Guide to Master’s in Taxation in 2022

You may have interacted with a tax expert when it came time for you to file your tax returns. That person likely guided you through the process, asking careful questions pertaining to deductibles, exemptions, and more. The scope of work for tax professionals however goes beyond tax season.

In matters of sales taxes, business taxes, property taxes, and payroll, the tax expert leads the charge in solving any issues that may arise and making sure that all stakeholders comply with the Internal Revenue Service’s regulations.

When deciding whether to pursue your master’s in taxation or master’s in tax law, it’s important to not only consider job outlook, but also program cost, program requirements, study environment and earning potential. Each of these factors can help you determine if earning your advanced degree is an educational investment you want to make.

Washington University

Washington University School of Law

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Master of Legal Studies (MLS)

Earn a Master of Legal Studies online from Washington University School of Law in as few as 12 months. Non-lawyers will gain a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. legal system and learn to apply legal skills in their current role. 

  • Complete in as little as one year  
  • Bachelor’s degree required  
  • Students can choose to concentrate in one of five specialization areas 

Washington University

Washington University School of Law

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Online Master of Laws in Taxation

Washington University’s online Master of Laws in Taxation program prepares students to solve complex tax law issues and adapt to changing legislation. Complete the program in as little as one year.

  • Complete in as little as one year   
  • Complete 100% online  
  • JD required to apply 

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Understanding the ins and outs of tax laws is key to a profession in taxation, especially if you’re considering a career as a tax attorney. One way to acquire an in-depth understanding of those laws is to earn a master’s degree in taxation, although not often required. Through a comprehensive curriculum, you’ll build a foundation to launch a career in a high-demand accounting specialty: the U.S. is projected to add 4,900 financial examiner jobs between 2019 and 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Many more accountants and auditors are expected to join the workforce during the same time period, precisely 125,700 each year.

Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation

The Master of Laws or LL.M. in taxation is a rigorous academic program for students who have completed their Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree and want to specialize further. The more specific areas of study include estate planning, international taxation and state and local taxation. Acquiring this degree may offer you an edge in potential early-to-mid level career paths.

Typical Curriculum and Courses Outcomes

Think of this program as one that is designed to make you an expert in all things tax-law so you can interpret and properly enforce IRS standards. The curriculum typically covers general tax practice, business taxation and international taxation. Some programs offer courses in estate planning and policy as well. Depending on your specialization, you’ll have an array of electives to choose from like Advanced Income Tax and Personal Financial Planning, Partnership Taxation, and Private Wealth Planning.

With your degree, you can work in a variety of roles. Some of them are tax analyst, tax consultant, tax attorney, senior tax manager and more.

A Master of Legal Studies, or MLS, differs from an LL.M. in that it is not specifically meant for lawyers. The MLS is meant to prepare individuals who may work closely with other lawyers or the law itself to better understand it but does not qualify them to be a practicing attorney.

Typical Curriculum and Courses Outcomes

The curriculum for this program may be similar to other tax law degrees but tends to be more general covering subjects such as Introduction to United States Law and Methods, Federal Income Taxation, Corporate Taxation, Federal Taxation of Partnerships, Income Tax Accounting and more.

This educational path could potentially help practicing accountants or financial professionals to qualify for senior positions in their workplace or give them a leg up over other financial professionals. Jobs for an MLS in taxation graduate include senior compliance officer, senior contract negotiator, tax specialist, state and local tax professional or government contractor.

Master’s in Taxation Accounting

A Master of Science in Taxation or MST differs from other tax degrees. While an LL.M. and MLS prepare students for a career in the legal sector, this one prepares a student for a career in business and to take the Certified Public Accountant exam. Sometimes these degrees are offered through a college or university’s business school rather than law school.

Typical Curriculum and Courses Outcomes

Courses for an MST program focus less on government entities and more on tax research, practice, state and local entities, individual taxes and estate taxation. Your training will teach you how to apply advanced knowledge of accounting and taxation to organizational issues, implement ethical decision-making processes and manage teams and help them to reach set goals.

Job prospects include tax consultant, tax advisor and accounting roles where employers are looking for CPA holders to fill.

Online Master’s Degree in Taxation

Inside Higher Ed reports that online education is the main driver of growth in postsecondary enrollments. Legal education has been forced to adapt during the pandemic, and many law schools that never offered virtual classes before now have online offerings. That means more self-starters can learn from wherever they are in the world.

