Accounting is critical to most businesses, organizations, and agencies. This guide outlines various components of an undergraduate online accounting program, including the application process, coursework, and learning outcomes. It also explores the different career paths you can pursue after graduation. A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university is an excellent first step to a rewarding accounting career.
Top 10 Earning an Online Accounting Bachelor's Degree
|#1||Canisius College Buffalo, NY|
|#2||Northwood University-Michigan Midland, MI|
|#3||Hawaii Pacific University Honolulu, HI|
|#4||Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI|
|#5||Washington State University Pullman, WA|
|#6||Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ|
|#7||Kent State University at Kent Kent, OH|
|#8||Auburn University Auburn, AL|
|#9||University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL|
|#10||Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Saint Mary of the Woods, IN|
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Best Online Bachelor's in Accounting
- Accredited at the institutional level
- Private nonprofit or public school
- Minimum of 1 online bachelor's degree in subject area
- Cost & Financial Aid
- Number and variety of online program offerings
- Student-teacher ratios
- Graduation rates
- Placement and support services offered
- Academic/Career counseling services
- Employment services
- Loan default rates
Online bachelor's degree programs in accounting are designed to give students a strong foundation in finance and the laws and regulations associated with managing personal and organizational financial accounts. These programs provide more in-depth coursework in addition to entry-level accounting classes, including auditing and taxation principles and practices. Students become familiar with accounting software and are encouraged to develop valuable critical thinking skills. Start narrowing down the choices by checking out this list, which ranks the best online bachelor's in accounting programs for 2019.
Search Online Bachelor's in Accounting Programs
Pursuing an online bachelor's degree in accounting may be a more flexible option for students who work and have other commitments. Because accounting is a numbers-driven field consisting of financial records, spreadsheets, software and data, it lends itself well to online learning.
Students interact with professors and classmates with tools like Skype, Blackboard and Adobe Connect, while learning to work independently and in teams. Emailing and file sharing programs offer convenient ways to submit coursework and assignments.
If this sounds interesting, take the next step and search for the best online bachelor's in accounting programs using a variety of personalized criteria below.
Overview of Accounting Degrees
Accounting is the systematic practice of recording, presenting, and interpreting financial data. Its basic elements — assets, expenses, liabilities, and revenue — constitute the core of businesses and organizations. In a bachelor's in accounting program, students study fundamental accounting principles, such as accounts receivable and payable, bookkeeping, payroll, and taxes. An accounting bachelor's degree prepares students for entry-level jobs and provides a foundation for postgraduate study.
Organized and methodical individuals with business, mathematical, and financial aptitude make successful accountants. Because they handle sensitive data, accountants must be trustworthy, transparent, and committed to upholding the ethical standards of the profession.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10% increase in accounting jobs by 2026, affording accounting graduates ample career opportunities. Several accredited colleges and universities that offer on-campus undergraduate accounting programs also offer online accounting degrees.
The application process and admission standards vary by school. Most schools that offer on-campus and online accounting programs have similar admission requirements for both formats.
All schools require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED. Minimum accepted GPAs vary by institution, but most colleges consider applicants with at least a 2.5 GPA. Some schools accept students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirement on a conditional basis.
Some applicants must submit scores from at least one standardized college application test, such as the SAT. Most colleges and universities require applicants to submit at least one letter of recommendation and high school transcripts.
What Will I Learn?
An online accounting degree comprises 120 credits and typically takes four years of full-time study to complete. Students begin by enrolling in general education courses, like English, history, and science. General education units often comprise 60 credits. When students begin their junior year, they enroll in accounting-specific classes, such as accounting information systems, auditing principles, and ethics in accounting. In most programs, including online accounting degrees, major-specific courses comprise 40 credits. Students can typically take 20 elective credits.
The flexibility of an online accounting program often attracts nontraditional students, including mid-career professionals and accounting associate degree holders.
In this course, students explore the ethics and legal responsibilities of auditors. Students also study auditing procedures and standards. Students learn how to prepare audit working papers, examine financial statements, and verify financial and management assertions.
Federal Individual Taxation
In this course, students examine the common body of tax laws. Students study federal income tax laws and regulations for taxpayers, allowable deductions, capital-asset transactions, and the components of personal and business income. Taxation knowledge is especially helpful for accountants in private practice.
