Online Accounting Degrees
Interested in a future career in accounting? There are many accredited online accounting degree programs available but it can be difficult to determine what the best online accounting programs are to help you learn the skills you’ll need to work in the for-profit, non-profit, or public sector as an accountant. Many online accounting programs offer flexible study options and a lower overall cost than their on-campus equivalents making them an excellent value for budget-conscious students. Our best value list takes price, reputation, salary outlook, and job prospects into consideration to help you make an informed decision. Check out our list of top online accounting degrees to find a great value online accounting program for you.
33. Culver-Stockton College
Degree at a Glance
Completing the online Bachelor of Science in Business: Accountancy degree at Culver-Stockton College offers many advantages. The online degree is designed to prepare you to take the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examinations depending on your career goals. You can also do a double major and combine your expertise in accounting with another related business theme, such as finance or marketing, or a complementary field from a different area of the university, such as criminal justice or sport management.
As part of the program, Culver-Stockton College requires each student to complete at least one accounting internship, which will give you hands-on work experience to launch your career. This is a great asset for new graduates with minimal related work experience. The courses run in eight-week blocks fully online and you will complete 150 credits to graduate. The total online accounting degree cost is $59,250, which is significantly cheaper than the college’s on-campus accounting degree ($99,960).
32. Brenau University
Degree at a Glance
Founded as a women’s-only residential college in 1878, it is no surprise that although Brenau University now offers co-ed degree programs, it continues to focus on women’s leadership in higher education. The university offers many resources and events that may interest female students, such as the Women’s Leadership Colloquium. The university also boasts an 1:11 student-to-faculty ratio and average undergraduate age of 29 years. The average undergraduate admissions grade point average (GPA) in 2014-2015 was 3.17.
The online Bachelor of Business Administration: Accounting degree is a coed program that comprises 120 credit hours, including liberal arts core courses, business foundations courses, and accounting specialization courses. Required courses cover many emerging issues in business leadership as well, such as cultural diversity in business and international business. The online accounting degree costs the same as the on-campus degree ($71,280), which is slightly higher than other programs on our list; however, the earning potential is similar, between $43,700-$61,700.
31. Keystone College
Degree at a Glance
The Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Keystone University follows a 15-week semester structure and includes 120 credits. You will need to meet the university’s general education requirements, which includes liberal arts, math and sciences courses, and choose your remaining courses from business and accounting options. It is also possible to complete an undergraduate research project with approval from the department if you are interested in a research career. There are no specific class times required so you can complete your coursework at your own pace whenever it is convenient for you.
The total online accounting degree cost is $51,000, which saves you several thousand dollars compared to Keystone’s on-campus accounting degree ($57,600). Keystone University is so confident in the job prospects of their graduates that they guarantee full-time students in good academic standing will have at least one job offer or admission to graduate study within six months of graduation or they will provide additional free courses and support. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
30. Northwest Christian University
Degree at a Glance
The Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree at Northwest Christian University may appeal to adult learners who plan to work while studying and wish to incorporate their Christian values and worldview into their studies. The program does not require any related work experience in accounting and is designed to accommodate the needs of busy working students. Start dates into the online accounting degree program are offered every eight weeks as courses are offered in eight-week blocks. You can take as many courses as you like during each block to finish the program at your own pace. It is also possible to earn credit for life or work experience, which can help save you additional money.
In the program, you will take accounting courses on a range of topics, including taxes, auditing, statistics, and non-profit accounting. You will also need to fulfill the requirements of the mandatory Interdisciplinary Business minor, which includes international business, leadership, and strategy courses. The difference in price between the online and on-campus degrees is significant – $56,048 compared to $111,000 – therefore the online degree in accounting offers significant value.
29. California Baptist University
Degree at a Glance
California Baptist University’s Bachelor of Science in Accounting combines academic, professional, and spiritual learning to prepare you for a career in accounting. You will take courses in business, economics, accounting, religion, and liberal arts to complete your degree. The university uses the popular Blackboard e-Learning platform and faculty members have an impressive average of 15 years of online teaching experience.
The online program offers substantial savings compared to the same degree available on-campus – $67,828 versus $118,248 – however, the cost is still high in comparison to other online accounting degrees in our list. Classes start every eight weeks with classes offered throughout the year, including the summer, so you don’t need to take breaks if you want to continue your studies. This makes the degree flexible for working students or students with other responsibilities. The courses offered online are the same as the on-campus options, making it possible to combine online and on-campus learning if you live near one of the many locations in California.
28. Bemidji State University
Degree at a Glance
Bemidji State University has an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree that is flexible for the needs of full-time students and adult learners. The degree consists of 120 credits; however, you need to have an associate’s degree already to apply for the program. The university requires you to meet general education requirements through your associate’s degree so you can focus on accounting coursework. If you have the associate’s degree, you can finish the program in two years. If you do not, you can complete your general education courses through Bemidji State first, which will extend the overall length of the online accounting degree to at least four years of full-time study. The university’s Center for Extended Learning is available specifically to help online students through the process.
The accounting degree features courses in business law, auditing, taxation, and strategic management. In the final semester, you will also complete a senior seminar. The degree has one of the lowest price tags on our list at $36,600 and still boasts similar earning potential between $41,500-$61,900 for early- and mid-career graduates.
