Best Online Accounting Programs

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Accountants analyze, organize, and prepare financial records. Some accountants handle the books for private companies, organizations, or government agencies. Others assist clients on an individual basis, particularly during the January-April tax-filing season. Accounting is a large field, and there are more than 1.3 million accountants and auditors currently employed in the United States.

Most entry-level accountant positions are attainable with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, or a degree in business or finance with an accounting concentration. Accounting bachelor’s programs cover the federal income tax, managerial cost accounting, and other core areas of the profession, while also reviewing the various laws and ethics that guide professionals in their daily activities.

Today, many students are choosing to earn their bachelor’s in accounting degree online, rather than in a traditional classroom. Web-based programs follow the same rigorous curriculum as brick-and-mortar offerings, and distance education is much more convenient for many students. The asynchronous, or self-paced, format that most online programs use is ideal for students who must balance school work with childcare, work, or any other commitments that make attending class on campus difficult.

Read on to learn more about accounting as an academic discipline and to discover the career opportunities you can look forward to with a bachelor’s degree in the field.


An online accounting program will cover fundamental accounting principles, including cost management and analysis, taxation, accounting information systems, auditing, financial management, and income tax preparation. Students who graduate with a bachelor’s in accounting will be prepared for most entry-level jobs in the industry. Keep in mind, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires all practicing accountants to obtain a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential. The best online accounting degree programs prepare students for the state-issued CPA exam and other post-college requirements.


Online bachelor’s in accounting programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional learning. Students can download course readings and lectures, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors on their own schedule. Current technology also allows them to study away from home using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, and other devices with Wi-Fi capabilities. Many online programs are taught in an accelerated format, allowing distance learners to complete all required courses in just two or three years.


Students who graduate with a bachelor’s in accounting and meet all of their state’s CPA requirements will be ready to enter the job market. Many pursue careers as general public accountants, serving a range of individual and organizational clients. Graduates with a strong background in business and finance may lean toward management accounting, while those with a keen eye and proficient analytical skills may choose to become auditors.


Choosing a program is a very personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online accounting programs in the United States. If you want to become an accountant, and you value the opportunity to pursue your degree online, read on to learn more about the top online accounting programs in the country.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Liberty University 74.84 4/5 46% Lynchburg, VA

Liberty is the largest Christian university in the world. The school serves 90,000 distance learners and offers nearly 300 web-based programs, including a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Liberty’s online accounting degree covers the basic foundations of the discipline while integrating Christian ethics into the curriculum. To graduate, students must complete 120 credits. Thirty of these credits must come from upper-level courses and distance learners should complete at least half of their classes at Liberty. The curriculum is constantly updated to ensure that new students receive a rigorous educations. Professors have professional experience in the industry and are considered experts in their field. Distance learners can also pursue a minor in accounting. All online students have access to Liberty’s digital resources, including an online library and an online writing center.

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2 Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion 72.02 4/5 70% Marion, IN

Based in Marion, Indiana Wesleyan has offered a renowned, evangelical Christian-centered education since 1920. Indiana Wesleyan is particularly committed to the liberal arts and professional education. It offers several online programs that are specifically geared toward adult learners, including an accredited online accounting degree Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree. The program prepares students for managerial positions in business settings, and can also be completed in about 20 months of study. Distance learners must complete 42 credits to graduate; tuition is affordable at just $424 per credit. Courses cover accounting principles, management and leadership, accounting ethics, federal income taxes, and other core material. In 2017, terms start on January 25th, February 1st, March 15th, and May 3rd. Applicants must have already earned at least 60 transferable credits from an accredited college. Distance learners at IWU can access a variety of resources, including an extensive online library featuring digital books, databases, journals, and more.

