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A master’s in taxation is a post-graduate degree that teaches students how to understand the complexities and nuances of tax law. The degree focuses on tax law only, although it can be used to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The masters in taxation teaches you the ins and outs of tax law and how it applies in different settings and situations. You learn how to identify the source of a taxation issue and find the tax laws that apply in total or part. Once you’ve determined the solution to the problem, you then apply the laws to the taxation issue at hand and come to a resolution. 

This might sound similar to working as a CPA or even a lawyer, but the difference here is that you’re working with federal laws that are largely inflexible. Tax law does have some leeways built into its code, but it is up to you as a taxation expert to determine if the leeway applies to the issue at hand. Earning a masters in taxation teaches you how to make all of these judgments and when to apply the law as written. In a way, then, getting a taxation master’s is a cross between an accountant and a lawyer. 

Methodology: Ranking the Best Master’s in Taxation Programs 

For the Great Business Schools ranking of the best taxation master’s programs, GBS editors feature only accredited, trusted colleges and universities. The selected programs are ranked according to factors including cost, potential salary, and student reviews, using data from IPEDS and Niche. 

1. University of Illinois

u illinois urbana

The University of Illinois offers a Master of Applied Science (MAS) degree in Accountancy with an academic track in Taxation that is considered one of the country’s best masters in taxation programs. This one-year graduate degree in taxation offers elective concentrations in real estate, supply chain management, international business, data analytics, corporate governance, business and public policy, and information technology. Classes included in this degree include corporate income taxation, tax research, and partnership income taxation for a total of 12 credits.

The University of Illinois was established under the Morrill Land Grant Act in 1867. Illinois is the flagship campus of the Illinois University System. The university’s urban campus serves more; than 50,900 students and covers more than 6,000 students.

Highlight: Research facilities for the University of Illinois are located on both campuses in Champaign and Urbana.

Degree: Accountancy: Taxation, MAS

2. California Polytechnic State University

cal poly

California Polytechnic State University Orfalea Business College offers a Master of Science (MS) in Taxation that can be completed in under one year. California Polytechnic State University’s best masters in taxation programs offer small class sizes and esteemed faculty staff. This graduate degree in taxation requires an internship that offers clinical tax experience to each student. Cal Poly’s taxation graduate degree is only offered as a full-time program. Classes include tax research, effective communication, state/local taxation, tax planning, corporate taxation, taxation of trusts, and international taxation, to name a few.

California Polytechnic State University was established in 1901. California Polytechnic State University is a space-grant, public institution of higher learning with more than 21,100 students.

Highlight: The sister polytechnical institute California Polytechnic State University Pomona began as a satellite facility of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Degree: Taxation, MS 

3. University of Southern California

u southern california

The University of Southern California Marshall School of Business offers the parks Master of Business Taxation (MBT) that is recognized by US News, Public Accounting Report, and TFE Times as one of the nation’s best masters in taxation programs. The University of Southern California’s graduate taxation degree is only available as a full-time study; however, the school offers an MBT program for working professionals. Students enrolled in Southern Cal’s taxation degree receive career counseling and career advice through the school’s career services division.

The University of Southern California (USC) was chartered in 1880. The University of Southern California’s urban campus in Los Angeles serves more than 48,100 students. USC has more than 500 graduates who were drafted by the NFL.

Highlight: The University of Southern California holds the distinction of being the largest private employer in the LA metro area and the birthplace of the domain name system.

Degree: Taxation, MB 

4. University of South Carolina

u south carolina

The University of South Carolina Moore College of Business offers a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Accountancy with an academic track in Taxation that is one of the state’s best masters in taxation programs. Carolina’s graduate degree in taxation prepares students with an in-depth exploration of tax code regulations by providing real-life situations. Coursework for the taxation curriculum includes financial accounting, business entity tax issues, advanced individual tax issues, and multi-jurisdictional tax issues, among others. Students graduate to find rewarding careers as an IRS investigator, tax analyst, or tax professional, among others.

The University of South Carolina (Carolina) was established in 1880. Carolina operates multiple campuses through South Carolina, plus an online division. More than 52,100 students attend classes offered by the University of South Carolina’s campuses.

Highlight: The University of South Carolina holds the distinction of being the largest institution of higher education in the state.

Degree: Taxation, MA 

5. University of Miami

u miami

The University of Miami Herbert Business School offers a Master of Science in Taxation(MST)  that can be finished in only one year. The University of Miami’s graduate degree in taxation is one of the state’s best masters in taxation programs with a summer intensive program and accelerated program options for interested students. Classes included in Miami’s graduate degree in taxation includes financial reporting research, corporate taxation, partnership taxation, international financial reporting, and accounting analytics, to name a few. The total semester credits required to complete Miami’s taxation course is 30.

The University of Miami was established in 1925 by a charter that began by a group of citizens.  The University of Miami  is organized into 12 colleges/schools that serve more than 17,700 students.

Highlight: The University of Miami  began with a gift of land from the Coral Gables founder, George Merrick.

Degree: Taxation, MS 

6. University at Albany SUNY

suny albany

The University at Albany School of Business offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Taxation that has received accreditation from the AACSB. SUNY Albany’s best masters in taxation programs require the completion of 30 semester credits. Classes include seminars in taxation, financial planning principles of tax research, partnership taxation, and corporation tax, among others. This graduate degree from the University of Albany is available for part-time and full-time students. Students have the option of taking a tax law course at Albany Law school.

The University at Albany SUNY was established as a teacher’s school in 1890. SUNY Albany maintains three campuses in Albany and Rensselaer, a city across the Hudson River. More than 13,100 students attend classes offered by  The University at Albany.

Highlight: SUNY Albany students play an integral role in the development of the capital region.

Degree: Taxation, MS 

7. University of Alabama

u alabama

The University of Alabama Manderson Graduate Business School/Culverhouse Accountancy School offers a Master of Tax Accounting (MTA) that is considered one of Alabama and Southern US’s best masters in taxation programs. Coursework for this undergraduate degree in taxation covers 30 credit units in class like fraud and ethics of risk management, corporate taxation, communication taxes, taxing corporate shareholders, partnership taxation, plus tax procedures, plus a thesis research paper or a capstone project, to name a few.

The University of Alabama was established in 1820. This sea-grant and a space-grant institution of higher learning that is also the state’s flagship campus. More than 38,100 students attend classes offered by the University of Alabama.

Highlight: The University of Alabama holds the distinction of being one of the first public schools in the southeastern US and home to one of the most successful football programs in the country.

Degree: Tax Accounting, MTA 

8. San Jose State University

san jose state

San Jose State University Lucas Graduate Business School offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Taxation works as a great springboard to a career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). San Jose’s best masters in taxation programs can be completed in one to three years, depending on whether a student attends on a full-time or part-time basis. Core coursework includes taxation of business entities, tax research & decision making, tax accounting periods, and a tax policy capstone project, to name a few.

San Jose State University was established in 1857. This public space-grant institution of higher education is also one of the founding campuses of the CSU system. The university’s campus in San Jose is home to more than 33,100 students.

Highlight:  San Jose State University is a top feeder school for companies located in nearby Silicon Valley.

Degree: Taxation, MS 

9. Thomas Jefferson University

jefferson

Taxation that has been designed for working financial planners, managers, lawyers, and accountants. Thomas Jefferson University’s best masters in taxation programs require the completion of 30 to 35 semesters credits, depending on the student’s previous education and experience. Classes offered by Thomas Jefferson University are board-registered classes that can be applied to a CFP designation. Classes include financial planning, risk management, insurance planning, estate planning, portfolio management, retirement planning,  plus a capstone project in taxation.

Thomas Jefferson University was established as a private higher learning institution in 1824. Thomas Jefferson University’s urban campus in the City of Brotherly Love is home to more than 7,799 students.

