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In the heart of America's Deep South, Mississippi is home to nearly 3 million citizens. The state ranked among the nation's top three cotton producers until 2000, when soil erosion forced Mississippi to diversify its agricultural crops. Today, agriculture (including rice and soybeans), manufacturing, and forestry top the list of main industries driving Mississippi's state economy.
Historically among the poorest southern states, Mississippians with degrees in adaptable fields like business or finance can pursue the state's most lucrative jobs. Mississippi houses 41 colleges and universities, many of which offer traditional and online accounting degrees, which lead to diverse career prospects. The state currently employs 5,780 accountants in a variety of fields and concentrations.
The best accounting schools in Mississippi prepare students for popular jobs in fields like bookkeeping, cost accounting, and personal finance management. Read on to walk through the process of pursuing an accounting career in Mississippi.
Mississippi at a Glance
|Per Capita Income||$24,160|
|Fortune 500 Companies||1|
|Number of Higher Learning Institutions||41|
|Climate||Average Annual Temperature: 63.4 ℉ |
Annual Precipitation: 59 inches
|Major Sports Teams||Mississippi Grizzlies|
|Accountants in Mississippi||5,780|
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Top Mississippi Schools for Accounting
- University of Mississippi
- Millsaps College
- Mississippi College
- Mississippi State University
- Mississippi University for Women
- University of Southern Mississippi
- Delta State University
- Jackson State University
- Alcorn State University
- Mississippi Valley State University
Why Go to College for Accounting in Mississippi?
Mississippi models to its citizens the necessity of a college education. Students can pursue accounting degrees in Mississippi at their choice of more than 40 two- and four-year colleges. The number of citizens ages 25 and older who hold associate degrees in Mississippi exceeds the national average.
Mississippi also enrolls an above-average percentage of distance students. As of 2018, roughly 41% of students in Mississippi enrolled exclusively or partially in online learning programs, compared to 35% nationwide. The majority of schools enable students to choose whether to complete their accounting degree in Mississippi on campus or online.
At schools like Mississippi State, business and management are among the most popular college majors. Many students who choose to complete an online accounting degree in Mississippi enjoy the same in-state tuition rates as campus learners, often with additional benefits such as accelerated completion options.
Emphasizing networking and training opportunities, state colleges prepare students for lucrative accounting careers in Mississippi to meet the local economic demand. The Mississippi Department of Education encourages high school students to pursue college-level coursework through its College and Career Readiness initiative.
Education Statistics for Mississippi
With 19 four-year and 22 two-year institutions in the state, Mississippi offers a number of paths to students pursuing higher education. While Mississippi provides lower appropriations per full-time student than the national figures, the state directs a higher percentage of its tax revenue toward higher education. Mississippi also enrolls more students in distance education than the nationwide average.
Higher Education in Mississippi
|Mississippi Data||National Data|
|Number of Four-Year Colleges||19||3,004|
|Number of Two-Year Colleges||22||1,579|
|Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education||41.3%||34.7%|
|Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student||$6,637||$8,196|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||9.7%||5.8%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree||9.4%||8.4%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree||13.5%||19.4%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher||8.3%||12.1%|
Accreditation for Mississippi Schools
Students pursuing accounting degrees in Mississippi should consider only accredited schools. While both regional and national agencies accredit qualified schools, regional accreditation is reserved for nonprofit institutions, which national accrediting agencies serve for-profit and vocational institutions. Accreditation ensures that the curriculum of a program meets rigorous standards to give students a valuable education.
Some of the best accounting schools in Mississippi are accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the regional accrediting body for many southern states. Other Mississippi schools may receive national accreditation through an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Some accounting programs hold additional programmatic accreditation through an organization such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Considerations for an Accounting Degree in Mississippi
Students must take many factors into account when selecting an accounting degree in Mississippi. Many students begin by narrowing their list to include either distance or campus-based programs. While fewer Mississippi students enroll exclusively in online programs than the national numbers, nearly 28% of Mississippians (compared to 18% nationwide) enroll in some online courses.
Beyond learning styles, other key considerations include the cost and financial aid options, degree level, and available concentrations. All types of Mississippi schools, even private, four-year universities, offer lower college tuition rates than the national average.
Accounting Degree Levels
Students should hone in on their individual career goals to select the right degree level and program. Most prospective students also look critically at factors like cost, format, and program length.
The following outlines the key considerations for levels of accounting degrees in Mississippi.
Associate Degree in Accounting
Bachelor's Degree in Accounting
A bachelor's degree is the minimum education requirement for professional accountants and auditors. Bachelor's programs can also help graduates prepare to become certified public accountants (CPAs).
Master's Degree in Accounting
While not always required, some employers prefer candidates with a master's in accounting in Mississippi. Students may look for schools that offer a five-year accelerated bachelor's/master's dual program in accounting.
Ph.D. in Accounting
Ph.D. graduates may qualify for postsecondary teaching positions in accounting. Doctoral degree-holders may also pursue senior roles in financial management or accounting research.
