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5 Best Online Associate Degree Programs in Accounting 2021

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Best Online Associate Programs

An associate in accounting is a two-year degree covering basic business and accounting principles. This entry-level credential qualifies graduates for employment in various clerical and administrative roles. The curriculum also prepares students for a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Accounting associate graduates who enter the workforce directly can earn a comfortable wage in the business industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial clerks earned an annual median salary of $40,540 as of 2019. They find jobs in many industries, including banks, medical practices, and government agencies.

In this guide, degree-seekers can read about associate program details, degree options, and accounting job prospects. Read on for our ranking of the best online associate in accounting online programs.

Why Get an Online Accounting Associate Degree?

Accounting professionals record, organize, and report organizations’ financial transactions. Across industries, workers use foundational business knowledge to make financial decisions and manage cash flow. Different levels of education within the accounting field prepare workers for various professional roles.

Associate degrees in accounting offer graduates the fundamental knowledge to secure entry-level employment in the business industry or pursue further education. Earning this shorter degree can be the right choice for working professionals who want to build their resumes and compete in the job market without committing to the time or expense of a longer program.

Associate degrees in accounting offer graduates the fundamental knowledge to secure entry-level employment in the business industry or pursue further education.

Some of the other benefits of an accounting associate degree include:

Competitive Edge
While many clerical or administrative assistant roles require only a high school diploma, some employers prefer candidates with an associate degree in accounting because the degree demonstrates motivation and commitment to the industry.
Resume Building
With the competitive edge an associate in accounting online affords, graduates can land jobs and begin building a strong resume.
Foundational Learning
Associate in accounting programs teach students foundational principles of accounting that apply to the workforce and future educational opportunities.

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Accounting Associate Versus Bachelor’s Degrees

Degree-seekers hoping to build careers in the business and financial industry can pursue several levels of accounting degrees. Some associate in accounting degrees prepare enrollees to enter the workforce immediately, while others support students who plan to enroll in a bachelor’s program.

A bachelor’s degree in accounting equips students to land jobs as accountants and financial advisors. However, graduates may still need additional coursework beyond the bachelor’s to take the certified public accountant (CPA) exam.

Both a bachelor’s and an associate offer professional pathways and opportunities to pursue further education, but their program requirements cater to different student needs.

Comparing Associate and Bachelor’s Degrees

Accounting Associate Degree Accounting Bachelor’s Degree
Length 2 years 4 years
Course Load 60 credits 120 credits
Types of Classes Foundational courses in accounting, including: Finance; Information technology; Business law Advanced accounting theory and practice, including: Managerial accounting; Federal tax accounting; Auditing
Focus Developing a basic knowledge of accounting practices for clerical and administrative duties Preparing students for employment as accountants and other financial industry professionals
Student Demographics Students who plan to pursue further education in the business field and professionals who seek to enter the workforce after graduation Prospective accountants and business professionals planning to enter the workforce upon graduation or pursue further education and sit the CPA exam
Read More About Accounting Bachelor's Programs

The Top Online Associate in Accounting Schools

  1. Copiah-Lincoln Community College
    Location

    Wesson, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1915 as an agricultural high school, Co-Lin transitioned to junior college status in 1928. The school is located in Wesson, Mississippi, about an hour south of Jackson.

    Associate in Accounting

    At Co-Lin, coursework prepares students to continue to four-year business programs and encourages learners to engage in extracurricular experiences. Experiential learning opportunities include competitions, community service, corporate-run tours and seminars, and membership in organizations like Phi Beta Lambda or DECA. Learners can also participate in student government and the Trailblazers hospitality club.

    The school maintains strong partnerships with local businesses like Men's Warehouse, KPMG, and Trustmark National Bank.

    Co-Lin's accounting major requires business and general education courses, including English composition, computer applications, business calculus, public speaking, and principles of accounting.

