In an increasingly global business economy, demand for accountants remains strong. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the jobs available for accountants to increase by 6% from 2018-2028. Accounting graduates can prepare to enter a field with a mean annual wage of $70,500 as of 2018.
As technological advancements in software and cloud computing impact the accounting profession, we update the rankings for best accounting schools each year to reflect the rapidly evolving field.
The Top 10 Accounting Schools of 2020
|1||University of Texas, McCombs School of Business||$38,730|
|2||University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, College of Business||$32,662|
|3||Brigham Young University, Marriott School||$10,600|
|4||University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business||$51,464|
|5||University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business||$49,685|
|6||Indiana University, Kelley School of Business||$34,246|
|7||New York University, Stern School of Business||$47,138|
|8||University of Mississippi, Patterson School of Accountancy||$21,912|
|9||University of Florida, Fischer School of Accounting||$28,658|
|10||University of Georgia, Terry School of Business||$33,402|
Best Accounting School Programs
Based in Austin, the University of Texas was established in 1883 and today serves more than 51,000 students each year. UT maintains more than 40 programs to promote diversity and an inclusive learning environment on campus, and students have access to 400 study abroad programs in 78 countries.
UT offers a BBA in accounting that prepares students for careers across industries, including positions with businesses and nonprofit organizations. Students learn how to examine financial records, ensure financial statements comply with laws and regulations, and prepare tax returns. UT is one of the best accounting schools for students who want practical experience; learners undertake an internship during their senior year.
Annual Tuition: $38,730
Founded as a land-grant university in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers more than 150 undergraduate programs. The university demonstrates a commitment to ensuring campus facilities are accessible to those with physical disabilities.
The university offers a BS in accountancy that provides a broad foundation in the field. Students learn how to collect and utilize information to help parties make sound contracting decisions. Knowledge gained during the bachelor's program prepares students to pursue specialized studies at the best accounting graduate schools. The curriculum includes 21 hours of major coursework, such as classes in principles of taxation and auditing standards and practice. The remaining requirements for the 124-hour degree comprise business core classes and general education coursework.
Annual Tuition: $32,662
Located in Provo, Utah, Brigham Young University boasts the largest undergraduate enrollment of any private university in the country. BYU's student population includes learners from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.
The bachelor of science in accounting at BYU utilizes a teaching model called the Junior Core. Accounting students are divided into five sections, each of which receives the same instruction from different faculty members. Instructors collaborate and coordinate to achieve unity and cohesiveness in their content and methods.
This structure makes BYU one of the best accounting schools for providing a reliable education that builds important competencies in the field. In addition to completing coursework, accounting students must participate in accounting clubs, undertake an internship, and attend an exit interview.
Annual Tuition: $10,600
Founded in 1740, Penn maintains a six-to-one student-to-faculty ratio to ensure each student receives individual attention. Life on the Philadelphia campus incorporates arts and culture through institutions such as a gallery, an arboretum, and a writers house.
Penn students can pursue a BS in economics with a concentration in accounting to gain a foundation in mathematics, finance, and the humanities, along with specific accounting skills. Courses required for the concentration include strategic cost analysis and financial measurement and disclosure. One of the best undergraduate accounting schools for students planning to pursue certification, Penn prepares students to take the CPA exam and provides information about additional certification requirements.
Annual Tuition: $51,464
Founded in 1842 by a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Notre Dame is committed to fostering innovative research and a well-rounded student experience. About 75% of undergraduate students live on campus, where they can participate in more than 500 clubs and organizations.
Notre Dame's BBA in accounting program integrates practical skills into a curriculum that covers topics including financial reporting and tax planning. Students gain analytical and problem-solving skills while learning to work as part of a team. Because of the focus on interpersonal skill development, Notre Dame is one of the best accounting schools for students who want to make connections and build their professional network through peer interactions.
