A mathematically minded student interested in pursuing a degree that allows them to work across a variety of positions in different fields should consider earning an accounting degree. These degrees span all levels, including certificate, associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. Students who just want to learn more about the accounting field can enroll in certificate programs, or, depending on their desired career path, they can enroll in more advanced studies.

With degrees at every level, students can enjoy the opportunity to advance their education as their goals adapt and change.

Every business and company needs accounting professionals with experience in the field. Since the career is in nearly every industry, graduates of these programs can specialize their degrees and careers to fit in with their goals. Depending on their skill level and educational background, professionals in the field can enjoy high earning potential and the ability to grow within their companies. With degrees at every level, students can enjoy the opportunity to advance their education as their goals adapt and change.

Benefits of a Degree in Accounting

  • High Salary

    Accountants and auditors enjoy high salary opportunities after earning bachelor's degrees. These professionals experience an annual median wage of $70,500, and earning more advanced degrees in the field can expand salary opportunities even further.

  • Flexibility

    Accounting graduates enjoy the opportunity to work in many settings, including private companies, nonprofit organizations, or the government. They can also pursue self-employment.

  • Strengthening Skills and Knowledge

    Pursuing a degree in accounting allows a student to deepen their skills and knowledge in the field. Throughout their coursework, they develop the tools they need to succeed in the field after graduation.

  • Stand Out in Job Interviews

    Accounting applicants who hold impressive educational credentials enjoy an advantage among other job seekers, especially if they continue their education into advanced programs.

  • Pursue Promotions

    A graduate who holds a degree in accounting or pursues a more advanced degrees in the field can work toward advancements within their company, outlining their competencies with their degree.

Online vs. Traditional Accounting Programs

Accounting degrees provide students with a variety of career opportunities after graduation. Depending on the learning format they choose, they may experience different benefits. Online programs afford learners with more flexibility, while on-campus programs allow enrollees to take advantage of on-campus benefits like student organizations, campus libraries, and tutoring centers. Below, degree seekers can learn more about the benefits each format has to offer.

Online

One of the most significant benefits students experience when pursuing their accounting degrees online is flexibility. Many online programs feature asynchronous coursework, allowing learners to finish their work from any place at any time. This flexibility also allows enrollees to continue working as they earn their degrees, building their resumes as they expand their knowledge in the field.

Online formats require students to have a great deal of self-discipline since they do not need to attend an in-person class each day. Developing the ability to be self-motivated benefits students once they graduate and enter into the workforce. Online programs often cater to students from all over the country and outside the United States. Enrolling in online formats opens the door for these students to connect virtually and build lasting connections with a diverse community of learners.

Online programs enable students to take advantage of state-of-the-art technologies, including web conferencing and online courses. Enrollees can gain relevant experience in using these tools to carry their skills into their careers after graduation. Most online courses are taught by the same instructors who teach the in-person courses, providing students with the same quality of education from a more flexible format.

Traditional

Earning an accounting degree in a traditional format allows students to cultivate lasting professional contacts and personal relationships. In-person courses enable learners to interact daily with other enrollees, building friendships and discussing future career goals.

On-campus students also enjoy the opportunity to make a more personal connection with their professors and take advantage of unique networking possibilities. On-campus formats feature set class times, keeping students on track to follow a specific schedule. Maintaining a set schedule often allows learners to manage and plan their time effectively.

Learning in a traditional format pushes students to interact during lessons and assignments. Enrollees may get complacent in online courses since many of them do not involve personal interactions between students and professors. Additionally, on-campus courses provide students with the opportunity to get answers to their questions in real time, instead of waiting for a phone call back or an email response.

While many colleges and universities allow online students to participate in on-campus events, they may not be able to visit in person. Getting involved with campus life can provide students with a specialized college experience.

Accreditation

When searching for accounting degrees, students should pay close attention to what type of accreditation their chosen college or university features. Nationally accredited institutions typically focus on career and technical education, with very little to no focus on liberal arts. These institutions often possess lower tuition rates than regionally accredited institutions and are commonly excluded from many tuition reimbursement plans. Many graduate programs and employers turn away credits from nationally accredited institutions.

