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Life in Missouri offers many benefits, including an array of outdoor and cultural options, sporting events, and a low cost of living.
As Missouri continues to attract businesses due to its affordability, experts project a 4.9% increase in the state’s accounting jobs between 2018 and 2028. Financial managers, actuaries, personal financial advisors, and credit counselors can also expect sharp growth trends in their fields.
Many of Missouri’s 125 colleges and universities provide on-campus or online degrees in accounting from locations around the state. After graduation, financial professionals can start out at one of the state’s leading companies in biotechnology, aerospace engineering, or chemical processing.
The guide below helps prospective accounting students get started on learning what Missouri can offer accountants, how to become a certified public accountant (CPA) in this state, and the best accounting careers in Missouri.
Missouri offers world-class baseball, blues music, barbecue, and breathtaking natural sites, including mountains, caves, and farmland. More than 230,000 students attend higher education institutions in the state, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Missouri’s accounting students can study at major private universities, research institutions, or liberal arts colleges. Higher education institutions sit in major cities such as St. Louis, in mid-size urban areas like Springfield, and in small towns such as Rolla.
At many institutions, students can pursue their degrees through online education programs that let them learn anywhere at any time. Some of these programs, though, may include mandatory on-campus components, which can make living near campus advantageous. While online education offers flexibility and focus, on-campus learning can provide additional internship and networking opportunities.
Missouri’s schools include faith-based institutions, historically Black colleges, and public schools. State-sponsored colleges typically offer tuition benefits to Missouri residents, making studying in the state financially attractive. Once accounting students complete their degrees, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield offer many opportunities for employment in the field.
The Department of Higher Education reports that 53.7% of residents hold a high-quality higher education credential, putting Missouri well on the way to reaching its goal of 60% by 2025.
Education Statistics for Missouri
Missouri residents can pursue postsecondary degrees at one of the state’s 125 two- or four-year colleges. More than one-third of Missouri’s students study online, a rate higher than the average for all states.
Missouri’s residents support their state’s colleges and universities through the public budget, which helps keep tuition costs below the national average. The percentage of Missourians with higher education credentials continues to grow, helped in part by the state’s low cost of living and the flexibility of its schools’ virtual learning options.
Higher Education in Missouri
Number of Four-Year Colleges
Number of Two-Year Colleges
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor’s Degree
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher
While searching for online accounting degrees in Missouri, prospective students may encounter accreditation information. What is accreditation, and why is it important?
In the U.S., colleges and universities undergo a voluntary assessment process to receive accreditation. The assessment covers academic excellence, financial viability, and organizational strength. Schools may hold accreditation with a regional, national, and/or programmatic accreditor.
Future accounting majors looking for an online school in Missouri should choose an institution holding regional accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission. Primarily held by research universities and liberal arts colleges, regional accreditation ranks as the oldest and most prestigious form of accreditation. National accreditation applies mainly to career-focused institutions. Regional accreditation offers many benefits including degree utility, improved access to financial aid, and better admission prospects for a master’s in accounting in Missouri.
Accounting majors may also want to look for a program that also holds programmatic accreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
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Considerations for an Accounting Degree in Missouri
Prospective students may face a bewildering array of options when looking for the best accounting schools in Missouri. With so many options at hand, future learners should consider factors such as location, cost, outcome, and program length.
The sections below provide data to help students determine whether Missouri is the best state for them to pursue an online accounting degree. Learners can find information about tuition, academic concentrations, degree levels, and career options. Prospective students can also see how Missouri’s modest cost of living and lower-than-average tuition may make studying in this state financially advantageous.
Accounting Degree Levels
In Missouri, online accounting degrees cover all available levels, from the two-year associate program to the Ph.D. in accounting. Community and technical colleges — often the lowest-cost option — offer associate degrees, while major research universities offer Ph.D. programs to qualifying applicants.
Graduates with an associate degree in accounting may become bookkeepers, payroll clerks, or tax preparers. With a bachelor’s degree, graduates can typically start up the ladder as staff accountants or financial managers. To become a CPA, however, students usually need additional education, and many pursue master’s degrees.
A graduate program in accounting can also open up a career in auditing or put graduates on the road to becoming a chief financial officer. As a research degree, the Ph.D. in accounting prepares students for roles in teaching or research.
