Best Affordable Online Associate Degrees in Accounting

A two-year associate degree is an attractive option for students looking to save time and money in pursuit of an entry-level accounting career. Many online associate degrees in accounting also qualify for transfer to bachelor's programs, offering value and flexibility.

Associate degrees in accounting offer career opportunities that regularly pay annual salaries between $40,000 and $50,000. Some of these options, according to data from PayScale and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), include financial clerk, accounting clerk, and payroll administrator.

The following guide answers some of the most common questions from prospective accounting students, covering issues like curriculum content, program cost, and job outlook. First, we invite readers to browse our detailed ranking of affordable online colleges for accounting.

Top 10 Affordable Online Colleges for Accounting

Rank School Location
1 Surry Community College Dobson, NC
2 Northeast Community College Norfolk, NE
3 Barton Community College Great Bend, KS
4 Foothill College Los Altos Hills, CA
5 Wake Tech Community College Raleigh, NC
6 Fox Valley Technical College Appleton, WI
7 Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis, IN
8 Atlanta Technical College Atlanta, GA
9 North Arkansas College Harrison, AR
10 Northeast Iowa Community College Calmar, IA
See Detailed Rankings

What Is Accounting?

Accounting involves recordkeeping and reporting of business and financial transactions. Today's accounting professionals use computers and specialized software to process information, but the field's origin dates back more than 7,000 years. Ancient Mesopotamian records show accounting concepts used to track the growth of crops and livestock herds.

The same techniques the Mesopotamians relied on to determine surpluses and shortages are still in use today. Businesses of all sizes use accounting concepts to track economic activities. Individuals also use accounting services to calculate taxes, plan for retirement, and create budgets.

Millions of Americans work in the accounting field. Top employers include accounting firms and financial services organizations, the finance industry, and the government. Entry-level accounting professionals, like bookkeepers and accounting clerks, also find work in retail establishments and healthcare facilities.

Accounting offers attractive benefits, like competitive pay, job security, and a variety of options for career growth, upward mobility, and specialization.

An associate degree in accounting creates limited employment options, but graduates can always pursue additional education and certification later on.

Accounting professionals must possess excellent computer skills, math skills, and attention to detail.

Why Get an Affordable Associate Accounting Degree?

An online associate degree in accounting can be well worth the investment, but prospective students should take time to evaluate whether a two-year degree best fits their current needs and goals.

An affordable associate in accounting degree often provides lower out-of-pocket costs, less debt, and a quicker return on investment than a bachelor's degree.

The short-term, low-cost nature of online accounting programs make them especially useful for working professionals looking to enhance their accounting skills for a current job or investigate new career options.

Online accounting programs also suit recent high school graduates who want an affordable college education. With an associate degree, graduates can pursue entry-level accounting jobs, garnering a median salary of $41,230 as of May 2019, according to the BLS.

Other major benefits of attending a two-year accounting school online include:

  • Fast Track to a Career: It takes just two years of full-time study to complete an associate in accounting. In half the time it takes to earn a bachelor's, you can start an entry-level accounting career as a bookkeeper, auditing clerk, or payroll administrator.
  • Diverse Education Options: Many associate degree-holders decide to continue their education after graduation. Your associate in accounting can easily transfer to an accounting bachelor's program or, with a few additional prerequisites, a related major like finance or business.
  • Flexibility: Affordable associate in accounting degrees often provide students the option to take classes in the evenings, weekends, or online. This makes the degree an excellent choice for working professionals looking to change careers.

Most Affordable Online Associate in Accounting Programs


Surry Community College

Established in 1964, Surry Community College is found in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Dobson, North Carolina. Surry is a multi-faceted, two-year institution granting diplomas, certificates, two-year degrees, and a variety of certifications, including non-credit options. Offering an open-door admissions policy, they remain an accessible resource to the surrounding community and beyond. Besides their on-campus programming, Surry has comprehensive online course offerings that include eight full degree programs, and six certificate programs, all of which emulate the identical model for traditional classroom programming, and require the same amount of credit hours and the same proposed learning outcomes.

The Surry Community College affordable online Associate Degree in Accounting program is designed to prepare graduates for sought after, entry-level positions in the accounting field in a variety of settings including manufacturing firms, accounting firms, government and school systems, banks and hospitals, among many others. A variety of skills are developed in this program, including comprehensive communications, as well as basic accounting principles, financial analysis, business law, management, and economics. There is a strong focus on technology, priming students to excel in their knowledge of software and hardware that is relevant to the currents of the accounting field. The program is entirely online and is, therefore, a perfect fit for adult learners with personal and professional commitments that make it challenging to attend traditional classroom-based programs.

Program duration: 67 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Accounting 
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools


Northeast Community College

Northeast Community College, better known as NECC, was founded in 1973 by the state of Nebraska legislator, as a contemporary two-year community college. The flagship of four sites is located in Norfolk, situated in the Northeast region of Nebraska, and the system serves 20 counties. Their extensive offerings include vocational and technical training, continuing education, liberal arts programming, and college transfer programs. Institutionally, they are known for their celebration of diversity and cutting-edge technology, as well as their expert faculty who are dedicated to student success. NECC also has excellent career services and support for students as they prepare for new career paths.

