Best Online Bachelors in Accounting Degrees for 2023

Bachelor's Degree in Accounting Career Options & Salary

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A four-year bachelor's degree in accounting is a fantastic launchpad for a stellar career. During your college years, you will receive the training necessary to join an accounting firm, a financial team, or any sort of business and gain career advancement. After all, nearly every business needs an accountant. If your program meets your state's standards, you can also obtain licensure to work as a certified public accountant (CPA), though some states might require at least some courses from a master's accounting degree program, which could be finished after you leave your bachelor's degree in accounting or online while you are finishing your bachelor's. Certified public accountants can sign off on tax filings and audits. Public accountants and auditors are some of the best paid in the accounting field in general.

PROS

    The positive aspects of a bachelor's degree in accounting are numerous. The first benefit is that you can start your career above the bookkeeping level, and you might even land a six-figure job straight out of school. After all, you'll have the accounting principles knowledge and skill to work on audits, land a position as a financial analyst in an investment bank, or even start out in managerial accounting if you already have leadership skills. You should also qualify to sit for the CPA exam in most states.

    Even if you don't wish to become a CPA, a degree in accounting will open the door to countless other specialty areas. You might wish to pursue forensic accounting, which is a growing field, or you might prefer auditing IT systems instead, or working on accounting and information systems. Beyond that, your online bachelor's degree in accounting will pave the way to an MBA. After all, there is no way to apply for a graduate accounting degree program without a four-year accounting program diploma from an accredited accounting school.

CONS

    Though a bachelor's in accounting degree is a tremendous accomplishment, it has limitations. For starters, you may need to one day return to school for a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in financial accounting. That is, if you exit college and start your career, you may later need to enroll in an online accounting degree program on a full-time or part-time basis. Without a graduate degree, you are likely to hit a glass ceiling on your career advancement, especially when it comes to accounting and financial management, and your career may begin to stagnate. You should have a plan that allows you to save for your graduate school enrollment, especially as online accounting programs for accountants and auditors become so easily accessible through a variety of colleges and universities. Online accounting degree programs still take up a significant amount of time and money, but online courses can be completed when you have the time and spread out so that you aren't hit with the cost all at once.

    Further, depending on your state's requirements, you might need additional, graduate-level coursework if you would like to sit for the CPA exam. In fact, regardless of state mandates, you should consider coursework above and beyond your accounting bachelor's degree program to ensure that you are fully prepared for the rigors of the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. You will also find that many firms require a graduate degree for jobs above a certain level. For instance, it is very rare to rise to the associate level in investment banking without an MBA.


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What are the Best Online Bachelor's in Accounting College Programs?


1

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $16,439
    • Out-of-State: $36,964
  • Net Price: $17,291
  • Acceptance Rate: 66%
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Total Enrollment: 32,045
  • Undergrad Students: 24,231
  • Graduate Students: 7,814
  • Diplomas Awarded: 180
  • Grads Salary: $76,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18
  • University of Massachusetts-Amherst
2

University of South Florida

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,410
    • Out-of-State: $17,324
  • Net Price: $11,419
  • Acceptance Rate: 49%
  • Retention Rate: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 75%
  • Total Enrollment: 49,708
  • Undergrad Students: 38,011
  • Graduate Students: 11,697
  • Diplomas Awarded: 314
  • Grads Salary: $68,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 22
  • University of South Florida
3

SUNY Polytechnic Institute

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $8,548
    • Out-of-State: $19,308
  • Net Price: $10,245
  • Acceptance Rate: 77%
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,850
  • Undergrad Students: 2,037
  • Graduate Students: 813
  • Diplomas Awarded: 28
  • Grads Salary: $73,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13
  • SUNY Polytechnic Institute
4

Auburn University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $11,826
    • Out-of-State: $31,986
  • Net Price: $23,873
  • Acceptance Rate: 71%
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 81%
  • Total Enrollment: 31,526
  • Undergrad Students: 24,931
  • Graduate Students: 6,595
  • Diplomas Awarded: 152
  • Grads Salary: $74,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 20
  • Auburn University
5

Washington State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $12,417
    • Out-of-State: $27,733
  • Net Price: $11,877
  • Acceptance Rate: 86%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • Total Enrollment: 29,843
  • Undergrad Students: 24,278
  • Graduate Students: 5,565
  • Diplomas Awarded: 219
  • Grads Salary: $75,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15
  • Washington State University
6

Arizona State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $11,348
    • Out-of-State: $29,438
  • Net Price: $14,934
  • Acceptance Rate: 88%
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 66%
  • Total Enrollment: 77,881
  • Undergrad Students: 64,716
  • Graduate Students: 13,165
  • Diplomas Awarded: 244
  • Grads Salary: $74,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18
  • Arizona State University
7

