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Accountant Universities, Colleges and Schools in the U.S.

Prospective accountants can look at the program structure, specializations, faculty qualifications and advanced degree options when selecting a university program in accounting. Universities offer both undergraduate and graduate programs in accounting.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the minimum educational requirement for a job as an accountant is usually a bachelor's degree. However, there are also many schools that offer master's and doctoral degree programs in this field.

Top 10 Accounting Schools

In 2016, U.S. News & World Report listed the best undergraduate schools in accounting and business. Included in the table below are the list's top ten programs and the 2015-2016 tuition rates.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)*
University of Texas - Austin Austin, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $9,806 in-state, $34,676 out-of-state
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $15,054 in-state, $30,214 out-of-state
Brigham Young University - Provo Provo, Utah 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $5,150
University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $47,929
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,536
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $50,277
Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington, ID 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $10,388 in-state, $33,741 out-of-state
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $13,856 in-state, $43,476 out-of-state
New York University New York, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $47,750
St. Joseph's University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $42,180

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Accounting with Computers, General
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  • Managerial Accounting
  • Taxation, General

College Selection Criteria

When choosing between accounting programs, it is important to consider the following:

  • Students looking into public accounting should make sure a school has a strong tax accounting program that meets the state's educational requirement for certification as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), which is often 25-30 credits more than a typical bachelor's degree curriculum requires.
  • Depending on their academic interests, students may choose to major specifically in accounting or choose the subject as a concentration within a broader business administration program.
  • When considering research-focused doctoral degree programs, prospective students should make sure that there are faculty members at the school with whom they share research interests, as they may act as dissertation advisors.
  • When considering a program that includes an internship, students should make sure that they will have the chance to work in the type of organization where they might someday like to get a job, such as a public accounting firm.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

At the undergraduate level, aspiring accountants can pursue a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Accounting or choose the subject as an area of concentration within a finance major or a Bachelor of Business (BBA) degree. These programs provide a comprehensive overview of the field, covering many types of accounting, including cost accounting, government accounting, nonprofit accounting and income tax accounting. Students also take foundational business courses and fulfill general education requirements. Because students need to take courses beyond a bachelor's degree in order to become eligible for the CPA exam, many schools offer accelerated BS/MS programs for aspiring CPAs.

Master's Degree Programs

There are a variety of master's degree options for aspiring accountants. Students may choose a Master of Accounting (MAcc) degree, an MBA with a concentration in accounting or a Master of Science (MS) in Accounting. These programs provide advanced coursework in the field, and graduates are usually prepared for the CPA exam. In order to accommodate students with different scheduling needs, these programs are commonly available in full-time, part-time and online formats.

Doctoral Degree Programs

A doctoral degree is not necessary for work as an accountant, but PhD programs in accounting are available for individuals who want to conduct advanced research in the field. Students begin by taking two years of graduate-level accounting coursework in economics and finance before beginning work on a doctoral dissertation. Depending on their academic interests, students may choose to focus their studies on either empirical or analytical research in accounting. Most graduates find work as university professors after they graduate.

Most 4-year schools, public and private, offer business or accounting programs that provide relevant training for future accounts. Prospective students should consider CPA exam preparation or research opportunities when choosing between programs, depending on their career goals.

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