Highlight: The first classes offered at Thomas Jefferson University include five students by Ted Search, the school’s biggest supporter, and founder.

Degree: Taxation, MS 

10. University of San Diego

u san diego

The University of San Diego Business School offers a Master of Taxation that prepares students for careers in the upper echelon of the accounting world. The University of San Diego’s best masters in taxation programs require students to delve deep into case studies simulating real-world scenarios. Students may transfer up to six eligible credits earned from a previous AACSB accredited institution of higher learning. Classes include ethics for accounting, accounting leadership, the ethics of negotiations, investment planning, and applied research, plus an independent study and a professional internship in accounting.

The University of San Diego was established as a women’s college in 1949. The University of San Diego maintains an affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church and serves more than 5,600 students online and on-campus in San Diego. The school’s campus sits on top of a mesa that overlooks San Diego.

Highlight: The University of San Diego’s campus has been recognized as one of the most beautiful school campuses.

Degree: Master of Taxation

11. Grand Valley State University

grand valley state

Grand Valley State University offers an on-campus MS in Taxation that requires students to complete 33 semester credits to graduate. Grand Valley State University’s best masters in taxation programs prepare students for careers as an accountant, an attorney, an auditor, or industrial personnel. This graduate degree from G Grand Valley State University in taxation includes coursework in multistate taxation, international tax, partnership tax, corporate taxation, and Estate and Trusts, to name a few. Grand Valley State University’s taxation program has received accreditation from the AACSB International.

Grand Valley State University (GV) was established in 1960. The university’s main campus serves more than 23,900 students on its 1,200+ acre property, located about ten miles from Grand Rapids.

Highlight: Grand Valley State University maintains three campuses in the state of Michigan – Detroit, Traverse City, and Muskegon. 

Degree: Taxation, MS 

12. American University

american u

The American University Kogod Business School offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Taxation that is considered one of the country’s best masters in taxation programs. AU’s graduate degree in taxation requires candidates to complete 30 credit units in tax planning for individuals, tax research, real estate taxation, business tax planning, family tax planning, state and local taxation, judicial foundations in income tax, special tax topics, plus tax policy, to name a few.

American University was established in 1893. This private space-grant institution of higher learning is affiliated with the Methodist Church. American University’s campus in the nation’s capital is home to more than 14,100 students vying for academic degrees offered by the university’s eight colleges/schools.

Highlight: American University is one of the few schools that were chartered by an act of Congress.

Degree: Taxation, MS 

13. Boise State University

boise state

Boise State University’s Cobe Graduate Programs offers a Master of Accountancy with an academic track in taxation (MSAT) that is recognized among Idaho’s best masters in taxation programs. Boise State University’s graduate degree in taxation and accountancy includes 30 semester credits in classes like tax research, corporate tax law, nonprofit taxation, international taxation, personal financial planning, advanced auditing, financial reporting, plus a taxation internship at the end of the program. Classes for Boise State University’s taxation degree are offered in both the night and day. 

Boise State University was established in 1969. This public institution of higher education was originally founded by the Episcopal Church but became a public four-year institution in 1965. Boise State University’s urban campus serves more than 25,100 students.

Highlight: Boise State University was the state’s 3rd university and now has more than 70,000 living alumni.

Degree: Taxation, MA 

14. Baylor University

baylor u

Baylor University’s Hankamer Business School offers a Master of Taxation degree program that is one of Texas’s best masters in taxation programs. This graduate degree in taxation offered by Baylor University requires the completion of 33 semester hours in classes that include advanced individual taxation, international taxation, ethics for accountants, corporate taxations, and s corporation taxation, to name a few. This taxation degree from Baylor University has received accreditation from the AACSB. Students interested in a dual degree can earn their Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with this taxation graduate degree.

Baylor University was established in 1845 before Texas gained statehood. Baylor University maintains an affiliation with the Baptist General Convention. More than 17,900 students attend classes on the school’s Waco campus.

