A Comprehensive Guide to an Online Accounting Degree

An accounting degree prepares graduates for a wide range of careers in accounting-related fields, from becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) to working in auditing, fraud examination, financial analysis, or management accounting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that nearly every speciality within the field of accounting will grow over the next decade. Additionally, because many career specialties exist within the field of accounting, prospective accounting students can choose from a multitude of degree options.

Students pursuing an accounting degree online complete coursework related to core accounting skills, such as payroll preparation, financial analysis, and tax accounting. Graduate-level accounting degrees may focus on specialized research and advanced coursework in several specialities, including auditing, taxation, and business accounting. While a CPA is the most popular accounting-related certification, graduates from accounting programs can pursue several certifications and licenses, which can increase their earning potential and provide additional career opportunities.

Many accountants work in finance-related fields, and an undergraduate degree in accounting can prepare students for graduate work or a career in finance.

Accountants must have an eye for numbers and solid quantitative analysis skills. While many accountants work with money, an accounting degree is not the same as a degree in finance. Accounting focuses on the concrete numbers in financial records, with tasks that include budgeting, audits, taxes, and business accounting. Alternatively, finance degrees emphasize skills in investment management. However, many accountants work in finance-related fields, and an undergraduate degree in accounting can prepare students for graduate work or a career in finance. An accounting degree provides career training in a lucrative field, making it one of today's more popular degree programs.

An online accounting degree program offers increased flexibility and allows learners to earn degrees from prestigious institutions located far from their home. Online accounting degrees meet the same rigorous standards as traditional programs, with added benefits such as 24/7 access to course materials and a more diverse student body. The ability to earn accounting degrees online also benefits non-traditional students who want to advance their career prospects or pursue work in a new field.

Accessibility

Online accounting degrees offer greater accessibility than traditional programs. Students in an online degree program can access online lectures from anywhere in the world at their convenience, making this an ideal option for working students or students with family-related obligations.

Flexibility

An online accounting degree provides an increased level of flexibility unmatched by traditional programs. Institutions that offer accounting degrees online may let incoming students start every eight weeks; they do not have to wait until the beginning of a semester. Additionally, courses may be offered on a variety of schedules, allowing learners to pursue a degree at their own pace on an accelerated or part-time basis.

School Options

A student's local college or university may not have an accounting program that is well-suited to meet their career goals. However, many of the best online accounting degrees are open to students regardless of their location. Distance learners can attend schools across the state or on the other side of the country.

Diversity

An online accounting degree program can attract learners from different backgrounds as well as international students, giving accounting students the opportunity to network with a wide group of people; this is an advantage that online programs have over traditional programs.

Technology

As a field, accounting relies heavily on technology. Students who earn an accounting degree online demonstrate their proficiency at using a variety of field-specific computer programs. Distance learners also rely on technology to connect them with their classmates and teachers, allowing them to network and interact with professors and access online university resources.

Accounting programs provide professional degrees that prepare graduates to work as accountants. As with many other business fields, students interested in pursuing a degree in accounting have several options. High school graduates can pursue an associate degree or a bachelor's degree in accounting, which typically require two and four years of study, respectively. The Bureau of Labor Statistics considers the bachelor's degree to be the entry-level education for careers in accounting, but many employers prefer to hire applicants with a master's degree in accounting. Master's work also prepares graduates to take the CPA exam.

While a master's degree requires both a bachelor's education and 1-2 years of additional graduate-level coursework, master's degree holders have better career opportunities and higher median salaries. At the highest level, students can earn a doctorate in accounting, which prepares them for careers in academia as researchers and/or professors. In the professional world, a master's degree is typically considered the most valuable degree.

Median Salary for an Accountant by Degree
Associate Degree in Accounting $44,869
Bachelor's Degree in Accounting $48,323
Master's Degree in Accounting $52,117

Associate Degree in Accounting

An associate degree in accounting is a two-year degree that provides a solid background in accounting basics. Coursework includes foundational classes, such as tax accounting, payroll accounting, and bookkeeping, as well as classes that cover accounting software and spreadsheet techniques. Because the degree can be earned in two years, graduates can quickly enter the workforce and assume entry-level jobs.

Earning an associate accounting degree online prepares graduates for careers as accounting clerks, bookkeepers, and accounting assistants. This degree can also serve as a foundation for a bachelor's degree, with many bachelor's programs accepting 60 or more transfer credits from associate degree holders.

Applicants who wish to earn an online associate degree in accounting must have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Prospective students may also be required to complete writing and math assessments to test out of prerequisite courses. However, most associate programs do not require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores. Associate programs typically require 60 credits and can be completed in two years or fewer by full-time students.

Example Courses:

Accounting Software

Accounting spreadsheet and software classes give students a background in computer programs related to the field, covering data analysis, problem solving, and accounting tasks; these skills come in handy throughout the discipline.

