Accounting Degree Overview for Virginia

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Home to the first permanent English colony in North America, Virginia offers a highly ranked education system and robust economy. The state is especially attractive for aspiring accounting professionals.

Nationwide, accounting offers above-average growth and wages, and Virginia accountants comprise one of the largest workforces in the state, some of the highest wages, and considerable growth rates. Accountants and auditorscost estimators and accountantsand financial managers are among the most popular careers in Virginia.

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In addition to reputable on-campus programs, Virginia offers robust online learning options, with nearly 22% of the state’s students taking exclusively online classes. This page provides in-depth information on accounting degrees in Virginia to help students find the right program for their needs.

VIRGINIA EDUCATION STATISTICS
ACCOUNTING CAREERS IN VIRGINIA
VIEW VIRGINIA COLLEGES

VIRGINIA AT A GLANCE

POPULATION8,626,210
PER CAPITA INCOME$38,900
FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES35
NUMBER OF HIGHER LEARNING INSTITUTIONS131
CLIMATEAverage Annual Temperature: 55.1 ℉
Annual Precipitation: 44.3 inches
MAJOR SPORTS TEAMSRichmond Flying Squirrels and Richmond Kickers
ACCOUNTANTS IN VIRGINIA42,200

Top Virginia Schools for Accounting

  • Washington and Lee University
  • University of Richmond
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • George Mason University
  • James Madison University
  • Randolph-Macon College
  • University of Lynchburg
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Eastern Mennonite University
  • Emory & Henry College

WHY GO TO COLLEGE FOR ACCOUNTING IN VIRGINIA?

With more than 130 two- and four-year colleges and universities, Virginia offers its more than 500,000 higher education students a variety of schools and programs. Virginia also hosts one of the largest online student populations in the country, per the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Virginia boasts a high educational attainment rate compared to the rest of the country. The state’s graduation rates ranked 11th in the country in 2015, with over 67% of students completing their four-year degree within six years. The Early College Scholars Program provides transfer credits for high-achieving high school students to help reduce their time and costs in college.

Additionally, some schools continue experimenting with more affordable tuition models for in-state learners. The state’s online programs also provide some cost-effective study options, particularly for out-of-state students and in-state learners who live outside of the major metropolitan areas where most schools are located.

The strength of Virginia’s industries and job market make it easier for students to remain in the state after graduation, particularly for accounting graduates. Graduates who stay in Virginia benefit from accounting programs and concentrations that meet in-state regulations and demands.

Education Statistics for Virginia

On the national scale, Virginia’s education statistics rank quite high. For example, the state’s educational attainment numbers exceed the national average for bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The following table provides more information on the state of higher education in Virginia.

Higher Education Statistics in Virginia

VIRGINIA DATANATIONAL DATA
Number of Four-Year Colleges833,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges481,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education39.6%34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student$5,805$8,196
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education5%5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree7.6%8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor’s Degree21.7%19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher16.4%12.1%
Sources: NCESSHEEOU.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

Accreditation for Virginia Schools

Accreditation is a quality assurance process that indicates a school meets high academic standards. Schools may receive regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Regional accreditation typically applies to nonprofit, degree-granting institutions, while national accreditation applies to for-profit, vocational and technical schools.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognizes several agencies that issue regional accreditation to schools around the country based on where the country is located. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges regionally accredits Virginia schools.

Programs within a school may also receive accreditation. Accounting students should look for programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

Accreditation can impact a student’s eligibility for financial aid and employment. It can also influence licensure eligibility. According to the Virginia Board of Accountancy, certified public accountant (CPA) candidates must possess a degree from a regionally accredited institution to qualify for licensure.

CONSIDERATIONS FOR AN ACCOUNTING DEGREE IN VIRGINIA

Students considering an accounting degree in Virginia should weigh a variety of factors before settling on a school, such as concentrations, delivery format, and cost. The following sections provide details on available accounting degree and concentration options, Virginia’s cost of living, and financial aid opportunities.

Accounting Degree Levels

When selecting an accounting degree, learners should consider what they wish to get out of their education and career. The list below highlights the various levels of accounting degrees and the careers to which they lead.


  • Associate Degree in Accounting

    An associate degree in accounting typically covers the fundamentals of the field and prepares graduates for entry-level careers, such as payroll and bookkeeping clerk.

    Learn More


  • Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

    A bachelor’s degree in accounting provides students with comprehensive training and allows them to pursue most entry-level accounting careers.

