How to Choose Between an Online or On-campus Master’s in Taxation

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Taxation student works on computer.

If you have earned your BA in taxation or a related field, have obtained experience working in the tax industry and would like to expand on your knowledge, odds are you have considered a Master’s of Science in Taxation. Whether you’re a tax veteran preparing for advancement or a motivated individual seeking to establish your place in the field, a master’s degree can equip you with the knowledge, network, and confidence to do more, be more, and achieve more than you ever thought possible.

Once you have decided to pursue a master’s degree in taxation, the next step is to determine which program modality is the best fit for you. Technology has evolved to the point that you have choices today that did not exist a couple decades ago. While you are free to pack your bags and head back to a college of your choice, there is now another option to consider, and that is a master’s in taxation online. A recent report from the Babson Survey Research Group found that online or “distance education” accounts for roughly 30 percent of the U.S. student population.

So do you go for the online or on-campus degree experience?

Similarities between online and on-campus programs

Regardless of which modality you choose for your Master’s of Science in Taxation, you can receive an education that gives you new knowledge and helps you progress in your career. More specific similarities include:

Faculty experience: Instructor prestige dictates how many students choose a graduate program. Students want faculty who have accolades in the specialization you hope to pursue as you progress professionally. Online and on-campus programs offer instructors with years of theoretical and practical experience. The only difference could be that online faculty spend more of their current time working in the industry than academia, while on-campus instructors often devote the majority of their professional careers to teaching.

Networking opportunities: While the communication channel changes, both types of graduate programs provide means to connect with peers and alumni. Online students have the opportunity to join online discussion boards and get to know their fellow peers. Some online programs also provide optional residency courses where online students get to network with their peers and faculty members face-to-face to have a hybrid learning experience.

Career outcomes: Experiential learning is a component of online and on-campus graduate programs at Northeastern University. In your courses, you can master the theoretical underpinnings that drive tax policy and the functional skills to apply that knowledge to problems you will face in the workplace. Your resulting expertise in either program can better position you for potentially growing career fields, such as auditor, financial planner, management consultant and other roles or leadership if you already hold such titles. For instance, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data projected 10 percent more accountant and auditor jobs from 2016 to 2026, a rate faster than the average for all types of occupations. Plus, both degree options can position you for an average salary of $86,000, according to PayScale.

Degree value: Both online and on-campus modalities hold you to rigorous standards to demonstrate your competency in compliance, tax accounting and more. Online programs don’t place a disclaimer on your diploma. Additionally, accrediting bodies evaluate the quality of online and on-campus offerings, giving you a third-party vote of confidence in your master’s degree regardless how you earn it.

The benefits of an online master of taxation program

If you pursue an Online Master of Science in Taxation program, this modality provides several notable advantages. As My College Guide outlined, online programs tend to provide more scheduling flexibility. This can make a big difference if you plan to balance your latest academic pursuit with your career and personal obligations. Online programs offer you the freedom to set your own course schedule, taking classes when it is most convenient for you.

In addition, your college access range is greatly improved. If you had the wish to physically attend classes at Northeastern University but lived in North Dakota then a move would add extra costs. Enrolling in Northeastern’s online option through the D’Amore-McKim School of Business allows you to earn your degree without relocating.
Online courses also grant additional freedom as they can be accessed from anywhere, including multiple devices. The online modality enables students to complete coursework on their own time, whether they are traveling for work or on a vacation enjoying the view by a lake.

The benefits of an on-campus master of taxation program

While the online modality has its benefits, the traditional on-campus program has its advantages for students who thrive in in-person learning environments with more prescriptive scheduling.

If you prefer face-to-face communication with peers and faculty, on-campus offerings can better suit your needs. Also, consider this modality if you believe presence at the institution will help you focus on your studies, as some students need a change of space to switch from their work and home tasks to reviewing the many laws regarding estate and gift taxes.

The D’Amore-McKim School of Business provides various networking opportunities, including optional on-campus and international residencies. If you are considering an online program but want to ensure that you preserve a face-to-face support network for studying purposes, then the optional on-campus experience might be the right choice.

In the end, the decision to pursue an on-campus or online program should suit your strengths and needs as a student. If you are determined, passionate and disciplined to pursue an online Master’s of Science in Taxation, then the D’Amore-McKim School of Business can offer you an accredited pathway to success.

Recommended Readings:

Tips for returning to school after a few years off

What is a Master of Science in Finance online degree?

The Master of Science in Finance or Master’s in Economics: What is the difference?


Prepare for Tomorrow’s Tax Challenges Today

Babson Survey Research Group

Masters in Taxation Curriculum

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


My College Guide

U.S. News & World Report

Northeastern University’s Online MST Program