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2021 Accounting Degree Guide

Do you find it fun and easy to keep track of your favorite sports team's records in order to forecast how their season is going to play out? Accountants do just that, except in the business setting. They gather information, examine records, decode, and communicate information to individuals or organizations in order to improve their financial risk and performance. A program in Accounting will prepare students to perform related business functions and practice the profession of accounting.

There are many different concentrations within this major; they include Auditing, Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Business/Management, and Accounting Technology/Technician and Bookkeeping. While studying this major you will be taking courses in Business Law, Cost accounting, Tax accounting, Accounting information systems, and Auditing. This major is commonly offered as a Bachelor's degree.

#8 Most Popular Major
87.1k Degrees Awarded
-3.4% Increase in Graduates

Accounting was the 8th most popular major in the 2018-2019 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 87,112 degrees in this year alone. This 2,991 less than the prior year, a decrease of 3.4%.

The United States has 1,854 different schools where you can get a degree in accounting. Our 2021 Best Colleges for Accounting ranking analyzes 521 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for accounting students. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of accounting programs later in this article.

What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Accounting

Attention to detail will be a helpful skill as you work with numbers and variables that can be misinterpreted and thrown off by one mistake. Strong mathematical skills and an analytical mind will help you in both your college classes and your career.

If you have the chance, it is helpful to take courses in Business, Computer applications, Calculus, Statistics, and Microeconomics while still in high school. This program is not only offered as a Bachelor's Degree, but students can continue onto higher education and receive a Master's or Doctorate in this major.

Prior Education for an Accounting Program

accounting degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. Once you obtain your degree, additional accounting certifications required to pursue a career in this field.

Accounting Degree Types

Accounting degree levels vary. You can spend many years getting as high as a in accounting to something that takes less time like a . How long it takes to complete some common accounting degree levels is shown below.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to accounting, with approximately 41.9% of workers getting one. See the the most common levels of education for accounting workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 40.0%
High School Diploma 14.4%
Master’s Degree 13.8%
Some College Courses 9.6%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 8.4%

About 66.8% of workers in careers related to accounting obtain at least bachelor's degrees. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in accounting have obtained.


The education level required is different depending on the accounting career you are seeking.

Accounting Careers

Above Average Number of Jobs
$44.5k Average Starting Salary
6% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

While accounting is a general topic, specialization is important. Many accountants specialize in auditing, taxes, or consulting. Depending on your focus you can become a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, or a Certified Internal Auditor. In order to become a Certified Accountant, you must take a national exam to obtain a license. Graduate can also become Budget Analysts and Financial Analysts. These Analysts create, study, and oversee the budgets and finances for organizations. The demands for these Analysts are increasing rapidly.

Growth Projected for Accounting Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your accounting degree? Accounting careers are expected to grow 6.4% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to accounting.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks 1,705,300 -1.5%
Accountants and Auditors 1,537,600 10.0%
Financial Managers 689,000 18.7%
Financial Analysts 328,200 10.8%
Payroll and Timekeeping Clerks 164,700 -1.0%

How Much Money Do Accounting Grads Make?

Recently graduated accounting students earned an average of $44,476 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $6,600 to as high as $83,100. As you might expect, salaries for accounting graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid Accounting Careers

Salaries for accounting graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers accounting grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Financial Managers $146,830
Business Professors $103,330
Financial Analysts $100,990
Financial Examiners $90,310
Credit Analysts $82,300

Getting Your Accounting Degree

With over 3,418 different accounting degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased accounting school rankings to help you with this.

One of 21 majors within the Business, Management & Marketing area of study, Accounting has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Business Administration & Management 363,728
General Business/Commerce 53,285
Finance & Financial Management 52,678
Marketing 48,756
Human Resource Management 22,258

View All Accounting Related Majors >


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