    Applying to Co-Lin

    Each applicant must submit an online application with high school transcripts or equivalent and ACT scores. Individuals without ACT scores will need to take the Accuplacer test.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Public
    Accreditation: SACSCOC
    Tuition: $1,400/semester (in state); $2,400/semester (out of state)
    Required Credits: 63 credits
    Program Length: 2 years
    Delivery Format: 100% online

  2. Olney Central College
    Location

    Olney, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A member of the Illinois Eastern Community College network, OCC enrolls about 1,100 learners and features a low student-to-faculty ratio. The school prioritizes affordability, campus engagement, and career preparation.

    Associate in Applied Science in Accounting

    OCC prepares students for careers in accounting-related positions, connecting participants with local area businesses and job opportunities. The program encourages graduates to transfer their associate in applied science credits to four-year institutions.

    The curriculum includes general education requirements in composition and psychology. Business courses comprise most of the credits, with courses in financial accounting, introduction to business, principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics, cost accounting, and business law. Students must complete fundamentals of effective speaking before graduation, which requires several on-campus meetings.

    Applying to OCC

    Applicants must submit high school transcripts or equivalent and scores for nationally recognized standardized tests, such as SAT, ACT, ACCUPLACER, or ASSET.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Public
    Accreditation: HLC
    Tuition: $4,090/year
    Required Credits: 63 credits
    Program Length: 4 semesters
    Delivery Format: Online with some in-person requirements

  3. Albany Technical College
    Location

    Albany, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Albany, Georgia, Albany Tech emphasizes career preparation, flexible course delivery styles, and community-focused growth. The school hosts 3,000 full-time students every semester.

    Associate in Accounting

    Albany Tech offers a career-focused associate degree in accounting that readies students for entry-level jobs in the field. Career possibilities include tax preparation, cost accounting, and auditing. Learners can pursue the associate degree or choose from other programs, including a 42-credit accounting diploma and specialist certificates in office accounting or computerized accounting.

    After completing general education courses in composition, algebra, and the humanities, degree-seekers proceed to occupational courses in financial and managerial accounting, personal finance, legal environment of business, database applications, and business ethics.

    Applying to Albany Tech

    Each applicant must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. The accounting program requires ACCUPLACER standardized test submission, with minimum scores of 70 in sentence skills, 64 in reading comprehension, and 57 in algebra.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Public
    Accreditation: SACSCOC
    Tuition: $1,500/semester
    Required Credits: 64 credits
    Program Length: 24 months
    Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

  4. Southern Regional Technical College
    Location

    Thomasville, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    SRTC provides practical courses at affordable rates and maintains core values of honesty, integrity, and excellence. SRTC is located in Thomasville, Georgia.

    Associate of Applied Science in Accounting

    With a strong focus on accounting technology, SRTC's associate degree emphasizes practical skills for long-term careers in the field. The program includes a student success course exploring topics in time management, learning styles, study skills, test-taking skills, and stress management.

    At SRTC, enrollees take general education courses like composition and computer literacy. Major requirements include financial accounting, computerized accounting, spreadsheet applications, payroll accounting, and individual tax accounting. Students may also select nine credits of elective coursework within the accounting major and an additional nine credits in any subject area.

    Applying to SRTC

    Each applicant must be at least 16 years of age and possess a high school diploma or GED certificate. The program requires Next Generation ACCUPLACER or comparable standardized test scores, such as SAT or ACT.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Public
    Accreditation: SACSCOC
    Tuition: $1500/semester
    Required Credits: 67 credits
    Program Length: 5 terms
    Delivery Format: 100% online

  5. Hinds Community College
    Location

    Raymond, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Hinds opened its doors in 1917 in Mississippi as an agricultural institution and now serves 25,000 students every year .

    Associate of Applied Science in Accounting Technology

    Hinds prepares students for careers as bookkeepers, accounting assistants, junior accountants, and payroll accountants. Enrollees can tailor their coursework toward senior college study or pursue accounting career certificates, technical certificates, and associate degrees. The program helps learners build their skills in accounting software, office systems, and reporting.

