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Accountants need specialized training to enter the workplace or earn CPA licensure. We make it easier to choose one of the nation's best bachelor's in accounting.
A bachelor's degree in accounting opens the door to various professions with strong projected growth, earning potential, and flexibility. These programs equip students with the skills they need to help organizations manage their finances and make more informed financial decisions. Learners develop management, strategy, and critical thinking skills that can apply to various fields.
Many top online universities offer accounting programs that last four years, although some schools may offer accelerated options. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the cost of one year at a four-year institution averaged $28,123 during the 2018-2019 academic year.
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The outlook for accounting careers appears strong, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting the addition of more than 96,000 jobs between 2020 and 2030. These professionals also earned a median annual salary of $73,560 in May 2020, which is over $30,000 more than the median annual wage for all occupations in 2020.
Benefits of an Accounting Degree
Accounting is a dynamic field suitable for anyone with a knack for numbers.
Graduates can pursue many career paths, most of which are quite lucrative. The median pay for accountants in 2021 was $77,250, according to the BLS.
Certain industries offer accounting majors particularly high earning potential.
For example, the top-paying industry for accountants in 2021 was pipeline transportation of crude oil, with workers earning an average salary of $123,230. Other top industries include computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing and information services.
Accounting is a stable career that is relatively recession-proof.
The BLS projects 7% job growth for accountants from 2020-2030. The financial manager role is projected to grow by 17%, with these workers earning a median pay of $131,710 in 2021.
How We Rank Schools
Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of online programs to produce our annual Best Online Bachelor's in Accounting ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified 243 schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.
- Each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution.
- Must offer an online bachelor's degree program in the given subject.
- Must submit an annual report to the National Center for Education Statistics.
To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best online schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring academic factors (50%), affordability (25%), and the availability and popularity of online programs (25%).
The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.
BestColleges' Ranking Factors
Academics (50% of total score)
- Admissions Rate
- Enrollment Rate
- Full-Time Retention Rate
- Graduation Rate
- Number of Bachelor's Degree Graduates in the Given Subject
Affordability (25% of total score)
- Average Net Price
- Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Federal Loans
- Average Loan Default Rate
Online Programming (25% of total score)
- Percentage of Bachelor's Degree Programs Offered Online
- Percentage of Programs Offered at the Bachelor's Level
- Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Online Courses
Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Accounting Programs of 2022
Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team
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Popular Online Bachelor's in Accounting Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Accounting Program?
Online bachelor's in accounting programs often appeal to students with strong math and analytical skills. However, the field requires communication and organizational skills as well. An online bachelor's degree typically requires learners to complete 120 credits over four years.
Some online accounting programs deliver coursework asynchronously, which allows learners to study during the hours that suit them best. Online students may still need to complete practical components, such as practica or internships. Distance learners can often meet these requirements at approved sites in their communities.
Undergraduate accounting programs usually award bachelor of arts (BA) or bachelor of science (BS) degrees. Humanities-focused BA degrees may lead to more interdisciplinary careers, whereas BS degrees focus more on business and accounting management. Some BS programs offer additional credits that can contribute to the requirements needed to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
While degree type may influence their eventual career paths, students can often choose concentrations in areas like management, financial, forensic, and tax accounting. Concentrations can lead to specific employment opportunities and certifications after graduation.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Accounting Program?
This course examines professional standards and ethical frameworks for accountants. Coursework may look at common dilemmas in the field and how accountants can apply professional principles to manage difficult situations.
This course teaches students how to use financial information and planning to make better managerial decisions. Learners look at ways of applying these lessons and activity-based management tools to costing, budgeting, and estimating.
In this class, learners examine the processes and reasons for auditing financial statements. They also learn about auditors' legal and ethical responsibilities, how to plan an audit, and how to communicate its findings.
Students in this course learn about accounting for income taxes and how to handle taxes on corporate financial statements. They learn best practices for tax planning and gain an understanding of disclosures and compliance requirements.
In business law courses, students learn common legal terminology and processes. Covered topics may include employment, corporate, and sale and consumer protection laws.
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What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Accounting Program?
Admission requirements vary by school and program, but prospective students can still get a general idea of what to expect. For example, many schools require students to possess a high school diploma or its equivalent and a strong GPA. The following section details some other common requirements.
The typical undergraduate application requires prospective students to include their personal information and pay a processing fee. Applicants can submit their applications individually through a school website or apply to multiple schools through The Common Application, typically known as the Common App.
Students' college entrance exam scores can indicate their preparedness for higher education. While many schools have suspended test score requirements because of COVID-19, prospective accounting students may still need to submit ACT or SAT scores. When required, strong scores usually lead to higher acceptance rates.
