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Master of Accounting Science (Leadership)

Frequently Asked Questions


Who should I talk to about the MAS (Leadership) program?

Please contact the Department to schedule an appointment at (815) 753-1637.

What are the criteria to be admitted to the MAS (Leadership) program?

Admission to the graduate program in Accountancy is limited to those students who can demonstrate high promise of success in a graduate business degree program. Admission is competitive. To be eligible for consideration, candidates must demonstrate that they possess the following minimum qualifications:

Students with a baccalaureate degree from an accredited U.S. college or university:

  • Strong record of academic achievement demonstrated by cumulative GPA
    Note: The GMAT is no longer required but may be submitted to supplement the academic record if GPA does not fully demonstrate academic ability.
  • Positive recommendations, preferably from an academic source.

International students (students with a baccalaureate degree from a college of university outside the U.S.):

  • Strong record of academic potential demonstrated by GMAT score
  • Command of both oral and written English
    International students for whom English is not the first language must submit a minimum TOEFL (IBT) score of 80 or and IELTS score of 6.5. Possession of a baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited institution may serve in lieu of the TOEFL score.
  • Positive recommendations, preferably from an academic source

If the undergraduate degree is not in accountancy and/or business, the student must fulfill the Phase I College of Business foundation courses and Phase I accountancy requirements (see Degree Requirements). A student, who wishes to enroll in Phase I courses at NIU, must be admitted to the M.A.S. (Leadership) program.

When should I apply?

MAS (Leadership) Application & Fee
to Grad School
Department Priority Deadline
All Supporting Documents
to Grad School Deadline
Students Deadline
SummerFebruary 1stApril 1st-------*
FallMarch 1stJuly 15thMay 1st
SpringSeptember 15thDecember 10thOctober 1st

* International students, who did not graduate from NIU, can not apply for summer term.

Admissions may be limited; consequently, applicants are strongly recommended to apply by the department priority application deadline.

What documents do I need to complete and submit for the application process?

To be considered for admission you must submit the following documents to the Graduate School:

  • Online Application & Application Fee (www.grad.niu.edu/grad/apply/degree_seeking.shtml).
  • Official Transcripts
    NIU students do not need to submit transcripts. Transfer students must submit an official transcript from each school attended. International students should submit both English and native language copies of their transcripts.
  • Official Test Scores (if required)
    • GMAT Score - Allow two to five weeks for the official GMAT score to reach NIU.
    • TOEFL or IELTS score
  • Two Letters of Recommendation Letters from an academic source, rather than from a work-related source, are preferred.
  • Career Goal Statement The goal statement should be two to three paragraphs explaining how the MAS (Leadership) program will help you meet your career goals.

Two to three business days after applying, you will receive an email with instructions on how to follow your admission application on MyNIU (www.niu.edu/myniu). MyNIU will ask for a NIU Z-ID and a password. If you do not have a Z-ID, you need to go to www.newstudents.niu.edu/its/audience/newstudents.shtml to obtain your login information.

Any outstanding documents which are necessary to process your application will be on your "To Do List" on your MyNIU page. It may take several days for MyNIU to reflect the actual receipt of documents to the Graduate School.

When is the latest I can decide to apply to the MAS (Leadership)?

The Graduate School deadline for each term is the latest that you can apply. We begin to review applications once the Accountancy Department's priority deadline has passed. You should apply by the accounting application deadline date to have the best chance of acceptance into the program.

When will I know if I'm admitted?

After the Graduate School has received and processed all of your documents, it will send a decision sheet to the MAS (Leadership) advisor. The department's admission committee meets after the department deadline and considers all complete applications for admission. The decisions are sent back to the Graduate School. They will send you a letter indicating the decision. The Department of Accountancy will also send you an email of acceptance to the MAS (Leadership) program within four weeks of the department deadline.

Admission Term
Accountancy Department
Admission Decision
Graduate School Admission
Decision Sent to Student
SummerMid-FebruaryBeginning of March
FallMid-MarchBeginning of April
SpringBeginning of OctoberEnd of October

Where do I get an application for Graduate School?

Applications may be obtained online at www.grad.niu.edu/grad/apply/degree_seeking.shtml.

Where do I get information about the GMAT?

Visit the official website of the GMAT at www.mba.com

How do I register for the GMAT?

