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15 Best Online Bachelor’s In Accounting Degree Programs 2021

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Best Online Bachelor's Programs

A bachelor’s degree in accounting can pave the way for a profitable job in finance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants in the United States make a median annual salary of $71,550, nearly twice the median salary for all occupations.

A bachelor’s degree in accounting yields 120 academic credits out of the 150 required to sit for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam in most states. Many employers hire candidates with a bachelor’s in accounting for entry-level accounting positions, but company recruiters increasingly prefer those with CPA licensure for higher-paying accounting positions.

The ranking below, which we revise yearly to keep prospective students abreast of the latest developments in online accounting education, provides detailed information about the nation’s top online bachelor’s degrees in accounting.

2021’s 10 Best Online Accounting Schools

Rank School Location
1 Maryville University of Saint Louis Saint Louis, MO
2 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Saint Mary of the Woods, IN
3 Wesleyan College Macon, GA
4 Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA
5 Walsh University North Canton, OH
6 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
7 Temple University Philadelphia, PA
8 Western Illinois University Macomb, IL
9 University of Mary Bismarck, ND
10 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL

What Is Accounting?

Accounting is the enterprise of collecting, processing, plotting, and presenting economic data to facilitate financial decision-making.

Accountants are pivotal to a business’s prosperity, as these specialists oversee regulatory compliance, gather and appraise financial information, and produce quarterly reports for business leaders and shareholders.

A bachelor’s degree in accounting focuses on developing easily transferable skills, such as critical reasoning, statistical analysis, strategic problem-solving, and business ethics. These skills qualify bachelor’s in accounting graduates for a wealth of careers across industries and occupations. Common jobs in accounting include accountant, auditor, budget analyst, and personal financial advisor.

Many bachelor’s in accounting programs offer concentrations that cultivate accounting skills geared toward specific sectors or professions. Graduates seeking specific jobs in particular industries may pursue a specialized bachelor’s degree to gain an edge over candidates with just a general bachelor’s in accounting.

A bachelor’s degree in accounting can furthermore increase students’ chances of admission into top-tier accounting graduate programs and qualify learners for higher-paying accounting positions, such as financial analyst, financial manager, management analyst, or top executive.

Why Get an Online Accounting Bachelor’s?

An online accounting degree can open the door to a satisfying and lucrative career, likely to bring a high return on investment (ROI) a few years down the line. Most online bachelor’s accounting programs offer flexibility to working professionals. Read on for three more key benefits of earning an online bachelor’s accounting degree.

Versatility
A bachelor’s degree in accounting delivers highly versatile skills in economics, statistical analysis, effective communication, and business law, which transfer across a variety of sectors and occupations. The degree’s amenability to career changes makes it an attractive credential in today’s rapidly changing economy.
Flexibility
Most online bachelor’s accounting programs enable students to study at a pace that fits their busy schedules. An online accounting degree can thus be an appealing option for learners with demanding vocational or family commitments.
CPA Certification
A bachelor’s degree in accounting from an accredited school provides 120 credits, which count toward fulfilling the requirement to sit for the CPA exam. Aspiring public accountants can earn the additional 30 credits by taking a graduate certificate or a master’s degree.

Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

The Top Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Accounting of 2021

As a popular business major, online accounting degrees can prepare aspiring accountants for CPA, certified management accountant (CMA), or certified financial manager (CFM) designations. Read on to discover the best online accounting degrees for 2021, and see below to learn more about our methodology for ranking the best bachelor’s degrees in accounting.

  • What the Best Accounting Programs Have in Common

    Each school offers a unique college experience, but many of the top schools share winning characteristics. The following attributes align closely with our ranking methodology, and distinguish some of the nation’s best bachelor’s in accounting programs.

