Best Accounting Programs in North Carolina

| Accounting.com Staff Modified on March 22, 2022

Best Accounting Programs in North Carolina

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Students pursuing accounting degrees in North Carolina can graduate with strong job prospects from any of the state's many higher learning institutions.

According to Projections Central, employment for accountants and auditors in North Carolina is projected to grow by 8.6% from 2018-2028. This is faster than the national projected growth of 6.4%.

Regardless of their specific accounting degree, students can qualify for well-paying positions after graduation. Nearly every organization depends on accounting professionals to assess finances, ensure 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.

This guide explores reasons 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 attending college for accounting.

North Carolina at a Glance

Popular 10,701,022
Climate

Average Annual Temperature: 59℉

Annual Precipitation: 50.3 inches

Major Sports Teams

Charlotte Hornets

Carolina Panthers

Carolina Hurricanes

Per Capita Income $30,783
Fortune 500 Companies 31
Accountants in North Carolina 35,890
Number of Higher Learning Institutions 135

Source: World Population Review, Current Results, NCES, U.S. Census ACS, Fortune, BLS

Why Go to Accounting and Finance Schools in NC?

With a projected 8.6% job growth rate in the state for accountants and auditors from 2018-2028, prospective accountants in North Carolina can attend in-state schools and network with other professionals before entering a strong job market.

North Carolina has a total of 75 public higher education institutions, according to NCES 2019-2020 data. The University of North Carolina (UNC) system is among the most renowned in the U.S. for educational innovation and quality higher learning. The system comprises 17 campuses.

The UNC system also aids many statewide education reform efforts. The myFutureNC initiative focuses on growing the number of North Carolinians with postsecondary degrees or career-forward credentials.

Additionally, the North Carolina Community College System created a multi-measurement placement system to offer more accurate course placement for learners. As of 2016, all state community colleges must use the system.

While you can find many larger North Carolina campuses in or near metropolitan areas, some are situated within quieter, close-knit communities. Learners can also pursue online accounting degrees in NC from several institutions if they do not live within a comfortable driving distance from the school.

The University of North Carolina (UNC) system is among the most renowned in the U.S. for educational innovation and quality higher learning.

Affordability is another perk of North Carolina higher education. Generally, the state offers lower tuition rates than national averages for in-state learners at public two-year and four-year colleges.

Education Statistics for North Carolina

North Carolina degree-seekers can choose from more than 130 two- and four-year colleges in the state.

In 2020, North Carolina had more students enrolled in at least some distance education classes than the national average. In addition, more adults over 25 have an associate or bachelor's degree in North Carolina than the national average.

The following table highlights higher education statistics for North Carolina compared to national data.

Higher Education Statistics North Carolina Data National Data
Four-Year Colleges 73 2,679
Two-Year Colleges 62 1,303
Students Enrolled in Distance Education 82% 72.8%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student $10,742 $8,636
Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education $15,889 $15,276
Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree 9.7% 8.5%
Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree 20.0% 19.8%
Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher 11.3% 12.4%

Source: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census ACS

Accreditation for North Carolina Schools

Colleges and universities can earn institutional accreditation by undergoing an evaluation of academic programs, educational resources, faculty credentials, and campus facilities.

Attending an accredited college increases students' chances of qualifying for financial aid and successfully transferring credit to another higher education institution. Many professional certifications and graduate schools require candidates to have graduated from accredited universities.

In North Carolina, most reputable schools are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Some of the best accounting schools in North Carolina also hold programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which accredits undergraduate and graduate accounting programs.

Considerations for North Carolina Accounting Degrees

Searching for the right on-campus or online accounting degree in NC requires candidates to compare tuition and fees, curricula, and program cultures. Prospective students should also consider which format works best for their learning style and how the state's cost of living factors into their education budget.

The following sections contrast key differences in accounting programs in North Carolina, including tuition and program format variations. For instance, the state has a higher percentage of students enrolled in some or all distance education courses than the national average.

Use the below information and data to determine if North Carolina is the best state to begin your accounting degree program search.

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

The most common learning formats at some of the best accounting schools in NC are on-campus, online, and hybrid delivery. Compare each option to determine which format best suits your learning and scheduling needs.

On-Campus Accounting Programs in North Carolina

Pursuing on-campus North Carolina accounting degrees may benefit students who prefer face-to-face instruction. On-campus programs also provide practical opportunities for learners to collaborate with peers and work with emerging technology.

Students with open schedules who stay motivated when working with others may benefit the most from on-campus accounting programs.