Government and Nonprofit Accounting
This course introduces students to accounting principles and practices pertaining to government and nonprofit entities. Students study the differences between financial reporting for local and state governments and businesses. They also study budgetary accounting and statement account operation for government agencies.
Information Systems for Accounting
Technological advances affect accounting processes and procedures. Students review various information systems, their usefulness and value to accounting practice, and how to apply technology to business and accounting processes.
Principles of Accounting
This course covers fundamental accounting principles with respect to for-profit organizations. Students study topics such as accrual-based accounting, balance sheets, and the accounting cycle. This course is usually required for all accounting majors. However, some schools waive the course requirement for students with demonstrable workplace knowledge.
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Accounting?
Accounting uses skills in business, finance, management, and technology. When researching the best online colleges for accounting, look for programs that emphasize these skills.
Graduates from a bachelor's program in accounting know how to apply accounting principles and procedures to solve a variety of operational and organizational problems. They can analyze, classify, and interpret financial information and communicate findings using appropriate media. Graduates can also identify, analyze, and mitigate organizational risks and apply ethical reasoning and principles to their accounting practice.
Potential Careers and Salaries
Competent accountants can find work in most industries. Each of the following positions uses the skills students learn from a bachelor's in accounting. Specializing in a role, such as a cost estimator or a financial adviser, may limit professional opportunities. However, the prospects for most accounting-related positions remain positive.
BROWSE BACHELOR'S IN ACCOUNTING CAREERS
Accountant or Auditor
Accountants and auditors determine the accuracy of financial data and records, assess an organization's financial operations to maximize efficiency and productivity, prepare financial reports, and ensure that taxes are paid on time.
$69,350 per year
Budget analysts review spending requests, monitor an organization's spending, estimate future financial needs, and prepare budget reports. They also review budget proposals for compliance with internal and external regulations. Budget analysts sometimes explore alternative funding sources.
$75,240 per year
Because their work entails in-depth knowledge of an industry or product, cost estimators often specialize in an area. By collecting and analyzing data, they estimate the cost of labor and materials and how long it might take to complete a project or manufacture a product.
$63,110 per year
Financial advisers assess the financial affairs and goals of clients. They educate clients about different financial instruments, such as trusts, IRAs, and securities, and advise them on which ones to use to achieve financial objectives.
$90,640 per year
Tax Examiner and Collector/Revenue Agent
Tax examiners and revenue agents determine how much in federal, state, and local taxes businesses and individuals must pay. They also conduct audits, review tax returns for accuracy and regulatory compliance, assess and collect overdue tax payments, and evaluate financial information.
$53,130 per year
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Accounting?
Postgraduate accounting studies can expand your career options and salary prospects. Many graduates of an on-campus or online bachelor's in accounting program pursue further education to become certified public accountants. However, a bachelor's degree in accounting provides ample opportunities for a rewarding career as well. Bachelor's degree holders can become bookkeepers, budget planners, and auditors, or pursue roles that incorporate all three components. A bachelor's degree in accounting particularly serves graduates seeking generalist positions.
Accreditation for Accounting Bachelor's Program
The Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee several accrediting agencies. Accreditation indicates that a school adheres to high academic standards. It also expands financial aid, education, and employment opportunities.
Federal financial aid is only granted to students at accredited schools. Additionally, most accredited institutions do not accept credits from schools without accreditation.
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is among the most prestigious accrediting bodies in business. The AACSB accredits accounting programs and schools separately from business schools. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) also accredits accounting programs. Both the ED and CHEA recognize the ACBSP.
Accounting Professional Organizations
Professional organizations provide excellent networking opportunities for accounting professionals to share the latest field developments and career tips. Members of professional accounting organizations also enjoy continuing education opportunities, discounts on professional resources, and employment opportunities.
An international organization with over 7,000 members, the AAA publishes 17 digital journals and a quarterly newsletter focused on accounting education. It maintains an active career center on its website, produces webinars, and provides links to professional development courses.
The largest professional association in accounting, the AICPA offers resources for certified professional accountants (CPAs) and bachelor's degree holders planning to take the CPA exam. Members can access practice exams, study guides, and a job board on the AICPA website.
The NSA boasts National Association of State Boards of Accountancy approval to provide continuing education units. Members can access exam preparation courses and accounting resources. The NSA Foundation also administers a scholarship program for accounting students.