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Accounting Degree Overview for North Carolina

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Earning an accounting degree in North Carolina offers benefits like below-average tuition for four-year public universities, a variety of higher learning institutions, and faster-than-average projected job growth for many accounting professions. According to Projections Central, jobs for accountants and auditors should grow by 8.6% from 2018-2028, compared to the national projection of just 6.4% for that profession.

No matter what type of accounting degree students earn, they can qualify for an array of well-paying positions after graduation. Nearly every organization benefits from the work of accounting professionals, who help assess finances, ensure that legal obligations are met, and improve efficiency. Popular accounting careers in North Carolina include accountants and auditors, personal financial advisors, bookkeeping and auditing clerks, and financial managers. 

In this guide, we explain why to consider earning accounting degrees in North Carolina, including the types of programs available and career and salary potential for graduates. Keep reading to learn more about going to college for accounting here. 

North Carolina at a Glance

Per Capita Income$30,737
Fortune 500 Companies31
Number of Higher Learning Institutions150
ClimateAverage Annual Temperature: 59℉

Annual Precipitation: 50.3 inches
Major Sports TeamsCarolina Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Charlotte Hornets
Accountants in North Carolina33,750

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Top North Carolina Schools for Accounting

  • Wake Forest University
  • North Carolina State University at Raleigh
  • Elon University
  • Queens University of Charlotte
  • Appalachian State University
  • East Carolina University
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Meredith College
  • Western Carolina University
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Why Go to College for Accounting in North Carolina?

When deciding where to earn an accounting degree, students should consider North Carolina. The state boasts a variety of school types in its 150 institutions of higher education. Those who earn their online accounting degrees in North Carolina benefit from the state’s experience with distance learning: 40% of college students in North Carolina learn online, compared to 34.7% nationally. Pursuing an online accounting degree here offers the convenience and flexibility of learning anywhere and anytime. 

Some of the best accounting schools in North Carolina can be found in cities like Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham, and Columbia. North Carolinians can find high-quality schools throughout the state, which can prove important even for those considering an online degree. Some distance education programs include mandatory on-campus requirements, so proximity to a campus can prove beneficial. 

Those who plan to live in North Carolina after graduating can develop their professional accounting networks while still in school. Accounting graduates in North Carolina benefit from the faster-than-average projected job growth for many accounting professions in the state, including accountants, credit counselors, personal financial advisors, and financial managers. Companies may be more likely to hire recent graduates with less professional experience with high demand for qualified accounting professionals. 

Education Statistics for North Carolina

North Carolina prioritizes funding college, spending 10.2% of its tax revenue on higher education compared to the national average of only 5.8%. The state also provides a wide selection of institutions of higher learning, with 82 four-year colleges and 68 two-year colleges.

Those considering earning online accounting degrees in North Carolina may appreciate the state’s large number of online offerings. Perhaps because of its support of higher education, North Carolina boasts a higher-than-average percentage of adults with bachelor’s degrees. 

Higher Education in North Carolina

North Carolina DataNational Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges823,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges681,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education40%34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student$10,896$8,196 
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education10.2%5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree9.5%8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor’s Degree 19.6%19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher10.9%12.1%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

Accreditation for North Carolina Schools

A university can be regionally or nationally accredited. Both types of accreditation require the school to undergo evaluation of its academic programs, educational resources, faculty credentials, and campus facilities. However, regional accreditation, more popular and prestigious than national accreditation, requires colleges to complete a more rigorous process. 

Attending a regionally accredited college increases students’ chances of qualifying for financial aid and successfully transferring credit to another institution of higher education. Graduation from a regionally accredited university is necessary in some cases to qualify for some professional certifications or graduate school. 

In North Carolina, look for online schools accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the regional accrediting agency responsible for providing accreditation to colleges in the region. Some of the best accounting schools in North Carolina also hold accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, an agency that accredits undergraduate and graduate accounting programs. 

Considerations for an Accounting Degree in North Carolina

Deciding where to go to college is a big decision, but earning an accounting degree in North Carolina offers many advantages. Students must consider factors like degree level, program focus, program format, and cost when deciding on the right accounting program. Below, we explain the different accounting degree levels available, including what to expect from each type. We also describe possible accounting concentrations, the differences between online and in-person programs, and the prospect of paying for an accounting degree. 

Accounting Degree Levels

Students can pursue accounting degrees in North Carolina at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. level. Typically, the higher the level of degree, the better the career opportunities for graduates. Those who graduate with a master’s in accounting qualify for most high-level, lucrative accounting jobs. Below, we describe the different levels of accounting degrees and their potential careers and salaries.

