Types of Accounting Degrees
If you're good with numbers, have a knack for details, and want to break into a growing career field, an accounting degree could be a great option for you. The following types of programs are available in accounting:
- Associate's degree
- Bachelor's degree
- Master's degree
An undergraduate accounting certificate program typically lasts 1-1.5 years and gives you a thorough introduction to the role of accounting in business. Programs are offered both in-person and online, so you have the flexibility to choose the program that's right for you.
With a certificate, you'll be eligible for a few entry-level positions, such as a bookkeeper, accounting clerk, or a payroll clerk. Certificates generally don't fulfill requirements to enter a bachelor's degree program, so if you're considering that degree, you should consider getting an associate's degree instead of a certificate.
Associate's Degree in Accounting
If you're seeking an associate's degree in accounting, you can explore programs offering an Associate of Science, Associate of Arts, or Applied Associate of Science in accounting. The differences between these programs usually have to do with electives and general education requirements. These programs typically last two years and are available in online and in-person formats. Coursework focuses on fundamental business topics and include instruction on finance, cost accounting, and accounting practices.
Graduating from one of these programs prepares you for entry-level jobs in the field or can make you eligible to transfer to a four-year college to pursue a bachelor's degree. Career options for associate's degree holders include:
• Financial planner
• Bank teller
• Accounting clerk
• Collections worker
Bachelor's Degree in Accounting
Four-year bachelor's degree programs in accounting give you a more comprehensive, in-depth look at essential elements of accounting and allow you to choose a specialization, such as forensic accounting, public accounting, or internal auditing. If you're looking to become a certified public accountant (CPA), you should pursue a bachelor's degree, although you'll likely need extra credits to meet the 150-credit minimum required to take the CPA exam.
While pursuing a bachelor's degree, you can expect courses focused on accounting theory and practice where you'll learn how to analyze, audit, and process financial records and information. Bachelor's degree holders have many careers available to them in corporations, non-profit organizations, and government entities, with job titles like:
• Public accountant
• Internal auditor
• Financial analyst
• Tax examiner
Master's Degree in Accounting
If you're seeking a more intensive program on a specific area of accounting, you may find a master's degree in accounting (MAcc) is right for you. Not only does this degree allow you to focus on a specialized area of accounting, but it also makes you more competitive in the job market. These programs typically last 1-3 years.
In these programs, you'll gain further comprehension of accounting concepts with advanced coursework in auditing, taxes investments, and business ethics. Graduates often seek positions in mid- to upper-management positions within accounting. You can expect to qualify for positions like:
• Risk assessor
MBA in Accounting
MBA in Accounting degrees are a good choice if you want core business management instruction alongside learning about theories and practices in accounting. These programs typically last 1-2 years depending on the MBA track chosen and are available both in-person and online. You can expect similar coursework to that in a MAcc program, likely with additional courses in management.
Graduating from an MBA accounting program sets you up for a management career, as you're prepared for more leadership-focused positions. Careers include:
• Account executive
• Budgeting director
Ph.D. Degree in Accounting
Ph.D. in accounting programs are quite lengthy, typically lasting at least four years, but they allow you to focus on specific areas of interest, such as mergers and acquisitions, forensic accounting or taxation. Coursework is dependent on your area of concentration, but you can typically expect to learn advanced principles of economics and statistics as well as theoretical financial research.
Accounting Ph.D. degree holders can choose careers across many areas of accounting and financial management. You can choose to become a professor at a university to instruct future accounting professionals, but with your competitive edge, you might also choose to conduct research or continue to work individually or for a business.
Online Accounting Degree
Online accounting degrees are available across all degree levels. These convenient programs allow you to complete your coursework at a pace and place that work for you. Online programs are excellent options for working adults or students who need flexibility due to other life commitments. If an online degree accounting degree appeals to you, there are a few things to look for when considering an online school, such as accreditation, student support, cost, and course availability.
What Can You Do with an Accounting Degree?
There are several accounting careers available to professionals holding an accounting degree. As an in-demand field, accounting offers careers across all types of industries, including manufacturing, education, and technology, at corporations, government entities, non-profit organizations, or be self-employment. A small sample of potential careers with median salaries as of 2017 (from the BLS) includes:
• Bookkeepers - $39,240
• Tax Examiner and Collector - $53,130
• Accountant and Auditor - $69,350
• Budget Analyst - $75,240
• Financial Analyst - $84,300
When deciding whether or not to pursue a degree in accounting, there are several questions you may want to ask about degree and career topics. Some things you might want to be aware of before starting on a degree path can include: