dcsimg

Online Colleges for Accounting

   Page Contents

The world of business is built on numbers — a lot of numbers. Accountants are the professionals who crunch those numbers and use them to show performance, spot problems or make predictions. In short, accountants play an integral role in most companies and government agencies.

Students with a degree in accounting often find a wide range of jobs beyond basic bookkeeping and accounting. Many work as financial or budget analysts, financial advisers, cost estimators and auditors. Those who earn a certified public accountant (CPA) designation may even have additional opportunities for advancement.

There are many types of degrees and concentrations to consider when pursuing an education in the field of accounting. Online colleges in accounting, in particular, can provide a flexible and accessible way to attain a degree.

What follows is a look at the best online colleges for accounting (including schools that ranked high on affordability), an expert's view of this field of study, a look at the different degree types, information about earning a CPA certification, and career options for those with a degree in accounting.

Best Online Colleges for Accounting

The following are the top five schools in the country offering online accounting programs. These rankings are based on a careful methodology that looks at a variety of qualities, including graduation rate, admissions rate and tuition.

1

Harrison College-Indianapolis

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$14,400
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
24
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Harrison College has 13 campuses scattered across Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina. However, its online accounting program operates out of its downtown Indianapolis location. There are two other Indianapolis locations, but the downtown location is in the heart of the metropolitan area. It has convenient bus stops and on-campus childcare for any online students who need to travel to the brick-and-mortar college itself.

Students with a degree in accounting often find a wide range of jobs beyond basic bookkeeping and accounting. Many work as financial or budget analysts, financial advisers, cost estimators and auditors. Those who earn a certified public accountant (CPA) designation may even have additional opportunities for advancement.

The accounting program includes an internship that provides great hands-on experience and connects students with future employers. Also, the school's faculty members are experienced professionals.

At Harrison, just over 8 percent of the online degrees awarded in 2014 were in accounting. Its graduation rate of 50 percent was in the top third of the nearly 90 schools in this ranking. Harrison College-Indianapolis also tied for first in the accessibility category. This means Harrison College has one of the highest admission rates out of all the schools ranked.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
  • Indiana Board for Proprietary Education

Location:

550 East Washington Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Go to School Website 
GO
2

Herzing University-Madison

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$13,690
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
31
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Herzing University is a private, nonprofit college with a main campus in Madison, Wisconsin. The main Madison campus is a 40,000-square-foot, high-tech structure with labs and a glassed-in library. The school prides itself on connecting graduates with business leaders.

The online accounting and bookkeeping program is one of the 10 online degree programs offered by Herzing University. Master's, bachelor's and associate degree programs in accounting are available. About 6.7 percent of all the school’s degrees and certificates are awarded to accounting graduates.

Out of the 84 ranked accounting colleges, Herzing University-Madison tied for first place in accessibility. The school earned this high accessibility ranking because of its high admission rate.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Comission 
  • International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education

Location:

5218 East Terrance Driv 
Madison, Wisconsin 53718
Go to School Website 
GO
3

Florida Atlantic University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$3,995
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
7
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Florida Atlantic offers an online bachelor's of business administration degree program in accounting. The program is designed for third- and fourth-year students. Lower-division courses are not offered through this online program. However, students can take these courses in-person at the campus. Students can also transfer credits earned from another university to meet the program’s requirement for lower-division courses.

The online accounting classes at Florida Atlantic University are taught by the same faculty who teach at the Boca Raton campus. The classes also have the same rigor as the on-campus courses.

The school’s tuition ranked second out of 84 schools that offer an online accounting program. Its admissions rate of 66 percent makes it one of the more selective schools. Florida Atlantic only offers seven online degree programs in total. However, two of those programs focus on accounting.

Florida Atlantic University also operates six other Florida campuses, including ones in Dania Beach, Davie, Forth Lauderdale, Harbor Branch and Jupiter.

Accreditation:

  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Location:

777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, Florida 33431
Go to School Website 
GO
4

Davenport University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$13,113
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
50
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Davenport University has campuses all over Michigan, from Detroit to Kalamazoo and from Lansing to Traverse City. It has two campuses in Grand Rapids.

The online degree program in accounting is offered through the Donald W. Maine College of Business. This business department focuses on entrepreneurship. It also aims to fulfill Davenport's goal of helping graduates "make a living, make a life, and make a contribution."

Just over 90 percent of the students who apply to Davenport are admitted, making it the 18th most accessible school among the 84 ranked accounting schools. Davenport University offers five different online accounting programs. Students can earn an associate, a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in accounting. The school also offers online programs for a managerial accounting certificate and a forensic accounting certificate.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education

Location:

6191 Kraft Ave. SE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49512
Go to School Website 
GO
5

Post University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$11,424
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
45
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Post operates three different campuses in Connecticut. Its main campus is located about 40 minutes north of New Haven. The online degree programs offer accelerated, eight-week courses. The courses have small class sizes and are taught by industry leaders.

Post's Malcolm Baldrige School of Business offers five different online programs in accounting. This includes programs to earn an associate, a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in accounting. Post also offers accounting certificate programs. Online students at Post have complete access to academic advising services, career services and the university learning center.

