Best online accounting degrees 2021: Top picks

    Accountants and auditors prepare financial statements, review accounting documents to identify fraud, and recommend tax strategies to clients. An online accounting degree helps graduates launch their careers.

    Accounting majors study auditing and financial and managerial accounting. After taking core courses in accounting and business, learners prepare for the workforce through specialized classes in tax preparation, fraud examination, and financial policy. By emphasizing career-ready skills, accounting programs train students for focused career paths.

    Our guide to the best online accounting programs draws on reputable sources to help prospective students make an informed choice about their future.

    The best online bachelor’s in accounting degrees

    Our list of the best online accounting degrees uses ZDnet’s ranking methodology to round up 25 top accounting programs. Prospective accounting majors can use the rankings to find the best fit for their unique needs.

    Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

    1. Florida Atlantic University

    Boca Raton, Florida

    About the program: The online accounting program emphasizes financial reporting and analysis. Majors learn how to follow regulations and make strategic decisions.

    Acceptance rate: 63%

    Graduation rate: 52%

    Avg. annual net price: $10,186

    Years to completion: 2-year degree completion program

    SAT Range: 1080-1240

    Minimum GPA: 2.25

    Enrollment periods per year: Fall, spring, summer

    Course delivery methods: Online; asynchronous

    Accreditation: Florida Atlantic University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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    2. University of Massachusetts — Amherst

    Amherst, Massachusetts

    About the program: Students with at least 27 college credits qualify for the online accounting degree at UMass — Amherst. The major prioritizes engagement opportunities.

    Acceptance rate: 64%

    Graduation rate: 80%

    Avg. annual net price: $22,501

    Years to completion: 2-3 years

    SAT Range: 1190-1390

    Minimum GPA: No minimum

    Enrollment periods per year: Fall, spring, summer

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous

    Accreditation: The University of Massachusetts — Amherst is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).

    3. SUNY College at Plattsburgh

    Plattsburgh, New York

    About the program: The bachelor’s in accounting program offers one-on-one faculty advising and internship opportunities to prepare graduates for the workforce.

    Acceptance rate: 58%

    Graduation rate: 68%

    Avg. annual net price: $15,845

    Years to completion: 2-year degree completion program

    SAT Range: 980-1180

    Minimum GPA: 2.3

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: SUNY College at Plattsburgh is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    4. Pennsylvania State University — World Campus

    University Park, Pennsylvania

    About the program: The online accounting program emphasizes the intersections between accounting and business. Majors prepare for in-demand accounting certifications.

    Acceptance rate: 76%

    Graduation rate: 71%

    Avg. annual net price: $27,372

    Years to completion: 4 years

    SAT Range: 1070-1310

    Minimum GPA: 2.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Fall, spring, summer

    Course delivery methods: Online; asynchronous

    Accreditation:

    Pennsylvania State University — World Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    5. University of Minnesota — Crookston

    Crookston, Minnesota

    About the program: The online bachelor’s in accounting program covers key topics like public accounting, taxation, and finance. Accounting majors can also take CPA exam prep courses.

    Acceptance rate: 68%

    Graduation rate: 54%

    Avg. annual net price: $10,952

    Years to completion: 4 years

    SAT Range: Not required

    Minimum GPA: 2.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Fall, spring

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: University of Minnesota — Crookston is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    6. University of Alabama at Birmingham

    Birmingham, Alabama

    About the program: The flexible online accounting degree offers a self-paced or structured online enrollment option. The program offers concentration classes in information technology and forensic accounting.

    Acceptance rate: 74%

    Graduation rate: 58%

    Avg. annual net price: $16,953

    Years to completion: 4 years

    SAT Range: 1090-1370

    Minimum GPA: 2.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: The University of Alabama at Birmingham is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    7. Northern State University

    Aberdeen, South Dakota

    About the program: The online bachelor’s in accounting program builds critical thinking and analytical skills. Majors gain real-world accounting skills with a flexible format.