27. Athens State University
Degree at a Glance
Athens State University has an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting that can be completed with or without a minor. The university is an upper-level institution, which means that you need to complete some credits at another institution first before applying to complete your degree at Athens State.
In the accounting program, all students complete general education requirements in liberal arts, math, and science, as well as business, statistics, and accounting courses for the major requirements. Students with a minor choose their electives from one area; however, if you plan to take the CPA exam, you should not pursue a minor and choose additional accounting courses instead. Some possible minors include Aviation Management, Health Care Management, International Business, and Project Management. You will need to take 150 credits, including transfer credit, to graduate.
The university has an active Accounting Club that gives students opportunities to network and apply their learning to extra–curricular projects. Although Athens State accounting graduates report a lower starting salary point than some other schools on our list ($38,900), mid-career salaries are competitive ($69,300).
26. Regent University
Degree at a Glance
If you have an interest in combining business and accounting courses with Christian values and learning, Regent University may offer a good value for you. The Bachelor of Science in Business with a Concentration in Accounting comprises 120 credits, including 49 general education credits, 39 business credits, 12 accounting credits, and 20 elective credits. The online degree requirements and courses are the same as the on-campus accounting degree and are taught by the same faculty. The courses begin every eight weeks using an accelerated teaching format. If you plan to take the CPA exam, you can take additional courses to meet the minimum requirements. It is possible to complete a minor in a wide range of subjects with your accounting major. Some options include biblical studies, economics, homeland and international security, and math.
Choosing to complete your degree online through Regent University will provide substantial savings. The online degree costs $47,400, which is almost $20,000 less than the on-campus accounting degree that costs $66,800.
25. Chadron State College
Degree at a Glance
Chadron State College’s online accounting degree offers great value. The online degree offers two options – either a general accounting major or a CPA pathway to prepare you to take the CPA exam. All students have to take the required courses in math, finance, economics, management, and communications regardless of their major. You will also complete general education courses or apply for transfer credit if you have completed related courses or have an associate’s degree.
Chadron State graduates report a salary range of $35,600-$63,300. Although this is the lowest starting salary point on our list, the salary range is comparable and the degree cost is very low at $31,200. As the on-campus degree costs $45,039, this online accounting degree is a great value. The Business Academy also offers scholarships to business students with good academic standing or demonstrated need.
24. Northwood University
Degree at a Glance
Northwood University has an online Bachelor of Business Administration: Accounting degree that prepares you for many industries through business, management, and accounting coursework. The curriculum is unique because rather than beginning your accounting work after completing general education courses, you will begin taking accounting classes at the beginning of the degree so that you can incorporate this material into other coursework. This will help you apply accounting principles in a variety of contexts and broaden your scope of knowledge.
You will complete 123 credits to graduate and can also combine the accounting major with one of over 20 other business-related majors. It will take at least four years to complete the accounting degree online if you study full-time.
While the degree cost ($52,275) is lower than many on our list, it is significantly higher than the cost of the same degree offered on-campus ($33,825), which may be worth considering. The salary range for entry-level and mid-career graduates is between $45,300-$77,200.
23. National University
Degree at a Glance
The Bachelor of Science in Accountancy at National University will prepare you for an accounting career in many different industries and enables you to take additional coursework to prepare for the CMA or CPA exam through the Accounting Professional Skills concentration.
The university operates on a quarter schedule and you will complete 180 quarter credits to graduate. Course materials can be accessed at anytime online; however, many classes offer regularly scheduled lectures or lessons that you can view live if you prefer to interact with your class. The average size of the online classes is 18 students with a cap at 30 students. Online courses use the Blackboard platform and Apple and Android apps are available for tablets and smartphone users.
The university also offers a transition program to the MBA degree that reduces the number of courses you need to complete to earn both degrees. This is a great option if you are interested in earning both degrees back-to-back as it could save you money. The cost of the accounting degree is $63,720 and the potential salary ranges from $50,600-$81,200.
22. Gardner-Webb University
Degree at a Glance
The Broyhill Undergraduate School of Management at Gardner-Webb University offers a major in accounting through the Bachelor of Science degree program. You will need to complete at least 60 credits of required general education courses before applying to complete your degree in the accounting program. Once admitted, you will take 33 credits of accounting and economics courses that will prepare you to work in the field.
As a Christian university, the curriculum integrates the values of social justice, ethics, and integrity throughout the program. There is even a Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship housed within the Broyhill School of Management. The same faculty who teach on-campus courses teach the online courses as well. It will cost you $51,584 to complete your degree online, which is less than half the cost of an on-campus degree that costs $117,680. The online degree is a much better value when you consider the salary range for graduates is somewhat low at $38,100-$55,700.
21. American Public University
Degree at a Glance
The online Bachelor of Business Administration at American Public University is the school’s most popular degree program. There are several concentrations offered and all students take courses in accounting.
Classes start every month and run for eight to 16 weeks. You can work through the curriculum at your own pace and take as many or as few courses as you like at a time until you complete the required 121 credits. Up to 91 transfer credits from the previous study may be awarded. Online courses are asynchronous, meaning you can access materials and complete your work whenever it is convenient for you. Despite having over 96,000 students enrolled at the university, the average class size at American Public University is only 19.