Northeast Community College offers an affordable and entirely online option to earn an Associates of Applied Science degree with a focus on Accounting. The comprehensive online format provides students with the flexibility to complete their coursework at a time and place that is convenient for them and their other life commitments. Not only will students engage with foundational accounting skills academically, but they will also have the opportunity to participate in a cooperative internship, giving them the on-the-job experience that will make them competitive applicants for a variety of positions in a myriad of settings upon graduation. Graduates of the program have had an excellent track record for immediate employment.

Program duration:45 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Science
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commision


Barton Community College

Barton Community College is a full-service community college, situated in the heart of Central Kansas, in service to Rush, Ellsworth, Stafford, Pawnee, Ellis, Rice, and Barton Counties. Barton was created in 1965, as a result of an election by the citizens of Barton County, Kansas. At Barton, all students have the option of studying in a traditional classroom environment or completing their coursework online. Of their offerings, hybrid and face-to-face learning makes up 60% of their classes, and 40% is strictly online coursework. They are known for extensive service to the community, which includes providing GED classes for adult learnings, as well as technical and vocational certificate and diploma programs.

Barton Community College has many offerings in regards to Career and Business Training Programs, including a comprehensive affordable Associates degree program in Accounting. Not only do these course offerings impart the critical skills related to accounting foundations and basics, but it also supports mastery of key subjects, such as ethics and communications. The entirely online format of the program makes success possible for non-traditional students and students requiring flexibility to complete their education. Intimate online class environments allow students to have one-on-one attention and have hands-on experience. The program makes it easy to transfer to a four-year college or university upon completion, with a lot of faculty support to make the transition.

Program duration: 64 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Science
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commision


Foothill College

Foothill College is located in Los Altos Hills, California, situated on 122 acres of land. This institution is a community college that was established in 1957 and is an entity of the Foothill De-Anza Community College District. They have won awards for their architecture, including the Progressive Architecture Design Award. Their mascot is an owl, which comes from a concrete owl that once sat in the original campus bell tower. Foothill College is in service to the areas of Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto, and Mountain View, and therefore benefits from all of the resources that the Silicon Valley has to offer, as it sits in its northwestern corner. Foothill has a myriad of support systems in place to accommodate the needs of a variety of student; they even offer online counseling sessions for students who are enrolled in online classes or may have difficulty getting to campus.

One of the many high quality and cost-effective offerings that Foothill College provides is an Associate’s in Arts degree with a major in Accounting. There are many benefits associated with this program, as the coursework is available from any location at any time that is convenient to the student. The program requires a minimum of 53 units, and each course in service to the major must be taken for a letter grade (not pass/fail) with an achievement of a 2.0 or better. This program will prepare students for a successful career in accounting, either in an entry-level position, or to be set up for additional education to advance even farther in the field.

Program duration: 53 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Arts
Accreditation: ACCJC


Wake Tech Community College

Wake Tech Community College is the largest Community College in the state of North Carolina and serves 74,000 adult learners each year. They have five distinct campuses throughout the state, as well as three training centers, and many community sites, not to mention their comprehensive online campus. Their offerings include over 200 associates degree, diploma and certificate programs that provide students with the exciting possibilities of transferring to a four-year college or university and/ or emerging into a career path they are well trained to take on. Wake Tech has a partnership with the Wake County Public School System, and therefore serve their high school students in a variety of capacities.

Wake Tech Community College offers an affordable and comprehensive Associates in Applied Science degree program in Accounting, which can be obtained through online coursework. The online format makes it desirable for many adult learners requiring the flexibility that online classes afford. Students will emerge from the program with the foundations of accounting, but will also gain competency in such subjects as business law, finance, economics, and management. There is also programmatic emphasis placed ethics, communication and business leadership. Graduates should be prepared to enter the workforce in a variety of settings including small businesses, accounting firms, banks, hospitals, school systems and governmental agencies.

Program duration: 66 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Applied Science
Accreditation: SACSCC


Fox Valley Technical College

Fox Valley Technical College, also referred to as FVTC, is a member of the Wisconsin Technical College system, and situated in the Appleton, Wisconsin area; they have a second location in Oshkosh, as well as regional centers located in Chilton, Waupaca, Wautoma, and Clintonville. Established in 1912, they were developed as a home for the surrounding cities vocational schools. Currently, FVTC is known for delivering high-quality technical training and career-focused education, as well as adult basic and continuing education, and trainings that are tailored for employees. They offer as many as 200 associates degree options, technical diplomas, and certificate programs.

Fox Valley Technical College offers an associates degree in accounting for students who are detail-oriented, and interested in learning the ins and outs of purchases, inventories, records, and accounts transactions. The program is an affordable and practical choice for students wanting the flexibility of obtaining a career-focused degree online. Fox Valley makes it easy for students to transfer in with vocational credits they achieved in high school or elsewhere, and transfer out to continue their education at a four-year college or university. An academic skills assessment is a requirement for admission, unless incoming students have achieved a 165 score or higher on the GED, or students are able to provide a 4-year college transcript.