    At Hinds, degree-seekers take courses such as QuickBooks, Microsoft Excel, public speaking, legal environment of business, and human resource management. The program also offers a course in career readiness, which covers interview techniques, employer expectations, and work ethics.

    Applying to Hinds

    Each candidate must submit high school transcripts or equivalent documents and ACT or ACCUPLACER scores. Hinds does not charge an application fee.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Public
    Accreditation: SACSCOC
    Tuition: $1,750/semester (in state); $3,275/semester (out of state)
    Required Credits: 66 credits
    Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous and synchronous)

What To Expect From Associate in Accounting Programs

Associate accounting degrees come in several forms, so applicants should consider their future goals when choosing a program. Some programs like an associate of arts (AA) or associate of science (AS) in accounting provide building blocks for future education, while applied associate of science (AAS), applied associate of art (AAA), and applied associate of business (AAB) accounting degrees prepare graduates for entry-level careers.

Degree-seekers can generally expect an associate in accounting online to take about two years, but some schools offer accelerated programs that allow students to complete their studies in just one year. Most programs require about 60 credits, but many schools accept transfer credits, so students with previous coursework may be able to graduate more quickly.

Read More About Accounting Programs

The Admissions Process

Although some colleges offer open enrollment, most associate programs require applicants to hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. Programs offered through four-year universities may require a minimum GPA or entrance exam scores. Many schools require admitted students to take placement assessment tests like the ACCUPLACER.

Because much of the curriculum for associate in accounting online programs requires math and computer skills, some institutions may require applicants to have completed advanced math or computing courses.

Degree and Concentration Options

There is an array of accounting associate degree options, so prospective students should select programs based on their future career goals.


AA in Accounting


An associate of arts in accounting allows students to study general accounting principles while also pursuing liberal arts electives before entering a bachelor's program.


AS in Accounting


An associate of science in accounting degree provides introductory coursework in math and science that helps prepare accounting students to enter a bachelor's program.


AAS in Accounting


An associate of applied science degree teaches students about accounting with the aim of entry-level employment in the field upon graduation.


AAA in Accounting


An associate of applied arts in accounting degree provides degree-seekers with a career-focused survey of accounting principles. Graduates typically enter the workforce.


AAB in Accounting


An associate of applied business in accounting degree teaches students practical accounting skills so they can find employment after graduation.


Popular Accounting Courses

Since associate accounting degrees may differ in their goals, the classes they entail also vary. However, many programs offer similar foundational courses in business and accounting principles. Common associate in accounting online classes include:

Introductory finance courses teach principles of business finance. These classes often feature experiential learning opportunities that show students how to prepare financial statements. Accounting students also learn about the annual accounting cycle and develop skills in computing and analyzing financial accounting data.

Accounting professionals must rely on computing skills to manage and organize data. Core IT courses provide learners with a background in business systems and design, including creation of spreadsheets and practice with key analytical functions for accounting information.

This course teaches students about the U.S. legal system, business ethics, and legal strategies. In these classes, students analyze case studies to apply principles of business law and business ethics.

Since taxation comprises much of the accounting industry, prospective accounting professionals need to understand the fundamentals of U.S. law and tax code. In these courses, students study tax documents, examine tax law, and practice filing federal tax returns.

How Much Will an Associate in Accounting Cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of one year’s tuition and fees at a two-year school was $10,704 for the 2017-18 academic year. However, students studying an associate in accounting online may be able to avoid some of the fees associated with traditional, in-person schooling.

Budget-conscious students can save money by selecting an online school, which cuts down on relocation and transportation costs. Some online programs charge all students in-state tuition, regardless of state residency. Many schools also offer financing options, including scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans.

Learners who plan to pursue a bachelor’s in accounting may want to complete their associate degree first, since that credential can allow them to obtain business industry positions while simultaneously completing their studies. Working at an industry job while studying online may be the most affordable option for many students and also provide better opportunities for future career advancement.

