Students in a tiered classroom learning from an accounting professor

A top accounting master’s degree designed for any undergraduate major

Add accounting to your skill set and become a business leader in just one year with this top-ranked Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) from Gies College of Business.

This STEM-designated accounting program is designed for students of all academic backgrounds; a bachelor's degree in accounting is not required.

You'll develop skills to excel in a competitive job market, while becoming a more professional version of yourself. The Department of Accountancy features a #1 ranked faculty (according to BYU’s Faculty Research Ranking) focused on providing an outstanding student experience, strengthening your business skills, and developing leading-edge accounting curriculums.

Applications for Summer (June) 2021 open on October 1. View Application Deadlines.

Strong career opportunities

We are proud that 100% of 2019 domestic graduates seeking employment landed a job within three months of graduation, and international graduates reported a placement rate of 78% within six months of graduation in 2019 (data retrieved with a 63% knowledge rate).

As one of the largest suppliers of leaders for the accounting profession, we boast more partners in the Big-Four CPA firms than any other university. Our graduates consistently go on to earn C-suite positions with major corporations such as:

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Grant Thornton
  • KPMG
  • PwC and PwC China
  • Tencent

With the MSA, you to gain a competitive advantage in the job marketplace. Future employers want to hire students who are academically excellent and also possess the important professional business skills. The MSA team works hard, along with Gies Business Career Services, to intentionally create impactful opportunities for students to develop a balance between technical and non-technical skills.

Leading curriculum with a focus on data analytics

Technical excellence is a given. Hiring outstanding faculty, admitting students with exceptional credentials, delivering innovative and market-relevant accounting curriculum, and preparing students to pass the CPA exam are essential ingredients of our leading accounting master’s program. At Gies, we take all of these areas seriously. We teach students to develop and apply an analytics-oriented mindset to a variety of accounting scenarios, including financial accounting, audit and tax, advisory and managerial, and forensics. 

Practicing skills is an equally important component of learning. At Gies, we create opportunities for our students to learn by doing through practicing key technical and non-technical business skills. The results are invaluable and help to accelerate personal and professional development.

The MSA core curriculum applies to all of our students. However, for those students who have previously taken accounting courses equivalent to those in our core curriculum, we will work with you to find a suitable course replacement to recognize the sufficiency of your prior accounting education.

An outstanding student experience

The MS in Accountancy balances academic education with the development of nontechnical business soft skills though a personalized approach. That’s what makes our program unique. We create experiences to enhance your education, job search, wellness, personal and professional development, and cultural fit.

For international students, we offer a supportive environment. This includes the opportunity to enhance your understanding of American university culture and improve your English speaking proficiency through networking events, conversation partners, and group outings. If you’re looking for a STEM-designated, top-ranked graduate accounting degree that will exceed your expectations, look no further than the MSA at Gies Business.


David Parilla Portrait from Master of Science in Accountancy

"The MSA program has exceeded my expectations by taking me far beyond the work in the classroom. From networking events to staff coaching sessions, the program really encourages both academic and professional growth."

David Parilla, MSA '16

Xianhang Wang Portrait from the Master of Science in Accountancy Program

"The MSA program offers me such a supportive environment. Now I am continuously inspired to step out of my comfort zone, try new things, and to improve myself every single day."

Xianhang Wang, MSA '16

Gies News and Events

Leiby brings VR, empathy into accounting discipline

Jan 4, 2021, 08:37 AM by Aaron Bennett
The image of an accountant as a dispassionate person who isn’t influenced by status or environment doesn’t reflect today’s professional, according to Justin Leiby, associate professor of accountancy at Gies College of Business.

The image of an accountant as a dispassionate person who isn’t influenced by status or environment doesn’t reflect today’s professional, according to Justin Leiby, associate professor of accountancy at Gies College of Business.

“It struck me how much emotions and feelings drive decision-making in the real world, yet much research has focused on how to take their impact out of the process. The emotional side is a reality to embrace and work with instead of against,” said Leiby.

Leiby’s research and teaching interests focus on the role of social relations and interactions in auditing. He is the Professor Ken Perry Faculty Fellow in Accountancy at the College. Leiby earned bachelor’s degrees in accounting and German at the University of Pittsburgh and his PhD in Accounting from Gies College of Business in 2011.

Leiby then headed south, working as an assistant professor of accounting at the University of Florida and subsequently the University of Georgia before returning to Illinois in 2018.

“It wasn’t a big secret I’d like to come back here. Gies has one of the best behavioral accounting programs in the country, and my wife and I didn’t realize how much we loved this place until we left,” Leiby said. “It was an easy decision to come back. This community accepts you for who you are and eases stress instead of creating it.”

Leiby’s Risk Management and Innovation course focuses on empathy building. It uses empathic design thinking to challenge accounting students to manage risk by first considering how stakeholder thoughts and feelings impact how they react to risk.

He has integrated virtual reality (VR) experiences into his course, and he is also in the early stages of developing a project with his students to examine how VR impacts remote working, which has become the status quo during the COVID pandemic. It builds on research that shows immersive environments create greater empathy and other interpersonal bonds.

“One great advantage of VR over Zoom’s teleconference platform, for example, is that it is free from distraction. Instead of looking at someone else’s home office, you’re in the virtual same space that’s a neutral environment,” said Leiby. “This impacts how much you invest in your performance on a given task.”

The goal is to find practical implementations for VR and use it to do certain audit procedures. He believes the area that’s most promising is coaching.

“There are critical interactions as an auditor when you need to gain someone’s attention and trust, like giving performance feedback. These are teachable moments. But giving feedback by email is terrible and by phone or a Zoom call isn’t much better. A level of engagement is missing,” he said.

Post-COVID-19 VR could also reduce travel time, create smaller carbon footprints, and respond to younger professionals’ desire to create more flexibility in their work schedule.

“This research hopes to prove that remote working can be effective and prove its value to those who make workplace decisions at firms,” he said, noting that VR is already growing in acceptance on the consulting side of accounting firms.

Leiby has collaborated with Anna Gold (VU Amsterdam) and Kathryn Kadous (Emory/Gies PhD) on a project for The Foundation for Auditing Research (FAR) that started with premise that the way people assess expertise is fundamentally incorrect. This applies to accounting in that regulators are concerned that auditors rely on experts without delving deeper into the underlying quality of their work. They created a case based on real-world input concerning the audit of the fair values of investment properties. Professional auditors viewed one of three versions that shows the dynamic between an expert and the client.

“This is fascinating. We asked them to assess the competence of an expert. We found they unintentionally confuse status with competence. On the surface, auditing appears to be rigid and standardized with guidance for everything. In reality, auditors live in an ambiguous world where they need to make their best guess if the valuation of things outside their expertise is reasonable,” he said. “Generally, it becomes easier to push back to a client if the auditor has the support of an expert with a powerful social network, which helps to smooth the waters.”