Find the Best Online Accounting Degrees
Compare Reviews for Top Online Accounting Degrees
Read 638 Reviews
Online accredited university. 60+ degree options. Grants available for veterans and active-duty military and their spouses or dependents. Allows transfer of 90 credits for more savings. Courses last between 5-6 weeks each.
|DeVry University Accounting|
Read 14 Reviews
DeVry University is a for-profit online university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It offers both an online bachelor’s and master’s degree in Accounting, which prepares students for careers in finance and economics.
|University of Phoenix BS in Accounting|
Read 15 Reviews
The University of Phoenix is an American for-profit institution. Its online Bachelor of Science in Accounting offers general business and specialized accounting courses. It takes 204 weeks to complete and costs just over $67,000.
|Capella Accounting Specialization|
Read 12 Reviews
Capella University is an online for-profit educational institution offering programs for adult learners. It offers a Bachelor of Science in Business with an Accounting or Accounting CPA Pathway specialization.
|Strayer BS in Accounting|
Read 7 Reviews
Strayer University is a private, for-profit online university. Its Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree emphasizes business finance, auditing and accountancy and is designed to take four years for a cost of around $60,000.
|American InterContinental University Accounting||Read Author Review|
American InterContinental University is a for-profit education institution with two campuses and an extensive distance learning program. Its Bachelor of Accounting degree option takes 36-48 months and costs around $54,000.
|Colorado State University Global Campus BS in Accounting||Read Author Review|
Colorado State University-Global Campus is an online, not-for-profit public university. Its Bachelor in Accounting degree is designed for adult learners and offers the option to specialize in one of 17 areas.
|Colorado Technical University BS in Accounting||Read Author Review|
Colorado Technical University is a for-profit university with three campuses and a large distance learning program. It offers an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting program that fulfills requirements to sit for the CPA exam.
|Western Governors University BS in Accounting||Read Author Review|
Western Governors University is an online, nonprofit university headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. Its Bachelor of Science in Accounting program takes four to five years to complete and costs between $23,120 and $28,900.
What to consider when choosing an online accounting program
What is the program’s reputation?
Before you enroll in an online college or university, be sure the program is reputable. A degree from a little-known or ill-regarded institution is unlikely to help and may even hinder your job prospects.
- Admissions requirements: In general, most reputable schools have requirements for admissions beyond a high school diploma. For example, you may have to submit standardized test scores, provide proof of high school grade point average, complete an entrance essay or otherwise prove that you are a good fit for their rigorous program.
- Well known for accounting: Some institutions have acceptable reputations but may be unknown in the accounting or finance world, which might not be helpful when you try to find a job after graduation. When you’ve settled on a few options for online degree programs, try to find a professional mentor who works in accounting to ask about how those in the industry are likely to view a degree from the schools on your list.
- Type of school: Generally, an institution’s reputation is related to the type of school that it is. Well-established, brick-and-mortar schools are best known because they’ve been around longest, and many of them now offer online degree programs. Some people are skeptical of online-only schools, especially for-profit schools, although there are many such schools that offer high-quality degrees.
What is the cost?
The cost of an online degree program can vary widely, with some four-year programs starting around $20,000 and others exceeding $100,000. In addition to ensuring that the program itself is reputable, consider how it will fit into your budget and whether there are opportunities for financial aid.
- Tuition and fees: Most institutions charge tuition per credit hour, per course or per semester. You can often save money at schools that charge per semester if you are able to take more than a standard course load. Be sure to check the program’s website for updated tuition information, since it often changes annually.
- Financial aid: Every degree-granting institution that is accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education is able to accept federal student loans and grants. Fill out the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA), available online, to see if you qualify for federal aid. Additionally, many institutions offer private scholarships, grants and tuition waivers, especially to highly qualified students, students from low-income families, military members, veterans and those from underrepresented backgrounds.
- Financing and payment plans: Think about if you are realistically able to afford regular tuition payments, especially if tuition is due in one lump sum at the start of every term or school year. If not, find out if the school offers payment plans or financing, and if so, what the interest rates are. Ideally, the interest rates should be similar to the current rates on federal student loans (3.76 percent as of 2017). High interest rates can dramatically increase the cost of your degree.
Is the program accredited?
Accreditation refers to a process whereby an outside agency reviews the curriculum and practices at a college or university to ensure its programs meet certain standards. Degree-granting institutions must be accredited in order to receive federal funding and the endorsement of the U.S. Department of Education. Unaccredited programs have not been vetted to ensure that the degree is legitimate.
- Regional accreditation: Online bachelor’s degrees in accounting should be regionally accredited by an agency that oversees colleges and universities in their particular region of the country.
- Accounting-specific accreditations: Many quality institutions have a more specific accreditation for their business schools or accounting programs in addition to regional accreditation. The most well known is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
- International accreditation: Be wary of schools that claim an international accreditation but no regional or national U.S. accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education does not recognize any international accrediting agencies, and degrees from these institutions may not help you learn the skills you need to get a job; in some cases, these programs may be scams.
Is the program flexible?
Many different types of people take classes online, but they generally have one thing in common: the desire for a flexible program that can fit into their already busy lives. Be sure your online program offers a flexible plan that will work with your schedule and commitments.
