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Schools for Financial Accounting: How to Choose

Aspiring accountants interested in preparing financial statements can find many programs to suit their needs. Classroom and online courses are available for students at all levels of accounting proficiency. Programs in financial accounting are typically offered by 4-year colleges and universities.

Many schools offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting. While most of these programs are more broad than financial accounting, students may be able to choose financial accounting electives or concentrations.

Top 10 Accounting Schools

The following schools were listed in U.S. News & World Report as the best ten undergraduate schools in business and accounting for 2016. The table below lists the top programs as well as their 2015-2016 undergraduate tuitions.

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

College Selection Criteria

Students may want to keep these considerations in mind:

  • Most accounting programs teach both financial and managerial accounting. Students are often able to combine accounting and finance programs, specialize in financial accounting, or otherwise select classes that put them on a financial accounting track.
  • Students who want to become certified public accountants (CPAs) usually need a combination of accounting courses and work experience. Educational requirements for CPAs vary by state.
  • Associate's and bachelor's programs concentrate on finance but also include general education classes in the liberal arts, humanities and sciences. Master's programs are more focused, and require prior accounting competency.
  • MBA programs accept students with degrees in fields outside of accounting, though they may require preparatory coursework for students without a business degree.

Associate's Degree in Accounting

An associate's degree usually offers financial accounting courses or specializations. Degree candidates take general education courses in natural and social sciences, English and mathematics, and they may be able to take some or all of their classes online.

Bachelor's Degree in Accounting or Finance

Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) programs also include general education requirements, but they may offer a wider variety of accounting courses than associate's degree programs. Some courses are specific to the workplace, while other courses apply more generally to financial accounting principles.

Master of Science or Master of Accountancy Degree

These programs are usually designed for students with bachelor's degrees in accounting. A student who has completed a master's degree program may be eligible to take the CPA exam; students should check to see if programs meet CPA requirements.

Master of Business Administration Degree

An MBA program is a good choice for students who have undergraduate degrees in a field outside of accounting. Other common MBA candidates are professionals looking to move into managerial roles or learn more about corporate finance and investments. This program offers courses in both financial accounting and executive leadership.

Many institutions offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting and finance. Some important considerations for aspiring accounting students may include program level, tuition costs, prior postsecondary training and more.


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