  • Associate Degree in Accounting

    An associate in accounting offers a foundation in basic accounting principles and prepares students for careers like accounting assistant, billing clerk, bookkeeper, and accounts receivable clerk.

    Learn More About Associate Degrees in Accounting

  • Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

    A bachelor’s degree in accounting readies students for careers as cost estimators, tax examiners and collectors, accountants, and auditors.

    Learn More About Bachelor’s Degrees in Accounting

  • Master's Degree in Accounting

    A master’s in accounting in North Carolina lets students specialize in an area of accounting and qualifies them to work as accountants, auditors, financial managers, and personal financial advisors.

    Learn More About Master’s Degrees in Accounting

  • Ph.D. in Accounting

    A Ph.D. in accounting provides the opportunity to develop a high level of expertise in a narrow aspect of accounting; graduates can teach accounting or perform research.

    Learn More About Ph.D.s in Accounting

Accounting Concentration Options

Accounting majors in North Carolina choose from a variety of concentrations. The following concentrations are especially beneficial due to their applicability to promising career opportunities in the state. 

Finance is one of North Carolina’s major industries, and Charlotte is home to the third-biggest banking center in the U.S. The state’s emphasis on finance means that students who choose a financial accounting concentration gain knowledge and skills relevant to major employers in North Carolina. A management accounting concentration prepares learners for jobs as financial managers, a career experiencing faster-than-average projected job growth and greater compensation in North Carolina compared to the national average. 

Financial AccountingA financial accounting concentration emphasizes the external reporting and analysis of an organization’s financial information. Students who choose this concentration may qualify for careers as financial accountants, auditors, personal financial advisors, and financial analysts. 
Management Accounting A management accounting concentration focuses on using financial information to steer internal planning and management. Graduates with a management accounting concentration may qualify for careers as financial managers, cost accountants, accounting managers, and financial analysts.

Explore More Accounting Concentrations

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

Students earning accounting degrees in North Carolina must choose whether to attend an online or on-campus program. Both offer potential benefits, which we consider in detail below. 

On-Campus Programs

Attending a traditional brick-and-mortar college while earning an accounting degree in North Carolina appeals to many people. Potential benefits include a more structured learning environment, the ability to make friends and network with classmates, and the chance to participate in extracurricular activities. Typical students for an on-campus program primarily include those coming straight from high school. 

Online Programs

Online accounting degrees in North Carolina also present many benefits, including flexibility and convenience. Distance education programs let students learn from anywhere, anytime, allowing them to fit their coursework around their work schedules or family obligations. Online programs may also save money, since students can live at home and do not need to commute to or live on a physical campus. Online programs appeal to many learners, especially those with full-time jobs or families. 

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs combine the benefits of on-campus and online programs, offering some coursework online and some in person. The amount of time required in person varies significantly by program. Some hybrid options offer some classes entirely online and others in person, while others feature classes with on-campus and online components. 

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
North Carolina Students16.4%23.6%60%
United States Students16.3%18.4%65.3%
Source: NCES

Paying for Your Accounting Degree

North Carolina residents pay less than the national average to attend an in-state four-year or two-year public school. Lower tuition rates, combined with the state’s below-average cost of living, makes North Carolina more affordable than many other states for attending college. 

However, students still need to figure out how to pay for their degrees. Learners earning their accounting degrees in North Carolina can pay for their education using a variety of financing options, including student loans, grants, fellowships and scholarships.

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

North CarolinaNational
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$7,354$9,037
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$24,274$25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)$32,140$30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$2,499$3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$8,496$7,971
Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Students attending college in North Carolina save substantially if they can pay in-state tuition. In-state learners pay an average of $7,354 for a public four-year school, compared to $24,274 for out-of-state students. Public two-year schools feature similar savings for in-state students, who pay $2,499 compared to $8,496 for out-of-state learners. Private four-year universities charge the same tuition rate for residents and nonresidents of North Carolina. 

Some schools may offer a tuition break or in-state tuition for distance learners, regardless of where they live. North Carolina does not currently participate in state tuition reciprocity agreements.

North Carolina’s Cost of Living

North Carolinians experience a lower cost of living than residents of many other states. The state’s cost of living index score of 94.9 means people who live in the state pay 5.1% less than the national average for basic costs of living like housing, utilities, and transportation. North Carolina features particularly affordable housing, with residents paying 15.9% less than the national average to house themselves. 