Program duration: 63 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Applied Science
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College, also known as Ivy Tech, is Indiana's Community college system, which is comprised of 30 campuses and 14 regions in the state. It is the largest singly accredited community college system in the country, in service to over 200,000 students per year. In addition, it is Indiana's largest public postsecondary entity and was founded in 1963 with the intention of offering comprehensive vocational and technical education to Indiana residents. Currently, they are known as a full-service community college with over 150 academic programs, career development opportunities, as well as certificate and associate’s degree-granting programming.

The Ivy Tech Community College offers an affordable and practical accounting program that can be achieved online with 60 credit hours. One of the perks of the program is that it is facilitated by CPAs who are experienced leaders in the field. The program has been training students for success in accounting disciplines for 30 years. There is an exciting experiential learning component for students, giving them opportunities to sharpen their skills by working in the student-led, on campus, the professional office called Vita, where they e-file federal and state taxes for students free of charge. Students also get experience using industry standard software like QuickBooks and Sage 50. Graduates of the program have had a great deal of success finding work, many of whom are employed by the college in accounts payable and receivable.

Program duration: 60 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Applied Science
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commision


Atlanta Technical College

Atlanta Technical College is an important thread in Atlanta’s large and multi-textured fabric. They opened in 1945 post World War II, in order to serve the community with vocational skills that were current and applicable to the workforce. Currently, they serve a broad base of students representing a diversity that reflects many ages, cultures, ethnicities, class backgrounds, and a variety of abilities. They also pride themselves on the focus on women students having high-quality education in traditionally male-dominated fields, such as auto technology, welding, and carpentry. Their extensive list of core values are the backbone of the institution and include a focus on service, respect, and integrity.

The Atlanta Technical College offers an affordable online Associate’s Degree Program that is driven by the critical technical skills that are critical for success in the current fields of accounting. Atlanta Tech utilizes the learning platform Blackboard as the bases for their ecampus, which is designed to cater to a variety of adult learners whose life circumstances make it easier to attend class online rather than in person. This accounting program can be successfully completed in as few as 5 semesters. Students must be at least 16 years of age, and have completed high school or have achieved their GED.

Program duration: 67 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Business Administration-Accounting
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commision


North Arkansas College

North Arkansas College is a public two-year college situated in Harrison, Arkansas, with three campuses in the metro area, plus an additional campus in Berryville. They have many course offerings including highly revered Allied Health Programming, and a variety of technical and vocational courses, as well as certification and degree opportunities. Many of these are designed for swift and seamless entrance into the workforce, as many graduates can attest to. One of their key agenda items is to maintain affordability for students, enabling education to remain as accessible as possible. Along the same lines, they have an open door admission policy, which is inclusive of all students.

North Arkansas College offers an affordable and conveniently online Associates of Applied Science in Business Administration with an Accounting Emphasis program. The online format allows students with life commitments that make education challenging, an opportunity to work when and where ever they want and can, in order to achieve this practical career driven degree in a growing and flourishing industry. This program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, no small feat for a small community college. The program emphasizes relevant ethics and communication skills that will make students competitive job seekers upon graduation. Graduates of the program will be able to apply their skills at a variety of companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, including school systems and universities, utility company offices, hospitals, banks, tax preparation agencies, among many others.

Program duration: 60 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate 0f Applied Science
Accreditation: ACBSP


Northwest Iowa Community College

Northeast Iowa Community College is a fully accredited community college that was established in 1966. Situated on 269 acres of land, the campus is located just beside the town of Sheldon, Iowa. They consider themselves to be a progressive learning environment that adapts to the changing global sphere with appropriate academic opportunities and responses to the growing needs of the workforce. As a community college, they list in their core values their commitment to serving the community. They have close to 43 program offerings some of which include technical and vocational programming, as well as arts and science related coursework.

Northwest Iowa Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Accounting degree that is not only affordable but can also include an option of being taken entirely online. The program is career-oriented and designed to give students everything that they need to achieve an entry level accounting position upon graduation in a variety of settings. The program is considered “inventive,” as they try a variety of techniques to give students relevant academic experiences. The curriculum includes about 50% lecture, and the other half is considered lab work. Students have the opportunity to take the program on a part-time or full-time basis.

Program duration: 64 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Applied Science
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


Albany Technical College

Albany Technical College is also known as Albany Tech, or ATC, and was established in their early incarnation in 1961, as the Monroe Area Vocational Technical School, and had 175 students in their first class. Currently, they are an entity of the Technical College System of Georgia and service a seven-county area in the southeast region of the state. They have a workforce focus that runs through all of their programming, and they cater to adult learners who are coming from a variety of educational backgrounds. Much of their mission involves giving students access to a variety learning modalities and styles, including online programming as experiential learning opportunities that are relevant to the course of study.

Albany Technical College offers an affordable online associate of accounting degree option, that can be achieved in 24 months with the completion of 102 credit hours for a full time student. The program offers the necessary and timely classes required for students to grasp the current frameworks of the accounting field, enabling them to access entry-level positions in a variety of settings. Many graduates have gone on to become auditors, income tax preparers, or do general or public accounting. A high school diploma or a GED are required credentials for admission, as well as the COMPASS exam, which will determine the student’s reading, writing and math proficiency.

