Online Master's of Accounting (iMSA)

A cutting-edge accounting master’s from an industry powerhouse, completely online.

The University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business, consistently ranked among the nation's top three accounting programs, now offers a fully online Master of Science in Accounting program with Coursera. Earn the same degree as on-campus students, 100% online, on your schedule.

Master's Degree in Accounting

The accounting industry is undergoing rapid change. As automation and advancements in technology upend every sector of the economy, accounting students need to learn much more than a CPA’s traditional skill set. In particular, new accountants need to know how to apply the cutting-edge analytics that are reshaping the industry. They need to become proficient with Python, statistical data analysis, and the basics of data visualization.

The iMSA meets these needs with instruction from some of the very best accountancy faculty in the world. Graduates from our program are in high-demand because they possess the most sought-after skills. Our alumni have gone on to become world-renowned founders of businesses, CEOs, CFOs, world leaders, and more.

Learn more about the Illinois iMSA

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Who is the Master's of Accounting degree for:

The iMSA is open to students of all academic backgrounds. It is suited for people who are early-to-mid-career accounting and finance professionals, as well as those who aspire to become a Chief Financial Officer or another type of C-level executive.

Prepare to Become a CPA

Almost every state asks students to have at least 150 credit hours of study in order to sit for the exam and become a licensed CPA. Most students are granted 120 hours from their traditional bachelor’s. A master’s degree like the iMSA program can be used to both fill the remaining credit hours and to help prepare students for the CPA licensure exam.

Once you’ve fulfilled the educational requirements, a CPA candidate must: 1) apply to take the CPA exam, 2) fulfill their state’s work experience requirements, and 3) pay licensure and membership fees regularly.


Tuition is $850 per credit hour for accountancy courses and $250 for non-accounting electives. Depending on elective course choices the total cost (tuition and fees) ranges between $20,564 and $27,200.

Webinars and Events:

How Uber and Lyft Use Adjusted Financial Metrics to Tell Their Story

October 22, 2019 at 1PM EDT

For decades, companies have used customized or adjusted financial metrics to help tell the story of their business performance. These measures, dubbed non-GAAP metrics, do not conform to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and typically appear outside of official financial statements. Join Nerissa Brown, Associate Professor of Accountancy, and PwC Faculty Fellow at Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois as she discusses the nature of non-GAAP metrics and the disclosure regulation that governs their use, the value of non-GAAP metrics to investors and other financial statement users, and common pitfalls in using these measures.


Office hours or live event information:


Please click on the link below to log into our live online office hours via video at the times listed above: Office Hours.

You can also reach us for any questions by email or phone: 217-244-0009.

At a Glance

  • 18-36 months
  • 16 eight-week courses
  • $20,564 – $27,200 depending on elective course choices.
    Total Cost
  • Completely online

Start your application

The next cohort starts on January 21st, 2020.

Early Admission Deadline:

Round 1: August 9th, 2019

Round 2: October 18th, 2019

Benefits of applying for the early deadlines:

  • No application fee
  • Option to begin coursework early

Final Deadline:

December 6th, 2019

The iMSA is offered in Fall (Aug.-Dec.), Spring (Jan-May), and Summer sessions (June-July). Cohort start dates are in August and January of each year.

Want to learn more before applying?

After answering a few short questions, we’ll be able to help you find out if you’re qualified to apply and give you more information about the degree program.



Courses are delivered in two segments: The first segment, a self-paced MOOC from Coursera, is via video lectures, with readings and quizzes. It features the same faculty you’ll work with if you move to the second segment, which consists of weekly live global classrooms that are engaging, interactive, and practice-oriented. You’ll work with accounting professionals and fellow students, create presentations, and practice and discuss what you learn.

  • 16 eight-week courses
  • 18-36 months

Some of the projects you'll do...

Financial Reporting

Learners will assess the validity and completeness of a publicly-traded corporation’s financial statements and disclosures of key risks, and analyze the corporation’s potential for future financial success.

Managerial Accounting and Control

Learners will role-play as managers and identify relevant information, analyze costs and profits, and use information management tools to make a strategic business decision involving uncertainty.

Corporate Tax Strategy

Learners will identify a publicly-traded, global corporation and assess its organizational structure’s effectiveness in minimizing domestic and global tax obligations.

Business Analytics

Learners will apply a multi-faceted analytics approach to assess a company’s strategic and operational risk, and identify, measure, and quantify the impact of instances of manager fraud.

The degree experience is...


The same kind of courses you’ll find on campus, with the flexibility to learn when and where you want.


Collaborate with a global network of classmates, instructors, and alumni.