Highlight: Baylor University is recognized as one of the first institutions of higher education west of the Mississippi River.

Degree: Master of Taxation

15. Eastern Michigan University

eastern michigan u

The Eastern Michigan University Business College offers a Master of Science (MS) in Taxation degree program that is accredited by the AACSB International. Eastern Michigan University’s graduate degree in taxation is ranked among the 20 best masters in taxation programs by the Princeton Review. Students enrolled in Eastern Michigan University’s graduate taxation degree will explore topics that evaluate tax obligations based on legal entity statuses, multijurisdictional taxation, real estate taxation, plus the ability to analyze and identify important data related tax obligations. 

Eastern Michigan University was founded in 1849. This public institution of higher education was originally a teacher’s training school. The university’s campus in Ypsilanti serves more than 20,100 students vying for degree offers by the university’s seven colleges/schools.

Highlight: Eastern Michigan University holds the distinction of being the first teacher’s college located outside the original 14 colonies.

Degree: Taxation, MS 

16. Nova Southeastern University

nova southeastern 1

Nova Southeastern University Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship offers a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Accounting with an academic concentration in Taxation that is recognized among the state’s best masters in taxation programs. Nova Southeastern University’s curriculum for this taxation degree includes corporate taxation, tax research, accounting analytics, accounting theory, financial statement analysis, and federal taxation of partnerships, to name a few. Many students complete Nova Southeastern University’s graduate taxation degree can be completed in one year.

Nova Southeastern University was established in 1964. N Nova Southeastern University’s campuses cover more than 200 suburban acres and serve more than 20,100 students studying for academic degrees offered by Nova Southeastern University’s fifteen colleges/schools.

Highlight: NSU operates campuses in Miami Beach, Tampa, Dania Beach, Davie, Fort Meyers, Jacksonville, Miramar, Kendall, Orlando, Palm Beach Gardens, and Fort Lauderdale.

Degree: Taxation, MA 

17. Fordham University

fordham u

Fordham University Gabelli Busines School offers a Master of Science (MS) in Taxation degree program that was ranked among the country’s best masters in taxation programs. Degree candidates can opt for concentrations in Corporate Taxation or Wealth Management for High-Net Worth Individuals. Classes for Fordham University’s graduate degree in taxation include tax accounting, international taxation, tax planning for individuals, corporate taxation, and data analytics for tax professionals, to name a few. Students must complete 30 semester credits, which is done in three semesters as a full-time student.

Fordham University was established as St John’s college in 1841. Fordham University’s campuses located throughout the boroughs of New York City serve more than 15,900 students.

Highlight: Fordham University holds the distinction of being the Empire State’s third oldest institution of higher education and the only tertiary Jesuit school in NYC

Degree: Taxation, MS 

18. Northern Illinois University

northern illinois u

The Northern Illinois University College of Business offers a Master of Science in Taxation (MST) degree program is AACSB accredited. Northern Illinois University ‘s best masters in taxation programs require the completion of classes as follows – corporate taxation, tax research and practice, partnership taxation, income tax for estates and trusts, accounting methods, international tax, and tax concepts for real estate, plus a 3 credit, 10-week internship in taxation and accounting. Poets & Quants recognizes Northern Illinois University as the no 3 business school with the most minorities enrolled.

Northern Illinois University was established in 1895. This public university began as a teacher’s training institute. Northern Illinois University ‘s college-town campuses are home to more than 19,900 students studying for degrees offered by NIU’s seven colleges/schools. NIU operates academic facilities in Rockford, Oregon, Naperville, and Chicago.

Highlight: US News and World Report recognizes Northern Illinois University among the top 175 national public schools

Degree: Taxation, MS 

19. Bryant University

bryant u

Bryant University’s College of Business offers a Master of Professional Accountancy with an academic concentration in taxation (MPAC – Tax) that is accredited by the AACSB International.  As one of the country’s best masters in taxation programs Bryant’s graduate tax degree includes classes in individual taxation of income, real estate taxation, corporations, and shareholders, professional oversight, accounting theory, government accounting, accounting analytics, corporate governance in the 21st century and management control systems, to name a few. Degree candidates are required to complete a total of 30 semester credits to meet program requirements. 