Program duration: 102 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Applied Science Degree in Accounting
Accreditation: SACSCC


Lanier Technical College

Lanier Technical College is one entity in the Technical College System of Georgia and provides workforce development opportunities for students and adult learners in seven adjoining counties. They offer a variety of pathways to the achievement of associate degrees, diplomas, and/or technical certificates. They offer a variety adult education services, as well as technical and professional development and tailored business and industry trainings. An interesting component the Lanier Tech’s identity is the way they evaluate and instruct students based on work ethic. On their website, they define 10 critical work ethic traits that they use as a rubric to develop successful students who are prepared to excel in the workforce.

Lanier Technical College offers an associate degree program in accounting that is not only affordable but offers an online format that is accessible to adult learners with life commitments that make it hard for them to access education in a traditional classroom experience. The program is five semesters in length and applicants are accepted each semester upon availability. Students must be 16 years of age to qualify as well and have achieved a high school diploma or GED. The coursework prepares students for contemporary accounting careers in a variety of settings, including the technologically advanced skill sets that are used in today’s business world.

Program duration: 64 credit hours
Degree offered: Accounting Associate Degree
Accreditation: SACSCC


Tidewater Community College

Tidewater Community College, also known as TCC, has the tagline, “From here, Go anywhere,” a summation of their goal to prepare students for success in future endeavors. These include workforce entry and excellence, and a continuation of their educational aspirations. Established in 1968 with one location, they have since expanded to offer 5 locations throughout the state of Virginia, which makes it the second largest community college system in the state. TCC offers 10 online degree programs and certificates that can be taken from anywhere in the country. The Virginia Beach campus features a renowned science building with a Planetarium.

Tidewater Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Accounting, designed to be a good fit for students requiring flexibility. Not only is it affordable, but there is an option to complete the entire program online. The online portal is available 24/7, and provides the entirety of the coursework, however, labs will have to be completed on campus. The curriculum is up-to-date and provides all of the necessary technical skills for students to be successful in the industry. The faculty are skilled experts in the field, who have the applicable, real-world experience to support students to excel in the necessary skills for the accounting field: such as bookkeeping, payroll, and cost accounting.

Program duration: 67 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Applied Science
Accreditation: SACSCC


Minnesota West Community and Technical College

In 1997 South Western Technical College and Worthington Community College came together to become Minnesota West Community and Technical College. A synthesized entity, they value diversity and inclusion, as they prepare all learners, from a myriad of backgrounds, for success in their life path. The offerings at Minnesota West include over 60 distinct programs, some of which are two-year degrees and others that are designed as innovative career training programs. Many of these are fast paced for rapid entry into the field studied. Their offerings also include liberal arts and science degree programs that are transferrable to other schools within the Minnesota State System as well as many four year postsecondary institutions.

Minnesota West Community and Technical College offers an Associate of Applied Science in accounting degree that is known for its affordability and flexible online learning option. Web-based courses are developed in parallel to the traditional classroom-based coursework, but tailored to meet the needs of busy students with life commitments that inhibit their ability to easily participate on campus. The online program incorporates all of the critical elements of a traditional classroom experience, including discussions through message boards, and lectures to give students all of the up-to-date analyzation and interpretation skills related to the complex field of accounting. Graduates of the program will meet the requirements for entry-level positions in the accounting profession.

Program duration: 60 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Applied Science
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


Northcentral Technical College

Northcentral Technical College, also known as NTC, is a technical college located in Wausau, Wisconsin. At NTC, the focus is on breaking cycles of poverty by providing associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificate programs to a population that has a high number of first-generation college students. NTC has 6 campus locations spread throughout Wisconsin. They have been in existence for over 100 years, and since have grown to have over 150 program opportunities that serve a diverse student population, many of whom will continue their education at one of the state’s four-year colleges or universities. They have a variety of class formats, including online learning that has become increasingly popular among working adults and non-traditional students with a variety of life responsibilities.

Northcentral Technical College offers an affordable online option for an Associate Degree program in Accounting. Participants in the program will engage with all of the necessary material and skills to gain proficiency in processing financial transactions, analyzing financial and business information, performing organizational and institutional tax preparation, and identifying internal controls to reduce risk. This online option allows students to access their coursework from anywhere, at a time that is convenient for their life circumstances. Graduates of the program will be ready for an entry-level position in an accounting discipline, such as payroll accountant, bookkeeper, general business accountant, among others.

Program duration: 67 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Applied Science
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commision


University of Alaska Fairbanks

The University of Alaska Fairbanks, also known as UAF, was established in 1917 but did not start offering classes until 1922. They are a public research institution and are now the flagship campus in the University of Alaska System. Because they are located just 200 miles south of the arctic circle, they are a hotbed for arctic and northern research. The Fairbanks campus is also the home of the University of Alaska Museum of the North. They are known worldwide for research in a variety of other disciplines including Supercomputing, Geophysics, Engineering, Biology, and Native Studies. Close to 10,000 students are currently enrolled in programming at UAF, over half of whom are women.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers Associate of Applied Science in Applied Accounting degree program, that is 100% online and affordable. The coursework includes skill building in complex communication and decision making related to contemporary accounting business transactions. Financial record keeping, financial and tax statement preparation, payroll accounting and bookkeeping are additional skills that the program prioritizes, making sure students are prepared upon graduation for entry and mid-level positions in the accounting field. Graduates of the program will also have completed the Accounting Technician Certificate, and Bookkeeping Occupational Endorsement, with the ability to continue on and also apply for those degrees.