Usually housed in a business school, accounting programs provide many potential concentrations such as taxation, financial management, forensic accounting, and nonprofit administration.
Missouri’s three major cities — Kansas City, St. Louis, and Springfield — host industry-leading companies in sectors such as biotechnology, aerospace engineering, printing and publishing, and chemical processing. These powerhouse companies need accountants and other finance professionals. Accountants with the right concentrations can feel well prepared to enter one of the top accounting careers in Missouri.
An auditing concentration focuses on financial investigative strategies. Students learn to do the financial analysis and reporting associated with fraud detection, taxation, government regulation, and financial crimes. This concentration prepares learners for careers as auditors and CPAs.
Students concentrating in cost accounting learn how to help employers create budgets and financial plans to accurately track and report business costs. By leveraging a cost accountant’s skills, organizations can improve in operational areas such as purchasing and logistics.
Going to school online allows accounting students to pursue a degree without leaving their job, home, or family. But how can prospective learners know if a distance education program is right for them?
Studying on campus lets students meet new friends, attend sporting and arts events, and study accounting in a face-to-face setting with a professor and other learners. An on-campus program usually benefits full-time students the most, helping them enlarge their local personal networks and find co-curricular activities that can flesh out a recent graduate’s resume.
Students with responsibilities to family and/or who work full time often choose online programs to pursue their degrees. Since distance education typically requires little if any on-campus time, learners can complete their coursework whenever and wherever is most convenient for them.
Typically, online learners read the same textbooks, complete the same projects, and study under the same professors as on-campus students. Distance learners often choose this option to save on commuting expenses or because they prefer an individualized learning experience.
Some schools offer hybrid degrees. In these programs, students combine online learning’s flexibility with the benefits of an in-person classroom. Most hybrid programs require students to come to campus for long weekends or one- to two-week intensive courses while doing the majority of their learning online. Students with semi-flexible schedules may find the most benefit from a hybrid degree.
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education
Enrolled Exclusively in Distance Education Courses
Enrolled in Some but Not All Distance Education Courses
College requires a major investment. Fortunately, financing options such as grants, scholarships, and tuition waivers can help students pay for online accounting degrees in Missouri. While some students pay for their own education out of pocket, most take advantage of public and private aid programs.
Federal grants can help cover the costs of an associate or bachelor’s degree, and private scholarships can assist with tuition at any degree level. Missouri itself offers several state-supported grants and scholarships through the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, including the A+ Scholarship Program and the Access Missouri Program. The department also provides links to federal resources and private funders.
In general, both public and private Missouri schools charge less than comparable institutions in other states. Some state schools, such as Missouri Western State University, also offer steep discounts to out-of-state learners. At least one Missouri institution, College of the Ozarks, charges no tuition at all with each learner working instead of paying for their education.
State schools also participate in the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, which allows students in participating programs to attend schools in six nearby states at a steep discount. Public institutions must not charge more than 150% of the in-state resident tuition rate and private schools offer a 10% tuition rate cut. Missouri also takes part in the Midwestern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, which expands access to educational offerings for distance education students.
Missouri’s Cost of Living
When tallying educational expenses, future students must consider more than just tuition. Cost of living, including the price of rent, fuel, and groceries, also affects a student’s budget. According to the World Population Review, Missouri residents enjoy the fourth-lowest cost of living in the nation. The state’s cost index stands at 87.1, well beneath the index figure of 100, which represents the average cost of living in the U.S.
Other School Selection Criteria
When choosing a program, future learners should consider cost and location along with other key factors, such as the following.
A large, well-known school can provide a robust alumni network and a recognized brand while a small institution may offer personal, one-on-one attention from professors and administrators.
Staff Credentials and Diversity
Does the faculty represent diversity of race, gender, age, and physical ability? Where did the teaching faculty earn their doctorates or MBAs? How important are those criteria to you?
Are you looking to gain access to the work world right away and need a short-term college experience? Does the school offer an accelerated program, a traditional format, or both?
University Resources and Career Services
A degree can help qualify you for a job, but it doesn’t guarantee a job. How does this university help its students transition from school into the work world? Do recent graduates typically get jobs in the field within 3-6 months of graduation?
Prestige and Reputation
Does the school’s brand recognition open up job options for graduates?
Earning Potential for Graduates
What do recent accounting graduates earn on average?
Does the business school or the accounting department maintain an organized and active alumni network?
