Best Accelerated Accounting Online Degrees

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Updated October 18, 2023

Accelerated programs help students earn professional credentials quickly, but are they right for you? Use this program guide to learn more about top accelerated programs and their features.

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In accounting, a regular bachelor's program typically takes 4-5 academic years. The fifth year covers the additional coursework that many states require for certified public accountant (CPA) licensure.

Accelerated online accounting degrees have two defining features. First, they allow students to graduate on shorter timelines or earn extra credentials in the usual timeline. Second, students can complete them entirely or mostly online.

Some accelerated online accounting programs allow students to earn both bachelor's and master's degrees in 4-5 years. Others follow intensive schedules that reduce the usual graduation timeline to four years or less. Schools also offer degree completion programs with generous transfer credit policies that reduce program length.

Accelerated programs typically appeal to ambitious students seeking a faster route to workforce entry or professional credentials. Students with existing accounting training or experience may also thrive in these fast-paced learning environments.

This guide provides an overview of accelerated online accounting degrees. Find out more about these compact programs, and browse our ranked list of the top accelerated study opportunities for 2023.

Explore Featured Online Accounting Programs

Why Pursue an Online Accelerated Accounting Degree?

  • Study Anytime and Anywhere: Online accounting programs often feature asynchronous course delivery. This model allows students to engage with coursework whenever their schedules permit, as long as they meet course deadlines. Online study can also eliminate the cost and inconvenience of commuting or relocating.
  • Save Time and Money: By definition, accelerated online accounting degrees allow students to graduate more quickly. Because they spend less time in school, learners often pay less tuition and may incur less debt. A faster timeline can also benefit degree-seekers financially by helping them enter the workforce earlier.
  • Earn Advanced Credentials: Many accelerated online accounting programs lead to dual bachelor's and master's degrees. Some employers prefer job candidates with advanced degrees. Also, CPA Journal research has found that candidates with master's degrees perform better on CPA licensing exams.

Trade-Offs in Getting Your Online Accounting Bachelor's Faster

  • Fast Pace: Accelerated programs move through material quickly. While some students thrive in fast-paced learning environments, others may struggle. Because of these programs' rapid pace, learners who fall behind may have trouble catching up.
  • Narrower Elective Choices: The compact structure of accelerated online accounting programs may limit how many electives students can take. Electives can be an important way for students to explore specialization options and gain deep knowledge in areas of interest. Some accelerated online accounting degrees may appeal more to learners focused on developing core general knowledge.
  • Limited Enrichment Opportunities: Online learners may lose access to campus-based experiences such as dorm life and in-person extracurriculars. Some students also report that face-to-face learning delivers more rewarding instructor interactions. Degree-seekers located far from a school's physical campus may also lack access to some internship opportunities.

What to Expect From a Short Online Accounting Program

Accelerated online accounting degrees vary in structure. A key difference is whether a program leads only to a bachelor's degree, or to dual bachelor's and master's degrees.

Bachelor's-only programs usually cover about 120 credits. Their structures typically reduce the usual timeline of 4-5 years by at least one academic year. Schools may achieve these time savings by:

  • Bypassing introductory material by admitting students with existing business or accounting knowledge
  • Adding extra courses to the typical full-time courseload
  • Eliminating summer breaks
  • Allowing students to use upper-level coursework toward both bachelor's and master's requirements

Dual bachelor's and master's programs include about 150-180 credits. Typically following a five-year timeline, these programs can usually save students at least a year over earning two standalone degrees.

How Does an Accelerated Accounting Online Degree Differ From an On-Campus Bachelor's?

There are some general differences between online and campus-based programs. Online programs deliver more scheduling flexibility, but also demand more independence. Distance learners still interact with peers and faculty, but usually only through channels such as email, message boards, and video conferencing.

Campus-based accounting programs typically support experiential learning opportunities such as work-study programs and internships. Some online programs also integrate these components. However, options may be limited, especially for a student who lives far from their school's physical campus. The intense, fast-paced nature of accelerated programs may also leave students less time for practical training.