    Learn More


  • Master's Degree in Accounting

    A master’s degree in accounting trains students in advanced accounting topics and specializations. Graduates qualify for careers in management.

    Learn More


  • Ph.D. in Accounting

    A Ph.D. in accounting focuses on research and highly specialized topics, which leads graduates to careers in academia, research, and high-level management.

    Learn More


Accounting Concentration Options

Accounting offers an array of concentrations and specializations. By choosing an emphasis in an in-demand field, students can improve their employment and salary potential.

Virginia learners can pursue several in-demand accounting professions, however cost accountants and estimators and financial management careers look particularly strong. Both fields offer excellent long-term growth projections and some of the highest-paying median annual wages among accountants in the country. The table below details some possible concentrations to get students started on their journey.

  • COST ACCOUNTING: Cost accounting refers to the internal financial operations of an organization. This concentration covers budgeting, performance analysis, and logistics. Students also learn to identify inefficiencies and opportunities using various metrics. Graduates can find careers in cost estimating and management.
  • MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTING: Management accounting concentrations focus on organizational decision-making. Students learn how to use data to solve financial problems. This discipline examines different levels of an organization and its operations, and prepares graduates for an array of management careers.

ACCOUNTING CONCENTRATIONS

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

A program’s delivery should play a major role in a student’s school decision. This factor can impact study location, financial investments, student success, and program lengths. The following options represent the major formats available.

On-Campus

On-campus programs deliver training within a traditional educational setting. Physical classrooms offer structured and supportive environments. Learners who pursue these programs usually prefer interactive and collaborative training. They can also take advantage of campus facilities and resources.

Online Programs

Online programs typically offer more flexibility and accessibility than on-campus programs. Learners can study from greater distances, allowing them to choose from more program options. Many online programs offer asynchronous formats, which do not require set login times. They may also offer accelerated or self-paced delivery models. The increased flexibility in these programs requires learners to be independent and self-motivated.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs combine elements from online and on-campus delivery models. Ideal for students who want access to flexible online classes and the resources and extracurriculars provided on Virginia campuses, these programs require students to attend some classes on campus.

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
Virginia Students21.8%17.8%60.5%
United States Students16.3%18.4%65.3%
Source: NCES

Paying for Your Accounting Degree

With the exception of four-year private schools, the tuition rates in Virginia exceed the national averages in all categories. However, students can take advantage of a variety of financial aid opportunities to help offset the cost of their education, including scholarships, grants, and loans. Unlike loans, grants and scholarships do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid.

The following links offer more information on the various financial aid options available to Virginia students.

FINANCIAL AID OPTIONS
ACCOUNTING SCHOLARSHIPS

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

VIRGINIANATIONAL
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$12,637$9,037
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$33,428$25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)$23,014$30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$5,118$3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$11,275$7,971
Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Most public schools offer lower tuition rates for in-state students than out-of-state learners. As illustrated in the table above, non-residents pay more than twice as much as residents in Virginia. However, out-of-state learners can access the Academic Common Market program and pay in-state tuition rates for certain programs in Virginia. Additionally, some schools feature standard online program pricing for all students no matter where they live.

Virginia’s Cost of Living

In addition to tuition, students should consider how the cost of living in Virginia can impact their budget. According to the World Population Review, Virginia’s cost of living index of 100.7% is slightly higher than the national average of 100%. Despite this higher overall number, most individual categories fall below the national average, including transportation, grocery, and utilities.

Other School Selection Criteria

When weighing potential programs, students should consider factors like school size and student-to-teacher ratios, along with program reputations and faculty credentials. On-campus learners may also want to examine the school’s facilities, whereas online learners can look at the technical and online support available. All prospective students should also explore program lengths, course options, and any available concentrations.

Additionally, students should research each potential program’s application requirements to ensure they can fulfill them. Another important element to consider is a school’s academic resources. For instance, students that anticipate the need for academic support should look for schools with robust tutoring services. Similarly, it can prove helpful to explore a school’s career and alumni services.

EXPLORE OUR RANKINGS FOR THE BEST ACCOUNTING PROGRAMS AT EACH LEVEL

CAREERS FOR ACCOUNTING GRADUATES IN VIRGINIA

Compared to national averages for all occupations, accounting offers strong job growth and wages. Pursuing an accounting career in Virginia, however, looks even more promising. The state hosts some of the country’s largest workforces in accounting-related industries, per BLS employment data.

