Discover the Best Online Accounting Degree Programs in 2023/2024 and Explore Industry Salaries
Accounting is a fundamental process that involves recording financial transactions for businesses. It encompasses tasks such as summarizing, analyzing, and reporting these transactions to regulatory bodies, oversight agencies, and tax collection entities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of accountancy is experiencing a 4% growth rate, with professionals earning annual salaries ranging from $41,000 to $129,000.
Pursuing an online accounting degree can be a stepping stone to launch your career if you aspire to become an accountant and possess a knack for numbers and meticulous record-keeping. These programs equip you with essential skills crucial for organizational success. A bachelor’s degree in accounting sets a strong foundation.
Online Accounting Degrees
- Forensic Accounting
Bachelor’s in Accounting Curriculum Earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting typically requires completing around 120 credit hours. If you have already obtained an accounting associate degree, you are halfway towards your goal.
These credit hours encompass general education courses covering subjects such as mathematics, writing, science, and humanities, as well as specialized business and accounting topics.
The following list represents foundational accounting courses commonly included in degree programs:
- Accounting Fundamentals: This introductory class is the cornerstone of your accounting education, covering report preparation, statement analysis, and business decision-making.
- Accounting Tools: Get acquainted with software programs and systems accounting professionals use to manage financial data. Hands-on practice opportunities may be provided.
- Auditing: Develop skills to review financial statements and records carefully, ensuring organizational integrity and identifying potential errors.
- Business Law and Ethics: Construct a personal ethical framework for decision-making throughout your career, considering local and federal regulations governing business transactions and leadership.
- Economics: Explore macroeconomics and microeconomics, studying economic theories and their practical applications.
- Financial Accounting: Learn how to track an organization’s revenue and cash flow, preparing for a career in accounting.
- Taxation: Understand federal taxation principles for businesses, individuals, and estates.
Your school may offer the option to specialize in a specific area through a concentration of related classes. Concentration options may include auditing, management accounting, or tax accounting.
Accounting Careers & Salaries
The demand for accountants and auditors is projected to grow by 4%. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a surge of 61,700 additional jobs in these fields by 2028 compared to a decade prior.
An online accounting degree prepares you for various positions related to records and finances, including opportunities as financial managers, personal financial advisors, financial analysts, financial examiners, budget analysts, credit analysts, accountants, auditors, cost estimators, tax examiners, and bookkeepers.
Annual Median Salaries for Accounting Careers:
- Financial Managers – $129,890
- Personal Financial Advisors – $87,850
- Financial Analysts – $81,590
- Financial Examiners – $81,090
- Budget Analysts – $76,540
- Credit Analysts – $73,650
- Accountants and Auditors – $71,550
- Cost Estimators – $65,250
- Tax Examiners – $54,890
- Bookkeepers – $41,230
Accounting professionals are in demand across various sectors, including businesses, nonprofit organizations, schools, healthcare systems, and government agencies. You may also find employment in accounting firms assisting clients with their tax and bookkeeping needs.
Accounting Professional Organizations
Enhance your academic and professional life by joining industry organizations that bring together accounting professionals nationwide.
- American Accounting Association (AAA): Representing the academic side of accounting, AAA focuses on research, education, and idea-sharing to advance the field.
- American Institute of CPAs (AICPA): AICPA supports certified public accountants through learning opportunities, practice standards, advocacy, and information. It is responsible for administering the Uniform CPA Examination.
- National Society of Accountants (NSA): NSA’s membership caters to those working in small or midsize accounting firms, offering professional discounts and collaborative platforms.
Membership benefits vary, but these organizations provide networking opportunities and educational resources such as publications, meetings, and online forums.
Consider checking if your company has a group membership that covers all employees before paying individual dues.
Accounting Certification and Licensure
Many accountants pursue certifications to enhance their professional development and gain recognition from employers and clients, opening doors to more career opportunities.
Certified Management Accountant (CMA): This certification from the Institute of Management Accountants is strategic for those in financial accounting or management roles, qualifying them for higher leadership positions within their company’s financial department.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA): Obtaining a master’s degree in accounting prepares you to take the Uniform CPA Exam and become a licensed CPA, administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
These certifications require additional time and effort beyond a bachelor’s degree, but they pay off by establishing you as a certified professional with advanced knowledge and skills.
