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 Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, PA|
|2||University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA|
|3||Lehigh University||Bethlehem, PA|
|4||New York University||New York, NY|
|5||University of Notre Dame||Notre Dame, IN|
|6||University of Richmond||Richmond, VA|
|7||Tulane University of Louisiana||New Orleans, LA|
|8||Claremont McKenna College||Claremont, CA|
|9||Case Western Reserve University||Cleveland, OH|
|10||Washington and Lee University||Lexington, VA|
Best Accounting School Programs for 2020
University of Pennsylvania
Based in Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania traces its origins to 1740. Penn houses 16 undergraduate and graduate schools and enrolls more than 22,000 students annually.
Penn's bachelor's degree in business with an accounting concentration includes 37 courses in business and the arts and sciences. The comprehensive program builds foundational knowledge in mathematics, economics, and behavioral and natural science. Learners study tools, techniques, and processes related to tax planning, auditing, and financial and cost accounting.
Offered through the Wharton School, the program integrates coursework in corporate valuation, strategic cost analysis, and financial measurement and disclosure. Students also complete classes in accounting and business analysis, taxes and business strategy, and predictive analytics using financial disclosures.
Average Net Price of Program: $26,266
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California opened its doors in 1880 to a mere 53 students. Now home to more than 44,000 learners, USC offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and professional programs from its Los Angeles-based campus. The school is the oldest private research university in the state.
The bachelor of science in accounting at USC prepares students to enter the accounting profession as leaders. The curriculum, provided through the Leventhal School of Accounting, facilitates further graduate study in business, accounting, and related fields.
Undergraduate accounting students at USC meet with an academic advisor to create an individualized course plan. Accounting and business foundation courses include financial and managerial accounting, business finance, and applied business statistics. Learners also complete core accounting classes in financial reporting, accounting systems, taxation, and financial statement assessment.
Average Net Price of Program: $36,161
Established by railroad magnate Asa Packer in 1865, Lehigh occupies more than 2,000 acres in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The school offers nearly 200 undergraduate and graduate programs to its almost 10,000 enrollees.
Lehigh offers two accounting bachelor's degrees: a bachelor of science in business and economics with an accounting major, or a bachelor of science in integrated business and engineering with a major in accounting. Both programs prepare students for careers with industrial firms, managerial organizations, and financial institutions.
Accounting students take prerequisite classes in financial and managerial accounting to prepare for major courses in intermediate accounting, accounting information systems, and cost accounting. Learners also choose among courses in public accounting assurance and tax services, financial services and corporate accounting, and information technology.
Average Net Price of Program: $26,782
New York University
Founded in 1831, NYU operates 19 academic schools and colleges through five centers located in Manhattan, New York. NYU also maintains academic centers and research programs around the world, serving more than 58,000 students annually.
The undergraduate program in accounting, offered through NYU's Stern School of Business, integrates 16 credit hours of general and elective accounting classes. Students study managerial accounting and financial statement analysis. Accounting electives focus on niche areas within the accounting discipline. Options include entertainment accounting, accounting and evaluation in EMT, and an executive practitioner seminar.
NYU also offers a joint bachelor's in accounting and master of science in accounting, designed to meet the credit hour requirements to sit for the certified public accounting exam in New York.
Average Net Price of Program: $39,935
University of Notre Dame
A private Catholic institution founded in 1842, Notre Dame consistently ranks among the best universities in the country. Located near South Bend, Indiana, Notre Dame offers undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 12,000 students through eight academic colleges.
Provided through the Mendoza College of Business, the bachelor of business administration in accountancy at UND integrates coursework in strategic cost management, ethics in accounting, and federal taxation. The program builds the critical thinking and analytical skills needed to thrive in the accounting profession.
UND's data analytics in accounting course trains learners to identify and analyze financial data using data mining, simulation models, and optimization. A class in accounting measurement and disclosure builds understanding of the role financial reporting plays in business decision making. Learners also gain practical understanding of generally accepted accounting principles.
Average Net Price of Program: $30,229
University of Richmond
Established for aspiring ministers in 1830, Richmond now enrolls over 4,000 students annually. With a 350-acre campus in Richmond, Virginia, the school offers proximity to Washington, D.C., the Atlantic Ocean, and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The accounting degree at Richmond emphasizes financial reporting through an empirical, research-based approach. The bachelor of science in business administration with an accounting major integrates coursework in economics, financial accounting, and statistics for economics.
Students complete prerequisites in operations management, data analytics, and business law and ethics. Accounting core courses include financial accounting, cost and managerial accounting, auditing, and federal taxation. Individuals pursuing a major in another discipline offered through Richmond's Robins School of Business can complete a concentration in accounting, as well.
Average Net Price of Program: $24,634
Tulane University of Louisiana
Founded in 1834 as a medical college, Tulane took its current moniker in 1884. Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, Tulane provides academic programs at sites throughout the state and in Houston, Texas.
Tulane's joint bachelor of science in management and master of accounting program, offered through the Freeman School of Business, prepares graduates for the certified professional accountant examination. Learners complete the program in five years, gaining fundamental accounting knowledge and skills through practical learning exercises and curricular activities.
