Accounting Degrees in Rhode Island


Updated November 16, 2022

Earning an accounting degree in the Ocean State can prepare you for a successful career in a stable field. Explore education requirements, the CPA exam, and job opportunities for graduates. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Rhode Island is the smallest state in the U.S. and one of the 13 original colonies. Despite its size, Rhode Island offers excellent higher education options for students considering accounting careers.

Earning an accounting degree makes sense for individuals looking to develop the technical skills and financial knowledge to qualify for professional opportunities in business and accounting.

The projected demand for accountants is almost twice as high in Rhode Island as the national average. As a quickly growing field in the state, students may find it easier to get their first accounting jobs after graduation or negotiate better starting salaries.

Explore this guide for information about earning an accounting degree in Rhode Island. We describe the education opportunities available in the state, requirements for the CPA exam in Rhode Island, and popular accounting careers for graduates who want to stay in the area.

Rhode Island at a Glance

  • Population: 1,061,509
  • Climate: Average Annual Temperature: 50.1℉ | Annual Precipitation: 47.9 inches
  • Major Sports Teams: Providence Bruins
  • Number of Higher Learning Institutions: 13
  • Per Capita Income: $37,504
  • Fortune 500 Companies: 6
  • Accountants in Rhode Island: 5,910

Sources: World Population Review, Current Results, NCES, U.S. Census ACS, Statista, BLS

Why Get an Accounting Degree in Rhode Island?

Earning an accounting degree in Rhode Island offers many potential benefits.

The Rhode Island Promise provides free tuition to all Rhode Islanders who attend the Community College of Rhode Island straight out of high school. Students can receive this scholarship for the full two years if they enroll full time, earn 30 credits each year, and maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA.

This program demonstrates Rhode Island's emphasis on higher education. Residents can also receive a significant tuition discount if they attend public institutions in the state. In-state students at four-year universities paid $13,697 for one year of school in 2020-21, compared to $32,111 for out-of-state learners.

Attending accounting school in Rhode Island also allows students to network and make professional connections before graduating. Completing an internship, joining a student or professional group, and volunteering while in school can make it easier to land that first entry-level accounting job.

Education Statistics for Rhode Island

Rhode Island is home to 14 four-year colleges and one two-year college. The state surpasses the national average for the percentage of students enrolled in distance education.

More Rhode Islanders hold a bachelor's or graduate degree than the national average. The state spends less than average on postsecondary appropriations per full-time student but allocates about the same amount of tax revenue to higher education overall as average.

Higher Education Statistics Rhode Island Data National Data
Four-Year Colleges 14 2,520
Two-Year Colleges 1 1,216
Students Enrolled in Distance Education 77.3% 72.8%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student $6,137 $9,327
Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education $15,224 $15,959
Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree 8.2% 8.6%
Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree 21% 20.2%
Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher 14% 12.7%

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

Accreditation for Rhode Island Schools

Attending an accredited school is a crucial factor when deciding where to earn a high-quality accounting degree in Rhode Island. Institutional accreditation applies to entire colleges and universities. This process includes a rigorous evaluation of a school's academic offerings to ensure that students receive a quality that meets high standards.

The New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) provides institutional accreditation to higher education institutions in the New England states, including Rhode Island. When choosing an online school in Rhode Island, look for NECHE-accredited colleges.

Delivery Formats for an Accounting Degree in Rhode Island

Many factors can influence your decision when choosing the delivery format for an accounting degree in Rhode Island.

Online, on-campus, and hybrid programs all offer benefits and drawbacks. Think about your learning style, schedule, and proximity to schools with accounting programs. What works best for a recent high school graduate may not be the best option for a full-time working parent.

The following section covers what to expect from on-campus, hybrid, and online programs.

On-Campus Programs

Attending a traditional, on-campus college in Rhode Island often appeals to students coming straight from high school. In-person instruction works best for some people's learning styles and can help enrollees stay on track. Visiting campus also can provide more opportunities to make friends and participate in extracurricular activities.

Online Programs

Online college programs in Rhode Island let students attend classes anywhere and anytime. Instead of learning in a physical classroom at set times, learners can log on to complete coursework at their convenience. The flexibility provided by distance learning often appeals to students with full-time work and family responsibilities.

Hybrid Programs

Unlike a fully online degree experience, a hybrid program combines elements of in-person and distance learning. Students may choose this option to get the best of both worlds. The percentage of online versus in-person coursework for a hybrid degree varies by program.

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Paying for Your Accounting Degree

Students in Rhode Island pay higher average tuition and fees than the national average. The high cost of tuition combined with the state's increased cost of living can make this an expensive place to earn your degree.

However, students can find many financing options to help pay for accounting degrees in Rhode Island. Consider scholarships, grants, fellowships, and loans. Prioritize applying for scholarships and grants, which do not require repayment.

As discussed above, the Rhode Island Promise offers an option for Rhode Islanders to earn associate degrees tuition free.

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Earning a college degree costs more in Rhode Island than the national average for residents and non-residents attending public institutions. However, learners who qualify for in-state tuition still pay significantly less than their out-of-state counterparts. Attending a private school in Rhode Island also costs more than the national average.

