Accounting Degree Overview for North Dakota

Updated September 26, 2022 · 6 Min Read

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North Dakota ranks as the country's fourth-smallest state by population. Small but mighty, North Dakota -- which lies on the Canadian border -- offers solid employment prospects, particularly for aspiring accountants and auditors.

North Dakota maintains one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and prospective accountants can expect strong job growth for their profession in the state. Data from Projections Central demonstrates above-average demand for accountants and auditors in North Dakota from 2018 to 2028.

The state's solid employment rate is due in part to strong agriculture, petroleum, food processing, and technology industries. Companies in each of these sectors must employ accounting and auditing professionals to manage their financial operations, so finance professionals can expect decent employment prospects in North Dakota.

This guide covers vital information for incoming accounting students, including state requirements for becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) and details on accounting degrees in North Dakota.

North Dakota at a Glance

Per Capita Income$34,848
Fortune 500 Companies1
Number of Higher Learning Institutions20
ClimateAverage Annual Temperature: 40.4 ℉

Annual Precipitation: 17.8
Major Sports TeamsNorth Dakota Fighting Hawks North Dakota State Bison Bismarck Bucks Fargo Force Mary Marauders
Accountants in North Dakota3,780

Top North Dakota Schools for Accounting

  • University of North Dakota
  • North Dakota State University-Main Campus
  • Minot State University
  • University of Jamestown
  • University of Mary
  • Dickinson State University

Why Go to College for Accounting in North Dakota?

Though relatively few people actually live in North Dakota, the state offers plenty of activities to students and residents, from outdoor recreation to fascinating historical sites. The Pembina Gorge, which stretches up to the Canadian border, features a massive forested region where visitors can canoe, ride horses, and bird-watch. Likewise, North Dakota boasts a long indigenous history and maintains dozens of sites to commemorate native communities.

North Dakota's public university system comprises two research universities, four regional universities, and five community colleges. These 11 institutions equip their students through traditional academic programs, career and technical education, graduate studies, and research opportunities. The university system operates under a three-word mission: "Access. Innovation. Excellence."

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), nearly 53,300 students enrolled in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in North Dakota in fall 2018. For the 2017-18 academic year, colleges and universities in North Dakota conferred 11,280 degrees, including those on the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.

Graduates pursuing finance and accounting careers in North Dakota can look forward to growing state demand for professionals in their field. Accountants and auditors can expect faster-than-average job growth in North Dakota, but personal financial advisors and financial managers should see even more impressive occupational growth rates.

Personal financial advisors nationwide can expect a 7% job growth rate from 2018 to 2028, according to Projections Central, while those in North Dakota can expect a 13% occupational increase in that time frame. Likewise, Projections Central foresees a 20.8% growth in North Dakota's financial manager occupations from 2018 to 2028, compared to national growth projections of 16% for those professionals.

Given the state's focus on creating opportunities for student success and an increasing demand for finance professionals, students pursuing accounting degrees in North Dakota can take their pick of career options after graduation.

Education Statistics for North Dakota

North Dakota goes above and beyond national trends when it comes to allocation of taxes for higher education. The state uses 8.3% of tax revenue for postsecondary education, compared to the national average allocation of 5.8%.

Incoming students considering online accounting degrees in North Dakota should note that learners enroll in distance education much more often in the state than they do nationally -- at rates of 52.8% and 34.7%, respectively.

Higher Education in North Dakota

North Dakota DataNational Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges153,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges51,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education52.8%34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student$8,679$8,196 
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education8.3%5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree13.7%8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree 21.5%19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher7.9%12.1%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau - American Community Survey

Accreditation for North Dakota Schools

Students pursuing accounting degrees in North Dakota should make accreditation a priority in their school-selection process. Schools holding accreditation have undergone a voluntary, third-party assessment to verify the quality of their education, curriculum content, and faculty. 

There are two types of accreditation: regional, which is often considered more prestigious, and national, which usually applies to vocational and for-profit schools. The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) provides regional accreditation for colleges and universities in North Dakota.

Graduates from regionally accredited universities can transfer their credits to other institutions more easily than those from unaccredited schools.

