Program: M.S., Taxation
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.
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. 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 post-graduate work. To be designated as a classified graduate student:
- Students with a 3.0 or higher GPA in their undergraduate degree:
To be designated as a classified graduate student, a student with a 3.0 or higher GPA in the undergraduate degree must satisfy the CSU Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement by passing the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam or by receiving a score of 4.0 or higher on the Analytical Writing Assessment of the GMAT exam or a score of 3 or higher on the Analytical Writing section of the GRE exam.
- Students with an overall GPA below 3.0 in their undergraduate degree:
To be designated as a classified graduate student, a student with an overall GPA below 3.0 in their undergraduate degree must satisfy the CSU Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement by passing the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam or by receiving a score of 4.0 or higher on the Analytical Writing Assessment of the GMAT exam or a score of 3 or higher on the Analytical Writing section of the GRE exam. In addition, the student must satisfy one of the following requirements:
- Passed the CPA exam.
- Passed the Enrolled Agent exam.
- Have at least 4 years of tax work experience.
- 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 5 calendar years from the date of admission.
C. Course Requirements
1. Core Skills (3 units)
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)
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.
Total Units Required for the M.S. Degree: 30
Staff: Sherry Manavi
Staff: Jesse Knepper
Staff: Alejandra Nuñez
Student Learning Outcomes
Our graduates are able to:
- Apply their conceptual understanding of tax to both structured and unstructured problems.
- Effectively communicate their analysis of complex taxation problems in writing.
- Research tax literature for both structured and unstructured problems.
- Apply critical-thinking skills when analyzing and solving tax problems.
- Recognize and analyze ethical and professional responsibility issues in the tax practice.
- Conduct analytical review of tax returns.