Affordable Accounting & Finance Degrees

Scroll down to see the most affordable accounting degrees, as well as info on the different types of accounting degrees and accounting program accreditation.

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School Rankings

1

Texas A & M University-College Station

The Department of Accounting at TAMU's Mays Business School oversees four academic programs: Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Accounting, Master of Science (MS) in Accounting, a Professional Program and a Ph.D. in Accounting. The Professional Program lets students earn two degrees simultaneously - a BBA in Accounting and an MS in any one of the business majors. Students accepted in this program can choose one of six specialty tracks: Assurance Services/Information Management, Financial Management, Management Information Systems, Tax Planning, Marketing, and Entrepreneurial Leadership. Mays Business School also has a Department of Finance, which offers a BBA in Finance, an MS in Finance and a Ph.D. in Finance. The school is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 97.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

63,813 Students

2

University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago offers Bachelor of Science degrees in accounting and in finance through the College of Business Administration. Accounting majors are required to complete coursework in intermediate financial accounting (I & II), cost accounting, auditing, federal income tax, ethical environment of business, accounting information systems, and accounting research, and analysis. Finance majors have access to the CME Trading Lab, which is equipped with the latest financial software (such as OneTick and XTrader) to help familiarize students with the tools of the industry and to heighten their competitiveness in the field. Students learn about investments, managerial finance, corporate finance, and banking. Master of Science programs in accounting and in finance are available from the Liautaud Graduate School of Business.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 96.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,048 Students

3

CUNY Bernard M Baruch College

The Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College offers a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Accounting, MBA degrees in accountancy, finance and taxation and Master of Science degrees in accountancy, finance, financial risk management and taxation. The school also offers Bachelor's/Master's CPA programs in accounting that allow students to gain the 150 credits necessary to become a CPA. These programs are available in the following possible degree combinations: a BBA in Accountancy plus an MS in Accountancy, a BBA in Accountancy plus an MS in Taxation, a BBA/BA in majors other than accountancy plus an MBA or MS in Accountancy.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 96.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

18,433 Students

4

University of Massachusetts Amherst

The Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst offers both a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance. Students can work for either degree on-campus or online. The Accounting Department offers a Master of Science in Accounting Program, which is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB). The program also fulfills the educational requirements for CPA certification. The department offers a Ph.D. in Accounting Degree. The Finance Department also has a doctoral program where students can earn a Ph.D. in Finance.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,269 Students

5

Western Illinois University

The Department of Accounting & Finance at WIU advertises both undergraduate and graduate degrees. The Bachelor of Business in Accountancy is built to be completed with the Master of Accountancy or MBA in five years, saving forward-thinking students time and money. Bachelor of Business in Finance majors can do the same by tacking on a fifth-year MBA (with or without a Finance concentration). The department distributes dozens of scholarships to undergrad BBA and/or MAcct students. The most lucrative is the Oliva Scholarship, whose three recipients receive $4,000 plus an internship at ECS Financial Services. Finance majors have their own awards, including the $1,500 Potter Scholarship for upperclassmen - not to mention a robust internship program stocked with employers such as Met Life and Edward Jones.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,094 Students

6

SUNY at Albany

SUNY University at Albany offers bachelor's and master's programs in accounting. The Bachelor of Science degree is a 120-credit program that prepares students for work in financial or managerial accounting, auditing, taxation, or accounting information systems. Students who complete the program qualify to sit the CPA exam. Albany's School of Business has accounting master's programs both for students who earned accounting bachelor's degree and those who are new to the field. Applicants with a B.S. in Accounting can earn a Master of Science in Taxation, Professional Accounting, or Forensic Accounting. Candidates can complete these 30-credit programs in a year. Applicants without an accounting background can earn a Master of Science in Accounting or an M.S. in Tax Practice.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

17,178 Students

7

Iowa State University

The College of Business at Iowa State University offers undergraduate majors in accounting and finance, as well as graduate programs in accounting and finance. The undergraduate accounting major gives students the option to earn the extra 24 credits necessary to sit for the CPA exam through additional electives. However, to become a licensed CPA in the state of Iowa, students must take 150 credits total, a requirement which can be met through a master's program. The Master of Accounting, for example, is designed for undergraduate accounting majors who want to earn an advanced degree while also earning the 150 credits necessary to become a certified public accountant. The Master of Finance is a 40-credit degree program that emphasizes quantitative methods.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

35,714 Students

8

University of Florida

The Fisher School of Accounting at UF's Warrington College of Business Administration offers both a Bachelor of Science in Accounting (BSAc) and a Master of Accounting (MAcc). The Fisher School's premier professional program is its 3/2 Program, an integrated, five-year, 150-hour program that culminates in the awarding of a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Master of Accounting degree. The Fisher School has a joint degree program that allows students to graduate with a Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Accounting degrees. U.S. News & World Report (2016) ranks Fisher School of Accounting graduate programs as the 8th among public institutions in the country. The school's undergraduate programs were ranked 7th among public institutions in the country in 2015.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

50,645 Students

9

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers Bachelor of Science (BS), Master of Science (MS), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in accountancy and in finance. There is a Certificate in Accountancy program available from the Department of Accountancy that is a non-degree certificate for CPA examination preparation. The department offers a Master of Accounting Science (MAS) program as well. Students admitted to the BS in Finance program can choose to specialize in corporate finance, risk management, or wealth management. There is also an MS in Financial Engineering program available. The Golden Scholarship considers academically outstanding domestic and international MS in Finance students. The scholarship covers a portion of the recipient's tuition expenses.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

45,842 Students

10

University of Iowa

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting or Finance are eligible for dozens of scholarships. For instance, the Oehrle Scholarship awards $3,000 to female accounting majors; the Summit Group Business Scholarship gives $5,000 to Iowan agriculturalists majoring in finance. The undergrad Accounting program sported the 13th-best CPA pass rate in the country in 2015. That same year the Finance program had a 96 percent placement rate for alumni, who earned average starting salaries of $48,000. Also available are a Master of Accountancy and an MS in Finance, as well as PhDs in each field. Those in the doctoral programs are guaranteed funding, usually through an assistantship that covers tuition, fees, health insurance and a basic salary.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

