Most Affordable Online Accounting Programs 2022

| Accounting.com Staff Modified on May 2, 2022

Most Affordable Online Accounting Programs 2022

Are you ready to find a school that's aligned with your interests?

By pursuing bachelor's degrees in accounting, students learn foundational practices in tax preparation, auditing, and financial analysis to qualify for entry-level jobs in the field. Many accountants continue to master's-level studies, qualifying them to earn certified public accountant (CPA) credentials.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors earned a median salary of $73,560 as of May 2020. Accountants enjoy flexibility and job security in many different industries.

This page highlights the five most affordable online accounting degrees for 2022, offering an excellent starting point for prospective accounting students. Readers can also find information about degree expectations, career paths, and tips for choosing the right program.

What Is Accounting?

The concept of tracking business transactions dates back to 2,000-3,300 B.C., as evidenced by unearthed clay tablets from the period. The Industrial Revolution saw the development of modern professional accounting organizations. Emerging technologies continue pushing this field into the future.

In 2020, the BLS reported 1,392,200 accountant and auditor positions in the United States, projecting employment in the field to grow by 7% from 2020-2030. This keeps pace with the national average growth projection for all occupations.

As of 2020, the largest accounting industries included accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services; finance and insurance; government; and management of companies and enterprises.

Accountants maintain financial records for organizations and individuals. They oversee tax preparation and ensure their clients adhere to all necessary regulations. Accountants should have excellent analytical, communication, and math skills, plus a strong eye for detail. With a bachelor's in accounting, students can hone these skills and qualify for diverse roles in the field.

A bachelor's often meets the minimum educational requirement for entry-level jobs in accounting. Some organizations offer advancement opportunities to bachelor's graduates. Others require additional education beyond an undergraduate degree.

Why Get an Affordable Online Accounting Degree?

Online accounting degrees prepare students to enter a growing job market. Accounting professionals enjoy ample choices when it comes to location, business size, and industry.

Aspiring accountants should consider their career goals before committing to an online accounting degree. Prospective students may consider whether a curriculum emphasizes CPA readiness or offers intriguing concentrations. A common entry-level job requirement, a bachelor's in accounting paves the way to success in the field.

The accounting field tends to pay above-average salaries, but students still want affordable degree options. Benefits of pursuing an affordable online accounting program include:

  • Advanced Education: Many employers want their accountants to hold CPA credentials. Specifics vary by location, but most states require CPAs to complete more than the typical 120 college credits of a bachelor's degree, making further education a necessity for aspiring CPAs.
  • Faster Return on Investment: Affordable degrees allow graduates to earn back the money they spent on tuition more quickly. Whether paying off loans or avoiding them all together, earning an affordable degree can help to minimize debt.
  • Quality: Online degrees typically carry the same level of prestige as their on-campus equivalents. An affordable degree can build a solid accounting foundation and qualify graduates for good job opportunities.

What to Expect From Bachelor's in Accounting Online Programs

Accounting programs emphasize foundational knowledge in accounting theory and practice, tax law, auditing, financial communication, and ethics. Often geared toward aspiring CPAs and other certified accounting professionals, accounting degrees offer practical, career-focused curricula.

A typical bachelor's degree entails about 120 credits, including general education coursework. Major courses comprise 30-50 credits. Generally, a bachelor's degree takes four years to complete. Timelines differ depending on students' academic backgrounds and how many courses they take each semester. Affordable tuition typically costs $300-$500 per credit hour, though rates vary among programs.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for online accounting degrees vary. Most programs require a high school diploma or GED certificate, and some look for high school GPA minimums in the 2.0-3.0 range.

Other programs require students to complete general education college courses before applying. Students may need to maintain a minimum GPA to qualify for the accounting major. Some schools require ACT or SAT scores.

Applicants should also consider how their academic background fits with program requirements. Some online accounting programs require transfer credits, such as those earned through an associate accounting degree or a certificate in accounting. Others offer all necessary coursework through online study. Common prerequisites include accounting I and II, introduction to business, and economics.

Prospective students can use the Common App to submit one application to multiple schools, streamlining the process.

Degree and Concentration Options

Several types of programs offer online accounting degrees. Degree-seekers should consider which type of job they want to pursue when choosing a program type. Common options include:

Bachelor of Science in Accounting: The BS in accounting provides in-depth knowledge of financial analysis, tax preparation, and auditing. Graduates can concentrate in areas like forensic accounting. Related career paths include public accounting, fraud examination, external and internal auditing, and managerial accounting.

Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting: The BBA provides a general business core in addition to accounting knowledge. Coursework includes economics, business law, and statistics. Like the BS, the BBA opens the door to various accounting careers. With a more general business background, graduates may find more flexibility and advancement opportunities.

Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration: The BABA prepares students for leadership positions, adding a liberal arts emphasis. Aspiring accountants hoping to qualify for managerial positions might select this degree for a business core that includes courses in international business and operations management.

Popular Accounting Courses

A typical online accounting degree curriculum requires a core set of accounting courses that explore foundational accounting principles like financial analysis, reporting, and tax knowledge. Many programs allow students to explore their areas of interest through electives.

