If you want a business degree but aren’t really interested in going into management or marketing, or if you love puzzles and understanding how the pieces fit together, accounting could be the perfect degree for you. Most people think accounting is just doing some math. But that’s only one part of it. It’s not just enough to do the math, you need to understand the reasons behind the math and how to reflect that reasoning to others through financial documents.

We understand that finding the information you need to make an informed decision about a degree program can be tricky. Knowing what to ask and who to ask is a huge part of the battle. This guide can help you figure out which school has what you need and can get you on your way to pursuing the accounting degree you need to further your career.

For students considering accounting as a career, it can be difficult to identify which college degree will best help you to meet your goals. No matter what career path you choose in the field of accounting, you’re likely to need college level classes before you can qualify for your ideal position. Here’s what you need to know.

Accountants are essential to any business or organization that handles money in any capacity. The role of an accountant is to manage the daily, monthly, and even annual financial transactions, no matter how big or how small. For any commercial or non-profit entity to remain in business, it’s essential to know the amount of incoming and outgoing money at all times and to ensure the incoming funds are more than the outgoing expenditures. Professional accountants monitor and manage these activities to help ensure the success of the business.

An accountant can work almost anywhere for almost any type of business, organization, non-profit, or government agency. This can include healthcare facilities, political campaigns, colleges and universities, manufacturing companies, car dealerships, IT consulting firms, and many others. Accountants can also be independently employed or work for large accounting firms and accounting specializations are almost as extensive as the potential employment opportunities. Keep in mind that the most in-demand accountants complete a master’s degree and their CPA licensure and certification.

What You Need to Know

There are certain things you should look for when choosing a school and a program. Here are some things that are important and why you should learn as much as you can before committing to a college or university.

Tuition - You should get a complete accounting of tuition and fees, including room and board, if you plan to live on campus. This will let you know how much financial aid you need, if you need to pursue additional scholarships, and what you’ll require in student loans.

Success rate - By success rate, we mean how many students return after their first year aka the retention rate of the school. Also, how many students graduated? These percentages should be high. If they are not, you’ll want to ask why.

Enrollment information - You need to find out how many people who apply are admitted. Ask what the minimum enrollment requirements are, including GPA, required classes, extra-curricular activities and test scores. Knowing what is required to attain entry can help you decide if the school is worth pursuing.

What are grads making? - Are graduates making enough money to afford to repay their student loans or are they still living at home with their parents waiting for a job opening? Does the school offer job placement services or is the student on their own?

What is the student/faculty ratio? Smaller class sizes can provide more individual help if needed, but too small a class takes away from the learning environment. These are a few questions you should ask when investigating a school. And, if at all possible, a physical visit to the school to get a “feel” for things is a good idea.

Why Get a Degree in Accounting?

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Accounting is a profession that can be self-taught; however, a degree in accounting is essential to long-term success. Some people are simply naturally gifted with numbers; whereas, others must work hard to become skilled in the art of mathematics. Either way, accounting degrees are critical to learning the intricacies required to follow accounting practices to the letter of the law. These courses and degrees will also help to pass your state and national exams far more easily. Also, keep in mind that the higher the degree you complete the more money it will be possible to make.

It is important to note that highly trained professors from accredited colleges and universities are the best resources to minimize the risk of errors that can cost businesses thousands or millions of dollars and to keep you from making those errors and facing fines and the loss of your license. The government takes accounting practices incredibly seriously and so should you. Throughout your coursework, you will learn a variety of accounting skills that will help make you more employable in the long term that are quite difficult to learn on your own. These will also prepare you for credentialing tests that you would not have the opportunity to sit for if you don’t earn a an accounting degree from an accredited program.

Accreditation

It is essential that the college or university of your choice is regionally accredited or that the accounting program is accredited by a professional accounting organization. The exception to these rules is that if you are in pursuit of an entry-level accounting certificate program. It is ideal to complete these certificates from accredited schools; however, it may not always be possible or necessary. If you do complete an entry-level accounting certificate, be sure to continue your education from an accredited college or university to improve your employment opportunities and pay in the future.

Accreditation Agencies:

  • The Association for Advancing Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • The Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • The International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Higher Learning Commission
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools

Types of Accounting Degrees

Associate's Degree

An associate’s degree is a two-year degree that can get you started on the road to an accounting career. Associate’s degrees are generally offered at traditional four-year universities,community..

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Bachelor's Degree

Bachelor’s degree programs generally take students four to five years to complete, with a full-time credit load. This degree opens the door for students to move forward with their education..

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Master’s Degree

If you’re looking at accounting as a lucrative career path, you’ll probably end up with a master’s degree at the end of your journey. Students who want to pursue a master’s degree..

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Doctoral Degree

A doctorate in accounting is the highest level of education one can achieve. This degree usually takes four to seven years of full-time coursework to complete.

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Notre Dame is more than one of the top Catholic universities in the nation. The Indiana school also offers a superb accounting program for undergraduates, as well as a masters’ of science in accounting. Tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students is $54,441. The school boasts a graduation rate of 97% and a total enrollment of approximately 12,607 students. Accountancy undergraduates have a 98% placement rate, while those earning their master’s degree have a 100% placement rate.

  • Rank: #1 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $54,441‬
    • Out-of-State: $54,441‬
  • Average Net Price: $30,229
  • # of Applicants: 20,371
  • % Admitted: 18%
  • Retention Rate: 98%
  • Total Enrollment: 12,607
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,617
  • Graduate Enrollment: 3,990
  • Graduation Rate: 95%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 10 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $81,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $689,084

Part of the State University of New York system, Binghamton offers a BS in accounting, as well as a five-year program in which students can earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously. Tuition for New York residents is $9,853, while out-of-state students pay $26,648. The graduation rate is 83%, with a total enrollment of approximately 17,7668 students. Many top companies in New York City and nationally look to this school to recruit employees.

  • Rank: #2 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $9,853
    • Out-of-State: $26,648
  • Average Net Price: $16,440
  • # of Applicants: 38,755
  • % Admitted:40%
  • Retention Rate: 92%
  • Total Enrollment: 17,768
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 14,021
  • Graduate Enrollment: 3,747
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 19 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $74,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $674,240

Recognized as one of the top and most innovative accounting programs in the country, the university offers undergraduate accounting degrees as well as a master of science in accounting and a PhD program. Tuition for Connecticut residents is $17,226, while out-of-state students must pay $39,048. The graduation rate is 82%, with a total enrollment of approximately 27,412 students.

