Most Affordable Online Accounting Degrees

Updated November 11, 2022

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It's no secret that college is expensive. But, many accredited schools offer affordable or lower-cost accounting degrees. Some things that can lower your total college costs are enrolling at a public university as an in-state student and applying for financial aid.

Accounting is widely considered a stable and practical career path with excellent resilience to changing economic conditions. The field also pays well. According to Payscale, the average wage for BA in accounting graduates was $75,000 as of September 2022.

Students can get the greatest return from their educational investment by choosing lower-cost programs. This guide connects readers with the leading affordable online accounting programs.

Cheapest Online Accounting Degrees

#1 Most Affordable Online Accounting Degrees

Santa Fe College

  • Gainesville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online

Located in Gainesville Florida, SF was established as a community college in 1965. The school now enrolls about 18,000 students in certificate, associate, and bachelor's programs in high-demand fields. The school continues a tradition of accessibility and affordability.

BS in Accounting

The BS in accounting offers a degree completion curriculum. The online program enrolls students with an AA or AS in a professional or technical major. An associate degree fulfills lower-division coursework. Students complete 60 credits of advanced accounting training in the bachelor's program. They learn skills like auditing, managerial accounting, and advanced spreadsheet analysis. All students explore management principles.

Students gain experience during an internship. Participants complete most of this program online. They complete exams on campus or at an approved testing center. Learners taking 12 credits per term complete the degree in five semesters. Students can take longer if desired.

SF's Affordability

The school offers low tuition for in-state and out-of-state students. The program's hybrid format saves students money on full-time accommodation and transportation. Enrollees can use federal grants, federal loans, and scholarships to pay for their education.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $126/credit, in-state; $428/credit, out-of-state
  • Required Credits: 60 credits
  • Program Length: 5 terms
  • Delivery Format: Hybrid (online and on campus)
  • Admissions
    • Process: Applicants must possess an AA or AS and complete prerequisite coursework in subjects such as financial and managerial accounting.
    • GPA: 2.5
Average Tuition
In-state
$1,872
Out-of-state
$7,418
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
14,915
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Most Affordable Online Accounting Degrees

Thomas Edison State University

  • Trenton, NJ
  • 4 years
  • Online

TESU is one of the nation's oldest colleges for nontraditional learners. The New Jersey school offers many online undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students enjoy affordable tuition and a generous credit transfer policy.

BSBA in Accounting

The BSBA in accounting provides a business foundation and accounting specialization. The degree requires 120 credits. General education credits cover various subjects. The business major also explores business law, finance principles, and marketing.

The accounting specialization develops auditing and cost accounting skills. Students learn about federal income taxation, financial statement analysis, and accounting information systems. Enrollees demonstrate their knowledge in a business administration capstone.

Degree-seekers can finish the degree faster by transferring up to 90 credits. Students can use the BSBA's credits to pursue the certified public accountant credential. This online program requires no on-campus visits.

TESU's Affordability

TESU offers affordable tuition for all. Nonresidents pay competitive tuition. The program's fully online curriculum saves students money on housing and transportation. TESU's generous credit transfer policy allows students to save on time and tuition. TESU offers comprehensive financial aid that includes federal loans and institutional scholarships.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $399/credit, in-state; $519/credit, out-of-state
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online asynchronous
  • Admissions
    • Process: Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Transfer students submit transcripts for review.
    • GPA: 2.0
    • Cost: $50 application fee
Average Tuition
In-state
$7,926
Out-of-state
$9,856
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
10,227
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 Most Affordable Online Accounting Degrees

Western Governors University

  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • 4 years
  • Online

WGU is an online college built for students who work. The college offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in fields such as IT and business. Students can earn a bachelor's degree at WGU that costs far less than the national average.

BSBA in Accounting

The BSBA in accounting provides the first step toward CPA certification. The fully online curriculum requires 41 courses. The business core explores quantitative analysis for business and financial skills for managers. Students develop expertise in auditing, taxation, and cost and managerial accounting. Learners with an associate degree may need to complete only 30 courses.