Because the CPA exam requires candidates to have completed education beyond the bachelor's level, aspiring public accountants typically complete master's degrees. For that reason, having an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited university simplifies the CPA qualification process, so prospective North Dakota accounting students should limit their options to HLC-accredited schools. They can also seek program-specific accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Top Online Programs

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Considerations for an Accounting Degree in North Dakota

Because higher education is a significant investment of time and money, each learner should find schools that fit their specific needs. They should research factors like on-campus vs. online course offerings, cost, and location. Read on to learn more about North Dakota's colleges and universities, including degree details, enrollment options, and expected costs. This information can help you decide which of the best accounting schools in North Dakota might meet your needs.

Accounting Degree Levels

North Dakota's schools offer accounting degrees at three levels: associate, bachelor's, and master's. Two-year institutions tend to focus on associate degrees, while major research institutions feature bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. programs. The major research institutions in North Dakota do not offer doctoral degrees in accountancy.

Graduates of each degree level qualify to pursue accounting careers, though certain occupations require more advanced degrees than others.

Associate Degree in Accounting

Graduates with an associate degree in accounting can pursue entry-level positions as bookkeepers or payroll clerks, but most positions with advancement opportunities require a bachelor's degree.

Learn More About Associate Degrees in Accounting

Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

Bachelor's programs in accounting equip graduates to take on jobs as cost estimators and tax estimators. Bachelor's graduates can also move on to earn a master's degree, which opens even more doors.

Learn More About Bachelor's Degrees in Accounting

Master's Degree in Accounting

Master's in accounting graduates qualify to sit for the CPA exam. Accounting professionals with a master's degree tend to earn higher salaries than those with only a bachelor's degree.

Learn More About Master's Degrees in Accounting

Ph.D. in Accounting

The terminal degree in the accounting field, this doctorate typically appeals to professionals who want to teach at the postsecondary level.

Learn More About Ph.D.s in Accounting

Accounting Concentration Options

Accounting majors select from an array of concentration options, including public accounting, taxation, auditing, and forensic accounting. Students who know where they'd like their career to go should consider concentrations that would best support their professional aspirations.

North Dakota's personal financial advisors and financial managers can expect strong occupational growth rates in their state, so students earning accounting degrees in North Dakota might consider the following concentrations that prepare them for these careers.

Financial AccountingA financial accounting concentration prepares learners to work as personal financial advisors, budget analysts, auditors, and financial accountants. This area of accounting focuses on financial statement analysis and financial reporting.
Cost AccountingProspective financial managers might pursue this concentration, which could also equip students to work as accountants and auditors, management analysts, or management accountants. Cost accounting focuses on organizations' internal budgeting, marketing, and financial planning.

Explore More Accounting Concentrations

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

Distance learning allows students to pursue their education from home. Even so, some students still prefer to complete their coursework in person. Read on to learn about the various study formats and which learners might benefit most from each.

On-Campus Programs

There are several universities in North Dakota where students can attend courses in person for a more traditional higher education experience. On-campus programs tend to offer a stronger sense of community, and some students learn more effectively in in-person classroom settings. These programs often appeal to recent high school graduates who want to take advantage of the social aspects of higher education.

Online Programs

Online programs don't operate within the same confines as their on-campus counterparts; distance learners don't have to commute to campus or find new accommodations. Moreover, most online courses use an asynchronous format, meaning students can watch lectures and complete coursework at their convenience. Distance learning makes it easier to juggle education with other professional or personal responsibilities. For this reason, online programs tend to appeal to working professionals, parents, and other learners with major responsibilities outside of school.

Hybrid Programs

Students in hybrid programs get the best of both worlds: the flexibility and convenience of online learning, plus the social aspect of on-campus courses. Accounting programs following a hybrid format require some in-person attendance, but learners can complete their other requirements remotely. Each hybrid program offers a unique ratio of in-person to online components, so students interested in this study format should survey their options carefully. 

