Program Description

The Master of Science in Taxation program is a demanding, competitive and rigorous course of study that develops an understanding of the tax practice. It focuses on building research, communication, compliance and critical-thinking skills that are vital to becoming a successful tax practitioner in public, private, government and not-for-profit organizations.

This program is available through self support (funded entirely by student fees and offered in a cohort format) in partnership between one of the CSUN academic colleges and The Tseng College.
Admission into programs leading to licensure and credentialing does not guarantee that students will obtain a license or credential. Licensure and credentialing requirements are set by agencies that are not controlled by or affiliated with the CSU, and requirements can change at any time. For example, licensure or credentialing requirements can include evidence of the right to work in the United States (e.g., Social Security number or taxpayer identification number) or successfully passing a criminal background check. Students are responsible for determining whether they can meet licensure or credentialing requirements. The CSU will not refund tuition, fees, or any associated costs to students who determine subsequent to admission that they cannot meet licensure or credentialing requirements. Information concerning licensure and credentialing requirements is available from the department. See Notice to Students: Licensure and Certification for more information.

Program Requirements

A. Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the requirements of the university as listed in this catalog. In addition, applicants must have successfully completed an introduction to federal income taxation course and an introduction to financial accounting course. (Prerequisite courses may be taken at any accredited institution of higher education.) Furthermore, applicants must submit two letters of recommendation from supervisors or professors, as well as a current resume. The GMAT is not required for applicants with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. CPA designation, Enrolled Agent credentials or 4 years of professional tax work experience may substitute for the GMAT for candidates with a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.5 but lower than 3.0. While tax work experience, CPA designation or Enrolled Agent credentials are valued in the ranking of applicants, they are not required for admission.

B. Classification Requirements

Applicants who are admitted to the M.S. in Taxation program are admitted as either a conditionally classified graduate student or a classified graduate student. Students must obtain the designation of classified graduate student before completing 12 units of postgraduate work. To be designated as a classified graduate student, students with an overall GPA below 3.0 in their undergraduate degree must satisfy one of the following requirements:

  1. Passed the CPA exam.
  2. Passed the Enrolled Agent exam.
  3. Have at least 4 years of tax work experience.
  4. Scored at or above the 50th percentile on the Verbal or Quantitative section of the GMAT or GRE.

Finally, candidates must complete the 30 units of coursework as described below with a 3.0 or higher GPA. Candidates who fail to attain a 3.0 or higher average in the first 15 units attempted will be disqualified from the program. The maximum time allowable to complete the degree is five calendar years from the date of admission.

C. Course Requirements

1. Core Skills (3 units)

ACCT 509 Tax Ethics, Research and Communication (3)

2. Core Knowledge (24 units)

These eight courses provide the students with an in-depth knowledge in key areas in the field of taxation. Each course integrates into its curriculum and pedagogy written-communication skills, tax-research skills and critical-thinking skills. Some courses also integrate compilation and analytical review and oral communication skills, as well as ethics and professional responsibility.

Foundational Knowledge (15 units)
Students must take all of the following five courses:

ACCT 520 Income Tax Concepts and Their Business Applications (3)
ACCT 629 Income Taxation of Corporations and Shareholders I (3)
ACCT 633 Income Taxation of Partnerships (3)
ACCT 640 Accounting Methods and Periods (3)
ACCT 645 Federal Tax Procedure (3)

Fields of Specializations (9 units)
Students must take a cluster of three specialized topic courses. Clusters may vary from cohort to cohort. Specialized topic courses include the following:

ACCT 631 Income Taxation of Corporations and Shareholders II (3)
ACCT 635 Income Taxation of Estates and Trusts (3)
ACCT 637 Taxation of Foreign Transactions and Taxpayers (3)
ACCT 655 Real Estate Taxation (3)
ACCT 661 State and Local Taxes (3)
ACCT 668 Selected Topics in Taxation (3)

3. Tax Planning Focus (2 units)

ACCT 650 Contemporary Tax Planning Issues Seminar (2)

4. Culminating Experience (1 unit)

As part of their culminating experience, students have five options: (a) serving in the Bookstein Low Income Taxpayer Clinic as a Clinician; (b) conducting educational workshops in the community on federal tax law issues affecting low income taxpayers; (c) editing and writing a manuscript for the Tax Development Journal; (d) serving as a tax preparer or as a supervisor in the CSUN VITA Clinic; or (e) solving and presenting a complex hypothetical tax problem.

ACCT 697TX Directed Comprehensive Studies in Taxation (1)

Total Units Required for the M.S. Degree: 30


Master of Science in Taxation
Bookstein Chair in Taxation: Rafi Efrat
Bookstein Hall (BB) 1111
(818) 677-3952

Staff: Ivette Gallegos
(818) 677-2461

Staff: Jesse Knepper
(818) 677-4415

Staff: Heather Leohner
(818) 677-4642

Program Learning Outcomes

Students receiving a Master of Science in Taxation will be able to:

  1. Apply their conceptual understanding of tax to both structured and unstructured problems.
  2. Effectively communicate their analysis of complex taxation problems in writing.
  3. Research tax literature for both structured and unstructured problems.
  4. Apply critical-thinking skills when analyzing and solving tax problems.
  5. Recognize and analyze ethical and professional responsibility issues in the tax practice.
  6. Conduct analytical review of tax returns.