30,844 Students

11

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Students seeking a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from North Carolina State University select a concentration: financial analysis, information systems, managerial accounting, or internal audit. Master of Accounting candidates concentrate in enterprise risk management, information technology, or tax strategy. Many accounting professors had careers in industry first, and their research in fields such as enterprise risk management keeps them at the forefront of the field. Internships and faculty ties to regional accounting firms help students build a professional network while still in school. Undergrads can join the Accounting Society, a student group that provides more networking opportunities. The Poole College of Management, which houses the accounting program, administers up to 25 scholarships annually, with awards up to $3,000.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

34,015 Students

12

SUNY at Binghamton

The School of Management at SUNY Binghamton University is the top provider of new accounting recruits for two of the world's biggest accounting firms in New York City. The Bachelor of Science in Accounting has an experiential focus, and students take part in case competitions, networking events, and internships at major and mid-size accounting firms. The Master of Science in Accounting is a 32-credit, one-year program designed to help accounting majors meet the credit-hour requirements for CPA certification, although non-accounting majors can enter the program and take additional coursework. MS students can take an optional concentration in taxation. About 90 percent of grad students find a job before they complete the accounting MS.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

16,913 Students

13

Michigan State University

The Department of Accounting and Information Systems at Michigan State University offers a BA in Accounting, an MS in Accounting and a PhD in Accounting. Undergraduate accounting students have the option of completing both a BA and MS in five years in order to meet the 150 credit hour requirement for CPA certification. The Master of Science in Accounting Program is a 30-credit program offered in three concentrations: taxation, information systems and public and corporate accounting. Additionally, the Department of Finance offers an undergraduate major in finance with specializations in corporate finance, financial markets and institutions and pre-law. It also offers an MS in Finance and a finance doctoral program.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

50,538 Students

14

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The accounting program at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro is one of 178 programs throughout the world that has a separate accounting accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Within this department, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, a Bachelor of Science in Finance, and a Master of Science in Accounting. Graduates of these programs go on to have productive careers in business and industry, education, government, and nonprofit organizations. Many students in this department are part of the Beta Alpha Psi accounting fraternity. The Bryan School of Business and Economics provides many scholarships for accounting and finance students like the Kathleen P. and Joseph M. Bryan Scholarships.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

19,393 Students

15

Towson University

Towson University's Department of Accounting and Finance offers a B.S. in Accounting, an M.S. in Accounting and Business Advisory Services and a combined B.S./M.S. program. The B.S. in Accounting requires 87 major credits, including 27 credits of upper-level accounting courses and 27 credits of upper-level business courses. The B.S. program provides the 120 credits necessary to sit for the CPA exam in Maryland, but students need an additional 30 credits to receive CPA certification. The B.S./M.S. program is a five-year program that allows students to earn a bachelor's and master's degree while also preparing them for CPA certification. The M.S. in Accounting and Business Advisory Service is offered as a collaboration between Towson University and the University of Baltimore. M.S. students can take courses at either university campus or online.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

22,284 Students

16

Truman State University

The Accounting Department at Truman State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Master of Accountancy degree. The B.S. in Accounting requires 48 credits of major courses, including coursework in financial accounting, federal taxation, auditing, information technology, organizational behavior and strategic management. Students are also required to complete a three-credit accounting capstone course. The Master of Accountancy degree requires 30 credits of coursework and offers a tax track of study and an audit track of study. Students who complete an accounting bachelor's program and the Master of Accountancy are eligible to sit for the Certified Public Accountant exam. Accounting students can also participate in student organizations like the National Association of Black Accountants and Beta Alpha Psi, the national accounting honor society.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

6,208 Students

17

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) degree with an accounting concentration from the Department of Accounting at the College of Business Administration at UNO. There are different areas of specializations offered including (among others) auditing and information systems, financial accounting, tax accounting and governmental and non-profit accounting. The department also offers a Master's of Accounting program (MAcc). Completion of this 30-credit hour graduate program makes a student eligible to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam in Nebraska. UNO's Department of Accounting has earned the specialized accounting accreditation of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB).

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,526 Students

18

California State University-Fullerton

The Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at Cal State Fullerton has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration program with 14 areas of concentration, including accounting, finance, a joint emphasis in accounting and finance, and a joint emphasis in accounting and information systems. The finance emphasis offers tracks in the following: financial institutions, insurance, corporate and international financial management, investments and financial planning, and real estate. The university's undergraduate business programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). A Master of Science in Accountancy degree is also available. The Paul Lehman Scholarship supports qualified continuing business majors with a concentration in accounting and finance. Part-time students are given $2,000 scholarships, while fill-time students receive $4,000 scholarships.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

38,948 Students

19

West Virginia University

The College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB). Students who pursue the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) can choose to major in Accounting or Finance in addition to other areas of specializations. The college offers a Master of Professional Accountancy (MPA) program. Upon completing this program, graduates can take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. The college also offers a Master of Science in Finance (MSF). Graduates of this program can sit for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam. Students have the option of obtaining a Graduate Certificate in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination as well as combining this program with the MPA curriculum.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

28,776 Students

20

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte administers a variety of programs leading to degrees in accounting and finance. The Accounting Department offers a Bachelor of Science in Accounting program and a Master of Accountancy (MACC). Candidates for the MACC can specialize in financial accounting and auditing, in tax accounting, or in an individualized program they develop. A MACC track is available for students who did not study accounting as undergraduates. The Finance Department offers undergraduate degrees in finance with a concentration in risk management and insurance. Graduate students seeking an MBA can choose a finance concentration in areas such as business finance, financial institutions/commercial banking, applied investment management, or real estate finance.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,983 Students

21

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

The Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a concentration in accounting, an MS in Accounting and a PhD in Accounting. Additionally, the school offers a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a concentration in finance, a Master of Science in Quantitative Financial Economics and a PhD in Finance. The BSBA degree in accounting is a four-year program that does not meet the 150 credit education requirement for CPA licensure. Students can, however, arrange to take additional coursework or enroll in the MS program to meet this requirement. The MS in Accounting is offered in two program options: the 4/1 Program or the Professional Program in Accounting.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

