Accounting Degree Programs
Welcome to our comprehensive directory of Accounting Degree programs. The school listings below contain all the online programs we could find, from 189 schools across the country.
Ready to invest in an accounting career? Good choice. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of accountants is expected to grow by 18 percent between 2006 and 2016.
The Online Path to Accounting
There are several solid undergraduate and graduate accounting programs online, and the list continues to grow. Tailored to busy professionals, parents and distance learners, online accounting degrees cover the same material as campus-based programs, but often require a greater degree of self-discipline.
On average, you can expect:
- An online associate degree – 15 to 24 months
- An online bachelor’s degree – 36 to 48 months
- An online master’s degree – 12 to 24 months
Part-time study will naturally take longer. If you have basic prerequisites under your belt – e.g., math or statistics – you may be able to finish in less time. Many online programs will also allow you to choose a specific track or major, such as forensic, tax or managerial accounting.
CPA (Certified Public Accountant) Exam
Before you can apply to take the Uniform CPA exam, most states will require you to have completed a minimum of 150 credit hours at an accredited institution.
Typically, these accounting and business course credits take five years to earn. That means many CPA candidates hold a bachelor’s and master’s degree or graduate certificate in accounting.
Check with your State Board of Accountancy about using online credits for the CPA exam. Though distance programs are gaining increased recognition, some states may still demand “brick and mortar” course credits.
Not all online accounting degrees are created equal. When evaluating your program options, look for the seal of approval from legitimate accrediting bodies such as:
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- Regional accrediting agencies (e.g., New England Association of Schools and Colleges)
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
- Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
For a comprehensive list, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Post-Secondary Institutions and Programs.
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Accounting
With associate degrees losing prestige, a bachelor’s degree in accounting has become the default first step on the career ladder.
A bachelor’s degree is intended to ground you in the fundamentals of accountancy, and often includes core courses such as financial management, statistics, economics, auditing, business strategy and taxation.
Graduates with a bachelor’s degree can begin work as accountants for individuals, businesses, the government and non-profits, though career advancement can be limited without CPA certification.
If you’re considering an online bachelor’s degree in accounting, here are a couple of examples for comparison:
WSU offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a major in accounting.
- Students must apply for WSU’s certification in business administration with a concentration in accounting before advancing to upper-division business and accounting courses.
- WSU’s online graduate business programs were ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report in 2013 and are fully AACSB-accredited. Even better, the WSU accounting program is one of only 165 programs worldwide with separate AACSB accounting accreditation.
Northeastern offers an online Bachelor of Science in Finance and Accounting Management.
- Courses range from financial reporting and analysis to international business and macroeconomics.
- Electives include taxation, accounting information systems, investment management, financial strategy and international finance.
- All Northeastern University online programs and courses are accredited by AACSB and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Online Master’s Degrees in Accounting
Many accountants pursue a Master’s in Accounting (MAcc) or Masters of Professional Accountancy (MPAcy) in order to be eligible for management positions, work in specific roles (e.g., an auditor at a large firm) or prepare themselves for certification exams.
It’s not always necessary to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting to apply for a master’s degree, but you may be asked to provide proof of equivalent coursework.
Again, check with your State Board of Accountancy about course credit requirements for the CPA exam and licensure. Each state has its own rules and regulations.
UConn’s online Master of Science in Accounting has an excellent reputation.
- The curriculum includes two core courses and a wide variety of in-depth accounting electives.
- The degree provides 30 semester credits.
- UConn was the first to have an asynchronous online Master of Science in Accounting program – a program that is fully accredited by AACSB. In 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranked the online MSA #8 among the “Best Online Graduate Business Programs” in the country.
“If you are looking for grad school ‘lite,’ don’t come to us. We are the real McCoy. Currently of our fifteen courses, eleven are taught by full-time faculty, and of those eleven, nine are taught by faculty with a PhD terminal degree. All of our instructors are professionally qualified. In addition, our adjuncts teach courses that are in their specialty area. For example, our forensic accounting course is taught by an adjunct faculty member who has a full-time practice in this area.”
Academic Director MS in Accounting at the School of Business
UAB’s School of Business offers an online Master of Accounting.
- Graduates are prepared to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) exams.
- UAB has been given the seal of approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and their online accounting program is accredited by AACSB. The same faculty teach both the online and on-campus courses.
In the News
Online Education Catering to Businesses: Lindsey Klein profiles the University of Connecticut and its goal to develop high-demand and high-enrollment courses, including accounting.
That Sound You Hear Is the Online Education Pendulum Swinging Back Toward Quality: Dr. Carlos Campo, President of Regent University, discusses the plummeting popularity of for-profit universities and discusses new quality measures for online programs.
College Professors Fearful of Online Education Growth: Ryan Little of U.S. News covers a 2012 study by Inside Higher Ed and the Babson Survey Research Group that suggests college faculty are worried about the growth of online programs.
Are Online Degrees as Valuable as Traditional College Diplomas?: Suzi Parker highlights a Northeastern University poll that shows millennials place a high value on online education.
Starting Off Your Accounting Career: Erik Larson, master’s level career counselor, covers career tips (including advice on choosing an online degree) for budding accountants.
For one perspective, check out an article written by Financial Executives International on the future needs of the accounting profession and how it relates to your education.
Below, we interview Mr. Jeff Thomson, President and CEO of the Institute of Management Accountants; Mr. Ken Bishop, President and CEO of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy; Mr. Steve Hanson, First Vice President of the National Society of Accountants; and Ms. Cheryl Heitz, President of the American Society of Women Accountants.
Helpful Accounting Organizations & Publications
American Institute of CPAs (AICPA): AICPA is the world’s largest member association for accountants and a mecca for education and information. AICPA sets U.S. ethical and auditing standards, develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination and provides specialty credentials.
Institute of Management Accountants (IMA): With 65,000+ members, IMA is a widely respected, worldwide association for financial professionals. In addition to organizing conferences and publications, it offers the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) credential.
Beta Alpha Psi: Founded in 1919, Beta Alpha Psi is an honorary organization for 300,000+ financial students and professionals. There are 300 chapters on college and university campuses.
American Accounting Association (AAA): Originally called the American Association of University Instructors in Accounting, AAA is dedicated to best practices in accounting education and research.
National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA): NASBA serves the 55 state boards that regulate the accountancy profession in the U.S. (AICPA represents CPAs as individuals; NASBA supports the boards).
Journal of Accountancy: AICPA’s flagship publication, the Journal covers the gamut of accountancy issues, from daily bulletins on auditing, taxation and technology issues to in-depth articles on ethics and education.
Accounting Today: Accounting Today bills itself as the leading provider of online business news, and regularly churns out articles, podcasts, editorials, newsletters and a daily newswire.