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Illinois Accounting Schools

This overview of accounting schools in Illinois will help you find the information you need to compare schools and make an informed decision about what accounting degree is best for you. The public and private colleges and universities in Illinois offer a variety of accounting majors such as government accounting, internal auditing, and managerial accounting. You may also find that online accounting schools are a convenient and flexible alternative to traditional on-campus courses. Read on below to find out more information about program rankings, degree options, and post-graduation career opportunities in the field of accounting.

Quick Facts

  • 53 public colleges and universities offer an accounting degree program in Illinois.1
  • 34 private not-for-profit colleges and universities offer an accounting degree program in Illinois.1
  • 42 schools offer a certificate in accounting.*1
  • 39 schools offer an associate’s degree in accounting.*1
  • 43 schools offer a bachelor’s degree in accounting.*1
  • 23 schools offer a graduate degree in accounting.*1
  • 1 program ranked in US News Best Undergrad Accounting Programs 2018.2
  • 4 programs ranked in US News Best Graduate Accounting Programs 2018.3
  • 3 schools ranked in the Princeton Review Great Schools for Accounting Majors 2018.4
  • 5 schools ranked in Bloomberg Businessweek Best Undergraduate Business Schools 2016.5

*Public or private not-for-profit colleges and universities only.

Top-Ranked Accounting Schools in Illinois

US News Best Undergrad Accounting Programs 2018

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign #2

US News Best Graduate Accounting Programs 2018

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign #3
  • University of Chicago #4
  • Northwestern University #18 tie
  • Loyola University Chicago #28 tie

The Princeton Review Great Schools for Accounting Majors 2018

  • Depaul University
  • Illinois Wesleyan University
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Bloomberg Businessweek Best Undergraduate Business Schools 2016

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Gies College of Business) #37
  • Bradley University (Foster College of Business) #42
  • Loyola University Chicago (Quinlan School of Business) #63
  • Illinois State University (College of Business) #75
  • Northern Illinois University (College of Business) #79

AACSB-Accredited Accounting Programs in Illinois

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is a globally recognized organization that provides accreditation for undergraduate and graduate accounting programs. Only 186 accounting programs are currently accredited and have been found to meet the rigorous standards established by the AACSB.6 The following accounting programs in Illinois have been accredited by the AACSB:

  • Bradley University (Foster College of Business)
  • DePaul University (Richard H. Driehaus College of Business)
  • Eastern Illinois University (Lumpkin College of Business and Applied Sciences)
  • Illinois State University (College of Business)
  • Loyola University Chicago (Quinlan School of Business)
  • Northern Illinois University (College of Business)
  • Southern Illinois University Carbondale (College of Business)
  • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (School of Business)
  • University of Illinois at Chicago (College of Business Administration)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Gies College of Business)
  • Western Illinois University (College of Business and Technology)

Highest First-Time CPA Exam Pass Rate with a Bachelor’s Degree

Each year, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) releases a report including data on candidate performance on the Uniform CPA Exam.7 The following schools had the highest first-time CPA exam pass rates in Illinois in 2015 for candidates with a bachelor’s degree, with the overall average pass rate for Illinois being 55.6%:

  1. Northwestern University 91.7%
  2. Judson University 83.3%
  3. Trinity Christian College 80.0%
  4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 66.3%
  5. Bradley University 64.7%
  6. Dominican University 64.7%

Schools in Illinois with Accounting Degrees

Undergraduate Accounting Programs

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Accountancy. This accounting program is ranked as number two in the nation by US News and World Report.2 Students learn foundational business and accounting knowledge as well as practical skills in management accounting, accounting information systems, and taxation and auditing. This program also emphasizes interpersonal and communication skills necessary for leadership positions in organizations. The accounting curriculum includes courses such as Principles of Taxation, Decision Making for Accounting, and Auditing Standards and Practice, and students also take general education classes in the sciences and humanities.

Illinois Wesleyan University

Students at Illinois Wesleyan University can earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) with a major in accounting. This program prepares graduates to prepare, analyze, and utilize accounting information to make decisions for private companies, public accounting firms, government organizations, and not-for-profit groups. Core classes include Financial Management, Accounting Information Systems, Accounting and Auditing Processes, and Business Law, and students interested in work experience can complete an optional internship during their junior year. An optional Risk Management minor is also available for students interested in auditing or consulting work. Through careful planning, undergraduate students may meet the general 150-hour requirement for CPA licensure over the course of their bachelor’s degree, which typically takes an extra year at other universities.

Depaul University

At Depaul University, students can earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Accounting to learn how to analyze and communicate financial information. The classes emphasize the fundamentals of accounting, business, and finance, but students also gain real-world experience through coursework, case studies, and projects. Students learn critical thinking strategies as well as practical skills in forensic accounting, auditing, and accounting information systems. The career center supports professional development through interview coaching, resume workshops, and networking events. Depaul also offers a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program in accountancy, allowing students to earn both degrees and meet the 150 semester-hour CPA requirement in just five years. An optional concentration in internal audit is available.