Annual Tuition: $49,685
With nearly 200 years of educational experience, Indiana University is home to the world's first schools of philanthropy and informatics. IU enrolls more than 114,000 students and invests hundreds of millions of dollars annually in research programs.
Undergraduate students can pursue a BS in accounting, which covers topics including auditing, cost accounting, and communication skills. Because the highly structured curriculum requires students to take courses in a prescribed order, IU is one of the best accounting schools for learners who are sure of their educational path. After earning the BS, students can enter the workforce or continue their education at IU. The university offers a master of science in accounting and a Ph.D. with a concentration in accounting.
Annual Tuition: $34,246
Established in 1831 by Albert Gallatin, New York University is a private institution with more than 50,000 students at campuses in New York City, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai. NYU is one of 62 member institutions of the Association of American Universities.
Students at NYU can pursue a BS in business with a concentration in accounting. NYU is one of the best accounting schools for learners seeking a broad business foundation in addition to crucial skills needed to launch a career in accounting. The BS in business requires an international studies program, which includes a business trip abroad. Students also explore the impact of business on society and participate in programs to connect with future employers.
The accounting concentration comprises five courses, including three advanced accounting electives. Students can also pursue a BS/MS joint degree program, which prepares learners to sit for the CPA exam.
Annual Tuition: $47,138
Founded in 1848, the University of Mississippi enrolls more than 24,000 students, nearly 60% of whom are from Mississippi. With a four-year graduation rate of 43.8% for new freshmen, the university formulated a strategic plan in 2016 to continue improving UM from academic, community, and athletic standpoints.
The University of Mississippi offers a bachelor of accountancy that comprises 124 semester hours, including a required minor. Students complete coursework in areas including linear programming, marketing, and auditing. The program also includes an optional 10-week internship. The bachelor's program provides the skills and knowledge necessary to enter the workforce, but many students pursue further education to qualify for certification and advanced positions. UM also offers master's degrees in accountancy and taxation and a Ph.D. in accountancy.
Annual Tuition: $21,912
Located in Gainesville, the University of Florida demonstrates a commitment to improving the local economy and community. The university generates more than 100,000 jobs per year, has launched nearly 200 startups based on UF researchers' innovations, and focuses on reducing its environmental impact.
Many undergraduate students planning to attend the best graduate schools in accounting choose UF's bachelor of science in accounting program. Students approach accounting concepts from a theoretical perspective and gain the knowledge and research skills necessary to succeed in graduate studies. Accounting students can apply for UF's 3/2 program, through which students can earn bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting in five years. Because the BS alone does not satisfy the state's CPA requirements, graduates typically pursue further education, either at UF or elsewhere.
Annual Tuition: $28,658
The University of Georgia was chartered by the state in 1785. Located in Athens, UGA emphasizes both academic excellence and research and leadership opportunities. Students can participate in nearly 800 campus organizations, and the university maintains campus locations in England, Costa Rica, and Italy.
Students earning the BBA in accounting complete coursework in areas including taxation and auditing. Graduates often pursue careers as budget analysts, tax consultants, and auditors. Applicants to the accounting program must complete a multiple-choice accounting exam and must submit ACT or SAT scores and a statement of purpose. The business school also considers applicants' grades in previous accounting, economics, and mathematics coursework. Current accounting majors at UGA can apply to the joint BBA/MAcc program to earn their accounting bachelor's and master's in five years.
Annual Tuition: $33,402
Ohio State is a land-grant university based in Columbus. The university maintains campuses and research centers throughout the state and enrolls more than 66,000 students.
Ohio State offers a bachelor of science in business administration with 12 specialization options, including accounting. The accounting specialization includes courses such as legal business issues and tax accounting. Students in the 121-hour program have opportunities to gain practical experience through internships and participation in groups such as the Accounting Association and Beta Alpha Psi.
Graduates have secured positions as cost accountants, auditors, and staff accountants with companies including Nationwide, Sherwin Williams, and Citigroup. The university also offers a combined BSBA/MAcc program that allows students to obtain both degrees in five years. Applicants to the program must be current undergraduate accounting students with a minimum 3.5 GPA.