Some schools require learners to complete a hands-on capstone project at the end of their program. Required courses in accounting often include:

  • Intermediate Accounting: This course builds on accounting principles. Topics cover foundational subjects like financial statement preparation, income concepts and value measurement, balance sheet and reporting standards, and statement analysis. Most programs require intermediate accounting I and II.
  • Federal Taxation: Federal taxation covers U.S. tax laws and the Internal Revenue Code, familiarizing students with forms and documents, income determination concepts, tax liability standards for individuals and organizations, and decision-making relating to taxation.
  • Auditing: This requirement for accounting majors teaches financial compliance, electronic data processing auditing, and strategies for communicating audit results to employers. The course also prepares students to use auditing software and design auditing systems for their organizations, including testing strategies.
  • Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting: Sometimes offered as an elective, this course covers accounting theories and procedures specific to state and local government, colleges and universities, healthcare facilities, and other nonprofit entities. Topics include the use of special funds, tax requirements, financial statements and reporting, and budgets.
  • Accounting Ethics: This course covers ethical decision-making in accounting issues. The subject matter considers concepts from political, societal, and technological points of view. Coursework explores legal, diversity, and other environmental factors.

How Much Do Online Accounting Bachelor's Programs Cost?

The recent "great reshuffle" has seen large groups of professionals making career changes, fueling plenty of opportunities for aspiring accounting professionals. But when comparing online accounting programs, which criteria should individuals consider?

Like any consumer, the savvy student should assess each program's benefits. Costs for accounting degrees range from $38,496-$60,593. School size, program length, career resources, accreditation status, and employment success rates all affect program cost.

Learners can pursue tuition reimbursement and other financial aid to reduce the cost of an accounting program. Keep in mind that because higher education is an investment in career development, the cheapest online accounting degree is not always the most prudent option.

Depending on preference, students may choose to attend class part or full time. Online accounting programs often allow students to customize their class schedules, encouraging work-life balance. Accelerated programs position learners to complete their studies in a shorter time frame.

Prospective learners should also consider whether a school holds accreditation. Only regionally and nationally accredited schools are eligible for federal financial aid. Tuition-free online accounting degrees are also possible thanks to Title IV funding.

Making Affordable Accounting Degrees Even Cheaper

Students looking for affordable online accounting degrees can benefit from many cost-saving tactics. Delivery style and school size often contribute to lower tuition rates. The following list offers several measures students can take to make their accounting degrees more affordable.

Online vs. Traditional Delivery

Many institutions charge lower tuition rates for online degrees, sometimes matching in-state rates for out-of-state distance learners. Online education eliminates expenses related to living on campus or commuting. Students can continue to work while pursuing their degrees and even gain accounting experience in the process.

Financial Aid Opportunities

Accounting students can significantly lower the overall cost of their studies by pursuing financial aid opportunities like scholarships, grants, and loans. By filling out a FAFSA, degree-seekers open the door to work-study opportunities, low-interest loans, and need-based aid. Professional associations, nonprofit organizations, and local government agencies frequently offer scholarship opportunities.

Institutional Prestige

An institution's reputation can play an important part in the school-selection process, but prestigious programs often cost more. Aspiring accountants should consider whether their career goals necessitate degrees from prestigious schools. Those hoping to pursue executive roles in large, competitive environments may garner a better return on their investment from more prestigious institutions.

Book Rentals

Students can often avoid buying expensive textbooks and materials outright. Online booksellers like Amazon offer textbook rental programs that allow learners to borrow books at low rates. E-books and library resources also help reduce the cost of materials.

Credit Loading

When a school charges tuition by the semester rather than per credit, degree-seekers can pack their schedules with extra coursework. This method accelerates the pace of a program, reducing overall tuition costs and allowing enrollees to graduate more quickly. Before taking this route, students should consider whether their schedules allow for the increased workload.

Will Getting My Accounting Bachelor's Degree Pay Off?

An accounting bachelor's degree can improve employment options, qualifying graduates for careers across multiple occupations and industries. The BLS cites a median annual wage of $73,560 for accountants.

The BLS projects jobs for accounting professionals to grow by 7% from 2020-2030, on pace with the national average growth projection for all U.S. workers.

Accounting occupations that require a four-year degree include budget analyst, cost estimator, financial analyst, and tax examiner. Four-year accounting graduates can also pursue careers in forensic accounting. Forensic accountants collaborate with law enforcement to investigate embezzlement and tax fraud cases.

To compute a degree's return on investment (ROI), first estimate earnings before subtracting program costs. Other than tuition, education expenses include books, supplies, accommodations, and loan repayment fees. Subtract these expenses from earnings to estimate a degree's ROI.

Accounting programs with higher student placement ratios deliver ROI more quickly than those with lower employment rates. While it could take years to realize ROI, research suggests that heightened global demand for accountants will continue for the foreseeable future.

Jobs for Bachelor's in Accounting Graduates

Accounting degree-holders qualify for occupations in many work environments. Graduates can pursue careers as public accountants, auditors, tax experts, or personal financial advisors.