25,930 Students

22

Weber State University

At the undergraduate level, Weber State offers BS degrees in both Accounting and Finance. For some actuarial fun, members of one club, the Wildcat Investors, have $50,000 to play with in the market, while two merit scholarships - the FJ Management Scholarship and the SWIFT Supply Chain Scholarship - can help limit their debt after graduation. Graduate students, meanwhile, can complete a Master of Accounting or Master of Taxation. The school's MAcc grads averaged salary offers of $55,517 in 2016 - eight percent higher than the national average. Students are able to check off the business components of the core curriculum via semester exchanges, summer exchanges or shorter excursions to universities throughout Europe and Asia.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

25,955 Students

23

University of Georgia

The J.M. School of Accounting is part of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. The school offers students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Business Administration with either an Accounting major (BBA - Accounting) or a Finance major (BBA- Finance). The J.M. School of Accounting also offers a Master of Accountancy degree program (MAcc) in addition to a 5-year BBA/MAcc Program. The latter program satisfies the requirements for both the BBA and MAcc degrees. Students can apply to this program during their senior year. Students admitted to the doctoral program, leading to a Ph.D. - Accounting degree, can choose from three areas of concentrations: financial accounting, taxation and auditing.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

36,130 Students

24

University of Idaho

The University of Idaho offers a Bachelor of Science in Business degree with majors in seven fields, including accounting and finance. Accounting majors take courses such as cost and management accounting, accounting information systems, and fundamentals of federal taxation. The program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). There is also a Master of Accountancy degree available with several emphasis areas that include corporate accounting management and controllership and international accounting. Finance majors manage the Davis Investment Group portfolio (valued at $400,000) and students in the Security Analysis and Portfolio Management class manage the D.A. Davidson portfolio (valued at $50,000). The E. Jack Byrne Accounting Scholarship and the Russel Viehweg Accounting Scholarship programs support qualified accounting majors.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,372 Students

25

University of Southern Indiana

Students in USI's Romain College of Business can pursue a BS or BA in Accounting and Professional Services with tracks in Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Investment Accounting, Financial Management or Information Systems. (Romain also has a post-baccalaureate Certificate in Accountancy and an MBA with a concentration in Accounting.) A boatload of departmental awards have accounting in the title - from the $1,600 Hibbitts Accounting Scholarship for returning students to the $1,000 AICPA Accounting Case Study Scholarship for grads taking additional credits before sitting for the CPA exam. Students in the BA/BS in Finance program are eligible for nine departmental awards worth over $10,000 combined. The heftiest is the $2,400 Koch Memorial Scholarship for returning senior Finance of Economics majors.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

10,671 Students

26

University of North Texas

The College of Business at the University of North Texas offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, a Master of Science in Accounting (focus in Audit or Management and Entrepreneurial available), a Master of Science in Taxation, and a Ph.D. in Accounting. The programs at UNT are among the nation's top 50 accounting undergraduate and Master's programs as named by Public Accounting Report Rankings. Scholarships available for accounting students include the George & Nesha Morey Scholarship, the Accounting Advisory Board Excellence Scholarship, the Alumni Doctoral Research Scholarship, and the J.W. Giese Scholarship, among others. Students are able to take advantage of the student chapters of many organizations such as Beta Alpha Psi.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

37,299 Students

27

University at Buffalo

The University at Buffalo offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fields of accounting and finance. Undergraduates can earn a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. During their first two years, undergrads complete seven prerequisite courses and then formally apply for admission to the upper division of the School of Management. During their junior and senior years, their class load will be almost exclusively business and accounting classes. UB also offers a one-year Master of Science in Accounting that qualifies graduates for CPA licensing. Students pursing a Master of Science in Finance can choose from the Financial Management Track or the Quantitative Finance Track. Students in the full-time Master of Business Administration program may choose a concentration in finance.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,796 Students

28

The University of Texas at Dallas

The Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas offers both a Bachelor of Science in Accounting (BSA) and a Bachelor of Science in Finance (BSF). BSA students can choose from the following concentrations: Management/Cost Accounting, Audit, Internal Audit, Governmental and Not-for-Profit Accounting, Accounting Information Systems, and Tax Accounting. BSF areas of concentrations are: Corporate Finance, Financial Information Management, Investment, Personal Financial Planning and Real Estate. JSOM offers an MS in Accounting and an MS in Finance. Upon completion of the MS in Accounting Program, graduates can take the Certified Public Accountant exam. JSOM also offers a Ph.D. in Management Science with a concentration in Accounting or in Finance. JSOM is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB).

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

24,554 Students

29

University of Central Missouri

The School of Accountancy and Computer Information Systems at UCM offers a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Major in Accountancy program. The school also offers a combined Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree (accounting major) with the Master of Arts in Accountancy. This 150-hour BSBA/MA Program fulfills the educational requirements for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam in Missouri. There is also a stand-alone Master of Arts in Accountancy Program offered by the school that allows students to engage in the advanced study of specific areas such as tax, systems/auditing, or controllership. Completion of this program also fulfills the educational requirements for the CPA exam. UCM's Accountancy Program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

14,395 Students

30

The University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business offers a Bachelor in Business Administration in Accounting, a Master in Professional Accounting, and a Doctoral Program in Accounting. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the undergraduate program in accounting for the past seven years, McCombs ranked number one in all three 2013 rankings of the Public Accounting Report (PAR), and the Brigham Young University's 2013 Accounting Research Rankings named the McCombs Accounting Program number one for accounting research worldwide. Students may participate in several organizations including the National Association of Black Accountants, the University Accounting Association, the Hispanic Business Students Association, the Women in Business Association, and the EY Accounting Ambassadors Program.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

50,950 Students

31

The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington College of Business offers a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, several Master's degrees (MBA - Accounting, MPA, MSA, and MST), a Ph.D. in Accounting, and a Professional Program in Accounting (PPIA). Founded in 1963, the University of Texas at Arlington boasts the second largest accounting program in the UT system. Accounting students may be eligible for a number of scholarships including the Accounting Alumni Endowed Scholarship, the Barney C. Barnes Endowed Scholarship, the Katherine M. Horstmann Endowed Scholarship, and the Mid-Cities Association of CPAs Endowed Scholarship, among others. Areas of coverage within the programs include international accounting, taxation, accounting systems, auditing financial accounting, and managerial accounting.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

41,988 Students

32

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

The School of Business at Southern Illinois University offers a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy degree that is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). There is also a Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) program available. Students who complete this program are qualified to take the exams for Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, or Certified Internal Auditor. In the field of finance, the school offers Bachelor of Science as well as Master of Arts and Master of Science programs in economics and finance. Academically outstanding accounting undergraduates can apply for the Anders CPAs + Advisors Scholarship ($1,000) and the BKD Scholarship ($1,000). Full-time MSA students can apply for the Denise L. Suhrenbrock Scholarship ($2,000).

