Top 10 Undergraduate Accounting Programs in California

To create our top 10 list of the best undergraduate accounting programs in California, we looked at the school rankings of Public Accounting Report (PAR), TaxTalent, BYU, Bloomberg Business, US News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and LinkedIn.

Also, we researched the programmatic accreditation of the schools. The top business schools in the world are accredited in business by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or AACSB. Some institutions also take the extra step of earning accounting accreditation from the prestigious accrediting organization.

#1. University of Southern California

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University of Southern California, or USC, is one of the best schools for undergraduate accounting students. The school tied for fifth in US News’s rankings of undergraduate accounting programs. Also, USC placed fifth in the rankings of PAR. The university is located in Los Angeles.

School Overview

USC placed sixth in LinkedIn’s rankings and the university’s business school ranked 28th in Bloomberg’s rankings. USC is accredited in both business and accounting by AACSB. USC also tied for 17th and 37th in TaxTalent’s and BYU’s rankings, respectively.

The Leventhal School of Accounting at USC sponsors an event called Meet the Firms, where students meet staff members from top firms and ask them questions about the profession. Every year, over 100 students work in internships with the Big Four firms.

USC has six student organizations for accounting students including the Accounting Society and Beta Alpha Psi.

#2. Santa Clara University

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Santa Clara University placed eighth in LinkedIn’s rankings. The university holds business and accounting accreditation from AACSB. Santa Clara also tied for 18th in TaxTalent’s rankings. The school is located in Silicon Valley in the city of Santa Clara, which is next to San Jose.

School Overview

According to Bloomberg, Santa Clara’s business school (Leavey School of Business) is a top 50 school. Leavey placed 43rd in the publication’s rankings. Leavey’s accounting department tied for 80th in BYU’s rankings.

Accounting students can choose from two majors, Accounting or Accounting and Information Systems (A&IS). Both majors require courses in intermediate financial accounting, auditing, cost accounting, and tax planning.

Santa Clara has an On-Campus Interview Program that gives students opportunities to interview with businesses and firms for full-time positions that are typically available after graduation.

#3. University of California, Berkeley

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University of California, Berkeley ranked 17th in LinkedIn’s rankings. The school is also accredited in business by AACSB. Berkeley’s business school, Hass School of Business, enjoys a top 20 ranking (15th) in Bloomberg’s rankings. The university is located on the east side of the San Francisco Bay Area.

School Overview

Berkeley tied for 16th in TaxTalent’s rankings and the university’s accounting department tied for 37th in BYU’s rankings. Berkeley also ranked 20th in US News’s rankings of National Universities. Among public institutions in the category, the school held the number one position.

Berkeley does not offer an accounting major, but its business school has enough accounting classes to prepare students for accounting careers and the CPA exam. Around 30% of Berkeley’s business students go on to work in the accounting industry.

#4. University of San Diego

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University of San Diego, or USD, is accredited by AACSB in both business and accounting. USD’s School of Business Administration placed 41st in Bloomberg’s rankings. The university’s accounting department tied for 155th in BYU’s rankings. USD is a private Roman Catholic school.

School Overview

In the category, National Universities, USD tied for 95th place in US News’s rankings. The Princeton Review named USD one of The Best 379 Colleges. The publication also ranked the school 11th in the categories, Most Beautiful Campus and College City Gets High Marks.

USD’s Bachelor of Accountancy has four different tracks to choose from: Accountancy, Accountancy and Supply Chain Management Combination, Accountancy and Finance/Real Estate Combination, and Accountancy and Information Systems/Technology Combination.

Students can learn about the accounting profession by joining USD’s student organizations for accounting students, Accounting Society and Beta Alpha Psi.

#5. Loyola Marymount University

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Located in Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University is accredited in business by AACSB. The university tied for 17th in TaxTalent’s rankings. Also, Loyola Marymount’s College of Business Administration placed 82nd in Bloomberg’s rankings. The school is a private Roman Catholic university in the Jesuit and Marymount traditions.

