Best Online Associate in Accounting Programs

An online associate in accounting prepares students for the workforce and four-year accounting programs. Learn what to expect from the best programs in this guide.

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by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Published on April 28, 2021 · Updated on June 20, 2022

Reviewed by Lizzette Matos, CPA

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Accounting professionals create financial reports, record business transactions, and prepare tax returns. An associate degree in accounting trains learners in foundational accounting concepts. And online accounting degree programs prioritize flexibility for busy adults seeking a college degree.

Many community colleges offer two-year accounting degrees with flexible hybrid or online formats. Compared with four-year institutions, two-year colleges charge more affordable tuition rates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in-state students at public two-year colleges paid an average price of about $3,380 per year in tuition and fees in 2019-2020.

An online learning format can save students money. Rather than attending a local college, students can compare schools to find more affordable tuition rates.

An accredited degree from a top online college can launch your career. With an associate degree, graduates enter the workforce as accounting clerks, bookkeepers, and financial clerks. They can also transfer into a bachelor's program to become an accountant or auditor.

What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Accounting Program?

An associate degree in accounting trains students in bookkeeping, financial reporting, and auditing. During an accounting associate degree, learners take courses in financial accounting, public accounting, auditing, and cost accounting. These courses introduce students to the many specialty areas within accounting. They also prepare graduates for entry-level accounting and finance careers.

Many online associate in accounting programs also incorporate foundational business classes. Students explore business administration, finance, and marketing while earning an accounting degree.

Online accounting programs offer the same training as on-campus programs. Instead of attending classes in person, distance learners complete the course requirements in a virtual classroom environment.

Accounting majors need attention to detail and the ability to identify and solve problems. Math and organizational skills also benefit accounting students. In addition, online learners should possess self-motivation and discipline.

Accounting majors typically need 60 credits to earn their associate degree. The curriculum includes general education requirements in addition to accounting and business classes. The general education classes emphasize analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. Full-time students complete an associate degree in two years.

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Popular Online Associate in Accounting Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Accounting Program?

Principles of Accounting

Introductory classes cover basic accounting procedures. Students learn about the uses of accounting in business and government. They also examine business transaction monitoring, bookkeeping, and financial document creation.

Financial Accounting

In this course, learners explore core accounting concepts and the financial accounting process. They learn how to create financial statements, analyze financial records, and follow accounting regulations. Many programs incorporate several semesters of financial accounting classes.

Managerial Accounting

Managers use financial documents to plan and make decisions. This course trains students in managerial accounting, including topics like budgeting, cost-benefit analysis, and performance evaluation. Students learn how to create financial documents for business decision-making.

Income Taxation

The course covers income tax preparation for individuals and businesses. Topics include federal taxation policies, income tax deductions, capital gains taxes, and preparation methods. Learners also explore auditing methods.

Cost Accounting

In this course, students learn cost accounting methods, including product costing, cost-volume-profit analysis, and cost management. The class trains learners in cost management, budgeting, and cost planning.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Online College Students The Student's Guide to College Loans The Student's Guide to Financial Aid and the FAFSA

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Accounting Program?

Prospective accounting majors need to meet admission requirements to enroll in these programs. Most two-year colleges admit applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED credential. Applicants typically do not need to submit standardized test scores, although students who take the SAT or ACT can choose to provide their results.

Some schools ask for additional application materials like an essay or personal statement. Schools with essay requirements generally ask applicants to explain their reasons for pursuing a college degree or their goals after completing the program. A small number of schools ask for letters of recommendation. Teachers, professors, coaches, mentors, and supervisors all make good candidates for recommendation letter writers.

Applicants can also ask about transfer credit policies and credit for life or work experience.

What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Accounting Degree?

Career Outlook

Earning an online associate in accounting degree from an accredited school can prepare graduates for many career paths. The degree can allow graduates to become bookkeepers, financial clerks, or accounting clerks. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals reported a median annual salary of $45,560 in 2021.

The degree also leads to opportunities in diverse fields like business, financial services, insurance, and sales. Graduates can work in administrative and customer service roles or take on sales associate responsibilities.

