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The best bachelor’s degrees in accounting

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    Why should I consider a bachelor’s in accounting?

    Are you planning to earn your bachelor’s degree in accounting? Accounting is an excellent option that opens the way to several career paths. If you’re detail oriented and enjoy working with numbers, this may be the right choice for you.

    A bachelor’s degree is the ideal program for those seeking employment in accounting. While some employers accept candidates with an associate degree, a bachelor’s gives you access to all entry-level positions in this field. It also prepares you for graduate programs that can increase your chances of moving into leadership roles in the future.

    With a bachelor’s in accounting, you can qualify for the following roles:

    Top 10 bachelor’s in accounting programs

    We have selected the 10 best undergraduate programs for accounting. All of them are available on campus and some offer a hybrid system. Only one is available entirely online.

    • University of Illinois

      University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
      University of Illinois

      The University of Illinois is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and has over 33,000 undergraduate students at its main campus. The institution offers over 120 online degrees, certificates and endorsements. The accounting department offers many internet-based courses, but the program is hybrid because it is not available entirely online.   The bachelor’s degree in accountancy requires at least 124 credit hours and full time students typically complete the program in 4 years. Coursework includes a business core plus specific accounting topics, as follows:  

      • Accounting measurement and reporting
      • Principles of taxation
      • Accounting institutions and regulation
      • Decision-making for accounting
      • Accounting control systems
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    • Drexel University

      Drexel University Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
      Drexel University

      Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). It has over 24,000 students and offers more than 150 online degrees and certificates. However, the bachelor’s in accounting is not available online. Allfirst year students in 2020-2021 received financial aid awards and gift-aid from Drexel.   Drexel’s bachelor’s in accounting program consists of a minimum of 180 quarter hours, equivalent to 120 semester hours. It is generally a 4-year program for full time students. In addition to the general education requirements and business coursework, accounting majors complete the following required classes:  

      • Principles of auditing
      • Advanced accounting
      • Financial reporting I, II, and III
      • Cost accounting
      • Federal income taxes
      • Advanced federal taxes  

      To graduate, Drexel students must pass 3 writing-intensive classes after their first year. Two of these should be in their major field. Students can choose to participate in up to 3 co-op work experiences during the degree program. Degree length increases to 5 years with multiple co-ops.

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    • Brigham Young University

      Brigham Young University Provo, Utah
      Brigham Young University

      Brigham Young University (BYU) is located in Provo, Utah and boasts over 33,000 students. It holds accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. To earn a bachelor’s degree at BYU, students need to earn 120 credit hours or more with 30 of those earned while residing on campus. Full-time students typically complete the program in 4 years. The university offers lower tuition for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.   The bachelor’s in accounting program has a limit of 275 students. Area-specific coursework amounts to 64 credit hours. Topics include:

      • Managerial finance
      • Organizational effectiveness
      • Global supply chain management
      • Ethics
      • Strategy and economics  

      Transfer students may receive credit for classes taken at other institutions. However, some specific courses must be taken at BYU. Upper-level accounting classes count toward the degree only if taken in the 5 years before graduation.

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    • Michigan State University

      Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan
      Michigan State University

      Michigan State University (MSU) has over 50,000 students. Its business school holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). MSU offers 80 degree programs online, but most of them are graduate degrees and certificates. The bachelor’s degree in accounting requires at least 120 credit hours of coursework, and full-time students usually finish it in 4 years. This program is not yet available online.   Undergraduate students complete university requirements that include writing, science, arts, humanities and social science. Accounting majors study the business core common to all students at MSU’s Broad College of Business. Accounting-specific coursework includes:  

      • Financial accounting
      • Auditing
      • Accounting for management decision making
      • Federal tax accounting
      • Accounting information systems

        Accounting majors need at least 9 credits of elective courses outside the college of business and departments of mathematics, statistics and probability. Students must also complete international courses or spend time abroad.

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    • Western Carolina University

      Western Carolina University Cullowhee, North Carolina
      Western Carolina University

      Western Carolina University (WCU) is based in Cullowhee, North Carolina. It has over 12,000 students, most of them undergraduates. The institution holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). WCU offers nearly 30 distance learning programs, most of them certificates or master’s level. The bachelor’s inaccounting is not currently available online.   Western Carolina’s bachelor’s in accounting requires a minimum of 120 credit hours including liberal arts, a business core, accounting and electives. The accounting courses include:  

      • Accounting information systems
      • Income taxation
      • Auditing
      • Cost accounting
      • Senior seminar
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    • Babson College

      Babson College Wellesley, Massachussets
      Babson College

      Babson College is located in Wellesley, Massachusetts. It strongly values entrepreneurship and holds accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education, AACSB, and EFMD Global. Enrollment is lower than many universities, with less than 4,000 students. Babson boasts students from over 80 countries around the world.   Babson offers two master’s programs that are 100% online. The bachelor’s in accounting is on campus only at this point. Some of the required courses in this 4-year program are:  

      • Financial planning and cost control
      • Accounting analytics
      • Financial reporting and analysis
      • Management planning and control
      • Auditing  

      Babson offers significant financial aid, meeting 100% of students’ demonstrated need during the first year. It also sees 99% of its graduates employed or in graduate school within 6 months of graduation.