Out of 84 ranked schools, Post earned a fifth place prominence ranking. This means the school awards a high ratio of accounting degrees out of all the degrees it awards.

Accreditation:

  • Connecticut Office of Financial and Academic Affairs for Higher Education
  • Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges

Location:

800 Country Club Road
Waterbury, Connecticut 06708
Go to School Website 
GO
Want to see additional online colleges for accounting?
Search our school directory to find the right program for you.

Interview with an Expert
All accounting students are eligible for the Employment Guarantee. Students
who apply and meet the requirements ... will be eligible for additional education
benefits if they are unable to obtain employment within six months of graduation.

Deb Kiss

Accounting and Finance Department Chair

Davenport University

Interview with an Expert
Deb Kiss

Deb Kiss

Accounting and Finance Department Chair

Davenport University

Q:  What qualities make Davenport's online accounting major an outstanding program?

A:  Our online accounting bachelor's degree was created to move seamlessly into our Masters of Accountancy. Students can specialize in Internal Auditing or Management Accounting within the accounting program. The Donald W. Maine College of Business also offers an additional degree in Accounting Fraud Investigation. Launched in 2014, all accounting students are eligible for the Employment Guarantee. Students who apply and meet the requirements of the Employment Guarantee program will be eligible for additional education benefits if they are unable to obtain employment within six months of graduation.

Q:  What support does Davenport offer its online student body?

A:  We offer a complete suite of student services that support our online students. These include:

  • academic and financial aid advising 
  • career services for resume review, internship opportunities and job placement 
  • dedicated online library services for research and writing assistance 
  • wellness counseling for stress and life challenges

Q:  How does the online accounting program differ from the on-campus program?

A:  Just like on-campus options, all programs at the Global Campus of Davenport University meet the learning outcomes and objectives of the curriculum. Programs in the Donald W. Maine College of Business and College of Technology all require an internship or project-based field experience learning option. Students will be advised of states where internships may be limited due to state authorization policies.

Accounting Degree Types

Here's a look at four different degree types for accounting. Included is information about the length of time it takes to complete them, the skill sets learned, and the types of jobs graduates can apply for.

Online Associate Degree in Accounting

An associate degree in accounting can typically be completed in two years. This degree provides a foundational overview of industry-relevant information, including the following skills:

  • Spreadsheet skills
  • Management fundamentals
  • Business law
  • Accounting

 An online associate degree in accounting prepares students for entry-level jobs in the field.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

An online bachelor’s degree in accounting traditionally takes four years to complete. The degree covers all the necessary skills for working as a professional in the field. This includes the following:

  • Financial accounting
  • Auditing
  • Management accounting
  • Taxation

After graduating with an online bachelor's degree in accounting, an individual can work as an accountant.  Some bachelor's programs provide enough credit hours for students to pursue professional accountant status by sitting for the CPA exam.

Online Master's Degree in Accounting

If you already have a bachelor's degree in any subject and wish to improve your marketability within the accounting field, this degree may be the right one for you. The program aims to prepare students to recognize and communicate accounting issues. It also aims to teach students sound accounting decisions for a wide variety of businesses and individuals.

In addition to a master's in accounting, it is possible to work toward a master's in taxation and accounting. This degree focuses on providing sound tax advice, as well as facilitating and managing the administration of tax laws.

A master’s degree in accounting generally takes two years to complete.

Online Ph.D. in Accounting

This degree prepares students for a career of scholarly work within the field of accounting. Typically, the first two years of this degree cover the methods for investigating financial or managerial accounting issues, as well as the behaviors of auditors and accountants. The last two years of the program are usually dedicated to the completion of a dissertation.

CPA Online Degree

CPA stands for certified public accountant, and it refers to a certification that prepares people to perform important accounting duties for individuals and businesses. These duties include tax preparation, financial planning, audit services and annual reports. In order to sit for the CPA exam, a student must have completed 150 hours of accounting coursework. These hours are met in the course of some bachelor's degree programs and most master's degree programs.

The 14-hour exam is administered via computer at secure testing locations. It is scored and maintained by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. A CPA is an industry-recognized marker of professionalism and trustworthiness within the field. As such, the certification is beneficial to individuals who want to increase the number of job opportunities available to them or advance their career within the company they work for. To maintain a CPA, an individual must take continuing professional development courses annually.

Cheap Accounting Courses Online

It is possible to attain a high-quality, online degree in accounting at a reasonable price tag if you look in the right places. Here is a list of schools that offer online accounting programs with tuition less than $5,000 per year as of 2014.

  • University of Massachusetts-Amherst
    The Amherst campus of this large university ranked No. 1 for affordability in our evaluation of 84 online colleges. The University of Massachusetts-Amherst offers an online bachelor's in accounting program.
  • Northern State University
    This public university in Aberdeen, South Dakota tied for third place in our affordability rankings. Northern State University offers an online bachelor's in professional accountancy program.
  • Dakota State University
    Another South Dakota university came in third place for its ability to provide affordable tuition prices. Dakota State University offers students an online program for a bachelor's in accounting.
  • Southern Polytechnic State University
    Southern Polytechnic State University came in No. 5 for affordability out of 84 ranked schools. This school recently merged with Kennesaw State University. It offers an online program for an accounting and finance certificate.
  • Dickinson State University
    Located in North Dakota, Dickinson State University ranks No. 6 for affordability. The school offers an online program for a bachelor's in accounting.