During a capstone, participants apply concepts learned in a business simulation. WGU specializes in competency-based education. This allows students to complete each course as fast as they master the lessons learned. WGU reports that about 70% of enrollees finish the BSBA within 41 months.

WGU's Affordability

About 45% of WGU's undergrads complete a degree without taking out a student loan. Students can take any number of courses for one flat-rate tuition per six-month term. This can save a lot on tuition. Students also have access to federal aid and WGU scholarships.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
  • Tuition: $3,575 per six-month term
  • Required Credits: 41 courses
  • Program Length: 4 years or fewer
  • Delivery Format: 100% online asynchronous
  • Admissions
    • Process: Applicants need a high school diploma or GED certificate. Transfer students submit all school transcripts for a credit evaluation.
    • Cost: $65 application fee
Average Tuition
In-state
$6,380
Out-of-state
$6,380
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
136,139
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#4 Most Affordable Online Accounting Degrees

Southern Utah University

  • Cedar City, UT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

SUU enrolls 12,000 students in 140 undergraduate and graduate programs. The school offers career-focused learning and hands-on experience. Enrollees enjoy small classes that promote personalized learning.

Bachelor in Accounting

The bachelor in accounting prepares enrollees for the CPA exam. Students complete the 120-credit degree entirely online. Enrollees learn how to prepare and analyze accounting data. They receive advanced training in auditing, financial accounting, and management/cost accounting. All students learn management and finance principles.

SUU notes that almost 100% of the program's graduates find employment right after graduation. The program boasts a CPA exam pass rate above the national average. Students can complete a master’s in accountancy with an additional 30 credits.

SUU's Affordability

SUU offers affordable tuition rates for all. Students can help pay for tuition with loans, grants, and scholarships. Fully online programs can save students money on accommodation, transportation, and childcare.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Tuition: $300/credit
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online asynchronous
  • Admissions
    • Process: Applicants must complete five pre-business foundation courses with a minimum 2.5 GPA.
    • GPA: 2.5
    • Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT
Average Tuition
In-state
$6,006
Out-of-state
$19,822
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
11,224
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#5 Most Affordable Online Accounting Degrees

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Virginia, LU is a Christian college offering 450 online programs. LU enrolls more than 100,000 students. Enrollees pay affordable tuition and enjoy a generous credit transfer policy.

BS in Accounting

Students learn theoretical principles and industry best practices in the BS in accounting.

The 120-credit degree offers a fully online curriculum. Students begin preparation for certifications such as certified public accountant. The curriculum requires general education credits, which students can fulfill with prior college coursework.

Enrollees complete three foundational courses in the program. Advanced coursework explores taxation, corporate finance, and operations management. Participants also learn how to perform audits and managerial accounting. Degree-seekers can transfer up to 90 credits into this program. Students complete the BS in accounting in an average of 3.5 years.

LU's Affordability

All students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of where they live. LU provides free electronic textbooks for all undergraduate courses, which can save students at least $800 a year. Military personnel receive steep tuition discounts.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
  • Tuition: $390/credit, full-time; $455/credit, part-time
  • Required Credits: 120 credits
  • Program Length: 3.5-4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online asynchronous
  • Admissions
    • Process: Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate and submit school transcripts
    • GPA: 2.0
    • Cost: $50
Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

How Much Does an Accouting Bachelor's Degree Cost?

Some institutions calculate costs on a per-credit basis. Others charge part-time and full-time rates per semester or academic year. Rarely, schools may also set flat-rate pricing for the entire program. Attending an in-state public college or university offers the lowest tuition rates.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), reports that the average tuition and fees for bachelor's students at in-state public schools was $9,377 in 2020-2021. The average cost of attending a private college was $37,641 for that same year.

Use these figures as benchmarks when evaluating the affordability of an accounting program.

Making the Cheapest Accounting Degrees Even Cheaper

Cost-conscious students can draw on other proven methods for reducing education expenses. Reducing your costs improves long-term returns on your educational investment and helps you avoid a heavy debt load after graduation.