Accounting Concentration Options
Earning a bachelor's or master's in accounting in Mississippi enables students to choose from a variety of available concentrations. Students should select a concentration aligned with their career goals to enter the field of accounting in Mississippi. The following are two of the state's most popular accounting concentrations.
|Auditing||Auditors are trained in the analysis and verification of financial records. They often specialize in corporate, nonprofit, or government audits. Auditing concentrations prepare students to review financial data for legal and regulatory compliance.|
|Cost Accounting||Businesses rely on cost accountants to determine the costs involved in running short- and long-term operations. Coursework in this concentration covers business operations, budgeting, and performance evaluation, preparing graduates for broad opportunities in financial management.|
On-Campus Versus Online Program Options
Many of the best accounting schools in Mississippi offer online, on campus, and hybrid study options. Most online accounting degrees do not include strict in-person coursework requirements, which makes accounting an ideal major for students seeking a flexible, customizable program.
Most accounting schools in Mississippi offer traditional programs on campus, ideal for students seeking an in-person college experience. Many students benefit from physical access to academic resources, social gatherings, and campus amenities. Others simply prefer learning in person in a conventional classroom environment.
Online accounting degrees in Mississippi can provide the same immersive experience as a traditional degree. Distance learners complete coursework online through weekly assignments, supported by resources including virtual textbooks and tutoring options. Online learners may require additional self-management skills, especially time management, compared to students on campus.
Many online programs offer discounted tuition and savings on living expenses and commuting costs, compared to a traditional degree. Online degrees also maximize flexibility for students seeking a customizable program for their schedule or location.
Students who require a combination of in-person and online instruction can benefit from hybrid programs. Hybrid learning degrees combine online classes with required in-person components several times per semester. Many programs accommodate working students by holding in-person experiences on nights or weekends. Part-time learners and commuters with limited access to campus may prefer hybrid programs.
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|
|United States Students||16.3%||18.4%||65.3%|
Paying for Your Accounting Degree
Many students pursuing an accounting degree in Mississippi require financial aid. Most schools require applicants to complete the FAFSA, which determines initial financial aid eligibility. After filing, students may be eligible for scholarships, grants, fellowships, and loans.
Most federal aid, and some privately awarded scholarships and grants, provide funds based on need, verified by a student's (or their parents') income on tax returns. Other scholarships, fellowships, and grants award aid according to merit, based on geographic considerations, or targeted toward underserved populations. Many scholarships and grants do not require repayment. Loans, by contrast, require repayment, often with high interest rates.
Average Cost of College Tuition and Fees in Mississippi, 2017-2018
|Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)||$7,980||$9,037|
|Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)||$19,691||$25,657|
|Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)||$17,625||$30,731|
|Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)||$3,182||$3,243|
|Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)||$2,831||$7,971|
In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition
Most colleges use in- or out-of-state residency to determine variable tuition rates. Residents of Mississippi qualify for the in-state tuition rate, which is typically lower than out-of-state tuition. Some of the best accounting schools in Mississippi offer discounts for choosing a particular program or major. Generally, nonresident students can apply for federal aid, grants, and scholarships to help finance their accounting degree in Mississippi.
Colleges commonly offer students additional savings by freezing tuition rates or charging flat rates for online programs. As a member of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), Mississippi allows nonresident students from the SREB's 16-state region to pay less for out-of-state tuition.
Mississippi's Cost of Living
Outside of direct education expenses, the cost of living significantly impacts the decision to attend college in a particular state. Mississippi boasts the lowest cost of living in the U.S. at 84.5, well below the national average of 100. A big factor contributing to this score: Mississippians enjoy the nation's lowest housing index (67.1 compared to the nationwide average of 100).
Other School Selection Criteria
With affordable tuition rates and a low cost of living, Mississippi attracts numerous college prospects. However, whether a student is considering a traditional or online accounting degree in Mississippi, geography is just one of the factors required in choosing the right school. A few other key considerations:
Application ProcessWell-prepared students allow themselves extra time (in advance of major deadlines) to request materials like test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
Cost of AdmissionAmong the top considerations for most college-bound students, the cost of admission can often be lowered by various means of financial aid.
Prestige/ReputationEmployers may show favor to graduates with a degree from a high-profile institution, especially in competitive fields like accounting.
School SizeSome students prefer the immersive experience of a large, public university, while others seek out a more intimate environment in a private setting.
Student/Teacher RatioStudents who prefer anonymity may prefer a higher student/teacher ratio. Those who require more personalized attention are better suited to a lower ratio.
Program LengthSome of the best traditional and online accounting degrees in Mississippi offer accelerated completion options with reduced tuition and fees.
ConcentrationsStudents may seek out a school that offers a particular course or a unique accounting concentration.
Staff Credentials/DiversitySome students thrive on the fresh insights of experienced instructors and a diverse social group.
Resources/Career ServicesThe best accounting schools in Mississippi offer comprehensive resources such as career services, counseling, and virtual tutoring.
