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2020 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.

#6 Most Popular Major
108k Degrees Awarded
-0.6% Increase in Graduates

In 2017-2018, accounting was the 6th most popular major nationwide with 107,851 degrees awarded. This represents small change only -0.6% from the prior year's total of 108,487 accounting degrees awarded.

There are 1,282 schools offering degrees in accounting in the United States. Our 2020 Best Colleges for Accounting ranking analyzes 621 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for accounting students. Explore this or one of our many other custom accounting rankings further below.

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 get anything from a award taking less than 1 year in accounting to the highest accounting degree, a research/scholarship based doctorate. The time it takes to complete a accounting degree varies depending on the program.

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%

Most workers in accounting have at least a bachelor's degree. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in accounting have obtained.


This of course varies depending on which accounting career you choose.

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?

Accounting graduates between 2015-2017 reported earning an average of $44,476 in the 2017-2018 timeframe. 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.


High Paying Careers for Accounting Majors

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 5,013 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.

Accounting is one of 21 different types of Business, Management & Marketing programs to choose from.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Business Administration & Management 399,810
General Business/Commerce 58,413
Finance & Financial Management 56,960
Marketing 49,179
Human Resource Management 26,853

View All Accounting Related Majors >


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