The Pennsylvania State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $18,898
    • Out-of-State: $36,476
  • Net Price: $24,012
  • Acceptance Rate: 92%
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 72%
  • Total Enrollment: 88,914
  • Undergrad Students: 73,476
  • Graduate Students: 15,438
  • Diplomas Awarded: 491
  • Grads Salary: $78,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15
  • The Pennsylvania State University
8

Regis University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $39,610
    • Out-of-State: $39,610
  • Net Price: $27,735
  • Acceptance Rate: 81%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,566
  • Undergrad Students: 2,745
  • Graduate Students: 2,821
  • Diplomas Awarded: 38
  • Grads Salary: $86,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 10
  • Regis University
9

University of Arizona

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $12,736
    • Out-of-State: $37,258
  • Net Price: $17,242
  • Acceptance Rate: 87%
  • Retention Rate: 84%
  • Graduation Rate: 64%
  • Total Enrollment: 48,274
  • Undergrad Students: 37,434
  • Graduate Students: 10,840
  • Diplomas Awarded: 148
  • Grads Salary: $77,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17
  • University of Arizona
10

University of Arkansas

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $9,574
    • Out-of-State: $26,390
  • Net Price: $15,218
  • Acceptance Rate: 83%
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 70%
  • Total Enrollment: 29,068
  • Undergrad Students: 24,265
  • Graduate Students: 4,803
  • Diplomas Awarded: 183
  • Grads Salary: $69,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 19
  • University of Arkansas
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Associate vs. Bachelors in Marketing


Online students who have graduated from an online or traditional business bachelor's degree program, but did not major in accounting, might later consider an accounting program certificate. The reasons for this are many. You might need the accounting courses to get a new job at your firm, you could be considering a CPA license, or you might wish some other credentials. While a bachelor's in accounting would be an ideal preparation, a certificate should help you meet the requirements you need to start on this path. However, make sure you double-check the business schools coursework needed to achieve your goals against those needed for the certificate. You should also check to see what, if any, accreditation standards are held for your academic program. AACSB accreditation is the gold standard for accounting program coursework, whether it is found online or on-campus.

What Accounting Bachelor’s Degrees are Available?


  • Bachelor of Arts in Finance (BFin):
    Since the study of finance covers both strict mathematical analysis as well as qualitative factors, universities offer a BA in the field. That is, degrees that are strictly mathematical or scientific almost always receive a Bachelor of Science degree (such as an accounting degree). In fact, some schools may offer the BS as an option for finance majors and accounting majors.
  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting (BS):
    A BS in accounting degree indicates that your studies were primarily math and/or science oriented. Colleges and universities often offer you the option of putting either the BS or BA designation on your accounting program diploma. The best option is the bachelor of science (BS) online accounting degree.
  • Bachelor of Accounting (BAcc):
    Your BAcc degree is a great foundation for a career in accountancy or business, if not both. This accounting degree is not so different from a BA or BS, but make sure that the online accounting degree program is adequately accredited so that you are prepared for the CPA exam.
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting (BBA):
    A BBA degree likely indicates that you have rounded out your online accounting courses with other work in economics, finance, or marketing, for example. If your curriculum is rounded out in this way, you are more likely to be granted permission to sit for the CPA exam.

Step by Step Overview to Become an Accountant


Not everyone is capable of creating a successful accounting career in the real world. The field is extremely demanding and requires substantial education, training, and experience. Specifically, you will most likely need at least a bachelor's in accounting to succeed, though you might start out earning a bachelor of business administration with an emphasis in financial accounting and still have a stellar accounting career. Because the job of an accountant is multifaceted, these professionals must develop and hone many important skills. The following traits are essential for an accounting career, regardless of the field these professionals choose to work in or if they ever choose to earn an advanced online accounting degree:

  • Excellent organization of financial statements and data, including figures and paperwork
  • Time management skills that allow for multi-tasking and the effective use of office hours
  • Detail-oriented nature and an eye for accuracy, especially when dealing with financial figures
  • Exceptional customer service when working directly with clients
  • Creativity that allows for out-of-the-box thinking and quick, fresh solutions to financial problems
  • Commitment to and passion for the industry
  • Unwavering trustworthiness regarding private and confidential company and client information
  • Outstanding communication with clients and company or organization management
  • Collaboration with team members, department managers, and decision-makers
  • Flexibility to work effectively in constantly changing environments and address last-minute challenges

Becoming an accountant or CPA is not an easy task. It takes hard work and dedication. However, a simplified, step-by-step explanation of the process consists of the following:

  • Earn an undergraduate online accounting degree

  • Decide between a career as an accountant and a CPA

  • Earn a graduate online accounting degree

  • Find an entry-level position working under a certified CPA

  • Submit the CPA licensure application

  • Apply for, take, and pass the Uniform CPA Exam (The overall 2021 CPA exam pass rate is 54%)

  • Enroll in continuing education accounting courses

Typical Accounting Degree Admission Requirements


Each accounting department has its own requirements for joining their program, whether that program is found online or on-campus. Common requirements include courses such as Calculus for Business, Introduction to Accounting, Microeconomics and even having completed your associate's degree in accounting online or on-campus. You should expect to be held to a fairly high GPA standard with your high school diploma. Often a 3.0 will suffice but consult the department's literature to be certain.