The degree costs only $32,670, which is one of the lowest prices on our list. This is a great value considering business graduates from American Public University report earning early- and mid-career salaries between $47,100-$67,300, which is comparable to many other higher-cost degree programs on our list.
20. Southern Oregon University
Degree at a Glance
You can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration With an Option in Accounting from Southern Oregon University and specialize in either public accounting or management accounting. The public accounting concentration is a great choice if you want to keep your career options open, while the management accounting concentration is designed for students who want to sit for the CPA exam. The degree comprises 180 quarter credits including at least 24 credits in the concentration area. Courses are offered during four quarters each year in 11-week blocks. It is possible to study full-time or part-time and adjust your schedule to fit your other commitments. You can also transfer up to 124 credits from previous study.
Salary earnings for Southern Oregon University accounting graduates fall between $41,100-$71,200, which is comparable to similar programs in our list. However, this online accounting degree only costs $38,880, which is a significant savings compared to the on-campus degree that costs $92,987 and many of the other online programs available.
19. Franklin University
Degree at a Glance
The online Accounting Bachelor’s degree at the Ross College of Business at Franklin University will prepare you to complete financial reports, audits, and managerial accounting in many industries. The entire university is designed to accommodate and support the needs of adult learners who plan to work while they study; therefore, if you are a working professional or looking to upgrade your education, this program may be a good fit.
The degree consists of 124 credits and a fast-track accounting degree option is also offered for students with a bachelor’s degree in another subject to reduce the time and money it will take to finish. Courses last six, 12, or 15 weeks and have multiple start dates throughout the year. As part of your coursework, you will learn to use industry software to complete your assignments making the transition from school to work easier. The average class size at the university is 14 students with a maximum of 32 students. The degree cost is $60,016 for both either the on-campus or online program and the salary range for graduates is between $43,400-$72,500.
18. Colorado Technical University
Degree at a Glance
Colorado Technical University offers a Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree fully online. The university uses a quarter structure and start dates are offered approximately every six weeks throughout the year, including during the summer. The degree consists of 183 quarter credits, including 66 credits in general education and 117 credits in business and accounting, which is a significant number compared to other programs that require more general education credits compared to major credits to complete the degree.
The online courses use e-Learning platforms, including the university’s own tablet application, to deliver content. In 2010, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities awarded the university with the “Innovative Best Practice/New Program” award for its e-learning accomplishments.
Completing your degree through Colorado Technical University will cost you $61,305, which is over $15,000 more than comparable on-campus programs ($45,316). Considering the salary range is between $46,500-$60,500, the value may depend on whether the amount of coursework in accounting fits your needs.
17. University of the Incarnate Word
Degree at a Glance
The University of the Incarnate Word is a Catholic institution offering degree programs for adult learners and working students. This may be a good value for you if you want to combine your learning with religious values and plan to work or combine your studies with other commitments. The Bachelor of Science in Business Administration: Accounting requires 120 credits, including 46 credits in liberal arts and religion, 39 credits of business core courses, 24 credits of accounting, and electives. Courses are eight weeks long and run during six terms each year.
The online degree is comparable to many in our list ($61,800) and is a great option when compared to the on-campus degree cost ($108,00). At this university, studying online is a great value as US News & World Report ranked the online bachelor’s programs in a tie for 39th place across the nation in 2016. Transfer credit for previous study is accepted as well, which may reduce the overall cost of the degree.
16. Liberty University
Degree at a Glance
As the largest, private, non-profit university in the country with over 240 online degree programs, Liberty University knows about online education. The university is also a Christian institution and incorporates religious values into all online courses. The university offers an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree that takes four years to complete through full-time study. You can also study at your own pace part-time. You will complete 120 credits and can also pair the accounting major with a minor from a range of areas, including aeronautics, business, government, and information technology. Courses are delivered through asynchronous methods so you can log on to study and complete assignments whenever you like.
An accounting degree from Liberty University will cost you $45,000 online, which is a significant savings compared to completing the same degree on-campus for $88,000. This is on the lower end of the degree costs in our list and will enable you to earn a salary between $39,900-$61,200.
15. Northeastern University
Degree at a Glance
If you have an interest in finance as well as accounting, the Bachelor of Science in Finance and Accounting at Northeastern University may appeal to you. Not only will you take courses in key accounting topics, such as auditing and taxation, you will also study finance issues, such as financial reporting, strategic cost analysis, and capital management. You will complete 163 quarter credits over four years of full-time study or seven years of part-time study; however, this is a second-entry program, meaning you will need to complete 48 credits of prerequisite courses before you apply to finish your degree in the finance and accounting concentration.
While the online degree price is $61,614, the on-campus degree offered at Northeastern University is a shocking $186,880 for out-of-state students. This is the highest price of any equivalent on-campus degrees on our list. Reported salaries range from $57,200-$92,800, which are higher than many others on list, making the online version of this degree a good value.
14. Southern New Hampshire University
Degree at a Glance
The Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Southern New Hampshire University has a low price ($38,400) and is a great value compared to their on-campus version of the equivalent degree ($123,024). In 2016, US News & World Report ranked the university #1 in the “Most Innovative Schools” category for regional universities in the north. Additionally, the university also offers a concentration in Forensic Accounting & Fraud Examination and a dual degree program for a Bachelor and Master of Science in Accounting.
