Are you ready to discover your MBA program?

A bachelor's degree in accounting prepares graduates for entry-level careers as accountants, auditors, and budget analysts. People with strong math, organizational, analytical, and critical thinking skills may thrive in this field. Undergraduate accounting programs cover topics like general accounting principles and practices, accounting software, and cost/benefit analysis.

Accounting professionals help organizations manage financial records, pay taxes, and evaluate financial risks. Other potential careers for accounting graduates include auditor and budget analyst. Often, professionals specialize in a subfield — such as governmental or public accounting — or industry, like insurance, healthcare, or finance.

Accounting salaries are often higher than the national average. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects accounting and auditing jobs will grow 7% from 2020 to 2030. Accountants can advance in their careers over time by accruing professional experience, earning certifications, and pursuing further education.

Why Enroll in an Undergrad Accounting Program?

Most accountants need a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Some positions, like a certified public accountant (CPA), also require professional certification. Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services comprise the largest employing industry for accountants and auditors. Accountants also work for government agencies and the insurance industry.

The BLS reports 1,392,200 accountants and auditors were employed in the U.S. as of 2020. The agency projects 135,000 job openings annually and 7% growth for accountant and auditor positions between 2020 and 2030. This continued demand can translate to relative job security and stability.

Earning a bachelor's in accounting degree offers many benefits:

Gain New Skills and Knowledge

Accounting majors learn general accounting theory and practices, how to use accounting software, and how to assess financial operations.

Career Opportunities

A bachelor's in accounting degree prepares graduates for careers as accountants, auditors, and budget analysts.

Salary Potential

Accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $73,560 in 2020, higher than the national average wage.

Our guide explains what to expect from a typical undergraduate accounting program. At the end of this page, we include a list of the best undergraduate accounting degrees.

Why You Should Get Your Accounting Degree Online

The best online undergraduate accounting degrees can make college more accessible through the convenience of online classes. This benefits many learners, including full-time workers with busy schedules who may prefer the flexibility distance learning can provide.

Online programs may include recorded or live lectures, discussion boards, and group projects. Some programs take place synchronously through web conferencing. Other courses are asynchronous, with no set meeting times and laxer deadlines.

Curriculum

The curriculum for the top undergraduate accounting degrees varies by school. Most programs require core courses in business and accounting with elective or concentration courses. Accounting majors often complete a capstone project or internship as part of their degree requirements. Below, we explore five common accounting classes.

  • Financial Accounting: Financial accounting explores basic accounting principles and practices. Topics include the accounting cycle, generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), and bank reconciliation methods. Students also learn about balance sheets and business ethics.
  • Business Law for Accountants: This class covers legal issues accountants may encounter in their work. Students explore securities regulation, legal entities, bankruptcy, and contracts. They also learn about the Uniform Commercial Code and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
  • Accounting Information Systems: In this course, students learn about accounting software and computer technologies. Topics include auditing of information systems, accounting cycle operations, and information systems infrastructure and trends. Accounting majors learn to solve accounting problems using Python and databases.
  • Tax Research: This elective course explores tax law and tax research in the U.S. Students learn to perform tax research using printed and electronic tax materials and resources. Other topics include the preparation of tax memorandums and the evaluation of tax law.
  • Accounting Capstone: Accounting majors take this class in the last term of their program. The capstone lets learners synthesize the skills and knowledge gained throughout their education and apply it to a real-world problem in contemporary accounting. The course often includes individual and group work.

Online MBA Programs for You

Grow your career, leadership, and business acumen with an accredited online MBA program.

What to Expect From Online Undergrad Accounting Programs

Prospective accounting students can find some of the best undergrad accounting programs both online and on campus. Learners should consider the pros and cons of each learning format to determine what best suits their academic needs.

Benefits of earning an accounting bachelor's online can include flexibility, convenience, and affordability. Enrolling in an on-campus accounting program can offer more structure, easier access to student resources and services, and more opportunities to interact with classmates. Some online programs charge in-state tuition or a lower online-only tuition.

Though accounting bachelor's degrees and MBAs in accounting often cover similar material, there are key differences: An accounting bachelor's program requires general education courses alongside accounting classes and takes about four years of full-time study to complete.

An MBA, on the other hand, is a graduate degree. Enrollees must complete advanced business courses with a focus on accounting. These programs typically take 1-3 years of full-time study to finish. An accounting MBA can prepare graduates for advanced-level positions, including management roles, in accounting and business.

Students need a bachelor's to apply for an MBA program. Some accounting majors pursue an MBA after completing a bachelor's degree.

Comparing Accounting Bachelor's and MBA Degrees

Bachelor Degree

MBA

Length of Study

4 years

1-3 years

Potential Admissions Requirements

High school diploma or its equivalent, minimum 3.0 GPA, ACT or SAT scores, letters of recommendation

Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, minimum 3.0 GPA, prerequisite courses, GRE or GMAT scores, personal statement, resume, letters of recommendation

Average Credits to Graduate

120 credits

36-54 credits

Graduation Requirements

Capstone project

Capstone project

Source: CSU, DeVry, DU, Iowa, RIT, WGU

Should I Get an MBA in Accounting?