You may register for the GMAT by phone (1-866-706-0403), or website www.mba.com. The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test that is available, year-round, at test centers throughout the United States. The fee is $250. It is possible to schedule your test within a few days of registering, but popular dates (weekends, especially) book quickly. Consider admission deadlines, then call early to increase your chances of getting your preferred test date at the center most convenient to you. Check the GMAT website for specific locations.

When should I take the GMAT?

Since the GMAT does not test you on your accounting and business knowledge, you should take the GMAT at least seven to twelve months before the start of Graduate School. By taking the exam early, you will have time to retake the exam if necessary. GMAT requires you to wait one month between test dates. If you take the test more than once, your highest score will be used. Note that a score of at least 480 does not guarantee admission into the MAS (Leadership) program.

Should I take a review course for the GMAT?

Whether to take a review course or not is up to you. The NIU College of Business now offers a comprehensive 24-hour GMAT preparation course. For more information click here. You can purchase review manuals, such as Kaplan and Princeton. These manuals contain CDs that provide you with a simulated exam.

What does early admission to Graduate School mean? Can I take two undergraduate courses and one graduate course during the summer?

When a NIU undergraduate student has under twelve hours to complete his/her B.S. degree, the student may also take graduate courses during the same semester if he or she has been admitted to the Graduate School. In order to have early admission into the MAS (Leadership) program, a NIU accountancy student must have Phase I Accountancy courses (ACCY 310A, 310S, 320, 331,360,432, and 450) completed before being admitted to the program. Contact Kelsey Johnson, MAS Advisor, for additional information.

Note: Please talk to the Financial Aid Office (Swen Parson Hall 245, (815) 753-1395) if you have financial aid. There may be monetary implications if you are an early admit to Graduate School.

Program Costs and Financial Assistance

What is the cost of the MAS (Leadership) program?

While the NIU Department of Accountancy has a national reputation for quality and excellence, the program is reasonably priced - and less than the cost of other Illinois graduate accounting programs (costs presented are for in-state students and only for the 30-semester hour graduate degree):

Graduate Accountancy Program2014-2015 Cost
NIU $22,120*
University of Illinois at Chicago $28,885
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign$34,247
DePaul University $44,100
* Includes MAS (Leadership) program fee of $275.00/credit hour (2014-2015)

Individual semester calculations (including for part-time enrollment, Phase I enrollment, and/or out-of- state costs) may be determined through the use of the NIU Bursar's Office tuition estimator at: www.niu.edu/bursar/tuition/estimator.shtml.

Are there department scholarships for MAS (Leadership) students?

Yes. We hope to increase the number in the future.

If I want to be a Graduate Assistant, what does it pay, what does it entail, and how does it affect my schedule? How many min/max hours can I take?

Please contact Dr. John Simon, the Director of Graduate Financial Assistance, for further information. During FY2013, full-time graduate assistants will be paid $830 per month plus a tuition waiver (fees must still be paid by the student). A Graduate Assistant must take at least 9 semester hours during the fall and spring terms. Summer graduate assistantships are rare. If you have a graduate assistantship in summer, you must take 6 semester hours in summer.

When will I know if a company will be paying for my 5th year?

It depends on the firm, but generally by the end of your senior year.

If a firm/corporation offers to pay for my fifth year, does this guarantee my admission to the MAS (Leadership) program?

No, you must meet the MAS (Leadership) admission criteria.

I didn't get an internship during the undergraduate program; does that mean external financial support is not available for me?

No, interviewing for graduate internships will be early in the fall and spring semesters of your senior year.

Are there student financial aid/loans for graduate students?

Yes, there are financial loans for graduate students who meet specific qualifications. Please contact the NIU Financial Aid Office (Swen Parson Hall 245 or call (815) 753-1395) for more information.

Students who are 1) early admits to the Graduate School or, 2) are taking undergraduate level courses as deficiencies for Phase II requirements should talk to a NIU financial aid officer. There are special implications to receiving financial loans in these circumstances.

Other financial loan requirements may pertain to your specific circumstances. Please contact the NIU Financial Aid office to discuss and verify financial assistance for your graduate program.


Where will the program be offered?

The MAS (Leadership) program will be offered in DeKalb.

Will all courses be in DeKalb?