Jobs for Associate in Accounting Graduates

Many graduates who hold an associate in accounting can obtain clerical employment with a comfortable salary. Many of these employment opportunities involve record-keeping, organization, and communication. Applicants should expect to use computer software applications to perform industry-specific tasks for their employers.

Accounting professionals interested in increasing their job qualifications can also pursue accounting certifications. The jobs listed below require or prefer an associate degree in accounting, but further education and certification can give applicants a leg up on the competition.

  • Financial Clerks

    Many organizations need financial clerks to perform administrative tasks like keeping records, helping customers, and completing monetary transactions.

    • Required Education: High school diploma required, associate degree preferred
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): 0%
    • Median Annual Salary: $40,540

  • Information Clerks

    Information clerks execute clerical duties, such as maintaining records, collecting data, and providing information to customers. Many industries like business, government agencies, hotels, and healthcare facilities employ information clerks.

    • Required Education: Associate degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): -3%
    • Median Annual Salary: $35,390

  • Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

    Clerks in bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing roles rely on math and computer skills to maintain and organize financial records. Clerks need to develop mastery of the spreadsheet and bookkeeping software their employers use.

    • Required Education: High school diploma required, associate degree preferred
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): -6%
    • Median Annual Salary: $41,230

  • Administrative Assistants

    Secretaries and administrative assistants use computer software applications to complete clerical and administrative duties. Many administrative assistants work in schools, hospitals, government agencies, and legal offices.

    • Required Education: High school diploma required, associate degree preferred
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): -9%
    • Median Annual Salary: $39,850

Explore Accounting Careers

Choosing the Right Accounting Program

School rankings provide information on the quality and affordability of various programs, but prospective students should consider additional factors in their school search:

Accreditation
Make sure each school has been regionally or nationally accredited. Accreditation ensures that an institution meets standards of academic excellence. Some schools may also hold programmatic accreditation through an agency like the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, which ensures that a degree’s coursework prepares students for jobs in the field.
Cost and Financial Aid
Compare the tuition for each prospective school and investigate their financial aid options. Applicants with college credits from high school or a previous institution should investigate whether schools accept transfer credits as a way to lower their overall educational investment.
Location
Many schools offer different tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, so degree-seekers may want to consider local schools.
Program Length
While most associate in accounting programs average 60 credits, some programs require fewer credits or offer accelerated options to help students complete studies in a shorter amount of time.
Future Education Opportunities
Learners who plan to pursue further education after completing an associate degree may want to select a school that offers bachelor degree studies and/or a streamlined application process for associate degree graduates.

Why You Should Get Your Associate in Accounting Online

Working professionals who want to increase their earning potential often turn to online schooling. Virtual students can choose when and where they study, allowing them to maintain their work-life balance. Completing an associate in accounting online while simultaneously working allows motivated professionals to build their resumes even while furthering their education.

Online learning requires time management and self-sufficiency. Learners with strong planning and organizational skills often excel in online learning spaces, but those who struggle to motivate themselves may find online education burdensome.

Completing an associate in accounting online while simultaneously working allows motivated professionals to build their resumes even while furthering their education.

Students limited in their educational opportunities due to their location may enjoy the freedom of online learning. Since many associate in accounting online programs require no in-person courses, learners who live in remote areas can still pursue a degree without having to relocate.

Questions About Online Associate Degrees in Accounting

  • Is an associate in accounting worth it?

    Yes. An associate degree in accounting can offer graduates the competitive edge to secure employment in the business industry or pursue further accounting education.

  • How many credit hours is an associate degree in accounting online?

    An associate in accounting online generally requires 60 credits, but some programs offer accelerated options or accept transfer credits.

  • Which is better: an associate degree or certificate in accounting?

    Certificates in accounting can offer specialized skills and knowledge, but many of those certifications depend on the fundamental knowledge taught in associate degree coursework, so learners usually benefit from earning an associate in accounting first.

  • What can you do with an associate degree in accounting?

    Graduates who hold an associate in accounting work in various clerical and administrative roles or take their education to the next level with a bachelor’s degree.

Accredited Online College Programs

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