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 Dakota Students26.5%26.3%47.2%
United States Students16.3%18.4%65.3%
Source: NCES

Paying for Your Accounting Degree

Pursuing higher education often requires a significant financial investment, especially from learners who want to obtain a graduate degree. Fortunately, students in North Dakota can choose from an array of financial aid options, including scholarships, work-study programs, grants, and loans. Scholarships and grants are typically need- and/or academic-based, and they do not require repayment. Students who take out loans must repay them, though details differ depending on the loan.

Additionally, North Dakota's learners can take advantage of several student exchange and reciprocity programs, which work to lower tuition for out-of-state students and those pursuing specific credentials.

Click through the links below for more information on the various types of financial aid.

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

North DakotaNational
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$7,687$9,037
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$19,021$25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)$15,256$30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$4,700$3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$9,429$7,971
Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

As the table above illustrates, North Dakota's tuition rates fall below national averages for all four-year institutions, making the state a relatively inexpensive place to pursue a bachelor's degree. Even so, four-year tuition rates differ drastically when comparing in-state to out-of-state or public to private, which is true across most of the United States.

However, accounting students from most neighboring states can attend school in North Dakota without having to pay full out-of-state tuition rates, thanks to the following student exchange and reciprocity programs.

  • Minnesota-North Dakota Tuition Reciprocity Program

    Under this program, Minnesota residents can attend North Dakota public institutions (and vice versa) for the price of the established reciprocity fee.
  • Midwest Student Exchange Program

    Students from participating Midwestern Higher Education Compact states can attend participating colleges and universities out of state for no more than 150% of their in-state tuition rates.
  • Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

    This commission's student exchange programs (the Western Undergraduate Exchange and the Western Regional Graduate Exchange) lower tuition costs for out-of-state students at participating schools.
  • North Dakota's Cost of Living

    While four-year students in North Dakota enjoy relatively low education costs, the state's overall cost of living falls just below the national average. The World Population Review assigns North Dakota a cost index of 98.8, compared to 100 for the U.S. as a whole. This means prices for groceries, housing, utilities, and transportation in North Dakota are about 1.2% below average.

    Housing and utilities are particularly cost-effective in North Dakota, with their indexes landing at 90.3 and 93.6, respectively. Groceries and transportation somewhat offset these savings because they're more expensive, with respective scores of 108.1 and 104.3.

    Other School Selection Criteria

    The application and school selection process is unique for each incoming student, because priorities and considerations differ between applicants. While location, cost, and program format matter to most learners, prospective students may also consider the following factors.

  • Alumni Network

    Schools with more robust alumni networks may provide more networking opportunities and professional connections. Applicants may prioritize larger or more prestigious universities over smaller schools for this reason.
  • Student-to-Teacher Ratio

    Class sizes can also affect students' learning experiences. For example, smaller class sizes may offer more one-on-one time with faculty members and peers.
  • University Resources

    Prospective students should prioritize schools that support their learners, both in their education and in their transition from school to the workforce.
  • Extracurriculars

    These prove especially important to on-campus students, who may turn to clubs, sports, and Greek organizations to meet new friends and form professional connections.
  • Required Admission Materials/Test Scores

    Some universities require applicants to submit personal essays, while others focus only on grades and test scores. Moreover, many schools enforce minimum test score requirements. These factors might influence where aspiring students choose to apply.
  • Explore Our Rankings For the Best Accounting Programs at Each Level

    Careers for Accounting Graduates in North Dakota

    Accountants and auditors across the U.S. can expect faster-than-average growth, with Projections Central forecasting an added 90,700 positions to the field from 2018 to 2028 (a 6.4% increase). North Dakota should see even faster growth for accountants and auditors in that time frame -- an 8% increase, according to Projections Central.

    North Dakota's overall economy ranks 35th out of the 50 U.S. states, according to U.S. News & World Report. Despite this relatively low ranking, the state places an impressive seventh for employment rates. This, coupled with the state's strong growth projections for accountants and auditors, indicates a bright future for those seeking accounting careers in North Dakota.

    Other financial professionals, including personal financial advisors and financial managers, can look forward to even faster occupational growth in North Dakota. Projections Central reports projected occupational growth of 13% for personal financial advisors and 20.8% for financial managers in North Dakota from 2018 to 2028.