    • They Are Accredited. Students should only consider schools with national or regional accreditation, which indicates that a school meets performance standards set by the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. All schools on our list hold such accreditation. Some online accounting degrees receive additional programmatic accreditation through agencies like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Keep an eye out for the following regional accrediting agencies:
      • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges
      • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
      • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
      • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
      • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
      • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
      • WASC Senior College and University Commission
    • They Offer Academic Excellence. Only schools with enduring legacies of academic excellence make the list. Factors contributing to academic excellence include student retention rate, graduation rate, full-time faculty, and student-to-faculty ratio. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, for example, boasts a 70% retention rate and a student-to-faculty ratio of just 14-to-1, occupying the No. 2 spot on our list.
    • They Are Reputable, Yet Affordable. We determine a school’s reputation based on its admissions rate, admissions yield, and alumni’s mean earnings six years after graduation. A school’s affordability depends on its net price, default loan rate, percentage of students with scholarships or federal aid, and the average amount of aid awarded. For example, 99% of undergraduate students at Wesleyan College, third in our rankings, receive some form of financial aid.
    • They Have a Strong Accounting Program. Obviously, each school in this ranking features a robust accounting program for aspiring professionals. Factors affecting this include the percentage of students enrolled online, the percentage of degrees offered, and the percentage of degrees awarded at a given school. At the University of Minnesota-Crookston, enrollment is split evenly between campus and online students.

  1. Maryville University of Saint Louis
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Located near downtown St. Louis, Missouri, Maryville enrolls nearly 11,000 students from all 50 states and 47 countries. Students can choose from more than 90 degrees. Maryville dates back to 1872, among the oldest private colleges in the Midwest.

    Online Bachelor of Science in Accounting

    Students can earn Maryville's bachelor's in accounting entirely online, with no campus residency requirements. This online accounting degree suits analytically minded learners aspiring to build business acumen and professional experience. Full-time enrollees can graduate in as few as 2.5 years. The program offers early-access coursework, which can apply directly toward a master's in accounting at Maryville.

    Learners can choose from multiple start dates for the online accounting degree. Maryville does not require application fees, entrance exams, or SAT or ACT scores for admission. Students can seek 24/7 tech support and access faculty with online learning expertise at any time.

    Applying to Maryville

    Students may apply on a rolling basis for the online bachelor's in accounting. Applicants must submit school transcripts or GED certification, plus official transcripts from colleges attended. Students should possess a minimum 2.5 high school GPA or 2.0 transfer (college) GPA.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: HLC
    • Tuition: $12,383/semester (full time); $781/credit (part time)
    • Required Credits: 128 credits
    • Program Length: 2.5 years
    • Delivery Format: Online
  2. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
    Location

    Saint Mary of the Woods, IN

    Indiana's oldest Catholic college, SMWC originated as a women's institution and began enrolling male students in 2015. SMWC offers more than 50 academic programs at its wooded campus in West Terre Haute and online.

    BS in Accounting

    SMWC offers its bachelor's in accounting through the Business and Leadership Department. The curriculum approaches business and accounting coursework from a liberal arts perspective, with optional concentrations in entrepreneurship or professional preparation. Students explore topics including principles of accounting, business finance, and accounting information systems.

    Learners can complete the bachelor's degree in accounting online. Only the optional professional preparation concentration requires an internship. Graduates may qualify to pursue CMA, CFM, or certified internal auditor credentials. Enrollees must complete a course in statistics to earn the degree.

    Applying to SMWC

    Students can apply online to SMWC, with no application fee. Applicants must submit official high school or college transcripts and may opt to submit ACT or SAC scores, though not required. Learners may choose from multiple start dates.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: HLC
    • Tuition: $496/credit (online)
    • Required Credits: 125 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: Online or on campus
  3. Wesleyan College
    Location

    Macon, GA

    Wesleyan was the world's first college to receive a charter to grant degrees to women. The college enrolls more than 700 students and offers more than 50 academic programs, primarily rooted in the liberal arts.

    Online Accounting Degree

    Wesleyan's online accounting degree combines foundational accounting with social sciences and humanities coursework. The program emphasizes career skill development through a required professional preparation experience and a professional practice seminar. Students may also complete an internship through sponsors including the "Big Four" accounting firms.

    Several of the "Big Four" firms regularly hire graduates of Wesleyan's online accounting degree. Students can participate in critical networking events including the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance Program and Wesleyan's annual accounting open house. The bachelor's in accounting can lead to CPA and other professional accounting certifications.

    Applying to Wesleyan

    Wesleyan accepts applications on a rolling basis and students can enroll online at any time. Applying online does not require an application fee. Applicants must submit high school transcripts for consideration and may opt to submit SAT or ACT scores.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC
    • Tuition: $448/credit (online)
    • Required Credits: 120 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: Online
  4. Bay Path University
    Location

    Longmeadow, MA

    Established in 1897, Bay Path occupies four campuses across Massachusetts. The university's online division, the American Women's College, offered the first all-women, online accredited bachelor's degree in the United States.

    BS in Business: Accounting

    Bay Path offers a BS in business with a major in accounting. The bachelor's degree in accounting includes Bay Path's signature core business education module, and trains students in the practical applications of accounting theory. Course topics include taxation, business law and ethics, and financial and managerial accounting.

    The online accounting degree culminates in a capstone course, Leadership in Practice. Enrollees can begin the program at one of six annual start dates. Learners can access Bay Path's personalized online educational tool, Social Online Universal Learning, or SOUL. The university offers full- and part-time enrollment options.

    Applying to Bay Path

    Bay Path offers a free online application to prospective students. Applicants must complete the application, schedule an interview with admissions staff via phone or in person, complete the FAFSA, and request official high school or college transcripts.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: NECHE
    • Tuition: $400/credit
    • Required Credits: 120 credits
    • Program Length: 1.5-3 years
    • Delivery Format: Online or on campus
  5. Walsh University
    Location

    North Canton, OH

    Walsh offers nearly 100 academic programs centered on holistic Catholic education. The university enrolls more than 2,600 students at its 136-acre campus in Ohio and online.

    Online BBA in Accounting

    Walsh's online BBA features a specialization in accounting, ideal for aspiring CPAs and managerial or corporate accountants. The curriculum approaches the practice of accounting from an ethical, global perspective. Course topics include auditing, tax accounting, and corporate profitability and sustainability.

    The bachelor's in accounting offers six start dates per year. Students with prior college experience may transfer up to 92 credits toward the online accounting degree. The program offers accelerated eight-week courses and flexible enrollment. Walsh boasts a business alliance membership in the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

    Applying to Walsh

    Applicants must be at least 21 and possess a minimum of 12 transferable credits from a regionally accredited institution, with a GPA of at least 2.0. Walsh requires high school and college transcripts, a resume, and a completed FAFSA form.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: HLC
    • Tuition: $500/credit (online)
    • Required Credits: 124 credits
    • Delivery Format: Online
  6. Saint Leo University
    Location

    Saint Leo, FL

    Saint Leo ranks among the oldest Catholic universities in Florida. The school occupies a liberal arts campus near Tampa, 16 regional locations, and an online division. Saint Leo enrolls roughly 18,000 students and offers more than 50 academic programs.

    BA in Accounting

    Students who earn Saint Leo's bachelor's degree in accounting online enjoy personalized attention from instructors and mentorship opportunities. The program requires two campus-based courses in the first semester: "first year experience" and "choosing wellness." Additionally, Saint Leo features signature modules in university explorations and common body of knowledge.

    The bachelor's in accounting prepares students to pursue CPA or CMA certification. Though not required, Saint Leo recommends that students complete an accounting internship as an elective course. Faculty routinely place students in summer internships with "Big Four" accounting firms.

    Applying to Saint Leo

    Saint Leo accepts applications on a rolling basis and offers six start dates per year. Applicants must submit high school and/or college transcripts and placement exam results, if applicable.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC
    • Tuition: $380/credit (online)
    • Required Credits: 120 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: Online or on campus
  7. Temple University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Founded in 1884, Temple evolved into Philadelphia's largest university. The school enrolls more than 40,000 students and offers more than 500 academic programs, on campus and online.

    BBA in Accounting

    Temple offers a BBA in accounting through its renowned Fox School of Business. The curriculum provides a broad foundation in accounting and emphasizes career skills including problem-solving, decision-making, and data analytics. The program culminates in senior seminars in accounting and management accounting. Graduates can pursue CPA or CMA certification.