Income Tax Accounting

Classes on taxation provide an overview of income taxes for individuals and businesses. These courses focus on tax law and the preparation of tax returns.

Payroll Accounting

Payroll accounting provides a foundation in payroll methods, including wages, payroll taxes, and computing wages. Specific topics include exemptions, calculating unemployment taxes, and preparing tax forms. Students proficient in these areas can work in payroll offices.

Bookkeeping

These types of courses offer instruction in bookkeeping and record-keeping for accountants, including adjusting entries, depreciation, inventory, and correction of errors.

Ethics in Accounting

Ethics classes introduce learners to the professional codes of conduct and ethics used by professional accountants.


Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accounting is an expanding field, and a bachelor's degree is the typical entry-level degree required to work in this field. Students can earn a bachelor of science, bachelor of business administration (BBA), or bachelor of accountancy (BAC), each of which provides core skills in accounting.

Online accounting bachelor's degree programs often emphasize accounting software and computing technology, along with foundational coursework in auditing, taxation, and business accounting. In addition to traditional jobs in bookkeeping, payroll, and tax preparation, a bachelor's degree prepares graduates for careers in finance-related accounting such as financial planning, analysis, and corporate accounting. An online bachelor's degree in accounting also prepares graduates to pursue a master's degree in accounting or a related field, which may be required to become a CPA or pursue other jobs.

Earning a bachelor's in accounting requires both core accounting coursework and an institution's general education requirements, which vary by school. Applicants should have a high school diploma, and many schools require students to submit their SAT or ACT scores. Most programs require individuals to complete 120 credits of classes, which full-time learners typically finish in four years. Incoming students who already have an associate degree in accounting or other transfer credits may be able to earn their degree more quickly.

Example Courses:

Auditing

Auditing covers the process of verifying and reporting external financial statements, including auditing procedures, standards, and the analysis of financial statements.

Government and Nonprofit Accounting

Public and nonprofit accounting classes focus on accounting for the government and not-for-profit companies. Relevant topics include government financial reporting, operating statements and budgetary accounting, and other specialized skills for graduates who plan to pursue accounting careers in the public or nonprofit sector.

Business Taxation

Taxation for businesses includes tax issues related to corporations, flow-through businesses, and exempt business entities.

Cost Accounting

Cost accounting covers internal planning and control cycles, practical accounting, and procedural applications. Students cover topics such as job costing, profit analysis, budgeting, and forecasting.

Advanced Accounting

In advanced accounting classes, students explore the theory, practice, and procedures behind accounting, including advanced coursework in business accounting and accounting for foreign currency transactions.


Master's Degree in Accounting

Students can follow several different paths to earn an online master's in accounting; for example, they can pursue a master of accountancy, a master of science in accounting, or a master of business administration with a focus in accounting. Earning a master's in accounting online can prepare graduates to sit for the CPA exam, which lets professional accountants pursue the field's most senior positions.

Online master's in accounting programs typically require core accounting courses along with electives that allow students to customize their degree to match their career goals. Some programs also require internships or capstone projects. Individuals who earn a master's in accounting online can pursue careers as CPAs, certified management accountants, or certified internal auditors. The advanced knowledge earned in a master's program allows graduates to work in public or private accounting in a variety of industries, including at large accounting firms.

Most graduate programs in accounting do not require students to have an undergraduate accounting degree, but students must hold a bachelor's degree. Some programs also require applicants to submit GMAT scores. Once admitted, students typically complete between 30 and 60 credits of coursework to earn a master's degree in accounting; this typically requires 1-2 years of study.

Example Courses:

Managerial and Cost Accounting

Covering topics like management planning, budgeting, and managerial decision making with accounting information, these types of classes prepare accountants to act as advisors to business decision makers.

Financial Reporting

Financial reporting instructs students how to ensure the accuracy of financial reports, both for public companies and other organizations. Coursework focuses on standards, accounting law, and international financial accounting.

Data Analysis

A core skill in accounting, data analysis prepares accountants to collect and analyze data to make decisions, particularly in a business environment. Classes emphasize the systems, tools, and practices used to analyze data to make strategic business decisions.

Auditing

Graduate-level auditing courses cover high-level auditing functions used to report financial information, including analytical techniques, professional ethics, and communicating accounting data.

Negotiations

Specialized courses like negotiation introduce accountants to business skills, including negotiation principles, practical negotiation strategies, and tactics when negotiating various business agreements such as client contracts, job offers, and auditing information.


Doctoral Degree in Accounting

A doctoral degree in accounting prepares graduates for high-level jobs, including careers in academia as professors and/or researchers. As the terminal degree in accounting, a doctorate includes advanced coursework in theory and research methods, as well as comprehensive exams that may be oral and/or written. A doctoral program culminates with the defense of a student's dissertation. The curriculum typically requires 90-120 credits, and full-time students can earn their diploma in 4-7 years.