The degree also offers a strong launch point for higher-earning careers. After earning an associate degree, students can transfer into a bachelor's program to expand their career opportunities and salary potential.

An associate in accounting degree can start your career.

Learn More About Accounting Careers

Career Paths

Bookkeepers

Bookkeepers keep and maintain financial records for organizations. They record transactions and track costs versus credits. Bookkeepers manage the general ledger and create financial statements or reports based on the business's transactions. They also prepare bank deposits, check receipts, and send payments. Some bookkeepers specialize in payroll, purchasing, or invoicing.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $45,560

Financial Clerks

Financial clerks perform administrative tasks, including financial record keeping. They may assist customers by calculating bills, provide support or assistance for financial transactions, and process transactions. Financial clerks work in many different organizations, where they specialize in payroll, billing, loans, and procurement.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $44,760

Accounting Clerks

Accounting clerks manage financial transactions and oversee invoicing and tracking procedures. Also known as accounts payable clerks and accounts receivable clerks, they calculate interest charges, monitor payments on accounts, and balance billing documents. Accounting clerks also make sure account information is complete and accurate.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $45,560

Account Collectors

Account collectors contact customers to process overdue bills. They identify people with overdue payments and help them create repayment plans. Also called bill collectors, account collectors need to understand the terms of the bill and recommend solutions like debt counseling for people who cannot pay their bills.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $37,700

Career name

Administrative assistants provide clerical support for professionals in many fields, including accounting and finance. They organize meetings, file documents, and prepare invoices. Administrative assistants may also maintain filing systems, perform bookkeeping tasks, and manage financial records. Executive assistants and legal assistants report above-average salaries for the field.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $39,680

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Continuing Education

With an associate in accounting, professionals work as clerks, bookkeepers, and administrative assistants. However, many accounting careers, including jobs like financial accountant, managerial accountant, and auditor, require a bachelor's degree.

After earning an associate degree, graduates can transfer into a four-year program to complete a bachelor's in accounting. Many top-ranked colleges offer online bachelor's in accounting programs for students who prefer a distance-learning format. With a bachelor's degree, accountants increase their earning potential and job opportunities. Accountants and auditors reported a median annual salary of $77,250 in May 2021, according to the BLS.

Accountants can also pursue certifications or licenses to increase their earning potential. The CPA license, for example, allows accountants to work as certified public accountants.

How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Accounting Program?

Cost

Associate programs typically offer the most affordable tuition rates. According to the NCES, students pay an average of about $3,380 per year in tuition and fees at 2-year public institutions. Online programs may offer tuition discounts compared with on-campus programs. Prospective applicants should consider the total program cost, including technology fees and foregone income, when comparing schools.

Program Format

Online programs offer several enrollment options. Degree-seekers can attend part time or full time. Some programs offer an accelerated option. The class format may be synchronous or asynchronous. Asynchronous classes do not require set class meeting times, which may appeal to working students and those with busy schedules.

Location

Some online accounting programs include in-person requirements. In these hybrid programs, students benefit from choosing a school in their local area. In fully online programs, location matters less, but programs may still have in-person orientation or practicum requirements. Before applying to programs, consider the benefits and drawbacks of online versus on-campus learning.

Accreditation

Accounting majors should always choose an accredited college. Accredited schools meet high standards for academic excellence and student learning outcomes. In addition, only accredited institutions meet the federal requirements to distribute federal financial aid programs to students. Credits and degrees from an accredited school will also more likely transfer to four-year institutions.

Student Support

The best online colleges provide strong student support services. These services include academic advising, online tutoring, and financial aid advising. Distance learners also benefit from mentorship opportunities and internship programs. Check what kinds of support services each college offers when making your decision.

Best Accredited Online Associate in Accounting Programs

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Best Online Associate in Accounting Programs

  1. Copiah-Lincoln Community College
    Location

    Wesson, MS

    Tuition

    $4990

    Based in Wesson, Mississippi, Co-Lin offers an online associate of business in accounting. Students complete 63 credits entirely online, laying the foundation for transfer to a four-year program.

    Students complete accounting courses such as principles of accounting, along with business-focused courses. Notable business requirements include an introduction to international business, principles of microeconomics, the legal environment of business, and business statistics.