Regionally accredited colleges and universities focus primarily on liberal arts-based coursework, sometimes focusing on technical subjects, as well. Students at these institutions enjoy inclusion in tuition reimbursement plans. Credits at regionally accredited colleges and universities are widely accepted in transfer situations. Learners should understand the differences between the two types of accreditation and compare their goals to the outcomes of attending each type of institution to ensure they make the best choice for their education.

What Are the Different Types of Accounting Degrees?

Students can pursue different types of accounting degrees across all levels, depending on their career goals. Degree seekers who aim to expand their knowledge in a specific area of accounting can pursue a certificate, while those interested in working in entry-level positions might consider an associate degree.

Bachelor's degrees allow learners to pursue mid-level career opportunities, while master's programs qualify graduates for more specialized careers in accounting. A graduate who holds a Ph.D. in accounting can explore any career in the field, enjoying high salary opportunities.

Ph.D.

  • Cost: Around $30,000 for the program
  • Top 3 Skills Learned: Managerial accounting, financial reporting, and taxation
  • Sample Job: Chief financial officer
  • Salary of Sample Job: $130,872

Specialized Accounting Degrees

Many accounting degrees allow students to pursue specialization. These concentrations enable students to tailor their degrees to their personal interests and career goals. Graduates can include their specialization on their resumes, demonstrating their unique skill set to employers and setting themselves apart from other candidates.

Taxation

Taxation programs provide students with the accounting education they need to gain success across local, national, and global enterprises. Enrollees can focus on the development of their interpersonal, communications, technical, and analytical skills with a dedication to lifelong learning. The program meets the demand for tax specialists with the skills and knowledge needed to work in private industries, government, and public accounting.

Throughout the curriculum, students develop technical competence, an awareness of their responsibilities as a tax professional, an understanding of taxation, and an appreciation for tax policy. Taxation programs equip learners with a framework of knowledge in the field that allows them to build into an expert-level of understanding. Course topics explore tax research, federal and state taxation, tax planning, and communication skills. Students graduate with the ability to identify and resolve tax problems.

Forensic Accounting

Students pursuing forensic accounting specializations can focus on investigating financial records to examine theft, fraud, and malfeasance. Throughout their curriculum, enrollees can explore the different accounting principles applicable to complex financial deals, developing the strong analytical skills needed to succeed professionally after graduation.

Students also work to develop their presentation skills since they must know how to comfortably and effectively share accounting information, research, analysis, and results with their accounting teams.

Forensic accounting specializations equip accounting enrollees with the skills they need to thrive in their field, along with business knowledge and critical-thinking abilities. Graduates who focus on forensic accounting can go on to work at insurance companies, accounting firms, governmental agencies, and law offices.

Actuarial Science

Students specializing in actuarial science can focus on the analytical and mathematical demands of an actuary career path. They focus heavily on statistics throughout their coursework. The interdisciplinary program often uses resources from various departments and prepares students to take the first five exams from the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries. Graduates often work in education, accounting firms, and the public and private sectors.

Throughout their curriculum, students can develop skills in computer programming, computer applications, communication, teamwork, and professional ethics. They can also focus on business management, learning how they function within a company or organization and understanding the roles of their associates. Many students who seek careers in actuarial science also pursue graduate degrees in the field, opening up more specialized career opportunities.

What Can I Do With an Accounting Degree?

Students can pursue accounting degrees at the associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral levels. Each degree level prepares students for different careers. Associate degrees prepare graduates for entry-level positions, while bachelor's programs prepare applicants for mid-level positions. Master's and doctoral programs prepare candidates for high-end jobs. Accounting graduates can find employment in just about any industry.

Sample Job Titles

  • Bookkeeper
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Accounts Payable Clerk
  • Accounts Receivable Clerk
  • Budget Analyst
  • Controller
  • Payroll Clerk
  • Accounting Clerk

Explore More Exciting Careers in Accounting

Find Out How to Choose an Accounting Program