- Synchronous versus asynchronous programs: Synchronous courses require you to be online at a set time for a live virtual presentation from an instructor or a real-time discussion chat group. Asynchronous courses can be completed at any time because you watch pre-recorded modules or read materials and complete assessments via the school’s website. Synchronous courses provide more hands-on instruction, opportunity for collaboration and interaction with your instructor and peers, but asynchronous courses are more flexible with your schedule.
- Time commitment: The time commitment for online Bachelor in Accounting programs typically falls between 15 and 20 hours a week. Find out how many hours of virtual classes, reading and homework are expected each week.
- Time to completion: Traditional bachelor’s degree programs take four years, but if you can’t commit to 15-20 hours of school work per week, it may take you longer. Find out how much more it will cost you if you take longer than the planned amount of time to graduate. If you have more time to give and want to expedite the process, find out if the school will allow you to take more than a standard course load per term. Some students can finish a four-year degree in three years or fewer.
- Experience as credit: Many institutions allow you to earn credit for prior college courses or job experience that relates to your degree program. Check with an admissions counselor to see whether this is an option for you.
What are the curriculum requirements?
An online degree in accounting should prepare you for many careers in finance and economics. Think about your career plans and whether the institution’s courses will be relevant to the skills you’ll need. Be sure the curriculum is rigorous and comparable to other reputable institutions.
- Introductory courses and general education requirements: Online bachelor’s degrees generally must require the same types of courses that traditional, offline degrees require in order to be fully accredited. That means you’ll have to take basic courses in science, math, writing and other electives. You’ll also have to take basic courses such as Introduction to Business and Introductory Accounting. If you have any prior college experience or the equivalent (such as Advanced Placement high school courses) you may be able to test out of some of the basic requirements.
- Advanced accounting curriculum: An accounting curriculum should familiarize you with laws, processes and procedures necessary to be successful in a finance career. The curriculum should be heavy on mathematics, finance, organizational structure and law. Look for a vigorous, diverse course list including topics like Auditing, Business Law, Business Ethics, Micro- and Macro-Economics and advanced courses in accounting and finance.
- CPA requirements: If you plan to become a Certified Public Accountant after graduating, check your state’s CPA licensure requirements. Most require 150 credit hours to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam, and generally require 30 or more credit hours in courses specific to accounting not including introductory accounting courses. Since most online accounting degrees don’t fulfill the 150 credit requirement, you may need to also earn a master’s degree in accounting to become a CPA.
What resources are offered to students?
Once you begin an online degree program, your success will depend in large part on the support and resources the institution offers. Ideally, an online school should offer access to similar resources as traditional residential schools, such as access to a library or conferences with instructors.
- Supportive faculty and staff: Students benefit from dedicated instructors who hold regular virtual office hours and offer many methods of contact, such as email, teleconference or phone. Ideally, each student should have a dedicated counselor who helps them choose courses and track their progress throughout the program.
- Campus or virtual resources: Traditional schools often offer access to campus resources to students who take classes online, so if you live near the campus you may be able to use the library, gym, computer lab and more. For those attending online-only schools, check whether you’ll have access to resources like library holdings, interlibrary loans and email.
- Job fairs and career services: A college or university’s career services department can make a big difference in your ability to find a gratifying job after graduation. Check to be sure that your institution has resources to help with job placement, including virtual job fairs, career counseling, aptitude testing and more.
What types of schools offer online accounting degrees?
Traditional colleges or universities
Many established public and private universities offer distance learning in addition to residential degree programs. Virtual courses from these established schools usually have the same curriculum and instructors as physical classes, and degrees from these schools tend to have the best job placement rates compared to other online schools. Because they tend to have rigorous admissions requirements and higher tuition rates, they are not ideal for all students.
Non- and not-for-profit online universities
There are several nonprofit or not-for-profit online colleges and universities that offer accounting degrees. Nonprofit and not-for-profit means the institution is dedicated to educational goals rather than building profits. These colleges and universities are tax-exempt, often receive federal or endowment funding and are legally required to invest any profits back into the school rather than distribute it to stakeholders. They tend to offer lower tuition than for-profit online colleges or traditional colleges or universities.
For-profit educational institutions
Many for-profit educational groups offer online accounting degrees that can make earning a degree more convenient, especially for working adults. Barriers to entry are typically lower than other types of online degree programs. Because there are many organizations like these, the quality of the programs is increasing as institutions compete for students. Be sure that these organizations are accredited and reputable in your industry.
Who should consider an online accounting degree?
Working professionals looking to advance their careers
Even if you have experience working in accounting or bookkeeping, you may need a Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree in order to advance your career at your current company or seek opportunities elsewhere.
Those looking to change careers
An online degree in accounting can be ideal if you want to broaden your scope of career options in the future but can’t afford or don’t want to quit working and attend a physical school full time.
Those with some college experience
Most online degree programs allow students to transfer credits from other accredited institutions, so if you have prior college credit but an unfinished degree, you may be able to put those towards an online accounting degree.
Working adults who have 15 or more hours a week
Online bachelor’s degrees in accounting are typically four-year commitments and tend to require around 15 to 20 hours a week. It may be possible to finish the degree faster if you can devote more time to your studies and assessments each week.
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Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.