    Students can begin the online bachelor's degree in accounting in the spring or fall semester. Temple offers a choice of traditional 15-week semesters or accelerated sessions over six or seven weeks. Learners participate in real-time weekly meetings through WebEx. Full-time students can complete the accelerated program in three years.

    Applying to Temple

    Temple holds various deadlines for fall and spring admission. Applicants must apply online through Common App and submit academic transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, a 250-word essay, and a disclosure of extracurricular activities. Application costs $55, though waivers may apply.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: MSCHE
    • Tuition: $595/credit (online)
    • Required Credits: 124 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: Online, synchronous
  8. Western Illinois University
    Location

    Macomb, IL

    WIU enrolls more than 5,000 students across two physical campuses and online. Students may choose from more than 100 graduate, undergraduate, and dual degrees and certificates. Accountancy ranks among WIU's most popular majors.

    Bachelor of Business in Accountancy

    WIU's bachelor of business in accountancy follows a dual-degree model, enabling students to earn both a bachelor's and a master's degree in five years total. Learners may choose a concentration in management accounting or taxation. The program receives specialized accreditation through the Institute of Certified Management Accountants and AACSB.

    WIU encourages accounting students to participate in its signature CPA Project and the Beta Alpha Psi honors organization. Graduates of the bachelor's in accounting boast a 94% employment rate within three months. The program also facilitated the highest pass rate (nearly 71%) on the CPA exam among all public Illinois universities in 2017.

    Applying to WIU

    Applicants to the online accounting degree must possess a minimum of 90 transferable semester credits, declare a major in accountancy, and demonstrate a minimum 3.4 cumulative GPA and 3.0 GPA in MBA foundations coursework.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: HLC; AACSB International
    • Tuition: $296/credit (undergraduate distance programs); $340/credit (graduate distance programs)
    • Required Credits: 33 credits
    • Program Length: 5 years
    • Delivery Format: Online
  9. University of Mary
    Location

    Bismarck, ND

    Founded in 1959, Mary offers programs in the Christian, Catholic, and Benedictine traditions. The university emphasizes flexibility and affordability among its online and degree-completion programs. Mary also occupies satellite locations across North Dakota, Kansas, and Montana.

    Bachelor of Science in Accounting

    Mary offers its bachelor's degree in accounting through the Gary Tharaldson School of Business. The online accounting degree suits detail-oriented, aspiring CPAs with a mind for numbers. Required courses include principles of accounting, auditing, and business law. The program culminates in a senior competency testing module.

    Mary does not require students who earn the bachelor's degree in accounting online to complete an internship. The curriculum prepares accounting students to pursue CPA certification. Learners develop ethical decision-making skills from a Benedictine perspective. Required coursework also emphasizes global business principles and practices.

    Applying to Mary

    Applicants must submit official high school and/or college transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Students with 24 or more transferable college credits must demonstrate a cumulative college GPA of at least 2.0. Mary charges a $30 application fee.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: HLC; International Accreditation Council for Business Education
    • Tuition: $450/credit
    • Required Credits: 124 credits
    • Program Length: 3.3 years
    • Delivery Format: Online, on campus, hybrid
  10. Florida Atlantic University
    Location

    Boca Raton, FL

    FAU enrolls more than 30,000 students across six campuses in southeast Florida and online. The university offers more than 170 academic programs, including nearly 30 dual bachelor's/master's degrees.

    Online BBA in Accounting

    FAU offers its online bachelor's degree in accounting through the business college. The curriculum emphasizes technical career skills, including financial reporting, ethical issues in business, and cost allocation and analysis. Graduates can become CPAs, CMAs, CIAs, certified information systems auditors, certified government financial managers, or certified fraud examiners.

    Aspiring accounting majors at FAU must complete prerequisite coursework in pre-business foundation subjects including college writing, accounting, and calculus. Additionally, FAU's intellectual foundation program requires several liberal arts core courses, though applicants who possess a regionally accredited associate degree may waive this requirement.