An MBA in accounting can lead to career advancement and higher salaries. MBA in accounting degree-holders can apply for management and leadership positions in accounting and general business. Potential careers for MBA graduates include chief financial officer and corporate controller. Many schools with top undergrad accounting programs offer MBA in accounting degrees.

Accounting professionals can also land career promotions and salary increases without a graduate degree in accounting. Earning professional certifications, participating in continuing education classes, and gaining experience in the field can all lead to new career opportunities, including work as a senior accountant or accounting manager.

Career Opportunities After Graduation

The best undergraduate accounting degrees prepare students for various careers after graduation. Many graduates become accountants or auditors, careers that earn a median annual salary of $73,560 as of 2020.

Earning a master's degree in accounting or pursuing certifications can open the door to career advancement. For example, corporate controllers and chief financial officers, two potential careers for accounting master's degree-holders, earn average annual salaries of more than $100,000, according to April 2022 Payscale data.

Accountants


Accountants examine and prepare financial documents, find cost reduction opportunities, and identify risk. Job duties include preparing tax returns, organizing financial records, and finding ways to improve profitability for organizations.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree

Job Outlook (2020-30): +7%

Median Annual Salary: $73,560


Auditors


Auditors verify accountants' work by ensuring the accuracy of financial records and tax filings. Auditors may work internally for a specific company or externally for a third party. One large employer for auditors is the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree

Job Outlook (2020-30): +7%

Median Annual Salary: $73,560


Budget Analysts


Budget analysts help organizations plan their budgets. They also work in education and for governments at all levels. Budget analysts may advance their careers by earning professional certifications like the certified government financial manager credential from AGA.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree

Job Outlook (2020-30): +5%

Median Annual Salary: $78,970


Chief Financial Officers


Chief financial officers (CFOs) lead their organizations in financial matters. Duties include tracking cash flow, suggesting financial strategies, and financial planning. CFOs typically hold a graduate degree in a field like accounting, economics, or finance.

Required Education: Master's degree

Average Annual Salary: $139,500


Corporate Controllers


Corporate controllers work in nearly every industry. They hold leadership positions in financial departments, managing staff and performing advanced accounting work. Many corporate controllers hold an MBA.

Required Education: Master's degree

Average Annual Salary: $103,440

Common Questions About Accounting


Do I need a bachelor's degree in accounting?

Becoming a professional accountant typically requires at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. To become a CPA, all states require 150 semester credit hours of coursework, which is 30 more credit hours than a typical bachelor's degree.

How do I get a job in accounting with no experience?

The best undergraduate accounting degrees prepare graduates for entry-level accounting positions in government, business, and nonprofits. Many undergraduate accounting programs offer internships that allow learners to earn real-world experience before graduation.

Is accounting a good career?

The accounting field offers several careers with positive growth projections and higher-than-average salaries. People who succeed in accounting jobs often like solving problems and working with numbers.

What can I do with an accounting MBA?

The accounting MBA is a versatile business degree that prepares students to pursue the CPA credential or advanced accounting positions. Graduates with an MBA in accounting also can apply for management-level positions in other areas of business.

Top Five Online Undergraduate Programs in Accounting

The following five programs rank as the best online bachelor's degrees in accounting for 2022. Each school offers flexibility for aspiring CPAs who need 150 credits for licensure.

Visit the link below to find out more about our ranking methods.

1

Wesleyan College

Wesleyan College granted the world's first degree to a woman in 1840. This pioneer Georgia institution elevates women's education while promoting leadership, inclusivity, and innovation. The campus houses a 100-acre arboretum and serves about 700 students.

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Accounting

Wesleyan's bachelor of arts in accounting incorporates a 36-credit business core. Classes cover subjects like financial principles, business law, and human resources management. Students also take micro- and macroeconomics, plus a statistics course. The accounting major classes cover intermediate and advanced topics. Enrollees review auditing, taxes, and business information systems.

Learners can complete an optional directed independent study course. In this course, students consult with instructors and research an applicable accounting topic. Other optional courses include an honors thesis and field study. Accounting enrollees may pursue internships with companies like Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and SunTrust Bank.

Students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher after their third year can apply for Wesleyan's 4+1 graduate program. Enrollees can complete a bachelor's and master's degree in five years. Eligible graduate programs include a master's in business administration and degrees in nonprofit management and industrial-organizational psychology.

Applying to Wesleyan

Wesleyan requires an online application with official transcripts. Online degree program applicants must be over 21 and financially independent. Transfer students with at least 24 completed college credits do not need to submit high school transcripts.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • Tuition: $448/credit
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous and synchronous courses) or on campus
2

Trine University

Trine University began almost 140 years ago in Angola, Indiana. The campus stretches across 450 acres and serves over 5,000 students. Trine's career-oriented programs combine practical, collaborative projects with theory-focused courses.

Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration - Accounting Major

Students in Trine's accounting major begin with general education courses and introductory business classes. These classes include business communication, micro- and macroeconomics, and business spreadsheets.

