A working professional knows that earning an accounting degree is the best way to make themselves more marketable as an employee. However, time constraints make it hard to go back to the campus for an education. Accounting majors always have the option of going to a campus to earn their degree, but going to classes after work or on the weekends eats up valuable time. You can do a search for “accounting majors near me” to find out what schools are convenient to your home or office and save time that way, but is it the school you really want? And does the school offer different types of accounting degrees that fit your goals? If neither of these questions are easily answered, take a look at online accounting majors instead. Many colleges and universities with stellar reputations offer online accounting degree programs that are well received by employers in a variety of industries.
On the other hand, there’s the perception that accounting schools online may not be taken seriously by employers. This perception was true at one time, especially in the early days of virtual campuses, but that has changed with the entry of reputable schools offering accounting majors and access to accounting schools online. A working professional who wants to go back to school can achieve one of the many types of accounting majors without stepping foot on campus if they so desire.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Online Accounting Degree Programs
Convenience can’t be the only factor in choosing an online accounting degree, so Bachelor’s Degree Center editors focus their ranking on accredited, reputable institutions that have a record for student success. Programs are ranked according to their Cost, Graduate Salaries, and Student Satisfaction, with data from IPEDS, College Scorecard, and Niche.
1. University of Mary (ND)
When you are looking for the best online accounting degree programs, you want to consider the University of Mary in North Dakota. The online accounting bachelor’s degree program provides the training you need to work as an accountant and prepares students for the challenges of taking the CPA exams. It ensures that students have the basic skills they need to work under an accountant and to prepare for more rigorous challenges in their careers.
The University of Mary emphasizes ethics based on Biblical practices. Since it is a Christian university, the online course materials give students a strong foundation in Biblical principles as they apply to careers and work in accounting. The degree program conveys Christian values to students and allows students to develop strong ethical standards for their work.
Highlight: The University of Mary offers accelerated online courses that allow students to finish their bachelor’s degrees within 3.3 years.
Degree: BS in Accounting
University of Mary BS in Accounting
2. University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota offers an online bachelor’s degree in accounting that prepares students for the challenges of working in an accounting career. The degree program is fully online, which allows students to work at their own pace. The flexibility of the degree program ensures that students are able to work around a job schedule or personal obligations that may limit their time.
The University of Minnesota stands out by allowing students to complete professional exams through the university campus. Students can complete the CPA, CIA, or CMA examinations after completing their bachelor’s degree and qualifying for the exams. Since the exams are available on campus, it allows students to access the exams when they are ready to sit for the tests.
Highlight: The University of Minnesota offers small class sizes to help students keep up with course materials.
Degree: BS in Accounting
University of Minnesota BS in Accounting
3. Bellevue University
Bellevue University has one of the best online accounting degree programs for students who want to develop their talents and focus on a specialized skill set. The program focuses on applying student aptitudes for numbers, mathematics, and problem-solving in a specific industry. It provides students with a strong foundation that allows them to focus on developing their career goals and gaining the skills they need to work as an accountant.
The way Bellevue University in Nebraska stands out from other programs is the focus on hands-on training and applied learning strategies. It ensures that students are able to apply the skills they learn in the program to their careers. The emphasis on hands-on training gives students the opportunity to adapt quickly to a real-world environment and prepares students for the CPA exams.
Highlight: Bellevue University offers an optional accountancy internship with the intention of helping students clarify the areas of specialization that fit their personal interests.
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Bellevue University BS in Accounting
4. Northeastern University
Northeastern University’s Finance and Accounting Management bachelor’s program that allows students to develop effective skills for a modern work environment. The degree program teaches students accounting skills, technology skills, finance skills, and sustainability skills. It ensures that students are ready for the challenges of working in a modern accountancy firm. It also prepares students to work in the finance industry.
Northeastern University emphasizes experiential learning and ensures that students have the hands-on training to work in different environments. Since the degree program emphasizes finance and accounting, it provides students with a well-rounded education that helps with long-term goals. Students are able to work on developing useful skills that apply to different industries and fields.