Comparing Online Accelerated and On-Campus Bachelor's in Accounting Degrees
Factor Online Accelerated Program On-Campus Program

Admission Requirements

May admit students straight out of high school

May require college-level accounting or business coursework, an associate degree, and/or professional experience

Academic performance standards (GPAs and test scores) may be more competitive

Applicants usually need only a high school diploma or GED certificate

Academic performance standards (GPAs and test scores) may be more inclusive

Course Load

Full-time students take at least five courses per semester

Full-time students take 4-5 courses per semester

Program Length

3-4 years for a standalone bachelor's, depending on the school's transfer credit policies


4-5 years for dual bachelor's and master's degrees

4-5 years for a standalone bachelor's degree


1-2 years for a standalone master's degree

Delivery Format

100% online, with the possible exception of practical learning components

Practical learning components more likely to be optional

Primarily campus-based
Some courses may be available online


Practical learning components more likely to be required

Source: University of North Dakota, University of Miami, Colorado State University, Eastern Oregon University, University of Miami, SUNY Polytechnic University, University of Phoenix, National University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, New York University

Accelerated online accounting degrees cover similar material to other bachelor's and master's programs, but in a more concentrated format. To accommodate a faster pace, accelerated programs often limit electives or increase course loads. Practical learning components like internships may be optional instead of required.

Accelerated programs can also be more academically demanding, with more selective admission standards.

Delivery Formats for Accelerated Online Accounting Degrees

Accelerated online accounting programs are usually 100% online. However, some accelerated programs offer hybrid models that blend classroom and online learning. With no campus attendance requirements, fully online programs offer greater convenience for most students.

Online students should also consider the differences between synchronous and asynchronous course delivery. Synchronous classes take place in real time, on specific days and at set times. Asynchronous classes feature pre-recorded lectures. Students can sign in and view course materials at their convenience.

Accelerated online accounting degrees usually favor asynchronous delivery methods. This flexible format can make it easier for students to balance their studies with work and other outside commitments.

Regularly paced programs often allow students to attend either full time or part time. Accelerated programs may offer less leeway in this regard, since they are specifically structured to help students graduate quickly.

However, some accelerated programs allow part-time learning. In these cases, students usually graduate more quickly than they would by attending a regularly paced program part time.

How Much Do Online Accelerated Bachelor's Programs Cost?

Many schools that offer accelerated online accounting degrees calculate tuition on a per-credit basis. Some programs offer flat-rate tuition pricing, either per term or per year.

Accelerated programs usually cost about the same as regularly paced programs. Some schools — usually private institutions — charge higher rates. Other schools — usually public institutions — offer more affordable accounting degrees.

Beyond private or public status, many other factors affect tuition costs. For example, public institutions often apply different rates to in-state and out-of-state students. Residents pay lower rates, while non-residents pay higher rates.

Learners attending accredited schools may qualify for federal student loans. Students who need more funding can also consider private loans. However, use these options as last resorts. First, seek non-repayable forms of financial aid such as grants and scholarships.

The following links offer further financial aid information:

Top Accounting Accelerated Online Programs

Our ranked list below highlights the three top accelerated online accounting programs of 2023. Our team considers factors including academic quality, affordability, accreditation, and reputation when ranking schools.

#1 Best Accelerated Accounting Online Degrees

California Baptist University

  • Riverside, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

CBU was founded by the Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association in 1950. CBU offers over 150 undergraduate and graduate programs on its 160-acre campus in Riverside, California and online. 

Bachelor of Science in Accounting

California Baptist University offers a comprehensive online bachelor's program in accounting with an average completion time of 36 months. CBU's accelerated program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

Learners engage with a focused curriculum that includes:

  • Lower and upper-division accounting courses
  • Upper-division business courses
  • English and algebra prerequisites

The accounting and business courses cover over 90% of the credits required for the major. Students supplement required coursework with general education electives. The program covers the skills and knowledge tested by California's certified public accountant (CPA) examination.