All Accountancy courses will be offered in DeKalb. It is possible that one or more of the business electives may need to be taken at an off-campus location if courses in DeKalb are full. There is an additional off-campus fee added to tuition for off-campus courses.

When are courses going to be offered?

Most classes are offered during the day, while a few are offered early evening. Summer 2014 Phase II accountancy courses will begin one or two weeks after spring semester ends.

Can I start the program at any term?


Can I go part-time at NIU?

Contact Kelsey Johnson, MAS Advisor, for additional information.

Can I take 15 hours in the fall and 15 hours in the spring and be done?

Full-time status is 9 hours per semester. A normal course load for a fall or spring semester is 12 hours, and a normal course load for summer is 6 hours. Contact Kelsey Johnson, MAS Advisor, for additional information.

Can I work and go to school full time?

A full-time master's program is very challenging and we recommend you do not work.


How does the MAS (Leadership) program differ from a baccalaureate program?

The MAS (Leadership) program at Northern Illinois University is a challenging program which prepares students for successful careers in professional accounting. Our graduate faculty are dedicated to insuring that your experience at NIU will help you to develop the technical and career skills to be successful in today's complex business environment. Success in this program requires a higher level of commitment than that needed to be successful in our undergraduate degree program.

Why is the program called the MAS (Leadership) program?

The program integrates professional accounting knowledge with the specific leadership development skills and competencies needed to be successful in a variety of career paths. The MAS (Leadership) program includes academic experiences in leadership (two courses developed by the Departments of Management and Accountancy) combined with a variety of assessment tools and required experiences outside the classroom. These experiences will allow students to learn and apply the management theories, principles, and analytical methods needed to understand and execute effective business practices, as both an individual and a member of a team. In addition, students will gain the ability to lead a team and manage people and influence others' thinking and actions to achieve organizational goals.

These leadership experiences complement the balance of our 30 semester hour program which provides students with foundational accountancy knowledge that is not covered in an undergraduate program and essential business knowledge from the strategy, information technology, and financial management areas. Additionally, the program includes a research skills course and a capstone course in which accountancy and business knowledge is integrated and applied to business decision-making scenarios.

What 400-level Accountancy electives should I take as a NIU undergraduate?

You should definitely take ACCY 480, Governmental and Not-For-Profit Accounting if you plan to sit for the CPA exam. If you are interested in Internal Audit, you should take ACCY 462. If you are interested in Forensic Accounting/Fraud Examination, you should take ACCY 465. Otherwise, you should take ACCY 421, Advanced Cost Management. Students pursuing the MAS Taxation track may choose ACCY 433, Financial Reporting III.

What if I don't take the suggested Advanced Accountancy electives my undergraduate advisor has suggested?

If you take ACCY 433 (Financial Reporting III) as an undergraduate advanced Accountancy elective, then you will need to substitute another graduate course for ACCY 633. The department cannot guarantee that substitute courses will be offered each semester or when you will need them to complete your MAS (Leadership) degree in a timely fashion.

Track Required Elective Courses
Financial Reporting and Assurance A633  
Managerial Accounting Systems A633 (Not required) A633 (Not a choice)
Taxation A633 (Not required) A633

Where do the tracks come into play in this program? When do I need to know which track I want to do?

Students can select from the financial reporting and assurance or taxation tracks.Contact Kelsey Johnson, MAS Advisor, for additional information.

How does the taxation track differ from financial reporting and assurance track?

In the taxation track, four of the seven Accountancy classes will be tax classes.

Can I do the Masters of Science in Taxation (MST) program instead?

The MST program will meet the 150-hour requirement. However, it will not provide you with some of the classes you will need for the CPA exam.

What if I want to eventually do the MST program? Should I do financial reporting or taxation track in the MAS program?

You can do either. If you do the tax track, nine hours of the tax classes can also count towards the MST degree.

Will a MBA meet the criteria to sit for the CPA exam in Illinois?

The MBA degree will give you the 150 hours required to sit for the CPA exam. However, the Illinois Board of Examiners has modified the educational requirements to sit for the CPA exam beginning July 1, 2013. An MAS degree (or an MST degree) will qualify a candidate to sit for the CPA exam in Illinois without any further documentation. Candidates who do not have an MAS or MST degree must meet specific educational requirements. Among the requirements are (1) 30 semester hours in accounting, including two semester hours of research and analysis in accounting, and (2) 24 semester hours in business, including two semester hours in business communication and three semester hours in business ethics.