Program duration: 60 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate in Applied Science
Accreditation: Northwest Commision on Colleges and Universities


Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, also known as WITC, is a two-year technical postsecondary institution and is made up of six campuses throughout Wisconsin, including Ashland, New Richmond, Rice Lake, and Superior. They are known for their nearly 50 high-quality career-oriented programs, many of which are associate degree granting, technical diplomas, and short-term certificates, while some are tailored to specific workplace training. It is a core value for WITC to strengthen the community with career and industry trainings. They are community focused and look out for their own; in fact, free tuition is promised to local high school students.

The Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College offers an affordable online associate degree program that can be completed in two years. The program is committed to teaching their students the “language of business,” and giving them the critical and timely skills to engage with a variety of essential accounting foundations that can improve the health of organizations and companies. Graduates will be well-prepared to enter the field of accounting in a variety of settings, and hold entry or mid-level positions, or be well equipped to further their studies, and become leaders in the field. The online learning format allows for students to complete coursework, on a schedule that is convenient for them.

Program duration: 68 credit hours
Degree offered: Associates in Applied Science
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


Milwaukee Area Technical College

The Milwaukee Area Technical College is a two-year technical post-secondary institution invested in offering a wide variety of educational and training resources and opportunities to a diverse student body in the Milwaukee Metropolitan area. There are many reasons to attend MATC; they offer a rigor that makes graduates a competitive choice for employers upon graduation, and they inspire completion, while also being an affordable and comprehensive choice. They have a wide variety of support services in place to prioritize the success of all of their students regardless of learning differences and level of educational aptitude and ease. They are also known for their diverse student body, and a wide variety of course offerings.

The Milwaukee Area Technical College School of Business and Finance Career Cluster offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Accounting. This program is not only affordable but also can be taken entirely online, making it possible for non-traditional students with a variety of life circumstances to successfully complete the program, working the classes into their own schedule. The course of study features foundational accounting skills, which include extensive software competencies, governmental and tax accounting, payroll, and bookkeeping. While completing this degree, students can opt to also earn an Accounting Bookkeeping Trainee Certificate and Accounting Assistant Technical Diploma. Graduating from this program puts students in a great position to continue their education or enter the field of accounting with an entry-level or mid-level position.

Program duration: 70 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Applied Science
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commision


Mesa Community College

Mesa Community College, which is also known as MCC, was founded in 1965 and has since become the largest of 10 Maricopa community colleges, in and around Mesa, Arizona. The Maricopa community college district has the largest enrollment out of any district in the nation. MCC has two fully equipped campuses and several satellite locations. MCC offers close to 200 degrees, certificates, and technical diplomas, and certificate programs. MCC has transfer programs associated with Arizona State University, making it easy for students to seamlessly continue their education to achieve a four-year degree. One of their primary focal points is preparatory practices for students to engage in the workforce and be skilled leaders in a variety of career paths.

Through the Business and Information Systems Department, Mesa Community College offers an affordable Associate of Accounting degree program that can be completed entirely online. The online format works well for students requiring flexibility for a variety of career and family-related circumstances. The convenience of studying at the times and places that work for the student promotes successful completion. The program provides students with all of the foundations of accounting, preparing students to contribute to the health of companies and organizations with expert bookkeeping skills, valuation, tax return preparation, along with a variety of other services. Graduates of the program will be primed to enter an accounting career path, or continue their education for ultimate achievement of leadership roles in the field.

Program duration: 63 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate in Accounting
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


Rio Salado College

The Rio Salado College was established in 1978, as a community college located in Tempe Arizona, and connected to the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges. Since it’s inception they were known for offering remote classroom options, at a variety of locations. In 1996, they began offering their premier online classes, which brought them a reputation as a leader in online and distance learning. They have a variety of career-related programming, including the highest accredited dental hygiene school in the state called the Rio Salado School of Dental Hygiene. Forbes Magazine is one of many sources that has recognized the innovation of this institution, as a “Visionary Higher-Education Leader.”

The Rio Salado College offers an affordable fully, online Associate of Applied Science Accounting degree program, designed to bring students to the front lines in the world of business. This program offers a variety of skills, giving students the well-rounded experience that makes them competitive for an array of accounting related professions. The fully online format is intended to give non-traditional students the flexibility to achieve the skillset and degree without disrupting other aspects of their lives. Graduates of the program have gone on to become full-charge bookkeepers, accounting clerks, accounts payable/ receivable clerks, among many other entry-level positions in the field of accounting, as well as continuing on with their education to achieve high-level management positions.

Program duration: 60-65 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate in Applied Science
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commision


Macomb Community College

Macomb Community College is a comprehensive community college with multiple locations in Macomb County, Michigan. Their offerings are vast, as they have over 200 programs that are degree and certificate granting. In addition, they are in the top two percentile nationally, for the number of associate degrees awarded annually. They serve close to 50,000 students per year, at varying capacities. There are 120 exclusive grants and scholarships that go strictly to support the education of students at this institution. They are committed to serving their community, which shows in the number of Public Service Trainings they do, including with law enforcement, Emergency Medical Technician training, and Homeland Security.

One of Macomb Community College’s high quality and affordable offerings is their Associates in Business Administration in Accounting degree program, which can be completed in an online format. It is suggested that students complete the required 62 credit hours in the sequence that they have outlined for full-time students, found on their website. Students have access to excellent faculty and advising staff to not only provide support while undergoing the program but also to help with a seamless transition if they plan to continue their education at a four-year college or university. Graduates of the program will be qualified for a myriad of career paths featuring the disciplines of business administration and accounting.

Program duration: 62 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Business Administration
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commision


Central Methodist University

Central Methodist University, is often referred to as Central, Central College or CMU, and was established in 1853. Situated in Fayette Missouri, a region known for educational excellence with a variety of options, CMU stands out as a private four-year postsecondary institution, with a strong relationship to the Methodist Church, and a variety of degree offerings. The campus is designated as a National Historic District, offering the natural beauty of old tree growth and a variety of historical and contemporary attractions, such as The Morrison Observatory, and the third oldest museum in the state called The Stephens Museum, featuring civil war artifacts, along with an extensive collection of natural history.

The Central Methodist University offers an affordable online Associate of Science in Accounting degree program that features a variety of skills critical to success in the multi-faceted field of accounting. Auditing and taxes are just some of the in-depth subjects thoroughly covered in the program, as well as management and marketing, making sure graduates are prepared to immediately enter the accounting field in roles such as consultants, financial planners, tax preparers, as well as members of the sectors of government and business. The program features many experiential learning opportunities, including the completion of tax returns and engagement with financial statement projects.

Program duration: 62 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Science
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


Lonestar College

Lone Star College is a publicly funded, two-year community college, and part of a larger system, in service to the Houston, Texas metropolitan area. In fact, they are the ninth largest community college system in the nation based on enrollment. They serve close to 85,000 credit-seeking students per semester, and total students number over 95,000. Their flagship is situated in the Woodlands, and also unincorporated Montgomery County, Texas. One of their community-oriented features is their open door admissions policy, meaning most students who apply for admission is accepted, with many provisions made for non-traditional students who are on the cusp of admission.

The Lone Star College System offers an affordable, entirely online Associate of Applied Science in Accounting degree program. This program requires 60 credit hours and can be completed in two years. This entirely online program utilizes the students' computers as their classroom, enabling participants the flexibility to attend classes as their schedule permits, without ever having to physically attend class on campus. The coursework is designed for graduates to immediately enter the accounting field in a variety of positions such as bookkeeper, accounting assistant, and accounting clerk. LSC offers a variety of financial aid options and can include more than one type of award.

Program duration: 60 credit hours
Degree offered: Associate of Applied Science
Accreditation: SACSCC


Chemeketa Community College

The Chemeketa Community College is situated in Salem, Oregon, with an additional campus in McMinnville, and satellite education centers in Dallas, Brooks and Woodburn, and an associated Northwest Wine Studies Center in the nearby town of Eola. They first opened their doors in 1952, and at the time it was called the Salem Technical Vocational School, initiated by the Salem School District. Annually, Chemeketa serves 30,000 students who are engaged in a variety of disciplines and working towards different degrees, certificates, and vocational training goals. The college was named in 1969 from a competition, where the winner submitted the name “Chemeketa,” meaning a peaceful gathering place.

The Chemeketa Community College offers an entirely online and affordable Applied Science and Accounting degree program designed for students who are interested in pursuing a career as a tax preparer, bookkeeper, or a range of other positions in the business, government and accounting sectors. New student advising is offered to all students interested in pursuing a degree at Chemeketa and will help each student work to find the appropriate track for their particular career and educational goals, and gauge if their intended program is the right fit. Online students have access to 24/7 phone support and online chatting for the purposes of troubleshooting.

Program duration: 43 credit hours
Degree offered: Applied Science and Accounting
Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities


Blue Ridge Community College

Situated in the breathtaking mountains of Western North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Community College is a two-year community college serving Henderson and Transylvania counties. They have comprehensive offerings including associate degrees, diplomas, and a variety of certificate programs. They have several courses of study geared towards transferring to local and national four-year postsecondary institutions. In fact, graduates of BRCC are eligible to transfer to any of the 18 public universities and colleges in the state and keep all of their earned credits. They also offer one of the largest continuing education courses of study in North Carolina. BRCC offers a wide variety of technical programs in preparation for a variety of immediately available career paths.

The Blue Ridge Community College offers an affordable Associate of Applied Science Program in Accounting geared towards students who are interested in engaging in the many avenues of the growing fields of accounting. One of the exciting aspects of the program is that it can be achieved entirely online, and still maintain the same quality and attention as the traditional on-campus program. The flexibility of online coursework allows students to not cut corners with their other life commitments to be academically successful. Graduates of the program are trained to be prepared to enter the accounting field in a variety of roles and settings, including small and large firms and businesses, banks, hospitals, and school systems.

Program duration: 68 credits
Degree offered: Associate of Applied Science

Jobs for Associate in Accounting Graduates

A two-year accounting degree allows for a quick transition to entry-level opportunities in accounting firms and other businesses. With an associate in accounting, you can secure positions like bookkeeper, accounting clerk, and billing specialist.