Bryant University was established in 1853. Bryant University is organized into two schools – Liberal Arts and Business. More than 3,500 students attend classes on Bryant University’s 400-acre campus in Smithfield, near Brown University.

Highlight: The school’s campus was a gift from Earl Tupper, the inventor of the Tupperware Brand.

Degree: Accountancy: Tax, MP

20. Pace University

pace u

Pace University’s Lubin Business School offers a Master of Science in Taxation (MST) degree program that prepares degree candidates to become technically qualified taxation specialists. Classes for Pace University’s country’s best masters in taxation programs include 30 – 40 credits in Estate planning, tax problems of partnerships, advanced corporate tax, financial accounting for managers, business legal environments, and research methods in taxation, among others. Students graduate to find rewarding work as a corporate tax director, tax management, controller, chief financial officers, or fund accountant, to name a few.

Pace University was established in 1906. The university operates several campuses in the NYC region. Pace University’s campuses serve more than 12,500 undergraduate and graduate students.

Highlight: Pace University is home to the TV show – Inside the Actors Studio and a women’s justice center located in Westchester county.

Degree: Taxation, MS 

21. University of Akron

u akron

The University of Akron College of Business Administration/School of Accountancy offers a Master of Taxation program that can be completed in less than 2 years. Akron’s best masters in taxation programs include classes in financial accounting, federal taxation, corporate taxation, tax accounting, tax research, and tax policy, among others. The University of Akron’s graduate degree in taxation is also available as a dual accelerated degree that includes a bachelor of science in accounting. The University of Akron offers an online version of the taxation degree that can be completed in only 15 months. 

The University of Akron was established in 1913 as Buchtel College but is now a member school of the University System of Ohio. The University of Akron’s campus covers more than 200 urban acres and serves more than 16,300 students.

Highlight: The University of Akron operates several campuses throughout Ohio in Orrville, Medina County, and Lakewood. 

Degree: Master of Taxation

22. Robert Morris University

robert morris u

The Robert Morris University School of Business offers a Master of Science in Taxation (MST) degree program that requires degree candidates to complete 30 semester units. Robert Morris University’s best masters in taxation programs have received accreditation from the AACSB. Students enrolled in Robert Morris University’s graduate taxation degree can opt to complete the program in 12 or 14 months. The curriculum for this degree includes tax accounting problems, international taxation,  a research seminar, taxation of shareholders and corporations, tax consequences of property, taxing individual income, partnership tax consideration, and advanced corporate taxation, plus an independent study.

Robert Morris University was established din 1921 as a school for accountants. Robert Morris University maintains two campuses – one in Moon Township and a second campus in Pittsburgh. More than 3,900 students attend classes offered by Robert Morris University.

Highlight: The school is named to honor Robert Morris, one of the Declaration of Independence signers.

Degree: Taxation, MS 

23. Hofstra University

hofstra u

Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business offers a Master of Science in Taxation (MST) degree program that is considered among the state of New York’s best masters in taxation programs.  Students enrolled in Hofstra University’s graduate taxation degree program are required to complete 30 semester credits to graduate. The curriculum for this program includes tax practice and procedures, and tax research, to name a few. Coursework for Hofstra’s program can be applied toward the CPA required semester hours.

Hofstra University was established in 1935 as a New York University satellite facility. The university’s campus in Hempstead covers more than 200 suburban acres and serves more than 10,700 students.

Highlight: The school is named to honor William Hofstra, a lumbar baron of Dutch descent.

Degree: Taxation, MS 

24. Long Island University

long island u

Long Island University’s School of Professional Accountancy offers a Master of Science in Accountancy with an academic emphasis in Taxation that is considered one of the best masters in taxation programs in the nation. Long Island University’s accountancy school is the first of its kind in the country. Students graduating from Long Island University’s taxation program often find rewarding work at the big four accounting firms in nearby New York City. Long Island University’s taxation program meets the requirements for students to sit for the CPA exam.