Highlight: Northeastern University is AACSB-accredited and meets the high standards of the accrediting body.
Degree: B.S. in Finance and Accounting Management
Northeastern University Finance and Accounting Management
5. Washington State University Global
The Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a major in accounting from Washington State University Global offers critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills to help students work in a complex environment. It prepares students for the rigors of a technology-heavy industry that also requires strong math skills and communication skills. The degree program gives students a strong foundation that helps with their long-term goals for a career in accounting.
Washington State University Global stands out by emphasizing business theory and the application of accounting in a business environment. It provides students with practical skills and ensures that students are able to work on the challenges that arise in a company. It also ensures that students have business skills that give them greater opportunities to advance in their careers.
Highlight: Washington State University Global is accredited by the AACSB for its accounting program.
Washington State University Global BSBA-Accounting
6. Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University offers one of the best online bachelor’s degrees in accounting to help students focus on their long-term career goals. FAU’s Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting emphasizes financial reporting, financial compliance according to disclosure regulations, and the basic accounting skills students need to work in an accountancy firm or a corporate business. It provides a strong foundation in the skills students need to keep up with long-term challenges.
Florida Atlantic University provides students with the ability to handle taxation, data analytics as it applies to accounting, and auditing services as a part of the basic curriculum. It ensures that students are ready to work in different situations and environments. The online program also recognizes that students need hands-on experience with modern tools and technology used in accounting firms, so it ensures that students are prepared to handle the different software programs and tools before graduation.
Highlight: Florida Atlantic University requires students to complete the Intellectual Foundation Program, Pre-Business Foundation Courses, and the Accountancy Competency Exam before declaring an accounting major for online courses.
Degree: Bachelor of Business Administration – Accounting
Florida Atlantic University BBA in Accounting
7. Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
When you are looking for the best online programs for accounting degrees, the BSBA specializing in accounting from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine is a good option for your goals. The degree program provides students with a strong foundation in business and accounting to prepare students to work in a variety of environments and companies.
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine emphasizes flexibility to help students accomplish their goals while they keep up with personal and professional obligations. The degree program allows students to work at their own pace and ensures that students are able to work when it fits their schedules or situations. By emphasizing flexibility, it gives students the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree, even when they have limited time due to their family or work.
Highlight: Saint Joseph’s College of Maine is friendly to transfer students and maximizes transfer credits.
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration w/ specialization in Accounting
BSBA Accounting – Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
8. University of Memphis Global
The online Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in accounting from the University of Memphis Global prepares students for the challenges of working as a professional accountant. The accountancy degree program emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving, and technical skills to ensure that students are able to keep up in a modern work environment. Students can expect to learn the common accounting programs and software, as well as more traditional accounting processes.
The University of Memphis Global recognizes the importance of teamwork and cooperation in the workplace and provides students with a strong foundation to build on in their careers. The degree program teaches students effective communication skills as well as methods of handling different team situations that they may face when working in an accounting firm.
Highlight: The University of Memphis Global is AACSB-accredited for the accountancy program and meets or exceeds the standards set by the accrediting body.
Degree: Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree with a major in Accounting
BBA Accounting – University of Memphis Global
9. University of Massaschusetts Amherst
The accounting degree program at UMass Amherst offers a flexible schedule that allows online students to keep up with their long-term goals. The degree program emphasizes taxation, financial reporting, information systems, and related skills that students need when working as an accountant. It also prepares students for the challenges of working in a business environment by providing fundamental skills associated with business and corporate jobs.
UMass Amherst focuses on evaluating and maintaining the health of a business through effective accounting strategies. Students learn the basic skills they need to take on an accounting job and are able to make use of their personal skills in problem-solving and mathematics. The degree program highlights the skills that are essential for working in a corporate environment or working as an accountant in a specialized firm.
Highlight: UMass Amherst encourages students to join professional accountancy organizations to prepare for their careers.