Many professionals with an associate degree in accounting ultimately decide to transfer to a bachelor's program. Advanced education and CPA certification offer excellent opportunities for career and salary growth.

Explore four popular opportunities for associate degree-holders below.


Bookkeepers handle some or all of an organization's accounts, known as the general ledger. Common tasks include recording transactions, producing financial statements, and preparing bank deposits. Some bookkeepers also handle payroll, purchasing, and invoice preparation. Accounting firms, small- to medium-sized businesses, and government departments often hire bookkeepers.

  • Required Education: Associate degree preferred
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): -6%
  • Median Annual Salary: $41,230
Accounting/Auditing Clerk

Accounting and auditing clerks assist organizations by maintaining and ensuring the accuracy of financial records. Accounting clerks commonly post transactions, determine interest charges, and monitor accounts. Auditing clerks check figures and documents for accuracy. Other duties may include fixing minor errors and reporting larger discrepancies to senior staff.

  • Required Education: Associate degree preferred
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): -6%
  • Median Annual Salary: $41,230
Financial Clerk

Financial clerks complete a variety of administrative tasks, including keeping records, calculating charges, and carrying out financial transactions. These professionals work in specialization areas such as billing and posting, credit authorization, insurance claims, and payroll. Specific duties vary by workplace setting and job title.

  • Required Education: Associate degree commonly preferred
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): 0%
  • Median Annual Salary: $40,540
Payroll Administrator

Payroll administrators ensure an organization's employees receive accurate and timely compensation. Common duties include preparing and distributing paychecks, updating payroll procedures, filing voluntary deductions, and completing other accounting tasks as needed. Payroll administrators commonly work for small- to medium-sized businesses. This career requires strong accounting and computer skills.

  • Required Education: Associate degree
  • Average Annual Salary: $51,821

What To Expect From Associate in Accounting Programs

Completing an on-campus or online associate degree in accounting typically takes two years of full-time study. Many of the best online colleges for accounting offer part-time enrollment options, which often require an additional semester or year of attendance.

Exact credit requirements vary by the type of associate degree. Students who complete transferable associate degrees typically take 60 credits, while students who take nontransferable, career-focused degrees may take up to 68 credits. We cover these different degree types in greater detail in a later section.

An associate in accounting combines general education courses with courses focused on building foundational accounting knowledge and skills. Program goals include preparing students for entry-level careers and/or for transfer to a bachelor's completion program.

Admission requires a high school education and adequate GPA.

The Admissions Process

Associate degrees typically maintain less complex admission requirements than bachelor's programs. Applicants rarely need to provide letters of recommendation or personal essays, which makes the admissions process easier and quicker to complete.

You need a high school diploma or GED certificate to pursue an associate degree. Most accounting programs require a minimum 2.0 high school GPA. Depending on the school and program, applicants may need to show evidence of completion for certain mathematics courses.

Standardized testing requirements vary. Some schools accept ACT or SAT scores, while others require applicants to complete an ACCUPLACER exam. Be prepared to pay a $40-$50 application fee.

Degree and Concentration Options

Whether planning to pursue an on-campus or online associate degree in accounting, students should take care to select the degree that best fits their future goals. Below are the three most popular degree types.

Associate of Arts in Accounting

This transferable degree combines general education and core courses. Enrollees typically take more courses in the humanities, and may also need to complete a foreign language requirement.

Associate of Science in Accounting

Like the associate of arts, learners complete general education and core courses for this transferable degree. Degree-seekers typically take more courses in math and science.

Associate of Applied Science in Accounting

Unlike the AA and AS, an AAS degree does not offer transfer opportunities. Instead, this program offers a career-focused curriculum requiring limited general education and liberal arts courses.

Students interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree in the future should select either an AA or AS degree. Students who want the most comprehensive, job-focused two-year education in practical accounting should consider an AAS program.

Popular Accounting Courses

Depending on the degree type you select (AA, AS, or AAS), the curriculum may focus narrowly on accounting or explore a combination of accounting and general education subjects, including English, communication, and economics. Online accounting programs may or may not offer electives.

Regardless of which degree you pursue, you can expect to take most of the courses listed below. Review our sample course descriptions to learn more.

  • Financial Accounting

    A financial accounting course covers each step of the accounting cycle, from initial transaction to account closing. Learners are introduced to financial statement preparation, payroll tax principles, and special procedures. This course develops fundamental, practical skills in accordance with established industry rules and regulations.

  • Managerial Accounting

    This course explores the financial impacts of short- and long-term business decisions. Coursework covers ways to analyze and improve an organization's performance using accounting information. Learners develop vital skills for managers including evaluating capital budget investments, preparing master budgets, and evaluating long-term financing options.

  • QuickBooks

    This common associate degree course introduces computerized accounting system concepts and QuickBooks accounting software. Learners develop practical workplace skills by performing tasks relating to the general ledger, accounts payable/receivable, inventory, payroll, and financial statements. Assignments also require finding and correcting errors in QuickBooks.

  • Business Law

    To perform their jobs effectively, accounting professionals require a working knowledge of how American legal system applies to businesses. This course covers topics in business ethics, sales, product liability, and agency. Students learn to apply common law contract principles to everyday business transactions.