  • Rank: #3 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $17,226
    • Out-of-State: $39,048
  • Average Net Price: $19,650
  • # of Applicants: 34,886
  • % Admitted: 49%
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Total Enrollment: 27,412
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 19,133
  • Graduate Enrollment: 8,279
  • Graduation Rate: 82%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 16 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $72,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: 641,400

The university’s Robert H. Smith School of Business offers a “plus one” program, in which students may earn their undergraduate and master’s degrees in accounting in five years. Maryland requires a 150 credit-hour minimum for students to sit for the CPA exam. Tuition for Maryland residents is $11,845, while out-of-state students must pay $36,466. The graduation rate is 87%, with a total enrollment of approximately 41,200 students.

  • Rank: #4 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $11,845
    • Out-of-State: $36,466
  • Average Net Price: $16,790
  • # of Applicants: 33,497
  • % Admitted: 47%
  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Total Enrollment: 41,200
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 30,762
  • Graduate Enrollment: 2,057
  • Graduation Rate: 87%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 18 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $76,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $692,840

This Catholic university, located in Pennsylvania, allows accounting students to earn not just an undergraduate degree, but also a Master of Accounting with Data Analytics, in five years or less. Tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students is $54,408. The graduation rate is 90%, with a total enrollment of approximately 11,000 students. Business students may want to minor in accounting, as this degree complements any sort of business degree.

  • Rank: #5 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $54,408
    • Out-of-State: $54,408
  • Average Net Price: $36,958
  • # of Applicants: 22,741
  • % Admitted: 29%
  • Retention Rate: 96%
  • Total Enrollment: 11,030
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,917
  • Graduate Enrollment: 4,113
  • Graduation Rate: 90%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 11 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $80,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $652,168

Students enrolled in the bachelor of science in accounting program are eligible to apply for early admission to the university’s graduate school. After completing the combined bachelor’s/master’s program, students may sit for the Uniform CPA exam and, upon passing, find work as a CPA. Tuition for Florida residents and out-of-state students is $35,040. The graduation rate is 87%, with a total enrollment of approximately 52,200 students.

  • Rank: #6 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $35,040
    • Out-of-State: $35,040
  • Average Net Price: $11,313
  • # of Applicants: 38,905
  • % Admitted: 39%
  • Retention Rate: 98%
  • Total Enrollment: 52,218
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 35,491
  • Graduate Enrollment: 16,727
  • Graduation Rate: 87%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 18 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $72,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $674,748

This Pennsylvania university offers an undergraduate degree in accounting and a master’s degree in accounting and informational analysis. The accounting major allows students to explore various fields, including public accounting assurance and tax services, corporate accounting, financial services, and information systems. Tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students is $53,930. The graduation rate is 89%, with a total enrollment of approximately 6,850 students.

  • Rank: #7 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $53,930
    • Out-of-State: $53,930
  • Average Net Price: $26,782
  • # of Applicants: 15,622
  • % Admitted: 22%
  • Retention Rate: 94%
  • Total Enrollment: 6,849
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,047
  • Graduate Enrollment: 1,802
  • Graduation Rate: 89%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 9 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $82,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $712,872

In addition to an undergraduate accounting degree, the university’s Kelley School of Business offers a Master in Business Administration in Accounting, a combined five-year program for those seeking an accounting MBA, and a one-year Master of Science in Accounting. A PhD in accounting is also available. Tuition for Indiana residents is $11,611, while out-of-state students pay $36,386. The graduation rate falls below 80 here, with 76% of students graduating as expected, and total enrollment includes approximately 43,500 students.

  • Rank: #8 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $11,611
    • Out-of-State: $36,386
  • Average Net Price: $11,931
  • # of Applicants: 44,169
  • % Admitted: 77%
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Total Enrollment: 43,503
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 33,301
  • Graduate Enrollment: 10,202
  • Graduation Rate: 76%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 16 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $66,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $612,276

This Pennsylvania school offers both an undergraduate accounting degree and a master of accountancy. Students can complete a dual bachelor’s and master’s degree in either four years, attending classes during the summer, or five years. Tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students is $45,832. The graduation rate is 79%, with a total enrollment of approximately 5,300 students. Over 90% of accounting majors soon find full-time employment in their field.

  • Rank: #9 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $45,832
    • Out-of-State: $45,832
  • Average Net Price: $36,725
  • # of Applicants: 9,968
  • % Admitted: 73%
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,286
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,729
  • Graduate Enrollment: 1,557
  • Graduation Rate: 79%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 13 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $69,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $543,100

Students enrolled as accounting majors take classes at the university’s main, New Brunswick campus. The school also offers a Masters in Accountancy in Professional Accounting, a 30-credit, part-time accounting degree. Tuition for New Jersey residents is $16,324, while out-of-state students pay $32,632. The graduation rate is 80%, with a total enrollment of approximately 50,250 students. Many of the Big Four accounting firms recruit at Rutgers.

  • Rank: #10 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $16,324
    • Out-of-State: $32,632
  • Average Net Price: $16,295
  • # of Applicants: 41,348
  • % Admitted: 60%
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Total Enrollment: 50,254
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 36,039
  • Graduate Enrollment: 14,215
  • Graduation Rate: 80%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 16 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $71,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $644,820

The university’s Foster School of Business offers an undergraduate accounting degree, as well as a master of professional accounting, a master of science in taxation, and a PhD in accounting. Tuition for Washington residents is $12,107, while out-of-state students pay $37,488. The graduation rate is 84%, with a total enrollment of approximately 47,400 students. Graduate students taking the CPA exam have an average pass rate of 77%, the highest in the state.

  • Rank: #11 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $12,107
    • Out-of-State: $37,488
  • Average Net Price: $9,765
  • # of Applicants: 45,907
  • % Admitted: 49%
  • Retention Rate: 94%
  • Total Enrollment: 47,400
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 32,099
  • Graduate Enrollment: 15,301
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 19 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $77,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $730,940

CUNY Hunter College is a great choice for students who would like to major in accounting. A distinguished public university, this college has a total student population of 23,202. CUNY Hunter College offers bachelor’s and master’s program in accounting. Tuition is rather affordable with an in-state cost of $7,382 and out-of-state cost of $15,332. Students who graduate from this college report earning an average salary of $65,000.