Explore Our Rankings For the Best Accounting Programs at Each Level
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment growth of 6%, or 90,700 accountant and auditor jobs, from 2018-2028. Missouri’s state economy tracks with the larger national one, and the state benefits from growth in the healthcare and professional services sectors. Prior to the closures prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, Missouri’s unemployment rate stood at a low 3.5%.
Missouri houses the headquarters of three Fortune 500 businesses — Express Scripts Holding, Emerson Electric, and Centene — along with the largest beer-producing plant in the country. These businesses and many others need fresh accountants, auditors, and cost estimators to keep them on track and financially viable.
Currently, Missouri employs more than 26,500 accountants and auditors at a median salary of $69,160, according to the BLS. Jefferson City, Missouri’s state capitol, boasts one of the highest location quotients for accountants and auditors in the U.S. The sections below offer more detail about accounting careers in Missouri.
Select Accounting Careers in Missouri
Actuaries assess risk using probability and mathematics. These professionals use models to create tables that analyze the probability of events that impact a company’s business risk tolerance. Actuaries need strong critical thinking, mathematics, and data analysis skills along with good judgment. Most actuaries hold at least a bachelor’s degree in the field.
These professionals help organizations plan and track their budgets. While a cost estimator’s job duties can vary widely between companies, they generally involve tracking and improving an organization’s financial efficiency. Cost estimators need skills in mathematics, computer science, problem-solving, and business communication. Typically, these professionals hold a bachelor’s or master’s in accounting.
Financial advisors help individuals, families, or organizations plan and invest for the future. They generally evaluate the returns on specific investments and make recommendations for using financial resources. This career requires skills in financial analysis, financial software, and interpersonal communication. Financial advisors usually hold a bachelor’s degree and either professional certification or graduate education.
After graduation, students who remain in Missouri can embark on one of several careers in accounting or finance. The state’s major cities and rural communities host many businesses, schools, and nonprofit organizations that all need accounting professionals.
Missouri’s cost estimators, financial managers, and personal financial advisors earn above the national average for their professions, making these careers especially rewarding. Actuaries also earn a lucrative income in a rapidly growing profession. With a cost of living among the lowest in the nation, Missouri can provide its accounting professionals with a financially rewarding life.
The best careers typically require a master’s degree in accounting or a related field. Professionals with a bachelor’s degree, however, can also earn a strong salary by working in cost estimating or accounting. Those with an associate degree may want to consider returning to school for a four-year degree to improve their chances of professional advancement.
Missouri Requirements for Certified Public Accountants
The road to becoming a CPA is long and challenging in any state. In Missouri, becoming a CPA requires the following:
Applicants must be at least 21 years of age.
Applicants do not need to hold U.S. citizenship, but they must be Missouri residents with a valid social security number.
The prospective CPA needs 150 credits, normally earned through a bachelor’s and a master’s program.
Completed coursework must include 33 semester credits of accounting. One course must be in auditing, and 18 other credits must be taken at the junior or senior level. Applicants also need 27 credits in general business.
Applicants must take the CPA exam within 60 days of completing their educational requirements.
Applicants must also hold one year of accounting experience and one additional year in attestation work in order to sign reports or supervise attestation services.
Yes, accountants in Missouri enjoy access to jobs in major cities such as St. Louis as well as small towns like Cape Girardeau. Accountants earn excellent salaries and can expect to see their profession expand in Missouri and beyond.
How much do accountants earn in Missouri?
The median wage for Missouri’s accountants stands at $69,160 as of May 2019, according to the BLS. Accounting professionals who work in finance and insurance companies tend to earn more than their counterparts in other industries.
What accounting jobs are there in Missouri?
Missouri companies, nonprofits, and educational institutions hire accountants at all levels. Cost estimators, actuaries, and finance managers do particularly well in this state. Accounting professionals can work in one of several flourishing industries.
Can I get an accounting degree in Missouri?
Many of Missouri’s 125 higher education institutions offer accounting and finance degrees. The state’s research universities provide opportunities for graduate study, and its liberal arts colleges offer bachelor’s programs. Several schools provide online accounting degrees in Missouri.
Does Missouri have online accounting programs?
Students can earn an accounting degree online through one of the many Missouri-based schools that have invested in distance education. Several nationally recognized online schools also offer accounting programs to Missouri residents.