The program incorporates 122 credit hours of undergraduate coursework and 30 credit hours of graduate coursework. Required classes include accounting and finance, auditing, financial accounting, and principles of entity taxation.
Learners may add a specialization to the curriculum, focusing on taxation, structured finance, or management. An internship option places students in a taxation or corporate finance setting to gain hands-on experience in the discipline.
Average Net Price of Program: $37,692
Claremont McKenna College
Claremont McKenna College began as a men's college in 1946. Now coeducational, CMC offers undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 1,400 students annually from its Claremont, California campus.
Through CMC's Robert Day School of Economics and Finance, learners can earn a bachelor's degree in economics and accounting. The curriculum includes nine credit hours of core classes in economic analysis, microeconomics, and macroeconomics.
Students complete courses in accounting for decision-making, asset and income measurement, and valuation and reporting of financial liabilities and equity. Elective classes allow learners to explore aspects of economics and accounting such as data analytics, auditing, financial statement analysis, and strategic cost management.
CMC's economics and accounting undergraduate degree also includes a capstone thesis, during which learners work with a faculty member to research a topic in accounting.
Average Net Price of Program: $26,512
Case Western Reserve University
Located in Cleveland, Ohio, Case Western Reserve University traces its origins to the 1820s. Officially formed through the merger of Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology in 1967, CWRU enrolls nearly 12,000 students annually.
The bachelor of science in accounting at CWRU emphasizes technical aspects of the field. The 122-credit-hour program includes 35-42 credit hours of general education requirements, 56-63 credit hours of principle and core classes, and 24 credit hours of major coursework.
Principle coursework focuses on foundations of economics, business statistics, and accounting. CWRU's core curriculum includes classes in business communication, corporate finance, and marketing management. Accounting major courses cover topics such as corporate reporting, income taxation, and applied analytics for accounting.
Average Net Price of Program: $34,061
Washington and Lee University
Founded in 1749 in Lexington, Virginia, Washington and Lee University is the ninth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Named for George Washington and Robert E. Lee, two men who provided valuable support to the institution, the school serves more than 2,000 students annually.
The school's bachelor of science in accounting includes 45 credit hours of major coursework. Students complete required courses in financial and managerial accounting, managerial finance, economics, and marketing management.
The curriculum integrates classes in data science, statistics, business law, and organizational behavior. Learners take additional courses in strategic management, financial statement analysis, auditing, and income taxation to build comprehensive understanding of the accounting field.
To apply to Washington and Lee, individuals submit transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. The school offers multiple application deadlines.
Average Net Price of Program: $21,918
Established in 1846 as the University of Lewisburg, Bucknell took its current name to honor benefactor William Bucknell in 1886. Located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Bucknell offers its nearly 4,000 learners a 9-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Bucknell's bachelor of science in business administration with an accounting and financial management emphasis prepares students for careers as certified public accountants. The curriculum prepares graduates to take the Pennsylvania CPA examination.
Offered through the Freeman College of Management, the accounting and financial degree integrates core coursework in financial decision modeling, business law, and accounting. Major classes include auditing and assurance, income taxation, and managerial and cost accounting. Students also complete classes in financial statement analysis and investments. The program concludes with a culminating experience.
Average Net Price of Program: $36,305
Saint Louis University
Established as a Jesuit college for men in 1818, Saint Louis University provides more than 190 academic programs infused with Catholic traditions and faith. SLU hosts nearly 13,000 students on its campuses in Saint Louis, Missouri, and Madrid, Spain.
SLU's bachelor of science in accounting builds knowledge and skills applicable to careers as certified public accountants. Students complete 48 credit hours of arts and sciences, 45 credit hours of business requirements, and 15-21 credit hours of major courses. Accounting coursework emphasizes financial reporting, cost management, auditing, and accounting information systems.
Learners complete 120 credit hours of coursework in total. SLU also allows students to pursue a bachelor's and a master's degree in accounting sequentially, earning the full 150 credit hours needed to take the Missouri CPA examination.
Average Net Price of Program: $34,061
Founded in 1917, Providence College offers undergraduate and graduate programs inspired by the Dominican Order's commitment to Catholic faith, intellectual reason, and the pursuit of truth. Providence serves nearly 4,500 students through four academic colleges.
The bachelor of science in accounting blends coursework in finance, economics, and accounting to prepare students for careers as accountants. Learners gain knowledge applicable to positions as auditors, financial analysts, and financial managers.
The curriculum emphasizes data applications in business, accounting information systems, accounting policy, and organizational behavior. The comprehensive program integrates case analyses, computer lab assignments, oral presentations, and internships to build students' practical and technical skills.
Applicants must provide transcripts for consideration. Students may supplement their application materials with ACT or SAT scores.
Average Net Price of Program: $37,842
Located in Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton is one of 28 Jesuit institutions of higher learning in the United States. Creighton enrolls nearly 9,000 students annually, offering undergraduate and graduate programs through nine academic schools and colleges.
The school's bachelor of science in business administration with a concentration in accounting includes 21 credit hours of major coursework. Students study financial reporting, managerial accounting for decision-making, and accounting information systems. The program also includes required classes in federal tax accounting and auditing.
Creighton also offers learners an accelerated master of accounting program. In four years, students earn a bachelor's and a master's degree, acquiring the 150 credit hours needed to sit for the certified public accountant examination.
Admission to these accounting programs requires junior standing, with a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA.
Average Net Price of Program: $31,317
An Augustinian institution founded in 1842, Villanova remains steeped in Catholic tradition. With a main campus in Pennsylvania, Villanova enrolls nearly 11,000 students, offering undergraduate and graduate programs through six academic schools and colleges.
Villanova's accounting major allows learners to complete the 150 credit hours needed to sit for the certified public accounting examination. Students can also earn a master's degree in accounting with an emphasis in data analytics to meet the CPA exam requirement.
The bachelor's degree integrates general education, business, and major coursework. Core courses include intermediate accounting, federal income tax, and auditing. Topics include accounting for real estate, international accounting, cost accounting, and fraud examination.
Students also have the opportunity to participate in an internship, an externship, or a cooperative learning opportunity with one of Villanova's regional and professional partners.
Average Net Price of Program: $36,958
Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel University emphasizes experiential learning and civic engagement. The school currently enrolls roughly 25,000 students, with all of its undergraduate learners participating in cooperative education opportunities.
The bachelor of science in business administration with a major in accounting trains students for careers in business, government, and nonprofit sectors. Learners build technical, practical, and analytical fundamentals through 180 credit hours of coursework.
Alongside general education and business coursework, Drexel's accounting curriculum integrates classes in cost accounting, auditing, and individual income taxes. Students also complete a course in business income taxes and a three-part sequence in financial reporting.
During their cooperative education requirement, accounting students gain practical experience applicable to the certified public accountant examination in numerous states.
Average Net Price of Program: $36,727
Wake Forest University
Founded in 1834, Wake Forest University moved to its current home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1956. With more than 8,000 students, Wake Forest offers programs through six academic schools and colleges, boasting an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
The university's bachelor of science in accounting prepares students for careers in private and public accounting, financial services, and consulting. Accountancy majors can apply to Wake Forest's master of science in accountancy, earning both a bachelor's and a master's degree in five years.
The accountancy major at Wake Forest builds foundational knowledge of accounting concepts, principles, and practices. Classes in financial accounting, intermediate accounting, and financial auditing accompany required coursework in taxes and their role in business decisions.
Learners also study accounting for managerial decision-making, as well as professional and ethical responsibilities of accountants. Students participate in a paid professional accounting internship.
Average Net Price of Program: $27,354
Santa Clara University
Founded by Jesuits in 1851, Santa Clara University now enrolls more than 5,500 undergraduate and graduate students annually. SCU occupies a 106-acre campus in Santa Clara, California.
SCU offers two accounting majors: one in general accounting and one in accounting and information systems. Offered through the Leavey School of Business, each accounting program builds upon SCU's undergraduate general education and business core curricula.
The accounting major includes required coursework in recording financial transactions, financial accounting, and accounting information systems. Students also study auditing, cost accounting, and tax planning and business decisions.
Learners majoring in accounting and information systems similarly study financial record keeping, financial accounting, and comparable accounting fundamentals. The accounting and information systems curriculum also integrates classes in database management, systems analysis and design, and programming.
Average Net Price of Program: $41,545
Affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Muhlenberg College dates back to 1848. From its campus in Allentown, Pennsylvania Muhlenberg offers educational programs that blend intellectual excellence with Christian traditions.
The school's bachelor of arts in accounting includes 12 required classes in economics, business, and accounting. Students study macroeconomics and microeconomics while building foundational skills in statistical analysis, managerial and cost accounting, and accounting information systems.
Additional required courses include auditing and assurance services, as well as concepts of federal taxation. Students can choose from elective options such as fraud examination, public finance, and business law.
Students majoring in accounting at Muhlenberg can take 150 credit hours to meet the educational requirements for the certified public accountant examination. The 150-credit hour option also applies to a graduate degree in accounting at Lehigh University through an articulation agreement between the two institutions.
Average Net Price of Program: $36,541
Initially affiliated with the Christian Church, Drake University now operates as a non-denominational institution from its main campus in Des Moines, Iowa. Founded by Civil War general Francis Mario Drake in 1881, Drake offers almost 100 undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 5,000 enrollees annually.
The bachelor of science in business administration with an accounting concentration prepares students for careers in auditing, financial reporting, data analysis, and public accounting. The 124-credit hour degree includes 27 credit hours of required accounting coursework alongside 48 credit hours of business core requirements.
Accounting classes include accounting information systems, financial accounting, and auditing principles. Students study individual taxation, managerial accounting, and principles of macroeconomics. Learners also complete an elective course in business law or information systems.
Average Net Price of Program: $29,511
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
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
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.
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.