What Can I Do with a Bachelors Degree in Accounting?

Accountants work with the finances of individuals, companies, nonprofits and governments. Although a bachelor's degree in accounting does not generally qualify graduates to become certified public accountants (CPAs), graduates may work in other areas, including personal accounting, government accounting and auditing.

Careers in Accounting with a Bachelor's Degree

At the bachelor's degree level, graduates may work at accounting firms, but advancement potential may be limited without a certified public accountant, certified management accountant or certified internal auditor designation. An accountant must have a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license to attest to audits of publicly traded companies, but accountants who do not file those reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission can legally work without a CPA designation.

Earning a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

Bachelor's programs are often 120 credits in length and usually require four years of full-time coursework; however, some schools combine the undergraduate accounting degree with a graduate certificate in accounting for a 5-year program that qualifies graduates for the Uniform CPA Exam.

Classes may include micro and macro economics, taxation, fraud examination, finance, statistics and courses in the separate types of accounting. Accounting degree programs may lead to a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Business Administration; less commonly, students may be able to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting.

Certified Public Accountant Qualifications

The CPA exam is uniform nationwide and is required for accountants to represent themselves as CPAs. The exam is prepared by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and states also set their own standards for qualifying to take the exam, A graduate with a bachelor's degree must take additional credits to meet the 150-credit minimum that 47 states and the District of Columbia have set for the CPA exam. Typically, the extra credits culminate in a master's degree or graduate certificate in accountancy.

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