    Acceptance rate: 84%

    Graduation rate: 48%

    Avg. annual net price: $15,851

    Years to completion: 4 years

    SAT Range: 980-1190

    Minimum GPA: 2.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: Northern State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    8. University of Mary

    Bismarck, North Dakota

    About the program: The accelerated online accounting degree trains students in reporting requirements, auditing procedures, and tax regulations. The University of Mary offers start dates every five weeks.

    Acceptance rate: 74%

    Graduation rate: 55%

    Avg. annual net price: $17,410

    Years to completion: 3.3-4 years

    SAT Range: 1050-1280

    Minimum GPA: 2.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions

    Course delivery methods: Online

    Accreditation: The University of Mary is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    9. Eastern New Mexico University

    Portales, New Mexico

    About the program: The fully online bachelor’s in accounting program uses recorded lectures, projects, and collaborative participation to provide flexibility and engagement.

    Acceptance rate: 58%

    Graduation rate: 35%

    Avg. annual net price: $9,516

    Years to completion: 4 years

    SAT Range: 900-1100

    Minimum GPA: 2.5

    Enrollment periods per year: Fall, spring, summer

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: Eastern New Mexico University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    10. Santa Fe College

    Gainesville, Florida

    About the program: The bachelor’s in accounting program offers a degree-completion path for those with prior college experience. The program emphasizes auditing, managerial accounting, accounting theory, and financial statement analysis.

    Acceptance rate: Not publicly available

    Graduation rate: 57%

    Avg. annual net price: $11,420

    Years to completion: 2-year degree completion program

    SAT Range: N/A

    Minimum GPA: 2.5

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous

    Accreditation: Santa Fe College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    11. Bemidji State University

    Bemidji, Minnesota

    About the program: The fully online accounting degree blends technical and theoretical knowledge in a career-focused curriculum.

    Acceptance rate: 65%

    Graduation rate: 46%

    Avg. annual net price: $15,868

    Years to completion: 4 years

    SAT Range: Not required

    Minimum GPA: 2.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions

    Course delivery methods: Online; asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Bemidji State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    12. Fayetteville State University

    Fayetteville, North Carolina

    About the program: Offered as an online degree completion program, the bachelor’s in accounting includes advanced coursework in accounting, finance, and data processing.

    Acceptance rate: 69%

    Graduation rate: 35%

    Avg. annual net price: $5,899

    Years to completion: 2-year degree completion program

    SAT Range: 870-1010

    Minimum GPA: 2.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions

    Course delivery methods: Online; asynchronous

    Accreditation: Fayetteville State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    13. Northwestern Oklahoma State University

    Alva, Oklahoma

    About the program: The online bachelor’s in accounting program largely uses an asynchronous format. Students complete a synchronous senior capstone in business policy.

    Acceptance rate: 63%

    Graduation rate: 30%

    Avg. annual net price: $9,791

    Years to completion: 4 years

    SAT Range: 920-1120

    Minimum GPA: 2.7

    Enrollment periods per year: Fall, spring, summer

    Course delivery methods: Online; asynchronous and synchronous

    Accreditation: Northwestern Oklahoma State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    14. Southern Utah University

    Cedar City, Utah

    About the program: Undergraduates in the online accounting program complete core business and accounting classes. SUU offers both bachelor of science and bachelor of arts options.

    Acceptance rate: 78%

    Graduation rate: 37%

    Avg. annual net price: $14,285

    Years to completion: 4 years

    SAT Range: 1020-1240

    Minimum GPA: 2.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Fall, spring, summer

    Course delivery methods: Online; asynchronous

    Accreditation: Southern Utah University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

    15. Thomas Jefferson University

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    About the program: The fully online bachelor’s in accounting program at Jefferson emphasizes tax law, government regulations, and accounting technology. Learners complete coursework during eight-week terms.

    Acceptance rate: 66%

    Graduation rate: 64%

    Avg. annual net price: $25,162

    Years to completion: 2-3 years

    SAT Range: 1070-1260

    Minimum GPA: N/A

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: Thomas Jefferson University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    16. Concordia University, St. Paul

    St. Paul, Minnesota

    About the program: The fully online accounting degree uses an accelerated format and offers scholarships for online students. Undergraduates at the Lutheran university can transfer up to 90 credits toward the 120-credit degree.