Online Accounting Degrees in North Carolina

Although online accounting degrees in North Carolina deliver the same curriculum as their on-campus counterparts, they offer a different learning experience. Online programs may include self-paced coursework, synchronous virtual instruction, or a combination of both.

Online degrees usually suit self-motivated students who seek flexible scheduling. Learners who enjoy written communication may also prefer online courses.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs work best for students who need some flexibility in their schedules and enjoy in-person interaction with peers and teachers. They require enrollees to complete some classes on campus, such as once a week or one whole week each month.

These programs allow learners to access campus resources, like libraries and clubs, while providing a scheduling balance.

Explore our nationwide rankings for the best accounting programs on campus and online.

Paying for Your Accounting Degree in NC

North Carolina tuition is generally lower than national average costs for in-state and out-of-state students in public four-year institutions. However, college is still a significant expense for most students.

Degree-seekers can use financial aid to make their online accounting degree in NC more affordable. Students can apply scholarships and grants to their tuition, which typically do not require repayment.

North Carolina tuition is generally lower than national average costs for in-state and out-of-state students in public four-year institutions.

Loans offer financial assistance, but learners must prepare to pay them back after the deferment period ends. For example, College Foundation, Inc. provides educational loans for North Carolina students and their families. Learn more about financial aid options at the following links.

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

North Carolina's public two-year and four-year colleges apply lower average tuition costs than the national average. In addition, out-of-state tuition for four-year programs in North Carolina is lower than the national average tuition rate. Still, out-of-state students generally pay more in tuition than in-state learners.

Three schools in the UNC system — Elizabeth City State University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Western Carolina University — participate in the NC Promise program for affordable tuition. They offer $500 per credit for in-state learners and $2,500 per credit for out-of-state learners in tuition for fall and spring semesters. Some out-of-state students may qualify for tuition waivers to pay in-state tuition costs.

North Carolina's Cost of Living

Students should consider living costs in addition to educational costs when deciding if North Carolina is the right fit for their goals.

According to 2021 World Population Review data, North Carolina has a cost of living index of 94.9, which is lower than the national average. The state has lower average costs for groceries, housing, transportation, and utility expenses than several other states, making it a potentially budget-friendlier option.

Careers for Accounting Graduates in North Carolina

Like many states, North Carolina's economy declined during and after 2020. However, the state's emergency loans for businesses and statewide economic reform programs lead initiatives to boost the economy.

North Carolina's booming business economy in diverse industries demonstrates its economic strength. The state features low building and utility costs, along with low corporate tax rates, to create an affordable foundation for businesses.

The Big Four accounting firms have offices in North Carolina cities, including Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greensboro. Top industries, such as aerospace and energy, seek highly credentialed accounting professionals to track, analyze, and inform their financial practices.

Several top accounting careers in North Carolina received strong growth projections from 2018-2028. For example, Projections Central reported a 21.9% projected growth rate for personal financial manager employment, while financial managers received a projected 21.5% employment growth rate in this period, as well.

Explore the sections below to learn about popular accounting careers in North Carolina at each education level.

Select Accounting Careers in North Carolina

Financial Manager


Financial managers create and manage healthy and efficient financial processes for organizations. They forecast finances based on data and trends and collaborate with finance departments to reduce spending. North Carolina's dedication to business and industry expansion helps to pave the way for new businesses to grow with the help of financial managers.

Job Outlook in North Carolina (2018-28): +21.5%

Financial Analyst


Financial analysts help organizations make sound money decisions. These professionals work in many industries, including healthcare, investment banking, and manufacturing. To pursue intermediate and higher positions, a financial analyst typically needs a master's degree. North Carolina's diverse industry landscape provides an excellent opportunity for financial analysts to begin and grow their careers.

Job Outlook in North Carolina (2018-28): +13.7%

Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks


Although projections show a slightly declining job outlook, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerk jobs remain plentiful in North Carolina. These clerks record financial transactions, track income and expenses, and reconcile financial reports. An online accounting degree in NC can give prospective accounting clerks an edge in the job market.