You will take 120 credits to graduate and courses are offered during nine-week terms throughout the year. You can take as many courses as you like each term, adjusting the workload to accommodate other commitments in your life. Course materials are always available online so you can study whenever you like. This offers great flexibility to working professionals.
Graduates report starting salaries starting at $45,100 and mid-career salaries of $66,900. You can transfer up to 90 credits to help reduce the cost and time it takes to complete the degree as well.
13. University of Maryland University College
Degree at a Glance
A great value choice to get both business and accounting education is the Bachelor’s Degree in Business & Management: Major in Accounting offered by the University of Maryland University College. The degree costs $59,880 in both the online and on-campus formats for out-of-state students, which is on the higher end of the prices in our list, but you can expect to earn a salary in the $51,300-$86,300 range, which is above many on our list. The return on investment may make this degree a better value for you.
The degree comprises 120 credits and includes many hands-on experiential assignments that involve real-world data analysis. In addition to the university’s general education requirements, you will complete courses in various areas of accounting and you will take required courses to fulfill the mandatory minor in business administration. You will be prepared to work in a variety of sectors, including government, non-profit, and corporate accounting.
12. Clarion University
Degree at a Glance
If you are looking for a part-time program with great value, Clarion University’s online accounting degree may be a good option. The program is only offered on a part-time basis and requires 120 credits to graduate. The accounting concentration includes 24 credits in a variety of areas and the remainder of the required courses are either liberal arts or business foundations that help you acquire a holistic view of the business world.
Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis for the next available start date. All online faculty have either a doctorate or a professional degree and have an average of six years online teaching experience.
Online students enjoy a significant discount off the overall price of the online accounting degree, paying $50,760 compared to on-campus students that pay $68,400 for the same program of study. While the starting salary is lower compared to others on our list ($37,900), the mid-career salary is much more competitive ($81,000).
11. Bellevue University
Degree at a Glance
If you are looking to specialize in taxation, the Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Bellevue University is worth a look. You can complete the program with a major in accounting with or without a minor in Tax. The university uses the Blackboard e-learning platform that allows you to access course materials at any time, study whenever it is convenient for you, and complete the curriculum at your own pace. Classes have a maximum of 24 students and an average of 14 students.
The program includes 127 credits, including 75 credits in the accounting major, which is quite substantial compared to many other programs. Additionally, online faculty members have an impressive average of 14 years experience teaching online and almost all have either a doctorate or terminal professional degree.
One consideration is that online students pay more for their degrees at Bellevue University than on-campus students – $52,070 compared to $36,195. Salary ranges for this degree are from $44,400-$72,200.
10. City University of Seattle
Degree at a Glance
The City University of Seattle has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Accounting that enables you to learn about many unique business areas, such as corporate risk, international finance, and supply chain management, while also concentrating on foundation accounting coursework. The accounting degree costs $61,200 for both online and on-campus students and graduates report entry and mid-career salaries between $50,200-$80,400. While the cost is higher than some programs on our list, the potential earnings range is also above average and may offer greater return on your investment over time.
The university uses a quarter calendar and the degree includes 180 quarter credits, including 25 accounting credits. Faculty have an average of seven years of online teaching experience and most have either a doctoral degree or a terminal degree. The business administration degree is by far the university’s most popular online degree choice, accounting for 66% of all online students. In 2016, US News & World Report ranked the university’s online bachelor programs in a tie for 27th across the country.
9. Old Dominion University
Degree at a Glance
The Strome College of Business at Old Dominion University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree for only $42,600 for online students. This is an excellent price given attending a similar program as an out-of-state student could cost up to $106,920. The majority of faculty that teach Old Dominion online courses have a doctorate or terminal degree and also teach on-campus courses and students.
The degree includes 120 credits, but it is possible to transfer up to 90 credits from previous study because it is a degree completion program. Therefore, you are expected to complete many general education requirements first before applying to complete your online accounting degree. If you have an associate’s degree, many credits will likely transfer to Old Dominion. If you are admitted to the online accounting degree program, you can also combine the accounting major with either a second major or a minor from subjects across the university. Old Dominion accounting graduates earn an average salary of between $44,900-$79,400.
8. Saint Leo University
Degree at a Glance
Saint Leo University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting degree that offers an in-depth learning experience in accounting. Unlike business administration degrees with concentrations in accounting, this online accounting degree does not require you to take foundational courses in other business areas. Instead, you will progress through foundational accounting courses and business courses related to accounting into advanced accounting courses by the final year of study.
You will take 120 credits to graduate, including 36 credits in introductory accounting and economics, 27 credits in intermediate and advanced economics, and electives in liberal arts and religious studies that reflect the university’s Christian worldview. Courses are offered in eight-week blocks during six terms throughout the year. Your course instructors have an average of 11 years of online teaching experience and all have either a doctorate or terminal degree in their field.
Online students save over $25,000 compared to on-campus students as the online tuition is $56,400 compared to $83,040 on-campus. The salary range for early- and mid-career graduates is between $39,900-$67,800.