Degree: Bachelor of Business Administration – Accounting
UMass Amherst BBA in Accounting
10. Fayetteville State University
The online bachelor’s degree in accounting from Fayetteville State University is a completion program that helps students reach their long-term goals for their careers. The degree program allows students to finish up their education through the online system. Since it is a completion program, students must complete the common courses for their degrees before starting in their major courses. The major courses for accounting are fully online.
Fayetteville State University stands apart from other programs by emphasizing technology as it applies to accounting work. Students who are interested in the growth and change of technology in their careers will find that the program helps them learn the processes used in modern accounting. It also prepares students for the challenges they may face as they gain experience and technology improves over time. The focus on technology ensures that students are able to adapt in their careers.
Highlight: Fayetteville State University provides access to class materials through multiple online sources, including the student portal and canvas, to allow students to access lectures and information when it fits their schedules.
Degree: B.S. in Accounting (Completion Program)
BS in Accounting – Fayetteville State University
11. Penn State World Campus
Penn State World Campus offers an online bachelor’s degree in accounting that prepares students to work in a fast-paced environment. The degree program takes a comprehensive approach to student education and ensures that students are prepared to handle the materials when working on the CPA, CMA, CIA, CFE, and CGMA examinations for specialized career paths. The degree program offers a strong foundation in accounting and related topics.
Penn State World Campus stands out from other programs by focusing on student success at every stage of their education. The school offers online tutoring to help students who may need assistance in certain classes. It also offers career advice through the online system to ensure that students are able to make effective decisions about their careers and long-term plans.
Highlight: Penn State World Campus is AACSB-accredited and is among the top-ranked online bachelor’s degree programs by U.S. News and World Reports.
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Penn State World Campus BS in Accounting
12. University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers one of the best online accounting degree programs at the undergraduate level for students who want to work in an accounting firm or a business environment. The degree program is fully online and emphasizes conceptual accounting. It also provides students with a strong foundation in business that helps with corporate positions or jobs in a company. Students are able to work in a variety of positions due to their knowledge of multiple topics.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers networking opportunities for students who are working on an accounting degree. The opportunity to network with professionals in accounting allows students to clarify their long-term goals and to gain opportunities for employment when they finish their degrees.
Highlight: The University of Alabama at Birmingham allows students to transfer credits from other colleges and universities to simplify the process of obtaining a degree.
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Accounting
University of Alabama at Birmingham BS in Accounting
13. Auburn University
Auburn University offers a bachelor’s degree in accountancy designed around working adults who may be seeking a second degree or who want to complete a degree. The program emphasizes flexibility by allowing students to stream lectures when it fits their schedules. Since the program is designed around working adults, it allows students to work at their own pace and provides the same high-quality education online as the on-campus program.
Auburn University is an AACSB-accredited school that sets high standards for student education. Due to the high standards set by the school, students can expect a rigorous and challenging curriculum that focuses on providing a strong foundation in accounting, as well as developing specialized skills that allow students to focus on a specific career path. Students will also have the fundamental training they need to consider the CPA exam.
Highlight: Auburn University offers scholarships to students in the online program if they qualify for the funds.
Degree: Bachelor of Science (BSBA) – Accountancy
Auburn University BSBA – Accountancy
14. Colorado State University Global
Colorado State University Global offers a fully online accounting bachelor’s degree that allows students to focus on their career goals. It provides students with a strong foundation in accounting skills and ensures that students are prepared for the rigors of working in an accounting firm or a related field.
The way Colorado State University Global stands out is the focus on preparing students for a challenging and fast-paced career. It ensures that students are able to work on financial reports, audit company financial details, and complete tax paperwork. Students learn at their own pace due to the online format and can work around a personal schedule.
Highlight: Colorado State University Global is ACBSP-accredited for the online accounting program.
Degree: BS in Accounting
Colorado State University Global BS in Accounting
15. Concordia University-St. Paul
The bachelor’s degree in accounting from Concordia University in St. Paul offers a blended online format that allows students to work on a degree when it fits their schedules. Students can take classes online or on-campus based on their preferences, so it provides students with the opportunity to enjoy any type of learning format. The degree program emphasizes fundamental skills and ensures that students are ready for the challenges of working as an accountant.