Job Outlook in North Carolina (2018-28): -1.6%

North Carolina Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

Job Availability North Carolina National
2018 Employment 38,020 1,424,000
2028 Projected Employment 41,280 1,514,700
Projected Job Growth, 2018-28 8.6% 6.4%

Source: Projections Central

Accounting Salaries by Career

Career North Carolina Employment North Carolina Average Annual Salary National Average Annual Salary

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

46,440

$40,940

$44,100

Credit Counselors

640

$56,550

$49,940

Payroll Clerks

3,680

$43,880

$48,290

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Cost Estimators

6,960

$64,320

$72,960

Property Appraisers and Assessors

1,880

$64,710

$65,630

Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents

14,110

$91,080

$96,540

Tax Examiners and Collectors

1,160

$61,450

$62,040

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

35,890

$80,570

$81,660

Budget Analysts

1,260

$74,260

$82,690

Financial Analysts

13,730

$92,400

$96,630

Financial Managers

16,340

$155,580

$151,510

Personal Financial Advisors

8,690

$131,780

$122,490

Source: BLS OEWS

North Carolina features higher-than-average salaries for several accounting careers, including credit counselors and financial managers.

Accounting master's degree graduates typically earn the most, with financial analysts, financial managers, and personal financial advisors receiving the highest average salaries in the state. However, financial sales agents with a bachelor's degree can earn about $26,000 more than the national average salary, according to BLS data.

To pursue these high-paying careers, consider accounting programs in North Carolina that offer business, economics, and finance courses. Finance schools in NC with master's in business administration programs are also wise options for students looking to advance their careers.

North Carolina Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

A certified public accountant (CPA) credential can boost your career prospects in North Carolina. Some employers require their financial managers and other professionals to hold this certification.

The guidelines for becoming a CPA vary among states. North Carolina CPAs must meet the following criteria:

Be a U.S. citizen at least 18 years old Complete 150 semester hours with a concentration in accounting; 24 hours must include coursework from at least eight relevant fields of study, such as communications and statistics Have at least one year of professional accounting experience under the supervision of a CPA, four years of accounting experience, or four years of accounting teaching experience Complete eight hours of an approved North Carolina accountancy rules and ethics course Receive a passing score of 75 on each section of the CPA exam

For more information about becoming a CPA in North Carolina, contact its State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners.

Best Accounting Schools in NC

Well-trained accountants can find rewarding careers in every industry in NC. This ranking explores five of the state's top accounting programs. Our methodology considers factors, such as academic and school/program reputation.

#1 Online College in North Carolina

Catawba College

School Information
Location Salisbury, North Carolina
Admission Rate 50%
Graduation Rate 51%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Located in Salisbury, Catawba is a small college with about 1,300 students. Affiliated with the United Church of Christ, Catawba offers 70 academic fields of study. Students benefit from a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

BA in Accounting; BS in Business Administration - Accounting Concentration

Catawba offers a BA in accounting and a BS in administration with a concentration in accounting. Students choose the BA if they want to focus solely on accounting careers. The curriculum provides the education necessary to sit for the CPA examination and licensure.

The BA provides training in areas, such as auditing, taxation accounting, and accounting information systems and controls. BA students complete an accounting internship that provides real experience at a firm. Students pursue the BS if they want training in various aspects of the business enterprise, in addition to specialized accounting skills. 

The BS introduces students to marketing, managerial finance, and business data analytics. Students also learn how to perform accounting duties, such as audits and managerial cost accounting.

Applying to Catawba

Admission requires a high school diploma or GED certificate and a writing sample. Transfer students must have a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Institutional: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Programmatic: Accreditation Council of Business School Programs (ACBSP).
  • Tuition: $32,868 per year (full-time students)
  • Required Credits: 124 for both BA and BS; accounting major-42 semester hours; accounting concentration-60 semester hours
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
#2 Online College in North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Information
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 91%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

UNC-Chapel Hill is one of the nation's oldest colleges. The school enrolls about 31,500 students and administers a catalog that includes 95 bachelor's and 104 master's programs.

Master of Accounting

The master of accounting (MAC) enrolls students from diverse academic and professional backgrounds. Students can complete the degree online or on campus. Participants earn the degree in 10-36 months, depending on which format they choose.

The MAC's core explores basic accounting principles, such as auditing and financial reporting. Students can choose a tax, audit, or financial analysis and reporting concentration. Numerous elective courses focus on specialized training, including business entities and securities regulation. Leadership development electives prepare MAC students for senior executive roles.

On-campus and online learners enjoy the same rigorous academic preparation and peer-to-peer interaction.  