ExtracurricularsExtracurricular activities like student government, Greek life, and professional networking hold as much importance as academics for some students.
Alumni NetworkAn extensive alumni network bodes well for current students, demonstrating a sense of pride and a willingness to "give back."
Explore Our Rankings For the Best Accounting Programs at Each Level
Careers for Accounting Graduates in Mississippi
A perennial career in nationwide business and finance sectors, accounting provides steady employment and favorable salaries in nearly every state. Accounting careers in Mississippi can yield a mean annual wage of more than $65,000, according to the BLS. While projected job growth for accountants between 2018 and 2028 in Mississippi falls below the national average, the career field is still expected to grow (2.5% growth in the state compared to 6.4% nationally).
Mississippi offers unique career prospects for qualified accountants and auditors. Two of the nation's renowned "Big 4" accounting firms, KPMG and Deloitte, maintain offices in Jackson and Hattiesburg, respectively. Additionally, Mississippi hosts one of the South's largest accounting and advisory firms, Horne, LLP.
Select Accounting Careers in Mississippi
Bookkeeping or Auditing Clerk
Personal Financial Advisor
Mississippi Employment Trends
Projected Job Growth for Accountants
Accounting careers in Mississippi offer stable employment and salaries within reach of the national mean. As shown above, Mississippians who hold an associate degree in accounting can pursue careers in fields including bookkeeping/auditing, payroll, and credit counseling. While Mississippi employs more bookkeepers and auditing clerks than any other accounting field, credit counselors enjoy the highest salaries among entry-level accounting professionals.
Students in Mississippi with a bachelor's or master's in accounting enjoy a proportionate increase in salary and job opportunities. Earning a bachelor's degree in accounting can prepare students for careers in fields like tax examination or cost estimation. Cost estimators with a bachelor's degree and field experience enjoy higher employment numbers and an annual mean wage of nearly $64,000.
Master's degree graduates qualify for the most lucrative accounting careers. Many students pursue CPA licensure on the path toward an accounting career in Mississippi. Accountants and auditors represent the second-highest employment of accounting professionals in Mississippi, after bookkeepers and auditing clerks. While still below the national mean, financial managers earn an annual salary of nearly $96,000, more than any other accounting professionals in Mississippi.
Mississippi Requirements for Certified Public Accountants
A common career path for aspiring accountants, becoming a CPA requires different steps in each state. All accountants require CPA certification to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Many also enjoy increased job prospects through CPA certification.
Students must undergo a state-specific process to achieve CPA certification. All states require CPAs to pass a comprehensive exam, which covers accounting coursework in business environment and concepts, auditing and attestation, regulation, and financial accounting and reporting. Requirements for Mississippi CPA candidates include:
Frequently Asked Questions About Accounting in Mississippi
Is accounting a good career in Mississippi?
Mississippians can pursue diverse accounting jobs such as bookkeeper/auditing clerk or financial manager. Accountants in Mississippi enjoy steady job growth and high earning potential.
How much do accountants earn in Mississippi?
Mississippians with an advanced degree can earn more than $95,000 as a financial manager. Accounting careers for undergraduate degree-holders yield roughly $38,000-$64,000 per year.
What accounting jobs are there in Mississippi?
Mississippi employs accounting professionals in diverse fields including finance, business, and management. Many accountants in Mississippi specialize in fields like bookkeeping, accounting/auditing, and financial management.
Can I get an accounting degree in Mississippi?
Yes. Some of the best accounting schools in Mississippi offer programs at every level of study, from associate to doctorate, and include both traditional and online accounting degrees.
Does Mississippi have online accounting programs?
Yes. Mississippians can choose from a variety of in-person, online, and hybrid learning options. Such programs serve both Mississippi residents and distance learners seeking flexibility through an accounting degree.
Mississippi Accounting and Education Organizations
Mississippi Society of Certified Public Accountants
As the largest professional organization of CPAs and aspiring CPAs in Mississippi, MSCPA emphasizes networking, continuing education, volunteer, and leadership initiatives. MSCPA also hosts a Young CPAs subgroup, targeting members under 35 in their first five years of practice as a CPA. Membership benefits include career services and peer reviews.
Mississippi Association of Public Accountants
The Mississippi branch of the National Society of Accountants (NSA), MAPA maintains relationships with other NSA state chapters across the U.S. through the Affiliated State Organizations program. MAPA hosts seminars, workshops, and continuing education coursework throughout the year.
Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy
The Board of Accountancy maintains state regulations for CPAs and CPA firms. The Board's regulatory state agency is composed of seven members appointed by the governor of Mississippi. Aspiring CPAs must apply for the CPA exam through the Board, which also reviews requests for CPA transfers (to other states) and approves continuing education requirements.
American Institute of CPAs
The largest international accounting organization, AICPA hosts a Mississippi branch and maintains subgroups for accounting specialists in taxes, nonprofits, financial planning, and forensic and valuation services. AICPA offers individual and firm memberships, including benefits such as discounts, professional development, and career services.
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