Your Guide to Choosing an Online Accounting Degree

Updated September 26, 2022

Pursuing an online accounting degree can give you a flexible and affordable path to achieving your goals of becoming an Accountant. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Accounting professionals are necessary in every industry. Accounting degrees are available at all levels, opening up endless possibilities for students. Students who want to kickstart their careers and create a foundation for their accounting careers can pursue certificate or associate degree programs. Students seeking a move into a mid-level career opportunities, students can explore bachelor's degree programs.

This guide outlines common things students need to know before enrolling in an online accounting program.

The accounting field also features master's and doctoral opportunities. Many accounting students pursue a master's degree to apply for higher-level career opportunities and certifications. Students interested in holding the highest level of education possible often pursue a doctoral program. In most instances doctoral candidates focus on research or higher education professions.

This guide outlines common things students need to know before enrolling in an online accounting program.

Should I Get an Accounting Degree Online?

Online degree programs give students new opportunities and increased flexibility in earning a degree when life otherwise would interfere. The following section reviews the unique benefits to earning an accounting degree online, outlining the flexibility, career potential, convenience, and exposure to diverse cultures and advanced technologies.

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Benefits of an Online Degree in Accounting


One of the key benefits to pursuing an online accounting degree is flexibility. Many online accounting programs allow students to take additional or fewer credits per semester, depending on what their long-term plans are for their career and for graduation.

Diverse Career Opportunities

Earning an online accounting degree exposes graduates to a variety of career opportunities, especially since the field is so dynamic and widespread. The more advanced the degree a student pursues, the more opportunities they will unlock for their career.


Many online accounting degree programs use asynchronous formats, allowing students to complete work at their own pace. This convenience allows students to continue working as they earn a degree or fulfill other obligations like childcare while continuing their education.

Exposure to Technology

Online programs take advantage of the latest technologies, allowing online students to gain exposure to greater tools and skills and understand how to navigate accounting software they will use during their careers.

Access to a Dynamic Student Body

Online programs serve students from all over the world, no matter where the college or university is headquartered. Many online courses encourage and allow students to virtually interact with one another, thus exposing students to other cultures and backgrounds, enriching the college experience.

Types of Online Accounting Degrees

Online accounting students can explore accounting degrees across all levels including certificate, associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs. Online options parallel on-campus opportunities, providing the same high-quality education and course topics, but presenting concepts through a more flexible format.

Those interested in entry-level roles might pursue an associate degree or a certificate program while individuals interested in mid-level careers pursue a bachelor's degree and students desiring more advanced, specialized roles can look to a master's or doctoral option.


Students who pursue an online accounting certificate develop a basic understanding of the accounting field, developing the skills and knowledge they need to pursue entry-level roles. Since certificate programs generally take students less than a year to complete, graduates are able to enter the workplace quickly.

Sample Courses

  • Principles of Accounting
  • Introduction to Computerized Accounting
  • Payroll and Business Tax Accounting
  • Accounting Ethics
  • Accounting Theory

Potential Career and Salary


Students who earn an associate degree in accounting become familiar with technology in the accounting field. The curriculum in these programs focuses on developing students' critical thinking and analytical skills. Graduates with an associate degree in accounting can work comfortably with accounting reports and bookkeeping tasks.

Sample Courses

  • Intermediate Accounting
  • Principles of Finance
  • Financial Accounting
  • Federal Taxation
  • Business Systems Analysis and Design

Potential Career and Salary


Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in accounting gain a solid foundation of the accounting field, graduating with the ability to pursue certifications and mid-level career opportunities. Many bachelor's students use the degree as a starting point for their career, later pursuing a master's degree to expand opportunities further.

Sample Courses

  • Auditing
  • International Accounting
  • Ethics in Accounting
  • Fundamentals of Tax
  • Accounting Information Systems

Potential Career and Salary


Students pursuing a master's degree in accounting often choose to sit for the Certified Public Accountant exam and a variety of other professional certifications in the field. Coursework at the master's level provides students with advanced accounting knowledge, teaching them how to apply the skills and knowledge they learn during their program to their careers after graduation.

