Bachelor of Science (BS): Professional Accounting Degree Overview

Professional accountancy degrees are offered as Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Science in Business Administration programs; this specialty area also can be found as a concentration within a regular accounting program.

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Essential Information

The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Professional Accounting and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) programs prepare graduates for advanced licensure or certification in accounting. Unlike traditional bachelor's degree programs, these programs can take five years to complete because most states require 150 credit hours of study to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examination. Not all professional accounting programs meet this credit hour requirement. For admission, applicants need a high school diploma or GED. Some schools require completion of specific college prep courses in high school or request applicants take placement exams.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Accounting with Computers, General
  • Auditing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Financial Accounting
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Taxation, General

Bachelor of Science in Professional Accounting

Programs typically include broad academic courses in addition to core accounting subjects. The program incorporates decision-making, management theory and critical thinking models into the curriculum to help students develop the necessary skills needed to work in business. Typical course subjects include the following:

  • Financial, managerial, cost and income tax accounting
  • Business law and ethics, and international trade and finance
  • Organization and management
  • Marketing and QuickBooks
  • Micro and macroeconomics
  • Microsoft Excel and Access

Popular Career Options

The accounting program provides graduates with the qualifications employers seek when hiring at public accounting firms, multi-national corporations and government agencies. The following are career titles in accounting:

  • Certified Public Accountant
  • Auditor
  • Forensic accountant
  • Financial analyst
  • Cost accountant

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a faster than average employment growth rate of 11% was projected for accountants and auditors from 2014 to 2024, with the best prospects expected for CPAs (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported a median annual pay of $67,190 for accountants and auditors in May 2015, and PayScale.com reported in January of 2016 a median annual salary of $60,977 for CPAs. Financial analysts are expected to have a faster than average job increase of 12% over the 2014 to 2024 decade, although there will be competition for these jobs. The BLS reported a May 2015 median wage of $80,310 for financial analysts.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Graduates may pursue an advanced degree, such as Master of Accountancy (MAcc) or Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Accounting. Beyond a standard 120 credit hour bachelor's degree program, a 30 credit hour master's degree program in accounting is a common method of preparation for the CPA examination. Ph.D. programs in accounting and business administration prepare students for work in academia and research. Certification for accountants is voluntary, but may be preferred among prospective employers. In order to interact with the Securities Exchange Commission, an accountant must be a CPA. Other than the CPA designation, graduates of these programs can also sit for the Certified Management Accountant designation, which is available through the Institute of Management Accountants.

A BS in Professional Accounting or a BSBA degree programs offers specialty training that prepares students for CPA certification. These five-year programs teach students what they need to know about financial, cost and managerial accounting along with taxation and auditing.

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