logo

Pennsylvania Accounting Schools

Pennsylvania is home to numerous quality colleges and universities, many of which offer one or more accounting programs. This overview of accounting schools in Pennsylvania will acquaint you with your options for pursuing an accounting degree or certificate in the state. In addition, online accounting schools can be a suitable and flexible alternative offering benefits like reduced travel or commuting time and options for self-directed learning.

Quick School Facts

  • 30 public colleges and universities offer an accounting degree program in Pennsylvania.
  • 90 private colleges and universities offer an accounting degree in Pennsylvania.
  • 38 schools offer a certificate in accounting.
  • 56 schools offer an associate’s degree in accounting.
  • 74 schools offer a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
  • Seven schools ranked in Businessweek’s Top Undergraduate Business Programs in 2013: University of Pennsylvania (5), Villanova University (15), Carnegie Mellon University (24), Pennsylvania State University (26), Lehigh University (35), University of Pittsburgh (82), St. Joseph’s University (92).
  • Five schools ranked in US News Best Business Schools in 2013 (graduate schools): University of Pennsylvania (3), Carnegie Mellon University (19), Pennsylvania State University-University Park (49), Temple University (58), University of Pittsburgh (61).

Continue reading to find out more about accounting schools in Pennsylvania and career options for accountants in the state.

AACSB Accredited Accounting Programs in Pennsylvania

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is a globally recognized organization that provides accreditation for undergraduate and graduate accounting programs. Only 180 accounting programs are currently accredited and have been found to meet the rigorous standards established by the AACSB. The following accounting programs in Pennsylvania have been accredited by the AACSB:

  • Lehigh University (College of Business and Economics)
  • Saint Joseph’s University (Erivan K. Haub School of Business)

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

The following schools had the highest first-time CPA exam pass rates in Pennsylvania in 2013 for candidates with a bachelor’s degree (schools with at least 20 candidates):

  1. Lehigh University 78.1%
  2. Villanova University
  3. Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
  4. University of Pittsburgh
  5. Bucknell University
  6. York College Pennsylvania

There were 61 schools in Pennsylvania that sent first-time candidates with a bachelor’s degree and the pass rate ranged from 0% to 78.1% (including schools with fewer than 20 candidates) according to the 2013 NASBA report. For data on all schools, see the 2013 NASBA Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Performance report provided by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

Pennsylvania Accounting Graduate Degree Programs

University of Pennsylvania

The Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania has master’s degrees in accounting offered in several specialized areas. Department advisors can help CPA-bound students to select the course load that will most adequately prepare them to take the exam. Instructors challenge students to use innovative methods of problem-solving and to foster an intimate knowledge of the most efficient ways to gather and interpret financial data. Students of the program can continue on into the school’s PhD program if they are in good academic standing.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal Business College offers students two options in earning their graduate degree in accounting. Students can opt for the Integrated MAcc program, which they can begin while working through their undergraduate courses. Alternatively, there is a one-year Master’s program for those students who do not have undergraduate degrees in accounting. In the latter case, there are still core requirements that must be met for acceptance.

Pennsylvania Accounting Undergraduate Degree Programs

Carnegie Mellon University

The esteemed Tepper School of Business at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University has an in-depth accounting focus option as part of its MBA program. It is aimed at giving its participants the diverse skill set they’ll need to be a valuable member of the business community. Top experts make up the department’s faculty, and students are exposed to a variety of hands-on lessons. By graduation time, students will have undergone a comprehensive education that will give them the tools they will need to be successful in today’s business and finance world. Local businesses often recruit Carnegie Mellon students for internships.

University of Pittsburgh

At the University of Pittsburgh, Business undergraduate students can major in accounting. The program is designed to give students the chance to work through complex scenarios and problems they might encounter in the business world. Allowing students to find solutions themselves by using teamwork and progressive thinking helps to prepare them to have the confidence and flexibility they will need to be viable in their field. Graduates of the program often find jobs in their field soon after completing their courses.

Career Opportunities for Accounting Grads in Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania is filled with job opportunities for accounting, tax, and finance experts. Several Fortune 500 companies are located in Pennsylvania including Comcast, Rite Aid, and Aramark. Government entities are in perpetual need of accounting-degree holders. Even in a changing economy, accountants and tax experts are always in high demand. Perhaps even more so than in stable times.

Top-Ranked Accounting Schools in Pennsylvania

Following is a list of the best-rated accounting schools in the state of Pennsylvania.