  • Rank: #12 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,382
    • Out-of-State: $15,332
  • Average Net Price: $4,332
  • # of Applicants: 31,030
  • % Admitted: 36%
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Total Enrollment: 23,202
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 17,212
  • Graduate Enrollment: 5,990
  • Graduation Rate: 53%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 13 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $56,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $542,672

Located in Los Angeles, the Leventhal School of Accounting offers a BS in accounting, along with a one-year, full-time program leading to a master’s in accounting or an MS in accounting degree, with an emphasis on data and analytics. There is also a master of business taxation degree available. Tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students is $57,425. The graduation rate is 77%, with a total enrollment of approximately 47,300 students.

  • Rank: #13 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $57,425
    • Out-of-State: $57,425
  • Average Net Price: $36,161
  • # of Applicants: 64,352
  • % Admitted: 13%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Total Enrollment: 47,310
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 19,907
  • Graduate Enrollment: 27,403
  • Graduation Rate: 77%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 9 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $83,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $685,356

Located in Northridge, California; California State University Northridge is a public university with a total enrollment of 40,212. In-state students pay about $6,977 for tuition and out-of-state students pay $18,857.

The college is a top-ranked school for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting. There are four major clubs in the accounting department including The Management Information Systems Association, The Association for Latino Professionals for America, The Accounting Association, and Beta Alpha Psi. Students and alumni have access to the Ernst & Young Center for Careers in Accounting and Information Systems. The EY center provides career exploration and planning as well as job search services. These clubs offer exceptional career advice and, as a result, graduates of the accounting program earn roughly $70,000 a year.

  • Rank: #14 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,977
    • Out-of-State: $18,857
  • Average Net Price: $8,549
  • # of Applicants: 34,856
  • % Admitted: 51%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Total Enrollment: 40,212
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 35,051
  • Graduate Enrollment: 5,161
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 26 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $70,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $665,804

The university’s Gies College of Business offers several undergraduate and graduate accounting degrees, including a BS in accountancy, a masters of accounting science, an MS in accountancy, an online master of science in accountancy, and a PhD in accountancy. The accounting faculty is considered among the best in the nation. Tuition for Illinois residents is $16,294, while out-of-state students pay $32,864. The graduation rate is 85%, with a total enrollment of approximately 49,700 students.

  • Rank: #15 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $16,294
    • Out-of-State: $32,864
  • Average Net Price: $15,829
  • # of Applicants: 39,406
  • % Admitted: 62%
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Total Enrollment: 49,702
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 33,915
  • Graduate Enrollment: 15,787
  • Graduation Rate: 85%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 20 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $76,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $696,684

San Jose State University is a public college that can be found in beautiful downtown San Jose, California. The college boasts an undergraduate enrollment of 27,327 and a graduate enrollment of 8,073. San Jose State University prides itself on offering a bachelor’s and master’s of science in accounting. The programs are specifically designed to prepare students for successful careers in corporate finance and pubic accounting. Graduates with an accounting degree from San Jose State University state make an average salary of $84,000.

  • Rank: #16 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,852
    • Out-of-State: $19,732
  • Average Net Price: $14,519
  • # of Applicants: 36,243
  • % Admitted: 55%
  • Retention Rate: 83%
  • Total Enrollment: 35,400
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 27,327
  • Graduate Enrollment: 8,073
  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 26 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $84,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $781,924

Pace University is a private college with campuses in New York. The college offers a variety of accounting programs to choose from including a minor in accounting, a BS in Accounting, a Master of Science in CPA Preparation - Accounting, and many more.

According to a recent report, the college’s undergraduate and graduate accounting programs are ranked in the top 50. Since this report is widely circulated at CPA firms, students with these degrees can expect an average earning of $58,000.

  • Rank: #17 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $46,446
    • Out-of-State: $46,446
  • Average Net Price: $31,923
  • # of Applicants: 21,520
  • % Admitted: 76%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Total Enrollment: 13,326
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,677
  • Graduate Enrollment: 4,649
  • Graduation Rate: 59%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 14 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $58,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $452,308

Fairfax, Virginia is home to George Mason University, where there is a total enrollment of 37,316 students. Students enrolled at this prominent college have a great opportunity to obtain a degree in accounting. The Bachelor of Science in Accounting is designed to prepare students for professional jobs in the private and public sector. The Master of Science in Accounting allows students to specialize in certain areas, such as forensic and government accounting. Graduates from the George Mason University accounting programs make an average of $72,000.

  • Rank: #18 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $12,564
    • Out-of-State: $36,024
  • Average Net Price: $19,064
  • # of Applicants: 19,557
  • % Admitted: 81%
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Total Enrollment: 37,316
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 26,192
  • Graduate Enrollment: 11,124
  • Graduation Rate: 70%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 17 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $72,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $641,772

MSU’s accounting department is officially known as the Department of Accounting and Information Systems. Along with undergraduate accounting degrees, the Eli Broad College of Business offers masters and doctoral degrees in accountancy. Tuition for Michigan residents is $15,568, while out-of-state students pay $40,874. The graduation rate is 78% and the school has a total enrollment of approximately 50,350 students.

  • Rank: #19 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $15,568
    • Out-of-State: $40,874
  • Average Net Price: $16,227
  • # of Applicants: 33,129
  • % Admitted: 78%
  • Retention Rate: 92%
  • Total Enrollment: 50,351
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 39,423
  • Graduate Enrollment: 10,928
  • Graduation Rate: 78%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 16 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $69,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $625,092

Ithaca College is located in New York and has a small student body of 6,517 undergraduates and graduates. Due to its small size, students will have the opportunity to interact more with their professors. Students attending Ithaca College can enter into the combined accounting program to receive a four-year Bachelor’s of Science and a one-year Master’s of Science in accounting. The combined BS/MS enables students to meet all the education requirements for the certified public accountant exam and graduates receive some of the most impressive CPA exam pass rates in New York. Soon after passing the exam, accounting graduates usually make an average of $62,000.

  • Rank: #20 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $45,274
    • Out-of-State: $45,274
  • Average Net Price: $34,827
  • # of Applicants: 15,278
  • % Admitted: 69%
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Total Enrollment: 6,517
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,101
  • Graduate Enrollment: 416
  • Graduation Rate: 75%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 10 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $62,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $480,692

The University of St Thomas offers two options for those desiring a degree in accounting: A Bachelor of Science in Accounting program and a Master of Science in Accountancy program. The 31-credit intensive Master of Science program can be completed full-time or part-time, and the program has a 90% job placement rate immediately after graduation. Students graduating from the college’s accounting program can expect to earn an average income of $57,000.