7. Auburn University
Degree at a Glance
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in business and are looking to gain more knowledge about accounting, Auburn University’s Bachelor of Science in Accounting is worth considering. This is a second-degree program that takes only 30 credits to complete and costs $23,250. The degree is only offered part-time and therefore takes a minimum of five semesters to complete. It is currently only open to US citizens with an AACSB-accredited bachelor’s degree from a US institution to ensure all students have the necessary prerequisites.
Lectures are streamed live and also posted afterward. This makes it easy to interact with your class or complete the work at your own pace depending on your schedule. The content and resources in the online program are the same as the on-campus program.
By specializing in accounting through this degree, you may be able to earn between $50,300-$93,000. It may be worth comparing your current salary prospects to determine if this program has an acceptable return on investment for you.
6. Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Degree at a Glance
The Southern Illinois University (SIU) Carbondale College of Business Bachelor of Science in Accounting online is a second-entry program that enables you to complete the first two year of full-time study either online or through a local community college and then apply to complete your degree online through the accounting program. The accounting portion of the program can be completed in as little as 18 months, depending on your course load and whether you plan to sit for the CPA exam.
If you complete your entire degree, comprising 120 credits, through SIU Carbondale, it will cost $62,100, which is significantly less than an on-campus version of the degree for $117,000. However, it may be even less expensive to complete your prerequisites elsewhere and apply for transfer credit. The accounting program includes 60 credits that are offered in eight-week blocks and you can study either full-time or part-time throughout the year. The majority of accounting faculty members have either a PhD or an accounting certification and work experience. The degree offers a salary range of $47,800-$78,700.
Top 5 – Online Accounting Degrees
Below are the final top 5 accounting degree programs on our list.
5. University of Alabama – Birmingham
Degree at a Glance
The University of Alabama – Birmingham Collat School of Business offers the same Bachelor of Science in Accounting online as it does on-campus; however the online degree costs $68,880, which is much lower than the on-campus cost ($102,240) for out-of-state students. The program courses are designed by certified instructional designers at the university and 90% of the Collat School of Business faculty have a PhD. All students complete a capstone project and an audit project to link their education to real-world problems, which is a unique feature that makes the cost of the project a great value overall.
The degree requires 120 credits to graduate and will take four years to complete if you plan to study full-time, although up to 60 transfer credits can be awarded for previous study. You will learn about many different areas of accounting in this program and be well-prepared to work in different industry settings or continue your education through a master’s degree. The salary range for graduates in early- and mid-career positions is between $43,900-$75,500.
4. Colorado State University-Global Campus
Degree at a Glance
The Colorado State University-Global Campus online accounting degree is the least expensive full degree program in the top ten of our list with a price of $42,000. It is designed for adult learners that have other commitments outside of school and need maximum flexibility. Seventeen accounting credits are included in the 120-credit curriculum and you can also add a specialization one of 18 different areas, including business administration, organizational leadership, and small business and entrepreneurship.
The online classes are asynchronous so you can work on your accounting degree whenever you like and access your course materials whenever it is convenient for you. Classes are offered in eight-week blocks throughout the year that allow you to adjust your course load as needed. New classes start each month, making it easy to meet the graduation requirements as fast as possible. As a graduate, you can look forward to a salary range of $47,700-$83,400.
3. Washington State University
Degree at a Glance
Our number three program is the Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Washington State University. The degree costs $56,880, which is the least expensive of our top three choices but also has a slightly lower reported salary range of the three, between $50,700-$90,400. The online accounting degree focuses on innovation in business and accounting to make sure you learn about the latest technologies and issues facing professional accountants today.
All students must meet the University Common Requirements, which include liberal arts and science courses, and complete 24 credits in advanced accounting. In this program, you will learn about many of the key areas of accounting, such as taxation, auditing, and financial statements and be prepared to work in non-profit, for-profit, and governmental organizations.
In 2016, US News & World Report ranked the university’s online bachelor programs in a tie for 34th place in the country and 21% of all online students majoring in accounting; however, the average class size was 40 students, which is higher than other programs on our list.
2. Temple University
Degree at a Glance
Both of our top two programs are based in Philadelphia. Temple University’s Fox School of Business offers a Bachelor of Business Administration: Accounting degree with a great international reputation. In 2016, US News & World Report ranked the university’s online bachelor programs #6 in the country and the online MBA was ranked #1. However, this reputation comes with a large price tag of $92,496 that is the same for in-state or out-of-state students.
All the faculty members teach on-campus as well as online, have either a doctorate or a terminal degree, and have an average of six years experience teaching online. While business administration is the largest online program, accounting and finance students account for 17% of all online students at the university. Classes have synchronous components, meaning that you must be available to participate in online classes at specific times throughout the week. This may be an important consideration if you have other commitments.
The university often hosts Virtual Open Houses that inform potential students about the online learning experience at Temple. Temple accounting graduates earn a salary between $47,300-$81,900.
1. Pennsylvania State University
Degree at a Glance
Our top best value online accounting program is the Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Penn State World Campus, which was ranked in a tie for 1st place for undergraduate online programs by US News & World Report in 2016. With such a prestigious rating, the online degree price of $69,480 may be a good value if you are looking for an internationally-recognized qualification. This price is also good value compared to the equivalent on-campus program that costs $101,620.