What are the MAS (Leadership) internship criteria? Are there requirements beyond the undergraduate criteria?

If a student with a NIU undergraduate Accountancy degree is admitted to the MAS (Leadership) program, you also meet the MAS (Leadership) internship criteria. For other students the completion of college and department Phase One requirements is needed. Questions about internships should be directed to Tamara Phelan (815-753-6208).

What if I don't want to do an internship? Can I take 12 hours in the spring term? What course would I take instead of the internship in the spring?

A graduate internship is not required for the MAS (Leadership) program. You may take 12 hours during the spring if you are not in an internship. Other Accountancy electives will be offered for students who do not have an internship. However, you should consider that many full-time job opportunities result from internships.

What if I don't get an internship?

Internships are not guaranteed. Internship offers are made by the company/firm through the internship interview process.

Can I get my own internship and turn it into an Accountancy internship for graduate credit?

Yes, see Tamara Phelan for details.

Can I do my graduate internship during the summer between the spring BS program and the fall MAS (Leadership) program?

Yes, most public accounting firm internships will be during the spring term. Most corporate firms will continue to offer internships in the summer. You must be accepted by the Graduate School in order to enroll in the academic graduate internship, ACCY 673.

When will graduate internship interviews be? Is the process the same as it was for undergraduates?

The internship interviewing process begins with a mandatory Recruiting Information meeting in September. Please contact Tamara Phelan (815-753-6208) for more information. On-campus interviewing takes place early in the fall and spring semesters.

If I've had an internship experience as an undergraduate, do I have to attend the Recruiting Information meeting?

Yes, the September Recruiting Information meeting is required even if you attended this meeting in a previous year. At this meeting you will receive the important dates and deadlines for the upcoming recruiting calendar.


Is the CPA Review part of the Masters Program?


Will the CPA Review course coordinate in time scheduling with taking MAS (Leadership) courses?


Who do I talk to about where and when the review courses are offered?

Contact, Mark Hogan, the Director of the NIU CPA Review, by phone: 815-753-6207. Please visit the CPA Review website at www.cpareview.niu.edu/.

Can I take the CPA exam once I have earned 150 hours, even if I have not completed the MAS (Leadership) program?

Once you have earned 150 semester hours, you may sit for the CPA exam (even if you have not completed the MAS (Leadership) program) until July 1, 2013. After July 1, 2013, you may begin sitting for the CPA exam during your last semester in the MAS (Leadership) program (in other words, in the semester during which you are going to earn your MAS (Leadership) degree). The Illinois Board of Examiners (IBOE) refers to this as "provisional" status - allowing you to count the semester hours in your final semester classes in order to meet their requirements even though you have not completed those courses. You may only request "provisional" status once and final transcripts documenting your successful completion of those courses must be received by the IBOE within 120 days after you sit for a section of the CPA exam.

Will I have all the courses I need to successfully complete the CPA exam at the beginning of the MAS (Leadership) program?



When do I interview for a job if I'm a MAS (Leadership) student?

The process is the same as for undergraduate students. You should attend the mandatory Recruiting Information meeting and the Accountancy Career Fairs. In addition, Career Services brings many companies and firms who are looking specifically for Accountancy majors to campus. The initial interviews take place on campus and have been scheduled at the end of September in the past few years. Companies/firms are looking to hire December, May and August (of the following year) graduates.

Campus Services encourages you to update or activate your Huskies Get Hired account by completing the user profile and uploading your resume. The Campus Recruiting Orientation tutorial, designed to guide you through this process, is available online at www.niu.edu/careerservices/orientation. You will not be able to participate in on-campus interviewing unless you have completed the Huskies Get Hired Orientation tutorial and activated your account. There are also university-wide job and internship fairs in the fall and spring semesters. Log on to www.niu.edu/CareerServices for more information about campus interviews.

Do I need to apply for graduation?

Yes, the Graduate School has definite deadlines to apply for graduation and to attend commencement ceremonies.

Graduation Date
Deadline to Apply
Maymid January
Augustearly April
Decemberearly September

You apply for graduation on MyNIU. You will be billed $35 fee whether you attend commencement or not. If you do not graduate the term you declared, you must submit a Graduation Deferment form with the Graduate School.