Applying to CBU

CBU prefers applicants with at least 24 transferable credits. The five-step application process includes an online application, a consultation with an admissions counselor, and submission of academic transcripts.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private (nonprofit)
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Tuition: $23,163/year
  • Required Credits: 112-117
  • Program Length: 36 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$33,930
Out-of-state
$33,930
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$13,410
Out-of-state
$13,410
Retention Rate
76%
Acceptance Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
11,317
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
83% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#2 Best Accelerated Accounting Online Degrees

Concordia University-Saint Paul

  • Saint Paul, MN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

CSP offers more than 40 online programs through its global learning portal. According to CSP, 95% of its graduates receive a job offer within one year of completing their studies.

Bachelor of Science in Accounting

Concordia University, St. Paul's online bachelor of science in accounting program has a dual focus. It helps prepare students for their CPA or certified management accountant (CMA) examinations and develops team management and organization skills.

Students complete required accounting courses and a capstone project. Other course requirements cover essentials like business management, economics, marketing, and organizational behavior.

CSP states that students can complete their core accounting and business requirements in just five semesters.

Applying to CSP

CSP's accelerated online accounting program is designed for students with existing college credits. Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 (on the 4.0 scale) in their college coursework.

Candidates with fewer than 20 eligible transfer credits must also submit high school transcripts and an essay.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private (nonprofit)
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $420/credit
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 2.5 years 
  • Delivery Format: 100% online, asynchronous
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$23,400
Out-of-state
$23,400
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,550
Out-of-state
$8,550
Retention Rate
68%
Acceptance Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
5,585
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Best Accelerated Accounting Online Degrees

Franklin University

  • Columbus, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Franklin University was founded with YMCA assistance in 1902 as the School of Commerce. Today, the private, nonprofit school maintains a global focus through strategic partnerships and online programs that welcome international learners.

Bachelor of Science, Accounting

The accelerated online bachelor of science program at Franklin University features specialized accreditation from the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). Employers around the globe recognize IACBE certification as a signal of high academic quality.

Online accounting students at Franklin complete a curriculum covering four main areas:

  • Foundational accounting courses 
  • Required accounting courses
  • Accounting electives
  • General education courses

The rigorous program matches current industry best practices and helps prepare students for professional certification exams.

Franklin's program is transfer-student friendly. Learners can cover more than three-quarters of degree requirements with transfer credits from other accredited schools. This generous policy can dramatically reduce graduation timelines while allowing learners to concentrate on core accounting and business courses.

Applying to Franklin

Franklin accepts applications year-round at no cost to the applicant. Candidates first submit an online application. Applying takes 20 minutes, after which a Franklin representative contacts candidates with information on next steps.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private (nonprofit)
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC), International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
  • Tuition: $398/credit
  • Required Credits: 124
  • Program Length: 18 months or more
  • Delivery Format: 100% online
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$9,552
Out-of-state
$9,552
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$16,080
Out-of-state
$16,080
Retention Rate
9%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
5,926
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

Common Questions About Quick Online Accounting Degrees

  • What is the easiest type of online accounting degree?

    Many remote learners find 100% online, asynchronous programs the easiest to navigate. These programs allow students to learn from anywhere and access coursework around their existing schedules.

  • How fast can I do an online accounting degree?

    It depends on how much transferable coursework you have already completed. Some programs allow students to transfer in up to about three-quarters of their degree requirements. With enough transfer credit, learners can graduate from a degree completion program in about 1-2 years.

  • Is a two-year online degree in accounting worth it?

    Two-year programs usually lead to an associate degree. Graduates can usually qualify for entry-level accounting careers, including roles as bookkeepers and clerks. Students can also use associate degree credits to enter bachelor's programs with advanced standing. However, a two-year degree will not fulfill education requirements for CPA licensure.

  • Can you complete an online bachelor's degree in one year?

    Some accelerated degree completion programs allow accounting students to graduate in about one year. However, these programs assume that learners have already completed most of the requirements at a comparable school and have transferable credits to apply.

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