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

14,265 Students

33

San Diego State University

The Charles W. Lamden School of Accountancy at San Diego State University offers a regular four-year Bachelor of Science in Accountancy degree as well as a BS/MS 4+ 1 degree program. Academically qualified students may apply for the latter program after taking at least two upper division core accountancy classes. The school also offers a stand-alone Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) program with specializations in accounting information systems, financial reporting, and taxation. MSA classes are typically held during the late afternoon to accommodate the schedules of working students. The 30-credit program can be completed in 12 to 18 months. As part of the College of Business Administration, accountancy majors can apply for the Business Student Academic Achievement Scholarship ($5,000).

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

34,254 Students

34

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers undergraduate majors in accounting and finance, as well as a Master of Professional Accounting degree. The undergraduate accounting major requires 21 credits of coursework beyond the business core foundation courses required of all undergraduates in the College. The finance major offers specializations in CFA investment, banking and risk management, and general finance. Finance students are required to complete nine to twelve credits beyond the business core foundation courses required by the College. The Master of Public Accountancy prepares students to sit for the CPA exam through 36 graduate credits of coursework. Students without a bachelor's degree can complete their Bachelor of Business Administration degree and Master of Public Accountancy in a 150-credit concentrated program.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

25,260 Students

35

The University of Texas at San Antonio

The University of Texas at San Antonio Department of Accounting offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, a Master of Accountancy, as well as a Ph.D. with a concentration in accounting. The Department of Accounting is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. The college boasts the 38th largest business school in the country. Students may qualify for the Accounting Various Donors Scholarship, the Auxiliary San Antonio Chapter of Texas Society of CPA's Scholarship, the BKD, LLP Accounting Scholarship, the Dr. Russell F. Briner Memorial Endowed Accounting Scholarship, and others.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

28,787 Students

36

Washington State University

The Carson College of Business at Washington State University offers a bachelor's degree in accounting, a Master's degree in accounting, a Ph.D. in business administration with a concentration in accounting, a bachelor's degree in finance, and a Ph.D. in business administration with a concentration in finance. The department boasts one of only 176 accounting programs across the globe that is separately accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The finance program features five different career tracks: financial services, risk management and insurance, financial management, investment analysis, and financial institutions management.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,686 Students

37

University of Central Florida

As part of UCF's College of Business Administration, the Kenneth G. Dixon School of Accounting offers the following degrees: Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in accounting, Master of Science in Accounting, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Accounting. Both the College of Business Administration and the Dixon School of Accounting are independently accredited by the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business). The college offers finance as an area of concentration for their BSBA, MBA, and Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration degrees. Full-time upper division accounting majors or MSA students can apply for the Accounting Advisory Board Endowed Scholarship Fund ($1,000-$2,500), while finance MS or PhD students can apply for the James Carlton Dockeray Graduate Finance Scholarship ($1,500).

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

62,953 Students

38

Illinois State University

Illinois State University's Bachelor of Science in Accountancy program has sequences in the following areas: accounting information systems, business information systems, or financial accounting. A fourth sequence (career specialty) allows students to design an individualized plan of study. The university offers a BS/MPA degree that satisfies the educational requirements for the CPA examination. The BS/MPA program offers a sequence in accountancy and information systems and in professional accountancy. A Master of Science in Accountancy degree is available. Illinois State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Finance degree and a minor in financial planning program. As part of the College of Business, accounting and finance students can apply for the Matt Busey Scholarship ($1,000) and the Maggie Webb Endowed Scholarship ($1,000).

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

20,760 Students

39

Kansas State University

Through its School of Business Administration, Kansas State University offers an undergraduate degree in accounting, a graduate degree in accounting, an integrated BSBA-M.Acc degree and an undergraduate degree in finance. The Accounting Department's integrated BSBA-M.Acc degree can be completed in four and half years, prepares students for the CMA exam or CPA exam and enables students to earn an undergraduate and graduate degree in an accelerated time frame. Students can opt to complete just the undergraduate degree in accounting but will then need to complete additional classes before taking the CMA or CPA exam. The undergraduate program in finance is available in the concentrations of financial controllership, financial management and financial services. Paid graduate assistantships with a partial tuition waiver are available to students in the School of Business Administration.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

24,146 Students

40

University of Houston

The University of Houston offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. UH also offers a Professional Program in Accountancy (PPA), which is designed to better prepare students for a successful career in accounting. Student must first apply to UH as pre-business majors, and they may then become accounting majors. Graduates often pursue accounting careers in non-profit, government, and corporate organizations. Students take courses such as Accounting Information Systems, Auditing, Management Accounting, Federal Income Tax, and Intermediate Accounting, among others.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

42,704 Students

41

University of Utah

The David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah offers a bachelor's degree in accounting, a MAcc in accounting, a bachelor's degree in finance, and a Master's degree in finance. The accounting program at the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business is ranked among the top 25 accounting programs in the country at both graduate and undergraduate levels. Finance majors have the opportunity to participate in organizations like the Emerging Finance Professionals (EFP) program. Finance majors will take such courses as International Finance and Cases in Financial Management, and accounting majors will take such courses as Accounting Information Systems and Taxation.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

31,592 Students

42

University of South Florida-Main Campus

The Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy at the University of South Florida is part of the Muma College of Business. The school offers a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting that prepares students to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam after taking additional coursework. The undergraduate accounting curriculum includes courses in intermediate financial accounting (I & II), cost accounting and control, accounting information systems, auditing, and concepts of federal income taxation. The Muma College of Business also offers a BS in Finance degree. Master of Sciences programs in accountancy and in finance are also available. MS in Accountancy students can concentrate in audit/systems or in taxation. The college awards close to $300,000 in scholarships each year to qualified students.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