Innovative courses with lectures from some of the world’s best instructors and hands-on projects.


Practical courses designed to help you master skills that you can start applying to your career right away.

When you graduate, you’ll be

  • Success

    A highly sought-after candidate in the field

  • Success

    Proficient and knowledgeable in audit, financial reporting, tax, and in managing and analyzing data

  • Success

    Valued for your skills in data analytics, communications, and teamwork

  • Success

    Poised for a successful career in accountancy



  • A bachelor’s degree in any academic discipline from an accredited institution in the United States or the international equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree.
  • A minimum academic background in business, with one course in business management and at least one in principles of accounting.
  • The recommended undergraduate GPA is 3.0/4.0, or the US equivalent, from the final two years of undergraduate study.
  • GMAT or GRE scores are required, but may be waived. To apply for a waiver, please submit the form at the bottom of the page on this link. You may be eligible for a GMAT/GRE waiver if you meet one of the following conditions:
  • three years of relevant, full-time professional experience with demonstrated career progression, or
  • a graduate degree from an accredited institution, or
  • via iMSA faculty and administrator assessments of completed coursework performance. You must complete two 4-credit hour courses within the iMSA program as a non-degree student before application or admission to the degree program.
  • All applicants whose native language is not English must take the Internet-Based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. For information on the university English proficiency requirement, go to International applicants must submit an official TOEFL or IELTS score to the Illinois iMSA. You may be exempt from providing a TOEFL or IELTS score if you meet one of the criteria listed here:

Application Process

Applicants to the iMSA program use a main University of Illinois online form, but admission decisions are made by the iMSA team. Please contact us if you have questions, get stuck, or otherwise want to discuss your application.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to the University of Illinois’ Graduate College Admissions website.
  2. Create an account if you do not already have one.
  3. Select Accountancy as the program and Accountancy MS (online)–iMSA as the degree.

Detailed application instructions and FAQs are provided at the Graduate College website. Please carefully review the application checklist before you start the online application.

When we receive all application materials consider them to be acceptable, we will review your application and make an admission decision.

Start your application

The next cohort starts on January 21st, 2020.

Early Admission Deadline:

Round 1: August 9th, 2019

Round 2: October 18th, 2019

Benefits of applying for the early deadlines:

  • No application fee
  • Option to begin coursework early

Final Deadline:

December 6th, 2019

The iMSA is offered in Fall (Aug.-Dec.), Spring (Jan-May), and Summer sessions (June-July). Cohort start dates are in August and January of each year.

About University of Illinois

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is an accounting powerhouse. Our alumni have gone on to become world-renowned founders of businesses, CEOs, CFOs, world leaders, and more.

We have more than 60,000 living alumni worldwide in the College of Business, and over 450,000 influential University of Illinois alumni across the globe, enabling you to network and leverage career opportunities globally.

The Department of Accountancy, home of the iMSA, has been ranked #1 by both the BYU’s Accounting Faculty Research Rankings and UT Dallas Top Business Schools based on Research Contributions Rankings.


Nobel Prize Winners


Global Alumni Network


Ranked on Times Magazine


Ready to start your application?

The next cohort starts on January 21st, 2020

Early Admission Deadline:

Round 1: August 9th, 2019

Round 2: October 18th, 2019

Benefits of applying for the early deadlines:

  • No application fee
  • Option to begin coursework early

Final Deadline:

December 6th, 2019

Want to learn more before applying?

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Please refer to the requirements here.

  • If you are missing any prerequisites for the full degree, you can complete Coursera courses to demonstrate readiness and strengthen your application for the iMSA:

    The three courses below, in combination, will satisfy the principles of accounting prerequisite.

    For the business management course prerequisite we offer a course titled Business Strategy.

    You will want to make sure that you earn a course completion certificate for each course so you can prove your successful completion of the courses.

  • To enroll in credit-bearing courses and earn the accredited iMSA degree, you must be admitted as a degree-seeking student through the University of Illinois Graduate College.

    Apply now here. You'll first create an account if you don't already have one. After accessing the ApplyYourself system, simply select Accountancy as the program and Accountancy MS (online)–iMSA as the degree program to begin. For more information about the admission process and requirements, visit the University of Illinois iMSA website or request more information. When submitting your application, select Online Master of Science In Accountancy as your Program of Interest.

  • GMAT or GRE scores are required, but may be waived if you demonstrate sufficient relevant work experience. To apply for a waiver, please submit the form at the bottom of the page on this link. We will evaluate if the standards for a waiver have been met. Meeting the minimum criteria does not guarantee a waiver will be granted. You can submit this form at any point during the application process, including prior to starting an application.