Graduate Accounting Programs

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago offers a Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) that can be completed on a student’s own schedule. Many students come from an accounting or business academic background, while others are working professionals considering a career change. Classes are held during the evening as well as online, and this program prepares students to sit for the CPA examination. Students learn decision-making and leadership skills, as well as a foundational understanding of accounting practices. The coursework is a combination of individual study and group projects and discussions, and the program emphasizes collaboration among students. Classes include courses such as International Accounting, Forensic Accounting, and Entrepreneurship Law.

Illinois State University

At Illinois State University’s College of Business, students can earn a Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) in 30 semester hours. Students in the MSA program study foundational accounting theory and current accounting research. Core classes include Management Information Systems, Auditing Issues and Cases, and Financial Accounting Theory. The courses also focus on critical thinking skills and written and oral communication, and students learn through case studies and projects. Internship opportunities are available for students to network for future career possibilities. Most graduate students come from an accounting undergraduate academic background, and students with a non-accounting background may need to take additional prerequisites.

Online Accounting Programs

Southern Illinois University

Southern Illinois University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting (BSACC). In this program, the final two years of undergraduate accounting coursework is available completely online. If students have previous academic credit, roughly an associate’s degree or the first two years of a four-year degree in accounting or business, they can transfer credit hours to this program. The coursework takes about 6 semesters of study that can be finished in as little as 18 months. Classes such as Cost Accounting, Taxation, Accounting Systems Operations, and Auditing each run eight weeks, although students can choose how many classes they take at a time. This program prepares graduates to work in careers in public, management, and government accounting, as well as internal auditing.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also offers a fully online Master of Science in Accountancy (iMSA). This program is ideal for working professionals who need a flexible school option, and it can be completed online between 18 and 36 months. Even though it is online, the iMSA is a practical, hands-on program with video lectures about class material paired with live sessions and accounting practice. Students develop a strong foundation in the fundamentals of accounting and the practical skills necessary in the field. The core classes include subjects such as Accounting Analysis, Auditing, and Federal Taxation.

Illinois CPA Requirements

The Illinois Board of Examiners maintain that CPA applicants must have a bachelor’s degree at minimum and at least 150 semester hours of college credit from a school accredited by an organization recognized by the board of examiners. Students must have completed 30 semester hours of undergraduate or graduate level accounting courses and 24 semester hours in a different area of business. After fulfilling these requirements, individuals can take the Uniform CPA Examination. Once they have passed, aspiring CPAs must acquire a year of supervised work experience in accounting or a related field. This work experience must be documented and confirmed by a supervising CPA. Individuals can then apply for licensure to become a CPA in the state of Illinois. This licensure must be maintained through Continuing Professional Education (CPE) hours, where professionals keep up-to-date in the industry through courses and self-study.

Career Opportunities for Accounting Grads in Illinois

With the world-class city of Chicago and several major metropolitan areas within its borders, Illinois offers many opportunities for accounting grads. In addition to the options of starting a new accounting firm in one of Illinois’ many cities or seeking a position in accounting within Illinois’ state and local governments, accounting grads can choose to work for the major accounting firms headquartered in Illinois. Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, more commonly known as Baker Tilly, maintains an office in Chicago and an office in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook. Baker Tilly is one of the twenty largest US accounting firms and boasts an impressive client satisfaction rate. Illinois-based openings for accounting grads at Baker Tilly are frequent. Mowery & Schoenfeld is based in the Chicago suburb of Lincolnshire and is focused on providing accounting services to businesses. Due to its growth, Mowery & Schoenfeld is able to provide competitive benefits and seeks well-qualified accounting grads to join its team. Kessler Orlean Silver is a mid-size firm based in Chicago. Although many of its client businesses are located in Illinois, Kessler Orlean Silver has the resources to provide its clients with accounting services virtually anywhere. Kessler Orlean Silver prides itself on challenging its employees and recognizing their accomplishments and invites interested applicants to contact its office. Whether students choose to work at one of these firms or for any number of other CPA offices or businesses, there are many opportunities for those with an accounting degree.

Illinois Accounting Salary and Jobs by Metro Area

Metro Area Accountants & Auditors Employed Average Annual Salary
Bloomington 540 $71,800
Champaign-Urbana 420 $60,250
Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights 37,170 $79,790
Danville 120 $60,500
Rockford 710 $63,270
Springfield 980 $65,360

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of March 2018.8

Schools with Accounting Degree Programs in Illinois

Note: Student Reviews are based on the experiences of a few individuals and it is unlikely that you will have similar results. Please review the “Data, Student Reviews and Other Information” section in our Terms of Use and Disclaimers.