42,067 Students

43

Southeastern Louisiana University

Through its Department of Accounting and Finance, Southeastern Louisiana University offers Bachelor of Science degrees in accounting and finance. The B.S. in Accounting requires 30 major credits, six credits in business law, nine credits in economics, 12 to 13 credits in management, three credits in marketing and 15 credits in operations management and information systems. The B.S. in Finance also requires 30 major credits, as well as six credits in accounting, three credits in business law, nine credits in economics, 15 to 16 credits in management, three credits in marketing and 12 credits in operations management and information systems. Additionally, students in the Department can gain hands-on experience through internships and in finance labs designed to imitate a trading floor, including Bloomberg terminals.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

14,581 Students

44

Middle Tennessee State University

Middle Tennessee State University offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, a Master of Accountancy in Accounting, undergraduate minors in accounting, and several professional certifications in the field. The Jennings A. Jones College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and it is one of 178 university accounting programs throughout the world that currently holds that distinction. Graduates from the accounting program have gone on to work in nonprofit organizations, accounting information systems, auditing firms, consulting agencies, banking/investment firms, and more. Students pursuing degrees in accounting will take courses such as Principles of Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Accounting Systems, and Individual Income Tax.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

22,511 Students

45

Tennessee Technological University

The Accounting and Business Law Department at Tennessee Tech offers bachelor's degree in accounting as well as an MBA with an accounting concentration. The department also offers several continuing education courses each year. The College of Business at Tennessee Tech is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and the Department of Accounting has a goal to prepare students for entry-level positions within the business world and to provide students with the education necessary to become ethical and successful professionals. Students who graduate with degrees in accounting earn some of the highest salaries when they become employed after graduation.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

10,900 Students

46

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University's School of Accountancy offers a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accounting and a Master of Science in Accounting. The BSBA in Accounting is offered in a general concentration and a professional concentration. The professional concentration is designed for students who want to become certified public accountants and provides them with the option to either take extra courses to meet the 150 credit requirement for CPA licensure or enroll in the linked Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Accounting/Master of Science in Accounting program. Additionally, the Department of Finance offers a BSBA in Finance with tracks in finance, real estate and insurance and financial services.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

24,672 Students

47

Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University offers Bachelor of Business Administration degrees in both accounting and finance, as well as a Master of Science in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in finance. The accounting B.B.A. program requires 19 credits of coursework in addition to the business core courses required for the B.B.A. Students who want to complete a B.B.A. in Finance can choose from concentrations in corporate finance, banking/financial institutions, financial planning and investments. The finance B.B.A. program requires an additional 17 credits beyond the business core required for the B.B.A. The Master of Science in Accounting requires 33 credits of coursework and can be completed on a full or part-time basis in one to two years. Students who complete the M.S.A. program are eligible for CPA licensure in Michigan.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

25,325 Students

48

Western Michigan University

Through its Department of Accountancy, Western Michigan University offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accountancy and a Master of Science in Accountancy. WMU also offers undergraduate majors in finance and personal financial planning. The B.B.A. in Accountancy requires 30 credits of accountancy coursework, including required courses in accounting principles, financial accounting, managerial accounting and accounting information systems. B.B.A. students also have the opportunity to complete internships and participate in students organizations like the student chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants and the National Association of Black Accountants. The M.S.A. program is an accelerated program that helps students meet the requirements outlined by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Students who choose to take a full course load can complete the program in three semesters.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 94.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,529 Students

49

University of North Florida

University of Northern Florida's Coggin School of Business offers a Bachelor of Business Administration program that is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Students admitted to the program have the option of majoring in one of several fields, including accounting and finance. The school also offers a 33-semester hour Master of Accountancy program that includes coursework in advanced accounting information systems, auditing theory, taxation in business corporations, and advanced accounting theory. Upper division accounting majors can apply for the Dixon Hughes, PLLC/Presser, Lahnen & Edelman Endowed Accounting Scholarship ($2,500), while finance majors can apply for the Jody & Layton Smith Endowed Scholarship ($3,000). Master of Accounting candidates can apply for the Blanche & Luther Coggin Fellowship ($5,000).

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 93.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,675 Students

50

University of Colorado Denver

Students admitted to the Bachelor of Arts program in business administration have the option of selecting accounting or finance as their area of emphasis. The accounting emphasis has an optional specialization in information systems. Students are required to take the following courses to complete the emphasis: intermediate financial accounting (I & II), intermediate cost accounting, accounting systems and data processing, income tax accounting, and auditing theory. The finance emphasis offers an optional specialization in risk management and insurance and include courses such as investment and portfolio management and financial markets and institutions. Accounting majors can apply for a number of scholarship opportunities, including the Ernst & Young Scholarship and the Marjorie Gearhart Smith Scholarship, both with varying amounts awarded each year.

Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - Accounting Accreditation

CAG Score 93.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,671 Students


Searching for affordable (and reputable) accounting and finance programs can be a royal pain in the proverbial. Once you get past the school’s website, you may still have a lot of questions. What’s the difference between AACSB Business and AACSB Accounting accreditations? Should I opt for a DBA or a PhD? Can online credit hours be applied to the CPA Exam? What should I know about a school’s CPA pass rate?

We answer all of these questions in our guide to accounting and finance programs below. Here you’ll find a summary of major finance and accounting degrees, a breakdown of important accreditations and a primer on the CPA Exam.

Types of Accounting & Finance Degrees

Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree is a two-year degree focused on preparing you for entry-level work in finance or accounting (e.g. billing and posting clerk, loan officer, bank teller, bookkeeper, etc.). Since job opportunities are limited with this degree, many students use it as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree.

For finance or accounting, you could consider an:

  • Associate of Arts (AA)
  • Associate of Science (AS)
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

The AA and AS are the usual choices for students who are planning to complete a bachelor’s degree. The AAS provides practical training for students who wish to go straight into the workforce on graduation.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is a four-year degree and the minimum qualification for many finance/accounting jobs. If you wish to major in accounting or finance, you could consider a:

  • Bachelor of Science (BS): May include science/technical classes (e.g. mathematics).
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA): May include humanities classes (e.g. foreign language).
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA): May include courses on business and management.
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA): May include math and analytic courses.
  • Dual BS/MS Degree: See below.