Sample Courses

  • Professional Communication for Accountants
  • Information Technology for Accountants
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Taxes and Business Strategy
  • Managerial and Cost Accounting

Potential Career and Salary


Earning a Ph.D. in accounting lets students develop original, specialized research in accounting. The degree is designed for students interested in completing accounting research for academic institutions, think tanks, and governmental organizations.

Sample Courses

  • Behavioral Accounting Research
  • Econometrics
  • Research Methods
  • Empirical Research
  • Advanced Financial Reporting

Potential Career and Salary

How to Choose an Online Program

Choosing the right online program should involve a variety of factors including accreditation, cost, and specialization opportunities. Students should weigh all of their options to determine the program that best fits their long-term career and personal goals.


Accreditation is a vital factor when choosing a college or university. In order to hold qualifying credits to take their state board CPA exam, they must boast credits from a regionally accredited institution. Nationally accredited schools typically do not transfer to other schools. Students should therefore determine their long-term goals and decipher how their accreditation type might impact their plans.


Tuition costs differ depending on the college or university, so students should review the tuition structure and rates at the institutions they consider during their search. Students should also keep their expected financial aid in mind to determine which programs they can afford and which ones might be out of their budget. Students can use this financial aid guide as a tool to help them weigh their options.


Some online accounting programs feature specialization options that allow students to tailor the program to their career goals and personal interests. Some specializations include financial accounting, forensic accounting, economics and finance, tax accounting, and cost accounting. Determining their interests early in the program and preparing themselves by developing the specific skill set needed to gain success in their chosen path can allow graduates to enter into their field with ease after graduation.


Admissions processes are different at each institution offering online accounting degree opportunities. Students can, however, expect to see similarities across the board. First, applicants must complete an admissions application and submit their official transcripts. Many programs require students to meet minimum GPA requirements and some also require students to submit supplemental materials with their application including letters of recommendation, a professional resume, and an admissions essay.

Admissions Application and Application Fee

To begin the admissions process, prospective students must fill out an application. Most colleges and universities assess an application fee, which can cost more than $100, depending on the institution and degree level. This fee must be submitted with the application, though some schools may offer waivers for students who demonstrate financial need.

Official Transcripts

In almost all cases, applications must submit official transcripts from past institutions. For students with no prior college experience, high school transcripts should be submitted. Applicants with previous college credit usually do not need to provide high school transcripts, but will have to send official copies of their transcripts from every institution where they took college coursework, usually for a fee assessed by each school.

Minimum GPA

Many programs require applicants to meet a minimum GPA to gain admission. Typically, certificate and associate programs do not hold minimum GPA standards, but bachelor's programs usually require students to meet a 2.0-2.5 minimum GPA for admission. More advanced programs most often require students to meet minimum GPA requirements closer to 3.0. Applicants for certificates, associate, and bachelor's programs often must submit ACT or SAT test scores along with their minimum GPA requirement, while master's and Ph.D. applicants may have to take tests like the GRE or GMAT.

Letters of Recommendation

Some institutions require applicants to provide letters of recommendation with their application information and documents. Letters of recommendation should remain professional in nature and come from either professional or educational references. Admissions departments outline how many letters are required, but three letters per applicant is a standard amount.

Admissions Essay

Applicants are often asked to submit an admissions essay as part of the application process. Admissions essays most often require applicants to outline goals with their desired program, discussing how earning a degree from the institution in question would benefit them and their future. These essays typically have length requirements and sometimes feature formatting requirements as well.

Explore online accounting degrees

Common Questions About Online Accounting Degrees

Can I get an accounting degree online?

At all levels, including certificate, associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral, students can explore online opportunities to earn an accounting degree. While not every college or university offers online accounting options, students can explore a plethora of options across institutions.

Is an accounting degree worth it?

Since every company needs accounting professionals, earning an accounting degree is an excellent option for students. The field features degree options at every level, providing students with the opportunity to continue their education and advance career possibilities.

Are online accounting degrees respected?

Earning an accounting degree online provides students with the same quality of education from a more flexible format. Students studying online can access the same courses and resources as on-campus students.

Is an online accounting degree right for me?

Online degrees are perfect for students who have excellent self-discipline and motivation. Students in need of a flexible format as they pursue their education can look to online accounting degrees to fit into their schedules.

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