Last Updated on July 29, 2023
15 Best Online Bachelor’s In Accounting Degree Programs 2021
July 30, 2021 | Staff Writers
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A bachelor’s degree in accounting can pave the way for a profitable job in finance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants in the United States make a median annual salary of $71,550, nearly twice the median salary for all occupations.
A bachelor’s degree in accounting yields 120 academic credits out of the 150 required to sit for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam in most states. Many employers hire candidates with a bachelor’s degree in accounting for entry-level accounting positions, but company recruiters increasingly prefer those with CPA licensure for higher-paying accounting positions.
The ranking below, which we revise yearly to keep prospective students abreast of the latest developments in online accounting education, provides detailed information about the nation’s top online bachelor’s degrees in accounting.
What Is Accounting?
Accounting is the enterprise of collecting, processing, plotting, and presenting economic data to facilitate financial decision-making.
Accountants are pivotal to a business’s prosperity, as these specialists oversee regulatory compliance, gather and appraise financial information, and produce quarterly reports for business leaders and shareholders.
A bachelor’s degree in accounting focuses on developing easily transferable skills, such as critical reasoning, statistical analysis, strategic problem-solving, and business ethics. These skills qualify bachelor’s in accounting graduates for a wealth of careers across industries and occupations. Common jobs in accounting include those of accountant, auditor, budget analyst, and personal financial advisor.
Many bachelor’s in accounting programs offer concentrations that cultivate accounting skills geared toward specific sectors or professions. Graduates seeking specific jobs in particular industries may pursue a specialized bachelor’s degree to gain an edge over candidates with just a general bachelor’s in accounting.
A bachelor’s degree in accounting can furthermore increase students’ chances of admission into top-tier accounting graduate programs and qualify them for higher-paying accounting positions, such as financial analyst, financial manager, management analyst, or top executive.
Why Get an Online Accounting Bachelor’s?
An online accounting degree can open the door to a satisfying and lucrative career, likely to bring a high return on investment (ROI) a few years down the line. Most online bachelor’s accounting programs offer flexibility to working professionals. Read on for three more key benefits of earning an online bachelor’s accounting degree. Versatility A bachelor’s degree in accounting delivers highly versatile skills in economics, statistical analysis, effective communication, and business law, which transfer across a variety of sectors and occupations. The degree’s amenability to career changes makes it an attractive credential in today’s rapidly changing economy. Flexibility Most online bachelor’s accounting programs enable students to study at a pace that fits their busy schedules. An online accounting degree can thus be an appealing option for learners with demanding vocational or family commitments. CPA Certification A bachelor’s degree in accounting from an accredited school provides 120 credits, which count toward fulfilling the requirement to sit for the CPA exam. Aspiring public accountants can earn the additional 30 credits by taking a graduate certificate or a master’s degree.
Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Accounting Programs of 2021
Most potential accounting students want to find the best value for their degree. Read on for our list of the 15 most affordable online accounting programs for 2021. For more information on how we rank each program, check out our guide below.
- What Do the Best Cheap Accounting Programs Have in Common?
- Trine University, Angola, IN
- Maryville University of Saint Louis, Saint Louis, MO
- Shorter University LOCATION Rome, GA
- Colorado State University-Global Campus, Aurora, CO
- Lakeland University, Plymouth, WI
- McKendree University, Lebanon, IL
- Pennsylvania State University-World Campus, University Park, PA
- University of Minnesota-Crookston, Crookston, MN
- Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, NM
- Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
- Gardner-Webb University, Boiling Springs, NC
- Seton Hill University, Greensburg, PA
- Bay Path University, Longmeadow, MA
- Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL
- Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Saint Mary of the Woods, IN
Jobs for Bachelor’s in Accounting Graduates
Accounting degree-holders qualify for occupations in many different work environments. Graduates can pursue careers as public accountants, auditors, tax experts, or personal financial advisors.
Accountants can earn potentially lucrative salaries. Accountants and auditors made a median annual salary of $71,550 in 2019, while personal financial advisors earned a median income of $87,850. Accounting skills represent an important business foundation, and professionals often advance to high-paying managerial roles. Chief executives, for example, earned a median salary of $184,460 as of 2019.
An accountant can expand their career opportunities by earning a master’s degree or pursuing industry credentials like CPA or certified management accountant (CMA).
Online Accounting Degree: An Overview
- Online Coursework
- Job Outlook and Salary for Accounting Graduates.
Online Accounting Degree: An Overview
Accountants organize complex financial data into statements that they can then explain to their stakeholders, whether that’s individual clients or the C suite of large companies. As advances in technology have automated some accounting functions, businesses are increasingly looking to accountants to provide analysis on the numbers – for instance, on ways to cut costs, create efficiencies or up profits.
In other words, accountants are not just number crunchers.
A good online accounting bachelor’s degree will prepare professionals to not only understand the numbers, but also to analyze and explain them. “The advance of technology has taken a lot of the executing of tasks … out of the hands of accountants and into the hands of machines. That has made accountants fit more into the role of trusted business advisors,” Christopher Ekimoff, director at RSM, an accounting and financial advisory firm, told U.S. News.