Doctoral programs require students to produce original research in the form of a dissertation, which should make a unique contribution to the field. A student's doctoral coursework typically focuses on developing the research skills needed to complete their dissertation, and PhD candidates may be required to successfully defend a dissertation proposal before embarking on their dissertation project.

Prospective students do not typically need a master's degree in accounting, but they must have completed a bachelor's degree, and most programs require a strong background in accounting. Many doctoral-level online accounting degree programs also require students to submit GMAT scores. A doctorate in accounting allows graduates to teach accounting at the college level or work in public policy analysis and corporate consulting.

Example Courses:

Advanced Topics in Accounting

Advanced courses cover current accounting research and require in-depth study. Course topics can often be designed to match a student's interests.

Theory of Accounting

Theoretical classes provide a thorough analysis of important scholarly literature on the theory and practice of accounting, often requiring students to present original work.

Ethical Reasoning in Accounting

An ethics and reasoning class requires in-depth analysis of the foundational ethical issues of accounting, including philosophies of accounting and the theoretical framework of ethical decision making.

Tax Law

Tax law builds on the foundational knowledge of individual and business taxes, teaching students to understand tax jurisprudence, including legislative decision making and current theories about taxation.

Quantitative Methods for Accounting

As a core accounting skill, quantitative methods provide the research skills needed to complete and defend a dissertation in accounting, including data analysis techniques, variability, and forecasting business performance.

Accounting Concentrations and Specialties

While many students interested in accounting might initially assume that pursuing a CPA is their only career path, this is not the case. In fact, fewer than 50% of all accountants hold the CPA designation. There are multiple specialities within the accounting field that can lead to a range of career opportunities. A degree in accounting, particularly at the bachelor's or master's level, prepares graduates for any number of accounting concentrations and specialities.

Accounting Information Systems

Combining business, management, and accounting, careers in AIS require accountants to develop and design systems, analyze budgets and financial statements, and prepare tax returns. AIS professionals work for large corporations, government agencies, and financial firms.

Audit Accounting

Audit accountants perform systematics review of an agency's or corporation's financial records. These accountants investigate a company's financial statements, as well as the processes used to prepare these statements. Auditors may represent external third parties or internal auditors employed by a corporation.

Fiduciary Accounting

Accountants who act in a fiduciary capacity manage funds or trusts for clients or a court. Fiduciary accountants often deal in estates. They may also be responsible for investment analysis and tax preparation.

Forensic Accounting

Working within the legal system, forensic accountants uncover financial fraud and help send perpetrators to prison. Accountants in this field may work for private companies to prevent corporate fraud or for the government where they investigate financial fraud.

Governmental Accounting

Accountants work at all levels of the government, including federal, state, and local offices, in a variety of capacities. They may act as bookkeepers for government agencies, as auditors who uphold government regulations, or as tax collectors.

Managerial Accounting

Accountants who specialize in management and managerial issues provide company executives with analysis and forecasts to help them make business decisions. These professionals may also assist in preparing financial reports for shareholders. Most managerial accountants work for large companies.

Public Accounting

The field of public accounting includes accountants who work as independent third parties to examine financial statements and accounting of clients, which can include government agencies, corporations, nonprofits, and individuals. Many public accountants specialize in tax preparation or auditing financial statements.


Median Salary For Accounting Specialties
Auditor $54,437
Government Accountant $50,491
Forensic Accountant $64,992
Public Accountant $55,284
Systems Accountant $68,593

While the CPA is the most popular accounting certification, with nearly 50% of professional accountants holding the designation, accounting graduates can pursue many other licenses and certifications, including specializations in auditing, management accounting, fraud examination, and financial analysis. These certifications prepare accountants for a range of roles and careers.

Certified Financial Analyst (CFA)

Accountants interested in a career in finance may pursue a certification in financial analysis. In order to earn this designation, candidates must pass all three levels of the CFA exam, earn two years of professional work experience, and join the CFA institute. Fewer than 30% of people who take the first test go on to pass the third.

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

CMAs specialize in strategic management and financial accounting. This designation is granted by the Institute of Management Accountants. Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree and have two years of professional experience in management accounting. CMAs can pursue executive-level jobs in management accounting.

Enrolled Agent (EA)

An enrolled agent is a tax professional who can represent taxpayers in matters involving the IRS. EAs do not need to have a college degree, but they must have five years of taxation experience with the IRS or pass an exam. CPAs can serve as EAs without taking the exam, but all EAs must complete at least 72 hours of continuing education every 36 months.

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

Certified internal auditors specialize in internal audits, working for government agencies, financial institutions, or corporations. This certification requires a bachelor's degree and two years of work experience in an internal auditing field.

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

CISAs work in information systems. This designation is issued by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, which is an internationally-recognized organization. To earn this certification, candidates must pass a comprehensive exam and meet work experience requirements.

Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners certifies CFEs. CFEs must hold a bachelor's degree in accounting and have two years of experience in a fraud-related field. They must also pass a certification exam. This certification prepares fraud examiners to move into executive positions.

Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP)

The Institute of Internal Auditors offers a government auditing professional certification. While this certification does not require a bachelor's degree, work experience requirements are higher for people who hold only an associate degree. Candidates must also pass an exam.

Certified Bank Auditor (CBA)

These professionals work as financial auditing professionals. This certification is awarded by the Bank Administration Institute. CBAs must pass a four-part exam, which includes new industry developments, within a three-year period. Candidates must also hold a bachelor's degree or higher and meet work experience requirements.

Earning a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Workers who become CPAs have met rigorous professional standards to earn one of the most difficult certificates in the accounting field. Certified public accountants make about 10% more than non-CPAs. Candidates for a CPA license must pass the Uniform CPA Examination, which is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. However, the specific requirements for certification differ by state, so it is important to understand the CPA requirements where you live.

Most states require 150 semester hours of accounting, business law, and general education coursework before candidates can take the CPA examination. Most CPAs hold a master's degree in accounting. Some jurisdictions allow candidates to hold a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field if they have a master's in accounting or a related field.

Candidates for a CPA license must pass the Uniform CPA Examination, which is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

The Uniform CPA Examination is divided into four parts: auditing and attestation, financial accounting and reporting, regulation, and business environment and concepts. The exams may be taken in any order; however, once a candidate passes their first exam, the remaining exams must be passed within 18 months. Fewer than half of test candidates pass on their first attempt.

The CPA exam is offered in January and February, April and May, July and August, and October and November. It costs between $750-$1,000 to take the examination, and candidates who fail an examination may be required to pay a repeat application fee. Candidates should spend a significant amount of time (around 500 hours of study) preparing for the examination.

Graduates who hold an accounting degree can pursue a variety of careers in accounting, business, and finance. In addition to earning a CPA designation and pursuing a career as an accountant, graduates can become financial advisors, tax examiners, and internal audit directors. Most accounting jobs operate on a typical schedule, although many require working on a deadline, particularly for accountants who prepare taxes. With so many accounting career paths, graduates can find a job that fits their personality, work habits, interests, and skills.

Accountants

Accountants prepare and examine financial records in the public and private sectors. While the typical entry-level education for accountants is a bachelor's degree, an advanced degree or certification can increase a graduate's job prospects.

Personal Financial Advisor

Personal financial advisors provide advice on managing investments, planning estates, saving for retirement, and filing taxes. A master's degree and certification can improve job prospects. This field is expected to grow faster than average by 2026.

Cost Estimators

Cost estimators analyze data to determine the money needed to provide a service. They may specialize in several areas and often work for private corporations.

Auditors

Auditors assess financial operations and review financial reports for public and private organizations to make sure they run efficiently. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects this field to grow by 10% by 2026.

Tax Examiners

Tax examiners work for government agencies to determine how much is owed in taxes. Their responsibilities include reviewing tax returns and conducting audits. Most of these positions require a bachelor's degree in accounting.

Best Jobs For Accounting Majors by Salary Potential
  Entry Level Mid-Career Experienced Late-Career
Chief Accounting Officer $72,000 $94,000 $163,000 $190,000
Partner at a Firm $98,000 $137,000 $173,000 $193,000
Tax Director $125,000 $154,000 $163,000 $174,000
Chief Financial Officer $94,000 $112,000 $144,000 $155,000
Internal Audit Director $89,000 $118,000 $145,000 $137,000
Employment and Wages for Accountants and Auditors by State, May 2016
Click Here For a Full List of States
State Employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
California 147,320 $39.72 $82,620
Texas 118,320 $38.70 $80,490
New York 108,800 $44.85 $93,280
Florida 75,640 $33.22 $69,090
Pennsylvania 52,590 $35.34 $73,500
Illinois 51,350 $37.00 $76,950
Ohio 42,890 $34.07 $70,860
Virginia 40,220 $40.09 $83,380
New Jersey 36,640 $42.76 $88,940
Georgia 36,360 $36.81 $76,560
Massachusetts 35,730 $39.63 $82,420
Colorado 34,150 $37.21 $77,400
North Carolina 31,080 $35.67 $74,200
Michigan 30,510 $35.75 $74,360
Washington 27,370 $34.62 $72,020
Minnesota 27,130 $34.10 $70,920
Maryland 26,510 $39.60 $82,370
Missouri 24,130 $33.91 $70,530
Wisconsin 21,300 $31.76 $66,070
Arizona 20,200 $32.11 $66,780
Indiana 20,010 $31.67 $65,880
Tennessee 16,430 $31.89 $66,330
Connecticut 15,480 $38.69 $80,470
Alabama 15,360 $29.75 $67,750
South Carolina 14,470 $29.49 $61,340
Oklahoma 14,150 $32.34 $67,260
Oregon 12,050 $32.22 $67,010
Kansas 12,010 $30.78 $64,010
Lousiana 11,010 $30.96 $64,410
Kentucky 10,610 $30.67 $63,790
Utah 10,600 $33.76 $70,220
Iowa 9,630 $31.48 $65,470
Nebraska 8,700 $32.08 $66,730
Nevada 7,610 $30.77 $64,000
New Mexico 6,580 $31.36 $65,220
Arkansas 5,980 $31.61 $65,740
Delaware 5,890 $37.43 $77,860
Mississippi 5,480 $27.10 $56,380
Hawaii 4,840 $29.69 $61,760
New Hampshire 4,780 $34.42 $71,600
Rhode Island 4,550 $37.22 $77,410
South Dakota 4,540 $30.79 $64,040
Maine 4,390 $30.86 $64,190
Idaho 3,970 $34.59 $71,960
North Dakota 3,870 $28.05 $58,340
West Virginia 3,840 $30.47 $63,380
Montana 3,140 $31.20 $64,900
Vermont 3,050 $35.19 $73,190
Alaska 2,350 $39.51 $82,180
Wyoming 1,840 $32.06 $66,690
Source: BLS