Annual Tuition: $28,229
Founded in 1839 as the first public university west of the Mississippi River, Mizzou in Columbia is the state's largest university. The school offers more than 300 programs, and its main campus spans 1,262 acres and is a designated botanic garden.
Along with technical knowledge in accountancy and business, Mizzou's bachelor of science in accountancy program emphasizes the development of practical and professional skills. The 150-credit curriculum includes an internship during which students gain hands-on experience. Many graduates become credit analysts, tax preparers, and financial examiners. In addition to the BS in accounting, Mizzou offers master's and Ph.D. programs in accounting, along with a joint BSAcc/MAcc program.
Annual Tuition: $25,998
Located in Madison, the University of Wisconsin offers more than 9,000 courses with an average class size of 30 students. The diverse student population includes learners from 121 countries, and the university emphasizes public service to positively impact the Madison community.
UW's focus on volunteerism makes it one of the best accounting schools for students interested in pursuing leadership roles and impacting policy changes. Accounting students gain a broad foundation in the field, exploring topics such as consulting, managerial accounting, and computer applications. Learners can participate in student organizations such as Beta Alpha Psi and the Institute of Management Accountants to gain professional connections and develop skills necessary to become effective business leaders.
Annual Tuition: $32,738
In 1876, Texas A&M became the state's first public higher education institution. The university educates more than 62,000 students at its main campus in College Station and maintains additional locations across the state.
Texas A&M is one of the best accounting schools for students who want to take the CPA exam without pursuing further education. The BBA in accounting qualifies graduates to sit for the CPA exam in Texas. Along with positions with accounting firms, graduates often pursue roles in government and education. Students can gain practical experience and bolster their resumes through involvement with groups such as the American Business Women's Association, the Global Business Brigades, and the Business Student Council.
Annual Tuition: $28,165
Michigan State University was founded in 1855 in East Lansing. The university is located on a 5,200-acre campus and educates nearly 39,000 undergraduate students from 134 countries.
Students earning the bachelor of arts in accounting from MSU complete the business core curriculum in addition to major requirements, including coursework in financial accounting, accounting information systems, and auditing. Learners can also pursue an optional course in governmental and nonprofit accounting, which requires students to sit for the state's CPA examination. Accounting students can apply up to two credits of internship experience and up to six credits of English as a second language coursework toward the 120-credit degree.
Annual Tuition: $37,942
In addition to academic excellence, the UW in Seattle emphasizes sustainability and diversity. The university follows a climate action plan with the goal of reaching carbon neutrality, and the UW provides courses in areas such as American Indian studies, disability studies, and sexuality studies to help students understand and embrace diversity.
Students earning a bachelor of arts in business administration through the University of Washington can pursue a specialization, known as a formal option, in accounting. The curriculum covers topics related to research and practical workplace skills. Students often continue into the master of professional accounting program, which satisfies the credit requirements to sit for the CPA exam. Master's students choose from two tracks: audit and assurance or taxation.
Annual Tuition: $23,194
Founded in 1831, the University of Alabama is the state's oldest public university. UA emphasizes teaching, research, and service to create a well-rounded learning environment. Students on the university's 1,200-acre campus can join organizations focused on interests such as gaming, choir, and badminton. Students can also attend outdoor recreation trips and take advantage of campus facilities such as the recreation center and the aquatic center.
UA offers a bachelor of science in accounting that helps students gain communication, research, and teamwork skills. Graduates of UA's program have accepted positions with accounting firms of various sizes, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Students complete coursework in areas such as taxation and risk assessment, and accounting students must earn at least C- in all 300-level accounting courses.
Annual Tuition: $27,750
The University of Virginia is a public institution based in Charlottesville. The university's student population includes learners from more than 100 countries, and students can develop a global perspective through study abroad opportunities. UVA is one of two public schools in the country that accepts students based entirely on academic merit and covers 100% of financial need, making it one of the best accounting schools for learners who want to avoid debt.