Other School Selection Criteria

Prospective accounting students must consider many criteria when deciding where to go to school, regardless of state. Key factors to think about include:

  • How long does it take to complete the degree? Program length varies by degree level, number of credits required, and the availability of accelerated options. Some programs let students take classes year-round, while others do not offer courses in the summer.
  • Does the program boast a good reputation? Does it employ prestigious faculty members who have won awards?
  • How big is the school? Some learners prioritize a small college to foster intimacy, while others prefer the diversity and variety of a large university. A low student-teacher ratio in the classroom is also something to consider.
  • What types of admission materials must you submit? Consider how difficult it would be to gather and submit things like letters of recommendation, test scores, and essays. Also, find out any minimum GPA or test score requirements prior to applying.
  • Consider the availability of student services and resources, including career services, a writing center, tutoring, and a library.
  • Careers for Accounting Graduates in North Carolina

    North Carolina’s economy offers many opportunities for skilled accounting professionals. The state’s economy relies on industries like technology, pharmaceuticals, food processing, and banking. The importance of banking to the state’s economy makes North Carolina an excellent place to launch an accounting career. Major cities for accounting jobs include Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem. 

    The “Big Four” accounting firms, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG, all maintain offices in North Carolina, likely increasing the job opportunities for new accounting graduates. Many accounting professions in North Carolina see higher salaries and faster projected job growth compared to the national average for those jobs. Keep reading to learn about potential accounting careers and salary expectations in North Carolina. 

    Select Accounting Careers in North Carolina

    • Credit Counselor

      Credit counselors help people and organizations manage debt by offering education and advice. They help create debt management plans, provide financial counseling, and give advice regarding credit issues. Most credit counselors need a bachelor’s degree.

    • Personal Financial Advisor

      Personal financial advisors advise individuals regarding their finances. Typical job duties include meeting with clients, explaining financial services, recommending investments, and researching investment opportunities. Some personal financial advisors specialize in wealth management or private banking. Personal financial advisors need at least a bachelor’s degree. North Carolina’s large finance and banking industry makes this career important.

    • Financial Manager

      Financial managers help their organizations by creating financial plans and directing investment strategies. Daily job duties include reviewing financial reports, helping managers with financial decisions, supervising employees, and keeping track of legal obligations. They need at least a bachelor’s degree. This career is important because of North Carolina’s large finance industry.

    North Carolina Employment Trends

    Projected Job Growth for Accountants

    38,020 Employees2018
    41,280 Employees2028
    North Carolina 8.6% increase
    1,424,000 Employees2018
    1,514,700 Employees2028
    National 6.4% increase
    Source: Projections Central

    Curious about other accounting jobs? Explore more here

    The job outlook for accountants and accounting professionals in North Carolina is positive, with the BLS projecting faster-than-average job growth for credit counselors, accountants, financial managers, and personal financial advisors over the next decade. Accounting professionals in North Carolina stand to make a good living. In many cases, they can earn more in the state than they would in another state while working the same job. 

    For example, financial managers in North Carolina make $150,140 a year, compared to the national mean of $129,890. Personal financial advisors, tax examiners and collectors, and credit counselors all make more in North Carolina than the national mean. Students may want to consider pursuing one of these higher-paying careers if they plan to stay in the state after graduation.

    North Carolina Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

    The criteria for becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) varies by state. To qualify for licensure, the North Carolina State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners requires prospective CPAs to meet the following conditions: 

  • Hold at least a bachelor’s degree (150 credits) from a regionally accredited college, including 30 credits of undergraduate accounting courses
  • Take an accountancy law course no earlier than one year before applying for licensure
  • Apply for and pass the Uniform CPA examination
  • Complete at least one year of full-time accounting experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA
  • Hold U.S. citizenship
  • Be 18 years or older
  • Demonstrate good moral character
  • Reside in North Carolina
  • Complete 40 continuing education hours each year to maintain the license
  • Resources

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • Is accounting a good career in North Carolina?

      North Carolina offers a variety of well-paying careers for accounting professionals. The state employs 33,750 accountants and auditors. Many accounting professions in North Carolina are growing more quickly than the national average.

    • How much do accountants earn in North Carolina?

      The amount an accountant earns in North Carolina varies by employer, education level, professional experience, and industry. The BLS reports accountants and auditors in North Carolina make an annual mean wage of $78,500.

    • What accounting jobs are there in North Carolina?

      Graduates can choose from a wide selection of jobs. Accounting careers in North Carolina run the gamut, from accountants and auditors to financial managers. Other potential jobs include bookkeeper, tax preparer, cost estimator, and credit counselor.

    • Can I get an accounting degree in North Carolina?

      Yes. Students can choose from a variety of accounting programs in North Carolina at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. levels.

    • Does North Carolina have online accounting programs?

      Yes. Many schools offer a North Carolina online accounting degree, either fully or partly online. Some colleges offer hybrid programs that combine in-person and online coursework.

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