  • Rank: #21 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $45,780
    • Out-of-State: $45,780
  • Average Net Price: $30,183
  • # of Applicants: 7,163
  • % Admitted: 80%
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Total Enrollment: 10,035
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,395
  • Graduate Enrollment: 3,640
  • Graduation Rate: 76%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 14 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $57,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $449,268

Located in Tallahassee, FSU’s College of Business offers an undergraduate major in accounting, along with a master of accounting degree for accounting majors, a separate master of accounting degree for non-accounting majors, and a PhD in accounting. Tuition for Florida residents is $6,656, while out-of-state students pay $19,786. The graduation rate is relatively high at 80%, with a total enrollment of approximately 41,000 students.

  • Rank: #22 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,656
    • Out-of-State: $19,786
  • Average Net Price: $13,318
  • # of Applicants: 50,314
  • % Admitted: 37%
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Total Enrollment: 41,005
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 32,472
  • Graduate Enrollment: 8,533
  • Graduation Rate: 80%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 21 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $61,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $556,728

The University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce offers an accounting undergraduate degree, along with a master of science in accounting. The latter is a full-time, nine-month program with a focus on either tax consulting or financial reporting and assurance. Tuition for Virginia residents is $19,000, while out-of-state students pay $50,382. The graduation rate is 94%, with a total enrollment of approximately 24,600 students.

  • Rank: #23 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $19,003
    • Out-of-State: $50,382
  • Average Net Price: $17,845
  • # of Applicants: 37,182
  • % Admitted: 26%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Total Enrollment: 24,639
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 16,777
  • Graduate Enrollment: 7,862
  • Graduation Rate: 94%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 15 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $77,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $698,620

Miami University in Oxford proudly offers students a world-class education with the personal attention that is typically prevalent at much smaller colleges. The college currently has an impressive undergraduate and graduate student enrollment of 19,934.

Miami University has both undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting including a Bachelor of Science program and a Master of Science program. The college also offers a combined degree program for high-achieving students, enabling them to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting in four years. Students who are enrolled in one or both of these programs are qualified to take the CPA examination. Graduates from Miami University often earn an average salary of $51,000.

  • Rank: #24 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $15,911
    • Out-of-State: $35,937
  • Average Net Price: $20,542
  • # of Applicants: 30,126
  • % Admitted: 75%
  • Retention Rate: 92%
  • Total Enrollment: 19,934
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 17,327
  • Graduate Enrollment: 2,607
  • Graduation Rate: 78%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 13 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $51,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $427,832

Along with an undergraduate accounting degree, Purdue’s Krannert School of Management offers a one-year master of science in accounting degree. Those students interested in the field can tailor their coursework to become a certified fraud examiner. Tuition for Indiana residents is $11,152, while out-of-state students pay $29,954. The graduation rate is 81% across the total student body, which totals approximately 44,475 students enrolled.

  • Rank: #25 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $11,152
    • Out-of-State: $29,954
  • Average Net Price: $11,898
  • # of Applicants: 53,722
  • % Admitted: 58%
  • Retention Rate: 92%
  • Total Enrollment: 44,474
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 33,735
  • Graduate Enrollment: 10,739
  • Graduation Rate: 77%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 13 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $75,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $702,408

This Utah university offers an undergraduate accounting degree, as well as an integrated five-year program in which students can also receive their masters in accountancy. Another option is the joint Juris Doctorate and master of accountancy degree. Undergraduates are expected to “secure a meaningful internship” in the summer between the junior and senior year. Tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state students at $6,468. The graduation rate is 83%, with a total enrollment of approximately 34,500 students.

  • Rank: #26 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,468
    • Out-of-State: $6,468
  • Average Net Price: $13,120
  • # of Applicants: 11,205
  • % Admitted: 64%
  • Retention Rate: 88%
  • Total Enrollment: 34,499
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 31,441
  • Graduate Enrollment: 3,058
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 20 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $75,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $697,520

With only 6,770 students, the University of Hartford is a great college for those who would like to earn an accounting degree in a small learning environment. Students who attend this college can work to earn a Bachelor of Science in accounting that is designed to provide them with the necessary skills to work in financial management, public accounting, and management accounting. Students can also work full-time or part-time to receive a Master of Science in Accounting and Taxation, which is an excellent program that meets the 150-hour CPA licensing requirement.

  • Rank: #27 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $42,182
    • Out-of-State: $42,182
  • Average Net Price: $29,819
  • # of Applicants: 15,166
  • % Admitted: 71%
  • Retention Rate: 76%
  • Total Enrollment: 6,770
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,000
  • Graduate Enrollment: 1,770
  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 9 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $61,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $493,272

Accounting undergraduates may opt to apply for the dual degree BBA/MAcc program during their senior year and earn their master’s degree the following year. Eligible students must have completed the first two semesters of the BBA accounting program. Tuition for Georgia residents is $12,816, while out-of-state students pay $31,390. The graduation rate is 84%, with a total enrollment of approximately 38,650 students.

  • Rank: #28 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $12,816
    • Out-of-State: $31,390
  • Average Net Price: $15,539
  • # of Applicants: 26,164
  • % Admitted: 49%
  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Total Enrollment: 38,652
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 29,611
  • Graduate Enrollment: 9,041
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 17 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $64,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $577,844

California State University in Sacramento is the 11th oldest public college in the California State University system. Featuring top notch learning opportunities, this college offers students the freedom to choose between a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an accounting focus and a Master of Science in Accountancy. These two programs are 100% compatible with the CPA exam. Soon after receiving an accounting degree from this college, graduates can earn around $71,000 a year.

  • Rank: #29 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,368
    • Out-of-State: $19,248
  • Average Net Price: $9,885
  • # of Applicants: 27,108
  • % Admitted: 64%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Total Enrollment: 31,902
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 28,813
  • Graduate Enrollment: 3,089
  • Graduation Rate: 49%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 26 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $71,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $670,460

Wayne State University enrolls about 17,574 undergraduate and graduate students annually. The university in Detroit, Michigan offers a bachelor’s in accounting, post-bachelor certificate in accounting, master’s in accounting, and an MBA with a financial accounting concentration. These programs are designed to satisfy the requirements of the Institute of Internal Auditors and the Institute of Management Accountants. Graduates of the Wayne State University accounting programs can earn an average salary of $57,000.

