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An accounting degree prepares students for jobs in accounting, finance, and banking. Potential positions for graduates include accountant, auditor, financial planner, and bookkeeper.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that accountants and auditors earn a median annual wage of just over $70,000, with the top 10% of earners making around $124,000 annually. The BLS projects jobs for accountants and auditors to grow 6% between 2018-2028.
Most accounting positions require at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. However, to become certified public accountants (CPA), professionals need 150 credits, which they often obtain through a 120-credit bachelor's degree and 30-credit master's degree in accounting.
According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 6.6 million students enroll in an online learning course per year. This page covers various accounting programs by state and discusses the benefits of both on-campus and online programs.
Read on to compare the best accounting programs and learn more about how to become a CPA.
Benefits of an On-Campus Program
On-campus programs allow students to attend classes in a traditional classroom setting, providing maximum face-to-face interaction with professors and classmates. Despite advanced technological resources that allow for remote work and virtual learning, many students prefer the accountability and structure that comes with in-person interactions with peers and professors.
Additionally, some students feel they are not technologically savvy, or simply do not enjoy certain aspects of distance learning. Other students may already work remotely, and gravitate toward traditional classroom learning to receive more in-person interaction. On-campus programs may also offer students access to resources that online programs don't offer, such as fitness centers or student organizations.
Benefits of an Online Program
Online learning offers students convenience and flexibility. Online programs with asynchronous courses don't require set meeting times, allowing students to balance their studies with personal and professional programs.
Additionally, online learning allows students to attend the top programs in the country without relocating. Distance learners in Nebraska, for example, may take online accounting classes at prestigious colleges or universities in Boston.
Non-native English speakers may opt for online learning for the opportunity to use discussion boards as a means to practice written language skills. This style of written communication gives students ample time to think through responses.
Finally, students may opt for online learning for reduced or lower tuition rates. Rather than charging in-state and out-of-state tuition rates, online schools often charge one flat online tuition rate regardless of student residency.
How to Become a CPA
To become a CPA, individuals must earn state licensure. CPA requirements vary by state, but all states require candidates to pass the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant's (AICPA) CPA exam. To sit for the CPA exam, candidates need 150 credits, which they often obtain by earning a 120-credit bachelor's degree and 30-credit master's degree.
Candidates are not required to hold a degree in accounting, but the AICPA recommends prospective CPAs possess at least 24 credits in accounting, finance, or a related field. The CPA exam comprises four sections: auditing and attestation, financial accounting and reporting, regulation, and business environment and concepts. Students must earn 75 points on each portion to pass the exam.
Many accounting-related positions prefer candidates with work experience and a CPA license. Colleges and universities often help accounting students gain experience through internships with public accounting or business firms.
Registration for the CPA exam requires paying a fee and submitting college transcripts to a state's board of accountancy. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy then provides candidates with a notice to schedule exam dates.
Candidates can take the CPA exam during four annual testing windows: January 1-March 10, April 1-June 10, July 1-September 10, and October 1-December 10. Candidates can complete different portions of the CPA in different testing windows. Prospective CPAs must take the exam at a Prometric testing center.
Once a candidate earns CPA credentials, they must maintain their license by completing professional development or continuing education requirements. These requirements vary by state.
Read on to learn more about accounting programs in your state.
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Accounting Degree Programs in Your State
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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