  • Taxation

    In this class, participants learn about current federal and state tax laws as they apply to individuals. Coursework develops practical skills in tax return preparation, researching technical topics, and using tax resource materials. Some programs require a second taxation course focused on corporations and businesses.

How Much Will an Associate in Accounting Cost?

Most online colleges for accounting charge tuition on a per-credit basis. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average cost per credit is around $100-$320. This means students typically pay anywhere from $6,000-$23,000 in total tuition for their associate in accounting. Exact cost varies by school type (public vs. private), and out-of-state students often pay more than state residents.

Though tuition makes up the bulk of a student's total bill, your budget should also take into consideration things like housing, transportation, fees, books, and supplies. Studying online might save you money by avoiding certain campus facility fees, commuting costs, and room and board.

You can take advantage of financial aid options to help lower your out-of-pocket expenses. Scholarships and grants are awarded based on merit and/or financial need and require no repayment. Loans require repayment after graduation.

Making Cheap Accounting Degrees Even Cheaper

Prospective students interested in an affordable associate in accounting degree often look for ways to cut costs. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to college savings, but readers can consider the options highlighted below.

Note that some savings strategies may require compromises and tradeoffs. Learners should determine their priorities to better evaluate cost-cutting methods.

Studying Online

In addition to flexible scheduling benefits, deciding to earn your associate degree in accounting online can save you a significant amount of money. Online students do not need to budget for on-campus room and board or commuting, and some schools waive campus facility fees for remote learners.

Affordable Housing

If you do want to live and learn on or near campus, consider lower-cost dorms, living with roommates, or choosing an apartment a bit farther from campus where housing costs might be lower. Saving money might be worth giving up some luxuries.

Reducing Textbook Costs

From one semester to the next, the cost of textbooks can increase. You cannot avoid these costs completely, but you can reduce expenses by renting your books, seeking out cheaper loose-leaf copies, or buying digital versions. Consider asking your instructors if you can use older editions, which may cost less.

Selecting School Type

Attending a public college often costs considerably less than attending a private institution. You might save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on tuition over the course of your degree. However, public institutions typically operate with higher student-to-faculty ratios, meaning you should expect less personalized attention from instructors.

Graduating Faster

Consider maxing out your course load each semester or choosing an accelerated program. Reducing the amount of time you spend enrolled helps cut costs. Keep in mind that taking additional credits requires more work. Take care not to overwhelm yourself.

Choosing the Right Affordable Accounting Program

Program cost tops the list of many prospective students' key priorities, but choosing the right associate in accounting requires consideration of multiple factors. Some of these, such as accreditation, matter even more than cost. As you look for the right school, try to remain open to reevaluating your primary criteria.

Though far from an exhaustive list, a few factors that can significantly impact your school and program selection include:

  • Accreditation: Attending an accredited school ensures the transferability and lasting value of your degree. Make sure your prospective college holds accreditation from an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and/or the U.S. Department of Education.
  • University Resources: Two-year colleges tend to offer less extensive support services than four-year universities, making it important to evaluate what a prospective school offers. Make sure you can access the resources you need to excel, such as online tutoring and career services.
  • Future Education Options: If you think you may want to pursue additional schooling beyond an associate in accounting, consider selecting a school that offers seamless transfer to its own bachelor's program or maintains transfer agreements with other colleges and universities.

Top Online Associate in Accounting Programs

Why You Should Attend Accounting School Online

In an effort to make higher education more accessible, many community colleges and technical schools now offer hybrid and online programs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, distance learning is an increasingly popular option. In fall 2018, more than 30% of all undergraduates took at least one remote course.

Some major benefits of selecting an online associate degree in accounting include scheduling flexibility, reduced costs, and the ability to complete required coursework from any location.

Before you commit to an online program, however, consider the following questions:

  • Do you have reliable access to high-speed internet, devices, and software that meet your prospective school's technology requirements?

  • Are you comfortable communicating with classmates and instructors primarily through email, chat, and discussion forums, rather than face to face?

  • Can you successfully manage your time and handle the responsibilities of independent learning?

  • Does your home provide a quiet, distraction-free environment where you can study?

If approached the right way, online accounting programs can offer an ideal learning experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get an associate in accounting online?
A growing number of technical schools and community colleges offer online options for students interested in pursuing an affordable associate in accounting degree. These programs provide the same rigorous training as their on-campus counterparts.
How much does an accounting degree cost?
The total cost of an associate in accounting varies by school, credit requirements, and whether you pay in- or out-of-state tuition rates. According to U.S. News & World Report, students can expect to pay $6,000-$23,000 in tuition.
What kind of jobs can you get with an associate degree in accounting?
After attending a two-year online accounting program, you can pursue a variety of entry-level career opportunities in the field. Popular options include bookkeeper, auditing or accounting clerk, payroll administrator, and financial clerk.
How much do accountants with associate degrees make?
According to the BLS, associate degree-holders working in the accounting field earn a median annual income of $41,230 as of May 2019. Exact salary expectations vary depending on your location, prospective employer, and career experience.

Related Reading

Best Accounting Bachelor's Programs Best Online Bachelor's in Accounting CPA Job Description