College of DuPage
425 22nd St
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
(630) 942-2800
http://www.cod.edu/

Student Review: “I found the campus convenient to access as it was near a major toll road. There were many parking lots, but they were often very full and it could take a long time to find a parking spot. The accounting professors were all older men and one woman who had real life experience in their fields, which is great. At a lot of universities, teaching assistants are used to teach classes, especially classes for underclassmen. The program was hard and was a considerable amount of work, but if you studied you would be okay. I was extremely pleased at how much I learned and how much more business savvy I became. Everything I learned is applicable in real life situations and I find that I better understand people when they talk about “business” in the office. It was refreshing to take a program where I actually felt like the material was applicable and useful.” -student at College of DuPage
stars-4

Loyola University
1032 W Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 274-3000
https://www.luc.edu/

Student Review: “This school, specifically the Quinlan School of Business, is considered to be prestigious in the city of Chicago. It is a fantastic school with some occasional downfalls. The accounting program is tough and one of the lengthiest programs at the school, and for good reason. There is a lot to learn and it is essential to be prepared for the CPA exam or to continue into a masters program. My major dislike is one I would also consider as one of my major likes about the program – the professors. My first accounting professor, who was the reason I transferred to accounting, was wonderful. She was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about accounting. She reflected that through her students. I had another professor who gave up his successful career in order to teach because it was his passion. He loved his students and never missed a day. A few other teachers however, were either well past their teaching years or they were dull and uninterested. In order for a student to be passionate, the teacher needs to be passionate. Other positives are the internships that can be procured while attending this school. There is a great career services center and the classes here will prepare you for any internship with many big companies, considering we are in Chicago.” -student at Loyola University
stars-4

Oakton Community College
7701 North Lincoln Avenue
Skokie, IL 60077
(847) 635-1600
https://www.oakton.edu/

Student Review: “I enjoyed my college experience. My professor for my summer school class was very approachable and you could tell she was fond of her job, so she took it seriously. My accounting professors throughout the year though, were pretty boring, so I felt like the class wasn’t being taken seriously. But overall, I loved the accounting program I was in.” -Student at Oakton Community College

stars-4

South Suburban College
15800 State St
South Holland, IL 60473
(708) 596-2000
https://www.ssc.edu/

Student Review: “So far I have taken only one accounting course and I plan to take several more to finish up my accounting associates degree. My experience with accounting at South Suburban has been an excellent one. The professor who I took financial accounting with is younger and does a great job of explaining difficult concepts such as LIFO and FIFO and reconciliation of accounts. The only challenge I have faced is purchasing the required materials for this class which include a pricey textbook and online code. With strategic enrollment, I am scheduled to graduate a year from now.” -Brittany V., student at South Suburban College
stars-4

University of Illinois at Chicago
1200 W Harrison St #3030,
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 996-5602
http://www.uic.edu/

Student Review: “All in all, the accounting program at UIC was very solid. I had a fantastic time but was also strapped for time on numerous occasions while juggling a secondary biology degree. However the classes/workload were very fair, and I learned a fair amount of knowledge while taking the course. However if I were to do it again I would have focused more time on my studies as opposed to hanging out with friends and such, since UIC has a very nice student body. I liked the professors at the school, however I disliked the amount of busy work that was assigned, and lack of real world applications. I’d give it a 4 out of 5 though, and would recommend it to others looking to go into the field.” -David H., student at University of Illinois at Chicago
stars-4

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
901 West Illinois St
Urbana, IL 61801
(217) 333-0302
http://illinois.edu/

Student Review: “Going to school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and getting a dual degree in both accounting and finance was a fantastic decision. Their accounting program is consistently ranked in a top few colleges in the nation, and the classes are very thorough, yet manageable. The accounting classes at UIUC take a very interesting approach, as most of the assignments are case-based. Students are given a case (anywhere from 1-50 pages) of background information on a company, and then a question(s) on that company. These cases are done about an equal amount in groups and on your own. This approach to learning provides students with a very realistic way to learn. Having worked a full-time job for a few months now, groups at my company approach client projects and issues in a similar way. Having dealt with approaching situations like this in college, I find myself feeling more comfortable and very grateful for all of the practice and experience I gained at UIUC.” -Dan W., student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
stars-5

Student Review: “My accounting experience at the University of Illinois was one of a kind. The facilities and curriculum are designed to treat you like a young professional and prepare you for the challenges you will face in your first years of accounting. The classes are focused on teaching you the principles of accounting and to think critically about the business. For example, there are mandatory classes that focus on control systems, business ethics, and sustainable business strategies. These classes helped me understand the operations of business as a whole, instead of just the bookkeeping work. The faculty is outstanding. Many of the professors have strong professional background prior to entering academia, which means you will get taught by people with real world experience. My last class at the university was taught by a doctoral student who previously worked as an audit partner for Deloitte. I know that my education at the University of Illinois has set me above other graduates in the same field of study. If you are thinking about attending this school, it has my full recommendation.” -student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
stars-5

References:
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. US News & World Report Best Undergraduate Accounting Programs: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/business-accounting
3. US News & World Report Best Accounting Programs: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/accounting-rankings
4. The Princeton Review. The Best 382 Colleges 2018 Edition. Penguin Random House, 2017.
5. Bloomberg Businessweek Best Undergraduate Business Schools 2016: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-best-undergrad-business-schools/
6. AACSB-Accredited Universities and Schools, Accounting: https://www.aacsb.edu/accreditation/accredited-members
7. The NASBA Candidate Performance Report, 2015 University Edition: https://nasbareport.com/
8. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2016 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Illinois: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_il.htm