Students who earn a bachelor's degree in accounting develop business and accounting fundamentals, along with the skills and knowledge needed to perform common duties and adhere to legal and professional standards. Bachelor's degree-holders can qualify for many accounting positions.
A bachelor's degree also provides a good foundation for learners who want to pursue an advanced degree or postgraduate certification, such as the certified public accountant (CPA) credential. The following guide explores bachelor's degrees in accounting in more detail, providing information about typical courses, specializations, and careers.
What Is Accounting?
Accounting involves handling financial transactions for individuals and organizations, including recording and analyzing these records for tax purposes. Accounting helps tell the story of an organization's financial health, keeping track of all the money moving in, out, and within an organization.
What Are the Best Bachelor's in Accounting Programs of 2020?
|1||Colorado State University||Greenwood Village, CO|
|2||Florida Atlantic University||Boca Raton, FL|
|3||Athens State University||Athens, AL|
|4||Western Governors University||Salt Lake City, UT|
|5||University of Maryland Global Campus||College Park, MD|
|6||Texas State University||San Marcos, TX|
|7||University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||Minneapolis, MN|
|8||University of Minnesota - Crookston||Crookston, MN|
|9||Dickinson State University||Dickinson, ND|
|10||Bellevue University||Bellevue, NE|
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Accounting?
Earning an online bachelor's degree in accounting can lead to a promising career outlook for graduates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants earn a median annual salary of $71,550. Additionally, the field is projected to experience 4% growth between 2019 and 2029, which is in line with the national average for all occupations.
As the number of public companies increases and more organizations globalize their operations, accountants with skills in financial documentation, international trade, and analysis should thrive.
The curriculum of an online bachelor's program in accounting also provides students with many career options after graduation. Graduates can pursue work in public and private sectors. Additionally, accounting training often overlaps with business and management.
What Will I Learn in an Accounting Program?
Each accounting program features its own specific curriculum, although certain courses and concentrations are more common than others. Most programs, for example, offer a course that covers fundamental principles of accounting to help learners build a solid foundation.
Read on to learn more about common courses and concentrations that you may encounter while pursuing an online bachelor's degree in accounting.
- Financial Accounting
During this course, students learn the major accounting lifecycle and cover topics like disclosing assets, reporting liabilities, valuing equity, and conducting foreign currency transactions.
- Personal Finance
This course examines how to manage personal finance matters, such as preparing a financial plan and handling taxes. Students explore and analyze practical situations, evaluate financial products, develop strategies, and strengthen their analytical skills.
- Assurance Services
In this course, students learn basic internal and external auditing processes. They explore common methods and reasons for misreporting and learn how to assess, report, and collect evidence on these cases. Learners also examine why the auditing process exists, along with the professional standards and ethics that govern the field.
- Business Law
In this course, degree-seekers learn the fundamentals of business law and investigate case studies. They learn about the nature of relevant laws, along with the legalities surrounding contracts and sales. Students also examine court procedures in these cases.
- Managerial Decision-Making
This course looks at the processes that managers use to make effective business decisions. Covered topics include risk assessment and operational evaluation. Students often explore how to strategize and implement new and improved processes.
- Financial Accounting
In this specialization, students learn how to perform the primary duties of financial accountants. They examine the federal laws and regulations that govern the profession and learn how to create and present reports and findings to shareholders and consumers.
In this specialization, learners explore how tax laws impact individuals and businesses. They learn how to adhere to these regulations and why they exist in the first place. Students examine major tax-related strategies for organizations, learning how to identify opportunities and how to implement them effectively.
- Cost Accounting
Cost accounting deals with managing an organization's resources. Students in this specialization learn to assess organizational operations, costs, and processes, looking for ways to improve the overall financial health of an organization. Learners also explore common methods for improvement, along with risk assessment and implementation strategies.
This specialization emphasizes the identification, detection, and prevention of fraud. Students learn how to use common auditing technologies and how to detect fraud and illegitimate reports with these digital systems.
- Forensic Accounting
Forensic accounting focuses on collecting and reporting evidence in financial fraud and mismanagement cases. This specialization teaches students the laws and processes involved in these cases, along with methods for tracking and tracing financial documents and preparing necessary court documents.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Accounting?
After graduating with an online bachelor's degree in accounting, students qualify for many accounting careers. The following section examines several of these positions in more detail.
- Public Accounting
Public accountants work with individuals, organizations, and governments, producing and analyzing various financial records. Public accountants may work in general accounting, auditing, or taxes. They can also specialize in a field like forensic accounting. They provide basic reporting, tax services, and in-depth analysis. However, to work as a CPA, individuals must earn at least 30 postbaccalaureate credits and gain additional certification.
- Management Accounting
Management accountants help organizations optimize their financial health. These professionals assess organizational budgets and performances, identifying inefficiencies and highlighting opportunities for improvement. They also work with an organization's investments, managing stocks and real estate properties.
- Government Accounting
Government accountants work for government agencies, auditing financial and tax reports from individuals and organizations. They ensure that these reports adhere to federal and state laws.
Auditors review financial documents and look for instances of fraud or misreporting. These professionals also look for accounting mistakes and opportunities to improve an organization's overall financial health. They may work directly for an organization or be hired externally.
- Financial Analysis
Financial analysts evaluate financial data and portfolios. They often identify inefficiencies in an organization's operations and look for opportunities to improve revenues. They can also focus on investments for individuals and businesses.
How to Choose an Accounting Bachelor's Program
Accreditation is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing an online accounting program.Schools offering the best online accounting programs all hold regional accreditation. Top programs may also hold programmatic recognition, such accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Learners should also make sure their program offers courses, concentrations, and internship opportunities that align with their career goals.
How to Get Into an Accounting Bachelor's Program
While admission requirements for an online bachelor's program in accounting vary, applicants typically need a high school or GED diploma. Some schools also require ACT or SAT scores and a minimum GPA. Additional requirements may include letters of recommendation and personal essays. Students who have completed statistics and other advanced math classes in high school may be better prepared for the rigors of an undergraduate accounting program.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Bachelor's in Accounting?
A bachelor's degree in accounting typically takes four years of full-time study to complete, although some programs allow learners to adjust their schedules. For example, students pursuing an online degree in accounting may be able to enroll in an accelerated course of study to graduate more quickly.
While not all accountants need to complete continuing education or postgraduate certification, professionals can pursue additional training to secure a competitive advantage. For example, CPAs — who typically make significantly higher wages than noncertified public accountants — must earn a total of 150 postsecondary credits to receive their initial license and then complete a certain number of continuing education credits each renewal period to maintain their credential. Each state features its own unique requirements.
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Bachelor's in Accounting?
The cost of an accounting degree varies considerably depending on the school, program, and state. However, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average yearly cost of attendance at a four-year program in 2018 was $27,360 — this price includes tuition, fees, and room and board.
Although online and on-campus tuition rates often match, students who earn an online bachelor's degree in accounting may reduce their overall costs by eliminating expenses related to travel and on-campus room and board.