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3 Thomas Edison State University 70.67 3/5 40% Trenton, NJ

Located in Trenton, New Jersey, TESU became a state university in 2015, and offers a variety of academic programs for distance learners. The university's bachelor of science in business administration degree is geared toward students who want to study cost accounting, financial accounting, auditing, and managerial accounting. This online accounting degree is also suitable for students looking to become certified public accountants, as the program can be seamlessly integrated into TESU’s CPA & master's track. Distance learners must complete 120 credits, including 60 in general education requirements, 36 credits in professional business, and the final 18 in accounting. To fulfill the general education requirements, students are required to take college-level algebra and statistics along with ethics and written communication. Later, distance learners must take economics, marketing, management, business law, and accounting courses. Thomas Edison State provides students with plenty of prior learning assessment opportunities, making it easy to earn credits and graduate faster.

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4 Old Dominion University 70.62 3/5 49% Norfolk, VA

Old Dominion University contributes roughly $2 billion each year to Virginia's economy. Located in Norfolk, Virginia, ODU serves nearly 25,000 students and offers more than 250 total undergraduate and graduate programs. Named the third best online accounting degree for 2016-17 by College Choice, Old Dominion's Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree equips students with both technical accounting skills, and higher-level analytical, communication, and computer skills. Students enrolling in the program can expect to take courses in microeconomics, marketing and finance, taxation, and managerial economics. This bachelor's degree requires 120 total credit hours with in-state residents paying $325 per credit hour and out-of-state students paying $355 per credit. Many graduates from the program find jobs providing auditing services, budget analyses, and personal finance planning. The university offers online classes in two formats: live, which delivers classes to distance learners in real-time, and asynchronous, which allows students with busy schedules to access course material at their own pace. Students who can visit the campus can choose to participate in 300 different organizations and clubs, including fraternities and sororities, anime club, the climbing club, and the ODU Young Professionals.

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5 Western Governors University 70.53 3/5 27% Salt Lake City, UT

Western Governors University is especially unique for two reasons: it is both completely online and based on the demonstration of competency, rather than credit hours. The university offers many online programs through its Teachers College, and online colleges of Business, Information Technology, and Health Professions, including a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. This accounting online degree prepares students for success in accounting careers and business leadership with classes such as Leadership and Management and Quantitative Analysis for Business. A Masters of Accounting is recommended for those looking to acquire their CPA as it gets students the needed 150 semester hours. Curriculum at Western Governors University is highly personalized, and students are guided through their courses by individually assigned academic mentors. Though it doesn't use credit hours to track students progress the program still requires 121 competency units and -- on average -- takes two years to achieve completion. There's also a required capstone project for WGU's accounting program which requires students use all of their accumulated knowledge from the program to propose a solution to a real-world issue. All online students at Western Governors University will have access to virtual Learning Communities, which provide digital space for students to interact, help each other with coursework, and develop competency.

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6 University of Massachusetts-Amherst 68.85 3/5 70% Amherst, MA

In 2016, US News and World Report ranked the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in the top 30 public universities in the country, adding to the institution's established reputation for excellence. Located in Amherst, Massachusetts, the university instructs students in more than 100 significant subject areas and degree programs, including the Isenberg undergraduate accounting degree program. Amherst's online accounting degree will engage students in the major areas of the discipline, such as financial reporting, information systems, and taxation, which prepares them for many different accounting disciplines. It will open doors to careers as auditors, bank examiners, and treasurers. The program is also only one of a handful in New England that has a separate AACSB accreditation. The major consists of general education requirements, the school's own Isenberg core courses, accounting course requirements, and 21 credits of non-business related courses. The Isenberg core classes consist of accounting classes, corporate finance, fundamentals of marketing, and more; it totals 11 courses. Online students enjoy extra support with access to online advising services and a world-class library system. Additionally, by fostering strong professional partnerships with businesses and organizations, Amherst makes it easy for partner employees to earn an online degree without missing work.

