Accounting Degree Overview for Rhode Island

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The smallest state in the U.S., Rhode Island still offers a variety of excellent accounting programs, including some online options. Earning an accounting degree at any degree level can open the door to many well-paying careers with promising outlooks. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that financial managers in Rhode Island make $161,880 annually, significantly more than their national mean wage of $147,530. Other popular accounting careers in the state include accountants and auditors, bookkeeping and auditing clerks, and cost estimators. 

Keep reading to learn more about why students should consider earning their accounting degrees in Rhode Island, including the overall climate for higher education, what to expect from a typical accounting program, and career and salary potential for graduates. We also include a list of some of the best accounting schools in Rhode Island to help students choose the right program.

Rhode Island at a Glance

Population1,056,160
Per Capita Income$34,999
Fortune 500 Companies7
Number of Higher Learning Institutions13
ClimateAverage Annual Temperature: 43.8℉

Annual Precipitation: 43.4 inches
Major Sports TeamsProvidence Bruins
Accountants in Rhode Island4,740

Top Rhode Island Schools for Accounting

  • Providence College
  • Roger Williams University
  • Salve Regina University
  • University of Rhode Island
  • Rhode Island College

Why Go to College for Accounting in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island offers several compelling reasons for accounting students to enroll in schools in the state. The Rhode Island Promise, a program that offers free tuition to Rhode Islanders who attend the Community College of Rhode Island, demonstrates the state’s commitment to higher education. Students must enroll full time, maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA, and enroll each semester for two years. The state is also exploring expansion of the program to include scholarships covering the third and fourth years of college at a state university. 

Rhode Islanders receive a large tuition break at public institutions of higher learning. In-state students pay $12,239 a year to attend a four-year public university, less than half the cost of the $29,013 annual tuition assessed to out-of-state learners, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Those who pursue a Rhode Island online accounting degree benefit from the ability to learn anywhere, anytime, while living in a state small enough that any mandatory on-campus requirements can be easily completed. 

Another benefit to earning online accounting degrees in Rhode Island includes the opportunity to begin networking with other accounting professionals while still in school. This may give graduates a leg up on finding out about and applying for jobs after they finish their programs. 

Education Statistics for Rhode Island

The table below provides key statistics on higher education in Rhode Island. The state boasts 13 institutions of higher learning, including 12 four-year colleges and one two-year school, per NCES data. Of all Rhode Island students, 14.4% partake in distance learning — a much lower percentage than the national average of 34.7%. 

Rhode Island spends $6,286 on postsecondary education per full-time student, compared to the national average of $8,196. The state also allocates less tax revenue to higher education than average. Rhode Island’s population obtains postsecondary degrees at slightly higher rates than the national average.

Higher Education in Rhode Island

Rhode Island DataNational Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges123,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges11,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education14.4%34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student$6,286$8,196 
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education3%5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree8.3%8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor’s Degree 19.9%19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher13.4%12.1%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

Accreditation for Rhode Island Schools

Accounting students in Rhode Island should attend an accredited college to increase their chances of receiving a high-quality education. There are two types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation is much more popular and prestigious than national accreditation, used more often by for-profit schools. 

Attending a regionally accredited college offers more than just prestige. It also increases your chances of qualifying for financial aid and transferring credit to another institution. In some cases, students must graduate from a regionally accredited school to qualify for future opportunities like graduate school or professional certifications. 

When choosing an online or traditional brick-and-mortar school in Rhode Island look for the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), the state’s regional accrediting agency. NECHE provides third-party accreditation to colleges in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, and other states in the Northeast. Students can look for school accreditation information using the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s searchable database

Considerations for an Accounting Degree in Rhode Island

Many factors go into the process of choosing the right accounting program or school. The information below can help prospective learners decide if Rhode Island is the right place to start looking for accounting programs. Factors affecting the selection process include the level of degree you hope to pursue and whether you want to attend an online or in-person program. 

Cost is another important consideration: residents of Rhode Island pay significantly less in tuition and qualify for special financial aid programs that out-of-state learners do not benefit from. Finally, your desired career and salary level may impact your choice to pursue a degree in Rhode Island or a different state. 

Accounting Degree Levels

The level of accounting degree you pursue may impact your school decision, career trajectory, and salary prospects. Typically, the higher the level of degree, the better the career prospects for graduates. 

Accounting Concentration Options

Students in Rhode Island can choose from a variety of accounting concentrations, including auditing, cost accounting, forensic accounting, and taxation. The concentrations below may prove particularly advantageous for accounting majors in the state, because of their wide applicability to many popular career opportunities in Rhode Island. Financial accounting and management accounting may also lead to some of the most well-paying accounting jobs in the state. 