    Applicants do not need to take the SAT or ACT to apply, but need to complete the school's placement exams for math and English. The school requires applicants to submit official high school or GED transcripts.

    Co-Lin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global
    Location

    Marion, IN

    A Christian university located in Marion, IWU offers an online associate of science in accounting. Students receive foundational training in accountancy along with the opportunity to explore the field through a Christian lens.

    The 60-credit program includes introductory accounting courses such as accounting principles, payroll accounting and taxation, and using spreadsheets in accounting. Learners also take basic business courses like the legal environment of business and basic economics, although the main focus remains on the accounting field.

    Applicants must hold a high school diploma or proof of GED completion to qualify for admission. IWU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, and its business school is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

  3. Fox Valley Technical College
    Location

    Appleton, WI

    Tuition

    $9969

    Based in Appleton, Wisconsin, FVTC offers an online associate of applied science in accounting. Students complete 63 credits entirely online on either a full-time or part-time schedule.

    Students take 44 credits of technical studies, focusing on accounting principles and common tools. Notable courses include QuickBooks accounting, introduction to Microsoft Office Suite, beginning and intermediate spreadsheets, and advanced payroll. Business courses such as business law and business communications provide students with an introduction to working for a company.

    Applicants must possess a minimum high school GPA of 2.75 or a minimum GED score of 165 to qualify for admission. The program also requires students to complete placement exams prior to enrollment. Students may submit their SAT or ACT scores instead of sitting for placement exams.

    FVTC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    A Christian college based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty offers an online associate of science in accounting. Students can complete the program in about 1.5 years, and graduates can transfer all 60 associate credits to a related bachelor of science program at Liberty.

    The curriculum includes introductory courses in accounting and business. Notable requirements include financial accounting, managerial accounting, business law, and principles of marketing. Students with prior college credit can transfer up to 75% of the credit requirements into the program.

    Applicants must possess a minimum 2.0 high school or college GPA. The school does not require SAT or ACT scores.

    Liberty holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and its business school is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

  5. Lenoir Community College
    Location

    Kinston, NC

    Tuition

    $5021

    Based in Kinston, North Carolina, LCC offers an online associate of applied science in accounting. Students complete 66 credits, taking a mix of business, finance, and ethics courses.

    Students take three required subject area courses: federal income taxes, payroll accounting, and intermediate accounting. Students then complete business and accounting core coursework. Business requirements include an introduction to business and personal finance. Accounting requirements include principles of financial accounting, principles of managerial accounting, and ethics in accounting. Students must also complete a field experience with an approved employer to round out requirements.

    LCC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  6. Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
    Location

    Shell Lake, WI

    Tuition

    $9968

    Located in Rice Lake, WITC offers an online associate of accounting. Students take 60 credits and study the basics of accounting and finance.

    Introductory courses include financial accounting, cost and managerial accounting, and accounting applications using Excel. Students study accounting principles such as cost and managerial accounting, payroll systems, and income tax. The school offers training in QuickBooks, Excel, and Microsoft Access, as well as business law.

    Students can apply for prior learning credit through placement exams, work experience, or military service. Applicants need a high school diploma to apply for the accounting major and can use SAT or ACT scores instead of taking placement exams.

    WITC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  7. Northeast Community College
    Location

    Norfolk, NE

    Tuition

    $8457

    Located in Norfolk, Nebraska, Northeast offers an online associate of arts in accounting. Students take 60 credits covering the basics of accounting, and they can seek entry-level employment upon graduation.

    Recommended core courses include principles of accounting, spreadsheet accounting, business communications, and business law. Students complete classes covering both financial principles and business to prepare for work. They also learn about the fundamentals of spreadsheet technologies and Excel spreadsheet applications.

    Students need a high school diploma to apply for the program. The school prefers applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores but can schedule placement exams for students without them. Northeast is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  8. Southern New Hampshire University
    Location

    Manchester, NH

    Located in Manchester, SNHU offers an online associate of science in accounting. Graduates may transition seamlessly into an online bachelor's program at SNHU.

