Written by Accounting.com Staff Writers


As one of the largest markets for accountants and auditors in the region, Minnesota attracts many students interested in an accounting career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Minnesota accountants and auditors earn a higher mean wage than similar professionals in Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, and Indiana.

Not only do accountants in Minnesota enjoy steady employment and decent wages, but the BLS projects a 6% nationwide job growth rate for accountants and auditors between 2018 and 2028. The field of accounting also allows individuals with just two years of college experience to find employment, though professionals who complete higher levels of education enjoy even higher wages.

Aside from accountants and auditors, Minnesota plays host to thousands of financial managers and bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks. Whether individuals choose to earn an associate degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, or Ph.D. in accounting, Minnesota offers plenty of potential careers. This page offers a starting point for prospective accounting students interested in Minnesota schools, including information on program types and formats, state employment data, and helpful selection criteria.

Minnesota at a Glance

Population 5,700,670
Per Capita Income $37,192
Fortune 500 Companies 24
Number of Higher Learning Institutions 115
Climate

Average Annual Temperature: 41.2℉

Annual Precipitation: 27.3 inches

Major Sports Teams Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Wild, Minnesota Lynx
Accountants in Minnesota 23,210

Top Minnesota Schools for Accounting

  • Bethel University
  • Gustavus Adolphus College
  • College of Saint Benedict
  • University of St Thomas
  • Concordia College at Moorhead
  • Hamline University
  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
  • Augsburg University
  • University of Northwestern-St Paul
  • University of Minnesota-Duluth

Why Go to College for Accounting in Minnesota?

With multiple large cities and millions of residents, Minnesota hosts an array of quality colleges and universities to choose from. According to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, over 400,000 students currently study at postsecondary institutions in Minnesota. Students also graduate at a decent rate, and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education reports that 65% of students enrolled in a four-year college graduate within six years.

Graduating from a local school can help students land jobs, giving candidates the benefit of school name recognition and local networking opportunities. Most of Minnesota's accountants work in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington area, though a large number of graduates also work in Duluth and Fargo. Other accountants find work in the many towns spread across the non-metropolitan areas of Minnesota.

Before committing to an on-campus program in Minnesota, applicants might consider the benefits of online education. Minnesota students embrace online education, with 47.5% of all students completing at least some of their education online, compared to just 34.7% of students across the nation.

Education Statistics for Minnesota

Minnesota offers more two- and four-year colleges and universities per capita than the national average, giving prospective students plenty of choices. As previously mentioned, nearly half of all students study at least partially online. Far higher than the national average of 16.3% of students, 31.4% of Minnesota students complete entirely online programs.

Minnesota residents also complete higher levels of education than the national average with 23.3% of residents earning a bachelor's degree, compared to 19.4% across the nation. Over 12% of Minnesota residents completed a graduate degree.

Higher Education Statistics in Minnesota
Minnesota Data National Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges 81 3,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges 34 1,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education 47.5% 34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student $7,638 $8,196
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education 4.5% 5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree 11.4% 8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree 23.3% 19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher 12.1% 12.1%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau - American Community Survey

Accreditation for Minnesota Schools

An accredited school or program meets the standards set by an accrediting organization approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

When looking at accreditation, applicants might notice both national and regional accrediting bodies. While both demonstrate academic quality, students should prioritize applying to regionally accredited institutions, which must meet strict standards. Some employers and graduate schools exclusively accept applicants with degrees from regionally accredited institutions, and students at nationally accredited schools could find securing financial aid difficult.

The regionally accrediting body in Minnesota is the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Along with HLC accreditation, prospective students should take note of programmatic accreditation. For accounting programs, accreditation from a body like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) serves as an additional indicator of quality.

Considerations for an Accounting Degree in Minnesota

Prospective accounting students must keep track of various factors when selecting a program, including their desired career path and its minimum education requirements. Learners can choose between an on-campus, online, or hybrid program. Some students might wish to pursue a concentration, which allows them to dive deeper into a specific field of accounting, or to study a topic related to accounting.

The information below can help students weigh the factors related to pursuing an accounting degree in Minnesota.

Accounting Degree Levels

Degree levels impact your future career opportunities and the length of your education. There are four accounting degree levels: associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate.

Associate Degree in Accounting
A two-year degree in accounting qualifies graduates for entry-level accounting positions, such as accounting clerks or auditing clerks.
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Bachelor's Degree in Accounting
Accountants in Minnesota require at least a four-year bachelor's in accounting, as do similar finance positions.
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Master's Degree in Accounting
While not required to become a certified public accountant (CPA), many CPAs earn a master's degree to complete the minimum required credits to sit for the CPA exam.
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Ph.D. in Accounting
The highest level of education in the field, candidates with a Ph.D. in accounting conduct research and hold positions in academia.
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Accounting Concentration Options

Many schools offer optional concentrations for their bachelor's or master's degrees in accounting. A concentration allows students to focus their study on a particular topic, giving them the expertise and skills necessary to land a position in their desired industry.