You will complete 120 credits to graduate during three semesters in the fall, spring, and summer and learn about key accounting topics, such as tax, audits, and international business. You will also complete the university’s required general education curriculum that includes liberal arts, math, and science. While you study, you will have access to many resources through the World Campus platform and will receive the same accounting degree as on-campus students. With an online accounting degree from Penn State, you can expect a salary between $54,600-$91,100.
What do Accountants Do?
According to the United States Department of Labor, individuals with accounting backgrounds play many different roles within an institution. Some who study accounting, go into a more “traditional” accounting role, as defined, roughly, as one who oversees and computes taxes and analyzes and reconciles financial statements. Others follow a route into financial reporting and asset management. Nonetheless, all accountants must be well versed in the laws regarding taxes and financial planning regulations. As such, most accountants are required to be able to justify their findings within these parameters. Accountants have a skill set required by pretty much any organization or individual making transactions. Therefore, there is a relative variance in accounting work environments.
General accountants can work for private accounting firms, in-house with a company or for a government organization. If transactions are taking place, an accountant can add value. Thus, you can imagine that within the accountant framework, there are several different career venues into which one can wander.
A public accountant, whether working for an individual, corporation or government, reconciles documents that are submitted because of legal requirements. Tax forms and financial statements are two of the most prevalent legally required areas of documentation. Many public accountants are CPA’s, or Certified Public Accountants, and their ranges of responsibilities can encompass anything from reconciling for the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission), to working with law enforcement agencies to uncover financial crimes, as is the case with forensic accountants. On the other hand, the work done by management accountants is private, utilized within an organization to affect business decisions.
This area of accounting can delve into situations that utilize not just hard skills in number analysis, but general business skills as well. Asset management for a company or financial performance analyses are specialty areas in this field. Professionals in this arena analyze financial information in order to influence management to make fiscally responsible decisions within their business.
On the opposite spectrum we have Financial Accountants. Financial Accountants keep track of a company’s financial transactions and report their findings in the form of financial statements. These produced financial reports are utilized by interested parties outside of the company from which the statement came in order to influence such things as investment decisions. Financial accounting is regulated by several government bodies to help protect prospective investors.
A Controller is another possible option for someone with an accounting degree. A controller oversees the operations of an accounting department for a corporation, supervising balance sheets and financial reports. Controllers are responsible for explaining their findings to shareholders and management. Due to this accountability, controllers are often recognized as being at the top of the financial hierarchy within a company.
Auditing is another prospective career path for a public or private accountant. An auditor spends much of their time evaluating the verity of financial statements that were reconciled by an accountant. Auditors review financial statements and attempt to identify any possible areas of mismanaged funds and recommend process improvements for companies or government organizations. There are two general categories of auditors, internal and external. Internal auditors are individuals who work for the company that they are reviewing, and external auditors are people who work for a company independent from the one they are auditing.
How Much Money Does a New Accountant Make?
Salaries can be both a deterrent and a motivator in choosing to follow a certain career path. Fortunately, an accounting degree seems to be a pretty secure investment in terms of rate of return. US News has listed Accounting as #7 in their Best Jobs Rankings.
Job stability is clearly an important factor, in addition to salary, when weighing up your ideal career and with accounting degrees ranking in the top 10 in job rankings, accounting is a lower risk investment. Further supporting this assumption, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that there will be at least a 10% employment increase for accounting and auditing roles over the next decade.
Stability isn’t the only benefit to pursuing a career in accounting. According to recent research, the average starting salary for an accountant, is between $50k-$61K with Public Accounting being the highest paying category among the accounting options.
While these figures vary from state to state, even the low end of the average is competitive in comparison to the average early career earning potentials of other degrees.
An early career finance professional earns roughly between $52K and $60K. At $42K, the average early career salary for professionals with degree in Liberal Arts pays considerably less than any of the accounting professions.
Even the most common business fields earn less than the average early career accountant, with early career salaries ranging from roughly $46K to high fifties.
However, perhaps even more significant, is that the salaries for all accounting fields increase steadily from early to mid-career, with most of them exceeding $80K. In fact, the average public account earns more than double their starting salary by mid-career. Moreover, the trend continues for higher level accounting positions, such as controllers, who earn just over $80K a year, with the low end of the range just above $50K and the top range over $120K. Again, these ranges will vary from state to state, but are generally a good estimate for expected earnings. Overall, a degree in accounting appears to be stable and lucrative investment.
What Certifications Do Accountants Have?
You’ve earned your accounting degree. So, now what? Well, you can hit the road running without any furthered degree. If an accountant chooses to pursue a certification, there are several options that offer specific benefits related to various career paths.
Perhaps the most recognized is the CPA, or Certified Public Accountant This versatile certification enables one to work in either the public or private sectors and covers all the main categories, some of which are financial planning, taxes, and maintaining and approving financial recordings. The CPA requires a considerable amount of studying and each region in the country has their own requirements for completion of the certification.
The CMA, or Certified Management Accountant, route is also an option. Graduates with this certification gain a more in-depth understanding of the concepts behind basic accounting. Perhaps one of the largest incentives is that professionals who follow this route tend to have higher earning potential; almost 30 percent higher on average. However, its not exactly easy. This course requires a bachelor’s degree, two years of work experience in accounting, membership to the IMA, the Institute of Management Accountants, and the passing of a two-part exam.