Robert M. Nemeth Principal, Apple Growth Partners (AGP)

Robert M. Nemeth is a Principal in Apple Growth Partners (AGP). He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed to practice in the State of Ohio. He has obtained the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) designation from the American Institute of CPAs and the Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) designation from the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts, a professional organization focused on improving the credentials, education and expertise of professionals in preparing business valuations and providing litigation support services.

Mr. Nemeth has obtained a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) designation from the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, a professional organization focused on providing education relating to the tax and financial implications of divorce. Mr. Nemeth has also obtained a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) designation from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, a professional organization focused on providing anti-fraud training and education. Mr. Nemeth has performed valuations in many industries for estate, gift tax, merger and acquisition, domestic relations, and litigation support services.

How has earning an accounting degree helped you advance your career?

My accounting degree provided a strong foundational understanding of the financial aspects of how businesses operate.

What makes accounting an exciting career opportunity right now?

There are numerous opportunities to explore: tax, auditing, small companies, large companies, private and public consulting, litigation support, business valuation, fraud and forensics, plus many more.

Is it important to choose an accounting specialty right away?

Since accounting is a very technically complex area, the earlier that you can choose accounting as a specialty, the sooner you can begin to take the applicable courses. Since many courses build on one another, often they must be taken in succession.

What tips do you have for students who aren't sure which focus they would like best?

Take as many introductory courses as you can to gain exposure to different areas. Call up a CPA and ask to have coffee with them and ask them about their career. Talk to past graduates. Call the state society of CPAs for resource material.

What are some practical tips to prepare for an interview?

Research the company/firm, talk to career services at school, talk to prior graduates.

What software do you think every accountant should learn?

Microsoft Office and Quickbooks knowledge helps for small companies, and data analytical software.

How important is networking and what are some easy ways to stay connected to other accountants in your community?

Networking is important throughout a CPA's career. Join local professional organizations and the state society.

How do you stay up to date with the latest advancements and technology in the accounting world?

Attend national conferences and state-sponsored continuing education courses.

What does continual education for an accountant look like for you?

My continuing education is varied: tax, valuation, fraud, forensics. The education consists of seminars, national conferences, self study.


Students pursuing an accounting degree have access to a multitude of scholarships. Professional accounting organizations, such as the National Society of Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, offer many of these awards; in most cases, applicants do not need to be members of the organization. These sources of aid provide up to $15,000 toward an associate degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, or doctoral degree in accounting.

Accounting Scholarships for Associate Degree Students

NSA Scholarship Foundation Awards

Who Can Apply: The National Society of Accountants offers multiple scholarships to students pursuing degrees in accounting. Applicants are judged based on their scholastic achievement, leadership ability, and financial need.
Amount: $2,200

AICPA Foundation Two-Year Transfer Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants provides scholarships for associate-level students planning to transfer to four-year institutions to pursue degrees in accounting or accounting-related fields.
Amount: $5,000

Jeffrey L. Esser Career Development Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Government Finance Officers Association offers the Jeffrey L. Esser Career Development Scholarship to associate-level students focusing on government accounting. Students must have at least three years of experience working at a state or local government agency.
Amount: $5,000 to $15,000


Accounting Scholarships for Bachelor's Degree Students

Ritchie Jennings Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners offers the Ritchie Jennings Memorial Scholarship for students interested in pursuing a career in fraud examination. Applicants must be full-time students with a declared major or minor in accounting or a related field.
Amount: $10,000, $5,000, $2,500, or $1,000

AFWA Accounting and Finance Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance offers undergraduate scholarships to support the costs of finishing the 3rd, 4th, or 5th year of an accounting degree program. Applicants must be women, but individuals do not need to be members of the AFWA.
Amount: $2,000 to $4,000

AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students

Who Can Apply: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants provides a scholarship for outstanding minority students majoring in accounting or an accounting-related major. This scholarship is also open to graduate students.
Amount: $5,000

Paul S. Mills Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Foundation for Financial Service Professionals offers the Paul S. Mills Scholarship for students pursuing an undergraduate degree in a financial service-related field, including accounting. Applicants can be full-time or part-time students.
Amount: $1,000


Accounting Scholarships for Master's Degree Students

AICPA Accountemps Student Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants provides a scholarship for outstanding accounting students who demonstrate potential to become leaders in the CPA profession. This scholarship is also open to undergraduate students.
Amount: $10,000

AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers scholarships for graduate students in accounting who hold undergraduate degrees in the liberal arts or other non-business fields. This scholarship fund encourages students with little accounting education to consider graduate-level accounting careers.
Amount: $5,000

Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Government Finance Officers Association has offered the Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship since 1985. This scholarship recognizes outstanding performances by graduate students preparing to pursue careers in state or local government finance.
Amount: $15,000

AFWA Accounting and Finance Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance offers graduate-level scholarships for women attending accredited colleges or universities who are pursuing degrees in accounting or finance. Applicants do not need to be members of the AFWA.
Amount: Varies


Accounting Scholarships for Doctoral Degree Students

AICPA Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students

Who Can Apply: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants provides scholarships for outstanding minority doctoral students to increase the number of minority CPAs. Applicants must be full-time students and should be CPAs or planning to pursue the CPA credential.
Amount: $12,000

The Laurels Fund

Who Can Apply: Offered by the Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting, the Laurels Fund provides awards to women pursuing a PhD in accounting. The selection criteria include academic achievements, service, and financial need.
Amount: $5,000

Mary Feeney Bonawitz PhD Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance offers the Mary Feeney Bonawitz PhD Scholarship to cover the cost of research for a female student seeking a PhD in accounting. Applicants must be AFWA members.
Amount: Varies

Carolyn M. Callahan New Student Transition Grant

Who Can Apply: African American, Hispanic American, or Native American students who have been admitted to a full-time, AACSB-accredited accounting program can apply for this grant.
Amount: $2,000

General Guides

  • Careers for Finance Majors: Learn more about your career options when you earn a degree in finance. Our guide covers the job skills you will develop, the minimum requirements for the most common jobs in finance, and alternative careers for those with an educational background in the field.
  • Accounting Resources: We have compiled a collection of the best academic journals, websites, and open courses available to those in accounting.

Accounting Software for Students

The rise of accounting software has dramatically changed this field, and these computers programs continually evolve and become more sophisticated. However, while accounting software can be a vital tool for accountants, it is not a replacement for an accounting specialist.

Accounting students must be familiar with many accounting programs, some of which must be mastered to pass accounting courses. While associate degree programs often provide introductory classes that teach accounting software, more advanced programs may assume familiarity with these computer programs. Thus, it is important for accounting students to understand how to use these types of software.

  • QuickBooks: QuickBooks provides a range of accounting support, including help with bill management, invoicing and payments, and tracking income and expenses. It is geared toward small and medium businesses as well as individuals.
  • Microsoft Dynamics GP: Considered an enterprise resource planning accounting program, Microsoft Dynamics GP provides financial management, inventory management, and business reporting tools for small and medium businesses.
  • SAP ERP: This enterprise resource planning software provides tools that include procurement and logistics processing, product sales and service delivery, and financial operations and regulatory compliance. The program caters to businesses of all sizes.
  • FreshBooks: Designed for small businesses, FreshBooks provides cloud-based accounting software marketed to client-service businesses. The program assists in invoicing, time tracking, expense tracking, and creating payment reports.
  • Zoho Books: Zoho Books provides accounting tools geared toward small businesses, including financial management, tax preparation, and business workflow automation. It can also be used to determine sales tax liabilities.

Professional Accounting Organizations

Accountants can participate in a number of professional organizations, which provide opportunities for professional development and networking, as well as access to job postings. Many organizations also produce publications to help accountants stay up to date with the latest developments and evolving rules and standards in the field.

Professional organizations often offer scholarships to students pursuing degrees in accounting, and non-members can apply for many of these awards. They may also provide opportunities to earn certifications in accounting specialties and continuing education credits.

  • The American Institute of CPAs: The AICPA dates back to 1887 and represents professional CPAs by acting as an advocacy organization. The institute also sets standards for the field, provides educational materials to its members, and develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination.
  • The American Accounting Association: Founded in 1916, the American Accounting Association is a community of academic and professional accountants that focuses on research and innovation. The association publishes three journals and operates a career center for its members.
  • National Society of Accountants: The NSA is a nonprofit, national organization that advocates for professional accountants and taxation specialists. Members have access to tax information, professional directory information, and NSA publications.