Students who live outside of Rhode Island may be able to get a tuition break. The New England Board of Higher Education's Tuition Break program lets students from New England states, including Rhode Island, go to out-of-state schools at a discounted rate.

Cost of Living in Rhode Island

The cost of living can significantly affect your college decision. Rhode Islanders pay more to live in their state than most other places in the U.S.

Rhode Island's cost of living score of 117.2 indicates that it costs 17% more to live in the state than the national average. The cost of living index measures the average price of basic necessities like housing, groceries, and utilities.

Careers for Accounting Graduates in Rhode Island

Graduates in Rhode Island can pursue accounting careers across the state's various strong sectors. Job applicants can find many opportunities in the state's major cities like Providence and Newport.

EY and KPMG, two of the "Big Four" accounting firms, have offices in Providence. The Big Four generate more revenue than any other accounting companies and audit more than 80% of public companies in the U.S.

With a GDP of $62 billion, Rhode Island's major industries include biomedicine; data and cyber analytics; and advanced business services and manufacturing. Other important sectors include defense shipbuilding, tourism, and transportation.

Below, we describe some of the most popular accounting careers in the state.

Popular Accounting Careers in Rhode Island


Rhode Island employs more accountants than any other accounting career. Accountants and auditors in Rhode Island earn an average salary of $88,350. They need at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Basic job duties include organizing and preparing financial records, finding ways to cut costs, and making sure financial statements are accurate.

Accounting Clerks

Accounting clerks create financial records, check them for accuracy, and record financial transactions in one of the most popular accounting careers in Rhode Island. Projections Central estimates a possible 670 openings for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerk jobs on average each year. Accounting clerks earn an average annual salary of $48,010 in Rhode Island.

Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents

Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents need bachelor's degrees in business-related fields, but many possess master of business administration degrees. In Rhode Island, they earn an average annual salary of $83,600. Typical duties include tracking financial markets and making financial recommendations.

Rhode Island Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Accountants
Job Availability Rhode Island National
2020 Employment 5,500 1,392,200
2030 Projected Employment 6,160 1,488,200
Projected Job Growth, 2020-30 +12% +6.9%

Source: Projections Central

Accounting Salaries by Career
Career Rhode Island Employment Rhode Island Average Annual Salary National Average Annual Salary
Associate Degree Recommended
Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks 4,750 $48,010 $45,140
Credit Counselors 120 $64,420 $50,430
Payroll Clerks 640 $55,970 $49,560
Bachelor's Degree Recommended
Compliance Officers 890 $79,760 $75,810
Cost Estimators 520 $72,890 $73,740
Property Appraisers and Assessors 140 $79,480 $70,050
Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents 2,030 $83,600 $93,260
Tax Examiners and Collectors 350 $77,830 $63,200
Tax Preparers 370 N/A $51,080
Master's Degree Recommended
Accountants and Auditors 5,910 $88,350 $83,980
Budget Analysts 100 $90,770 $84,240
Financial Analysts 1,910 $98,310 $103,020
Financial Managers 2,010 $169,760 $153,460
Personal Financial Advisors 1,320 $122,420 $119,960

Source: BLS OEWS

The most popular accounting careers in the state include accountants and auditors; bookkeeping and auditing clerks; and securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. Recent graduates can benefit from pursuing occupations with plentiful job openings.

Students may also want to look at typical salaries to decide on a career path. The accounting careers with the highest salaries in Rhode Island are financial managers, personal financial advisors, and financial analysts — all of which require a master's degree.

CPA Requirements in Rhode Island

Each state sets specific requirements for becoming a certified public accountant (CPA). If you want to become a CPA, you need to check the requirements in the state where you plan to practice.

CPA requirements in Rhode Island stipulate that candidates:

  • Must be a Rhode Island resident, own a business in Rhode Island, or be regularly employed in Rhode Island
  • Meet one of these educational requirements:
    • Earn a graduate degree with an accounting concentration from a program accredited in accounting.
    • Earn a graduate degree from a program accredited in business and complete at least 24 undergraduate credits in accounting or 15 graduate credits in accounting.
    • Earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and complete at least 24 undergraduate or graduate accounting credits, and at least 24 undergraduate or graduate credits in business.
  • Submit official transcripts, Rhode Island driver's license, and exam and application fees
  • Pass all four sections of the CPA exam within 18 months of passing the first one

To learn about requirements and the CPA exam in Rhode Island, see the Rhode Island Board of Accountancy.

Questions About Rhode Island Accounting Requirements

Does the University of Rhode Island have a business school?

Yes—the University of Rhode Island's College of Business offers various undergraduate and graduate programs.

Does URI have an accounting program?

Yes—the University of Rhode Island has undergraduate and graduate accounting programs. Both accounting programs hold accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

How do I become a CPA in RI?

Rhode Island accounting requirements for CPAs include passing all four sections of the CPA exam. To qualify for the exam, an applicant must be a resident, regularly working, or own a business in the state. They also must meet educational requirements by holding a bachelor's or graduate degree and completing specific accounting and/or business coursework.

How much do accountants earn in Rhode Island?

Accountants in Rhode Island earned an average annual salary of $88,350 as of 2021. This exceeds the national median salary for the profession of $83,980 by more than $4,000 a year.

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