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    • Carnegie Mellon University

      Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
      Carnegie Mellon University

      Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It holds a Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditation. Enrollment is over 14,500 and students represent more than 100 countries. CMU offers very few online programs. The most prominent is the master’s in business administration.   The bachelor’s program in accounting is a concentration within the 4-year undergraduate business administration degree and is not available online. Coursework in the accounting specialization includes:  

      • Corporate financial reporting
      • Managerial accounting
      • Financial statement analysis
      • Business language analytics
      • Modern banks: strategy and regulation
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    • Washington and Lee University

      Washington and Lee University Lexington, Virginia
      Washington and Lee University

      Founded in 1749, Washington and Lee University (W&L) in Lexington, Virginia is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the United States. It has nearly 2,000 undergraduate students and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Remote degree programs are not currently a focus at this university.   The 4-year bachelor’s in accounting program includes courses like:  

      • History through accounting
      • Anatomy of a fraud
      • Sustainability accounting
      • Auditing
      • Accounting information systems

        W & L graduates have the highest approval rate on the CPA exam, as 89.5% obtain a passing score. Also, 93% of students are employed or enrolled in graduate school 6 months after graduating.

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    • Creighton University

      Creighton University Omaha, Nebraska
      Creighton University

      Creighton University is located in Omaha, Nebraska. It offers 140 programs in 9 schools and colleges. Founded in 1878, it maintains a strong ties to Jesuit and Catholic values. Creighton holds a Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation and has over 8,000 students that come from more than 40 countries. The university offers more than 35 online programs, with more than 2,000 students participating in distance learning.   At Creighton, the undergraduate accounting program involves obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) with an accounting concentration. Students must complete 21 credit hours of coursework in accounting. The following courses are required:  

      • External financial reporting
      • Managerial accounting
      • Auditing
      • Accounting information systems
      • Federal tax accounting
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    • Temple University

      Temple University Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
      Temple University

      Temple University was founded in Philadelphia in 1884. It currently has approximately 40,000 students. The institution holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Temple offers multiple opportunities for online learning. Programs include undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as certificates.   Temple offers the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Accounting at its Fox School of Business. This program consists of 124 credit hours that can be completed online or on campus. The program includes the following coursework :  

      • Accounting information systems
      • Cost analysis and control
      • Auditing techniques
      • Data analytics in accounting
      • Taxation
      Read more

    Career outlook in the market

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for accountants and auditors will increase by 4% from 2019 to 2029. This figure falls within the average for all careers. Employment opportunities for these professionals are closely linked to the health of the U.S. economy. With increased economic growth comes a greater need for accountants. A bachelor’s degree in accounting qualifies you for many different positions. A 2019 report showed accounting jobs among those in highest demand. Mid sized and large companies reported difficulty finding and retaining qualified candidates for positions like public accountant, financial analyst and tax accountant.

    Salary growth and career options

    As with most careers, advancement opportunities exist and with more experience, you can expect increased pay. You will also be more likely to qualify for leadership positions that offer higher salaries.

    Payroll accountant

    Payroll accountants earn an average of $56,853 annually. In entry level positions, they earn an average is $41,346 annually. Professionals with 10-19 years of experience make approximately $59,000.

    Cost accountant

    The average salary for a cost accountant is $58,345. Entry level positions may pay closer to $44,000 and experienced professionals may earn up to $77,000. Additional qualifications, like certifications or a master’s degree, can increase your pay.

    Top executives

    Executives earn an average salary of $107,680 in high-profile positions that require strategic planning. They work to ensure that organizations meet their desired goals.

    Regardless of the focus of your entry level accounting position, increased education and experience can take you to higher levels of management. In leadership positions, you could earn an average salary of $104,690. In large corporations, many top executives have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA).

    Internal auditor

    This position has clearly defined average salary levels based on years of experience ranging from $60,122 for entry level to $88,583 for senior positions.

    Budget analyst

    These professionals earn yearly wages averaging $7,970. Entry-level positions may yield closer to $50,230 per year. Salaries for experienced budget analysts can be over $116,510.

    Cost estimator

    Cost estimators earn an average yearly salary of $66,610. Those with little experience may have income below $39,380. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the highest earning professionals may receive over $111,350.

    Accounting clerk

    These individuals collect and sort invoice checks and maintain reports and records. Accounting clerks earn an average of $16.96 per hour, but can make up to $21.50 with experience.

    Financial aid

    If you need financial assistance to pay for your degree, you can apply for federal loans and grants through the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Colleges and universities often provide scholarship opportunities. Many private organizations offer funding for accounting students as well. For example, you can apply for awards from: