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"The professors in the masters of taxation program equip students with the guidance and skills necessary to become knowledgeable tax professionals."
Stephan F. Jimenez
MS Accounting, Class of 2010

MBA Students

Cal Poly MS Accounting Program

The Value of the Cal Poly MS Accounting Degree

The Accounting Area in the Orfalea College of Business offers a Master of Science in Accounting with specializations in Tax (MSA-Tax) and Financial Accounting (MSA-FA).

The Master of Science in Accounting program is a one-year intensive program that enables its graduates to meet the academic requirements for licensure as a Certified Public Accountant in California. The program takes into account the new credit requirements for CPA licensure which took effect January 1, 2014. Students preparing to become licensed CPAs will be candidates for careers with international public accounting firms, regional and local CPA firms, industry and government. Students may select a specialization in financial accounting or taxation. The curriculum in each program requires 45 units of study.

View MS Accounting Course Catalog

Master of Science in Accounting - specialization in Tax (MSA-Tax)

The MSA-Tax specialization prepares its graduates for a career in federal, state or local taxation with a public accounting firm, a state or federal governmental tax agency or industry. Tax students start the program with a 3-week summer session beginning one month prior to the traditional start of fall quarter classes. All MSA-Tax students will successfully complete a clinical tax education internship during the winter tax-filing season consistent with Cal Poly's educational philosophy of "learn by doing."

The MSA-Tax learning objectives are:
  • Research tax literature to identify potential solutions to tax issues.
  • Analyze and solve tax compliance issues through the application of critical-thinking skills.
  • Communicate complex tax information and solutions orally and in writing to support decision-making.
  • Prepare state and federal tax returns for individuals and business entities.
  • Recognize and apply ethical and professional responsibility concepts in the practice of tax.

Master of Science in Accounting – specialization in Financial Accounting (MSA-FA)

The MSA-FA specialization prepares candidates for careers with international public accounting firms, regional and local CPA firms, industry and government. The MSA-FA specialization is a uniquely designed, multi-disciplinary approach to graduate accounting education that couples advanced financial accounting and audit curriculum with courses in information systems.

The MSA-FA learning objectives are:
  • Demonstrate the ability to use data bases and develop advanced spreadsheets to analyze financial and auditing information.
  • Demonstrate the ability to understand data base structures that are the foundation of Accounting Information Systems.
  • Demonstrate the ability to document business processes, perform risk assessment of these processes, and evaluate the internal controls (including IT controls) that apply to these processes.
  • Communicate the results of research into accounting, taxation, and financial reporting.
  • Analyze financial statement data and conduct business valuations.
  • Recognize and apply ethical and fraud-related concepts in accounting and financial reporting.
  • Research issues related to accounting standards including International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

Cal Poly’s Accounting program

The Accounting and Law Area in the Orfalea College of Business is a premier accounting program in California. The area is recognized as a significant source of accounting graduates in California at both the undergraduate and the graduate level. The accounting program prepares students for careers in professional services firms, industry and government. It is recognized as a "preferred" school for recruiting by the big four public accounting firms.