Letters of Recommendation
Most colleges require up to three lettersof recommendation from former teachers or employers who can speak to the applicant's program readiness. These letters allow schools to gain professional insight into the student's past experiences and qualifications.
College application essays give prospective students room to discuss their personal journeys and reasons for applying to a program. Most applications request personal essays, which give the applicant freedom to write on any topic. However, some accounting programs may ask specific questions about the field.
Official transcripts highlight the applicant's prior studies. Transcripts may help schools identify a student's readiness, prerequisites, and outstanding courses. Transcripts can also lead to transfer credit.
What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Accounting Degree?
Graduates with bachelor's degrees in accounting can look forward to a promising job outlook. The BLS projects 7% growth for accountants and auditors between 2020 and 2030, roughly on par with the rate for all occupations.
Like many of the most popular college majors, accounting offers great career flexibility. In addition to accounting positions, graduates can pursue various business and finance careers. Possible industries include business management and government.
Financially, accounting graduates often perform well. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for accountants and auditors was $73,560 in May 2020. The highest 10% of earners in the field made more than $128,680.
See where a bachelor's degree in accounting can take you. Learn more about accounting careers.
Financial managers supervise the financial activities of an organization, looking for ways to improve financial health and meet goals. They may manage budgeting, planning, and legal requirements. They also use financial information to make decisions, manage risk, and seek future opportunities.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $134,180
Budget analysts work with organizations to develop and review budgets. They may help consolidate, check for compliance issues, optimize spending, and analyze proposals. They also break down funding requests, provide budget forecasts, and offer alternatives or adjustments.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $78,970
Financial analysts help people and organizations improve their financial decisions. They may look at investment opportunities, study spending habits, review performance indicators, or evaluate financial statements to gather information. They then present reports and plans for the future, along with risk assessments and financial strategies.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $83,660
These professionals specialize in estimating the costs of projects, including labor, materials, and time. They often work in specific industries and collaborate with engineers and manufacturing managers to create the most accurate estimates.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $66,610
Tax Examiners and Collectors
Tax examiners review tax returns and perform audits to determine the amount of taxes owed by individuals and organizations. They ensure tax returns follow the law and regulations, investigating any issues they identify.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $55,640
Accounting Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Many graduates with online bachelor's degrees in accounting continue their education for various reasons. Some wish to pursue CPA certification, which requires more credits than the typical bachelor's degree provides. These learners may look at online graduate certificates to complete requirements.
Others may choose to tackle a graduate degree, such as an online master's in forensic accounting or even an online doctoral degree in accounting. Accounting graduates might also move into a business-related program to pursue an online MBA or business certificate.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Accounting Programs
Is a bachelor's in accounting worth it?
A bachelor's degree in accounting can be very worthwhile for many students. These programs provide comprehensive training in accounting and foundational business, which gives graduates the flexibility to pursue various accounting and business careers.
According to the BLS, the outlook for the accounting field is strong and jobs are often lucrative for professionals with up-to-date training and skills. Online degree programs, with reduced travel and flexible scheduling, makes pursuing a bachelor's in accounting more accessible.
What can I do with a bachelor's in accounting?
With a bachelor's in accounting, graduates typically pursue accounting, tax, and auditing careers. However, there are more career options, including many business and financial occupations. Graduates can also pursue CPA certification, which often requires additional training.
Continuing education is a common pathway for graduates with bachelor's degrees in accounting. They can pursue master's degrees for management positions or doctoral degrees if they wish to teach or impact policy. Accounting graduates can qualify for advanced business degrees as well.
Are accounting majors in high demand?
Yes. The BLS projects the addition of more than 96,000 new accounting jobs between 2020 and 2030. Job-seekers with advanced training, certifications, and analytical and advisory skills should have access to many opportunities.
Since business and financial occupations often require financial expertise, accounting graduates may qualify for entry-level positions in these fields as well. The BLS projects the addition of over 750,800 new business and financial jobs between 2020 and 2030.
How much money can I make with a bachelor's in accounting?
Salaries vary considerably by occupation, location, and individual experience. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for accountants was $73,560 in May 2020. The top 10% in the field made over $128,680.
The median annual wage for business and financial occupations was $72,250 as of May 2020, according to the BLS. Some of the positions available to accounting graduates earned median annual wages even higher than that, including budget analysts at $78,970, financial examiners at $81,430, and financial analysts at $83,660.
What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in accounting?
The highest-paying position available to graduates with bachelor's degrees in accounting is likely financial manager. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median annual wage of $134,180 in May 2020, and the top 10% earned more than $208,000.
Financial managers earn some of the highest median annual wages among management occupations. The combination of financial and business skills keeps these professionals well-compensated and in high demand. Depending on the employer, accounting graduates may need experience and additional training to qualify for these positions.
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