Top School in Richmond for Becoming an Accountant

Students interested in becoming an accountant or a financial services professional in Richmond, VA, have only a few schools to choose from. Read about the top local schools' degree programs, tuition and ranking info to find the right one for you.

School and Ranking Information

About six schools within a 25-mile radius of the downtown Richmond area offer accounting or financial services programs. Based on rankings and program offerings, the top three schools in the Richmond area offering degree programs for students to become an accountant or financial services professional are Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Virginia Union University (VUU), and University of Richmond.

  • Winner: Virginia Commonwealth University is the only nationally ranked university among the three schools, and offers a bachelor's of science (B.S.) in accounting, a Master of Accountancy (M.Acc), a post-baccalaureate certificate in accounting (PBAcc), and a Ph.D. in Business with a concentration in accounting. VCU also offers a B.S. in business with three concentrations related to financing.
  • Runner-Up #1: Virginia Union University is located in downtown Richmond, as is VCU, and is a regionally recognized institution in the Southern U.S. The school offers two bachelor's degree programs for students interested in accounting or financial services.
  • Runner-Up #2: University of Richmond is six miles from downtown Richmond. Students may pursue an undergraduate major in accounting or economics, as well as concentrations in accounting or economics.

School Comparison Chart

Category Virginia Commonwealth University Virginia Union University University of Richmond
Ranking(s) 170th for national universities*, 117th for undergraduate business programs, nationwide* 61st for regional universities (South)* 28th for national liberal arts colleges*, 72nd for undergraduate business programs, nationwide*
Location Richmond, VA Richmond, VA University of Richmond, VA (6 miles from downtown Richmond)
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $9,886 (in-state, undergraduate), $23,913 (out-of-state, undergraduate); $11,521 (graduate, in-state), $21,585 (graduate, out-of-state)** $14,630 (undergraduate), $10,650 (graduate)** $44,210 (undergraduate), $37,350 (graduate)**
Accounting Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's and master's degrees; post-graduate certificates** Bachelor's degrees** Bachelor's and master's degrees**
Accounting Degrees (all levels) Awarded in 2011-2012 202** 6** 40**
Most Popular Accounting Program in 2011-2012 Bachelor's degree (131 awarded)** Bachelor's degree (6 awarded)** Bachelor's degree (39 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2005 Entering Class 53%** 29%** 83%**
Noteworthy School located in Richmond since 1779 VUU founded in 1865 to give newly emancipated slaves an opportunity for education, and one of the oldest African-American universities in the U.S. Only school in the U.S. to have a spider as a university mascot

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **NCES College Navigator

Winner: Virginia Commonwealth University

  • In 2012, VCU was ranked 16th among up-and-coming schools, according to U.S. News & World Report
  • VCU offers 223 certificate and degree programs, with 68 unique in the state
  • 94th for top value schools in 2013 by U.S. News & World Report

VCU's accounting academic programs are a 120-hour B.S. in accounting, a 51-hour PBAcc, a 10-course M.Acc with a choice from two paths, and a Ph.D. in Business with a concentration in accounting. Students interested in the B.S. degree take the business foundation curriculum during their first two years. The business school's accounting curriculum includes forensic accounting, management control systems, governmental and not-for-profit accounting, cost accounting and accounting systems. The PBAcc program is for students that already hold a baccalaureate degree and seek preparation for the state's uniform CPA exam. The program requires 17 courses, with nine courses possibly waived if taken with the bachelor's degree. The M.Acc program is open for students with accounting and non-accounting undergraduate degrees. Students with non-accounting education are requested to first complete the PBAcc. The curriculum includes completion of at least five graduate level accounting courses. VCU also offers a 120-hour B.S. in business, with concentrations in finance, financial planning, and finance/insurance and risk management.

Runner-Up #1: Virginia Union University

  • VUU had a 93% acceptance rate for 2012-2013, according to NCES
  • In 2011, accounting program was part of VUU's most popular major, business, management, marketing, and related support services, according to U.S. News & World Report
  • NCES statistics showed 96% of full-time beginning undergraduates received financial aid in 2011-2012

The Sydney Lewis School of Business (SLSB) at VUU offers a B.S. in accounting and B.S. in finance and banking. Either B.S. degree requires 120 hours, with a general education portion taking 52 hours and the SLSB core courses satisfying 38 hours. The remaining 30 hours are covered by major courses, restrictive electives, and one course each in statistics and business calculus. The accounting major courses include auditing, taxes, accounting, cost accounting, and computerized accounting systems. Accounting graduates learn to prepare financial statements, show ethical discernment and determine the cost of services or products. Accounting opportunities include positions in public accounting firms, private businesses, and the government.

The finance and banking B.S. degree program offers courses covering the Federal Reserve System, investment decision return and risk analysis, insight into government monetary creation and spending, and learning the role of an investment manager. Students are required to complete an internship. The finance and banking degree helps students pursue careers in corporate finance, banking, financial planning and consulting.

Runner-Up #2: University of Richmond

  • The school's career center helps students from their first day to focus interests, find internships, and land jobs.
  • Three-year cohort default rate is 11.2 percentage points lower than and 1/6th of the 13.4% national average
  • The overall student-faculty ratio is 7:1, according to NCES

The University of Richmond emphasizes small classes and individualized student relationships. The school claims its graduates pass the CPA exam on the first attempt. The accounting major consists of 21 units, with courses in financial accounting, cost accounting, auditing, federal taxes, and accounting information systems. Students also need to fulfill the school's pre-business and business core requirements. Full-time business school students already taking one of the five non-accounting concentrations may pursue the accounting concentration. This concentration requires students to take an intermediate financial accounting course and three to five other accounting courses. The school further offers a B.S. in economics and a concentration in economics. Accounting graduates can either pursue positions with international public accounting firms, major corporations, not-for-profit entities, or consider attending one of the graduate school programs.

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