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7 Presbyterian College 68.46 3/5 68% Clinton, SC

Presbyterian College offers outstanding academic and professional opportunities in a tight-knit setting. All of Presbyterian College's students participate in either an internship or a study abroad experience while finishing school. The college, located in Clinton, South Carolina, is dedicated to teaching the value of service and offers more than 40 majors, including an online Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in accounting. One of the best online accounting degree programs in the country, Presbyterian College's accounting concentration prepares students for successful careers with a diverse curriculum that includes international business electives. Graduates are routinely hired by companies like Deloitte and Touche, Bank of America, Ernst and Young, and more. PC also has graduate programs available where students can specialize in accounting and taxation. Through donations made by a local PC businessman, Robert M. Vance, the College has been able to start a lecture series bringing influential leaders in the world of business to the school. All business students at Presbyterian College enjoy access to unique resources, such as a thriving internship program that helps students make connections with important figures in the business community.

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8 University of Memphis 68.44 3/5 40% Memphis, TN

Though its campus is located in one of Memphis, Tennessee's quieter neighborhoods, the University of Memphis is a significant institution for academic research. Valuing interdisciplinary innovation and creativity, the University of Memphis lets students choose from more than 200 areas of study, including a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting degree. This interdisciplinary online accounting degree provides students with a sound foundation in ethical business practices within a global context and, like all online degrees at the University of Memphis, it can be completed entirely online or can be combined with on-campus courses. Students are required to record 120 total credit hours for graduation. 41 of those hours are spent in general education courses like math and economics. After fulfilling the general education requirements, students will move onto completing the degree requirements which include accounting, business, and management classes. The major itself is 30 hours and consists of upper-division accounting classes. A minor is also available to those who are completing a major within a different college at the University. Additionally, all online students at the university can utilize numerous resources, such as career development services that aid students with essential professional tasks like cover letter and resume writing.

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9 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale 66.83 4/5 60% Fort Lauderdale, FL

In 2014, US News and World Report ranked Keiser University-Ft. Lauderdale #40 among Southern Colleges, making the university a top regional institution for higher learning. The Ft. Lauderdale eCampus offers over 30 degree programs, including a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting degree. This online accounting degree teaches students foundational concepts in the discipline alongside vital strengths for the modern workplace, such as communication skills. 120 credit hours are needed for students to obtain a bachelor's in accounting. 51 of the credit hours are spent in upper division accounting major courses like auditing, intermediate accounting, and principles of managerial finance. Distance learners can utilize the Department of Student Services for help developing professional skills, such as writing a resume and mastering the job interview. Additionally, students can join student organizations like Phi Theta Kappa and Sigma Beta Delta for extra professional and personal development.

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10 Regis University 65.85 4/5 59% Denver, CO

Recognized by US News and World Report for nearly 20 consecutive years as one of the best universities in the nation, Regis University is a premier institution for higher learning and is one of the 28 Jesuit Universities in the U.S. Located in Denver, Colorado, Regis University's Bachelor of Science in Accounting is an accredited online accounting degree. The degree provides distance learners with the opportunity to simultaneously complete a graduate degree in the College of Business and Economics while finishing their bachelor's, thus saving both time and money. Regis's program will prepare learners for careers in both the public and private accounting sector. In total, 120 credit hours will be needed to obtain an undergraduate degree. Students can expect to take a wide range of classes with upper division classes like: advanced accounting, accounting information systems, auditing, governmental and not-for-profit accounting, and ethical decision making for accountants. Similar to other programs, Regis requires students to complete a capstone project where all their obtained knowledge is used to help solve real-world issues. Online learners will be paying $475 per credit hour with an application fee of $50. In total, it's estimated that the program will cost between $14,250 and $57,000 depending on transfer credits applied. A 30-hour Master’s of Science in Accounting online program is also available through Regis University.

