MSA Program Requirements

The Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) degree is open to students with bachelor's degrees in any discipline. The MSA program requires students complete at least ten courses (30 semester units) beyond the core business prerequisite/accounting classes. Students who have fulfilled the core business/accounting prerequisites generally complete the program in 12-18 months. Students without prior academic studies in business can expect to spend 18-24 months in the program. All students are expected to have completed Introductory Financial and Managerial Accounting prior to beginning the MSA program.

Official MSA Programs of Study (POS) are determined by an MSA Adviser based on individual student goals. Contact an MSA Advisor for more information.

In addition to completing the 10 classes for a particular MSA specialization, students must complete specific core business classes. The SDSU Graduate Business Program may waive core business classes for students coming into the program that have completed equivalent undergraduate courses in the last seven years with a grade of “B” or better.

The following core business prerequisites that have not been met prior to enrolling in the MSA program are expected to be satisfied by completing graduate courses at SDSU:

  • BA 623: Statistical Analysis (undergraduate equivalent: statistical analysis for business)
  • BA 624: Organizational Behavior and Leadership (undergraduate equivalent: management and organizational Behavior)
  • BA 625: Financial and Management Accounting (undergraduate equivalent: financial and managerial accounting)
  • BA 626: Business Economics (undergraduate equivalent: microeconomics and macroeconomics)
  • BA 629: Financial Management (undergraduate equivalent: fundamentals of finance)

English Proficiency: Writing or composition course at a university where English is the primary language of instruction.

Note: Students with an undergraduate degree in business from an AACSB Accredited university in the United States of America will have likely satisfied this entire set of prerequisites. See the SDSU Graduate Bulletin for course descriptions.


General Advisor (Administrative)
Diane Coning, EBA-448, (619) 594-4188, [email protected]


Accounting Information Systems (AIS)
Dr. C. Janie Chang, (619) 594-8383, [email protected]

Financial Reporting (FAR)
(students with last names A-M)
Dr. Jeff Wang, (619) 594-2033, [email protected]

(students with last names N-Z)
Dr. Yan Luo, (619) 594-1011, [email protected]

Dr. Nathan Oestreich, (619) 594-3675, [email protected]

Accounting Information Systems (AIS)

The MSA-AIS specialization provides students with an academic curriculum that integrates accounting and information systems. MSA-IS students developed the knowledge and skills to become accountants with expertise in information systems and business process management. The MSA-AIS specialization is designed primarily for students interested in pursuing careers in AIS related positions in internal audit, assurance services, information technology auditing, and consulting. The MSA-AIS specialization prepares students to take the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) exam, the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) exam, and the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam.

AI Specialization Overview (pdf)

Financial Reporting (FR)

The MSA-FR specialization provides students with an academic curriculum that focuses on enhancing the quality of information for business decision-making, with an emphasis on developing the communication and problem-solving skills to responsibly contribute to financial reporting processes. MSA-FR students develop a framework for financial reporting grounded in the principles of measurement, disclosure, control, and assurance. Students also have the flexibility to explore topics such as financial statement analysis, accounting theory and research, accounting information systems, corporate finance, and assurance services that transcend traditional financial statement audits. The MSA-FR specialization is designed primarily for students interested in pursuing financial reporting careers in assurance services and corporate industry, although it is flexible enough to allow students to customize their graduate accounting coursework to meet specific career objectives. The MSA-FR specialization prepares students to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam, and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam.

FR Specialization Overview (pdf)

Taxation (TAX)

The MSA-TAX specialization provides students with an academic curriculum that incorporates a wide variety of topics and issues predominately focused on U.S. Federal income taxation. MSA-TAX students develop knowledge and skills in tax compliance and planning for individuals, corporations, partnerships (and other business entities), multistate taxation, international taxation, tax research, and financial reporting for income taxes. The MSA-TAX specialization is designed primarily for students interested in pursuing taxation related careers in public accounting firms and corporate industry. MSA-TAX specialization prepares students to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam and Enrolled Agent (EA) exam.

Tax Specialization Overview (pdf)

A. Maintain Required Grade Point Average

Grade point averages of at least 3.0 (B) must be maintained in:

  1. All courses listed on the official program of study
  2. All courses, 300-level and above, taken at San Diego State University concurrently with or subsequently to the earliest course listed on the official degree program, including courses accepted for transfer credit

Note: No transfer or extension credit may be used to improve the grade point average of units completed at San Diego State University whether computed to determine the average on the official degree program or the overall average.

B. Submit Program of Study (POS)

All students must submit a POS worksheet to the Graduate Business Programs office no later than the semester before they anticipate graduating. For example, if a student plans to graduate in spring 2015, they should submit their POS no later than the fall 2014 semester. Students must have at least a 3.0 GPA and be in good academic standing with the university in the semester in which they are submitting their POS. The POS must be filed before the student can be advanced to candidacy. The university requires students to be advanced to candidacy no later than the semester before they anticipate graduating.

The university Graduate Affairs office will review the POS, approve or deny the POS, and notify the student of the approval or denial. POS' are rarely denied. Once a POS has been approved it becomes the student's contract with the university that ensures that the student is meeting the requirements of the degree program.

C. Submit Petition for Adjustment of Academic Requirements (if needed)

If for any reason the student has taken courses that were not listed on the POS, the student will need to submit a Petition for Adjustment of Academic Requirements to update the POS that is on file with the university. Under the "Student Request" section, the student should list the courses they wish to have removed from their program of study as well as those that should be added to their program of study and provide a reason for the changes. The full name and number of each course and the number of units awarded for each course should be listed. MBA students should submit the completed form directly to the Graduate Business Programs office.

D. Submit Graduation Application

Students who have been advanced to candidacy and are ready to graduate need to complete an Application for Graduation with an Advanced Degree. The completed Application for Graduation should be submitted along with the $55 graduation fee via the SDSU Web Portal system in the Student Accounts area. The Graduation Application deadline varies but applications are usually due at the beginning of each semester. Students are advised to monitor the Graduate Affairs website and/or the Academic Calendar for the graduation application deadline in the semester they plan to graduate.