According to the BLS, accountants and auditors made a median annual salary of $73,560 as of 2020. Personal financial advisors earned a median income of $89,330. Accounting skills are foundational for business careers. Professionals often advance to high-paying managerial roles. Chief executives, for example, earned a median salary of $107,680 as of 2020.

Accountants can expand their career opportunities by earning an accounting master's degree or pursuing industry credentials like CPA or certified management accountant.

Tax Accountant

Employed by organizations, government bodies, and individuals, tax accountants prepare and file tax documents for their clients. They analyze financial documents and help clients to improve their asset management. A tax accountant must hold a bachelor's degree at minimum, though many employers prefer a master's degree and CPA credentials.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Average Annual Salary (April 2022): $57,950
Source: Payscale

Personal Financial Advisor

Working directly with individuals as self-employed accountants or members of a larger firm, personal financial advisors help clients organize their financial assets. They make recommendations to help clients meet their financial goals for retirement and college savings. Personal financial advisors also facilitate estate planning.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): +5%
Median Annual Salary: $89,330
Source: BLS

Budget Analyst

Typically employed in industries like government, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services, budget analysts organize their clients' finances. They analyze expenses and income, working with managers to develop appropriate budgets for their organizations. Budget analysts also monitor organizations' cash flow and make recommendations for budget cuts.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): +5%
Median Annual Salary: $78,970
Source: BLS

Internal Auditor

Internal auditors monitor their organizations' financial activities and operations in strict detail, watching for inconsistencies and misuse of funds. These professionals check for fraudulent activities, suggest potential cost-saving measures, and ensure that their companies adhere to financial regulations and adequate controls. Internal auditors can seek professional credentials like certified internal auditor or certification in risk management assurance.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Average Annual Salary (April 2022): $60,410
Source: Payscale

Top Executive

Responsible for their organizations' overall strategies, top executives work with managers to set goals, enact plans, and oversee major projects. These professionals monitor financial operations, sometimes reporting to a board of directors. Accountants interested in executive management can pursue master's-level education such as a master of business administration.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): +8%
Median Annual Salary: $107,680
Source: BLS

Choosing the Right Affordable Accounting Online Program

Affordability is a major factor in the search for an online accounting degree, but students should also account for accreditation, program setup, and university resources.

Candidates should ensure every prospective school's accreditation status. Regional and national accreditation assess schools as a whole. Programmatic accreditation applies to particular programs. CPA licensure requires a degree from a regionally accredited institution. Many master's programs do not recognize credits earned through unaccredited programs.

Aspiring accounting professionals should also consider whether they want to pursue specializations such as forensic accounting. Some students prefer online accounting degrees that feed directly into master's-level studies.

For many prospective students, university resources and extracurricular opportunities are important elements in the decision-making process. Distance should consider how programs include online students in school culture. The availability of online clubs, events, and professional organization chapters may appeal to some learners as well.

Students can also inquire about resources like career centers, tutoring departments, and library services.

Why You Should Get Your Bachelor's in Accounting Online

Online education becomes more popular each year as schools recognize the rising demand for distance learning, which can make higher education cheaper and more accessible. Online degree options can help future accountants dive right into their studies, even as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic persist.

Online coursework requires the same focus and attention as in-person classes. Students should consider their self-motivation and time management skills before committing to an online program. Some learners prefer the energy of on-campus activities, while others excel completing their studies from home.

Degree-seekers with jobs, caretaking responsibilities, or financial restraints may particularly benefit from the flexibility of online education.

2022's Cheapest Online Accounting Degrees

Choosing an affordable bachelor's in accounting can take time and effort. This ranking simplifies the process, highlighting five of the top programs.

Our ranking methodology looks at affordability, academic rigor, and a school's reputation. Learn more about individual program requirements and our methodology on this page.

  1. Santa Fe College
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $11764

    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
  2. Thomas Edison State University
    Location

    Trenton, NJ

    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
  3. Western Governors University
    Location

    Salt Lake City, UT

    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
  4. Southern Utah University
    Location

    Cedar City, UT

    Tuition

    $14879

    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
  5. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    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

Questions About Accounting Programs

What should I major in to become an accountant?

Aspiring accountants often pursue BS degrees in accounting. Other options include a BBA or a BABA with a concentration in accounting.

Can I get an accounting degree online?

Yes. Like their in-person counterparts, online accounting degrees offer specialization options and CPA preparation.

What can I do with a degree in accounting?

Accounting degree-holders can pursue careers in personal financial advising, auditing, tax accounting, government accounting, and more. Many top executives have backgrounds in accounting, making this a great starting point for those hoping to advance to management.

How much does it cost to get an accounting degree online?

Costs vary, but students can find many options for affordable online accounting degrees. Generally speaking, the cheapest programs fall in the range of $300-$500 per credit.

Is earning a degree in accounting online worth anything?

An online accounting degree carries the same weight as its on-campus equivalent. In fact, many schools run identical curricula in both formats and feature the same faculty members.

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