    Applying to FAU

    Applicants must satisfy a minimum of 18 units in high school competencies including English, math, science, and a foreign language, and submit ACT or SAT scores. FAU determines an applicant's fitness for college coursework and GPA based on these prerequisites. Students may apply at any time.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC; AACSB International
    • Tuition: $201 (in state); $720 per credit (out of state)
    • Required Credits: 120 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: Online
  11. Davenport University
    Location

    Grand Rapids, MI

    As Michigan's second-largest private, nonprofit university, Davenport enrolls more than 6,500 students. Davenport boasts more than 20 years of online education expertise. The university offers more than 60 programs across 10 Michigan campuses and online.

    Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) - Accounting

    Davenport's online BBA in accounting emphasizes technical career skills for aspiring professionals. The bachelor's in accounting prepares students for CPA, CMA, or certified fraud examiner certification. Davenport ranks among only eight schools nationwide to receive specialized accreditation through the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).

    Davenport faculty includes CPAs with experience at "Big Four" accounting firms. The online accounting degree qualifies graduates for Davenport's employment guarantee: Students who cannot secure a job within six months may pursue additional education through Davenport.

    Learners may complete an accounting internship as an elective course. The program offers a specialization in internal auditing or management accounting.

    Applying to Davenport

    Davenport accepts applications on a rolling basis throughout the year. The university considers applicants holistically, based on academic transcripts, major of choice, and online or on-campus study. Application is free online.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: HLC; IACBE
    • Tuition: $815/credit (in state); $544/credit (out of state)
    • Required Credits: 120 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: Online or on campus
  12. University of Minnesota-Crookston
    Location

    Crookston, MN

    UMC is one of five campuses within the University of Minnesota system. The school enrolls more than 1,800 students, equally distributed on campus and online. Nicknamed "laptop U," UMC equips all students learning on campus with free laptop computers.

    Bachelor of Science in Accounting

    UMC offers its BS in accounting through the business department. The curriculum prepares students to pursue CPA, CMA, or certified internal auditor certification. UMC offers elective courses in CPA review, satisfying the additional credits needed beyond the bachelor's in accounting for CPA certification. Students can also concurrently earn a certificate in taxation.

    The bachelor's degree in accounting includes accounting core, liberal education, technology, and elective requirements. In addition to CPA review, electives include forensic accounting, income tax preparation, and an optional internship. Core requirements explore subjects like cost accounting, principles of management, and orientation to online learning.

    Applying to UMC

    UMC requires an admissions application, complete with an essay of 75-250 words in response to a prompt, and unofficial academic transcripts. Students must also pay $25 to apply, or submit a waiver for the application fee.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: HLC; Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
    • Tuition: $402/credit
    • Required Credits: 120 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: Online or on campus
  13. Baker College
    Location

    Owosso, MI

    As Michigan's largest independent, nonprofit college, Baker emphasizes technical and professional development programs. The college offers more than 40 high-demand, high-growth career degrees across eight schools and Baker Online.

    BBA in Accounting

    Baker's online bachelor's degree in accounting integrates business, accounting major, and general education requirements. Students develop soft skills for multi-level accounting jobs, including problem-solving, leadership, and communication. The curriculum includes business analytics, managerial accounting, and auditing and assurance courses.

    The online BBA in accounting also requires two internship experiences, one each in accounting and business. The program culminates in an integrated seminar capstone course. Graduates qualify to sit for the CPA exam in Michigan, though certification requires additional credits beyond the online accounting degree.

    Applying to Baker

    Applicants may apply online anytime by submitting official transcripts and a nonrefundable $30 application fee, though some students may qualify for a waiver. Learners may opt to submit SAT or ACT scores.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: HLC; International Accreditation Council for Business Education
    • Tuition: $415/credit
    • Required Credits: 120 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: Online, on campus, or through hybrid study
  14. University of Louisville
    Location

    Louisville, KY

    UofL occupies three campuses online and across Louisville, and Kentucky. Students can choose from more than 40 graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs through seven academic schools and colleges.

    Online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accountancy (BSBAA)

    UofL offers its online BSBAA through the business college. The curriculum combines business requirements and accounting core and elective coursework, emphasizing the latest accounting technology and information systems such as MS Office and Tableau. The program prepares graduates to sit for the CPA exam; however, CPA certification requires additional credits.

