Written By Doug Wintemute

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 1.5 million professionals hold accounting and auditing positions, and the top 10% earn a median annual salary of more than $124,000.

Prospective accounting students can choose from a variety of degree options depending on their needs. Students interested in entering the workforce quickly can pursue accelerated programs. The following page examines accelerated accounting degrees, including common requirements and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

What Is an Accelerated Accounting Degree?

Most accelerated accounting degrees provide the same level of learning as a traditional program but in a shorter time period. These condensed programs typically offer the same core courses, concentration options, and practical training as other formats while enabling students to graduate sooner.

Accelerated programs typically offer the same core courses, concentration options, and practical training as other formats while enabling students to graduate sooner.

Some accelerated programs allow students to move through classes in a self-paced manner, whereas fast-tracked programs require learners to take large course loads in a short period of time. Accelerated competency-based programs allow enrollees with previous relevant training or experience to bypass certain courses, expediting graduation.

Competency-based and self-paced programs tend to appear more at the associate and bachelor's degree levels, but learners can find plenty of fast-tracked graduate programs.

While accelerated accounting degrees offer many benefits, these condensed programs feature heavy course loads that can present challenges for busy students. Learners should consider their needs and lifestyle before committing to a program.

Why Get an Accelerated Accounting Degree?

Accelerated accounting degrees allow students to enter the workforce and advance their careers faster than traditional programs, but they also present certain challenges. The following table outlines some pros and cons of accelerated accounting degrees.

Pros of Accelerated Programs
  • Shortened overall study times
  • Students can enter the workforce quickly
  • Reduced tuition in programs that charge based on study times
  • Typically available in flexible and accessible online or blended formats
  • Online studies accommodate many different learning styles
Cons of Accelerated Programs
  • Difficult to maintain a work/study balance
  • Heavier course loads, which can prove particularly challenging for busy students
  • Potentially fewer financial aid options
  • Potentially less interaction with peers and faculty

When an Accelerated Degree Is a Good Option

The condensed timelines of accelerated programs attract various types of students, particularly those who wish to enter the workforce, upgrade their skills, or develop their careers rapidly. The significant time and commitment required for an accelerated accounting degree means it usually works best for dedicated students.

Students who can commit themselves to a full-time schedule generally improve their chances of success in these programs. Enrollees with experience in online training might enjoy an additional advantage, as they know what to expect from a digital format.

Conversely, some learners and situations may not match up well with accelerated programs. Full-time workers or others with busy schedules might want to look for part-time study options rather than an accelerated program. Degree-seekers who require diverse financial aid options or candidates with independent learning challenges might also do better in traditional programs.

What Accounting Degrees Can I Get Fast?

Schools across the country offer accelerated degrees at every level, but the requirements and formats vary. The following sections examine what to expect from various types of accounting degrees.

Accelerated Associate Degree in Accounting

At the associate level, accounting students can find self-paced programs, fast-tracked programs with heavy course loads, and competency-based programs. Depending on the program, learners can potentially complete these degrees in 12-18 months.

For admission, applicants typically need a high school diploma or GED certificate. More competitive programs may require candidates to meet minimum GPA or test score requirements. Some programs, particularly competency-based options, might require relevant experience.

Compared to a standard two-year associate degree, accelerated accounting degrees feature a similar curriculum, but students complete it in a shorter period of time.

Schools that Offer Accelerated Associate in Accounting Degrees

The above list highlights some accelerated accounting degree options. Students may wish to expand their search parameters to include other considerations, in which case, the following rankings can help learners find an appropriate program.

top-ranked associate in accounting degree programs
Accelerated Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

Accelerated bachelor's programs may offer shorter, more intensive classes than traditional programs, or classes year-round. They may also offer credit for competency tests, experience, or previous education, which shortens the time to completion. The admission requirements vary for each of these programs, but most require a high school diploma or GED certificate. Applicants may also need to meet specific GPA and test score requirements. Additional application materials may include letters of recommendation and essays.

The Bachelor's-Accelerated-Master's Degree

An accelerated bachelor's-to-master's program may go by different names, such as a bridge or pathway program. Many of these programs allow learners to complete a bachelor's and master's degree in 4-5 years. These accelerated accounting degrees may emphasize core training in place of general education credits.

For admission, applicants usually need a high school diploma with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some programs may require candidates to possess previous undergraduate training as well.

Schools that Offer Accelerated Bachelor's in Accounting Degrees

For students considering an accelerated bachelor's program, the above list can point you in the right direction. Readers are encouraged to use the following rankings to explore additional programs and considerations.

top-ranked bachelor's in accounting degree programs
Accelerated Master's Degree in Accounting

Students can access a variety of accelerated programs and degrees at the master's level. Since most master's degrees in accounting aim to satisfy the requirements for the certified public accountant (CPA) credential, the curriculum generally includes training specific to the credential's qualifying exam and features practicum hours that meet certification requirements.

Some of these programs permit students to begin contributing to their master's degree while enrolled in undergraduate study. Candidates commonly apply for these accelerated programs as juniors, then enroll in internships and courses their senior year, which count toward their master's degree.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree, with some programs requiring the degree to be in a related discipline. They must also need to submit materials like standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and essays.