We’ve compiled a list of master’s in taxation online programs, including LL.M. and MLS programs, that may fit students from various backgrounds who are interested in tax law. All the online master’s in taxation programs listed below are offered by ABA-approved law schools.

University of Baltimore

School of Law

Master of Science in Taxation

Baltimore, Maryland

Name of Degree: Master of Science in Taxation

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 30

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Official transcripts
  • Resume/CV
  • Personal statement
  • One letter of recommendation
Learn more about the Master of Science in Taxation from University of Baltimore

Boston University

School of Law

Master in the Study of Tax Law

Boston, Massachusetts

Name of Degree: Master in the Study of Tax Law

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 24

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Official transcripts
  • Resume/CV
  • Personal statement 
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Test scores – GMAT, GRE, LSAT
Learn more about the Master in the Study of Tax Law from Boston University

University of Denver

Sturm College of Law

Master of Taxation

Denver, Colorado

Name of Degree: Master of Taxation

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 30

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Official transcripts 
  • GRE/MAT scores (can be waived)
  • Resume/CV 
  • Letter of recommendation
Learn more about the Master of Taxation from University of Denver

Georgetown University

School of Law

Taxation LL.M.

Washington, District of Columbia

Name of Degree: Taxation LL.M.

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 24

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Graduate of ABA-accredited law program
  • Official transcripts 
  • Resume/CV 
  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Registrar’s Certification Form
Learn more about the Taxation LL.M. from Georgetown University

Golden Gate University

School of Law

Master of Laws in Taxation

San Francisco, California

Name of Degree: Master of Laws in Taxation

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 25

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • JD, LLB, or equivalent law degree
  • Official transcripts
  • Resume/CV
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Interview may be required
Learn more about the Master of Laws in Taxation from Golden Gate University

University of Houston

School of Law

Tax Law LL.M.

Houston, Texas

Name of Degree: Tax Law LL.M.

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 24

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Law degree
  • Official transcripts
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Resume/CV
  • Two reference letters
Learn more about the Tax Law LL.M. from University of Houston

Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Law School

Online Master of Laws (Tax LL.M.)

Los Angeles, California

Name of Degree: Online Master of Laws (Tax LL.M.)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 24

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • JD from ABA-accredited law school
  • Official transcripts
  • Resume/CV
  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation
Learn more about the Online Master of Laws (Tax LL.M.) from Loyola Marymount University

New York University

School of Law

Master of Studies in Law in Taxation

New York, New York

Name of Degree: Master of Studies in Law in Taxation

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 24+

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Masters degree in accounting, business administration, economics, finance, or taxation
  • Official transcripts
  • Official statement of class rank
  • Personal statement
  • Resume/CV
  • Letter of recommendation
Learn more about the Master of Studies in Law in Taxation from New York University

University of San Francisco

School of Law

LL.M. in Taxation

San Francisco, California

Name of Degree: LL.M. in Taxation

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: N/A

Credits: N/A

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • JD from ABA-accredited law school
  • Official transcripts
  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation
Learn more about the LL.M. in Taxation from University of San Francisco

Temple University

Beasley School of Law

Master of Science in Taxation

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Name of Degree: Master of Science in Taxation

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: 1.5+ years

Credits: 30

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • 3.25 GPA
  • Official transcripts
  • Resume/CV
  • Personal statement
Learn more about the Master of Science in Taxation from Temple University

Villanova University

Charles Widger School of Law

Master of Taxation

Villanova, Pennsylvania

Name of Degree: Master of Taxation

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 2 years

Credits: 30

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Official transcripts
  • Resume/CV
  • Essay
  • GRE/MAT scores (can be waived)
  • One letters of recommendation
Learn more about the Master of Taxation from Villanova University

Western Michigan University

Cooley Law School

Tax Law LL.M.

Lansing, Michigan

Name of Degree: Tax Law LL.M.

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 24

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • JD from ABA-accredited law school
  • Official transcripts
  • Personal statement
  • Legal writing sample
  • One letter of recommendation
Learn more about the Tax Law LL.M. from Western Michigan University

Which Taxation Program Is Right for Me?