Applying to UNC-Chapel Hill 

Admission requires a bachelor's degree in any major, school transcripts, and GRE or GMAT scores. UNC-Chapel Hill offers test score waivers for qualified applicants.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Institutional: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Programmatic: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Tuition: Online: $1,446.36 per credit; on campus: $21,060 per semester (North Carolina residents); $29,846 per semester (non-North Carolina residents)
  • Required Credits: 36-48
  • Program Length: 10-36 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous), on campus
#3 Online College in North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Asheville

School Information
Location Asheville, North Carolina
Admission Rate 84%
Graduation Rate 59%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

UNC Asheville is the state's designated public liberal arts and sciences college. About 3,300 students attend the school, located in the small mountain town. Students receive a rigorous and affordable UNC education.

BS in Accounting

Students earn the BS in accounting from an AACSB-accredited school. The BS includes a liberal arts core and a 45-credit major. The program teaches fundamental accounting principles and intermediate accounting. Advanced coursework covers auditing, cost accounting, and accounting for governmental organizations. 

Participants learn to perform day-to-day operations, such as marketing and economic analysis.
Students apply concepts learned during project-based internships. Enrollees use their training to develop management strategies and policies during a capstone course. Students can participate in undergraduate research opportunities and join organizations, such as Beta Gamma Sigma.

Applying to UNC Asheville

Admission requires a high school diploma or GED certificate and school transcripts. Transfer students must have a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA on college coursework.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Institutional: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); programmatic: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Tuition: $17,566 per year (in state); $34,914 per year (out-of-state)
  • Required Credits: Major: 45; BS: 120 credits
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
#4 Online College in North Carolina

Elon University

School Information
Location Elon, North Carolina
Admission Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 85%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 0% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Elon is a mid-sized college that specializes in the liberal arts and sciences and experiential learning. About 7,100 students attend the college, completing degrees on a 656-acre campus designated a botanical garden.

BS in Accounting

The BS in accounting provides students with a well-rounded liberal arts education. Students explore general business areas, such as marketing and finance. Enrollees examine the role of management in the effective production and delivery of goods and services.

Students learn the principles of accounting and advanced skills, including auditing and cost accounting. Accounting majors complete at least one internship for academic credit. Graduate students can pursue the 30-credit MS in accounting, which prepares enrollees to sit for the CPA exam. 

Students in the BS can apply to the master's program in their junior year. Elon offers merit-based and need-based scholarships. 

Applying to Elon

Admission to the BS in accounting requires a high school diploma or GED certificate. Applicants can submit SAT or ACT scores to bolster their application.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Institutional: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Programmatic: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Tuition: $42,241 tuition and fees
  • Required Credits: 132
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
#5 Online College in North Carolina

Elizabeth City State University

School Information
Location Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Admission Rate 66%
Graduation Rate 39%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Founded in 1891, ECSU is part of the University of North Carolina System. The school enrolls about 2,000 students, most of whom classify as undergraduates. ECSU offers very affordable tuition and small classes that promote personalized learning.

BS in Accounting

The BS in accounting provides a rigorous accounting curriculum that blends theoretical and practical learning. The degree helps meet the 150-hour educational requirement for CPA certification.

The curriculum teaches students how to prepare and analyze financial statements. Enrollees develop technical skills in auditing, financial accounting, and cost/managerial accounting. Students learn how to apply their knowledge to professional scenarios. 

The curriculum embeds problem-based learning projects in several classes. All accounting students complete a 150-hour internship. Students engage in extracurricular activities by joining clubs, such as Enactus or the Viking Finance Investment Club. Graduate students leave the program with the critical thinking skills necessary to make sound business decisions. 

Applying to ECSU

Admission requires a high school diploma or GED certificate, college prep coursework, and SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students must have at least 24 transferable credits and a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Institutional: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Programmatic: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Tuition: $41 per credit (in state); $208 per credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

Questions About Accounting Programs in North Carolina

Is accounting a good career in North Carolina?

Yes. North Carolina's robust business climate provides plentiful opportunities for accountants to begin and grow their careers. According to Projections Central, positions for accountants and auditors are projected to grow by 8.6% from 2018-2028.

On average, accountants and auditors earn $80,570 annually in North Carolina, which ranks among the highest salaries for the profession in the nation. Earning a master's degree in accounting and a CPA credential can lead to even more earning potential.

What accounting jobs are there in North Carolina?

North Carolina hosts many industries that employ accounting professionals, including information technology, biotechnology, and food manufacturing. Accountants can also pursue work as bookkeeping clerks, financial managers, and financial analysts in the state.

Can I get an online accounting degree in North Carolina?

Several North Carolina schools offer online accounting associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees. Some institutions feature hybrid programs for learners who prefer a combination of on-campus and online components.

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