While students can choose from a wide array of concentrations, environmental accounting and financial accounting could prove to be particularly useful concentrations for future Minnesota accountants.

Accounting Concentrations

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

As more schools embrace online education, students often have the option to complete some or all of their courses virtually. Some learners might prefer a traditional on-campus program, or a hybrid that combines the benefits of on-campus interactions with the convenience of online learning.

On-Campus

An on-campus program offers several benefits, including face-to-face interaction with faculty, in-person connections with peers, and a set schedule for courses. On-campus students who live near campus also enjoy the traditional college community and atmosphere.

Online Programs

Online accounting programs allow students to complete their coursework from a distance, making it an accessible option for professionals and those who live far from campus. Students who require more flexibility in their schedule can often complete courses asynchronously. Online programs typically suit self-directed learners.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs blend the two formats--students complete most classes online but participate in on-campus requirements that facilitate networking and collaboration opportunities. Over 16% of Minnesota students choose to study in a hybrid program.
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education
Enrolled Exclusively in Distance Education Courses Enrolled in Some but Not All Distance Education Courses Not Enrolled in Any Distance Education Courses
Minnesota Students 31.4% 16.1% 52.4%
United States Students 16.3% 18.4% 65.3%
Source: NCES

Paying for Your Accounting Degree

The cost of a program is an important consideration for students. Public, four-year Minnesota institutions cost in-state students slightly over $2,000 more than the national average. For the same institutions, out-of-state Minnesota students benefit from an average tuition cost nearly $5,000 lower than the national average. Private schools in Minnesota run slightly more expensive than their counterparts in other states.

Students can access scholarships, grants, fellowships, and student loans to help mitigate the cost of their degree. Check out these resources to learn about financing a college education.

Average Cost of College Tuition and Fees in Minnesota, 2017-2018
Minnesota National
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year) $11,226 $9,037
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year) $20,736 $25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year) $32,416 $30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year) $5,381 $3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year) $6,113 $7,971
Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

State residency plays a significant role in determining a student's tuition rate. Minnesota residents receive access to in-state tuition, making public institutions much more affordable. On average, out-of-state students who study in Minnesota pay nearly double the in-state tuition rate for public schools.

Many public schools within Minnesota offer tuition breaks to out-of-state students, and some online programs extend in-state tuition to out-of-state students. Non-Minnesota residents might also receive a tuition discount through the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP). Organized by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, MSEP ensures that students from Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Nebraska, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana pay no more than 150% of in-state tuition.

Minnesota's Cost of Living

Aside from tuition and fees, learners must consider the costs of food, transportation, housing, utilities, and other purchases in their state. The cost of living in Minnesota is slightly higher than the national average. Minnesota ranks as the 31st most affordable state in the nation with a score of 101.6, slightly higher than the national average cost score of 100.

Other School Selection Criteria

While tuition costs, program format, and available concentrations should play a large role in selecting a school, prospective accounting students must consider an array of other factors. For example, learners studying at a small, private school may get more one-on-one time with faculty, potentially forming networking and mentorship connections. However, private schools typically cost much more than public schools, which tend to enroll more students.

Prospective students should also closely look at the accounting department to see if the program's learning goals and outcomes align with their personal needs. A program might place more emphasis on certain topics within accounting, or might require students to take an internship. A well-rounded and diverse faculty can expose students to the widest range of accounting topics, better preparing graduates for future careers.

Finally, consider a program's admission requirements. The top schools in Minnesota typically set the toughest admission requirements, and some applications that meet the minimum requirements may not get offered admission. With this in mind, plan on applying to multiple schools.

Careers for Accounting Graduates in Minnesota

Overall, the outlook for accountants in Minnesota remains positive. Minnesota ranks as the 18th best economy in the nation, and third best for employment. According to the BLS, Minnesota hosts more bookkeeping, auditing, and accounting clerks than other accounting-related positions, filling 29,260 roles in May 2019. In the same year, the BLS reported 23,210 accountants and auditors in Minnesota. While accountants can work in many industries, the Big Four accounting firms have offices in Minneapolis.

Many accounting graduates also end up working as financial managers. According to the BLS, Minnesota holds the sixth-highest number of financial managers per capita in the nation, with 15,610 financial managers employed. Financial managers in Minnesota also enjoyed a mean 2019 salary of $133,970. Accounting graduates in Minnesota can pursue a variety of relevant careers, including many that combine other fields and specialties. Minnesota boasts strong healthcare, manufacturing, and retail industries.