UVA offers a BS in commerce with a concentration in accounting. The program emphasizes the analytical and strategic decision-making skills necessary for accounting positions. Students explore the field from theoretical and practical perspectives and prepare to practice accounting ethically. Many graduates of the BS program continue into UVA's graduate accounting program to qualify to sit for the CPA exam.
Annual Tuition: $46,722
Saint Joseph's University is a Jesuit Catholic school based in Philadelphia. Founded in 1851, the university enrolls more than 8,000 students, and every tenure-track professor at the school holds a terminal degree.
SJU offers a bachelor of business administration in accounting that emphasizes business ethics to prepare students for careers in areas such as entertainment and law. In addition to general education credits and business foundation courses, the program includes accounting classes in areas such as federal income taxation. The program prepares students for the CPA exam, and learners can supplement their on-campus coursework with online classes. Many graduates pursue certificates in accountancy or SAP R/3 software.
Annual Tuition: $42,840
Miami University is a public institution founded in Oxford, Ohio, in 1809. The university's name comes from the Miami Tribe, a Native American tribe that once inhabited the Miami Valley region of the state and is now located in Oklahoma.
Miami's BS in accountancy provides a broad foundation of knowledge to prepare students for entry-level accounting positions and further studies in the field. The curriculum covers topics including global awareness, ethical reasoning, and research skills to provide students with a practical base of knowledge and abilities. Miami also offers a master of accountancy program to qualify students for careers in areas such as forensic accounting, fraud investigation, and investment banking.
Annual Tuition: $32,555
Located in Blacksburg, Virginia Tech offers 110 bachelor's programs and maintains a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The university offers academic programs including an honors college and study abroad opportunities at locations such as Virginia's Tech's main international center in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland.
Virginia Tech's BS in accounting and information systems program provides a unique blend of skills that helps graduates effectively market themselves in the business world. The additional training in information systems auditing can help candidates stand out from other accounting majors. Graduates often pursue positions as chief financial officers, tax specialists, and system analysts and designers. Graduates obtain professional certifications in both accounting and information systems auditing.
Annual Tuition: $29,975
Penn State enrolls about 100,000 students on 24 campuses throughout the state. Chartered in 1855, Penn State is Pennsylvania's only land-grant university. Penn State is privately owned and operated but performs many functions of a public institution, such as the promotion of community welfare.
Penn State is one of the best undergraduate accounting schools for students with varied professional and educational goals. The bachelor of science in accounting program prepares students for accounting positions with corporations, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. Many graduates pursue further education in the field, and others enter law school. Accounting students can pursue an optional concentration in corporate control and financial management, internal auditing and assessment, or public accounting.
Annual Tuition: $31,434
Wake Forest is a private university that offers small class sizes and ample research opportunities. Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wake Forest offers 265 student clubs and organizations and maintains art galleries and museums on campus.
The university's BS in accountancy provides foundational skills and knowledge for students planning to pursue the master of science in accountancy from Wake Forest. BS students can apply for an integrated, five-year accountancy program that confers both a BS and MS. Accounting students at both levels complete coursework in areas such as forensic accounting, business advisory services, and commercial banking. Students can join the Wake Accounting Society, a student organization that allows members to learn about accounting from practitioners, faculty, and peers.
Annual Tuition: $47,120
Based in New York City, Baruch enrolls more than 18,000 students and emphasizes diversity and inclusion. The student population speaks more than 130 languages and represents nearly 170 countries.
Baruch offers a bachelor of business administration in accounting that delivers a strong business foundation and technical accounting skills necessary to succeed in the field. The curriculum emphasizes environmental awareness, preparing students to apply classroom knowledge to workplace situations. The BBA in accounting requires 24 major credits in topics such as computer control, business crime, and quantitative methods.
