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA): AICPA is the largest member association representing the accounting profession. It administers the famous Uniform CPA exam and offers specialty credentials in areas like forensic accounting. Some of AICPA’s Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses & programs deal specifically with big data (e.g. Analytics and Big Data for Accountants, Big Data, information strategy, etc.) and both the AICPA Research section and Interest Areas have useful resources for analysts. In the Audit Data Analytics section of the Financial Reporting Center, you’ll find info on audit data standards, the AICPA Audit Data Analytics Guide, and the Assurance Services Executive Committee’s (ASEC) Emerging Assurance Technologies Task Force.
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA): CIMA is the world’s leading professional body of management accountants. In 2011, it partnered with AICPA to offer the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) certification. CIMA has various mastercourses in big data and business analytics and the Research & Insight section often contains articles on accounting analytics and new technologies.
  • Institute of Management Accountants (IMA): IMA is a global association of accountants and financial professionals that offers the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) credential. Its work on Insights & Trends has a section on Technology Enablement with links to relevant big data research reports and articles.
  • International Computer Auditing Education Association (ICAEA): ICAEA is a non-profit organization that offers the International Certified CAATs Practitioner (ICCP) certification. This credential signifies that you have mastered CAATs (Computer Assisted Audit Techniques). CAATs include basic productivity software (e.g. spreadsheets), advanced software packages that use stats analysis and business intelligence tools, and other areas of advanced data analytics. Similar CAATs certifications include ACL™ Certified Data Analyst (ACDA), Certified IDEA Data Analyst (CIDA), and Jacksoft Certified CAATs Practitioner (JCCP).

Research Groups & Journals

Big Four Resources

Accounting Analytics Conferences

School Listings

We found 6 universities in our directory offering Accounting Analytics programs.

If you represent a university and would like to contact us about editing any of our listings, or adding new programs, please send an email to info@mastersindatascience.org.

Browse schools by state

Arizona | California | New York | Pennsylvania | Virginia