  • Rank: #30 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $13,517
    • Out-of-State: $28,887
  • Average Net Price: $14,366
  • # of Applicants: 16,210
  • % Admitted: 71%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Total Enrollment: 27,025
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 17,574
  • Graduate Enrollment: 9,451
  • Graduation Rate: 39%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 14 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $57,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $512,536

Students searching for an accounting degree in New Jersey will have a couple of options at Montclair State University. The university’s College of Business has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a 5-year Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Accounting. Accounting students will have the opportunity to connect with a variety of prominent companies including Wiss & Co., Deloitte, and MTV Networks. With an accounting degree from Montclair State University, graduates are looking at an average salary of $64,000.

  • Rank: #31 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $13,073
    • Out-of-State: $21,033
  • Average Net Price: $17,086
  • # of Applicants: 14,324
  • % Admitted: 71%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Total Enrollment: 21,115
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 16,988
  • Graduate Enrollment: 4,127
  • Graduation Rate: 65%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 17 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $64,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: 571656

Situated on a beautiful, 80-acre campus, CUNY Queens College is considered a “best value” college with tuition totaling $7,538 for in-state students and $15,488 for out-of-state students. Students enrolling at CUNY Queens College can choose one of several accounting degree options including a minor in accounting, a bachelor’s in accounting and information systems, or a master’s in accounting. The college also offers a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting and economics through a specialized program. The courses in all these exceptional accounting programs are taught by award-winning instructors.

  • Rank: #32 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,538
    • Out-of-State: $15,488
  • Average Net Price: $4,776
  • # of Applicants: 18,862
  • % Admitted: 48%
  • Retention Rate: 84%
  • Total Enrollment: 19,746
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 16,620
  • Graduate Enrollment: 3,126
  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 15 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: N/A
  • 10 Year ROI*: N/A

This Massachusetts school offers bachelors, masters, and PhD degrees in accounting and is considered the top accounting university in the state. The Princeton Review ranks it number one in internship opportunities for accounting students. Students may focus on specialized accounting fields, such as information technology or auditing. Tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students is $51,170 and the graduation rate is 89%, with a total enrollment of approximately 5,460 students.

  • Rank: #33 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $51,170
    • Out-of-State: $51,170
  • Average Net Price: $38,270
  • # of Applicants: 9,252
  • % Admitted: 43%
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,460
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,253
  • Graduate Enrollment: 1,207
  • Graduation Rate: 89%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 11 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $76,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $606,920

Long considered one of the best accounting schools in the country, TCNJ accounting majors have high pass rates on the CPA exam and a 70% recruitment rate with accounting firms. Because TCNJ is close to New York City and Philadelphia, it is able to offer internships to top companies. Tuition for New Jersey residents is $17,751, while out-of-state students pay $29,466. The graduation rate is 87% and the school has a total enrollment of approximately 7,700 students, making it a relatively small campus.

  • Rank: #34 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $17,751
    • Out-of-State: $29,466
  • Average Net Price: $23,414
  • # of Applicants: 13,625
  • % Admitted: 50%
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Total Enrollment: 7,686
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,048
  • Graduate Enrollment: 638
  • Graduation Rate: 87%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 13 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $71,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $616,344

Located in Tempe, Arizona State University has one of the largest student enrollments in the country, with an impressive total of 51,585 undergraduates and graduates. Arizona State University in Tempe presents students with multiple options to earn a degree in accounting through a Bachelor of Accountancy program or Master of Accountancy program. Roughly 93% of the Master of Accountancy’s students receive a job within 90 days of graduation, boasting an average salary of $69,000.

  • Rank: #35 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $11,338
    • Out-of-State: $29,428
  • Average Net Price: $13,731
  • # of Applicants: 26,869
  • % Admitted: 85%
  • Retention Rate: 88%
  • Total Enrollment: 51,585
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 42,844
  • Graduate Enrollment: 8,741
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 19 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $69,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $635,076

San Diego State University has a few accounting options in the Fowler College of Business including an advanced certificate program, minor in accounting, bachelor’s in accounting, and master’s in accounting. The college also has a combined bachelor’s and master’s accounting program that can prepare students for the CPA exam and other important accounting examinations. Not long after receiving an accounting degree from San Diego State University, students can make about $59,000 each year.

  • Rank: #36 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,510
    • Out-of-State: $19,390
  • Average Net Price: $14,568
  • # of Applicants: 69,399
  • % Admitted: 35%
  • Retention Rate: 89%
  • Total Enrollment: 35,303
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 30,586
  • Graduate Enrollment: 4,717
  • Graduation Rate: 73%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 27 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $59,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $531,728

With a small enrollment of 12,342, students at Central Washington University can receive personalized attention from incredible instructors. Despite its small size, this public college offers presents students with a few accounting options such as a certificate in accounting, minor in accounting, and a bachelor’s in accounting. Graduates of the Central Washington University typically earn an average income of $56,000.

  • Rank: #37 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $8,273
    • Out-of-State: $23,954
  • Average Net Price: $14,647
  • # of Applicants: 10,148
  • % Admitted: 78%
  • Retention Rate: 69%
  • Total Enrollment: 12,342
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 11,419
  • Graduate Enrollment: 923
  • Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 19 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $56,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $501,412

Illinois State University is a great choice for students who wish to obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting, a master’s degree in accounting, or a combine bachelor’s and master’s degree in professional accountancy. The college has one of the highest pass rates on the CPA exam. After passing this important exam, graduates are looking at earning about $64,000.

  • Rank: #38 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $14,832
    • Out-of-State: $26,356
  • Average Net Price: $19,489
  • # of Applicants: 12,886
  • % Admitted: 89%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Total Enrollment: 20,635
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 18,107
  • Graduate Enrollment: 2,528
  • Graduation Rate: 72%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 20 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $64,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $562,044

Since 1920, the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University has proudly offered excellent accounting programs for its students. A medium-sized institution, this college enrolls about 16,515 students. The college’s accounting programs include a minor in accounting, a bachelor’s in accounting, and a master’s in professional accounting. Fordham University’s award-winning faculty strive to prepare students for a career in the public, private, or government sector with graduates earning an average income of $65,000.

  • Rank: #39 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $54,393
    • Out-of-State: $54,393
  • Average Net Price: $39,011
  • # of Applicants: 46,308
  • % Admitted: 46%
  • Retention Rate: 90%
  • Total Enrollment: 16,515
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,645
  • Graduate Enrollment: 6,870
  • Graduation Rate: 80%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 15 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $65k
  • 10 Year ROI*: $493,956

A private college located in Waco, Texas, Baylor University features world-class academics and a variety of extremely reputable instructors. For students who would like to become a CPA, they should consider this college’s accounting programs. The college has been known for offering some of the best accounting programs in the state including a bachelor’s in accounting and a master’s in accounting with a focus on taxation. The average salary of students who graduate from Baylor University is $66,000.