School Overview

Loyola Marymount is one of the best universities in the Western United States according to US News. The school tied for 3rd in the publication’s rankings of Regional Universities (West). Also, Loyola Marymount occupies a spot in The Best 379 Colleges of The Princeton Review.

The Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Loyola Marymount prepares students to apply accounting concepts in the workforce. Students learn about financial reporting standards, auditing principles, accounting information systems, and important provisions in the tax code.

#6. University of California, Riverside

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University of California, Riverside (UCR) holds business accreditation from AACSB. The school’s undergraduate business school, School of Business Administration, placed 132nd in Bloomberg’s rankings and its accounting department tied for 176th in BYU’s rankings. UCR is a public research university.

School Overview

UCR is categorized as a National University in US News’s rankings and the school tied for 113th among universities in the category. UCR is one of The Best 379 Colleges according to The Princeton Review. Also, the university was rated as a top value school by the publication.

UCR’s undergraduate business program with a concentration in accounting and auditing includes courses about individual taxation, quality assurance in auditing, and accounting information systems.

The Career Center at UCR hosts workshops each quarter to help students improve job search skills such as resume writing and building professional networks.

#7. California State University, Fullerton

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California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) is accredited by AACSB in both business and accounting. The university’s accounting faculty tied for 133rd in BYU’s rankings. CSUF is public university in Fullerton, a city located in the northern part of Orange County.

School Overview

In US News’s rankings, CSUF tied for 40th in the category, Regional Universities (West). Among public schools in the category, the university placed ninth.

CSUF offers a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a Concentration in Accounting. The accounting concentration consists of 21 semester credit hours of upper level accounting courses. Required classes include Intermediate Accounting I and II, Cost Accounting, and Concepts of Federal Income Tax Accounting.

Student can choose from electives such as Auditing, Fraud Detection, Valuation Concepts & Topics for Accountants, and Seminar in Financial Statement Analysis.

#8. San Diego State University

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San Diego State University is a public school that holds AACSB accreditation in the disciplines of business and accounting. The school’s accounting department tied for 185th in BYU’s rankings. San Diego State is classified as a Research University with high research activity by The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

School Overview

San Diego State tied for 149th in the category, National Universities, in US News’s rankings. In the same category, the university placed 78th among public schools and 136th in the High School Counselor Rankings.

The accounting curriculum of San Diego State teaches students practical business skills as well as fundamental accounting principles. Accounting students may specialize in Taxation, Financial Reporting, or Accounting Information Systems.

In recent years, San Diego State’s accounting professors have earned awards including Beta Alpha Psi’s National Outstanding Faculty Advisor award and CalCPA’s Outstanding Accounting Educator award.

#9. Chapman University

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Chapman University is a private, non-profit university accredited in business by AACSB. The school tied for 273rd in BYU’s rankings and placed 60th in Bloomberg’s rankings. Chapman is located in Orange and holds affiliation with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

School Overview

Chapman was named one of The Best 379 Colleges by The Princeton Review. Also, the publication identified Chapman as a top school in the West. In US News’s rankings, the university placed seventh in the category, Regional Universities (West), and was named an Up-and-Coming School.

To graduate with the Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Chapman, students must complete 24 semester hours of upper level accounting classes. Students are required to enroll in the following courses: Intermediate Financial Accounting I and II, Cost Accounting I, Accounting Information Systems, and Auditing.

#10. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) tied for 17th in the rankings of TaxTalent. The university’s business school, Orfalea College of Business, placed 70th in Bloomberg’s rankings. Cal Poly is a public school in San Luis Obispo, a city approximately midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

School Overview

Cal Poly is accredited in business by AACSB. The university ranked 10th in the category, Regional Universities in the West, in US News’s rankings. Cal Poly was the number one public school in the category.

Every year, Cal Poly’s Accounting Club organizes recruiting events. The Fall Symposium helps students find full-time positions while Careers in Accounting Day places students in internships. Also, the Accounting Club sponsors a Spring Awards Banquet, where students can network with employers in a formal setting.