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Accounting Degree Overview for Kentucky

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Students attend colleges and universities in Kentucky for the state’s natural beauty, surging economy, and proximity to other mid-South states. Accountants and other finance professionals can seek employment at fast-growing logistics, vehicle management, and bourbon production companies in Kentucky, among other types of business.

Thanks to a burgeoning entrepreneurial scene and a reshaping economy, the state is adding more accountants. According to Projections Central, Kentucky should see a 9.8 increase in accounting occupations between 2018 and 2028. That’s far higher than the 6.4% projected growth for accountants and auditors nationwide in that time frame. Kentucky’s actuaries, auditors, cost estimators, and financial managers can also expect rapid growth in their fields. 

With 72 colleges and universities serving about 4.5 million residents, Kentucky offers both on-campus and online degrees in accounting. The guide below reviews all that the Bluegrass State has to offer future accountants. Read on to learn about requirements for becoming a finance professional and pursuing top accounting careers in Kentucky.

Kentucky at a Glance

Population4,499,690
Per Capita Income$27,823
Fortune 500 Companies7
Number of Higher Learning Institutions72
ClimateAverage Annual Temperature: 55.6 ℉

Annual Precipitation: 48.9 inches
Accountants in Kentucky12,080

Top Kentucky Schools for Accounting

  • Transylvania University
  • University of Kentucky
  • Asbury University
  • University of Louisville
  • Berea College
  • Murray State University
  • Georgetown College
  • Spalding University
  • Thomas More College
  • Northern Kentucky University

Why Go to College for Accounting in Kentucky?

Stunning outdoor experiences and affordable lifestyle options draw more than a quarter-million students to Kentucky’s colleges and universities, according to the state’s Council on Postsecondary Education.

Students can earn accounting degrees in Kentucky at liberal arts colleges, community and technical colleges, and top-ranked research universities throughout the state. Many of Kentucky’s schools offer online instruction, so students can learn on their own schedules. Some programs, however, require on-campus coursework or residence credits, especially at the Ph.D. level. Prospective students considering an on-campus degree can network with alumni and professors.

The University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, the state’s largest higher education institutions, offer students urban settings for learning and professional networking. Kentucky’s large rural areas also house religious institutions, community colleges, and state schools. These institutions prepare students for accounting careers in Kentucky and beyond.

Serving both online and on-campus students, Kentucky’s public universities and colleges provide special tuition rates for state residents. These rates offer one great reason to study close to home. After graduation, accounting professionals generally qualify for jobs with firms and corporations throughout Kentucky and in surrounding states.

Education Statistics for Kentucky

Kentucky’s 4.5 million residents can choose to attend one of the state’s 72 two- and four-year colleges. Nearly 45% of college and university learners in the Bluegrass State currently study online. That figure exceeds the national average by 10%.

The state’s public treasury commits almost 7% of its tax revenue to higher education institutions, much more than the average American state. Still, the percentages of Kentucky residents earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees have not yet caught up with the rest of the country. 

Higher Education in Kentucky

Kentucky DataNational Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges493,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges231,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education44.2%34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student$7,444$8,196 
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education6.8%5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree8.1% 8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor’s Degree 13.8% 19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher9.8% 12.1%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

Accreditation for Kentucky Schools

Prospective students looking for the best accounting schools in Kentucky should consider information about accreditation. What is accreditation? Why is it important? What accreditation agencies matter when searching for an online accounting degree in Kentucky?

In the U.S., colleges and universities voluntarily seek accreditation to prove their organizational and academic strength. Regional accreditation, the most highly regarded of the accreditation types, usually goes to liberal arts colleges and research universities. National accreditation often applies to career preparation schools. 

When choosing an online school in Kentucky, future learners should seek accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). SACSCOC accreditation establishes a school’s credibility and eligibility for federal financial aid. 

Accounting majors may also want to look for a school that holds programmatic accreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or a similar agency. 

Considerations for an Accounting Degree in Kentucky

Choosing a college presents many challenges. With so many options to choose from, prospective students need to consider expenses, location, length, and program outcomes when selecting an accounting school. 

Future accounting scholars can use the data below to determine if Kentucky is the best place for them to search out online accounting programs. In this section, prospective students can learn about tuition, concentrations, degree levels, and careers for accountants in Kentucky. They can also get a thumbnail sketch of how average tuition costs stack up against Kentucky’s cost of living. Finally, this section discusses regional academic opportunities for Kentucky residents.

Accounting Degree Levels

Students pursuing online accounting degrees in Kentucky can begin with a two-year associate program and go all the way to a Ph.D. in accounting. Community colleges across the Bluegrass State provide low-cost associate degrees, while research universities and other large institutions offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

Professionals with an associate degree in accounting may qualify for jobs as bookkeepers, tax preparers, or payroll clerks. By earning a bachelor’s degree, employees can enter roles as financial managers or staff accountants. A master’s degree opens the door to certified public accountant (CPA) designation, which can lead to an accounting career or a higher-level position such as chief financial officer. Most Ph.D. students plan to conduct research in the field or teach at the college level.

