BS in Accounting: The Definitive Guide & Top Schools

Accounting is a business-related field in which members of the profession record, measure, and evaluate various personal or business financial transactions and statements.

The accounting specialty is usually described as part of the field of finance and a skill that finance majors also need to succeed.

Accounting majors should enjoy math and prefer to operate in an organized matter because analyzing and crunching computer-based numbers and data is a fundamental part of the job.

What Will I Learn in an Accounting Program? (Curriculum)

Accountants are tasked with creating and maintaining a variety of financial records that include bookkeeping services to both public and private sector clients.

Professional accountants are also responsible for helping make sense of the typically overwhelming amounts of data.

Accountants are skilled at interpreting the various financial statements for either private clients or as managerial professionals working in a range of companies – from Mom-and-Pop Establishments to behemoth corporate entities.

Most students selecting an accounting major study path begin their studies with a broad liberal arts education.

During the first two years of the accounting program, students complete coursework in psychology, sciences, English literature, foreign language, and more.

The idea is that a baccalaureate degree provides an overall well-rounded education.

In addition, to a required overall general education, the curriculum in an accounting degree program will also introduce and delve into these topics:

  • The Principles of Accounting.
  • Applied Business Math, Calculus, and Introductory Statistics.
  • Managerial and Financial Accounting.
  • Compliance with Federal Regulations.
  • Tax Preparation.
  • The Preparation of Financial Statements.
  • Basic Accounting and Auditing Theories and Methods.
  • Standard Business Principles/Practices.
  • Individual and Corporate Tax Law.
  • Depending on the program, classes may also include business communication, business law, as well as public speaking.

With these skills, accountants investigate existing financial records looking for erroneous entries or discrepancies that may be present.

Other professional accountants are responsible for managing the investment portfolio of a client’s company or employer.

How to Choose a Good Program

If you have a pretty good idea that a career in accounting is something you are interested in, finding the most suitable accounting degree program requires several important considerations.

The first and most important consideration is your personal and professional objectives and goals.

Like most academic majors, a degree program of a Bachelor of Science in Accounting encompasses a wide range of related topics – with each higher institution of education offering its expert perspective on the subject.

Next, those considering a career as an accountant should try to prioritize several other essential factors to determine which of the available degree programs meets your goals and budgetary constraints.

Remember to consider the type of campus offered, the school’s facilities, and the student-to-teacher ratios.

Additionally – to make a well-informed decision about your future education –

Research the School’s Reputation

Each school or institution of higher education delivers its accounting program and curriculum uniquely.

If you are interested in a specific program, take the time to review the college/university/school’s reputation found online by current and previous students – and credible education ranking services.

Also, check the school’s accounting program admission criteria to ensure you qualify for the accounting degree program.

Determine if your Preferred Program Has Been Accredited

The school offering the program should be regionally accredited by one of CHEA’s regional accrediting agencies.

This helps to ensure students receive the quality education they have been promised before enrolling.

These are the Department of Education’s recognized regional accrediting bodies:

  • The Higher Learning Commission (The HLC)
  • The Northwest Accreditation Commission (The NAC)
  • The New England Association of Schools & Colleges (The NEASC)
  • The Western Association of Schools & Colleges (The WASC)
  • The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (The SACS)
  • The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (The MSCHE)

However, programmatic accreditation is also essential when evaluating potential accounting degree programs.

In the academic realm of accounting degrees, there are two primary accrediting agencies:

  • The AACSB, which forms the acronym for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • The ACBSP – which forms the acronym for the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs

Review the Curriculum

Review the degree program’s curriculum carefully to ensure its features, specialties, and concentrations align with your academic and professional goals because each accounting program emphasizes different aspects of the field.

Additionally, make sure the programs offered will provide you with the skills and training to meet your professional objectives.

Check out the degree program’s faculty and their credentials.

Determine Whether the Program Fits your Scheduling and Budget Needs

The modern educational landscape has opened many educational opportunities for students where there once were none.

Online programs are now available with the click of a button, and some even offer accelerated class delivery.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s in Accounting?

A traditional bachelor’s degree program is typically completed in four years.

However, with online and accelerated options, those students interested in earning a bachelor’s in accounting may be able to complete the degree plan faster.

Certain accounting degree programs at the baccalaureate level have opportunities to earn credit for previous related work or military experience, which can help reduce the time – and cost of the accounting degree.

Many accountants have a professional goal of becoming a Certified Public Accountant (issued by the AICPA) – which requires a rigorous professional exam after you have completed a bachelor’s degree and usually a graduate accounting degree as well.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting?

Each student’s cost to earn a bachelor’s degree will differ and depend on the school and the type of program they choose to attend – on-campus or online.

The most cost-effective way to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting would be to choose a state school that is known to offer quality accounting programs.

For example, the average yearly tuition cost for an in-state student (at their public in-state school) was $9,349, whereas tuition for out-of-state students at public institutions of higher education was $27,023 per year.

Florida had the lowest average yearly instate tuition, although some of the more elite schools may cost up to $50,000 a year for an accounting degree.

Fortunately, for most students, there is access to federal financial aid, and often, schools have scholarship funds to help students defray education expenses.

There are also private loans and the option of working while studying to help fund one’s education.

Although not always, many times, online accounting degree programs offer significant savings, an accelerated curriculum, and the convenience of studying from home/work at a time that works with the student’s schedule.

Online programs also help to reduce the cost of room and board and the of traveling home for vacations and time off.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s in Accounting?

An accounting degree is one of the majors that have the potential to open many career possibilities – far beyond the typical number-crunching accountant.

Information and massive amounts of data drive the modern business economy, and accountants are experts at understanding and working with financial information.

Professional accountants often find themselves moving into decision-making roles while others help develop accounting software and systems.

The degree also opens up possibilities to use learned skills as a forensic accountant to identify fraud.

The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook notes that there were nearly 1.5 million accountants & auditors working in the United States during 2021, with a median annual salary of $77,250.

The anticipated job growth over the next decade is expected to be 6% – about as fast as the average of all occupations.

The following list offers an array of potential jobs for those who earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Accounting –

Management Analysts

Accounting majors with investigative interests can choose a career as a management analyst or management consultant.

These professionals are tasked with a) identifying trends or discrepancies and b) problem-solving and making recommendations based on data.


Auditors analyze financial statements with the intention of making final conclusions and recommendations to improve a company’s current operational performance.

Auditors look for inconsistencies, mismanagement, compliance with regulations, and potentially fraudulent activity.

Financial Analysts

Financial analysts are specialists who apply accounting principles in the analysis of investments based on a company’s financial statements.

Personal Financial Adviser

These professionals help guide and manage an individual’s finances, investments, and retirement accounts.

Should I Get a Bachelor’s in Accounting?

The short answer is yes.

If you have an interest and want to work in a field related to accounting, business, or finance, earning a bachelor’s degree is not only recommended but a requirement for most career paths that lead to advancement and leadership positions.