2018 Accredited Programs

Top Certificate in Accounting Programs
Rank School State Degree Cost
1 Thomas Edison State University NJ Undergraduate Certificate in Accounting $15,184
2 Champlain College VT Certificate in Accounting $38,370
3 Moraine Park Technical College WI Accounting Assistant Technical Diploma $9,173
4 Foothill College CA Certificate of Achievement in Accounting AND a Financial Accounting Career Certificate AND Bookkeeping Specialist Certificate of Proficiency $6,281
5 Wake Technical Community College NC Payroll Accounting Clerk Certificate AND Accounting Core Certificate AND Accounting Software Applications Certificate $8,771
6 Liberty University VA Certificate in Accounting $24,794
7 Seminole State College of Florida FL Accounting Applications Technical Certificate; Accounting Operations Technical Certificate; Accounting Specialist Technical Certificate $8,494
8 Daytona State College FL Certificate in Accounting Applications with Computerized Option; Certificate in Accounting Technology Operations with Tax Preparation Option $4,364
9 Golden Gate University - San Francisco CA Certificate in Accounting $15,205
10 University of Virginia VA Certificate in Accounting $15,945
11 Shoreline Community College WA Certificates of Proficiency in Accounting $7,757
12 Valencia College FL Accounting and Finance Certification $6,804
13 Florida State College at Jacksonville FL Accounting Technology Specialist Technical Certificate $6,608
14 Surry Community College NC Certificate in Accounting $9,335
15 University of Alaska Fairbanks AK Accounting Technician Certificate $9,097
16 Eastern Florida State College FL Certificate in Accounting Technology Management; Certificate in Accounting Technology Operations; Certificate in Accounting Technology Specialist $5,344
17 St Petersburg College FL Certificate in Accounting Applications $7,089
18 University of Alaska Southeast AK Accounting Technician Certificate $8,719
19 Fort Hays State University KS Certificate in Accounting $11,993
20 Coastal Pines Technical College GA Diploma in Accounting; Certificate in Office Accounting Specialist $3,083
21 Highline College WA Certificate in Accounting And Finance For Non Financial Managers $7,746
22 Minnesota State Community and Technical College MN Accounting Clerk Diploma $10,004
23 Richland College TX Accounting Assistant Certificate; Accounting Clerk Certificate $4,843
24 Lanier Technical College GA Office Accounting Specialist $5,350
25 Auburn University AL Undergraduate Certificate in Accounting $21,698
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Top Associate in Accounting Programs
Rank School State Degree Cost
1 Moraine Park Technical College WI Associate of Applied Science in Accounting $9,173
2 Foothill College CA Associate in Arts in Accounting $6,281
3 Liberty University VA Associate of Arts in Accounting $24,794
4 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale FL Associates of Arts in Accounting $26,328
5 Wake Technical Community College NC Associate of Applied Science in Accounting $8,771
6 University of Alaska Fairbanks AK Associate of Applied Science in Applied Accounting $9,097
7 Daytona State College FL Associate of Science in Accounting Technology $4,364
8 Westmoreland County Community College PA Associate of Applied Science in Accounting $5,814
9 Southern New Hampshire University NH Associate of Science in Accounting $34,984
10 Minnesota State Community and Technical College MN Associate of Applied Science in Accounting $10,004
11 Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College WI Associate of Applied Science in Accounting $9,250
12 Champlain College VT Associate of Science in Accounting $38,370
13 Pamlico Community College NC Associate in Applied Science in Accounting $3,456
14 Northeast Community College NE Associate of Arts in Accounting $8,079
15 Lanier Technical College GA Associate in Accounting $5,350
16 Fox Valley Technical College WI Associate in Applied Science in Accounting $9,718
17 College of Southern Nevada NV Associate of Applied Science in Accounting $7,362
18 Minnesota West Community and Technical College MN Associate of Applied Science in Accountant $9,426
19 Craven Community College NC Associate in Applied Science in Accounting $8,028
20 College of Southern Maryland MD Associate in Applied Science in Accounting $7,675
21 Shoreline Community College WA Associate in Applied Arts and Sciences in Accounting $7,757
22 Fayetteville Technical Community College NC Associate in Applied Science in Accounting $3,157
23 Northwest Iowa Community College IA Associate of Applied Science in Accounting $10,089
24 Broward College FL Associate of Science in Accounting Technology $8,882
25 Minnesota State College Southeast MN Associate of Applied Science in Accounting $13,201
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Top Bachelor's in Accounting Programs
Rank School State Degree Cost
1 Touro University Worldwide CA Bachelor's in Accounting $10,572
2 Colorado State University-Global Campus CO Bachelor's in Accounting $15,184
3 Western Governors University UT Bachelor's in Accounting $9,115
4 Liberty University VA Bachelor's in Accounting $24,794
5 Missouri State University-Springfield MO Bachelor's in Accounting $14,862