Regardless of the name, all of these degrees will include a large number of accounting or finance courses. Look for programs that ground you in fundamental concepts (e.g. principles of finance, accounting, business law, ethics, etc.), train you for the CPA (if required) and provide you with internships and real-world job opportunities.

To build a network of contacts, you could also consider joining:

Note: A bachelor’s degree in Accounting (120 credit hours) does not give you enough credits to become licensed as a CPA. You’ll need 150 credit hours from programs that have been approved by your State Board of Accountancy. If you’re thinking about an online degree, make sure your course credits will be eligible. See our section on CPA Prerequisites below.

CPA Track: Dual BS/MS Degree

The Dual BS/MS Degree, a.k.a. the CPA Track, is intended to prepare you for CPA licensure. It fulfills the 150 credit hours required by most State Accountancy Boards and includes training for the CPA Exam.

The majority of BS/MS degrees take five years to complete (4 years for the Bachelor of Science in Accounting; 1 year for the Master of Science in Accounting). When you’re looking at a dual degree, don’t be afraid to ask schools for their most recent CPA pass rates.

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree is a 1-2 year degree concerned with advanced level skills. Finance and accounting professionals use it to gain CPA credits, improve their job prospects/salary range, transition from another field or simply learn more. You must have a bachelor’s degree to apply for a master’s.

Common master’s degrees include:

  • Master of Accountancy (MAcc): Focuses on advanced accounting skills and theory. A common choice for professionals earning CPA credits.
  • Master of Science (MS) in Accounting: Similar to the MAcc.
  • Master of Finance (MFin): Leans towards preparing graduates for technical roles. May include courses on the theory and practice of finance (e.g. financial economics, financial engineering, computational methods, etc.).
  • Master of Science in Finance (MSF): Leans towards preparing graduates for financial management or investment banking and management positions. May include courses on managerial finance, corporate finance and investment analysis.
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA): Focuses on practical business matters. A common choice for professionals interested in executive or management positions.

Most of these degrees will have specific finance or accounting prerequisites, so check the school’s website or talk to the program coordinator if you have a bachelor’s degree from a non-financial field.

Note: If you are considering becoming an academic or teaching at the university level, look for a master’s degree that is AACSB-accredited.

Doctoral Degree

A doctorate is a 4-6 year degree that qualifies graduates to teach at universities and/or conduct high-level research work.

There are two major types of finance and accounting doctoral degrees:

  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA): Often targeted towards working professionals with an MBA who wish to explore a business problem/idea on a part-time basis.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): Often targeted towards younger graduates who can afford to study a new theory/idea full-time and ultimately want to teach at the university level.

To make it easier on students who are working, DBAs are frequently offered in hybrid or online formats.

Certificate

Accounting and finance certificate programs come in two flavors:

  • Undergraduate Certificate: 18 to 24 credit hours (1 year)
  • Graduate Certificate: 15 to 30 credit hours (6 months – 1 year)

Undergraduate certificates are targeted towards students or professionals who would like to:

  • Get their “feet wet” in finance or accounting
  • Build on their existing skill base
  • Enhance an existing degree

Graduate certificates are intended for those who hold a bachelor’s degree in the relevant field. These professionals may wish to:

  • Earn extra credit hours in order to be eligible for the CPA Exam
  • Gain advanced training in a particular field (e.g. certified tax preparation, financial markets, etc.)
  • Add to their master’s qualification

Important Accreditations

Regional & National Accreditation

A good accounting or finance program will have regional accreditation from one of six accrediting organizations. State schools, Ivy League and public/private universities hold regional accreditation. National accreditation usually applies to for-profit schools with vocational, career and technical programs.

You may find an online program without regional accreditation that you really like, but it could be hard for you to transfer credits or apply for certain jobs. You can learn more about regional accreditation and the danger of “diploma mills” in our article on Accreditation: Understanding the Difference Between Real Schools and Diploma Mills.

AACSB Accreditation

The American Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is the gold standard accreditation for business schools/programs. It’s not mandatory for universities to have this accreditation, but it does signal that they’re serious about education. You’ll see it listed beside all the top business schools.

AACSB has two major accreditations that relate to finance and accounting degrees:

Schools are generally required to have the AACSB Business Accreditation before they apply for AACSB Accounting (alternatively, they can apply for both at the same time). If you’re interested in an accounting program, be sure that the accreditation is for AACSB Accounting.

Here’s what else you should know about AACSB:

  • In some states, you must earn your credit hours from an AACSB-accredited program to be eligible to take the CPA exam.
  • AACSB accreditation may make it easier for you to transfer credits to another university.
  • If you’re hoping to teach at the university level sometime in the future, opt for an AACSB-accredited program.
  • Some online programs are not yet AACSB-accredited.
Note: Accreditation is different from membership. A school can be a member of AACSB without being accredited. You can double-check your school’s qualifications on AACSB’s global list of accredited business and accounting schools.

Other Business Accreditations

Other recognized accreditations for business programs include:

In lieu of AACSB, some online programs have earned accreditation from ACBSP or IACBE.

What Do I Need to Know About the CPA Exam?

How to Become a CPA

U.S. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licenses are issued by your State Accountancy Board. (View a list of State Accountancy Boards.)

In most states, you must:

  • Sit and pass the CPA exam
  • Complete 1-2 years of relevant work experience supervised and verified by a U.S. CPA (some State Accountancy Boards will also accept Chartered Accountants)
  • Pass a special exam on ethics

To maintain your licensure, you will be required to take a variety of continuing education courses (CPE). For CPE, states often require an average of 40 credit hours per year.

The Uniform CPA Exam

The Uniform CPA Exam qualifies you to work as a U.S. Certified Public Accountant. It is developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).

The CPA Exam is approximately 14 hours long and consists of 4 sections:

  1. Auditing & Attestation
  2. Financial Accounting and Reporting
  3. Regulation
  4. Business Environment and Concepts

Each section is composed of a variety of multiple choice questions, task-based simulations and written communication tasks.

The CPA is notoriously challenging. The AICPA publishes its passing rates on an annual basis; typically, fewer than 1/2 of entrants pass the full exam. Passing rates are generally higher for recent graduates. You can also apply for re-examination if you fail the first time round.

Prerequisites

To apply to take the exam for certification, you must have completed 150 credit hours at an accredited institution that has been approved by your State Accountancy Board. (View a list of State Accountancy Boards.)