    Enrollees must complete a university-wide general education course module, required of all undergraduate programs at UofL. Coursework covers general business concepts including finance, marketing, economics, and management. Online accounting degree candidates include returning college students and professionals aspiring to advanced career prospects.

    Applying to UofL

    UofL accepts applications for the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Admission requires students to remain in good standing in their most recent school. Applicants must also fully disclose all schools attended, demonstrate a minimum 2.8 GPA, and pay a $25 admission fee.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC; AACSB International
    • Tuition: $499/credit
    • Required Credits: 120 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: Online, asynchronous
  15. Trine University-Regional/Non-Traditional Campuses
    Location

    Fort Wayne, IN

    Located in Angola, Indiana, Trine enrolls more than 4,600 students and boasts a 99.4% graduate employment rate within six months of graduation. Trine also offers more than 20 graduate and undergraduate programs through TrineOnline.

    Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Accounting

    Trine's online bachelor's degree in accounting combines business core and accounting concentration requirements, including an emphasis in practical career skills. Students may choose between a business internship or business capstone simulation to meet field experience requirements. Courses explore technology such as Quickbooks and Peachtree.

    The online bachelor's in accounting offers new classes every eight weeks, enabling full-time students to graduate in as little as one year. Employers in fields including accounting, energy, and manufacturing recruit graduates of Trine's online bachelor's degree in accounting. With additional credits, graduates can pursue CPA certification in Indiana.

    Applying to TrineOnline

    Trine offers five start dates per year. Applicants must submit a copy of a government-issued ID, verify their location of residence, and submit official transcripts demonstrating a high school diploma or GED certificate. They must also submit transcripts for any colleges attended.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: HLC; Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
    • Tuition: $399/credit
    • Required Credits: 120 credits
    • Program Length: 1-4 years
    • Delivery Format: Online

What To Expect From Bachelor’s in Accounting Programs

Typical bachelor’s in accounting programs expose learners to an array of foundational and specialized topics in accounting such as financial and managerial accounting, auditing, macro- and microeconomics, business statistics, federal taxation, compliance, business law, and forensic accounting. Each degree-granting institution offers its own unique bachelor’s degrees in accounting and concentration options.

During the first part of a typical curriculum, students take required foundational courses. During the second part, degree-seekers can choose to complete electives or courses needed to satisfy a chosen concentration. Some bachelor’s in accounting programs offer an optional capstone or thesis seminar, in which learners can apply the knowledge acquired from their studies to real-world business problems or academic, theoretical problems.

Online bachelor’s in accounting programs follow different formats. Some run synchronously, allowing for an immersive experience with contemporaneous online lectures, classroom discussions, and peer collaboration. Other programs provide fully asynchronous courses, in which students listen to prerecorded lectures and complete readings, homework, and tests at their own pace, provided that they meet the deadlines for each course module.

Read More About Accounting Programs

Admission Requirements

To be admitted to a bachelor’s in accounting program, learners must have passed a high school equivalency test or hold a high school diploma, typically with an unweighted GPA of at least 2.0, though top-tier schools often require an unweighted GPA of 3.0 or higher. Many schools also factor in standardized test scores like the SAT or the ACT.

Once it’s time to apply, the Common App can help streamline the application process, allowing applicants to apply to multiple colleges in one go. More than 900 schools accept applications via this application platform.

Degree and Concentration Options

There are several types of accounting bachelor’s degrees offered by higher education institutions. Common degrees include the bachelor of accountancy (BAcc), the BS in accounting, and the bachelor of business administration (BBA) with a concentration in accounting.

The main difference between the BAcc and BS in accounting is that a BS requires more courses in quantitative areas like math and statistics. A BBA, on the other hand, gives students an excellent foundation for an MBA with courses about the fundamentals of business. A BBA with a concentration in accounting can lead to high-paying positions like financial manager or CFO down the road.