Many accountants start their careers with a bachelor’s degree in accounting or business administration with an emphasis in accounting. Some programs will offer students the ability to minor or otherwise specialize in a distinct area of accounting, such as forensics.
But whether online students graduate with a Bachelor of Science in accounting or a Bachelor of Arts in business administration with an emphasis in accounting, the degree also lends itself to an array of professions. Professionals with an online accounting degree can become accountants, financial analysts, financial planners and more – and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects about a 6% employment growth between 2018 and 2028, matching the overall rate throughout the job market.
Although an online accounting degree will cost a student time and money – $40,000 or more – it could be well worth it. A study from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce shows that a bachelor’s degree remains one of the best ways to get a good job. Plus, an online accounting program is a good choice for people who are juggling work schedules and child care responsibilities.
In this guide, you will learn all about earning an online bachelor’s in accounting. You will discover what colleges charge for your online degree and how much time it will take for you to graduate. The guide also lays out what classes make up the typical accounting curriculum. And looking ahead to your prospects once you graduate with an online accounting degree, the guide includes a career outlook for related professions. We offer guidelines for selecting your online college and a list of ways to pay for school.
Top Online Schools for Accounting
|SCHOOL||QUICK FACTS||DEGREE COST|
|Arizona State University|
|Rolling application120 creditsBachelor of Arts in business (corporate accounting)||$554.92 in-state, $638.67 nonresident per credit (includes fees)|
Total: $66,590 in-state, $76,640 nonresident
|Colorado State University–Global Campus|
Greenwood Village, Colorado
|Rolling application120 creditsBachelor of Science in accounting||$350 per credit|
|University of Alabama–Birmingham|
|Rolling application120 creditsBachelor of Science in accounting||$433 per credit for lower-level courses, $667 per credit for upper-level courses|
|University of Arkansas|
|Rolling application120 creditsBachelor of Science business administration in accounting||$335.53 per credit|
Total (tuition and fees): $45,506
|Washington State University|
|Rolling application120 creditsBachelor of Arts in business administration, accounting major||$518 per credit in-state, $578 per credit nonresident|
Total: $41,472 in-state, $46,200 nonresident
List of Online Schools Offering Accounting Degree By State
How to Choose the Best Online Accounting Degree Program
The cost of an online accounting degree program is a major consideration, especially since the price tag on online programs varies widely – just among our top five schools, for instance, there is a $25,000 difference for total in-state tuition between Washington State’s $41,472 and Arizona State’s $66,590. Students should note that schools sometimes charge more tuition for out-of-state students than they do for in-state students.
Students should also look into an online degree program’s accreditation. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business offers an accounting accreditation to those programs that meet 15 business requirements and six additional accounting-specific criteria. Job candidates who graduate from an AACSB-accredited school may have an advantage over their competition, since it communicates to employers that they are equipped with the skills and knowledge to enter the workforce.
Comparing the programs of study offered at different colleges is also a good idea. For instance, some online accounting programs offer a Bachelor of Arts, while others offer a Bachelor of Science. Typically, a B.A. program will have a more liberal arts approach, featuring a broad range of courses, from foreign language to fine arts, while a B.S. program will contain more specialized classes that directly relate to the field of study.
How Much Does an Online Accounting Degree Cost?
An online accounting degree typically starts around $300 per credit, and as most bachelor’s degrees require 120 credits to complete, students are looking at paying from about $40,000 to $100,000 for the degree.
Keep in mind that some schools charge different tuition for in-state students when compared with out-of-state students – at Arizona State, for example, the overall gap in tuition is about $10,000. Students coming from the military might also be entitled to a small break on the full tuition.
|Colorado State University–Global Campus||$42,000|
|University of Alabama—Birmingham||$63,360|
|Washington State University||$41,472 in-state, $46,200 nonresident|
Undergraduate students who are pursuing an online accounting degree will likely complete a handful of general education classes before getting into accounting-specific classes, which might include an introductory course covering accounting principles. These courses cover foundational topics like the annual accounting cycle, types of business transactions and how to prepare financial statements.
The typical accounting program will also include classes on accounting ethics, income tax accounting, business finance and an auditing survey. Some programs might offer elective classes on topics such as nonprofit accounting and fraud auditing.
Keep in mind that the program of study will vary depending on whether you pursue a B.A., which generally offers a more liberal arts approach, versus a B.S., which typically requires more specialized, accounting-specific classes, especially in the third and fourth years.
Specialties for an Online Accounting Degree
Some online accounting programs allow students to specialize in a certain area of accounting with electives or minors. These specializations include forensic accounting, financial accounting, government accounting, tax accounting and auditing.
Prerequisites for an Online Accounting Degree
Students looking to pursue an online bachelor’s degree in accounting must have a high school diploma or a GED diploma. Some programs also require students to take the SAT or ACT, but minimum scores vary by institution. Some programs will also accept college credits earned from previous institutions if they meet minimum grade requirements.
- Principles of accounting
- Internal auditing
- Applied microeconomics for business
- Business law and ethics
- Strategic planning