Accountants and auditors are the second most in-demand profession of 2014 according to Time, and they’re well compensated, with average hourly earnings of $30.55. Accounting jobs are versatile, with many one-time accountants moving up the chain of command and into upper management in corporations. An online accounting degree is becoming more common in the field.
While this all sounds good, sometimes it can be difficult to obtain your education on top of work, your family, and other commitments. Luckily, getting an accounting degree online is on the rise. From degree-completion programs to undergraduate and masters that be obtained dually, there are online accounting degrees that can fit almost everyone’s lives, schedules, and goals. For those interested in a more general overview of distance learning, see our ranking of the top online colleges.
For this year’s ranking, we’ve taken several factors that are important to students and weighted them all equally. These factors include the ranking of the online program’s parent institution, the affordability of the program, and the flexibility of the program (including the number of specializations, start dates and paces at which the program can be completed).
- Affordability (.3): The estimated average total cost of attending the program.
- Academic Quality (.3): The rank of the parent institution according to US News.
- Flexibility (.3): Schools were rewarded for having greater flexibility in course offerings, tracks, and program pacing.
*Though it varies by state, it should also be noted that the number of credit hours required to sit for the CPA (certified public accountant) exam often exceed the number of credit hours in a traditional undergraduate degree. If you’re interested in obtaining your accounting degree to sit for a CPA exam, make sure to check with potential programs to see if they can accommodate for your state’s requirements.
1. Colorado State University Global Campus
Colorado State University-Global Campus offers a fully online Bachelor’s in Accounting that can be specialized with a number of options (21 in total), ranging from data management to organizational leadership, to marketing. CSU is currently the 121st ranked national university by US News. With an average estimated program price of $42,000–the 11th most affordable school of those surveyed–CSU is slightly pricier than other highly ranked schools but makes up for it through quality instruction, flexibility, and tons of specializations.
2. Old Dominion University
Online Bachelor’s in Accounting
Old Dominion University offers a fully online Bachelor’s in Accounting degree that won’t break the bank, yet still, provides the academic quality of a national university. Through +ODU students may attend local or online community colleges to complete core requirements (for less), and then earn guaranteed acceptance into Old Dominion to complete their accounting degree. Estimated average program cost for Old Dominion’s Bachelor’s in Accounting is currently $36,780, making the program the 6th most affordable of program surveyed.
3. Auburn University (tie)
Online B.S. in Business Administration with a focus in Accountancy
Auburn’s online Accounting degree is actually a B.S. in Business Administration with a focus in Accountancy but still functions to prepare students for the CPA exam and accounting roles in the work world. The B.S.B.A. in Accountancy is the first online undergraduate degree offered by Auburn, and offers live streams and recorded videos of lectures from the traditional program. While Auburn’s program is the second most affordable in our rankings–costing an average estimated total of $23,325–it should be noted that the program is really a degree completion program, and only requires 30 hours. Auburn is currently the 103 ranked national university by US News.
4. Capella University (tie)
Capella University offers a highly flexible online Bachelor’s in Business with an Accounting specialization. Much like other programs that partner with community colleges to offer general education requirements at a discount, Capella offers self-paced and discounted general education classes through Sophia Pathways, a partner of the university. With academic quarters that are 3 months long, and with 3-week breaks between quarters, Capella makes it easier to balance your education and life. Currently, Capella University is a national university according to US News. Estimated average total program cost is $47,808 for Capella’s program, making it the 15th most affordable program of those surveyed.
5. University of Minnesota — Crookston
Online Accounting Degree (B.S.)
The University of Minnesota Crookston offers a fully only B.S. in Accounting as well as review courses and exams leading to certifications to become a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, or Certified Internal Auditor. Further flexibility is available through UMC’s transfer-friendly policies, which enable many requirements to be taken elsewhere at a cheaper rate. Currently, the University of Minnesota Crookston is the 40th ranked regional university in the Midwest by US News. Average estimated tuition is $46,292 for the entire program, making it the 14th most affordable program surveyed.
6. Indiana Wesleyan University (tie)
Online B.S. in Accounting
Indiana Wesleyan University offers an online B.S. in Accounting designed for working professionals and tailored to provide a foundation for students who want to pursue their CPA certification. Additional flexibility is available with multiple program start dates per year. While the program is the cheapest of those we surveyed–at $17,097 for the entire program at current rates–it should also be noted that it is technically a degree completion program, and only requires 41 credit hours to complete. Indiana Wesleyan is currently the 26th ranked regional university in the Midwest according to US News.
6. Northeastern University (tie)
Online B.S. in Finance and Accounting Management
Northeastern University offers a fully online B.S. in Finance and Accounting Management, with it’s distinctive professionally minded educational philosophy that includes classes like “writing for professionals” and “business strategy.” Northeastern University brings high-quality academics to their online format, with the school currently ranked 42nd among national universities by US News (the highest of programs surveyed). Tuition for the online Finance and Accounting Management is slightly pricier than most other schools in our ranking, clocking in at an estimated $60,147 for the entire program, but you’re paying for the ability to attend a top school from the privacy of your own laptop.
