Study Accounting: Bachelor's Degrees & Certificate Info

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Bachelor's degree and certificate programs in accounting can lead to careers in finance. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and online options, and find out what you can do with your program.
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Accounting Bachelor's and Certificate Programs: Degrees at a Glance

Bachelor's degree and certificate programs in accounting can prepare you for careers in accounting and finance. Some of these careers may require licensing or professional certifications, while others need just a bachelor's degree. If your degree is in an area outside of accounting, you may consider a certificate program to supplement your education. Management positions often require experience, regardless of your degree-level.

Most accounting-related careers were anticipated to add more jobs in the coming decade, although the outlooks vary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors were expected to see an employment growth of 16% from 2010-2020. The BLS projected that the career field of financial analysts would see employment grow 23% over the same time period.

Bachelor's Certificate
Who is this degree for? Individuals looking for entry-level careers in accounting or finance Individuals who want to supplement their education or become eligible for certification
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Accountant and auditor ($63,000)*\ - Financial analyst ($76,000)*\ - Financial examiner ($75,000)*\ - Cost estimator ($58,000)*\ - Financial manager** ($107,000)* (The same careers may be available to individuals with a certificate)
Time to Completion 4 years full-time Usually 1-2 years
Common Graduation Requirements - Around 120 semester credits
- Capstone course
Around 5 - 10 courses
Prerequisites - High school diploma or GED
- SAT or ACT scores
- Bachelor's degree or prerequisite courses
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Position typically requires experience in addition to a degree

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Bachelor's degree programs may be offered as a Bachelor of Science in Accounting or as a concentration within a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. These programs train you to analyze and control accounts and finances. Some programs may have combined/accelerated options that allow you to earn both bachelor's and master's degrees in an abbreviated amount of time. You may want to consider programs that are approved by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. If you are interested in pursuing the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential, you will need to earn additional credits.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Concentrations within accounting are available
  • Make you eligible for many entry-level positions
  • Accelerated bachelor's/master's options may be available

Cons

  • Additional requirements are needed for CPA credential
  • Experience may still be required for management or leadership positions
  • May be at a disadvantage when competing against individuals with master's degrees

Coursework and Requirements

Coursework outside of the core may include topics in calculus, statistics and business writing. To graduate, you may need to complete several seminars and a capstone course. Some of the courses you may take include:

  • Cost accounting
  • Auditing
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Financial reporting
  • Corporate finance

Online Programs

Bachelor's programs are available that can be completed entirely online. These programs are often taught by the same faculty as their on-campus counterparts. You may still need to purchase additional items like textbooks.

How to Get Ahead with This Degree

In addition to completing a degree program, you may look at becoming professionally certified. Some certifications that you may consider are the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential. According to the BLS, earning this credential requires you to have two years of management accounting experience, meet professional standards and pass a two-part exam. Technically, you should be familiar with computer programs like Excel and Access.

Certificate Programs

If you have already completed a bachelor's degree program and are looking to become eligible for the CPA credential, you may consider a certificate program. These programs vary in length, although many can be completed in one or two years. If you are already certified, these programs may be used for continuing education credits. Similar to bachelor's degree programs, specializations may be available.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can help you become eligible for the CPA credential
  • Specializations may be offered
  • Don't require all the general education coursework from bachelor's programs

Cons

  • May require a bachelor's degree for admission
  • Not sufficient on their own for most accounting positions
  • May need to complete prerequisite coursework to be admitted

Coursework and Requirements

These programs typically include core courses in the major accounting areas, such as managerial and financial accounting, as well as several electives. Prerequisite courses in business, finance or statistics may be recommended or required. Some of the courses you may take include:

  • Survey of accounting
  • Accounting information systems
  • Assurance and audit services
  • Federal income tax
  • Accounting theory

Online Programs

Online accounting certificates are available through university-extension programs. These programs offer the same courses that are offered onsite, although online courses may be offered year-round. Some programs may waive elective coursework requirements depending on your previous schooling.

How to Get Ahead with This Degree

If you have a bachelor's degree and complete a certificate program, you may be eligible for the CPA credential. The BLS reports that most states require the completion of 150 semester hours to be eligible. While the specific requirements vary by state, you will have to pass a national exam and meet continuing education standards. Being familiar with the same computer programs as an individual with a bachelor's degree may also be helpful.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin - Accounting
      • Bachelor of Accounting
      • Bachelor of Business Administration - Finance
      • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Accounting
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Accounting
      • B.A. - Business Admin: Finance
      • Business Administration, BA - Management
  • Campus Locations:
    4. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Private Sector Accounting
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Accounting
      • BS - Business Administration - Finance
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Business Development
      • BS - Business Administration - General
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Central Christian College of Kansas

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Utica College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
      • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation
      • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Fraud Prevention and Detection
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Accounting
      • BS in Business Studies - Accounting
      • BS in Business Studies - Org Leadership
      • BS Finance
      • BS in Finance - Financial Planning
      • BS in Business Studies - Business Finance
  • Campus and Online Programs
    9. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Excelsior College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Business (Accounting)
      • BS in Business (General Business)
      • BS in Business (Finance)

Featured Schools

American InterContinental University

  • Bachelor of Business Admin - Accounting
  • Bachelor of Accounting
  • Bachelor of Business Administration - Finance

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Herzing University

  • Bachelor: Accounting
  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration

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Keiser University

  • B.A. - Accounting
  • B.A. - Business Admin: Finance
  • Business Administration, BA - Management

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Virginia College

  • Bachelor: Private Sector Accounting

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Colorado Technical University

  • BS - Accounting
  • BS - Business Administration - Finance
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior

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Central Christian College of Kansas

  • Bachelor of Business Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Utica College

  • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Fraud Prevention and Detection

What is your highest level of education completed?

Southern New Hampshire University

  • BS in Accounting
  • BS in Business Studies - Accounting
  • BS in Business Studies - Org Leadership

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