Accountants solve complex problems for individuals, companies, public organizations, or even crime-solving agencies. An affordable accounting degree can be your pathway into this exciting career.
When talking about a bachelor's degree, what does "affordable" really mean? According to the National Council for Education Statistics (NCES), full-time students pay about $14,700 a year in tuition at four-year public institutions and $28,400 at private schools. By definition, then, cheap degrees cost less than $14,700 a year. Often, the most affordable degree programs are offered online by state universities.
Accounting degree programs help students build skills in math, finance, and business leadership, which can be valuable for a long time. Beyond that, they can lead to high-paying careers in accounting, auditing, or business leadership.
An MBA in accounting can also prepare you for a role as a financial analyst or internal auditor, and a Ph.D. can set you up to be a thought leader in the field.
Why Choose a Bachelor's in Accounting?
Strong Career Opportunities
Accounting is a field with a consistent demand for new professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) accountants and auditors earned a median salary of $78,000 per year in 2022. Accountants can work for public accounting firms, corporate finance, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations.
With a bachelor's degree in accounting, you can begin your career in an entry-level position and work your way up to more senior roles. Alternatively, you can tailor your studies to a particular area of accounting, such as forensic accounting, tax accounting, auditing, or managerial accounting. A bachelor's degree can also be the first step toward becoming licensed as a certified public accountant (CPA).
Accounting programs emphasize problem-solving and analytical skills, which are valuable not only in the accounting profession but also in many other business and management roles. Accountants must be detail-oriented, ensuring financial records are accurate and compliant with relevant regulations. This attention to detail can be an asset in any career.
Featured Online Accounting Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Colleges With Affordable Accounting Programs
We have compiled a list of institutions that offer this degree program ranked from least to most expensive. Use the table below to compare the average net price at for-profit and nonprofit status.
|School||Average Net Price Per Year||For-profit/Nonprofit|
|Western Governors University||$9,207||Private nonprofit|
|University of Arkansas Grantham||$9,546||Public|
|American Public University||$11,172||For-profit|
|American InterContinental University||$13,808||For-profit|
|Bryant & Stratton College||$14,506||Private nonprofit|
|Colorado State University||$14,826||Public|
|Pennsylvania State University||$19,551||Public|
|Johnson & Wales University||$20,242||Private nonprofit|
3 Schools for Affordable Accounting Degrees
Western Governors University
Western Governors University (WGU) offers a competency-based education in which students earn competency units in place of credit hours. Under this system, WGU students pay for a six-month term rather than by the credit hour.
Enrollees in the university's bachelor of science in accounting must demonstrate competence in 41 core areas (or courses). These include accounting, business, management, general education, human resources, and IT fundamentals. Students typically complete the program in three years or less.
WGU permits students to take exams whenever they feel ready and offers a generous, student-specific credit transfer policy. Students who complete the program in three years pay a total cost of $23,730.
University of Arkansas Grantham
Founded in 1951, the University of Arkansas Grantham joined the University of Arkansas (UA) system in 2021, thereby bringing UA benefits to its more than 70,000 students. The school offers its bachelor of science in accounting entirely online.
In this 120-credit program, students take 45 core credits, 42 general education credits, and 33 elective credits. Core courses include business law, corporate taxation, financial accounting, and auditing and assurance. The curriculum concludes with a capstone.
Students pay $295 per credit or even less if they qualify for reduced tuition. The entire degree takes 38 months to earn, but students who bring in transfer credits can reduce their time to graduation.
Bryant & Stratton College
A career-focused college that's been helping working adults since 1854, Bryant & Stratton College maintains eight physical campuses and an online program. Learners can earn a BBA in accounting online in any state except New York.
This degree requires 84 credits in the major alone. Key courses include cost accounting, advanced business law, corporate income tax, and organizational psychology. Upon graduation, students should be able to judge appropriate ethics in the profession, use generally accepted accounting principles, and understand the social and economic impacts of tax law.
Graduates can pursue accounting or business careers but will need more education to apply for a CPA license in any state.
Is Undergraduate School for Accounting Worth It?
A bachelor's degree in accounting can lead to higher paying positions, leadership roles, or opportunities to work as a CPA or chartered financial analyst.
In September 2023, Payscale reported that people with a master's in accounting earned an average of $119,000 per year. Compare those numbers to the average salary for people with a bachelor's degree in accounting — $82,000 a year.
Earning a graduate degree in accounting can set students up to become forensic accountants, corporate controllers, compliance risk managers, or chief financial officers, who Payscale found bring in an average of $146,810 as of August 2023. You can also use your degree to help meet the requirements to become licensed as a CPA.
Besides awarding your degree, your school can also serve as a professional networking hub. Where better to meet other growing professionals, faculty members, prominent speakers, or on-campus recruiters for companies and accounting firms?
Common Questions About Accounting Programs
Is it expensive to get an accounting degree?
According to NCES, the average net price for full-time students attending four-year public institutions stood at $14,700 in tuition annually. Students at private schools paid $28,400. However, schools' real-world costs vary widely based on several factors, and roughly half of the colleges and universities surveyed charged less than average.
Is a two-year accounting degree worth it?
A two-year accounting degree can help you get a job as an accounting assistant, bookkeeping clerk, or payroll clerk. If you hold a high school diploma or GED certificate, then an associate degree can be your ticket to these entry-level positions. However, a bachelor's degree can open the door to many more lucrative and engaging careers.
What is the easiest accounting degree to get?
The easiest degree depends on many factors unique to you, including time to graduation. An associate degree takes two years and is the accounting degree that takes the least time to earn. A bachelor's degree requires four years, and a master's usually demands a full two years of study.
How can I save money getting an accounting degree?
You might start by attending a low-cost community college before transferring to an in-state university for a bachelor's degree. Applying for scholarships, grants, and work-study programs can also help meet the cost of getting an accounting degree.