Some Business/Accounting programs are quite competitive, especially if the business schools reputation is good, so be prepared to bolster your application with things like internships, community work, or references. You might also find that some accounting programs have dress codes to ensure that you are acclimated to the cultural rigors of the business world.

How long does it take to earn a bachelor's degree in accounting?


Accountants must attain, at minimum, an undergraduate online accounting degree. These online degrees generally consist of 120 credit hours of coursework, made up of both general education curriculum and specialized major accounting courses. While every online accounting program is a little different, most require accounting major online students to take classes like financial accounting, accounting information systems, income tax, tax accounting, tax law, corporate accounting, cost and managerial accounting, and auditing.

In most cases, bachelor's degrees in accounting take four years to complete. There are, however, some accelerated online programs available. Full-time students with previously-earned college credit hours or associate degrees can also finish sooner, whereas students who plan to attend school part-time may still take longer.

While accountants are not required to earn an advanced online accounting degree, master's degrees from an online accounting program may be extremely beneficial in this industry. Not only does a master’s degree in accounting qualify professionals for higher-paying positions, it also prepares them to deal with more advanced work in auditing, taxation, and finance. Completing a graduate online accounting degree also helps fulfill the 150 credit hour requirement most states have for certified public accountant (CPA) licensure.

Online accounting degree students looking to complete a bachelor's program can expect to see some of the following courses in their online bachelor's accounting curriculum, on top of the expected general education.

  • Financial Accounting
  • Financial Statements
  • Financial Reporting
  • Financial Planning
  • Financial Accounting Information
  • Cost Accounting
  • Tax Accounting
  • Tax Preparation
  • Accounting Principles
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
  • Essential Accounting Principles
  • Leaderships Skills
  • Business Law
  • Business Strategy
  • And More

Academic Standards for CPAs

A bachelor’s online accounting degree is enough to qualify candidates for most entry-level finance positions, but professionals seeking CPA certification must take their education further. While each state’s “board of accountancy” sets its own licensing requirements, most have similar education standards. Typically, states require candidates to complete the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field from an accredited college or university
  • A minimum of 150 semester credit hours of accounting and/or business coursework
  • A specific number of accounting courses that cover certain topics
  • A specific number of business courses that cover certain topics

Many states require that CPA certification candidates maintain an established minimum GPA while in school. Additionally, once an individual becomes officially certified as a CPA, they must complete a certain number of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) online courses each year. Failing to provide proof of CPE credits can result in a CPA license being revoked.

CPA Exam and Experience Needed for CPAs

After completing the above-mentioned education requirements, CPA exam candidates must apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam. This process usually entails submitting an application fee, official school transcripts, reference letters, and any supporting legal documents. Once approved, access to the exam schedule is provided.

The Uniform CPA Exam consists of four sections: Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation. Each test is four hours long and candidates must pass all of them within an 18-month period. Most states require a minimum passing score of 75 for each section.

While not nearly as difficult, most states also require CPA candidates to take and pass an ethics examination. These are generally offered online and can be taken independently.

Additionally, CPA candidates must provide proof of professional experience. Again, this requirement varies significantly from state to state. Most boards require candidates to work professionally under the direct supervision of a CPA for at least two years. Proof of work experience in accounting, auditing, insurance reporting, provision of management advisory, and/or financial consulting must be submitted before CPA licensure can be granted.

Other Top Accounting Certifications

In addition to CPA licensure, there are several other certifications that accountants may consider seeking. Some of the most popular options are:

  • Certified Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
  • Enrolled Agent (EA)
  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
  • Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP)
  • Certified Bank Auditor (CBA)

What Can I Do with an Online Accounting Degree?


Online accounting degrees & programs are remarkably diverse. While most of us think of accountants as only providing help during tax season, accountants are working hard all year to provide corporate and individuals with audits that help maximize fiscal efficiency. They work with information technology departments to audit those systems, too. This is only the tip of the accounting iceberg.

Accountants also work within the legal establishment. Forensic accountants help uncover money laundering schemes and reveal those who defraud the IRS. They also help businesses reveal embezzlement schemes and they work with attorneys. For instance, in some civil matters, litigants seek to hide assets from creditors or former spouses. Accountants help reveal the funds and ensure a fair and just outcome.

