Is a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting Worth It?
A bachelor's in accounting is worth it for individuals who aspire to have a steady career with plenty of opportunities for professional growth. Ultimately, however, the worth of this education will vary depending on an individual's personal circumstances, financial situation, and other obligations, so prospective students should carefully evaluate these factors before deciding to enroll. They may also consider the following pros and cons of an accounting bachelor's.
A career in accounting is considered a high-status occupation. According to the World Economic Forum, accountants were ranked seventh in the top 10 most respected professions in the world.
Accountants typically have a well-defined career path. This is because students graduate with a set of hard financial skills and gain on-the-job experience which makes it easier to identify jobs and future promotions. Furthermore, the accounting field remains largely unchanged, despite new financial tools and technologies, allowing graduates to chart a predictable career.
An accounting degree at the undergraduate level may not be enough to advance a career in finance. Graduates will often need a CPA license to conduct audits and some states expect accountants to have a master's degree and certification for higher-level positions.
Scholarships for Accounting Students
Accounting students interested in funding their higher education can apply for federal, state, and private forms of financial assistance. These may include grants and scholarships that cover tuition or living costs, as well as work-study programs that help students pay for college expenses through part-time employment. While students may also apply for loans, they should first consider funding sources that don't need to be paid back.
The first step to applying for funding involves filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a form that many government organizations and schools use to determine how much financial assistance an individual qualifies for. While the FAFSA is the most direct way to apply for grants and scholarships, certain noncitizens and undocumented students are not eligible to fill out this form. In general, students should contact the financial aid departments of their prospective schools to learn about the funding opportunities they are eligible for. They may also consider applying for the following grants and scholarships designed specifically for accounting students.
Every year, the AICPA awards 25 scholarships to students enrolled full-time in an undergraduate or graduate accounting degree program. These scholarships are open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who demonstrate financial need, have a minimum 3.0 GPA, and plan to become CPAs once they graduate. The IMA offers several grants and scholarships to accounting students at the graduate and undergraduate levels. To be considered, applicants must be IMA student members and currently enrolled in an accounting degree program. The JMK scholarship is open to female students who demonstrate leadership potential and are pursuing a degree in business. Applicants must be enrolled in at least the second year of undergraduate study and may apply all the way up to the final year of a master's program.
Students interested in an accounting degree should make sure they enroll in an accredited program. Accreditation ensures that a college or university's faculty, program offerings, facilities, and student resources meet established standards for academic excellence. Aside from receiving a quality education, attending an accredited school is also a requirement to receive financial aid and transfer previously earned college credits.
Students can check the U.S. Department of Education's database to determine whether their prospective school has been regionally accredited. This type of accreditation — which is conducted by one of six accrediting bodies — is the most common and applies to the school as a whole. Accounting students may also want to confirm whether a specific program has been evaluated by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). AACSB accreditation shows that a given program meets educational benchmarks specifically designed for the accounting field. Additionally, holding an AACSB-accredited accounting degree is a requirement for those who want to pursue their CPA license.
After earning their bachelor's in accounting, students may choose to begin working, get certified, or continue their education.
While entering the workforce in a finance-related role may be a suitable option for some, becoming a licensed CPA may be a better route for those who want to start their own business or offer clients professional accounting services including audits, tax preparation, and financial management. CPA requirements vary by state, but applicants typically need to meet educational and work experience prerequisites for their jurisdiction as well as pass a series of exams.
Alternatively, students can continue their education by enrolling in an MBA or similar master's program. A bachelor's in accounting typically prepares students for graduate study in many different business-related fields, and those who hope to land a management position are likely to gain from earning a higher-level degree. A master's can also be helpful for students who want to specialize in areas such as forensic accounting or taxation. Additionally, some states may expect students to have a master's degree before applying to become CPAs.
Can I Get an Accounting Degree Online?
With distance education programs rising in popularity, it is possible to earn an accounting degree completely online, including at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Distance learners should note that employers are increasingly seeing online accounting degrees that are accredited by the AACSB as comparable to traditional ones.
We rank the best online colleges offering bachelor's degrees in accounting. These schools offer a higher than average return on investment based on a comparison between annual tuition rates and the mid-career salaries that alumni earn. Prospective online students may consider these schools if they hope to maximize their future earning potential as accountants and quickly pay off the initial costs of college.