Long Island University was established in 1926. This private higher learning institution maintains two campuses – one on Long Island in Brookville and another in NYC in Brooklyn. More than 15,000 students attend classes offered by Long Island University.

Highlight: Long Island University is the home of the annual Polk Awards for Journalism.

Degree: Accountancy: Taxation, MS

25. Widener University

widener university

Widener University’s School of Business Administration offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Taxation and Financial Planning that is recognized as one of Pennsylvania’s best masters in taxation programs. This graduate degree in taxation from Widener has received accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Students enrolled in this tax degree can attend as full-time or part-time students, with the average completion time of 2 years. The curriculum for this degree includes financial fundamentals, tax research, federal estate, and gift taxation, insurance planning, retirement plans, securities analysis, and individual income taxation, among others.

Widener University was established in 1821 as a school for boys. As a private higher learning institution, Widener University serves more than 6,300 students across its campuses in Harrisburg, Chester, and Exton, PA, plus a satellite facility in Delaware.

Highlight: Widener University became a military academy before its current status as a doctoral university.

Degree: Taxation & Financial Planning, MS

Should I Get a Master’s in Taxation?

Why get a masters in taxation, especially if it’s something that can be converted into a CPA? The answer depends on the career path you envision for yourself. Unlike a CPA, a masters in taxation is focused on tax law only. A student needs to take additional CPA coursework in order to pass the CPA licensing exam. This should answer the question of “what is a master of science in taxation”, although there is more to the degree than being an expert in tax issues. 

If you want to focus on mastering tax law and its nuances, getting a masters in taxation is a good choice for you. Your main task is to handle taxation issues, get to the source of the issue, figure out what action(s) to take, and create a workable resolution. That resolution may be something that needs to be done internally before a tax filing reaches the IRS, or after the IRS has uncovered an issue and is taking punitive action. The opportunity to work in a single area of focus can be appealing to someone who wants to work in a field with a lot of research, problem solving and minimal distractions. 

Some people find that they enjoy interaction with co-workers and clients, something that you will do with your masters in taxation, but not nearly as much as if you were a CPA. If you find that you want to do more with your masters in taxation, you can also become a CPA and focus on taxation issues. Working as a CPA with a focus in tax issues means you’ll work directly with clients. Your work includes looking at the overall financial picture of the client, finding where their money goes, and helping them get the most out of their money while reducing their overall tax liability. That can include suggesting investment vehicles, charitable donations and assisting an attorney in setting up a trust. 

What Can I Do with a Master’s in Taxation? 

The degree is limited to an education in the IRS tax code, but it is not limited in how you use it. Masters in taxation jobs are almost always positions that focus on helping an employer or client with their financial situation as it applies to taxes. You can work as a financial advisor for private clients, a chief financial officer in a corporation, or even as an advisor to a tax law court. It can also help you start a career working for the IRS as an agent. The one thing to remember about masters in taxation jobs is that they are all focused on applying tax law to a given situation and requires you to use your analytical and theoretical skills along with your knowledge of tax law. You may find yourself working in areas that are more inline with the duties of a CPA, but your role is primarily one of finding and preventing tax liabilities. 

One career that is an excellent option for the masters in taxation is that of enrolled agent. This credential is awarded to you by the IRS and allows you to represent clients before the IRS. In order to become an enrolled agent, you have to pass a three-part test and maintain 72 hours of continuing education every year you are an enrolled agent. You may feel that there is a lot of additional education needed in order to become and keep enrolled agent status. However, earning and maintaining this certification offers more career options as well as enhancing your value to an employer or client. The knowledge, skills and experience you gain from working directly with the IRS gives you an employability edge. Clients and employers put more faith and confidence in your ability to handle their tax issues when they know you have inside knowledge of how the IRS operates. 

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