Learn More About Accounting Degrees

Accounting Concentration Options

Business schools usually offer accounting degrees with many possible concentration options, including taxation, financial management, forensic accounting, and nonprofit administration.

North Kentucky’s robust entrepreneurial scene and eastern Kentucky’s rapidly transitioning economy make the state a hub for financial professionals. In addition, the vehicle production and logistics sector’s accelerated growth means the state needs an influx of corporate professionals. Louisville and Lexington, the state’s two largest cities, both house large and rapidly growing companies that also require new accountants, auditors, and other financial wizards.

ConcentrationDescription
AuditingAuditors investigate financial reports. These professionals help ensure that companies maintain compliance with generally accepted accounting standards and relevant state and federal laws. Courses in an auditing concentration may include fraud examination, forensic accounting, and information technology auditing.
Cost AccountingCost accountants manage the financial operations of an organization, including marketing, budgeting, and financial planning. To prepare for this career, students take courses in financial management, statistical decision-making, and operations.

Explore More Accounting Concentrations

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

Distance learning options help students who work or support families to return to college without taking time away from their responsibilities. Most distance learning takes place over the internet, and students log on when it’s convenient for them. 

On-Campus Programs

On-campus students in Kentucky can take advantage of a traditional face-to-face learning environment to make new friends, pursue extracurricular activities, and study accounting. Most traditional learners attend school full time, and after graduation, they enjoy the benefits of in-person networking and co-curricular activities for future accountants.

Online Programs

Online programs help nontraditional students earn their degrees without taking time away from professional, family, and community responsibilities. Requiring no on-campus coursework, online programs provide a flexible approach to education. Students log on to the learning platform whenever it suits their schedules.

In general, learners in online programs follow the same curriculum and study under the same teaching faculty as on-campus students. But online education allows students to save money and time while learning from their car, couch, or favorite coffee shop. 

Hybrid Programs

Blending the benefits of a face-to-face classroom with online learning’s flexibility, hybrid programs support students that want to take some classes on campus and others through distance education. Hybrid students often take most of their courses online with only a few long weekends or short intensive courses on campus. Typically, students with flexible schedules choose hybrid learning options.

Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education

Enrolled Exclusively in Distance Education CoursesEnrolled in Some but Not All Distance Education CoursesNot Enrolled in Any Distance Education Courses
Kentucky Students19.3%24.9%55.8%
United States Students16.3%18.4%65.3%
Source: NCES

Paying for Your Accounting Degree

Paying for college can prove pricey. Fortunately, students do not need to bear the cost of online accounting degrees in Kentucky alone. Some students elect to pay for everything out of pocket, but many more seek assistance from private and public funders. 

Prospective undergraduate students can apply for federal grants and private scholarships. They may also qualify for state grants such as the College Access Program Grant and the Kentucky Tuition Grant. In addition, academically successful students who graduate from a Kentucky high school or earn a GED certificate or homeschool diploma in the state can apply for the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship. Degree-seekers pursuing a master’s in accounting in Kentucky can also seek assistance through private scholarships and grants.

Average Cost of College Tuition and Fees in Kentucky, 2017-2018

KentuckyNational
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$10,365$9,037
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$24,632$25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)$26,719$30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$4,106$3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$13,825$7,971
Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Kentucky schools charge about the same tuition as the average institution in the U.S. Some community colleges lower their tuition rates for students who live in their county or surrounding counties. In addition, public universities and colleges throughout Kentucky also cooperate with other schools in the South to help learners study across state lines. Kentucky participates in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), a 15-state consortium that allows selected students to attend out-of-state colleges for in-state tuition prices. 

Students do not receive a guarantee of participation in this program, however. Each state and participating institution imposes its own admission requirements. Such requirements might include minimum GPA scores, for instance. Prospective students can contact their state’s coordinator with any questions. Besides SREB, Kentucky participates in a State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, a national distance-education initiative that governs interstate distance education reciprocity.

Kentucky’s Cost of Living

Smart college budgeting accounts for more than just tuition. Cost of living — especially rent, transportation, and food — also affect students’ expense allocations. Fortunately for Kentucky residents, their cost of living falls well below the national average. 

The World Population Review puts Kentucky’s cost index at 90.9, the 16th most affordable in the union and far below the U.S. national average of 100. Kentucky’s low housing costs offset its slightly higher-than-average transportation expenses.

Other School Selection Criteria

Prospective students need to consider an array of key questions and criteria when choosing a school. For instance, what professional credentials do the faculty members hold? Or does this school offer a distinctively religious perspective? Many of these factors depend on a student’s individual preferences, and may include:

  • School Size

    Small schools tend to offer a personal touch with a lot of one-on-one attention from professors, but many larger institutions provide a well-recognized brand and a powerful alumni base.

  • Program Length

    A longer program may offer deeper training, but an executive degree can help you get started in the field earlier.

  • University Resources/Career Services

    How does this school’s career services office aid online students with identifying job possibilities and preparing for interviews?

  • Prestige/Reputation

    Will this school’s brand or reputation in business education assist you in your job search?

  • Earning Potential for Graduates

    Ask your admissions counselor to share the data on how many new graduates secured a job in the accounting field within six months of graduation. What average salary did they earn?