Below, we describe these concentrations in detail, including potential career outcomes for students who choose them. 

ConcentrationDescription
Financial AccountingA financial accounting concentration prepares students for a broad variety of careers, including CPA, financial accountant, auditor, and budget analyst. This concentration teaches students to evaluate organizations’ financial health, analyze financial statements, and report findings. 
Management Accounting A management accounting concentration emphasizes business skills within an accounting curriculum. Graduates may qualify for careers such as accounting manager, cost accountant, tax consultant, and financial analyst. Certified financial planner is another common career path for students who choose this concentration.

Explore More Accounting Concentrations

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

The best accounting schools in Rhode Island may offer on-campus, online, or hybrid programs. Below, we explain the differences between each of these types of learning formats. 

On-Campus Programs

Some students earning their accounting degrees in Rhode Island prefer to attend class on a traditional brick-and-mortar campus. One benefit of choosing an on-campus program includes the structure of being in a classroom with the same people at a specific time and place each week. Ideal students for this type of program include recent high school graduates. 

Online Programs

Pursuing a Rhode Island online accounting degree appeals to many students seeking flexibility and convenience for their education. Typical distance learners include those with work or family obligations. Most online accounting degrees in Rhode Island let students complete coursework at their convenience.

Hybrid Programs

Some of the best accounting schools in Rhode Island may offer hybrid programs that combine in-person and online learning. The amount of time required on campus varies by school. Many programs offer most learning online but include some mandatory in-person requirements. 

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
Rhode Island Students4.6%9.8%85.6%
United States Students16.3%18.4%65.3%
Source: NCES

Paying for Your Accounting Degree

Rhode Island college students pay more in tuition and fees than the national average. The high cost of tuition combined with the high cost of living can make earning a degree in the state expensive. However, students have many financial options available to help pay for an accounting degree in Rhode Island. 

Types of financial aid to research include scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans. Scholarships, fellowships, and grants do not need to be repaid. Low-interest federal student loans may also help students pay for school. Explore the links below for more information about financial aid options. 

Average Cost of College Tuition and Fees in Rhode Island, 2017-2018

Rhode IslandNational
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$12,239$9,037
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$29,013$25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)$40,361$30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$4,564$3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$12,156$7,971
Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Going to college in Rhode Island generally costs more than the national average. For example, in-state tuition in Rhode Island averages $12,239, more than $3,000 beyond the national average of $9,037, according to the NCES. Private college costs more, too: The average tuition for a four-year private college in Rhode Island is $40,361, compared to $30,731 nationally. 

Students who pay in-state tuition can save a lot of money at two-year and four-year public colleges in Rhode Island. Out-of-state learners who want to go to college in Rhode Island may be able to get a tuition discount through the New England Board of Higher Education’s Tuition Break program. Qualifying students from neighboring states receive a discount on eligible associate, bachelor’s, and graduate programs at participating Rhode Island schools. 

Rhode Island’s Cost of Living

Students should consider the cost of living when estimating education expenses. Rhode Island ranks 41st for cost of living nationally. Only eight states are more expensive to live in than Rhode Island. The cost of living index score of 119.4 indicates that Rhode Islanders pay an extra 19.4% for the same basic necessities like housing, utilities, and transportation when compared to the national average. The state’s cost of housing is nearly 30% more than the national average, with a score of 129.4.

Other School Selection Criteria

Students must consider a variety of other issues in order to choose the right school, regardless of state. Key factors to think about when choosing a college include:

  • Will it be very difficult to get into the school? Competitiveness and acceptance rates vary considerably by school and program.
  • What are the required admission materials? Applicants may need to submit test scores, letters of recommendation, essays, and transcripts. Though test scores are no longer required by every institution, applicants should still research each school’s requirements.
  • How long will it take to earn the degree? Program length varies by degree level, school schedule, and the ability to enroll part time, full time, or at an accelerated rate.
  • What about school size? Some learners prefer the amenities and activity of a large university, while others appreciate the close-knit community of a small college.
  • Do extracurricular activities matter to you? Find out about student groups, sports teams, and student life if you value this.
  • Does the school prioritize hiring a diverse staff? What about the composition of the student body?
  • What types of university resources do students get access to? Think about libraries, tutoring services, IT help, and a career center.
  • Careers for Accounting Graduates in Rhode Island

    Major industries in Rhode Island’s economy include cyberdefense, data analytics, and medicine These and other fields require workers with accounting degrees to help them reduce costs, analyze financial information, and keep accurate records.