Business schools typically allow students to add a concentration in a specialized topic. Popular areas of concentration include:

  • Financial accounting
  • Managerial accounting
  • Business administration
  • Information technology
  • Actuarial science
  • Forensic accounting

Students who plan to work in accounting immediately after graduation should keep in mind that a specialized bachelor’s could narrow their career options. However, a concentration can help applicants stand out in a crowded job market.

Popular Accounting Courses

A typical bachelor’s in accounting program offers courses that concentrate on building foundational accounting skills, electives that explore specialty areas, and sometimes a capstone or thesis. The following are examples of classes you may find in a typical accounting curriculum.

Federal Taxation
Most programs require students to take a class in taxation. A course in federal taxation focuses on deepening students’ understanding of core concepts involved in preparing a federal tax return, such as itemized deductions, personal exemptions, and property taxes.
Assurance Services
Assurance services is a common component of a core bachelor’s in accounting curriculum. In this class, students learn how to assess a business’ processes and controls in order to minimize the risk that economic errors make their way into financial decision-making.
Financial Management
Most programs require learners with a concentration in business administration to take a class in financial management. In this class, students learn a variety of strategies and analytical skills needed to assess financial risks and opportunities, make economic decisions, and set financial goals.
Forensic Accounting
In most online accounting programs, degree-seekers can choose an elective in forensic accounting. A fairly recent addition to the accounting curriculum, forensic accounting seeks to cultivate the necessary skills for investigating financial crimes, such as organizational fraud and money laundering to enable terrorism and racketeering.
Capstone or Thesis Seminar
Some bachelor’s in accounting programs offer a capstone or thesis seminar that allows students to apply theoretical expertise acquired throughout their study to tackle real-life or theoretical business problems. For example, a final thesis in accounting might address the problem of how to minimize the adverse effects of a pandemic on local businesses’ financial health.

How Much Will a Bachelor’s in Accounting Cost?

The typical costs of a bachelor’s in accounting depends on a variety of factors, including whether the school is public or private, whether the degree is online, and the student’s state residency, among other considerations.

The average cost of tuition and fees for an in-person degree at a top-ranked private college is $35,087 annually. The cost of tuition and fees at top-tier public colleges depends on whether you are a resident in the state in question. In-state residents pay $9,687 annually and out-of-state residents pay $21,184 per year for an in-person degree.

An online accounting degree at a private school or a public school as an out-of-state resident is more cost-effective. The average total cost of an online bachelor’s degree is $60,593 at a private school, $38,496 for in-state residents at a public school, and $54,183 for out-of-state residents.

A bachelor’s normally takes four years to complete, and students may be able to cut costs by transferring previous credits and pursuing financial aid. Many schools automatically consider applicants for merit-based scholarships. Alternative ways to finance a bachelor’s degree in accounting include financial aid and student loans. The links below provide more information about these options.

Jobs for Bachelor’s in Accounting Graduates

A bachelor’s in accounting can be a stepping stone to a profitable and challenging career. The BLS reports that the median salary for accountants and auditors is $71,550, which is nearly 80% higher than the median salary for all occupations. Additional education, such as a master’s or graduate certificate in accounting, can significantly increase graduates’ earning potential.

The BLS projects a 4% growth in accountant and auditor jobs from 2019 to 2029. The outlook is even better for some of the occupations reviewed below:

  • Budget Analyst

    Budget analysts help analyze and identify shortcomings in a corporation’s budgets and propose changes to the budget going forward.

    – Required Education: A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): +3%

    – Median Annual Salary: $76,540

  • Cost Estimator

    Cost estimators estimate the cost of the resources, such as labor and materials, a startup or organization needs to produce a product or provide a service.

    – Required Education: A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): -1%

    – Median Annual Salary: $65,250

  • Financial Examiner

    Financial examiners scrutinize corporations’ financial records to ensure that they comply with the financial regulations and identify strategies for ensuring compliance going forward.

    – Required Education: A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): +7%

    – Median Annual Salary: $81,090

  • Personal Financial Advisor

    Personal financial advisors advise individuals on how best to manage their finances and budget for the future.

    – Required Education: A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): +4%

    – Median Annual Salary: $87,850

  • Financial Analyst

    Financial analysts analyze and evaluate the financial health of public and private organizations and provide guidance on where to cut costs.