  • Rank: #40 in Accounting
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $47,364
    • Out-of-State: $47,364
  • Average Net Price: $35,158
  • # of Applicants: 37,083
  • % Admitted: 39%
  • Retention Rate: 89%
  • Total Enrollment: 17,217
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 14,188
  • Graduate Enrollment: 3,029
  • Graduation Rate: 74%
  • Student Faculty Ratio: 14 to 1
  • Average Grads Salary: $66,000
  • 10 Year ROI*: $519,368

Accounting Education Degree Levels

Associate's Degree in Accounting

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An associate’s degree is a two-year degree that can get you started on the road to an accounting career. Associate’s degrees are generally offered at traditional four-year universities, community colleges, technical colleges, and online schools. If you can get a bachelor’s degree at an institution, you may be able to get an associate’s degree there as well.

When you sign up for an associate’s degree, you’ll have some flexibility in how you want to go about achieving it. Most schools give students the option of completing their degree in an accelerated one-year program, a traditional two-year program, or a longer, more flexible part-time arrangement.

Associate’s programs generally require about 60 semester hours of class work. Required courses can vary based on the school and program but may include any combination of core classes and lower level accounting classes.

While less comprehensive than more advanced degrees, an associate’s degree can provide a solid foundation of basic accounting knowledge. It’s also a great stepping stone for those who may wish to continue their education in the future.

An associate’s degree isn’t enough to qualify students to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam, but it can be enough education to get a job as a bookkeeper, administrator, or assistant in an accounting firm. The average salary for jobs that an associate’s degree would cover hovers at around $40,000 per year.

Students who graduate with an associate’s degree in accounting should have an understanding of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). They should leave the program with a clear grasp on the ethics and expectations surrounding the integrity of the accounting profession. They should be able to keep precise financial records with accuracy and attention to detail.

Associate’s Degree Example Courses:

  • Accounts Payable and Receivable
  • Bookkeeping
  • Invoicing
  • Payroll

An associate degree in accounting frequently requires between 60 and 65 credits, which is around 20 courses. The type of courses will vary based on the degree pathway. A transfer degree pathway designed for students to transfer to a four-year college or university to complete a bachelor's degree in accounting will have more general courses. Associate degrees created for students to secure entry-level positions upon completion of the degree will have more specialized courses.

A few of these might include:

  • Intro to Business
  • Intro to Economics
  • Foundational Accounting

Accounting associate degree programs may also offer internships or experiential learning opportunities so that students have practical experience upon graduation. The time it takes to complete such degrees will vary. Full-time students will often complete degrees in two years, whereas those who are only capable of a part-time commitment to higher education might take up to four years or longer. Remember that some colleges and universities have timelines in which you must complete your degree. Schools are typically quite good at providing flexibility in these programs.

Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

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For those who are seeking a more traditional degree in accounting, a bachelor’s degree is a good place to begin. A bachelor’s in accounting requires students to take at least 120 semester hours of class work. This generally consists of a core group of well-rounded topics, including English, history, social sciences, and electives. Students are also required to take a group of business core classes along with their general education requirement, which includes classes like lower level accounting and business courses.

Along with their general education and business requirements, students who are earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting must take the course load that comes with the major. These classes include advanced accounting courses, as well as courses where students get a more in-depth look at taxation, auditing, information systems, and ethics.

Bachelor’s degree programs generally take students four to five years to complete, with a full-time credit load. This degree opens the door for students to move forward with their education and pursue a graduate school program in accounting.

Though many accounting firms require their employees to hold a graduate degree, a bachelor’s degree can be enough to secure a position in many industries. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, you may be able to find work as one of the following:

  • Accountant
  • Analyst (budget and finance)
  • Bookkeeper
  • Credit examiner
  • Financial consultant
  • Payroll administrator
  • Risk assessment advisor
  • Tax advisor
  • Financial analyst

Accounting employees with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn an average of about $45,000 to $60,000 per year upon graduation, depending on the position. This salary tends to increase over the first five to ten years due to the increased experience you’ll have under your belt; however, salary growth usually tops out at that point unless additional credentials are earned.

Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, you should come away with a solid knowledge of the GAAP, along with the ethical practices and considerations that go hand in hand with accounting as a profession. You should also be able to create financial reports for a wide variety of client and industries, addressing the pain points and unique needs of each organization.

Bachelor’s Degree Example Courses:

  • Auditing
  • Financial Reporting
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Fundamentals of Tax
  • Managerial Accounting

Accounting bachelor’s degrees are some of the most popular degrees at many colleges and universities across the US. This degree level is most often required by employers as a minimum for educational attainment in order to be considered for accounting jobs, including entry-level positions. Students typically must complete around 120 credits to earn a bachelor’s degree, which equals 40 courses or so. This will vary based on the number of credits the school attaches to each course.

A general education will be provided during the first few years, covering the same courses most freshmen and sophomores take. Once students enter into the accounting program, more challenging and specialized courses will become mandatory, such as:

  • Accounting Software
  • Auditing
  • Business Law
  • Economics
  • Ethics
  • Financial Accounting
  • Statistics

Full-time students should be able to complete an accounting degree in four or five years. This will depend entirely upon the student and the school. Some colleges and universities are better than others at pushing students to complete degrees on time. However, if a student chooses to complete an internship for invaluable hands-on experience, this could add time to degree completion. Students who take classes on a part-time basis could take six years or longer to fully complete their degree requirements.

Master’s Degree in Accounting

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If you’re looking at accounting as a lucrative career path, you’ll probably end up with a master’s degree at the end of your journey. Students who want to pursue a master’s degree in accounting generally must have already completed a bachelor’s degree, which doesn’t necessarily have to be in accounting. However, to make sure you possess at least a fundamental understanding of the subject, your school may require you to take supplemental accounting courses prior to master’s enrollment.

Before enrollment, you may have to take a GMAT or GRE exam. These are standardized tests that most business students are required to take before they’re admitted into a graduate degree program. Master’s degree candidates may also be required to submit letters of reference, and undergraduate university transcripts.

Master’s degrees in accounting usually take one to two years to complete with a full-time workload. You may be able to choose between a variety of accounting degrees, including Master of Accountancy (MAcc), Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA), Master of Professional Accountancy (MPA), and Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus in accounting.