Select Accounting Careers in Minnesota

Certified Public Accountant

Focused on the financial documents disclosed to the public, CPAs might prepare taxes, audit tax reports, and review financial statements. A CPA must complete at least 150 college credits and a bachelor's degree.

Job Outlook in Minnesota: +6.5% (2018-28)

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Financial Analyst

A financial analyst reviews the financial statements of corporations and organizations in order to recommend changes to cut costs or increase profitability. Financial analysts must also remain aware of changes in local, state, and federal laws to remain compliant. Most financial analysts earn a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance, though some hold a master's degree.

Job Outlook in Minnesota: +7.2% (2018-28)

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Accounting Manager

Accounting managers oversee accounting professionals and create and implement an organization's accounting practices. These professionals also analyze workflow to determine potential improvements. Many accounting managers complete a master's degree, become a licensed CPA, and earn several years of accounting experience before transitioning into management.

Job Outlook in Minnesota: +16.3% (2018-28)

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Minnesota Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

25,410 Employees2018
27,070 Employees2028
Minnesota 6.5% increase
1,424,000 Employees2018
1,514,700 Employees2028
National 6.4% increase

Source: Projections Central

Explore more careers here

Overall, accounting careers in Minnesota pay a mean salary close to the national average. Some positions, such as payroll clerks, cost estimators, and auditing clerks, pay a higher mean wage than the national average.

As the table above shows, most accounting careers that require a graduate degree pay a higher wage in Minnesota than the national average. Personal financial advisors in Minnesota earn a particularly high mean salary of $99,490, compared to a national mean wage of $87,850. While outcomes vary based on the student and their career goals, completing a graduate-level accounting degree in Minnesota could significantly increase their salary potential.

Accounting professionals with a bachelor's degree also experience a relatively high average salary. Cost estimators in Minnesota earn a mean wage roughly $3,000 higher than the national average, while tax examiners and collectors earn an annual mean wage of $65,340, compared to $60,900 nationally.

Minnesota Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

CPAs must take a nationally standardized test, but states set their own requirements for licensure. Anyone planning on becoming a CPA in Minnesota must meet the following requirements:

  • Obtain or verify Minnesota state residency
  • Submit Social Security number and information
  • Complete 150 credit hours of postsecondary education, including a bachelor's degree
  • Participate in an international examination program
  • Complete a minimum of 24 semester hours of accounting courses at the undergraduate level, 15 semester hours at the graduate level, or a graduate degree from a business school
  • Complete a bachelor's degree before sitting for the CPA exam
  • Complete one year of public practice before applying for licensure
  • Pass the AICPA Professional Ethics Exam

Note that specific licensure requirements vary by state, so satisfying CPA licensure conditions in Minnesota may not satisfy conditions in another state.

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Is accounting a good career in Minnesota?
While Minnesota accountants earn a slightly lower mean wage than the national average, these accountants make a higher mean wage than they would in neighboring Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa.
How much do accountants earn in Minnesota?
According to the BLS, accountants and auditors in Minnesota earn an annual mean wage of $73,590. Nationally, accountants and auditors earn an annual mean wage of $79,520.
What accounting jobs are there in Minnesota?
Minnesota hosts a variety of accounting careers, though bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks enjoy the highest number of positions. Minnesota also hosts many accountants, auditors, and financial managers.
Can I get an accounting degree in Minnesota?
Learners can earn an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree from many Minnesota schools. While less common, some also offer a Ph.D. in accounting. Schools offer some, or all, of these degrees entirely online.
Does Minnesota have online accounting programs?
Not only does Minnesota have online accounting programs, but Minnesota students study online at a higher rate than the national average. Some schools offer entirely online accounting programs.

Minnesota Accounting and Education Organizations

  • Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants The Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants, a nonprofit for current and future CPAs, offers continuing education, breaking industry news, and networking events to its members. Non-CPAs in the industry may also join.
  • Minnesota Association of Public Accountants Dedicated solely to small- and medium-sized public accounting firms, MAPA helps public accountants learn new skills, make new industry connections, and advance their practices. MAPA also organizes a scholarship for Minnesota accounting students.
  • Minnesota Association for Financial Professionals The Minnesota Association for Financial Professionals connects finance industry members from various sectors to share ideas. Aside from events and conferences, members can also apply for scholarships.
  • Minnesota Board of Accountancy As the main licensing body for accountants in Minnesota, the Minnesota Board of Accountancy accepts applications, verifies continuing education, and grants CPA licenses. The Board answers any licensing questions accountants might have.

Accounting Programs in Minnesota

While Minnesota boasts dozens of unique accounting programs, some stand out for the quality of their education and their positive student outcomes. The list below introduces some of the best accounting programs in the state. All schools listed below hold regional accreditation, meaning each school ascribes to the highest standard of academic quality.