    Professionals in those positions also earn significantly higher wages. Where accountants and auditors earn an average annual salary of $64,260 in North Dakota, according to BLS data, personal financial advisors and financial managers earn $85,670 and $133,980, respectively.

    Select Accounting Careers in North Dakota

    Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

    These professionals produce financial records for organizations, and they verify those records' accuracy. Bookkeeping and auditing clerks must hold an associate degree at minimum, and most of them work in office environments.

    Tax Examiners and Collectors and Revenue Agents:

    Professionals in these positions work to collect taxes from business firms or individuals according to regulations and laws. They may also determine tax liability. Tax examiners and collectors should hold a bachelor's degree.

    Budget Analysts

    When private and public organizations need to organize their finances, they turn to budget analysts. These professionals should hold a master's degree at minimum. Most of them work full time, and they typically operate in universities, private companies, and government agencies.

    North Dakota Employment Trends

    Projected Job Growth for Accountants

    3,870 Employees2018
    4,180 Employees2028
    North Dakota 8% increase
    1,424,000 Employees2018
    1,514,700 Employees2028
    National 6.4% increase
    Source: Projections Central

    Curious about other accounting jobs? Explore more here

    According to BLS data, North Dakota employs most of its financial professionals as bookkeeping and auditing clerks (5,010) and accountants and auditors (3,780), positions that require an associate degree and a master's degree, respectively. However, accountants and auditors make significantly higher annual average salaries than bookkeeping and auditing clerks, so graduates pursuing an accounting degree in North Dakota can benefit from completing a master's.

    In fact, a master's degree qualifies graduates for all of North Dakota's highest-paying finance jobs. For example, financial managers in the state make an average annual salary of $133,980, according to the BLS — more than $4,000 above the national average annual salary for professionals in that role. Personal financial advisors make an average salary of $85,670 per year.

    Payroll clerks, cost estimators, and tax examiners and collectors in North Dakota also make average annual salaries exceeding the national average for those professions.

    North Dakota Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

    Accounting majors often go on to earn a master's degree and sit for the CPA exam. Requirements to become a CPA vary by state. In North Dakota, the requirements are as follows: 

  • Complete 150 credit hours of education, culminating in a bachelor's degree
  • Complete 24 semester hours (or equivalent quarter hours) in accounting courses, excluding principles of accounting
  • Be within six months of completing education requirements before sitting for the CPA exam
  • Sit for and pass the CPA exam
  • Complete one year of professional experience in industry, government, academia, or public accounting
  • Pass the professional ethics exam for CPAs
  • Bachelor's degrees typically comprise only 120 credit hours, so most CPA candidates obtain a master's degree to fulfill the 150-credit hour requirement for licensure.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Accounting in North Dakota

    Is accounting a good career in North Dakota?

    Yes. Accounting professionals in North Dakota can expect faster-than-average occupational growth rates from 2018 to 2028. They also earn solid salaries, making accounting a dependable career choice for North Dakota residents.

    How much do accountants earn in North Dakota?

    Salaries for accountants vary depending on professionals' specific positions, but accountants and auditors in North Dakota earned an average annual salary of $64,260 as of 2019. Those in the 10th percentile earned $36,120, according to the BLS, while those in the 90th percentile earned $97,500.

    What accounting jobs are there in North Dakota?

    Most of North Dakota's finance professionals work as accountants and auditors or as bookkeeping and auditing clerks. Other professionals, such as personal financial advisors and financial managers, can expect a drastic increase in demand for their positions in North Dakota over the next decade.

    Can I get an accounting degree in North Dakota?

    Yes. North Dakota is home to 20 higher learning institutions, and most of its major universities offer accounting degrees. Students can find accounting degrees at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels in North Dakota.

    Does North Dakota have online accounting programs?

    Yes. Learners actually study online at higher rates in North Dakota than they do on the national scale, according to the NCES. Those pursuing online accounting degrees in North Dakota can find hybrid and/or fully online options.

    North Dakota Accounting and Education Organizations

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