A master’s degree in accounting may open the door to many of the following positions:

  • Actuary
  • Appraisal specialist
  • Auditor
  • Budget analyst
  • Compliance manager
  • Forensic accountant
  • Internal auditor
  • Risk assessor
  • Tax examiner
  • Treasurer

Master’s degree graduates can expect to earn a minimum of $50,000 per year, with income potential reaching up to $130,000 depending on your chosen concentration. Upon graduating with a master’s in accounting, you’ll be ready to sit for your CPA exam, if you choose to do so. This certification, though challenging to obtain, can earn accountants an average of five to ten percent more income annually.

Upon graduating with a master’s in accounting, you’ll have a thorough understanding of accounting theory, as well as the everyday skills required to use it in practice. You should be able to take the information you’ve learned and apply it directly to business decision-making, both ethically and logistically. You’ll be able to extrapolate valuable information from data and use it to lead your client or organization to financial success.

Master’s Degree Example Courses:

  • Applied Statistics for Business Decisions
  • Contemporary Issues in Accounting
  • Corporate Financial Reporting
  • Federal Taxation
  • Financial Statement Analysis

While a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for most employers to fill lower-level accounting positions, a master’s degree is often necessary for management and top careers in accounting, as well as to be able to complete certified public accountant (CPA) licensure. CPA licensure usually requires the completion of 150 credit hours; however, one can take the exam after 120 hours in some states. While a bachelor’s consists of around 120 hours, the extra 30-36 hours you earn during a master’s degree can help you meet the educational requirements for licensure.

If an accountant aspires to secure promotions and positions at the highest levels in the field, a master’s degree with a concentration is often essential to these career ambitions. A master’s can give you access to positions such as chief financial officer (CFO), controller, director and others. A master’s degree in accounting can also increase your earning potential by up to tens of thousands of dollars. Rather than an internship, those earning a master’s degree are usually already employed in the field. Even though the degrees are created for working professionals, it still usually takes between two and four years as a part-time student and between one and two years as a full-time student to complete. However, if you want to finish early, there are some accounting master’s programs which are fast-paced to be completed in one year or less; these are often called accelerated degrees.

Doctoral Degree in Accounting

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A doctorate in accounting is the highest level of education one can achieve. This degree usually takes four to seven years of full-time coursework to complete. Students will take courses in advanced accounting theory and research subjects, which leads up to a final dissertation project that meaningfully contributes to the global field of accounting.

Accounting students who earn a PhD typically go on to hold an academic or research position in the industry. This can include careers such as postsecondary professor, industry researcher, or government consultant.

PhD candidates must show a strong understanding of research methods and be proficient enough in their field to conduct thorough, valuable research. In their dissertations, students must probe otherwise unanswered questions or needs in the field of accounting. They should have the mastery to know which questions to ask, and how to obtain the information that can unlock progress in the industry.

Doctoral Degree Example Courses:

  • Auditing
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Empirical Methods in Corporate Finance
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Microeconomic Theory

The majority of individuals who pursue a doctorate in accounting do so in an effort to perform accounting research at a professional level or to become an accounting professor. It can take an individual between four and seven years to meet all the requirements to earn this degree. Many students continue to work while they take courses. As this degree is far more demanding than others, it is essential to be able to manage time, responsibilities, and relationships appropriately to be successful in the end.

A PhD in accounting might require between 70 and 120 credits. The number of credits is dependent upon the college or university’s program. Some students will have to complete original research relevant to the industry of accounting and/or a dissertation.

Certificate

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If you’re brand new to the field, a certificate in accounting might be a good starting point.

You don’t need any prior certification to start working toward a college degree. However, for those who are in school part-time and looking for relevant work experience to keep them financially afloat along the way, a certificate in accounting can be a valuable asset. It can also be helpful for business owners who lack a background in accounting but want the knowledge to manage their own finances legally and properly.

Accounting certification typically consists of a series of lower level classes designed to get your feet wet in the industry. You’ll learn about basic bookkeeping and receive an introduction to the fundamentals of accounting. It won’t be enough for a full-fledged career, but it can be helpful to have under your belt.

Accounting Certifications Available

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It is possible to complete a certificate in accounting to begin basic, entry-level accounting jobs. Other certificates are available as post-graduate certificates for those who have already completed higher level degrees. You can find these entry-level, one-year accounting certificates at for-profit colleges and universities, community colleges and technical schools.

  • Certificate in Accounting - An accounting certificate prepares high school graduates with general, entry-level accounting skills. This certificate will typically cover a wide variety of accounting topics rather than one specific focus.
  • Bookkeeping Certificate - A bookkeeping certificate focuses on basic bookkeeping skills that are ideal for small businesses, such as statistical reports, financial data, spreadsheets, and data entry.
  • Accounting Clerk Certificate - An accounting clerk certificate places emphasis on accounting records and financial statements, including accounts payables and receivables, and payroll.
  • Payroll Accounting Certificate - A payroll accounting certificate allows students to apply for entry-level payroll jobs with an in-depth knowledge of state and federal payroll taxes, benefits, garnishments, stock options, and pension plans.

Post Graduate Accounting Certifications

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The three major degrees discussed above, and doctoral degrees, are the most common tiers in any postsecondary concentration. However, depending on your career goals as an accountant, you may choose to obtain a post-graduate certification in lieu of an advanced degree.

To qualify for eligibility to take the Uniform CPA Exam, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and 150 semester hours of college credit. As the bachelor’s degree only covers 120 semester hours, you’ll need to obtain additional credits after graduating.

While some students choose to make up these hours in a master’s program, many schools offer a one-year accounting certification. This allows students to take a faster track to CPA licensure than they would have access to with a traditional master’s degree.

The courses required for a post-graduate certification can vary from school to school, but typically provide a more comprehensive focus on topics needed for a career in accounting than a bachelor’s degree can offer. These can include subjects like advanced financial reporting, auditing, cost accounting, and taxation.

Available Certifications:

1

Certified Public Accountant

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is one of the most prestigious and well-respected accounting certificates in the US. Those accountants with a CPA are often considered some of the best accountants in the market. It provides accountants with a unique position, education, and training. This accounting license allows recipients to work in a variety of areas, such as publicly traded companies, auditing reports, signing tax returns, and representing clients to the IRS. It is important to note that this certification exam has four parts and the overall license is general rather than specific. It costs up to $300 to take the exam and takes 16 hours to complete all parts.