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11 Champlain College 65.64 5/5 64% Burlington, VT

With campuses in Burlington, Vermont, Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland, Champlain College provides its students with quality, career-driven education. The Princeton Review named it one of "The Best 381 Colleges" in 2017, while US News and World Report called the school one of the most innovative institutions for higher learning in its 2017 regional rankings. Champlain offers 16 online associate and bachelor's degrees, including an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree. Designed specifically for adult learners, Champlain's accounting online degree is meant to be accelerated, meaning that most courses can be finished in 7 weeks (the more complex courses still take 15 weeks). It's a 120 credit program with 57 of those credits being fulfilled through the general education requirements. Champlain also offers three accounting certificates to go along with the online accounting degree. Each has it's own specialization and will help students further their understanding of the field and will be something future employers will value. The college's online programs aim to connect students with each other through virtual discussion forums, while distance learners enjoy access to an academic advisor, career advisor, and more. A minimum GPA of 2.5 is recommended before entering the program.

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12 Touro University Worldwide 65.34 3/5 20% Los Alamitos, CA

Touro University Worldwide is part of a social-justice oriented, Jewish-sponsored system of institutions for both professional and higher education. Touro University Worldwide's Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree features over 5 concentrations, including accounting. This online accounting degree is often taught by industry experts, making it easy for students to apply knowledge learned in the classroom to practical business settings. Touro's program takes 120 credit hours to complete with a $400 cost per credit. Full-time students can complete the program in three and a half years. For part-time students the program tends to take closer to seven years to complete. Specializing in fully online education without any residency requirements, the university offers courses through its four main schools: Business and Management, Psychology, Health and Human Services, and General Studies. Additionally, Touro University sets students up for success by pairing them up with academic advisors, who support distance learners with regular check-ins and academic coaching.

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13 University of Alabama at Birmingham 65.28 3/5 48% Birmingham, AL

The University of Alabama's Birmingham campus is the recipient of numerous accolades. For example, Birmingham is recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for "community engagement" and "very high research activity," while The Princeton Review consistently ranks the school as one of the most diverse in the country. The school's Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree is similarly decorated. Honored by the Institute of Management Accountants as one of the best online accounting degree programs in preparing students for the CMA exam. Birmingham's program will help distance learners succeed in numerous careers, including financial accounting, auditing, and forensic accounting. Prospective students can expect to take classes in management processes and behaviors, basic marketing, and business communications. Online students will be supported by a 24/7 technical help desk, while all students can access the Academic Success Center, which provides academic coaching, tutoring services, and academic success workshops.

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14 Southern New Hampshire University 64.56 4/5 59% Manchester, NH

Though it has a main campus in Manchester, New Hampshire, Southern New Hampshire University is renowned for its online education. Southern New Hampshire University offers online programs at the certificate, associate, bachelor's, and master's levels, including a Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree. In addition to teaching students the foundations of accounting, Southern New Hampshire's online accounting degree allows distance learners to pursue a more specialized track within the discipline focusing on forensic accounting and fraud examination. Students will be expected to pay around $320 per credit hour for the 120 credit program. SNHU also has an accounting accelerated fast track for those looking to get their BS and MS in accounting. All online students at Southern New Hampshire University can utilize an abundant array of helpful resources, including a writing center, an online bookstore, tutoring services, and a wellness center. Serving more than 60,000 students through virtual education, Southern New Hampshire prides itself on challenging the status-quo and expanding access to higher education.

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15 Auburn University 64.22 3/5 68% Auburn University, AL

Auburn University is one of the few sea, land, and space grant institutions in the US, but the university's distinction doesn't end there: US News and World Report has ranked Auburn University among the top 50 public universities in the country for nearly a quarter century. Auburn University offers programs in more than 10 schools and colleges, including a Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree. This accredited online accounting degree is designed for students who have already earned a 4-year degree but have decided to return to school to switch careers. Returning students who complete this degree will be qualified for internal auditor, tax accountant, and government accountant positions. Online accounting students view recorded on-campus accounting classes through streamed videos, making distance education virtually the same as an on-campus degree. Students who can visit the campus in Auburn, Alabama will enjoy its many attractions, such as the Southeastern Raptor Center and the 14-acre Donald E. Davis Arboretum.