    Acceptance rate: 98%

    Avg. annual net price: $16,245

    Years to completion: 4 years

    Net price: $16,500

    SAT Range: Not required

    Minimum GPA: 2.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Six

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: Concordia University, St. Paul is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    17. Temple University

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    About the program: The online accounting degree at Temple uses semester-long and accelerated classes that enhance learning through interactive sessions. Temple charges a flat tuition rate for distance learners.

    Acceptance rate: 60%

    Graduation rate: 71%

    Avg. annual net price: $23,521

    Years to completion: 4 years or accelerated 3-year program

    SAT Range: Not required

    Minimum GPA: N/A

    Enrollment periods per year: Fall, spring

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: Temple University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    18. University of Toledo

    Toledo, Ohio

    About the program: The bachelor of business administration in accounting degree blends liberal arts courses with core business classes and an accounting curriculum. Seniors complete a business policy forum as a capstone course.

    Acceptance rate: 96%

    Graduation rate: 47%

    Avg. annual net price: $17,630

    Years to completion: 4 years

    SAT Range: 1000-1240

    Minimum GPA: 2.0

    Enrollment periods per year: fall, spring, summer

    Course delivery methods: Online; asynchronous

    Accreditation: The University of Toledo is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    19. St. Ambrose University

    Davenport, Iowa

    About the program: The online bachelor’s in business administration with an accounting management focus uses an eight-week course schedule and incorporates interactive elements. St. Ambrose is a private, Catholic university.

    Acceptance rate: 77%

    Graduation rate: 67%

    Avg. annual net price: $26,204

    Years to completion: 2 years with transfer credits

    SAT Range: 1070-1270

    Minimum GPA: 2.0

    Enrollment periods per year: Six

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: St. Ambrose University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    20. Old Dominion University

    Norfolk, Virginia

    About the program: Undergraduates earning an online accounting degree at ODU choose between a traditional or degree completion option. Virginia residents receive a tuition discount.

    Acceptance rate: 89%

    Graduation rate: 52%

    Avg. annual net price: $16,493

    Years to completion: 2-4 years

    SAT Range: 980-1180

    Minimum GPA: No minimum

    Enrollment periods per year: Fall, spring, summer

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous

    Accreditation: Old Dominion University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    21. Indiana State University

    Terre Haute, Indiana

    About the program: The fully online bachelor’s in accounting lets majors choose accounting electives to customize their course of study.

    Acceptance rate: 90%

    Graduation rate: 41%

    Avg. annual net price: $13,896

    Years to completion: 4 years

    SAT Range: Not required

    Minimum GPA: 2.5

    Enrollment periods per year: Fall, spring, summer

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: Indiana State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    22. University of Charleston

    Charleston, West Virginia

    About the program: The online accounting program incorporates mentorship and internship opportunities to build career-ready skills. The University of Charleston also offers a fast-track option.

    Acceptance rate: 50%

    Graduation rate: 47%

    Avg. annual net price: $22,284

    Years to completion: 4 years or 3-year fast-track

    SAT Range: 940-1140

    Minimum GPA: 2.5

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous

    Accreditation: The University of Charleston is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    23. Gardner-Webb University

    Boiling Springs, North Carolina

    About the program: The online bachelor’s in accounting program offers traditional and degree-completion options. Gardner-Webb’s curriculum incorporates Baptist ethics.

    Acceptance rate: 67%

    Graduation rate: 53%

    Avg. annual net price: $21,296

    Years to completion: 2-4 years

    SAT Range: 970-1180

    Minimum GPA: 2.5

    Enrollment periods per year: Rolling admissions

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: Gardner-Webb University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    24. Northwestern State University of Louisiana

    Natchitoches, Louisiana

    About the program: The bachelor of science in accounting program, offered through the School of Business, covers key topics like financial and managerial accounting and offers electives.