2

Chartered Global Management Accountant

A Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) focuses on management accounting rather than general accounting. These professional recipients will master a specific set of skills, including finance, management, operations, and strategy. The certificate program will develop the business background of CGMA holders in diverse areas, such as financial accounting, business challenges and concepts, performance management, and external financial influences. To be able to sit for the CGMA exam, you must be an AICPA member with at least three years of work experience in a relevant area. You can learn at your own pace for this designation. The CGMA exam takes 3 hours and the available leadership program costs nearly $2,500 for one year and $4,400 for three years and includes all exam fees.

3

Certified Management Accountant

A Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification holder will be able to specialize in accounting management for nearly any company. Accounting management is a specialization that is not covered by a CPA designation. Individuals who hold this certificate will typically pursue executive roles, such as COO or CFO, or internal management positions. This is for managerial positions rather than general public accounting positions. If you have aspirations to become a leader and influencer rather than someone who completes the daily accounting tasks of report writing, auditing, and taxes then this certification might be just what you’re looking for. Before you can sit for this exam, you will require a bachelor’s degree in a related subject and a minimum of two years of relevant work experience. The exams cost up to $1,200 and takes several hours to complete each of the two tests.

4

Chartered Financial Analyst

Becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is a bit more time-consuming than many other accounting-related certifications. This certification requires the passing of three different exams, all of which must be passed in succession. It is estimated that less than half of individuals who sit for the first and second exams will pass and just over 50% will pass the third exam. You will also be required to complete at least 48 months of acceptable and relevant work experience and join the CFA Institute. To become a member of the CFA Institute, you must join a local affiliate chapter and complete a statement of professional conduct. The CFA program takes 3 to 4 years to complete and costs up to $4,500.

5

Certified Financial Services Auditor

A Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) program may not be around for much longer as the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) has decided to phase out this certification. The IIA is replacing the CFSA designation with a CIA designation. Those individuals who currently hold a CFSA designation will have the opportunity to complete a replacement exam, also referred to as the CIA Specialty Challenge Exam, to receive their CIA designation without having to go through the entire CIA exam and designation requirements. It is important to note that this exam is only available for a limited time, and only if you already have the CFSA designation. The CIA exam takes nearly 16 hours to complete and costs roughly $2,000.

6

Certified Internal Auditor

A Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) is a designation designed specifically for individuals who are or wish to become an auditor or a compliance officer. A CIA holder is typically hired by large corporations or enterprises to assist external auditors and to perform internal auditing procedures. These positions with a CIA designation require individuals of the highest ethics and people who are unable to be persuaded by others to present findings that are not 100% accurate. The CIA exam takes nearly 16 hours to complete, costs roughly $2,000, and is highly recommended for all individuals who wish to be a professional auditor.

7

Certified Fraud Examiner

A Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) is responsible for ensuring financial transactions and accounting practices remain legal and legitimate. Essentially, a CFE is a protector of the global economy. A CFE will spend their days working in deterrence, detection, and fraud prevention. You will be training to be able to identify evidence of fraud and potential risk of fraud through common red flags and warning signs. CFEs are also responsible for establishing processes and procedures to prevent and fight against fraud. The CFE exam will test you on your understanding of fraud laws, investigative methodologies, prevention, and resolutions. To sit for the exam, you must join the ACFE. The CFE exam costs $400 and takes 8 hours to complete.

8

Certified Government Auditing Professional

A Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) program may not be around for much longer as the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) has decided to phase out this certification. The IIA is replacing the CGAP designation with a CIA designation. Those individuals who currently hold a CGAP designation will have the opportunity to complete a replacement exam, also referred to as the CIA Specialty Challenge Exam, to receive their CIA designation without having to go through the entire CIA exam and designation requirements. It is important to note that this exam is only available for a limited time if you already have the CGAP designation. The CIA exam takes nearly 16 hours to complete and costs roughly $2,000.

9

Certified Information Systems Auditor

A Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) designation is ideal for individuals who work in various sectors of information systems, such as security, control, and auditing. To be able to sit for the exam, you must have at least five years of relevant experience to receive your official certification. You can minimize the years of work experience required if you complete various degrees in accounting-related fields. It is important to note that only roughly 50% of individuals pass the exam the first time, so be sure you are ready before you take the exam. The exam costs around $465 for members and takes 4 hours to complete.

10

Certified Information Technology Professional

A Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) is one of the most respectable and demanding designations for qualified CPAs specializing in information and technology. To even apply, you must have at least 1,000 hours of relevant experience in technology assurance and information management. These hours must have been completed within five years of the day you apply for the CITP. You will also have to complete at least 75 hours of technology assurance and information management as part of your professional development and continuing education requirements during this time frame. You also must be a member of the AICPA and have a valid CPA license. The exam takes 4 hours and costs $400.

Potential Accounting Careers and Specialties

1

Forensic Accountant

A forensic accountant investigates financial records to look for irregularities or illegal activities to be presented in a court of law or to track down terrorist activity.

2

Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is a job found in every type of business but is the most prominent task in small businesses for individuals in charge of invoicing, billing, tracking deposits, monitoring expenditures, and more.

3

Tax Accountant

A tax accountant specializes in tax preparation for both businesses and individuals. These individuals must have a deep understanding of tax codes and regulations.

4

Accounts Payable/Receivable Clerk

An accounts payable and receivable clerk is someone who maintains all financial transactions in all business departments to make sure the bills are paid, and debts are collected.

5

Accounting Information System Specialist

An accounting information system specialist must monitor, evaluate, and analyze large amounts of data, including statistical information and financial data.

6

Actuarial Accountant/Insurance Accountant

An actuarial accountant works in statistics and data gathering to determine risks for insurance companies, corporations, and government entities.

  • Career and Salary Outlook

    Increasing challenges throughout accounting careers are increasing education necessities and job responsibilities for finance positions. Accounting automation, software applications, and artificial intelligence are becoming more ubiquitous, which is resulting in many accounting positions becoming obsolete at lower levels. This automation is also influencing a demand, perhaps unfairly, by consumers for a drastic reduction in accounting expenses.

    Despite these challenges, the growth projections for accounting careers is an increase of 10% by 2026. This is still higher than the overall average growth for all careers. It is safe to consider that the career projections are directly linked to the health of the economy. If the economy grows, you can expect a greater demand for accountants. Also, certain accounting jobs are in greater demand than others, such as actuarial accountants and accounting information system specialists.

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