US News Best Undergrad Accounting Programs

  • University of Pennsylvania #4 (2012)
  • Pennsylvania State University – University Park #23

US News Best Accounting MBA Programs

  • University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) #3 (2012)
  • Lehigh University #21

Businessweek Top Undergrad Accounting Programs

  • Villanova University #24 (2012)
  • University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) #47
  • University of Pittsburgh (Katz) #64
  • Penn State University (Smeal) #72
  • St. Joseph’s University (Haub) #87
  • Duquesne University (Palumbo) #118
  • Carnegie Mellon University #123

CPA Requirements in Pennsylvania

CPA holders find even more opportunity for long-term careers within Pennsylvania’s accounting industry. Besides various opportunities in the corporate world, certified accountants can take advantage of a large demand for tax experts and go into business for themselves. There is a 150 credit hour requirement for exam candidates, and they must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. All applicants will need to have accumulated one year of experience in the field, totaling at least 1,600 hours. All work completed will have to be supervised or approved by a Certified Public Accountant.

Pennsylvania Accounting Salary and Jobs by Metro Area

Metro Area Accountants & Auditors Employed Average Annual Salary
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton 2,880 $68,170
Erie 870 $59,130
Harrisburg-Carlisle 3,400 $68,090
Lancaster 1,470 $61,700
Newark-Union 10,100 $87,120
Philadelphia 21,220 $78,700

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2011.

Schools with Accounting Degree Programs in Pennsylvania

Drexel University
3141 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 895-2000
http://drexel.edu/

Student Review: “The Drexel University LeBow College of Business accounting program is one I’ve found challenging so far. I’m currently a junior and have taken four accounting classes so far. I found the professors to be very enlightened and helpful. They are always willing to meet during office hours to help with a problem and answer questions. I’ve found that even if you can’t make their office hours they will make time to meet with you. Drexel also has what they call a co-op. During co-op you work for a company in your field of study for two terms to get a feel of what it’s like to work in your field. I found this experience very rewarding and extremely helpful in my education. I feel like I have an advantage over others when I graduate because I’ve gotten real world accounting experience. What I disliked is that some of the general business professors could be hard to understand and weren’t engaging when teaching the material. It was sometimes hard to focus and I think the quality of those general required courses could be improved with better professors.” -Student at Drexel University

East Stroudsburg University
200 Prospect St
East Stroudsburg, PA 18301
(570) 422-3211
https://www.esu.edu/

Student Review: “The accounting program at ESU was not exactly what I expected. I was disappointed with the teachers in the accounting classes. My first accounting class was the generic financial accounting and it was only available as an online course. The professor did try to offer hours where students could see her, but it wasn’t easy with everything else going on with school and work. The tests and quizzes were nearly impossible to pass, not because of the content, but because of the format of the online classroom. If your syntax was off, you got the problem completely wrong. My next class was managerial accounting, and that was my first time meeting a real CPA and having a teacher in front of me for accounting. This made a huge difference. My initial distaste for accounting was replaced with a love for the challenge once I was given the opportunity to be taught in a classroom.” -Jeffery White, student at East Stroudsburg University
stars-3

Grove City College
100 Campus Dr
Grove City, PA 16127
(724) 458-2000
http://www.gcc.edu/

“The Grove City accounting department is one of the stronger departments in the college. I really enjoyed all of my accounting classes, with my personal favorite being the basic Accounting class that they offered (101). I personally never got a chance to participate in an internship, however the Career Services Office did help me get my first job following graduation. They also prepped me for grad school, which I hope to attend in the next couple years. My professors were all extremely helpful, and I really enjoyed getting to know them.” -Joshua B., student at Grove City College

Indiana University of Pennsylvania
1011 South Dr
Indiana, PA 15705
(724) 357-2100
https://www.iup.edu/

Student Review: “The accounting program at IUP seemed to me to be as good a program as any. IUP is a generally low cost state school with a well established business program. A large portion of the staff do not have English as their native language, so following them could be trouble at times. They also had many programs to help prepare me for my future career (including a wonderful Business Honors Program which I was a part of). The teachers, when approached, were very eager to help me with any problems or questions I had and the work was reasonable. I would highly recommend it to any person interested.” -Elijah H., student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania
stars-5

Pennsylvania State University
University Park
State College, PA 16801
(814) 865-4700
http://www.psu.edu/this-is-penn-state