Students who plan to take the CPA exam in New York must earn complete additional credits; many graduates pursue Baruch's master of science in accounting to meet the requirements to sit for the exam.
Annual Tuition: $17,360
Founded in 1847, the University of Iowa is the state's oldest higher education institution. The university has more than 40 Pulitzer Prize-winning faculty and alums and is one of only 62 member institutions of the Association of American Universities.
UI offers a bachelor of business administration in accounting that requires 120 semester hours, including at least 25 hours in major classes such as valuation of financial claims and business law. Accounting students can pursue an optional practicum or internship for elective credit. Before applying to the accounting program, students must receive admission to the business school, maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA at UI and in prerequisite accounting courses, and pass the department's writing assessment.
Annual Tuition: $28,813
Why Earn an Accounting Degree?
With accounting degrees, graduates qualify for a variety of job opportunities as staff and senior accountants, accounting managers, financial and corporate controllers, and chief financial officers.
Those interested in working 40-hour workweeks in office environments (with some longer hours during tax seasons) may pursue accounting careers. Leadership roles may involve team-leading and financial strategy. The BLS reports that the top industries for accountant employment include accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services; management of companies and enterprises; and local and state government.
According to PayScale, entry-level accountants earn a median annual salary of $51,000, which may increase based on factors like location, education, and experience. Prized by many employers, accounting skills can help employees qualify for careers as accounting managers, who earn a median salary of $71,000; financial controllers, with a median salary of $83,000; and corporate controllers, who earn a median annual salary of $98,000.
Most accounting degrees require about 120 credit hours, spread across four years of study. Most accounting programs qualify students for certified public accountant (CPA) designation, with curricula focused on accounting principles, financial management systems, business law, economic principles, and managerial accounting.
Learn More About Accounting Degrees
- The Best Accounting Graduate Schools
- The Most Affordable Bachelor's in Accounting Degrees
- What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Accounting Degree?
How to Choose the Right Accounting Program
Prospective students should engage in careful research before selecting the best accounting school that aligns with their career goals, considering factors such as accreditation, program flexibility, cost, and school location.
Widely considered to require the most rigorous academic standards, regional accreditation indicates a reputable school. This accreditation applies to a school as a whole, while programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) can serve as an important mark of a good accounting program. The AACSB ensures that business and accounting programs adhere to and maintain high quality.
Students should also consider their personal and professional needs as they explore the best accounting schools, exploring opportunities for full- or part-time study, plus online and hybrid learning options. Some programs require hands-on capstone projects or internships, which provide important experience and networking for the job market. Other programs offer these requirements as electives or do not carry them.
School location can also serve as an important factor in the search for an accounting degree. In-state tuition can make school more affordable; some online programs allow students to pay in-state or otherwise reduced rates.
Professional Organizations in Accounting
Through membership with professional organizations, accounting professionals can obtain career-boosting credentials, network through local chapters and interest groups, and engage in continuing education. Many professional organizations offer online forums, job boards and career centers, mentorship opportunities, and access to industry publications and news.
- National Society of Accountants: Focused on small and mid-sized accounting firms, the NSA serves its members through a robust online community, tax resources, continuing education, and an annual conference.
- American Accounting Association: Serving a membership of accounting researchers, teachers, and academics, the AAA offers a free digital library, seven regional chapters, 17 interest groups, an online career center, and year-round meetings and events.
- Accountant-Lawyer Alliance: Facilitating networking and educational opportunities between accountants and legal professionals, the ALA provides members with certification options, online courses, interest-based online forums, and extensive educational opportunities for those running their own firms.
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants: A global organization that sets professional and ethical standards for CPAs, the AICPA oversees the CPA examination. Individual members can benefit from voting rights, a professional journal, a variety of discounts, and conference attendance.
- National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers: Centered around the education and accreditation of public bookkeepers, the NACPB provides training videos, continuing professional education, certification opportunities, practice tests, and an abundance of online resources.