Best Accounting Programs in Tennessee

Updated October 3, 2022

Learn about accounting degrees in Tennessee. Explore the path to becoming a licensed accounting professional in this historic Southern destination.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

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With more than 80 colleges and universities, Tennessee offers plenty of accounting degrees to choose from. Many schools in the state offer convenient and flexible online accounting programs.

All degree levels can open doors to accounting careers in Tennessee. Accounting graduates may pursue positions as bookkeeping and auditing clerks, financial managers, and cost estimators.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Tennessee is home to nearly 19,000 accountants and auditors. Projections Central projects a 16.4% job growth rate for these professionals from 2018-2028.

Our guide explains why students should consider pursuing an online accounting degree in Tennessee. We describe what to expect from a typical program and look at career and salary potential for graduates who stay in the state. Readers can also explore our list of some of Tennessee's best accounting schools.

Tennessee at a Glance

  • Population: 7,001,803
  • ClimateAverage Annual Temperature: 57.6 ℉, Annual Precipitation: 54.2 inches
  • Major Sports Teams: Tennessee Titans, Memphis Grizzlies, Nashville Predators
  • Number of Higher Learning Institutions: 86
  • Per Capita Income: $29,859
  • Fortune 500 Companies: 20
  • Accountants in Tennessee: 18,960

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

Why Go to College for Accounting in Tennessee?

Tennessee offers many potential benefits to prospective accounting students. Students in the state pay average tuition rates, but many still find Tennessee relatively inexpensive due to its low cost of living. Students can save money on housing and other essentials in Tennessee, where those expenses cost less than in most other states.

Tennessee employs large numbers of accountants and auditors, bookkeeping and auditing clerks, and financial managers.

Tennessee hosts more than 80 colleges, located all over the state. The cities of Nashville, Knoxville, and Memphis feature some of the state’s largest universities. School location can still affect students earning their accounting degrees online, because some distance education programs include on-campus components.

Tennessee employs large numbers of accountants and auditors, bookkeeping and auditing clerks, and financial managers.

Earning an accounting degree in Tennessee can yield more benefits for learners planning to stay in the state after graduation. Graduates can take advantage of the local networks they developed in college. These connections may lead to internship or job opportunities.

Education Statistics for Tennessee

Educational attainment rates in Tennessee lag slightly behind the national average. Still, the state invests significant resources in higher education. Tennessee allocates more of its tax revenue toward higher education than the national average. The state spends nearly $11,000 per full-time college student.

Tennessee residents can choose from 62 four-year colleges and 24 two-year colleges. Learn more about Tennessee's key education statistics in the table below.

Higher Education Statistics Tennessee Data National Data
Four-Year Colleges 62 2,679
Two-Year Colleges 24 1,303
Students Enrolled in Distance Education 58.7% 72.8%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student $10,969 $8,636
Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education $17,647 $15,276
Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree 7.3% 8.5%
Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree 17.2% 19.8%
Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher 10.1% 12.4%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census ACS

Accreditation for Tennessee Schools

Accredited schools are more likely to offer high-quality education and career preparation. Students should look for institutional and program-specific accreditation.

Institutional accreditors evaluate schools' academic programs, faculty, campus resources, and student services. Students who attend accredited schools can more easily transfer credits to other institutions. Many graduate schools and professional certification programs expect learners to hold degrees from accredited schools.

When looking for online accounting degrees in Tennessee, seek schools with accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Students can find a school's accreditation status using the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s searchable directories.

Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Considerations for an Accounting Degree in Tennessee

Selecting a college program requires you to ask yourself several important questions. Do you want to study completely online, like 27% of Tennessee college students did in 2020? Do you prefer an affordable public institution? Or are you willing to pay more to enroll at a private college?

Below, we consider these factors and discuss popular degree formats. We also look at average tuition, cost of living, and other relevant state statistics. This information can help you decide whether earning an accounting degree in Tennessee is the right choice.

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

Whether you prioritize flexibility or in-person networking, the best accounting schools offer programs to fit your needs. Consider the following comparisons of on-campus and online accounting degrees in Tennessee.

On-Campus Programs

Tennessee is home to dozens of college campuses with attractive landscaping and well-funded facilities. Learners who study on campus may live in on-site housing or commute to class from their homes. On-campus degrees may appeal to first-time degree-seekers interested in an immersive, traditional college experience.