    Students take foundational training in several aspects of finance and accounting, including managerial accounting and federal taxation. The department also works closely with the business department, offering courses like business law, business systems analysis and design, and an introduction to marketing.

    The school accepts applications on a rolling basis with six start dates per year. Applicants need a high school diploma and may transfer up to 45 credits from another college or university into the program. SNHU holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education, and its business school is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

  9. Surry Community College
    Location

    Dobson, NC

    Tuition

    $7852

    Located in Dobson, North Carolina, SCC offers an online associate of accounting and finance. Students learn both business and accounting fundamentals thanks to the program's close partnership with the business department.

    Students take accounting courses such as principles of financial accounting, principles of managerial accounting, and cost accounting. Business core courses include business law and principles of microeconomics. Students also study basic taxation principles while developing a foundation in business communications.

    Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED equivalent to apply, and they need to take placement exams to get started. Students may use their SAT or ACT scores for placement purposes. SCC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  10. Minnesota State Community and Technical College
    Location

    Fergus Falls, MN

    Tuition

    $10235

    Based in Fergus Falls, M State offers an online associate of applied science in accounting. Students complete 60 credits and engage in foundational training in accounting systems and technology.

    Required courses include a mixture of business and finance basics. Notable classes include managerial accounting, business law, Microsoft Dynamics GP, and QuickBooks. Students can also choose to complete an internship and pursue training in niche subjects like nonprofit accounting. Learners can also take classes in management and marketing, gaining exposure to other aspects of business.

    Applicants do not need standardized test scores to apply but may need to take placement exams, depending on their high school performance. M State is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Accounting Programs

Is an associate degree in accounting worth it? true

An associate degree in accounting can pay off. Students can earn an associate degree for less than $7,000 in tuition and fees. And many entry-level careers with an associate in accounting pay significantly more than the cost of the degree.

For example, bookkeepers and accounting clerks reported a median annual salary of $45,560 in May 2021, according to the BLS. After an associate degree, graduates can transfer to a four-year institution to earn a bachelor's degree and increase their earning potential. Students may also wonder whether an online degree pays off. Online programs at accredited schools meet the same high academic standards as in-person programs.

How fast can I get an associate in accounting degree online? true

Typically, students spend two years earning an associate degree in accounting online. Most programs require a minimum of 60 credits, and full-time students generally complete 30 credits per year. Transfer students can earn their degrees in less time. For example, students with 15 or more transfer credits can complete their associate degree in less than 18 months.

Some programs also offer accelerated courses, including shorter terms and more terms per year. Instead of taking classes exclusively in the fall and summer semesters, some online colleges offer up to six terms per year.

Is an online associate degree in accounting credible? true

The best online colleges hold accreditation from independent, nonprofit accrediting agencies. These accrediting agencies review schools and assess their curriculum materials, student learning outcomes, and faculty qualifications. Only schools that meet the highest standards earn institutional and programmatic accreditation.

An online associate degree from an accredited institution undergoes the same rigorous review as on-campus programs. At many schools, online and on-campus programs use the same class materials and set the same graduation requirements. Students concerned about the credibility of an online degree should always check the school's accreditation status and learn how to identify diploma mills and other scams.

How much money can I make with an associate in accounting?

Your earning potential with an associate in accounting depends on your career path. Many graduates work as bookkeepers, accounting clerks, and auditing clerks. In these roles, they assist accountants and create financial documents. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $45,560 in May 2021, according to the BLS.

Professionals with an associate degree can increase their earning potential by transferring into a bachelor's program. With a bachelor's in accounting, graduates work as accountants and auditors. These professionals earned a median salary of $77,250 per year in May 2021, according to the BLS. Salaries vary depending on industry, experience, and location.

Is an associate degree in accounting in demand?

The accounting field reports strong demand for professionals with finance and accounting training. The BLS projects the addition of 96,000 accounting and auditing jobs between 2020-2030. Currently, over 1.6 million people work as accounting clerks or bookkeepers, but these fields will likely contract in the next decade, according to BLS projections.

In accounting, as in many other fields, additional education means a higher earning potential and more jobs. As a result, students considering an associate degree should research the process to transfer into a bachelor's program to continue their education.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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