For accountants wanting to explore the world of finance and asset management, a great place to start may be with your CFA, Certified Financial Analyst, certification. The CFA is a three-part exam program, all of which will require in-depth knowledge of ten of subject areas designated by the CFA Institute as most relative to financial analysis. A combined background of work experience and undergraduate degree are also required.
All accountants are well versed in taxes. However, if this really is something that you enjoy about your line of work, you may consider getting your EA, or the Enrolled Agent credential. The EA is a product of the IRS and individuals who want to attain it must work for the IRS for a handful of years or pass a 3 part intense exam. The EA is the highest credential recognized by the IRS. Those that complete an EA are able to represent taxpayers before the IRS. However, EA holders have to complete 72 hours of continued education every three years in order to maintain their status, making this a very committed tract for an accounting career professional.
Finally, there are seven SAP Financial Accounting exam options that are geared towards those individuals that are interested in the technologically revolutionized side of accounting; one that combines accounting and business principles. SAP is a company that produces software systems that combines accounting and business processes. Each of the seven certifications prepares professionals to become experts in some application of their software systems, such as financial accounting or management accounting. A complete list of their certifications and educational programs can be found on their website.
What Types of Accounting Degrees Exist?
Accounting is one of those unique skill sets that has varying levels of expertise to suit the needs of a wide variety of people. Not everyone is looking for a four-year bachelor’s program or even a lifetime career in accounting. Accountants can get to work with an accounting certification and then choose whether they want to pursue any further degrees to buttress their knowledge in the field and enhance their accounting career choices.
Certificate in Accounting
A Certificate in Accounting is a great way to get your “feet wet” in accounting. There is no prerequisite educational requirements for the certificate outside of a high school diploma or GED. Programs vary in length and credit requirements. However, many to have roughly 5-10 courses and most can be completed online. Graduates of the program will be prepared to handle accounts payable and bookkeeping in addition to other entry-level accounting roles.
Associates Degree in Accounting
An Associates Degree in Accounting are usually a two-year commitment and are one of the most efficient paths into a career in accounting. Programs offer a smooth transition into most entry-level accounting roles. To get started, you need to have completed a high school diploma or a GED. Students who choose this route may do so because its a great way to get to work as soon as possible, gaining experience in the field and then deciding whether to take the next step in the degree process. In addition to bookkeeping and payroll, students study statistics, economics, and focus on specific areas of accounting, including financial, managerial and cost accounting. Many associate programs are also now available online.
Bachelor of Accounting
A Bachelor of Accounting is a necessary stepping stone for anyone wishing to become a CPA. Students who follow this route commit to a four-year program for a full-time student, with the exception of some accelerated programs, and are most likely decided on some form of accounting as their profession. All the usual application requirements for a traditional bachelor’s degree such as, ACT/SAT, GED or high school diploma, are also necessary when applying for a Bachelor of Accounting. Curriculums for a Bachelors in Accounting are comprehensive, covering not only accounting focused subjects, such as financial, cost and managerial accounting, but also subjects such accounting technologies and management accounting and often microeconomics. As with many bachelor degrees, there are numerous online options for full and part-time accounting students.
Master’s Degree in Accounting
A Master’s Degree in Accounting is open to those students who have an undergraduate degree and wish to be considered area experts in accounting. MAcc’s focus on the accounting theories that support accounting practices. These programs often offer specializations in the various areas of accounting covered in a bachelor’s program but with greater depth, and are usually 1-2 years long. However, an MAcc isn’t the only option for someone wishing to pursue a master’s in accounting. Many people choose to complete an MBA with a focus in accounting, which is usually completed in the same amount of time as the MAcc. In doing so, these professionals broaden the scope of their career. This could be an option for someone who is a skilled accountant or business person but would like to pursue a business-focused accounting role rather than a strict accounting career trajectory.
Doctorate in Accounting
A Doctorate in Accounting, PhD in Accounting is pretty much the highest you can get in terms of an accounting education. Individuals with this degree would be considered specialists in the accounting theory and application. They may consult, teach, work for the government or other organizations in high level positions. Not unlike other PhD programs, PhD in Accounting requires hours of extensive research, analysis and writing. This is a committed tract. By the time the degree is complete, professionals have spent an average of 11 years in higher education.
Different Types of Accounting Degrees
BBA in Accounting
The Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting is really a blended degree. Students will learn accounting principles and how they are applied in a business environment. Course requirements at most universities are weighted evenly between business and accounting courses, slightly favoring the latter. The benefit of this diverse curriculum is the student’s development of a broad-based skill set that will allow for some career flexibility. In contrast, a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, or BS in Accounting, and Bachelor of Arts in Accounting, or BA in Accounting, have strong focuses on accounting principles and theory.
The University of Phoenix offers an online BS in Accounting Degree that leans towards the accounting end of the business/accounting pendulum and this isn’t uncommon. In fact, most of our researched BS in Accounting programs offered a plethora of courses in both business and accounting but the accounting requirements were more prevalent. Everything from accounting information technology to government and non-profit accounting are prerequisites. Business courses are also listed as part of the core, but there are roughly half as many business class requirements as accounting courses. Individuals in this track are prepared to pursue a CPA if so desired. Similarly, the BA in Accounting from another online program prepares people for the CPA track with the only real course curriculum differences being that instead of a business focus, there are more humanities requirements.