8. University of Alabama — Birmingham
Online B.S. in Accounting
The University of Alabama-Birmingham offers an online B.S. in Accounting meant to prepare students for exams for becoming Certified Management Accountants, Certified Internal Auditors, Certified Internal Examiners, or Certified Public Accountants. According to the Open Education Database, it’s currently the best online accounting program in the Southeast. Currently, University of Alabama-Birmingham is ranked as the 149th best national university by US News. The program’s estimated total cost is currently $61,848, making it the 27th most affordable of programs surveyed.
9. Colorado Technical University
Online B.S. in Accounting
Colorado Technical University offers a B.S. in Accounting that has for several years garnered stellar results on both employer and alumni surveys, including 98% of employers stating that CTU graduates performed as well or better than other employees, and 86% of alumni who feel satisfied with their experience at CTU. Currently, Colorado Technical University is a national university according to US News. Estimated total tuition is the 16th most affordable of surveyed schools, at $49,472.
10. St. Joseph’s College in Maine
Online B.S. in General Studies with an Accounting specialization
St. Joseph’s College in Maine offers a fully online B.S. in General Studies with an Accounting specialization. The degree is meant to prepare students to sit for the CPA exam through a traditional B.S. degree that requires 128 credit hours, or a fast track program that allows qualified students to procure their masters for only a few additional classes. St. Joseph’s College in Maine is currently a ranked but not placed regional university in the north according to US News. Total estimated program cost is $39,936, making the program the 8th most affordable of programs surveyed.
11. Athens State University
Online B.S. in Accounting
Athens State University currently offers a B.S. in accounting meant to prepare students for the CPA exam, fully online. Related business college certificates, including acquisition & contract management, logistics & supply chain management, marketing, and SAP student achievement recognition are also available from the college of business online. Athens State University is currently a regional university in the southern region according to US News. The total estimated program cost is the fourth lowest of programs we surveyed, clocking in at $31,868.
12. Penn State University World Campus
Online B.S. in Business with an Accounting option
Penn State University World Campus offers a fully online B.S. in Business with an Accounting option. Core requirements may be transferred in, making it easier than ever to obtain an affordable degree from a world class institution. Currently, Penn State is the 48th ranked national university according to US News, making it the second most highly ranked institution of programs surveyed. The estimated average total cost of attending the program is $67,080 for those taking the full 120 credits online with Penn State.
13. Washington State University
Online Accounting Degree (Bachelor’s)
Washington State University’s Global Campus offers a number of tracks through their fully online accounting major. All students in the online accounting degree program must first work through a 30 semester hour certificate in business administration. Students may then proceed through accounting or business core courses, accounting electives, and graduate work through the business school. Washington State University is currently the 138th ranked national university according to US News. With an estimated total program cost of $68,400, the program is the 30th most affordable of programs surveyed.
14. Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University offers a fully online B.S. in Accounting with four specializations, including a BS in Forensic Accounting & Fraud Examination, a BS in Accounting focusing on Finance, a B.S. in Accounting centering on Information Systems, a B.S. accounting degree looking at business studies, and an accelerated BS to MS accounting degree. The accelerated online accounting degree program requires 150 credits to get both bachelor’s and master’s, only slightly more than the 120 hours required for a normal bachelor’s. Southern New Hampshire University is currently a regional university in the north according to US News. Estimated total program cost is $38,400, making the program the 7th most affordable surveyed.
15. Regis University (tie)
Online Accounting Degree (B.S.)
Regis University offers a B.S. in Accounting that may be taken at an accelerated pace fully online. Additional options are available online as well, including a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program consisting of 152 credit hours, and a combined bachelor’s and MBA program for 158 credit hours. Currently, Regis University is the 29th ranked regional college in the western region according to US News. Ranking as the 24th most affordable program of those surveyed, the estimated total program cost at Regis amounts to $58,930.
18. Columbia College
Online Accounting Degree (B.A., B.S., MBA)
Columbia College’s Accounting Program offers a B.A., B.S., and MBA with an accounting focus. Related minors including accounting, business, computer information systems, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, management, and marketing. Currently, Columbia College is a regional university according to US News. Estimated program cost is $31,200, making the program one of the most affordable programs surveyed, and ranking it third in this metric.
19. University of Maryland — University College
Online Accounting Degree (Bachelor’s, MBA)
University of Maryland University College offers a fully online accounting degree that extends to the 150 credit hour CPA exam requirement through either a second major or the MBA program, which offers a specialization in accounting and more specifically in internal auditing. Currently, the University of Maryland University College is a regional college in the northern region according to US News. The total estimated cost of attendance is $49,344, making the program the 15th most affordable of programs surveyed.
20. Liberty University
Online Accounting Degree (B.S.)
Liberty University offers a fully online accounting degree (B.S.) that requires a total of 120 credit hours, only 30 of which must be taken at Liberty (the rest may be transferred). If you want to complete your degree even faster, select courses of study at Liberty also offer “intensives” in which a one-week visit to campus accelerates your degree. Liberty University is currently the 80th ranked regional university in the southern region by US News. Total estimated program cost comes in at $43,200, making the program the 12th most affordable of those surveyed.
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