Concordia University in St. Paul prepares students to handle the challenges of taking on the CPA exam and the CMA exam. By preparing students for professional certifications, it ensures that students have the ability to work in a challenging environment. Students focus on learning the skills and tools that assist with their careers while also gaining a firm grasp of the traditional methods of accounting.
Highlight: Roughly 95 percent of students from Concordia University in St. Paul get a job offer in their field within one year of graduation.
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Accounting
BS in Accounting from Concordia University in St. Paul
Will Employers Trust an Online Accounting Degree?
This is a natural question to ask, especially in light of the fact that early online accounting schools had bad reputations for quality of education. The early online schools were rarely held accountable for their poor educational standards and their for-profit nature meant that students were frequently taken advantage of. Major schools were slow to adapt to the online model of education and left the field wide open for less-than-honest operators to provide questionable education. Employers were finding that potential employees were not properly prepared to handle the role of an accountant after an online education and became wary of online degrees.
Nowadays, employers are much more trusting of online accounting degrees. The passage of time, maturing of online programs for accounting, and the fact that a majority of schools have an accredited online accounting degree has made online schooling as legitimate as on-campus schooling. Employers know that a potential employee who earned their degree from a recognizable school is someone who has a solid foundation in accounting principles. Online programs for accounting are designed to match the quality of education that is provided in an on-campus setting.
When taking a look at accounting school accreditation for online schooling, you’ll find that it’s the same type of accreditation that’s given to schools with on-campus programs. The most common are the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). An accredited online accounting degree holds the same educational standards as if you had attended a physical campus. Employers who understand accreditation will know that your education meets specific standards required for employment as an accountant.
If you already have credit hours from an associate degree or accounting certificate, an undergraduate degree from an online college can be much quicker. Even studying part-time, you can finish an online bachelor of science in much less than the standard four-year degree. Full-time learners can often finish in less than two years.
When youre looking at education requirements for enrollment, keep in mind that many colleges will have a higher tuition rate for out-of-state students than in-state.
What Will I Learn in an Accounting Bachelor’s Program?
Accounting degree requirements tend to vary from program to program, but students start with basic accounting classes in their first year. Schools usually require an accounting student pick an accounting focus or taking certain electives as part of the accounting degree requirements. A four-year accounting degree always requires a student to take general and elective courses as part of the degree. The classes you choose as part of the general classes are usually suggested by the school to help you support the classes that you’ll take as part of your accounting degree. Some of the classes to take for an accounting degree can include advanced mathematics, business management, and economics.
Basic accounting classes teach the foundation of accounting principles that you’ll use throughout your career as an accountant. A class along the lines of an introduction to financial accounting teaches students how to prepare and analyze reports, the role of accounting in business and in capital markets. Students have to be comfortable with the use of computers because a majority of the work is done using accounting software. By the end of the first semester, a student will have learned foundational basics, like financial statements, that will be built upon as their education progresses.
By the time you have completed your accounting degree coursework, you will have learned how to handle basic accounting principles including how to enter and calculate the numbers entered into a spreadsheet, create reports, handle federal income taxes, the ethical requirements of being a certified public accountant (CPA), and how to audit financial records for accidental or intentional discrepancies. The other skills you learn are dependent on the type of accounting focus you choose during your schooling. Remember that you are required to earn more hours than is normal for a bachelor’s degree. The extra educational hours you undertake will help you with CPA licensure and enter the workforce ready to take on your chosen field of accounting.
Beyond your general education and advanced accounting courses, you may also take specialization courses like:
- forensic accounting
- cost accounting
- managerial accounting
- nonprofit accounting
- tax accounting
- financial management
- fraud examination
- business law
- accounting information systems
You may also do a capstone project that pulls all of your learning together into a practical experience. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics will tell you, careers in the accounting field, besides CPA, include certified management accountant, financial analyst, and more.
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