    – Required Education: A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field

    – Job Outlook (2019-29): +5%

    – Median Annual Salary: $81,590

Choosing the Right Accounting Program

Aspiring accountants contemplating where to apply should consider several other factors besides a school’s ranking/prestige. Key factors to weigh before selecting a program include accreditation, alumni network, and future education opportunities.

Two types of accreditation can affect the credibility of a bachelor’s degree in accounting: Prospective students should prioritize a degree-granting institution that is accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies, as regionally accredited schools allow students to apply for federal aid and more easily transfer credits between schools or toward a graduate degree.

But program-specific accreditation is equally important for boosting the credibility of a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Accreditation by program-specific agencies such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business ensures that the program has a proven track record of high educational quality.

A program’s alumni network can also impact learners’ future careers in powerful ways. Most quality programs organize events where students meet accomplished alumni. Making a lasting impression on just one fellow graduate can be the beginning of a solid professional network that potentially can assist with career advice, recommendations, and pointers to job openings.

Future education opportunities offered by a program are pivotal to the ROI on your degree. While some undergraduates seek a job immediately after graduating, a certificate or graduate degree can increase your earning potential and help you meet the requirements for the CPA exam.

Why You Should Get Your Degree Online

Many working professionals and busy learners opt to pursue an online accounting degree, which can be a more affordable and convenient alternative to an on-campus degree.

Highly ranked online programs generally boast similar educational outcomes and networking and recruitment opportunities as their on-campus equivalents.

The online degree format varies by school and program. An asynchronous format allows learners to study at their own pace, whereas a synchronous format requires students to attend lectures and tests at set times. An allochronic format provides maximum flexibility and convenience but also requires substantial self-direction and time management skills.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents another impetus for pursuing a degree online. Most universities and colleges have already transitioned to a fully online or hybrid format, and institutions that still offer on-campus classes predominantly host professional activities and office hours online. Given the lower cost and higher quality of a degree designed to be online, a 2021 online bachelor’s accounting degree may be a smart choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I major in to become an accountant?

    To become an accountant, you should pursue a bachelor of art in accounting, a bachelor of science in accounting, or a bachelor of business administration with a concentration in accounting. All of these options amount to “majoring” in accounting.

  • Can I get an accounting degree online?

    Yes, you can get a bachelor’s degree in accounting online. The recent surge in the popularity of distance learning has incentivized many reputable business schools to develop top-quality online accounting degrees.

  • What do you do with a degree in accounting?

    A bachelor’s degree in accounting can be a stepping stone to a lucrative and highly gratifying career as a forensic accountant, a financial analyst, a financial manager, a controller, or a CFO.

  • Is accounting a good degree?

    Yes, accounting is a good degree. A bachelor’s degree in accounting builds skills that are transferable across industries and occupations. Accounting graduates also command high wages: In the U.S., accountants make a median annual salary of $71,550 — almost double the median salary for all occupations nationwide.

Professional Organizations in Accounting

Professional organizations offer networking opportunities at conferences and events, professional development resources, and career services. Accounting students can join professional organizations while in school to gain access to special student discounts and scholarship opportunities. Many organizations also provide job boards, career counseling, and tips for interviews and resumes.

  • Association of Certified Fraud Examiners The ACFE administers the certified fraud examiner examination. It also oversees events, training sessions, and professional development resources.
  • American Accounting Association The AAA focuses on academic accounting and publishes research. It also hosts conferences, other events, and a career center with job postings.
  • National Society of Accountants Emphasizing tax accounting, NSA provides a tax resource library, a tax help center, and several publications. It also hosts a professional member directory.
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants American Institute of Certified Public Accountants: The AICPA designs and administers the CPA exam. This organization, which dates back to 1887, also maintains professional standards for CPAs, offers career guidance, and awards scholarships.
  • Institute of Management Accountants Institute of Management Accountants: IMA provides educational resources and career guidance, and it conducts research on accounting and financial services. The institute also confers the certified management accountant credential.

Accredited Online College Programs

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