Creating a personal budget plan can help, along with these strategies:

  • Accelerate Your Learning.

    Ambitious students can take advantage of accounting programs that charge flat rates per semester or year. Overloading your schedule with an extra course can shave one semester or more off your program length. This could potentially reduce your net cost by thousands of dollars.
  • Rent Your Books.

    Numerous services offer students the chance to rent their textbooks for a fraction of the cost of buying them. Along similar lines, you can also purchase used books instead of new ones. You can source used books through your campus bookstore or search online.
  • Live at Home.

    Attending a local school that does not require you to relocate can drastically reduce your room and board costs. Room and board rivals tuition as the largest cost students face, so minimizing those expenses can save you a great deal of money. Studying online while living at home is another option if you do not have an appealing program in your immediate area.
  • Start at a Community or Junior College.

    Most public and private institutions allow students who have earned college credits at other schools to apply those credits toward their degree. This allows you to study at lower-cost junior or community colleges for the first 1-2 years of your program before completing your degree at a more recognizable institution.
  • Balance School with Work.

    Learning online has opened up a whole new set of scheduling possibilities that make it easier than ever to work while you study. Earning an income while in school can help you reduce or avoid debt, and shoulder inevitable expenses more readily.

What Factors Into an Accounting Bachelor's Affordability?

Many students look at tuition rates first to determine whether a program is affordable. However, many other factors can reduce a student's net costs, including:

  • Enrollment status (in state vs. out of state)
  • Program location
  • Delivery format (online vs. in person)
  • Financial aid availability

The following sections explore each of these affordability factors in detail and how they relate to bachelor's degrees in accounting.

Enrollment Status

Campus-based, hybrid, and online programs typically allow students to choose between part-time and full-time enrollment. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages from a cost perspective.

Attending part-time creates fewer scheduling demands. Cost-conscious learners can use the opportunity to work while they study. This can help you absorb your educational costs more easily, but it also extends your completion timeline.

Full-time learning requires a greater up-front time commitment. However, it also speeds up your graduation time, letting you pursue accounting jobs sooner.

In general, balancing work with part-time study works best if you attend an institution that charges on a per-credit basis, which is the case in most schools from 1-11 credits. The numbers may not add up in your favor if you pay a flat rate per semester or per year, as is typically seen from 12-18 credits.

Location

Most public institutions charge in-state students less than out-of-state learners. Many states participate in tuition exchange or reciprocity agreements that offer in-state rates to students from neighboring states.

Hybrid programs that blend on-campus and online learning have different cost considerations. You must factor in occasional commuting and parking costs if you live close to school. You may need to meet airfare and accommodation costs to fulfill your on-campus requirements if you live far away.

Room and board also add a considerable cost for campus-based learners. Studying online can lower these costs. It also helps to consider differences in living costs in various cities.

List of States With Online Accounting Schools

Alabama Louisiana Ohio
Alaska Maine Oklahoma
Arizona Maryland Oregon
Arkansas Massachusetts Pennsylvania
California Michigan Rhode Island
Colorado Minnesota South Carolina
Connecticut Mississippi South Dakota
Delaware Missouri Tennessee
Florida Montana Texas
Georgia Nebraska Utah
Hawaii Nevada Vermont
Idaho New Hampshire Virginia
Illinois New Jersey Washington
Indiana New Mexico West Virginia
Iowa New York Wisconsin
Kansas North Carolina Wyoming
Kentucky North Dakota

Delivery Format

Studying exclusively online offers multiple cost benefits:

  • It can relieve students of room and board expenses
  • Public institutions sometimes offer in-state rates to all online learners regardless of their location status
  • Asynchronous online course structures make it easier to balance studying with paid employment

On the downside, online learning may impact your ability to network in-person with classmates and professors or participate in field-based learning. Many accounting students use these opportunities to build their networks and land jobs.