    As the smallest state in the U.S., all Rhode Islanders are in close proximity to the major cities like Providence and Newport that offer accounting jobs. Three of the “Big Four” accounting firms make a presence in the state, with offices for PricewaterhouseCoopers in North Kingstown and Ernst & Young and KPMG in Providence. The “Big Four” audit more than 80% of all the public companies in the United States.

    Well-paying accounting careers in Rhode Island with faster-than-average projected job growth include financial manager, cost estimator, and budget analyst. Below, we describe these accounting careers in depth. We also explain Rhode Island employment trends, career and salary expectations, and the requirements for becoming a CPA in the state. 

    Select Accounting Careers in Rhode Island


    • Financial Manager


      Financial managers develop long-term financial plans, create financial reports, and coordinate investment activity for their organizations. Types of financial managers include controllers, credit managers, and risk managers. They typically make more on average than most other accounting professions. Employers typically prefer that financial managers hold a master’s degree.


    • Cost Estimator


      Cost estimators estimate the materials, time, money, and labor necessary to make a product or deliver a service. Typical job duties include calculating estimates, reading blueprints, finding ways to reduce costs, and maintaining records. In Rhode Island, they earn more than the national average. Cost estimators usually need a bachelor’s degree at minimum.


    • Budget Analyst


      Budget analysts help organizations develop, analyze, and review budgets. They monitor spending, make funding recommendations, and review budget proposals. Budget analysts typically need at least a bachelor’s degree and earn more in Rhode Island than the national average.


    Rhode Island Employment Trends

    Projected Job Growth for Accountants

    5,090 Employees2018
    5,390 Employees2028
    Rhode Island 5.9% increase
    1,424,000 Employees2018
    1,514,700 Employees2028
    National 6.4% increase
    Source: Projections Central

    Curious about other accounting jobs? Explore more here

    Graduates can choose from a variety of promising accounting careers in Rhode Island. As the table above makes clear, graduates with any degree level qualify for well-paying occupations. Associate holders who pursue a career in credit counseling make $10,000 more than the national salary for that occupation. Those who earn a bachelor’s degree can apply for jobs as cost estimators and tax examiners and collectors, both of which make more than the national average for that profession. 

    Earning a master’s in accounting in Rhode Island may offer the best pay off for students, with financial managers, personal financial advisors, and budget analysts all making significantly more than the national average for those jobs. Accountants and auditors also make more than their counterparts in most other states. When deciding what type of degree to pursue, students should also factor in the cost of spending more time to earn higher degree levels. 

    Rhode Island Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

    The rules for becoming a certified public accountant vary by state. Students who want their CPA license should research the specific requirements in the state where they hope to practice. To work as a CPA in Rhode Island applicants must meet the following requirements: 

  • Be a resident of, own a business in, or be regularly employed in Rhode Island.
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution (150 semester credits).
  • Complete at least 24 semester credits in accounting. Six of these credits must come from intermediate financial accounting and reporting and fundamental accounting. At least three credits must come from tax accounting, auditing, and advanced financial accounting and reporting.
  • Complete at least 24 semester credits in business. This must include three credits in economics and three credits in business law.
  • Pass the Uniform CPA Exam.
  • Pass the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants home-study course on professional ethics.
  • Demonstrate at least one year (1,820 hours) of paid public accounting experience.
  • Resources

    Frequently Asked Questions


    • Is accounting a good career in Rhode Island?

      Yes. Accounting offers many well-paying career opportunities in Rhode Island. Several accounting professions, including credit counselors, financial managers, and personal financial advisors earn more in the state than the national average for those jobs.


    • How much do accountants earn in Rhode Island?

      Pay varies by education level, experience, industry, and other factors. According to the BLS, accountants and auditors in Rhode Island earn $83,340 per year, more than the national average for accountants of $79,520.


    • What accounting jobs are there in Rhode Island?

      Graduates can pursue a variety of accounting careers in Rhode Island. Some popular accounting jobs include accountant, auditor, financial manager, and bookkeeping and auditing clerk. Other options include personal financial advisor, budget analyst, and credit counselor.


    • Can I get an accounting degree in Rhode Island?

      Yes. Learners can choose from a variety of accounting degrees in Rhode Island, including associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees.


    • Does Rhode Island have online accounting programs?

      Yes. Students can earn a Rhode Island online accounting degree. Below we include a list of some of the best accounting schools in Rhode Island, including those with online options.


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