  • Alumni Network

    Can this school’s alumni network help new graduates secure a job? Do active alumni groups exist in the area where you live?

  • Required Admission Materials/Test Scores

    What minimum GPA, GMAT score, or number of years of experience does this school require for admission?

  • Careers for Accounting Graduates in Kentucky

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the U.S. economy to add 61,700 jobs in accounting and auditing between 2019 and 2029. Kentucky should contribute significantly to that growth, since the state’s agriculture and manufacturing industries continue to flourish. Kentucky also provides an entrepreneur-friendly environment, and new businesses in the state should need accountants and other financial professionals to help keep them on track.

    Kentucky serves as home to some of the top American food companies, including The Kroger Co., Perdue Inc., and Tyson Foods. The state also produces almost all of the world’s bourbon.

    Kentucky’s beautiful natural environment, low cost of living, and high-tech startup scenes in Louisville and Lexington draw companies and entrepreneurs to the state. Prior to 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic-related job losses, the state’s unemployment rate stood at a low 4.2%.

    Select Accounting Careers in Kentucky


    • Cost Accountant


      Cost accountants review and prepare financial documents, often managing all of a company’s accounting information. Depending on their employer, these professionals may undertake a variety of tasks from overseeing purchasing to managing budgets. Many cost accountants hold a CPA designation along with a master’s degree in accounting and other certifications.


    • Personal Financial Advisor


      A personal financial advisor helps individuals and families make advantageous financial choices. Often, these professionals research and recommend investments, set up retirement accounts, and help families choose insurance policies. Financial advisors help people reach personal goals such as early retirement, charitable giving, or leaving a legacy for their children and grandchildren.


    • Auditor


      Auditors investigate financial records to ensure compliance with relevant laws and accounting principles. Auditors can serve as internal auditors who work for the company whose books they audit or as external auditors who provide an outside perspective. These professionals can also specialize in information technology or in auditing management.


    Kentucky Employment Trends

    Projected Job Growth for Accountants

    12,280 Employees2018
    13,480 Employees2028
    Kentucky 9.8% increase
    1,424,000 Employees2018
    1,514,700 Employees2028
    National 6.4% increase
    Source: Projections Central

    Curious about other accounting jobs? Explore more here

    After graduation, new accounting professionals who remain in Kentucky can earn a better-than-average living as financial advisors or cost estimators. Accounting professionals can take advantage of Kentucky’s robust economy coupled with its low cost of living to stretch their salaries even further. In addition, new businesses can thrive in Kentucky thanks to the state’s flexible financial assistance programs for entrepreneurs and its business-friendly tax system. These businesses hire accounting and finance professionals.

    The most lucrative accounting careers in Kentucky generally require a master’s degree. CPAs, financial managers, and personal financial advisors may not need to hold an advanced degree, but it can prove difficult to acquire a position without one. Accountants with a bachelor’s degree, however, can still do well as cost accountants in Kentucky. Professionals with an associate degree may want to increase their salary by earning a bachelor’s degree in the field.

    Kentucky Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

    The road to earning a CPA designation is long and challenging for residents of any state. But since each state establishes its own requirements for aspiring CPAs, some states make the journey more of a challenge than others. In Kentucky, becoming a CPA requires the following:

  • Applicants must be 18 years old or older.
  • It’s not necessary for applicants to hold U.S. citizenship or Kentucky residency, but they do need a Social Security number.
  • An applicant must hold 150 credits and a bachelor’s degree. Normally, 150 credits would also involve earning a master’s in accounting in Kentucky.
  • The required 150 credits must include at least 27 semester hours or the equivalent in quarter credits in accounting.
  • Applicants need one year or more of experience in an auditing or accounting position in academia, government, industry, or public practice.
  • Applicants do not need to pass an ethics exam.
  • Resources

    Frequently Asked Questions


    • Is accounting a good career in Kentucky?

      Yes. Kentucky residents who earn degrees in accounting can work as CPAs or other financial professionals at major companies headquartered in Louisville or Lexington. They can also start small businesses, serving communities in medium-sized cities and towns throughout the Bluegrass State.


    • How much do accountants earn in Kentucky?

      According to the BLS, accountants and auditors in Kentucky earn a mean annual wage of $67,660. This figure puts the state’s finance professionals far ahead of the average American but slightly behind accountants in other states.


    • What accounting jobs are there in Kentucky?

      Kentucky offers accountants a wealth of career opportunities. In addition to its traditional industries of agriculture, manufacturing, and mining, Kentucky also houses fast-growing companies in the automotive and bourbon production sectors along with a hot startup scene.


    • Can I get an accounting degree in Kentucky?

      Yes. Many of Kentucky’s community colleges, liberal arts institutions, and research universities offer on-campus and online business-related degrees in Kentucky. Students can pursue an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate in accounting through a Kentucky college or university.


    • Does Kentucky have online accounting programs?

      Yes. Accounting students can pursue an online degree from a Kentucky-based school, and Kentucky residents can take advantage of programs from schools in other states. Universities offer online accounting degrees at all levels.


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