    Acceptance rate: 82%

    Graduation rate: 45%

    Avg. annual net price: $12,866

    Years to completion: 4 years

    SAT Range: 1010-1210

    Minimum GPA: 2.35

    Enrollment periods per year: Fall, spring, summer

    Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous and asynchronous

    Accreditation: Northwestern State University of Louisiana is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    25. Western Governors University

    Salt Lake City, Utah

    About the program: The online accounting degree uses a competency-based model where students demonstrate mastery to complete courses. At WGU, 70% of undergraduates finish within 41 months.

    Acceptance rate: 100%

    Graduation rate: 29%

    Avg. annual net price: $9,805

    Years to completion: 3.5 years

    SAT Range: Not required

    Minimum GPA: No minimum

    Enrollment periods per year: 12 — one per month

    Course delivery methods: Online; asynchronous

    Accreditation: Western Governors University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

    Insights from an accounting graduate

    Namrita Singh is a senior tax associate at Wiss & Company, LLP and a CPA. She has three years of public accounting experience in a wide range of industries. Her primary focus is high-net-worth individuals and their closely held businesses.

    In addition to tax preparation, she also assists clients in tax planning and facilitates communication with federal and state tax agencies. She recently graduated from The College of New Jersey.

    ZDNet: What type of person is successful and thrives in an accounting career? What type of person may not be the best fit?

    Namrita Singh: I’d say that most people could thrive in an accounting career, from my experience, and not to discount yourself just because you don’t feel like you don’t fit in a particular box. However, there are a few qualities that determine if you’re going to sink or swim.

    Time management and multitasking are the most important, in my opinion. If you haven’t developed these skills in college, then the first year or two of your professional life may be a bit of a whirlwind. Between busy season and studying for the certified public accountant exam, you’re going to get hit with a lot of demands from a lot of different people. If you can make it through that then you can certainly thrive.

    I strongly recommend figuring out how to be organized in whatever way works best for you as early as you can.

    ZDNet: What would you recommend that students do in addition to their accounting degree program, in order to stand out to employers?

    NS: Aside from academics, employers want to see what you care about — it gives them insight into what kind of person you are. Join a club or two about something you’re passionate about. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hobby you do for fun or a cause you’re particularly interested in.

    It also doesn’t matter if it’s irrelevant to your degree — in fact, showing employers that you care about more than just accounting is important. College campuses are so diverse that you’re almost guaranteed to find a club for something you care about, no matter how obscure. It also makes for a great talking point when you interview!

    ZDNet: What misconceptions do people have about this degree, and what would you tell them?

    NS: Like most jobs, there tends to be a stereotype around accountants. I’m sure you’ve heard it before: We’re boring math people, sitting at our desks and counting beans. Maybe that’s true for some people and maybe it was true in the past, but it’s 2021 and in my experience, being good at math is irrelevant (thank you Excel).

    We’re also not (for the most part) the monotonous, nerdy Type-A people that others seem to think we are. We are just as diverse as any other field of work, with a wide range of personalities, quirks, and hobbies.

    ZDNet: What was the most challenging, rigorous course you took in your accounting degree program? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

    NS: For me, and for most people, intermediate accounting II was the most challenging. It covers a lot of complex areas of accounting such as leases, pensions, and stockholder’s equity transactions. If you haven’t figured out a study technique that works for you yet, now is the time.

    It’s easy to get away with not putting in a lot of extra effort outside of class for most classes, but intermediate II is a beast of its own. Go to your professor’s office hours or the tutoring center if you have to. You’ll most likely need them to reinforce some concepts for you.

    Most importantly, though: Do your homework. Doing and redoing problems is the best way to conceptually understand what you’re doing.

    What to expect in an online bachelor’s in accounting degree program

    A bachelor’s degree in accounting prepares graduates for entry-level careers in accounting, finance, and business.

    To engage learners, accounting programs incorporate interactive elements including group projects, presentations, and capstone courses. In many programs, majors choose accounting electives to specialize their course of study.