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16 City University of Seattle 63.81 3/5 47% Seattle, WA

City University's flagship campus is located in Seattle, Washington, but it has campuses in locations across the globe, including Greece, Vietnam, and Switzerland. Ranked in the top 30 by US News and World Report, the City University of Seattle's Bachelor of Science in Business Administration includes an emphasis in accounting, and this accounting online degree can be completed in as little as three years. It’s a 180 credit program that helps graduates get jobs in many different career fields including: education, government, and nonprofit organizations. This institution for higher education values flexibility and innovation, and it allows students to take courses online, on-campus, or both to satisfy those values. City University of Seattle delivers its online curriculum via Blackboard, a Portal, and a virtual classroom, each of which allows distance learners to check assignments and engage in discussions. Students will be taught by experienced professionals, as 95 percent of graduates said their teachers had professional experience in their field.

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17 Saint Leo University 63.44 3/5 43% Saint Leo, FL

This Tampa-based, Catholic institution was ranked as one of the best regional universities in the South. A leader in educating the military, Saint Leo University offers 20 online bachelor's programs in the Schools of Business and Arts and Sciences. The university's Bachelor of Arts in Accounting differs from many other online accounting degrees in that it offers a larger array of advanced accounting and auditing classes, most of which are completed in 8-week terms. Saint Leo’s program provides a good foundation for students looking to become a CPA or CMA. This is a 120 credit program which includes required completion of both common accounting classes and six credits worth of religious courses. Additionally, prospective students can utilize Saint Leo's unique Online Learning Toolkit to find the ideal online program and learn the basics of online education, while Undergraduate Student Services will help online students connect with one another through virtual activities.

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18 Central Methodist University-College of Graduate and Extended Studies 62.66 3/5 50% Fayette, MO

With campuses in Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Kansas, and Iowa, Central Methodist University's College of Graduate and Extended Studies offers wide-ranging educational opportunities. Central Methodist University's online bachelor's degree in accounting prepares students to secure accounting jobs in a variety of fields, such as health care, financial planning, law, engineering, forensics, actuarial science, and the fine arts. Students will be set up to pursue all certifications after obtaining this online accounting degree program including: CPA, CMA, and CIA. A minimum of 124 credit hours is needed to graduate and includes course like accounting principles, business law contracts, and fraud examination. Online courses can last either 8 or 16 weeks, and distance learners can benefit from online tutoring services, live eClassroom modules through BigBlueButton, and the university's crash-course in virtual learning: CMU 190, Orientation to Online Learning. Students who can visit the campus can enjoy multiple student organizations in areas such as athletics, faith and service, Greek life, media and publications, music, theatre, and more.

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19 Florida Institute of Technology-Online 62.32 5/5 52% Melbourne, FL

In the 2017 U.S. News and World Report rankings, the Florida Institute of Technology was named as a Tier 1 Best National University, making it one of the premier institutions for higher education in the country. The Florida Institute of Technology's Bachelor of Arts in Accounting is among the best online accounting degree programs. It combines theory with practice in preparing students for financial and managerial accounting and business law. 121 credit hours are needed to acquire the degree with required courses in humanities and social sciences. Florida Institute of Technology offers classes in numerous disciplines, including aeronautics, science, business, and engineering, both on-campus in Melbourne, Florida, and online through its Virtual Campus. Students take online courses via the Canvas Learning Management System, and the institute specifically designs its virtual curriculum to serve the needs of working adults.

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20 Bellevue University 62.25 3/5 31% Bellevue, NE

Bellevue University has been providing quality education from its Bellevue, Nebraska campus since it was founded in the middle of the 1960s. Bellevue University's online accounting degree not only provides students with essential knowledge of the discipline, but it also equips students with practical experience by including an optional accounting internship. Upon completion of the program students will be equipped with enough knowledge to begin preparing for the CPA exam. Bellevue University’s online accounting degree is going to cost about $410 per credit hour with a one-time application fee of $50 for undergraduate programs. BU offers more than 70 college degrees, and the university supplements its academics with innovative educational centers, including the Center for Project Management and the Center for Student Engagement. The distance learning curriculum is designed for adult learners, and students will have plenty of support from resources like 24/7 library access, online tutoring, tutorials, and discussion forums.