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Accounting
A BSBA in Accounting is yet another type of undergraduate degree offered at institutions of higher education. The BSBA at the University of Colorado, Denver, boasts “a well-rounded education” with a decidedly blended curriculum of business core courses, general liberal arts core courses and then a section of courses for a major in accounting. The business curriculum ranges from Career and Professional Development courses to Managerial Accounting. However, the accounting curriculum covers similar to the BS in Accounting and the BA in Accounting, such as Cost Accounting, Federal Income Tax, Financial Accounting and Auditing. The program seems to have a lighter load on the accounting side, which was very much in-line with other schools offering a comparable degree. Nonetheless, they present a very well-rounded curriculum.
Degree Requirements for Accounting Degree
Most of the accounting degrees follow suit with general higher education program standards in that a high school diploma, or GED equivalent, is prerequisite for an accounting degree. Additionally, many institutions require SAT or ACT scores. However, that isn’t always the case with online programs. Depending upon how competitive the institution is, college course grade point average, as in, you apply to get into the accounting program only after you have completed some courses at the university or college level courses in areas such as math, could be factored into the program admissions equation. In fact, even high school grades can be considered in some cases. Another factor would be plans to pursue a CPA. If someone is leaning toward a full career in public accounting and wants access to the best jobs in the industry, then they should plan to choose an undergraduate program that puts them on the correct path. That doesn’t mean a traditional full-time degree is the only answer because many online programs boast preparations for such a goal. However, it does mean that research into whether the degree is geared toward CPA preparation is necessary.
Typical Coursework for an Accounting Program
Despite having many different degree options and curriculum variations, with programs leaning towards business or humanities, most of the general accounting core courses are quite similar across the degrees. Most all the available degrees require courses in Managerial Accounting, Cost Accounting, Financial Accounting and Auditing.
In a Managerial Accounting course, the objectives are focused on initiating the discussion on how accounting can influence management decisions. Courses would delve into problem-solving skills relevant to management accounting, process improvement principles, cost behavior and budget preparations. Management accounting as a practice, is focused on influencing management to make improvements within the organization. Therefore, much of the curriculum is focused on learning about the skills imperative to do so.
Cost accounting is also represented in many accounting degree core prerequisites. Cost accounting is a facet of managerial accounting. Cost accounting courses discuss eliminating wasteful costs, including inventory control and determining how to price goods and services in order to make a profit.
Financial Accounting course objectives are focused on students gaining an understanding of balance sheet and income statement construction and to utilize financial statements from a company to evaluate the overall financial health. These courses also discuss using the evaluations of the financial statements to influence management decisions.
Auditing courses are taught with varying specialties attached. However, the basic objectives are the same, to teach students how to examine financial statements to identify financial risk factors.
Frequently asked Questions:
How Long does it take to get an accounting degree?
The average fulltime degree takes about 4 years, with some schools offering accelerated courses that can be completed in 3. It depends upon the school and the specific program.
Should I get my accounting degree online?
Whether you should choose to pursue online education is dependent upon a lot of factors. It’s a great option for people who currently have a job, have extra time to study and need to pay for their education as they go rather than study full time. Additionally, most state and some private, even very competitive, universities, offer equivalent online programs to their campus programs. Education is changing as fast as technology permits.
What Does it Mean to Have an Accredited Accounting Degree?
Schools that are accredited have met regulating standards that provide the students with an assurance that they are receiving a certain level of education. Each accrediting body can have different standards and regulations. However, as a consumer, or a prospective employer of a graduate, you would know, roughly, the level of education that was received by the type of accreditation or lack thereof. Three accreditors of business education are AACSB, ACBSP and IACBE.
The AACSB has been accrediting school programs for over a century around the world. As a member organization, institutions benefit from shared practices and data distribution between similarly accredited schools.
The ACBSP has several regions around the United States and globally, in which they accredit business schools and programs. The organization also focuses on being an epicenter for information among its participants, facilitating the exchange of ideas regarding educational improvements and standards.
The IACBE is another regional accreditation institution. IACBE proudly states that they are recognized by CHEA, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, a discerning organization that regulates accrediting standards. IACBE also believes that holding an accreditation puts the onus on the higher education institution, encouraging competitive programs and best industry practices for their students.
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2. Bureau of Business and Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-2/
3. Wallstreet Mojo: https://www.wallstreetmojo.com/financial-accounting-careers/
4. US News, Best Jobs: https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/accountant/)
6. CFA Institute: https://www.cfainstitute.org/about/vision/wealth/
7. IRS, EA certification: https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/enrolled-agents/enrolled-agent-information/
8. SAP Certification: https://www.sap.com/training-certification/certificate.html/
18. Harvard Business School: https://hbx.hbs.edu/courses/financial-accounting/
19. AACSB: https://www.aacsb.edu/accreditation/resources/frequently-asked-questions/
20. ACBSP: https://www.acbsp.org/page/regions/
21. IACBE: http://iacbe.org/accreditation/benefits-of-accreditation/