    Accounting courses offer a mix of theoretical and practical approaches. The career-focused emphasizes the skills needed for accountant or auditor jobs.

    In addition to online courses, distance learners may complete an accounting internship in their local area. An internship builds career-ready skills and helps undergraduates network.

    Accounting courses

    During an accounting degree, students take courses in financial accounting, auditing, managerial accounting, and tax accounting. After these core courses, students take specialized classes in fraud examination, public accounting, accounting information systems, and more. Below are a few classes majors will likely encounter.

    Financial Accounting

    Financial accounting courses introduce students to the process of recording and analyzing financial transactions. Topics include accounting methods, information systems, and financial statement analysis. The class trains students to create financial statements.

    Auditing

    Internal and external auditors evaluate financial statements for errors and fraud. The course covers auditing procedures, ethical standards, and fiscal regulations. Students also learn how to report audit results.

    Fraud Examination

    Accountants and auditors, particularly forensic accountants, identify and investigate financial crimes. This course teaches about fraud identification, cybercrimes, and business valuation methods. Students also explore financial investigation techniques.

    Managerial Accounting

    Learners explore topics like cost accumulation, budgeting, and cost accounting. The course also examines the role of accounting in managerial decision-making and the need for accurate information systems.

    Accounting degree levels

    Degree-seekers can earn an undergraduate or graduate degree in accounting. Accounting degrees at every level provide career-ready training. However, different degrees lead to different career paths.

    In addition to an accounting degree, students can earn an accounting certificate. Certificate programs offer focused training in less time than a degree.

    Associate in accounting

    Length: 2 years

    Cost: $6,000-$20,000

    Post-grad careers: Accounting clerk; financial clerk; tax collector

    An associate degree in accounting introduces learners to core accounting and business concepts. Students examine financial accounting methods, learn how to create financial statements, and gain basic business skills. The curriculum also includes general education courses that strengthen critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

    After earning an associate degree, graduates qualify for support roles such as accounting clerk. Graduates can also transfer into a bachelor’s program. Many four-year colleges waive general education requirements for transfer students with an associate degree.

    Bachelor’s in accounting

    Length: 4 years

    Cost: $40,000-$100,000

    Post-grad careers: Accountant; auditor; financial analyst

    Accounting majors take core business classes, general education requirements, and upper-division accounting courses. The degree meets the entry-level educational requirement for careers as an accountant or auditor. Graduates also work as financial analysts, budget analysts, and personal financial advisors.

    During an accounting program, undergraduates complete project-based assignments to strengthen their financial statement analysis skills. Many programs also incorporate an internship to prepare majors for the workforce. In addition to strong analytical skills, the major encourages attention to detail.

    Master’s in accounting

    Length: 2 years

    Cost: $24,000-$70,000

    Post-grad careers: Accounting manager; certified public accountant; personal financial advisor

    An accounting master’s degree provides advanced training in accounting methods, theory, and practice. Master’s students choose between accounting programs and an MBA with an accounting focus. Both options prepare graduates for careers as supervisors, CPAs, and financial managers. However, an MBA program incorporates more management training.

    Accounting graduate students take specialized courses in public accounting, forensic accounting, and auditing. They may also complete projects and internships.

    Doctorate in accounting

    Length: 4-6 years

    Cost: $35,000-$65,000

    Post-grad careers: Accounting professor; researcher; accounting consultant

    A doctorate in accounting is the highest degree in the field. During a doctoral program, learners take advanced courses, conduct research, and write a dissertation. Some programs also incorporate internships and experiential learning opportunities.

    At the doctoral level, students can earn a research-focused Ph.D. in accounting or a doctor of business administration with an accounting focus. The Ph.D. leads to academic and research careers, while the DBA helps practitioners advance to leadership roles in organizations.

    In conclusion

    An online accounting degree can launch a career in growing, high-paying fields. Choosing the right program helps prospective accounting majors reach their professional goals. By researching delivery methods, career paths, and accounting programs, applicants can find the right program for their unique needs.

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