Online Accounting Degrees in Tennessee

Students who earn an accounting degree online in Tennessee receive the same curriculum and instruction as on-site learners. This format offers the key benefit of flexibility. Online study accommodates students working full time, raising a family, and/or seeking a career change with a second-degree accounting program.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid accounting degrees include both remote and in-person instruction. Hybrid degrees usually allow students to complete most coursework online. These programs set mandatory on-campus meetings on a varying schedule. Classes may meet once a week, once a month, or just a few times per semester.

Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education in 2020


Source: NCES

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

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Paying for Your Accounting Degree

Students can expect to spend several thousand dollars on an accounting degree, whether they attend a two- or four-year school. Financial aid can help cover these costs.

Always prioritize merit- and need-based grants or scholarships. These types of aid can come from the federal and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Scholarships and grants provide funding without any repayment requirements.

Low-interest federal student loans are another popular aid option. Students should remember that loans require eventual repayment.

Visit the links below to learn more about financial aid and top accounting scholarships.

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

College students nationwide usually pay the lowest tuition prices at public institutions in their home state.

Since public colleges in Tennessee receive government funding, they can afford to charge lower tuition rates than private institutions. These low tuition rates usually do not extend to out-of-state students, since nonresidents do not contribute to state taxes that fund schools.

However, many universities offer tuition breaks to out-of-state learners studying online. Nonresidents who study remotely often pay in-state tuition prices. Some schools may charge extra fees for remote course delivery.

Tennessee's Cost of Living

The cost of living index helps compare the cost of living across different U.S. states. Prospective college students can use this tool to anticipate budget requirements for groceries, housing, transportation, and utilities.

A score of 100 represents the U.S. average. As of 2022, Tennessee receives an overall index score of 88.7, making it one of the nation's most affordable states. Tennessee residents save the most in housing, where the state scores 79.4.

Careers for Accounting Graduates in Tennessee

Nationwide, accounting graduates enjoy strong employment projections. Globalization, economic growth, and complex regulatory environments drive consistent demand for skilled accounting professionals across the United States.

Key industries that hire accounting professionals in Tennessee include agribusiness, manufacturing, healthcare, and music and entertainment.

Tennessee boasts the 16th strongest state economy in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. Notably, the state ranks 13th for employment based on job growth, unemployment rates, and labor force participation.

Key industries that hire accounting professionals in Tennessee include agribusiness, manufacturing, healthcare, and music and entertainment.

As in most states, Tennessee's accounting and finance industry concentrates in the largest cities. Each of the Big Four accounting firms — Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler — operate offices in Nashville. Additional offices serve clients in Memphis and Knoxville.

In the sections below, learn about top careers for Tennessee accounting degree graduates. Explore average salaries, employment and growth statistics, and education and certification requirements.

Select Accounting Careers in Tennessee

Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents

Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents connect buyers and sellers in various markets. In Tennessee, these markets include agricultural commodities and financial products. Job duties include advising clients, analyzing finances, and tracking market performance. This fast-paced role requires a bachelor's degree. A master's degree can help agents advance their careers.
Job Outlook in Tennessee (2020-30): +10.5%

Staff Accountant

Staff accountants complete key accounting tasks for Tennessee businesses of all sizes. Job duties include maintaining records, producing financial reports, filing taxes, and preparing budgets. Staff accountants often work for accounting firms, banks, corporations, and nonprofits. This career requires at least a bachelor's degree.
Job Outlook in Tennessee (2020-30): +16.4%

Financial Manager

Financial managers oversee an organization's financial health. These professionals prepare and review financial reports, supervise employees, and advise senior management. Top-employing sectors include finance and insurance, professional and technical services, and company management. Financial managers need at least a bachelor's degree and several years of relevant experience.
Job Outlook in Tennessee (2020-30): +22.8%