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21 Concordia University-Saint Paul 61.86 3/5 47% Saint Paul, MN

Concordia University-Saint Paul, founded at the end of the 19th century as a Christian liberal arts college, takes care to foster a close-knit community of learners. Concordia University's Bachelor of Arts in Accounting is unique, as students finish their accounting degree online by taking both on-campus and online classes. 40 of the required credit hour for the degree can be done online. Courses last 7 weeks and include courses in: cost accounting, auditing, corporate finance, and managing in a global economy. Concordia enjoys a 15:1 student-faculty ratio and provides students with more than 50 possible majors. It’s a very career oriented school which is supported by the fact that 92 percent of students find a job after graduating. Students at Concordia University will enjoy many online academic tools, such as Brainfuse, an online writing lab and tutoring resource. Additionally, students who can visit campus can enjoy Concordia's many activities and organizations, such as chamber choir, the student newspaper, the writing club, and more.

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22 Excelsior College 61.86 3/5 40% Albany, NY

Excelsior College provides high quality education to adult learners and aims to increase higher education access for those populations underrepresented in the collegiate sphere. Influenced by the most relevant trends in today's work environment, Excelsior College's accredited online accounting degree employs a highly personalized curriculum through independent study, course-based study, and competency-based learning. It’s a 120 credit hour program including courses in accounting theory, cost accounting, managerial accounting, and is accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education. Excelsior college prides itself on both targeting nontraditional students and educating a diverse student population (over 40% of whom do not identify as Caucasian). Since the college serves many busy, working adults, it also supplies an abundant array of online resources, including an online writing lab, an ESL online writing workshop, and an online center for professional development.

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23 Columbia College 61.56 3/5 42% Columbia, MO

Though Columbia College has a Day and Evening Campus at Columbia, Missouri, the college also has campuses in nearly 40 locations nationwide, along with an online campus. Available as either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, Columbia College's accounting online degree prepares students for success in navigating common business and financial transactions. This program takes 120 semester hours and is a member of the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education. Columbia offers over 70 college degrees at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels, in addition to nearly 30 online degrees. With such a wide academic range, it makes sense that Columbia College serves more than 25,000 students each year. Students who are able to visit the main Missouri campus will appreciate its commitment to sustainability, as Columbia works hard to prevent food waste, build energy efficient buildings, and develop campus recycling initiatives.

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24 Cleary University 61.56 2/5 47% Ann Arbor, MI

With campuses in Howell, Ann Arbor, and Flint, Michigan, Cleary University offers a practical, business-based education. Cleary's online bachelor's degree in accounting is especially well-suited for those students aiming to develop careers in management or leadership roles. It’s a 120 credit hour program that sets students up for entry-level positions in business and government. Prospective students can expect to take classes like governmental/ nonprofit accounting, internal auditing, and strategic management. Cleary’s online accounting degree will help learners acquire jobs like: corporate accountant, financial manager, business consultant, and risk manager. The university was originally founded in 1883 as the Cleary School of Penmanship, and Cleary has prioritized the hands-on application of business-oriented knowledge ever since. The program has a strong emphasis on the development of vital business skills and supports its own Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This benefits students by fostering a rich community of entrepreneurs and business leaders through a variety of resources.

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25 Northwestern State University of Louisiana 61.47 3/5 36% Natchitoches, LA

Established in 1884 in Natchitoches, Louisiana, Northwestern State University of Louisiana's campus is the oldest continuously occupied site for college education in Louisiana. In particular, Northwestern State's online Bachelor of Science is an elite online accounting degree, as it prepares students to succeed in accounting careers with diverse courses, including cost accounting, governmental accounting, management policy, and advanced accounting. Northwestern State’s accounting program is 120 credits and will give its students a broad understanding of business operations. Students are able to complete all requirements to take the CPA exam at Northwestern State as well. The university's greatest concern is to provide superior instruction at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Often called one of the most affordable online colleges in the country, Northwestern State's online programs (managed through eNSU) are among the best. Distance learners at the university will enjoy access to the Counseling and Career Services Center, which helps students plan their careers and even connects them to employers, jobs, and internships.