In real terms, this means many CPA candidates hold one of the following:

You can take the exam if you have fewer than 150 credit hours, but you will not be eligible for certification/licensure.

Benefits of Becoming a CPA

As the NASBA points out, there are few reasons to go through the pain of the CPA Exam:

  • Money: A CPA license can mean you’re paid 5-10% more than your peers
  • Job Opportunities: Even as a young CPA, you’ll have plenty of options in the public and private sector
  • Career Advancement: CPAs are often first choice for leadership and management positions
  • Job Security: As more and more CPA Baby Boomers retire, the demand for qualified accountants increases

Your School’s CPA Pass Rate

Before you decide on a program, ask to see your school’s pass rate on the CPA Exams for the past three years. You can also find this information in the NASBA’s annual edition of The Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Performance Book.

A strong program will have:

  • High % of students who pass all sections
  • High % of students who pass individual sections
  • Low % of students who don’t pass any section

Don’t be fooled by universities that quote statistics from a decade ago. You want to see high pass rates from the last few years.

Other Useful Professional Certifications

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

CMA is offered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). It’s a credential for management accountants & financial professionals.

Common job titles for CMA holders include: Staff Accountant, Cost Accountant, Internal Auditor, Budget Analyst, Financial Analyst, Senior Accountant, Finance Manager, Controller, Vice President, Finance Treasurer, CFO, and CEO.

To earn the CMA, you must:

  • Meet the Education Requirements: You must have a bachelor’s degree or professional accounting certification, but you do not need to have the 150 credits & accounting undergraduate coursework required for the CPA (see above). You can take the CMA exam while you’re an undergraduate, but you will need to submit verification of your degree within seven years of passing the exam.
  • Have 2 Years of Relevant Work Experience: You must submit evidence of work in management accounting & financial management (e.g. preparation of financial statements, financial planning & analysis, auditing, budget preparation, forecasting, company investment decision-making, etc.).
  • Pass a Rigorous CMA Exam (50% Pass Rate Globally): The exam is in 2 parts and covers 11 competencies. Part One deals with Financial Reporting, Planning, Performance, and Control; Part Two will test you on Financial Decision Making. IMA recommends that you spend 150-170 hours of study per part. On average, it takes 12-18 months to complete both parts.
  • Earn Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Credits: You must earn 30 CPEs per year, including 2 hours of ethics.
  • Maintain IMA Membership

Confused about the difference between the CPA and CMA?

  • CMAs are expected to use their financial training to make key business & investment decisions. If you look at Part Two of the exam, you’ll see that IMA is testing candidates on their skills in corporate finance, decision analysis, risk management, etc. You’ll find many CMAs in private companies.
  • CPAs typically spend lots of time in public accounting roles—conducting audits, preparing income taxes, and working on financial reports. CPA certification may also be required to teach accounting at the university-level.

Talk to your mentors before you make a decision. The CPA is the most recognized industry certification, but it requires more education credentials and takes more time to complete the exam. As you might expect, professionals who hold a CMA or CPA earn more than their non-credentialed peers; those who have both certifications have the highest earnings of all.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

CFP is offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board). CFP professionals help clients in areas such as retirement planning, investment planning, tax planning, estate planning, financial risk management, and the like.

Common job titles for CFP holders include: Financial Planner, Financial Advisor, Wealth Planner, Financial Analyst, Financial Consultant, Estate Planning Specialist, etc.

To earn the CFP, you must:

  • Meet the Education Requirements: As a baseline, you must have an accredited bachelor’s degree (or the equivalent). The CFP Board also requires that all candidates complete undergraduate coursework in major financial planning topics—the equivalent of 18 semester credit hours (e.g. 6 courses). CFP Board accepts equivalent experience through its Challenge Status or Transcript Review. Most candidates must also complete a financial plan development (capstone) course registered with CFP Board.
  • Fulfill Work Experience Requirements: The CFP Board wants to see 6,000 hours of experience (~3 years) through the Standard Pathway, or 4,000 hours of experience (~2 years) through the Apprenticeship Pathway. Apprentices work under the supervision of licensed CFP.
  • Pass the CFP Certification Exam: This is a challenging, multiple choice exam consisting of 170 questions. In 2017, the overall pass rate was 64%; the pass rate for first-time exam takers was ~69%.
  • Agree to Adhere to High Standards of Ethics & Practice: The CFP Board has detailed Standards of Professional Conduct. It conducts a detailed background check on all candidates, including a review of any disclosures made on the CFP Certification Application.
  • Complete Continuing Education (CE) Credits: The CE requirement is 30 CE credits every two years, including 28 hours in accepted financial planning content areas and 2 hours in ethics.
  • Pay an Annual Certification Fee

If you’re looking for a pay bump or better job opportunities, the CFP is probably worth considering—financial planners usually report an increase in annual gross earnings after certification. The CFP Board posts facts & figures about its professional community on its website.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

CFA is offered by the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute. Chartered financial analysts tend to be heavily involved in corporate financial analysis and the management of large sums of money.

Common job titles for CFA holders include: Financial Advisor, Portfolio Manager, Risk Analyst/Manager, Corporate Financial Analyst, Investment Banking Analyst, Trader, etc.

To become a CFA Charterholder, you must:

  • Meet the Education Requirements: You must have a bachelor’s degree (or the equivalent) or be in the final year of your undergraduate program. You will have to complete your bachelor’s degree before you can take the Level II exam.
  • Fulfill 
Work Experience Requirements: The CFA Institute wants to see 4 years of professional work experience (it does not have to be investment-related), or
 a combination of work experience and education totaling 4 years. Part-time positions do not qualify.
  • Pass 3 Exams (Level I, II & III): Level I covers Ethics & Professional Standards. Level II covers Investment Tools (e.g. quantitative methods, financial reporting & analysis, etc.) and Asset Classes (e.g. equity investments, fixed income, derivatives, etc.). Level III covers Portfolio Management & Wealth Planning. The CFA Institute recommends 300+ hours of study per level.
  • Meet Professional Conduct Criteria: All CFA candidates are required to follow the CFA Institute’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct. You’ll be expected to disclose any matters relating to your professional conduct (e.g. complaints, litigation, arbitration, etc.) in your application.
  • Maintain Regular Memberships with the CFA Institute

Wondering whether to opt for the CFP or the CFA? The CFP is primarily focused on financial planning—it’s useful for financial advisor positions, but it doesn’t really extend into the corporate realms of trading, investment banking, and private equity. For those fields, consider the CFA instead.