The business core then explores advanced topics. Enrollees take 13 classes covering topics like accounting fundamentals, business law, marketing, and managerial finance. Other courses cover global strategic management and designing operations. Students gain real-world experience through an internship program or a Capsim business simulation class.

Degree-seekers also complete 30 core accounting credits. Topics include auditing, personal income tax, and cost accounting.

Enrollees can combine their bachelor's in accounting program with a master's degree. Trine offers two options: a master of business administration or a master of science in business analytics. With either choice, students schedule five classes that apply to both degrees. The combined program may last only four years.

Applying to Trine

Trine does not require SAT or ACT scores, essays, or an application fee. Students need only submit an online application and official transcripts.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: HLC; ACBSP
  • Tuition: $399/credit
  • Required Credits: 120 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or on campus
3

Liberty University

Reverend Jerry Falwell founded Liberty University in 1971. This evangelical liberal arts university offers over 450 programs online and over 700 at its Lynchburg, Virginia, campus. Liberty provides its 100,000 students with accessibility, affordability, and academic quality.

Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting

Liberty's online bachelor's in accounting program closely compares to its on-campus counterpart. However, online students complete fewer general education courses and more free electives. Liberty also removes the capstone requirement for online enrollees.

Online students take about 40 general education credits, including two religious courses. The program then dives into foundational business classes. These courses cover organizational behavior, probability and statistics, and business computer applications.

Students also complete 13 accounting courses. They learn about cost accounting, ethics, and financial statement analysis. Other core courses explore economics and business themes. Students round out their curriculum with 3-7 free electives.

Liberty accepts up to 90 transfer credits, which may help degree-seekers shorten their completion time. Enrollees enjoy increased flexibility with eight start dates throughout the year.

Applying to Liberty

Students can apply online or by phone. Liberty requires a 2.0 GPA or higher for admission in good standing. Applicants may complete a high school self-certification form, but must submit official transcripts within the first 12 credits. Liberty charges a $50 application fee.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC; ACBSP
  • Tuition: $390/credit (full time); $455/credit (part time)
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 3.5 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or on campus
4

SUNY Plattsburgh

Since its founding in 1889, SUNY Plattsburgh has grown to include more than 4,700 students and over 60 degree programs. Located in the Champlain-Adirondack biosphere reserve, the school promotes several campus-wide sustainability initiatives.

Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting

SUNY Plattsburgh's B.S. in accounting program includes 75 core credits. Students explore topics like business statistics, managerial accounting, and mathematical modeling in business. They also choose accounting, economics, and finance electives.

Once enrollees complete 57 credits with at least a 2.5 GPA, they can apply for internships. SUNY Plattsburgh connects online learners to internship opportunities in their home areas or on campus. Students may participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program at locations nationwide.

International Business Machines recruits SUNY Plattsburgh accounting majors for its co-op program. Upon completion, many students receive job offers. Other notable companies that hire SUNY Plattsburgh graduates include Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and AT&T.

SUNY Plattsburgh partners with SUNY Old Westbury to help students earn an online graduate degree. Undergraduate enrollees pursuing CPA licensure can continue with SUNY Old Westbury's master's program. This six-semester program includes 30 credits, giving graduates a total of 150 credits.

Applying to SUNY Plattsburgh

Students must submit an online application, a $50 fee, and official transcripts. SUNY does not need SAT or ACT scores. However, the School of Business and Economics expects a 2.3 GPA or higher. Applicants should include recommendation letters, essays, and supplemental information.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Tuition: $3,535/semester (in state); $4,240/semester (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or on campus
5

University of Minnesota Crookston

The University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) emphasizes experiential, learner-centered education. The university has provided online learning for 24 years. About half of UMC enrollees study online.

The University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) emphasizes experiential, learner-centered education. The university has provided online learning for 24 years. About half of UMC enrollees study online.

Bachelor of Science in Accounting

UMC's accounting BS degree combines technological, theoretical, and analytical skills. The comprehensive curriculum helps prepare enrollees for roles like auditor, accountant, and management advisory consultant. Students take beginner and intermediate accounting, tax, and auditing courses.

As part of the core curriculum, learners review finance and business topics. They explore the corporate legal environment and gain business-writing skills. Along with the accounting core, degree-seekers take eight liberal education courses. Topics include psychology, statistics, composition, and microeconomics.

Students can also complete seven accounting electives, including an internship course. Interns earn up to 12 credits while gaining practical experience. Other electives include income tax preparation and forensic accounting courses.

UMC partners with Gleim CPA Review to offer four optional CPA exam review classes. Each course covers a different section of the exam. Enrollees can apply these courses toward the 150-credit licensure requirement.

Applying to UMC

Degree-seekers must submit an online application, transcripts, and a $30 application fee. UMC does not request SAT or ACT scores. Instead, admissions counselors review GPAs and extracurricular activities. They also consider essay responses and optional recommendation letters.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: HLC; ACBSP
  • Tuition: $419/credit
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years

Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or on campus


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