Schools that Offer Accelerated Master's in Accounting Degrees

The list above highlights some accelerated master's programs. Degree-seekers should also review the following rankings for more information on other opportunities.

top-ranked master's in accounting degree programs

What Can I Do With My Accelerated Degree?

Accelerated accounting degrees often cover the same material as traditional degrees, but in a shorter period of time. Depending on their program and interests, graduates with an accelerated accounting degree can pursue a variety of careers.

Careers for Accelerated Accounting Program Graduates

The diverse and widely applicable education that accounting graduates receive can grant access to many different career paths in the financial industry. Students can further expand their career potential through course selection, internships, concentrations, advanced education, and type of degree chosen.

The following table highlights some of the many careers that accounting graduates can pursue, along with salary potential and educational requirements. Readers should note that career specifics can vary by factors like location and employer.

Table of Careers for Accelerated Accounting Program Graduates

Career Description Annual Median Salary
(Source: PayScale & BLS)
Education Requirements
Accounting Manager Oversee the financial documents and operations of organizations and ensure they follow compliance orders and policies $71,610 Bachelor's

Recommended: Master's, CPA
Actuary Use their skills in finance and mathematics to evaluate and minimize economic risks for organizations $108,350 Bachelor's
Bookkeeper Record and manage the financial records for organizations and report their findings to managers $41,230 Certificate or Associate
Budget Analyst Assess organizational spending and budgets, looking for ways to improve financial health and efficiency $76,540 Bachelor's
Certified Public Accountant Prepare and analyze financial documentation, such as taxes and financial reports, for organizations and individuals $66,290 Bachelor's, CPA

Recommended: Master's
Compliance Officer Track an organization's records to ensure they follow the proper policies, laws, and standards $69,050 Bachelor's
Financial Analyst Evaluate and provide recommendations on the economic landscape for organizations, covering areas like business performance and financial investments $85,660 Bachelor's

Optional: Master's
Financial Planner Help individuals and organizations make smart economic decisions, often working with investments and budgets $63,260 Bachelor's

Optional: Master's
Forensic Accountant Support legal investigations and law enforcement agencies by reviewing accounting documents, processes, and systems $68,531 Bachelor's, CPA

Recommended: Master's
Internal Auditor Evaluate an organization's accounting documents, systems, and processes to ensure they follow legal guidelines and policies $56,730 Bachelor's

Optional: Master's
Payroll Accountant Manage the financial operations and documents for an organization and its staff $54,530 Bachelor's

Optional: Master's, CPA
Real Estate Appraiser Assess houses and other real estate buildings to determine market value and worth $57,010 Associate

Recommended: Bachelor's
Tax Accountant Manage the taxes for individuals and organizations, ensuring documents meet legal requirements $71,550 Bachelor's

Optional: Master's, CPA
Tax Attorney Advise organizations and individuals on various tax issues and laws $102,170 Bachelor's and JD
Tax Preparer Ensure clients fill out tax returns accurately and provide them with return or payment estimates $43,080 Recommended: Associate or Bachelor's

How Do I Choose an Accelerated Accounting Program?

Prospective students should consider several factors when researching potential accelerated accounting degrees, such as accreditation. Attending an accredited school expands employment, financial aid, and education opportunities. For instance, the CPA credential requires candidates to hold an accredited degree. Students can search the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to find accredited schools and programs.

Attending an accredited school expands employment, financial aid, and education opportunities.

Accelerated program candidates should also consider the type of program. While online programs more commonly feature accelerated options, some accelerated on-campus exist. When choosing an online program, learners should consider factors like delivery format and whether there are any on-campus requirements.

Other aspects to keep in mind include course and concentration options, admission requirements, and tuition costs. Learners should also consider a school's student support services and resources and faculty credentials. Considering these factors can help students find the right program for their needs.

How Do I Pay for My Accelerated Accounting Program?

Students may find working while completing their accelerated degree challenging, which can make financial aid incredibly important. Students can pursue financial aid opportunities such as loans, scholarships, and grants.

When searching for financial aid, degree-seekers should carefully examine the funding requirements, as some sources may restrict the financing available to students in accelerated programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How fast can I get an accounting degree?
Degree length depends on the program and level, but accelerated accounting degrees can reduce study times by half in some cases.
What are accelerated degree programs?
Accelerated programs allow students to complete degrees in less time than standard programs. Using a variety of methods, like shorter courses and heavier course loads, these programs allow students to expedite graduation.
What is the shortest bachelor’s degree program?
Program length can vary for each attendee, but the shortest bachelor's degree programs are usually degree-completion programs designed for students with an associate degree. Students in these programs can sometimes graduate in less than 18 months.
Is an accelerated master's worth it?
An accelerated master's program allows students enter the workforce and advance their careers faster than a traditional program. For high-achieving learners interested in both bachelor's and master's accounting degrees, an accelerated bridge program can save time and money.
Can you get an accelerated accounting degree online?
Yes, many schools allow students to earn an accelerated accounting degree online.