Tennessee Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

22,380 Employees2018
26,050 Employees2028
Tennessee 16.4% increase
1,424,000 Employees2018
1,514,700 Employees2028
National 6.4% increase
Source: Projections Central
Accounting Salaries by Career
Career Tennessee Employment Tennessee Average Annual Salary National Average Annual Salary
Associate Degree Recommended
Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks 33,870 $41,790 $44,100
Credit Counselors 680 $46,610 $49,940
Payroll Clerks 2,750 $42,840 $48,290
Bachelor's Degree Recommended
Cost Estimators 2,360 $68,920 $66,610
Property Appraisers and Assessors 890 $54,910 $65,630
Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents 4,580 $85,320 $96,540
Tax Examiners and Collectors 1,260 $58,870 $62,040
Master's Degree Recommended
Accountants and Auditors 18,960 $70,500 $81,660
Budget Analysts 760 $71,960 $82,690
Financial Analysts 8,440 $69,560 $96,630
Financial Managers 16,370 $114,930 $151,510
Personal Financial Advisors 2,400 $85,550 $122,490
Source: BLS OEWS

Tennessee accountants typically receive lower wages compared to nationwide averages. Still, they enjoy strong employment projections. Projections Central forecasts a 16.4% increase in accountant jobs in Tennessee from 2018-2028. In comparison, projected growth nationwide is just 6.4%.

The top-paying job titles for Tennessee accounting degree graduates include securities, commodities, and financial services sales agent; personal financial advisor; and financial manager. College students who plan to work in Tennessee may want to pursue a bachelor's or master's degree. These degrees meet typical education requirements for these lucrative careers.

Tennessee Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

Each state sets its own requirements for accountants interested in CPA licensure. Requirements usually include a minimum number of college credits and years of accounting work experience. Some states also maintain residency requirements or require ethics exams.

Tennessee CPA candidates do not need to be state residents, but the following requirements do apply:

  • Bachelor's degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution
  • At least 150 semester hours of college courses
  • At least 30 semester hours of accounting education
  • At least 24 semester hours of general business education
  • Pass CPA exam and ethics exam
  • At least one year of work experience
  • Social Security number

The Tennessee State Board of Accountancy manages CPA licensure throughout the state. Accounting degree candidates can explore the Board's website for more information about exam qualifications and certification requirements.

After earning a CPA license in Tennessee, accountants must complete periodic continuing education courses to maintain certification.

Best Accounting Schools in Tennessee

This guide highlights the five best accounting schools in Tennessee for 2022. Click the link below for details about our ranking methodology.

#1

Rhodes College

School Information
Location Memphis, Tennessee
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 80%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Located in Memphis, Rhodes is a private liberal arts institution associated with the Presbyterian Church. The college enrolls about 1,800 undergraduate students on its 120-acre campus.

Master of Science in Accounting

Rhodes offers an interdisciplinary master of science in accounting. The program explores theoretical, technical, and business aspects. Students learn about accounting systems, such as tax software. Degree-seekers analyze financial information from a management perspective. Coursework emphasizes oral and written communication and analytic thinking.

The program features a practicum component comprising paid and unpaid internships. Learners can participate in annual networking events to prepare for internships and job interviews.

The MS in accounting meets the educational requirements for the certified public accountant credential.

Applying to University's Rhodes College

Applicants to the MS in accounting program mail a signed application to the program director. Candidates submit a $25 application fee. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, official transcripts, and three letters of recommendation. Rhodes accepts transfer credits earned with a minimum B grade.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Tuition: $52,000 total
  • Required Credits: 32 credits
  • Program Length: Two semesters
  • Delivery Format: On campus
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#2

The University of Tennessee-Martin

School Information
Location Martin, Tennessee
Admission Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 47%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

UT Martin is a public institution founded in 1900. The university enrolls about 6,000 undergraduate students from its 930-acre campus.

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accounting

Learners pursuing the BSBA in accounting prepare for business careers through coursework in accounting and core business principles. The curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, ethics, and effective written and verbal communication.

The accounting program prepares students for careers in areas such as government, auditing, and public accounting. The accounting major also provides a foundation for legal studies. 

Graduates of UT Martin's BSBA program often pursue the certified management accountant, certified internal auditor, and certified public accountant credentials. Aspiring certified public accountants need at least 150 credits.