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Four to five years. There are also accelerated degree options that may be completed within two years.
Program Costs
$9,000 to $24,000 in annual tuition
Popular Minors and Dual Areas of Study
General Business, Business Administration, Finance, Management, Human Resources, Economics, Statistics, Mathematics
Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) Accounting Accreditation
Additional Considerations
As noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states require accountants to complete up to 150 college course credit hours — roughly 30 more credits than the average four-year bachelor’s program. Students should ensure their online bachelor’s in accounting program meets the number of course credit hours needed to practice in their prospective state of employment.

Source: PayScale; Collected August 2015

Job Placement

Due to the steady demand for qualified and certified accountants, the employment outlook in this profession is strong. According to a recent report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 61% of accounting majors in 2013 had received at least one job offer by graduation. Only two majors reported higher job-offer rates: computer science and economics. U.S. News & World Report also notes that accountants face just a 3.2% unemployment rate; the national unemployment rate is currently estimated at 5.0%.

The table below compares unemployment rates among various professions listed in USNWR‘s ‘Best Business Jobs’ ranking.

Occupation Unemployment Rate (2016)
Accountant 3.2%
Statistician 4.0%
Operations Research Analyst 3.8%
Financial Advisor 3.3%
Mathematician 4.0%
Management Analyst 3.0%
Business Operations Manager 3.7%
Market Research Analyst 2.4%
Financial Analyst 2.2%

Source: U.S. News & World Report

Additionally, the BLS projects that the number of accounting jobs will rise by 142,400 positions (or roughly 11%) between 2014 and 2024.

Earning a Living

The BLS notes that accountants and auditors in the United States earn a median annual salary of $67,190 which is $32.30 per hour. However, your earning potential will depend on several factors, including your specific degree pathway and professional experience. Using data from the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report, the table below looks at salary expectations for six different accounting majors at two key career stages.

Major Field of Study Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)
Accounting and Finance $52,800 $86,400
Financial Accounting $45,100 $82,000
Accounting (General) $48,300 $78,200
Accounting and Management $48,700 $70,800
Accounting and Business $45,200 $70,500
Business Administration and Accounting $44,900 $67,500

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

All six of the majors listed above experienced at least 45% salary growth after 10 years in the workforce. Financial accounting majors experienced the highest rate of growth — 81.8% — followed by accounting and finance majors at 63.6% and general accounting majors at 61.9%.

In addition to their major field of study, salary expectations for accountants also vary by specific job title. The next table explores career salary growth rates among five of the most common accounting career pathways.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) $52,908 $64,716 $75,839 $83,810
Staff Accountant $44,785 $48,433 $48,786 $49,754
Financial Controller $63,423 $74,386 $80,897 $81,200
Accounting Manager $54,946 $65,901 $66,650 $64,736
Senior Accountant $59,361 $63,047 $64,791 $64,734

Source: PayScale

Of the five professions listed above, CPAs experienced the highest career salary growth rate, an increase of roughly 58.4% between their first job and late-career.

Career and Further Education Opportunities

College graduates with a bachelor’s degree in accounting will be qualified for dozens of jobs once they have completed the CPA requirements in their home state. The accounting and auditing profession is outlined below, along with three other common careers for accounting degree recipients.

Accountants and Auditors: Whether working for individual clients or a multinational organization, accountants are responsible for monitoring financial records and ensuring that their employer is compliant with all relevant tax laws. Auditors are accountants who specialize in analyzing financial data and recognizing patterns or discrepancies. Accountants and auditors typically work a more rigorous schedule than employees in other fields; according to the BLS, one in four works more than 40 hours per week.