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

CIA is offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). Internal auditors monitor an organization’s risk management, governance, and internal control processes. They often evaluate business operations, verify & protect physical assets, investigate internal fraud, check procedures for compliance, and recommend improvements.

Common job titles include: Audit Manager, Risk Manager, Chief Audit Executive, etc.

To become a CIA, you must:

  • Meet the Education Requirements: You must have an associate’s degree (or higher). Common equivalents are a Foundation Degree, Diploma of Higher Education, or Higher National Diploma. Exemptions are available for ACCA members and CPA active license holders.
  • Submit a Character Reference: This should be signed by a professional holding a CIA, CGAP, CCSA, CFSA, or CRMA certification or your supervisor.
  • Fulfill Work Experience Requirements: This will depend on your level of education. If you hold a master’s degree, you should have 12 months of internal auditing experience (or the equivalent). If you hold a bachelor’s degree, you should have 24 months. If you only hold an associate’s degree, you will need to have 60 months. Exemptions are available for ACCA members.
  • Abide by a Code of Ethics: All CIA candidates must agree to abide by IIA’s Code of Ethics.
  • Pass the CIA Exam: The exam syllabus consists of three parts. Part 1 is Internal Audit Basics (125 questions; 2.5 hours); Part 2 is Internal Audit Practice (100 questions; 2 hours); Part 3 is Internal Audit Knowledge Elements (100 questions; 2 hours).
  • Complete Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Credits: CPE requirements are listed on IIA’s website. CIA certificate holders are required to self-certify each year.

Want to dive deeper into the auditing field? IIA also administers specialist certifications such as Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA), Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP), and Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA).

Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM)

CGFM is offered by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). CGFMs have advanced skills in governmental accounting, auditing, financial reporting, internal controls and budgeting at the federal, state and local levels.

Common job titles for CGFM holders include: Budget Analyst/Director, Auditing Manager, Finance Manager/Director, Accounting Manager, CFO, etc.

To become a CGFM, you must:

  • Meet the Education Requirements: Candidates are expected to have an accredited bachelor’s degree (in any discipline). You are allowed to take the exam in your last year of undergraduate studies. However, proof of your degree and work experience will be required before full CGFM certification is granted.
  • Fulfill the Work Experience Requirements: AGA wants to see two years of professional-level work experience in government financial management (e.g. accounting). This can be through employment at a federal, state, local or tribal government entity or outside work for the government. AGA has a long list of acceptable work experiences.
  • Pass 3 Exams: Each exam consists of 115 questions; each exam takes 2 1/4 hours to complete. Exam 1 covers The Governmental Environment. Exam 2 covers Governmental Accounting, Financial Reporting and Budgeting. Exam 3 covers Governmental Financial Management and Control.
  • Abide by AGA’s Code of Ethics: Read the Code of Ethics in full.
  • Maintain Certification: CGFM holders are expected to complete at least 80 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits every two years in government financial management topics (or related technical subjects) and pay an annual CGFM renewal fee by the due date every year.

Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)

CFE is offered by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). CFEs have an intimate knowledge of financial transactions & fraud schemes, fraud prevention & deterrence, and criminal & civil investigations. They work for private companies (e.g. banks & financial institutions, law & accounting firms, etc.) and government bodies such as the FBI, SEC, IRS, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Common job titles include: External/Internal Auditor, Forensic Accountant, Audit Specialist/Consultant, Fraud Analyst/Investigator/Examiner, Information Systems Auditor, Private/Legal Investigator, Director of Loss Prevention, etc.

To become a CFE, you must:

  • Become a Member of the ACFE: You cannot take the exam until you are an Associate member in good standing.
  • Meet Academic and Professional Requirements: This is based on a point system that awards credit for education, professional affiliations, and experience. Generally speaking, candidates should have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of two years professional experience, but ACFE will award points for other efforts. See points criteria.
  • Pass the CFE Exam: The exam contains 4 sections: Fraud Prevention and Deterrence, Financial Transactions and Fraud Schemes, Investigations, and Law. Each question has a time limit of 75 seconds, and each section takes approximately 2 hours and 5 minutes to complete.
  • Maintain Certification: CFEs must earn at least 20 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits every year. CFEs are also required to follow the ACFE Code of Professional Ethics and the ACFE Code of Professional Standards.

CFE certification is helpful if you’re going to be involved in legal proceedings & courtroom cases or internal fraud investigations (e.g. banks & creditors). If your first love is auditing, have a look at the CIA.

Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF)

CFF is offered by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the same body that administers the CPA credential. It’s a qualification for CPAs who wish to specialize in forensic accounting—think fraud, insurance claims, corporate investigations, bankruptcy, insolvency, money laundering, and more.

CFF professionals share many of the same job titles as CFEs: Forensic Accountant, Fraud Examiner, Forensic Auditor, Investigative Auditor, etc.

To become a CFF, you must:

  • Be a CPA: You cannot take the CFF exam until you hold a valid and unrevoked CPA license or certificate.
  • Have 1,000 Hours of Business Experience: Candidates are expected to have a minimum of 1,000 hours of work experience in forensic accounting within a 5-year period preceding the date of the application.
  • Complete 75 Hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Credits: CPDs must be in forensic accounting. You’ll be expected to obtain them within a 5-year period preceding the date of the application.
  • Pass the CFF Exam: The exam consists of multiple choice questions and case studies and takes 4 hours to complete. Topics cover all aspects of forensic accounting & knowledge (e.g. laws, courts, investigations, expert reports, special issues, digital forensics, etc.).
  • Maintain AICPA Membership

Trying to decide between the CFE and the CFF? Both are standard certifications for fraud examiners and are often regarded as “add on” credentials to the CPA. The CFE tends to place more of an emphasis on anti-fraud & prevention measures; the CFF is devoted to forensics.

Not ready to earn a CPA? The CFE (on its own) may be relevant if you work in insurance fraud, loss prevention, or an anti-money laundering compliance department.

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