6 Thomas Edison State University NJ Bachelor's in Accounting $15,184
7 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities MN Bachelor's in Accounting $16,242
8 University of Alabama at Birmingham AL Bachelor's in Accounting $16,092
9 Excelsior College NY Bachelor's in Accounting $15,184
10 Regis University CO Bachelor's in Accounting $26,505
11 Florida Atlantic University FL Bachelor's in Accounting $11,303
12 University of Maryland-College Park MD Bachelor's in Accounting $15,757
13 National University CA Bachelor's in Accounting $22,377
14 Central Methodist University-College of Graduate and Extended Studies MO Bachelor's in Accounting $11,224
15 California Baptist University CA Bachelor's in Accounting $25,875
16 Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration MI Bachelor's in Accounting $15,184
17 Golden Gate University-San Francisco CA Bachelor's in Accounting $15,184
18 Bellevue University NE Bachelor's in Accounting $6,349
19 University of Massachusetts-Amherst MA Bachelor's in Accounting $20,093
20 Concordia University-Saint Paul MN Bachelor's in Accounting $19,499
21 University of South Carolina-Columbia SC Bachelor's in Accounting $19,913
22 University of Maryland-University College MD Bachelor's in Accounting $12,483
23 Athens State University AL Bachelor's in Accounting $15,184
24 Brandman University CA Bachelor's in Accounting $15,184
25 Ottawa University-Online KS Bachelor's in Accounting $15,184
26 University of Memphis TN Bachelor's in Accounting $13,291
27 Northwestern State University of Louisiana LA Bachelor's in Accounting $11,567
28 Florida Institute of Technology-Online FL Bachelor's in Accounting $15,184
29 Washington State University WA Bachelor's in Accounting $17,815
30 City University of Seattle WA Bachelor's in Accounting $15,184
31 Brenau University GA Bachelor's in Accounting $19,650
32 Cleary University MI Bachelor's in Accounting $12,173
33 Peirce College PA Bachelor's in Accounting $8,325
34 Wilmington University DE Bachelor's in Accounting $14,471
35 Temple University PA Bachelor's in Accounting $21,237
36 Auburn University AL Bachelor's in Accounting $21,698
37 University of West Georgia GA Bachelor's in Accounting $14,285
38 Old Dominion University VA Bachelor's in Accounting $15,218
39 Fort Hays State University KS Bachelor's in Accounting $11,993
40 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale FL Bachelor's in Accounting $26,328
41 SUNY College at Plattsburgh NY Bachelor's in Accounting $14,287
42 Bemidji State University MN Bachelor's in Accounting $14,334
43 Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus NM Bachelor's in Accounting $10,481
44 Clayton State University GA Bachelor's in Accounting $10,330
45 Colorado Christian University CO Bachelor's in Accounting $25,049
46 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus CO Bachelor's in Accounting $13,751
47 University of Mary ND Bachelor's in Accounting $16,746
48 Columbus State University GA Bachelor's in Accounting $11,596
49 Siena Heights University MI Bachelor's in Accounting $17,519
50 University of Minnesota-Crookston MN Bachelor's in Accounting $13,396
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Top Graduate Certificate in Accounting Programs
Rank School State Degree Cost
1 Harvard University MA Graduate Certificate in Accounting $14,376
2 University of Connecticut CT Accounting Certificate Program $18,412
3 Auburn University AL Graduate Certificate in Accounting $18,090
4 University of St Francis IL Graduate Certificate in Accounting $16,739
5 University of Arizona AZ Graduate Certificate in Accounting $16,449
6 Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus PA Graduate Certificate in Accounting $25,498
7 University of Louisiana at Monroe LA Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Accounting $9,811
8 Golden Gate University-San Francisco CA Graduate Certificate in Accounting $32,178
9 City University of Seattle WA Graduate Certificate in Accounting $15,000
10 Saint Leo University FL Accounting Graduate Certificate $19,743
11 Suffolk University MA Graduate Certificate in Accounting $27,317
12 National University CA Graduate Certificate in Accountancy $24,924
13 Southern New Hampshire University NH Graduate Certificate in Accounting $29,195
14 Davenport University MI Graduate Certificate in Managerial Accounting $18,186
15 Brescia University KY Certificate in Accounting $10,663
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Top Doctorate in Accounting Programs
School State Degree Cost
Liberty University VA DBA in Accounting $23,634
George Fox University OR DBA in Accounting $23,943
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Top Master's in Forensic Accounting Programs
Rank School State Degree Cost
1 Liberty University VA Master of Science in Accounting - Forensic Accounting $24,794
2 Florida Atlantic University FL Master of Accounting with a concentration in Forensic Accounting $11,303
3 Bay Path University MA Master of Science in Accounting with a Concentration in Forensic Accounting $22,012
4 Southern New Hampshire University NH Master of Science in Accounting with a Concentration in Forensic Accounting $34,984
5 Stevenson University MD Master of Science in Forensic Accounting $27,686
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