  • Domestic, degree-seeking students may qualify for student aid. To learn more and to apply for financial aid please visit Coursera financial aid is available for the open courses components of the iMSA. To learn more please visit this page. The iMSA program at Illinois is a self-funded program and does not offer teaching or research assistantships to students enrolled in the program.

  • We do not offer options to apply credit toward the iMSA degree requirements. All iMSA degree requirements must be satisfied through courses offered at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Yes, but this can wait until you receive an admissions decision from the iMSA admissions team. We can complete a review of your application based on unofficial copies of these documents uploaded in your online application. If you have been admitted to the iMSA program, you have to request that the educational institution which issued those transcripts and degree certificates mail your official and original transcripts and degree certificates in a sealed envelope directly to us.

  • Earning a Master of Accounting such as the iMSA will help you meet the education requirement, which includes extensive course work in accounting. While the CPA exam is the same no matter where you take it, every state/jurisdiction has its own set of education and experience requirements that individuals must meet in order to be licensed by a state board of accountancy. We highly recommended that you review these requirements issued by each state’s Board of Accountancy prior to applying to the online program.

  • On successful completion of the program, you will earn a full master’s degree in accounting from the University of Illinois, the same degree you would earn if you attended classes on campus.

  • No, your diploma will not designate that you completed an online degree. It will simply state that you earned a Master of Science in Accountancy degree from the University of Illinois.

  • Yes, each open course is available separately, with or without the enhanced courses that accompany it.

  • Yes, you can enroll as a non-degree student at the University of Illinois to earn official university credit through relevant online for-credit enhanced courses while completing open online courses on Coursera. To request approval to enroll as a for-credit, non-degree student, go to

  • If you don’t meet the GPA requirement but are still very interested in applying you may consider taking a course for-credit through the university as a non-degree seeking student. This will enhance your academic credentials and admissions will take your performance in these courses into account in making its decision. More information is available at
    You may also consider submitting a GMAT or GRE score.

  • No. You need to pay tuition when you enroll in each individual course ($850 per credit hour for accountancy courses and $250 for non-accounting electives). That means you’ll only pay for your courses as you take them.

  • Yes, you can get started with these Specializations and courses on Coursera to try out the degree program works before you apply. If you apply and are accepted to the program, your work counts towards your degree learning.

  • A CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is a professional accountant that has met state-level certification and work experience requirements, and that has passed the CPA examination. It is not equivalent to a graduate-level degree or master’s degree in accounting. In order to sit for the CPA exam, professionals need at least 150 credit hours. Since a typical bachelor’s degree is 120 credit hours, many CPA candidates enroll in a master’s degree in order to fulfill the full credit hours needed to sit for the exam.

  • You don’t need a master’s degree in accounting to be an accountant. However, in order to sit for the CPA exam, you need 150 credit hours, equal to 5 years of school. A master’s degree can be a great way to advance your career while earning these additional credits to sit for the exam.

  • Whether or not a master’s in accounting degree is worth it is entirely dependent on what a professional is looking to achieve. If a candidate is looking to earn the 150 credits required to sit for the CPA exam, a master’s degree can help them earn these credits while also earning a valuable credential to carry with them for the rest of their careers. In addition, a graduate-level degree in accounting can provide connection with some of the brightest minds in the field, especially when you are looking at top-ranked programs.

  • Accounting jobs are projected to grow 10 percent by 2026, with opportunities in auditing, management, data analytics, and finance. For more information, take a look at this blog post on what you can do with an accounting degree.

  • There are a few different kinds of graduate-level accounting degrees. MBA in Accounting (MBA) and Master of Professional Accounting (MPAc) degrees often take students from a variety of fields. Master of Accountancy (MACC) and Master of Science in Accounting programs (MS) tend to require undergraduate degrees in accounting.

    A master’s degree in accounting often is a shorter, more specific degree than an MBA program. While they both provide notable ROI, if a professional is more interested in diving deeper specifically into the world of accounting, data analytics, and finance - a master’s in accounting makes more sense. If a candidate is interested in learning more about the broader world of business, an MBA may be a better degree for them.

    The iMSA program is a fully online Master of Accounting program and welcomes students with a bachelor’s degree in any academic discipline.

Coursera does not grant credit, and does not represent that any institution other than the degree granting institution will recognize the credit or credential awarded by the institution; the decision to grant, accept, or transfer credit is subject to the sole and absolute discretion of an educational institution. We encourage you to investigate whether this degree meets your academic and/or professional needs before applying.