Management Analysts: These analysts explore how companies and organizations can optimize their workflow, boost profits, and maximize efficiency. In order to achieve these goals, management analysts gather organizational data, interview personnel, and present their findings to executives and managers in different departments. Many analysts specialize in management subfields, such as supply chain management or financial accounting.

Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate: Appraisers and assessors evaluate homes, corporate buildings, and other properties to determine their value. According to the BLS, appraisals and assessments influence the way property is “sold, mortgaged, taxed, insured, or developed.” Appraisers working with federal transactions must become certified or licensed at the state level; assessors must also be certified in some states.

Budget Analysts: Budget analysts specialize in organizing and preparing financial records for companies and organizations with sizable budgets. First they review and approve their employer’s budget proposals, and then work to actualize the goals of these proposals. More than 40% of the nation’s budget analysts work for federal, state, or local government departments and agencies.

Occupation Median Annual Salary Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)
Accountants and Auditors $67,190 11% (+142,000 jobs)
Management Analysts $83,120 14% (+103,400 jobs)
Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate $51,860 8% (+6,800 jobs)
Budget Analysts $71,590 3% (+1,500 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in accounting often go on to pursue a master’s degree. For more information about opportunities for grad students, please visit our Guide to Online MBA Programs.

Professional Organizations

Making connections and learning all you can about accounting is crucial to your professional success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for accounting professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • The American Accounting Association: Celebrating 100 years in 2016, the AAA is an international organization representing more than 7,000 members in dozens of countries. The association’s website features a robust career center with a rotating pool of roughly 200 job openings from across the country, along with a peer-reviewed journal and links to professional development courses.
  • National Society of Accountants: The NSA strives to provide advocacy, continuing education opportunities, and ethical oversight for professional accountants throughout the nation. Members receive access to a range of accounting- and tax-related resources, along with discounts on webinar courses, conference entry fees, and other services.
  • American Institute of CPAs: Considered the world’s largest professional organization for accounting professionals, the AICPA represents more than 400,000 members in 144 countries. The institute’s website features study guides, practice exams, and other resources for bachelor’s graduates who have yet to take their CPA exam, as well as a career center for certified job candidates.

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.


Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.


Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.


Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Best Online Accounting Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Indiana Wesleyan University Marion, IN
2 Washington State University Pullman, WA
3 Northwood University - Michigan Midland, MI
4 Misericordia University Dallas, PA
5 Auburn University Auburn University, AL
6 University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL
7 Clarion University of Pennsylvania Clarion, PA
8 DeSales University Center Valley, PA
9 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL
10 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA
11 Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME
12 Champlain College Burlington, VT
13 Regis University Denver, CO
14 Bemidji State University MN
15 Tiffin University Tiffin, OH
16 Aurora University Aurora, IL
17 Gardner-Webb University Boiling Springs, NC
18 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
19 University of West Alabama Livingston, AL
20 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA
21 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI
22 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
23 Morehead State University Morehead KY
24 Northwestern Oklahoma State University Alva, OK
25 University of the Incarnate Word San Antonio, TX

Best Online Accounting Programs of 2015
Rank School Location
1 Washington State University Pullman, WA
2 DeSales University Center Valley, PA
3 St. Catherine University Saint Paul, MN
4 California College San Diego San Diego, CA
5 California Baptist University Riverside, CA
6 CollegeAmerica Colorado Springs, CO
7 Champlain College Burlington, VT
8 Indiana Wesleyan University Marion, IN
9 AIB College of Business Des Moines, IA
10 Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL
11 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Saint Mary of the Woods, IN
12 Midway College Midway, KY
13 University of Northwestern Ohio Lima, OH
14 Lakeland College Plymouth, WI
15 Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME
16 Tennessee Technological University Cookeville, TN
17 Monroe College Bronx, NY
18 Clarion University of Pennsylvania Clarion, PA
19 Colorado Christian University Lakewood, CO
20 Florida National University Hialeah, FL