Accelerated accounting degrees allow students to fast-track their way to valuable academic credentials. These programs feature rigorous yet flexible course schedules that can reduce typical graduation timelines by one academic year or more.
In 2023, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that average starting salaries for accountants and auditors rose by 13% from 2021-2022. The trend follows an ongoing nationwide shortage of accounting professionals, prompting employers to increase pay and attract the best available talent.
Given these factors, now is a great time to prepare for entry into a stable, in-demand accounting career. This guide explores accelerated accounting degrees and examines features shared by the best online accounting programs. It also profiles three top accelerated programs to help jump-start your research.
Popular Online Accounting Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Why Choose an Accelerated Bachelor's in Accounting?
Faster Workforce Entry
Accelerated accounting degrees reduce typical graduation timelines by compressing learning into shorter schedules. Students can enter the workforce more quickly and begin developing professional experience. Graduates of accelerated programs also expedite their way to accountants' higher starting salaries.
Many accelerated accounting programs use online learning formats. Compared to traditional campus-based classes, online learning offers greater scheduling flexibility. It also allows students to earn degrees without having to relocate. This extends the reach of more schools and programs, making them accessible to a wider base of learners.
Higher Earning Potential
A bachelor's degree can dramatically improve earning power. According to Payscale, the average base salary for a working professional with an associate degree in accounting reached $57,000 as of Sept. 2023, though this data reflects fewer than 50 respondents. Payscale reporting also reveals that individuals with a bachelor's degree in accounting made an average of $78,000 in base pay.
3 Schools for Fast Accounting Bachelor's
The following accelerated accounting degrees help students receive a quality accounting education on a shortened timeline:
California Baptist University
California Baptist University's accelerated bachelor of science in accounting leads to graduation in as little as 36 months. Its curriculum is purpose-built to deliver the knowledge and skills students need to succeed on the Uniform CPA Examination.
Coursework covers accounting, taxation, and auditing essentials to prepare students for corporate and managerial accounting careers. The program also supports learning paths leading to careers in the nonprofit and public sectors.
The program costs $613 per credit as of the 2023-2024 school year. This affordable program is also accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Concordia University, St. Paul
Concordia University, St. Paul (CSP) offers its accelerated bachelor of science in accounting through the school's CSP Global online learning platform. This 100% online pathway features a career-focused curriculum that prepares students to pursue multiple professional accounting designations.
More than half of the program's coursework focuses on targeted accounting topics. Students with existing credits from accredited institutions can transfer as many as 90 credits into the program. Even without transfer credits, learners can graduate in as little as 30 months.
CSP Global promotes itself as the most affordable private college in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. Regardless of location, students pay just $420 per credit as of the 2023-24 academic year.
Franklin University's 100% online bachelor of science in accounting delivers courses in six-week or 12-week formats. At just $398 per credit as of the 2023-24 school year, the program also delivers affordable professional accounting education.
Franklin University's program allows learners with existing college coursework to apply up to 94 credits toward the degree. On average, students in the program transfer 80 credits, allowing them to graduate in as little as 17 months.
The program also holds specialized accreditation from the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.
Is an Accelerated Accounting Degree Worth It?
Students in accelerated accounting degree programs have the potential to earn excellent returns on their educational investment. For example, consider the Franklin University program profiled above. Students who begin the program with the average number of transfer credits (80) pay only about $17,500 in total tuition fees.
Starting salaries for accountants and auditors soared to almost $61,000 in 2022, according to the WSJ. These factors make accelerated accounting degrees highly appealing from a cost-benefit standpoint.
Accounting professionals with bachelor's degrees also qualify for valuable career-boosting credentials. Popular examples include certified public accountant (CPA) and certified management accountant (CMA) designations.
According to Payscale data from Sept. 2023, CPAs command average base salaries of nearly $75,000 per year, with the potential to earn thousands more in bonuses and other compensation. Meanwhile, Payscale reported an average CMA salary of $100,000 per year in Sept. 2023.
Common Questions About Accounting Programs
What is the quickest way to get an accounting degree?
If you have previous college credits, the fastest way to get an accounting degree is to study in an accelerated program with generous transfer credit policies. Such programs can lead to graduation in as little as 17 months.
How fast can you finish an accounting degree?
The programs featured in this guide allow students to graduate in as little as 17 months. However, note that such short timelines are only available to students with transfer credits. Individuals without transfer credits usually need at least 3-4 years to complete a bachelor's degree.
Is a 2-year accounting degree worth it?
Two-year accounting degrees can offer a quick path to career entry. Four-year degrees open doors to more lucrative CPA and CMA career paths. Consider a bachelor's program if you want access to higher-paying career paths.
Is an accounting degree worth it in 2023?
In March 2023, the WSJ reported that a nationwide shortage of accountants was driving up entry-level pay. Starting salaries rose by 13% from 2021-2022. Now is an excellent time to enter the field of professional accounting.