Comparing the many types of degree offerings, courses and career paths related to tax law can be overwhelming, especially when each path tends to take about 2 to 4 years from start to finish. But choosing the right program doesn’t have to be stressful. When you take a look at a program’s admissions requirements, your desired job title, whether you want to take your courses online or on-campus, your budget and perhaps how your previous education and work experience could help you in the classroom, you may find it easier to narrow down the path that’s right for you.

Perhaps you have a Juris Doctor and want to specialize in a single aspect of taxation to better serve their constituents. You might opt for an LL.M. in taxation. If you wish to obtain your CPA, then a master’s in taxation accounting offered by a business school could be the degree to aim for.

For working professionals or those hoping to switch career paths say from legislation representation to tax management, online programs can be a great fit. Some online programs are asynchronous, meaning they offer more flexibility when it comes to deadlines. Distance learning also gives students the chance to enroll in part-time study, but it is important to note that these types of programs require a self-starting attitude and the ability to learn independently.

Regardless of the degree you choose to get, closely inspect program details. Admissions can be particularly rigorous if the school you want to attend has a good reputation. Typically, schools will require the following:

  • A completed application form – This form is provided by the school and will require you to list personal details such as your date of birth.
  • Application fee – Prepare to budget anywhere from $35 upwards per application
  • Transcripts – Expect a small fee to have your alma mater send your transcripts to your preferred/safety programs. Your transcripts will show if you meet the program’s minimum GPA requirement.
  • GMAT or GRE test scores – This can sometimes be waived depending on previous experience or professional accomplishments in your field
  • Letters of Recommendation – Be sure to give a month notice in advance at least and send thank you notes once you those letters have been sent to you or the institution.
  • Subject prerequisites – Some programs require prerequisites other than a degree. For example, an MS in Taxation may ask that on top of your bachelor’s degree in business, accounting or administration, you have completed certain courses such as Intermediate Accounting and Business Finance
  • Personal Essay – Your essay or personal statement will tell the admissions team why you want to enroll in a program and what you bring to the table

Before sending your applications, check average acceptance rates to see how you measure up to program standards. Always have preferred schools and a few safety schools on your list to increase your chance of being accepted to a program you are comfortable with.

Lastly, be sure you apply to a program or school that is accredited. For those obtaining a law degree, the American Bar Association (ABA) is the accrediting board to look out for. If your degree is offered through a business school, it will either be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Unsure of what type of accreditation your program has, regional or national? Use the Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to find out.

Salary Outlook with a Degree in Tax Law

Your degree in tax law may open up the door for you to work in a range of positions as previously discussed. Salary will not be the same across the board. Your location, years of experience, level of education, employer and specific job title could affect how much you earn.

In May 2020, the median annual salary for accountants and auditors was $73,560, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10% of this working group earned more than $128,680. By contrast, median annual wages for financial examiners came to $81,430, still exceeding the national average for all occupations.

If you want to work as a tax attorney or lawyer, you should know how much lawyers are making. The median salary for lawyers in the U.S. is $126,930, according to May 2020 BLS data. The BLS also found that salary changes from industry to industry.

IndustryMedian Annual Wage, May 2020
Federal Government
$152,220
Legal Services
$126,660
Local Government (excluding education and hospitals)
$99,900
State Government (excluding education and hospitals)
$91,450

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Lawyers

Frequently Asked Questions About Tax Law Degrees

Before you begin the journey of pursuing a master’s in taxation, make sure you have conducted extensive research not only on your desired program but also on the accounting and taxation fields. The following questions and answers can help you with this process.

How long does it take to complete an online master’s in taxation?

The time it takes to complete a master’s in taxation depends on the program type and whether you are a full- or part-time student. Many schools allow students to complete their MLS in Taxation and LL.M. in Taxation in one year. For part-time students, it may take longer. Check the list of online master’s in taxation programs.

What are the admission requirements for an LL.M. in Taxation?

To apply for an LL.M. in Taxation program, you’ll generally need to have previously completed your J.D. degree or an equivalent degree. Be sure to check the program you are interested in for details regarding admission requirements.

What are the admission requirements for an MLS in Taxation?

To enroll in a MLS in Taxation, a common admissions requirement includes a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. LSAT and GRE scores are typically not required.

Is a master’s in taxation degree in the arts or science?

There are various types of taxation programs. M.S. in Taxation programs are typically offered through business schools and prepare students to take their CPA exam. Master’s in Taxation programs are offered through law schools and are designed to help students advance their new legal knowledge and tax expertise.

Last updated: June 2021