Accounting Career Outlook

The various careers related to accounting all have promising futures, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. Here are a few career options for students studying accounting.

Accountant or Auditor
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2015 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$75,280
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
498,000
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Bachelor's degree
These professionals prepare and examine financial records to ensure that the records are accurate and complete. In addition to calculating taxes, accountants and auditors make sure the taxes are paid on time. Accountants also keep a company's financial records organized. Many accountants and auditors are responsible for advising management on ways to save money, increase revenue or otherwise improve a company's operations. These professionals can advance their careers by earning their CPA certification, getting an advanced degree, or performing their work extremely well. Some accountants and auditors go on to become top executives or financial managers.
Budget Analyst
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2015 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$75,150
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
16,700
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Bachelor's degree
These professionals work with an organization's managers to create budget proposals and make recommendations for a budget. They can work for governments, universities and businesses. Analysts play a key role in helping managers determine funding levels for each segment of their group's budget. Once a budget is established, analysts track spending and adjust the budget as demands change. Budget analysts typically work in offices and start their careers with limited responsibilities. However, as they gain experience, they can advance to higher-paying roles with more responsibility.
Tax Examiner and Collector
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2015 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$57,280
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
27,800
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Bachelor's degree
Most of these professionals work for government revenue agencies. They ensure that citizens and businesses pay their full tax obligations. This involves auditing a company's or an individual's books or tax returns to spot insufficient payments. The job also involves collecting late tax payments or refunding overpayments. While tax examiners usually focus on individuals and small businesses, revenue agents work for federal and state tax-collection agencies. Revenue agents focus on complex returns for large businesses and corporations. Revenue officers, or collectors, meanwhile are charged with pursuing taxpayers who have underpaid their taxes.
Salary
Number of Jobs
Job Growth
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

Methodology and Sources

Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer at least one degree or certificate in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on six criteria, using the weights specified:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 20%
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded by the school in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 30%
  5.  Related subjects, based on the number of similar programs that the school offers at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%
  6. Variety of degree levels, based on the number of degree and certificate levels out of a possible nine that the school offers in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed January 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Sources

  1. Accountants and Auditors, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-6
  2. Accountants and Auditors, Similar Occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-8
  3. Accountants and Auditors, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm
  4. Accounting Program, Harrison College, http://harrison.edu/uploads/documents/InfoSheet-Accounting.pdf
  5. Accounting/Bookkeeping, Herzing College, https://www.herzing.edu/career-programs/business/accounting
  6. Accreditation and Memberships, http://catalog.harrison.edu/content.php?catoid=11&navoid=1442#Accreditation_and_Approvals
  7. Accreditation, Florida Atlantic University, http://business.fau.edu/centers/adams-center/about-the-adams-center/accreditations/index.aspx#.VqgGcVMrJUM
  8. Accreditation, Herzing College, https://www.herzing.edu/about/accreditation
  9. Accreditation, Post University, http://www.post.edu/why-post/accreditation-and-recognition
  10. American Institute of CPAs, http://www.aicpa.org/BECOMEACPA/GETTINGSTARTED/FREQUENTLYASKEDQUESTIONS/Pages/default.aspx
  11. Bachelor of Accountancy, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bachelor_of_Accountancy
  12. Budget Analysts,  Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/budget-analysts.htm
  13. Campus & Online, Herzing College, https://www.herzing.edu/locations
  14. Colorado Technical University, http://www.coloradotech.edu/degrees/associate/accounting
  15. Dakota State University, http://dsu.edu/academics/distance-education/online-degrees
  16. Davenport University Accreditations, Davenport University, http://www.davenport.edu/college-health/accreditation
  17. Davenport University Fact Sheet, Davenport University, http://www.davenport.edu/system/files/2015-05-05%20-%20Fact%20Sheet%20%281%29.pdf
  18. Dickinson State University, http://dsublue.com/online-degrees/
  19. Florida Atlantic University College of Business, Florida Atlantic University, http://business.fau.edu/undergraduate/current-students/meet-the-advisors/index.aspx#.VplmW_krLIU
  20. Kennesaw State University, http://learnonline.kennesaw.edu/student-resources/online-courses.php
  21. Master of Accountancy, Golden Gate University, http://www.ggu.edu/programs/accounting/master-of-accountancy
  22. Northern State University, http://www.northern.edu/Online/Pages/programs.aspx
  23. Rutgers Business School, http://www.business.rutgers.edu/phd/programs/accounting
  24. Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/tax-examiners-and-collectors-and-revenue-agents.htm
  25. UMassAmherst, https://www.isenberg.umass.edu/programs/depts/accounting
  26. Undergraduate Degrees, Post University, http://www.post.edu/degrees-and-programs/online-programs/undergraduate-degrees
  27. Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Certified_Public_Accountant_Examination
  28. W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University, https://wpcarey.asu.edu/masters-programs/accounting-taxation