When searching for the best accounting schools, always considers accreditation. Two types of accreditation are essential: regional and programmatic.
Regional accreditation is granted to colleges that meet general quality standards across their programs and departments. Look for colleges approved by one of the seven recognized regional accreditors by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education.
Programmatic accreditation focuses on specific departments or programs and is awarded by industry-specific organizations. The AACSB International is the primary programmatic accreditor for business and accounting schools, ensuring quality in business programs. Many top accounting schools pursue AACSB accreditation.
Financial Aid & Accounting Scholarships
To pursue an affordable online accounting degree, explore financial aid options. Federal government grants or loans, accessed through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), can assist. State grants or loans may also be available.
Government assistance typically covers only a portion of tuition. To supplement your funding, research private sources such as scholarships. Scholarships provide financial aid that doesn’t require repayment.
Here are some organizations offering scholarships specifically for accounting and finance students:
- AICPA/Robert Half Student Scholarship: A $10,000 one-time scholarship awarded to students aspiring to become CPAs, with four recipients selected each year.
- AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students: Encourages minority students interested in becoming CPAs to apply for scholarships of up to $5,000, with the possibility of renewal.
- AICPA Transfer Scholarship: A $5,000 scholarship available to students transitioning from a junior college to a bachelor’s program in accounting.
- Paul S. Mills Scholarship: Undergraduate financial field students can apply for this scholarship from the Foundation for Financial Service Professionals, which annually grants 16 $1,000 awards.
- Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship: Association of Certified Fraud Examiners offers this scholarship to students pursuing careers in anti-fraud efforts, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 in value.
Additionally, consult your school’s financial aid department for further scholarship recommendations or options for installment-based tuition payments.
What Can You Do with an Accounting Degree?
You can pursue various career paths involving financial records, and money matters with an accounting degree. Potential roles include public or private accountant, financial analyst, revenue agent, internal or external auditor, and budget analyst.
Employers range from consulting firms, corporations, and nonprofit organizations, to other sectors.
What’s the Difference Between Finance and Accounting?
Accountants maintain financial records and databases, tracking incoming and outgoing funds while producing reports based on this information.
Finance professionals utilize these data to make future decisions, project outcomes, and identify investment opportunities.
BS Accounting vs. BA Accounting – What’s the Difference?
A BA program in accounting allows for a broader education, including liberal arts classes and electives alongside accounting courses. In contrast, a BS program may emphasize math and science courses more directly relevant to accounting career goals.
Can You Earn an Accounting Degree Online?
Yes, it is possible to earn an accounting degree online. Online accounting degree programs are standard and offer flexibility for individuals juggling jobs, family responsibilities, or other commitments.
Ensure you choose online accounting courses accredited by one of the nation’s regional accrediting organizations to receive a quality education.
Can You Get an Online Accounting Degree Master’s?
Yes, you can pursue an online master’s degree in accounting. After completing your online bachelor’s degree in accounting, you may opt for a similar format for your master’s program.
Numerous online master’s programs in accounting provide options, and earning a master’s degree can prepare you for the Uniform CPA Exam or other industry credentials. Online Ph.D. programs in accounting are also available for those seeking advanced education.
What Is the Best Online College for Accounting?
Several excellent online accounting colleges exist. Finding a college that offers appealing classes, fits your schedule, and provides necessary student support is crucial.
Ensure the college is regionally accredited and preferably holds AACSB accreditation, indicating quality in business and accounting programs.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Accounting Degree Online?
Standard bachelor’s degree programs typically take around four years to complete.
However, many online programs are designed for accelerated completion. By utilizing accelerated course schedules and year-round enrollment, it’s possible to finish an online accounting degree in 18 months to three years.
How Do You Get a Degree in Accounting
To earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting, you must complete approximately 120 credit hours of coursework. You will focus on accounting-specific classes alongside general subjects like math, science, and English.
These classes cover auditing, cost accounting, business law, and taxation.