Financial Aid

The median cost of an accounting program is more than 4.6% times higher at private colleges than in-state tuition at public institutions, according to Data USA. However, private school tuition can become comparable or more affordable than out-of-state public school tuition after factoring in financial aid.

Private institutions, such as Ivy League schools and liberal arts colleges, are increasingly offering generous financial aid to students meeting specific income requirements. For example, Stanford University provides free tuition to students from families earning less than $150,000 a year.

Students should also pursue forms of non-repayable student aid, including:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Work-study programs

Tax benefits for students and their parents can also be an indirect form of financial aid.

How Can You Pay for an Accounting Degree Online?

Scholarships are the best form of student aid because they do not need to be repaid as long as students meet academic requirements. These awards can reduce the cost of your attendance and your debt burden.

The following section reviews three scholarships specific to accounting students. It is not an exhaustive list, but it can help familiarize you with available scholarship opportunities.

Scholarships for Accounting Students

AICPA Foundation Scholarship for Future CPAs

  • Requirements: Up to 25 scholarship awards are available to students in accounting and related programs. Evaluation criteria include academic performance, leadership ability, and the applicant's planned career path.
  • Award: $5,000
Apply

Accounting & Financial Women's Alliance (AFWA) Foundation Scholarship

  • Requirements: This scholarship is open to women students in the third, fourth, or fifth year of an undergraduate accounting program. The AFWA considers academic transcripts, extracurricular activities, community involvement, and the applicant's current financial situation.
Apply

CMA Scholarship Program

  • Requirements: The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) offers this scholarship to academically gifted aspiring certified management accountants (CMAs). The award covers the fee to the IMA's CMA study program, plus CMA exam registration fees and three years of IMA membership.
  • Award: Variable
Apply

Will Getting Your Online Accounting Degree Pay Off?

Accountants and auditors earn a median annual salary of $77,250, which is $30,000 more than all other workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This figure suggests that accounting degrees generate excellent long-term returns. Even so, you should still conduct your own analysis comparing program costs to your expected salary after graduation.

Some tools that can help your analysis include:

  • Debt-to-income calculator worksheet offered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Statistics regarding employment outcomes for accounting graduates of the schools you are considering
  • Comparing the average incomes of people with your current qualifications against those of professionals with bachelor's degrees in accounting

Job Outlook for Accounting Graduates

Also, consider the various careers available to accounting majors. You can do more than just become a bookkeeper or accountant. Other career paths open to accounting majors are:

Some of these paths pay higher average salaries than those typically earned by accountants. For example, the BLS cites a median income of $95,570 for financial analysts, which is nearly $20,000 more than the median annual salary for accountants and auditors.

Common Questions About Accounting Programs

What should I major in to become an accountant?

Aspiring accountants often pursue BA or BS degrees in accounting. Other options include a bachelor's in business administration with a concentration in accounting.

How can I save money getting an accounting degree?

To reduce tuition costs, consider an in-state public institution, studying online, or overloading credits at a school that charges flat rates per semester or year. Online learning can also reduce your secondary costs, as can living at home and studying part-time while you work.

What jobs can I get with an accounting degree?

Many accounting graduates go on to earn their certified public accountant or certified management accountant license. Some become bookkeepers or account clerks, while others pursue careers as financial analysts, advisors, or examiners.

Is an online accounting degree worth it?

Professionals with accounting degrees generally benefit from strong labor market demand in all economic conditions. Accounting is a practical academic path that can lead to many well-paid careers in accounting, finance, or business. Many students can earn excellent long-term returns on their educational investments.


Reviewed by:

Portrait of Andy Buchanan

Andy Buchanan

Andy Buchanan has over 10 years of experience working with financial aid and student accounts in higher education. He has worked in the financial aid offices at Columbia University and New York University, as well as the student billing offices at New York University and Seattle Pacific University, where he was most recently the associate director of student accounts. He has a bachelor's degree from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is currently pursuing his master of business administration from Seattle Pacific University.

Andy Buchanan is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Page last reviewed Oct. 12, 2022

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