Applying to UT Martin

UT Martin requires an online application and official high school transcripts. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA. UT Martin waives the standardized test score requirement for applicants as of March 2022. However, accepted students must submit test scores before enrolling in classes.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $4,944 per semester for full-time in-state students ($15,952 per year for nonresidents)
  • Required Credits: 128 credits (150 for the CPA track)
  • Program Length: Four years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
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#3

Tennessee Wesleyan University

School Information
Location Athens, Tennessee
Admission Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 41%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Athens-based TWU is a private institution associated with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. The university enrolls approximately 1,050 undergraduate students from its 40-acre campus.

Master of Business Administration in Accounting

The Goodfriend School of Business offers a fully online MBA with a concentration in accounting. Degree-seekers explore ethics and problem-solving. The curriculum emphasizes global business perspectives. Students learn to apply financial tax principles to business operations.

Accounting students learn to apply accounting principles in business environments. Classes examine corporate financial accounting, managerial auditing, and personal taxation regulations. Students can participate in a review program to prepare for the certified professional accountant exam.

Applying to TWU

Applicants to the MBA program need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 2.75 GPA. Candidates apply online and provide letters of recommendation from previous instructors and an employer. Applicants also submit a resume. TWU does not require GMAT scores.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $500 per credit hour
  • Required Credits: 30 credit hours
  • Program Length: 12 months (full time), 24 months (part time)
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
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#4

Belmont University

School Information
Location Nashville, Tennessee
Admission Rate 84%
Graduation Rate 72%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 20% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

A private Christian institution in Nashville, Belmont was founded as a women's college in 1890. Teachers Ida Hood and Susan Heron founded the institution, which became Belmont University in 1991.

Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting

Belmont's BSBA in accounting covers topics including governmental financial reporting. Students learn to analyze and solve problems and to make sound accounting decisions.

Degree-seekers complete 128 credit hours. An extended certified professional accountant (CPA) track requires 150 credit hours. Graduates of the CPA track qualify for Belmont's master of accountancy program.

Applying to Belmont University

Applicants submit Belmont's application or the Common App. Application materials include official high school transcripts and a school counselor recommendation. Belmont accepts but does not require SAT or ACT scores.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Tuition: $19,000 per semester (full time), $1,430 per credit hour (part time)
  • Required Credits: 128 credit hours
  • Program Length: Four years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
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#5

Lipscomb University

School Information
Location Nashville, Tennessee
Admission Rate 63%
Graduation Rate 68%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Located in Nashville, Lipscomb is a private Christian institution. The university delivers more than 80 majors from nine campus locations.

Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting

The BBA in accounting program prepares learners to earn the certified professional accountant (CPA) credential. The curriculum emphasizes financial analysis and reporting, international business, and management-level decision-making. Upper-division accounting classes include intermediate accounting, federal income taxation, and principles of auditing.

Degree-seekers can participate in study abroad programs and internships with Nashville accounting firms. The program's capstone requirement includes a part-time internship.

Aspiring CPAs can enroll in the combined BBA and master of accountancy program, which requires 150 credit hours.

Applying to Lipscomb University

Prospective students submit Lipscomb's application or the Common App. Learners can provide ACT, SAT, or CLT scores. Applicants submit official high school transcripts and an academic evaluation form completed by a qualified reference.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Tuition: $14,278 per semester (full time)
  • Required Credits: 126 credit hours
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
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Questions About Accounting Degrees in Tennessee

Is accounting a good career in Tennessee?

Yes. Students can find many promising accounting careers in Tennessee. The state employs large numbers of accountants and offers a low cost of living.

How much do accountants earn in Tennessee?

Salaries for accounting professionals in Tennessee vary by degree level, experience, and industry. Tennessee accountants earn an average annual salary of $70,500. Nationally, they earn an average of $81,660.

What accounting jobs are there in Tennessee?

Popular accounting careers in Tennessee include accountant, auditor, financial manager, and personal financial advisor. The state also employs many bookkeeping and auditing clerks. Accounting program graduates at any level can find promising career opportunities.

Are there accounting programs near me in Tennessee?

Yes. The state offers many opportunities for students who want to earn their accounting degrees in Tennessee. Tennessee schools provide associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. programs in accounting.

Can you earn an accounting degree online in Tennessee?

Yes. Students pursuing an online accounting degree in Tennessee enjoy many options. This page features a list of some of Tennessee's best accounting schools, including distance learning options.

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