Virginia boasts a large presence of Big Four firms as well, including five Deloitte officestwo Ernst & Young officestwo KPMG offices, and three PwC offices. Virginia also pays higher-than-average wages in many accounting-related careers. With such a diverse collection of opportunities, accounting students can look forward to the potential for career growth and advancement.

According to Projections Central, graduates can anticipate above average growth in a multitude of accounting careers, specifically professions that require a bachelor’s degree or higher. Students should note that metropolitan areas, like Alexandria and Arlington, hold a large portion of the state’s accounting positions. Below, readers can find more information on specific accounting careers in Virginia.

Select Accounting Careers in Virginia


  • Cost Estimators

    Cost estimators work to improve an organization’s financial operations. They may oversee budgeting, logistics, and performance evaluation. They may also manage assets, detect inefficiencies, and improve supply chains. These professionals typically need a bachelor’s degree for employment.

    Job Outlook in Virginia: +10.3% (2018-2028)

    Learn More


  • Accountants and Auditors

    Accountants and auditors manage the finances of individuals and organizations. They may help organizations save money and improve revenue by evaluating and correcting inefficient processes. Most of these professionals need a bachelor’s degree at minimum, but some employers may require a master’s degree.

    Job Outlook in Virginia: +7.3% (2018-2028)

    Learn More


  • Financial Managers

    Financial managers help organizations meet their long-term financial goals. They may oversee investments and operational budgets. They may also analyze market trends and create forecasts to look for growth and revenue opportunities. These professionals typically need a master’s degree in accounting or a combination of a bachelor’s degree and experience.

    Job Outlook in Virginia: +16.3% (2018-2028)

    Learn More


Virginia Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

45,510 Employees2018
48,810 Employees2028
Virginia 7.3% increase
1,424,000 Employees2018
1,514,700 Employees2028
National 6.4% increase

Source: Projections Central

Accounting professionals can find opportunities and competitive salaries in many areas across the country, but Virginia offers a particularly large number of opportunities. As the table above highlights, the state features considerably large workforces. Virginia accountants also gain access to a diverse selection of careers in a variety of industries.

Salary potential represents another encouraging factor for accounting careers in Virginia. Virginia pays some of the highest wages in the country for several accounting-related positions.

Virginia Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

CPA licensure requirements vary by state, so candidates should research the requirements in the state where they plan to practice. The following list outlines the requirements for CPA licensure in Virginia, per ThisWaytoCPA.

  • Bachelor’s degree with an accounting concentration or equivalent
  • A total of 150 completed semester hours
  • At least 24 semester hours in financial accounting, management accounting, auditing, and taxation.
  • At least 24 semester hours in business courses (only six semester hours in accounting can contribute)
  • One year of full-time professional experience
  • Passing the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants professional ethics comprehensive course

THE CPA EXAM
HAVING A CAREER AS A CPA

RESOURCES

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Is accounting a good career in Virginia?

    According to BLS employment data, Virginia employs some of the largest workforces in the industry and pays some of the highest wages.


  • How much do accountants earn in Virginia?

    Accountants in Virginia make annual mean wages over $85,000, per BLS employment data.


  • What accounting jobs are there in Virginia?

    According to BLS employment data, Virginia employs more than 50,000 accountants and auditors, the fifth-most in the country. It also employs more than 41,000 bookkeeping and accounting clerks.


  • Can I get an accounting degree in Virginia?

    Virginia students can find accounting degrees at many of the over 130 higher learning institutions in the state.


  • Does Virginia have online accounting programs?

    Yes, students can choose from a variety of online accounting programs in Virginia. According to NCES student enrollment numbers, nearly 40% of the state’s students take at least one online course.


Virginia Accounting and Education Organizations

  • Virginia Society of CPAs
    Established to unify and advocate for accounting professionals in Virginia, the VSCPA supports members in their career development pursuits. The society offers access to training programs, resources, and industry events.
  • National Society of Accountants
    A national organization with its head office located in Virginia, the NSA helps tax and accounting professionals reach their full potential. Members can access education and professional development programs, along with industry discounts and a large, supportive network.
  • Virginia Society of Tax and Accounting Professionals
    Established in 1948, VSTAP aims to increase the high standard of accounting practice in Virginia and promote the interests of its members and the profession. Members can access professional development programs and seminars, along with tools to meet the needs of their businesses and customers.
  • NABA Richmond Chapter
    The Richmond Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants supports the interests and career pursuits of its members. Members gain access to a nationwide network, education opportunities, and industry news and resources.
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