Student Review: “Penn State is an amazing University to attend. I was so happy to get accepted and couldn’t wait to make my way to Happy Valley. The first two years of pursuing my accounting degree, I basically took general business classes to have a basic understanding of many aspects of business. These classes were large and you obviously can’t get very intimate with your professors. Once I got accepted into the accounting department in the Smeal College of Business, I began taking classes geared toward my division of accounting. I had a goal to become a CPA and to find a job auditing in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Penn State has really helped me achieve that because that is exactly what I’m doing. I worked extremely hard, even taking summer classes every summer to complete Penn State’s program. I have recently taken one of the exams toward becoming a CPA, and have a full-time position at an accounting firm. I could not have been happier with my choice of attending Penn State.” -Student at Penn Statestars-5

Penn State Harrisburg
777 W Harrisburg Pike
Middletown, PA 17057
(717) 948-6250
http://harrisburg.psu.edu/

Student Review: “I attend The Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg campus for accounting. I really enjoy the experience that I have gone through while at the university and feel that the program really prepared me for life in “the real world.” I not only learned a great deal about accounting, but I learned a plethora of different subjects that made my learning experience much better. The different curriculum that I had to take at the university made me a very well rounded student and person overall. I really liked all of my professors and the various class types that were offered. The only thing that I might change about the program would be offering more online classes and also encouraging professors to stick to the online program instead of using other websites that require students to shell out an extra $100 a semester on top of the books.” -Cierra R., student at Penn State Harrisburg

Seton Hill University
One Seton Hill Dr
Greensburg, Pa 15601
(800) 826-6234
https://www.setonhill.edu/

Student Review: “The accounting program at Seton Hill is excellent. I came to this school knowing little about the business field, so when starting the accounting courses, I was very nervous. Throughout taking these courses I was learning more and more and getting more comfortable with the classes. For my accounting courses we used the Accounting Principles Jerry J. Weygandt 9th edition book. This book was excellent and broke down the accounting process very well. I would recommend this series of books to other colleges and for beginners in accounting. We also had to complete a Capstone project. A Capstone is something that is completed every semester for accounting and it is really just a way of making sure that you have been learning material throughout the course. We then keep the Capstone and use it for our portfolio.” -Kiyah C., student at Seton Hill University

Slippery Rock University
1 Morrow Way
Slippery Rock, PA 16057
(724) 738-9000
http://www.sru.edu/

Student Review: “My experience in accounting at Slippery Rock University was probably about average. The curriculum was easy if you worked hard enough. The only thing that made some of the classes difficult was not the material discussed, but rather the professors that taught the courses. Many were not able to tell the student what they were looking for, which led to some hard assignments due to unclear instructions. The university did however bring in several speakers that were higher up in the subject. All of the speakers had a CPA or an MBA and were very knowledgeable in their respective fields. This major could be improved if the quality of the professors were improved.” -Student at Slippery Rock University

stars-3

Temple University
1801 N Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19122
(215) 204-7000
https://www.temple.edu/

Student Review: “Temple University’s accounting program in the Fox School of Business is among the best in the nation. The introductory courses are hands-on; the professors and TAs are very helpful and want to make sure the students understand the basics. The managerial and cost accounting classes are challenging but extremely rewarding. The program is one of the larger departments within the business school, so there are an adequate number of faculty members available to answer questions or provide career advice. In addition the core curriculum, students are encouraged to join a Student-Professional Organization, which helps hone skills and creates networking opportunities by inviting industry professionals to speak to students throughout the semester. These sessions often pave the way for internships or full-time jobs. I do wish the program would teach more computer skills, such as spreadsheets and databases. But overall, the accounting program is top-notch.” -Greg S., student at Temple University

stars-5

University of Pittsburgh
4200 Fifth Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 624-4141
http://www.pitt.edu/

Student Review: “As an accounting major at the University of Pittsburgh, I am generally dissatisfied by the accounting program at my university. Disregarding the general redundancy of the business school at Pitt, the accounting program does not focus on applying the concepts in class to real world scenarios. The school itself has an extremely lackluster internship and job connection program, and the accounting department seems to be filled with teachers who are uninterested in teaching. I have had some excellent teachers; unfortunately, there have also been teachers who have failed to help me further my studies, but have rather set me back through their awful teaching methods. I enjoy studying accounting, but at times, the University of Pittsburgh’s program leaves much to be desired and has had me questioning my decision to attend the school for accounting in the first place.” -Student at University of Pittsburgh
stars-3


References:
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Businessweek Top Business School Rankings Undergraduate Business School Programs: https://www.bloomberg.com/businessweek/graphics/2013-bs-undergrad-rankings/rankings2.html
3. US News & World Report Best Graduate Business Schools: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/mba-rankings/