Accounting Fields of Study


  • Forensic Accounting:
    This field focuses on uncovering financial wrongdoing. Not only do forensic accountants become adept at balancing the books and auditing, but they also are versed in the laws that might apply to financial bad guys. Topics can include offshore tax havens, money laundering, and embezzlement.
  • Management Accounting:
    This form of accounting is aimed at helping a firm streamline or otherwise improve its operations. The rules governing a managerial accountant will vary according to the needs of each individual firm and the results of their audit will only be shared among other managers or employees.
  • Tax Accounting:
    This is the domain in which we most often place accountants. Tax accountants assess a firm's finances and complete the tax return documents. However, only a certified public accountant (CPA) with an active license from the state may sign off on tax return documentation.
  • Finance:
    This is where accounting and business most often meet. Accountants will be trained to both prepare and analyze financial documents for use in public documentation.
  • Non-Profit or Government Accounting:
    This is a specialty area that is governed by special rules and laws. That is, these organizations needn't worry about taxation, as do for-profit companies, but they must also adhere to special rules.
  • Accounting Information Technology:
    This is a relatively new addition to the accounting world. Since accountants are detail-minded, they are perfect for conducting audits of computer databases, network logs, and more.

Potential Careers for Accounting Degree Graduates


According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for most accountant and auditor positions in 2017 was $69,350. The average hourly wage was $33.34. This is well above the national average wage index of $48,642, as reported by the Social Security Administration in 2016.

The outlook for accountants working in the United States is also promising. In fact, the BLS projects that there will be a 10% increase in job availability in this field between 2016 and 2026. When compared to other professions, this is a faster increase than the national average. The major reasons for this growth are likely globalization, an ever-changing economy, and complicated tax regulations.

  • Financial Analyst:
    This is a great first job if you intend to pursue investment banking. Many corporate finance teams have analyst programs that will work you very hard for two years, but which will pay very well. Once you complete the two-year program, you can head to graduate school and then a stellar career thereafter.
    Average annual salary: $61,400
  • Tax Accountant:
    In this position you will help individuals, or your company file their tax returns. With a CPA license you can prepare and sign off on tax documents. To succeed, you'll need a thorough working knowledge of the United States tax code and a specialty in either individual or corporate tax accounting.
    Average annual salary: $57,400
  • Logistician:
    This profession is not often listed as one for accountants, but it is a perfect fit. In this position, you will need to find the most efficient ways to ship goods around the globe. Accountants are particularly good at auditing systems and finding ways to make them more efficient.
    Average annual salary: $58,500
  • Forensic Accountant:
    If you love accounting but also love detective shows, this might be the job for you. You'll work with investigators or attorneys to uncover white collar crime. In the case of divorce, you might be called in to untangle a complex financial portfolio, or to determine how certain assets were hidden from a former spouse.
    Average annual salary: $69,300
  • Credit Analyst:
    A credit analyst works for banks or other lenders to determine how credit worthy a potential borrower is. While most consumer credit is determined by a credit score, corporate credit is a bit more involved. That is, there are far more hard assets involved as well as a complex equity picture to account for.
    Average annual salary: $51,800

Options to Advance


If you wish to advance as an accountant and/or a business person, you will need added credentials. For most, this will involve a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Accounting. However, accountants can also opt for a Masters of Accountancy program. If you wish to work in healthcare, you might apply your business and accounting acumen to a Master of Healthcare Administration. Graduate school is not the only recourse for an ambitious accountant, however.

If you have an online bachelor level degree in accounting, you might first consider achieving a CPA license, or certification. The CPA examination is said to be the hardest professional test in the nation. With a CPA license you can pursue a fruitful career with no pressing need for a graduate degree. Consider, too, that the CPA exam is comprised of four parts. If you only pass one, that is considered a significant accomplishment and can help you advance quite far.

Frequently Asked Questions


As a bachelor’s degree in accounting difficult?

Many people think that, because of its reliance on mathematical concepts, a bachelor’s degree in account ing will be particularly difficult. And, while those who struggle greatly with simple mathematical concepts might find the degree hard to earn, the degree really only requires a relatively basic understanding of math. You needn’t complete calculus or high-level physics math in order to earn this degree. Most of accounting uses the simple concepts of math in specific ways. You might need to have an understanding of algebra and formulas, but you won’t need to perform overly complex mathematics or proofs. You will use addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in very specific ways to track and understand where money goes, the limits of a budget, and to fill out financial forms.

Am I going to need a master’s in accounting?

The simple answer to this is no. You do not need to have an accounting master’s in order to work as an accountant. In fact, with a bachelor’s and enough experience, you might even move into a position as a controller for a smaller company. If you want to work as an auditor or gain your CPA, you might need to consider taking some master’s-level classes or finishing an advanced degree, but you could also earn a bachelor’s degree, get to work, and never return to the classroom if you wish.

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