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Learn about Earning an Accounting Degree

Accounting Degree Today is an all-inclusive directory for anyone interested in pursuing an accounting degree. In order to become an accountant, it’s crucial to find an accounting program that fits your individual needs and goals. Accounting Degree Today not only provides updated information on accounting programs throughout the US, but we also list student reviews and national school rankings to help aspiring students make an informed decision. Additionally, we list updated salary information, career descriptions, and ten-year employment estimations along with advice from professionals who currently work in or have extensive experience in the field of accounting. For new graduates or experienced accountants looking to move their career forward, our accounting job board provides employment postings for accounting jobs in your area.

What is accounting?

Essentially, accounting is a system used to track the activities of a business. This system allows managers to understand where money is being spent and how those expenditures work with the income of the business to affect its performance as a whole. It also helps managers make decisions that will lead to profitability and ensure that the business will continue to function with enough cash available. Another important element of accounting is understanding the US tax code and helping business owners and managers to understand the tax implications of their decisions.

Why should I get an accounting degree?

Obtaining an accounting degree is an excellent start to a prosperous career in the business field. Because accounting is considered to be the language of all business, it is a valuable skill for anyone wishing to work in the field. A degree in accounting can offer many possibilities in today’s job market, and it can lead to jobs in a variety of different industries. People who graduate from accounting programs might get jobs in consulting or financial firms, tax departments, or manufacturing companies. Besides having many industries to choose from, people with a degree in accounting are also in high demand, as all businesses—public, private, and non-profit—have a need for accountants to evaluate how they are doing financially. An accounting degree can also be a springboard for becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accounting can be a lucrative career as well, with accountants earning a median annual salary of $63,550 in 2012.1 The job outlook for accountants is also positive, with a 13% growth rate expected through 2022.1

What kind of people choose to major in accounting?

The field of accounting typically attracts people who have strong math skills and who find it satisfying to balance budgets or to make numbers work. Potential accounting majors should be highly organized, detail-oriented, and driven, and enjoy helping businesses and individuals thrive and grow. They should have sharp analytical and problem-solving skills, so that they can suggest ways for businesses to improve and run more efficiently. People who pursue a degree in accounting should also possess excellent communication skills, enabling them to listen to and understand clients or managers and discuss their findings clearly with a variety of audiences.

Types of Accounting Degree Programs

The field of accounting includes several different specialties, and schools offer programs that focus on each of those special areas of accounting. Choosing the right degree program for you involves understanding your goals and conducting research on the options available. There are dozens of types of accounting degree programs ranging from general accounting to very specialized. For example, a bachelor’s of business administration with a concentration in accounting will provide a broad overview of accounting principles while a master’s of accounting with a tax specialization will concentrate primarily on the area of taxation. Types of accounting degree programs include:

Levels of Accounting Degrees

Like many other fields, the field of accounting includes ascending levels of degrees that range from associate-level to doctorate-level, with the curriculum becoming more specialized at the higher levels. There are also accounting programs that award an Accounting Certificate to graduates of other fields who wish to gain technical accounting skills to use in their career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, advanced degrees in the field of accounting matter; in fact, graduates of a master’s in accounting program may have an advantage over candidates with lesser degrees when applying for a job. For more information on accounting degree levels, read more on our degrees pages:

Accounting Degree Requirements and Prerequisites

While the requirements to enter an accounting degree program vary by school, a high school diploma or a GED is typically the minimum requirement to be admitted into an accounting program. Each school will also have minimum requirements based on standardized test (ACT or SAT) scores, high school grade point average, and the overall strength of the college application (including the statement of purpose and letters of recommendation). Some prerequisite courses are also usually required, such as English, math, social science, and communication. Bachelor’s programs will typically be more selective than associate’s programs, but in order to become an accountant, a bachelor’s degree in accounting is usually the minimum requirement, whereas bookkeepers and accounting clerks typically start with an associate degree in accounting. To enter a master’s level accounting program, prospective students must possess a four-year bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA requirement, and have passed the graduate management admission test (GMAT) exam.

Typical Coursework

The coursework required for accounting programs varies significantly based on the school or program. Undergraduate accounting coursework for a bachelor’s degree in accounting typically takes around four years to complete, while coursework for an associate degree in accounting takes closer to two years. Check with each school to learn more about the accounting coursework offered there.

Here are some sample accounting courses that you may find as part of an accounting curriculum:

  • Principles of Accounting
  • Professional Responsibilities in Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Accounting Communication
  • Ethics for Professional Accounting
  • Individual Income Tax
  • Management Strategy
  • Tax Research Seminar
  • International Taxation
  • Business Statistics with Computer Applications

Online Accounting Degree Programs Vs. Traditional Degree Programs

Choosing the school that is best for you includes determining which format (traditional or online) will work best for your lifestyle and educational needs. Traditional (on-campus) programs are the most common offered by colleges and universities with an accounting program. Online accounting degree programs offer an alternative method of earning an accounting degree, and these have recently become more prevalent due to improvements in technology. Online programs can now provide a rich learning environment with features like videoconferencing (VC), discussion forums, and online assessments that work together to create an online virtual classroom that can be accessed from anywhere. For students who are already working full-time or who do not live close to a traditional campus, online degree programs can provide the convenience and flexibility that make pursuing a degree more feasible. We recommend reading student reviews, talking to former students, and requesting information from schools of interest to help you decide which format will be the best match for you.

Research Your State

Learn about accounting degree programs in your state, local employment opportunities, salary by metro area, and top-ranked accounting schools in your state according to US News and Businessweek. Click on your state on the map to find school information for your geographic location.

Top 50 Ranked Accounting Blogs

We ranked the top accounting blogs based on website popularity metrics such as website authority, number of linking sites, and Twitter followers. These accounting blogs provide insights into what it is like to work in the accounting field and discuss current topics including tax law changes, industry trends, and accounting technology.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accountants and Auditors: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm