How Much Does An Accounting Degree Cost

Last Updated on January 18, 2023 by

An accounting degree is a crucial credential for business and commerce. While there are alternative pathways to get into the field, the most common route is thru an accounting degree program. In this article, you’ll get detailed information about how much does it cost to get an accounting degree.

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Accounting is a multidisciplinary subject that focuses on the economic activities of an organization or individual.Accounting students will gain advanced theoretical and practical knowledge of accounting and finance; master computational and computing skills and techniques used in professional accounting practitioners.

How Much Does An Accounting Degree Cost

How Much Is An Accounting Course?

Short answer: It varies.

Long answer: It depends on where you study, how you study and what you study.

Ok, so that wasn’t that much longer. Let’s take a few minutes and flesh that answer out a little more!

Basic Accounting Courses

To learn basic accounting principles, it costs very little at all. You’ll probably be able to pick up most of the essential principles by spending some time researching accounting online and taking the time to practice those skills. Some sites (usually government or advertising supported) have accumulated large databases of knowledge for your use. All it will cost you is your time and access costs for the internet.

If you’re not confident in your online research skills, or you’d like someone to package the accounting course for you, there are introductory accounting courses available for a small cost ($100-200 is quite normal). These can easily be found online, but it’s questionable how much value they offer, compared to the free resources readily available.

Qualified Accounting Courses

You’ll find a big leap between basic accounting courses and those that offer you a genuine and valued qualification you can put on your resume.

Most decent intermediate accounting courses that teach you real skills – like the Certificate IV in Accounting – run for around a year or two, full time. The price also increases – you’ll pay around $1500 for a Certificate 4 in Accounting or $2000-$4000 for a Diploma of Accounting – but at the end of it you’ll have valuable skills and a real qualification.

Unfortunately for international students in Australia, if you don’t have access to Commonwealth supported places, prices for these qualifications can be much higher. Do your research before you enrol!

What Does an Accountant Do? Roles, Responsibilities, & Trends

Advanced Accounting Courses

Not satisfied with those options? Try a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting! You’ll have the opportunity to develop an intimate knowledge of accounting and high level accounting skills over the normal 3 year full-time schedule! Fees can run to $10,000+ per year for an Australian domestic student with access to HECS-HELP; and $20,000+ for international students.

You can also continue your education with post-graduate, master and doctoral studies in accounting. These can run for various lengths of time, anywhere from a semester to many years depending on your program and workload. Enquire with a higher learning institution to find out their course fee structure for advanced degrees in accounting.

Types of Accounting Jobs: A Review and Information

how long does it take to get an accounting degree

The Accounting Major’s College Experience

Most bachelor’s degrees, including those in accounting, feature a mix of required and elective courses. Specific degree requirements vary by school and program, but students can expect to complete approximately 120 credits, including a general education curriculum and specialized courses related to the accounting major.

Full-time students typically complete a bachelor’s in accounting in four years, though some programs offer accelerated, three-year degrees. Those already holding associate degrees or transfer credits may complete their programs in fewer than four years. Part-time degree-seekers usually take longer than four years to complete a bachelor’s. These learners should check with their prospective school about potential time limits for degree completion.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Accountant?

Generally, the minimum level of education needed to become an accountant is a bachelor’s degree, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This means that most students will spend at least four years in college to prepare for an accounting career. Depending on your career goals in accounting, you may need one or more additional years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree. All in all, it can take between four and six years of full-time accounting study to be qualified for senior-level and managerial accounting roles.

One point to clarify is that earning a degree in accounting is not the same thing as becoming an accountant. Degrees at the lower levels of study, including associate’s degrees and undergraduate certificates, are quick to earn, but they don’t qualify you to work as an accountant or auditor. Instead, these degrees would most likely result in you finding a role as an accounting clerk, bookkeeper, accounting assistant or accounting specialist – roles that are not the same, in terms of job duties or earning potential, as a full-fledged accountant position.

How long to become an accountant is also dependent on whether you’re seeking any accounting credentials. For example, if you’re aiming to become a rectified public accountant (CPA), you’re going to take longer than if you wanted only to become an accountant without any specific credentials. There are two reasons it takes longer to become a CPA than an accountant without this highly regarded qualification. Eligibility for credentials like the CPA may include more extensive accounting coursework than the average bachelor’s degree, and there is an additional licensing or certification process involved in acquiring the credential that takes time.

There’s no downtime required between earning your accounting degree and starting work as an accountant. Since accountants aren’t required to be licensed unless they are planning to do the work of a CPA, you can start calling yourself an accountant and seeking job opportunities for accountants right away. You don’t have to wait to take a licensing exam, go through a lengthy licensing process or spend years acquiring supervised work experience, as you would have to do for jobs in some other fields.

Education Requirements for CPAs

Though you can get your first entry-level accounting job and even move up to a staff accountant role with a bachelor’s degree, there are some accounting roles that you can’t fulfill with just a four-year undergraduate education. One of the most popular of those roles is certified public accountant.

CPAs are accounting professionals who are licensed with their state’s Board of Accountancy and thus are legally permitted to perform tasks that accountants without the credential cannot do. In particular, CPAs are able to file annual and quarterly reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is a requirement all publicly traded businesses must meet, according to the BLS. Despite the title of the credential, CPAs work in both public and private accounting. Certified public accountants enjoy benefits such as better job prospects and salaries of up to 15 percent above that of accountants without the credential, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)’s This Way to CPA website.

If you want to be a CPA, there’s a good chance that you will have to spend at least five years in college. Most states require CPA candidates to have a minimum of 150 semester hours of college studies as opposed to the 120 hours needed for a traditional bachelor’s degree. Earning those extra 30 credits will typically take students an additional year.

Having a CPA license can also help you gain clients for your own accounting firm or attain a promotion to a senior-level role in an established accounting firm.

best online accounting degree

Top 5 – Online Accounting Degrees

Below are the final top 5 accounting degree programs on our list.

5. University of Alabama – Birmingham

Degree at a Glance


The University of Alabama – Birmingham Collat School of Business offers the same Bachelor of Science in Accounting online as it does on-campus; however the online degree costs $68,880, which is much lower than the on-campus cost ($102,240) for out-of-state students. The program courses are designed by certified instructional designers at the university and 90% of the Collat School of Business faculty have a PhD. All students complete a capstone project and an audit project to link their education to real-world problems, which is a unique feature that makes the cost of the project a great value overall.

The degree requires 120 credits to graduate and will take four years to complete if you plan to study full-time, although up to 60 transfer credits can be awarded. You will learn about many different accounting areas in this program and be well-prepared to work in different industry settings or continue your education through a master’s degree. The salary range for graduates in early- and mid-career positions is between $43,900-$75,500.

4. Colorado State University-Global Campus

Degree at a Glance


The Colorado State University-Global Campus online accounting degree is the least expensive full degree program in the top ten of our list with a price of $42,000. It is designed for adult learners that have other commitments outside of school and need maximum flexibility. Seventeen accounting credits are included in the 120-credit curriculum and you can also add a specialization one of 18 different areas, including business administration, organizational leadership, and small business and entrepreneurship.

The online classes are asynchronous to work on your accounting degree whenever you like and conveniently access your course materials. Classes are offered in eight-week blocks throughout the year, allowing you to adjust your course load as needed. New classes start each month, making it easy to meet the graduation requirements as fast as possible. As a graduate, you can look forward to a salary range of $47,700-$83,400.

3. Washington State University

Degree at a Glance


Our number three program is the Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Washington State University. The degree costs $56,880, which is the least expensive of our top three choices but also has a slightly lower reported salary range of the three, between $50,700-$90,400. The online accounting degree focuses on innovation in business and accounting to make sure you learn about the latest technologies and issues facing professional accountants today.

All students must meet the University Common Requirements, including liberal arts and science courses, and complete 24 credits in advanced accounting. In this program, you will learn about many critical accounting areas, such as taxation, auditing, and financial statements, and be prepared to work in non-profit, for-profit, and governmental organizations.

In 2016, US News & World Report ranked the university’s online bachelor programs in a tie for 34th place in the country and 21% of all online students majoring in accounting; however, the average class size was 40 students higher than other programs on our list.

2. Temple University

Degree at a Glance


Both of our top two programs are based in Philadelphia. Temple University’s Fox School of Business offers a Bachelor of Business Administration: Accounting degree with a great international reputation. In 2016, US News & World Report ranked the university’s online bachelor programs #6 in the country and the online MBA was ranked #1. However, this reputation comes with a large price tag of $92,496 that is the same for in-state or out-of-state students.

All the faculty members teach on-campus and online, have either a doctorate or a terminal degree, and have an average of six years of experience teaching online. While business administration is the most extensive online program, accounting and finance students account for 17% of all online students at the university. Classes have synchronous components, meaning that you must be available to participate in online classes at specific times throughout the week. This may be an essential consideration if you have other commitments.

The university often hosts Virtual Open Houses that inform potential students about the online learning experience at Temple. Temple accounting graduates earn a salary between $47,300-$81,900.

1. Pennsylvania State University

Degree at a Glance


Our top best value online accounting program is the Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Penn State World Campus, which was ranked in a tie for 1st place for undergraduate online programs by US News & World Report in 2016. With such a prestigious rating, the online degree price of $69,480 may be a good value if you are looking for an internationally-recognized qualification. This price is also good value compared to the equivalent on-campus program that costs $101,620.

You will complete 120 credits to graduate during three semesters in the fall, spring, and summer and learn about key accounting topics, such as tax, audits, and international business. You will also complete the university’s required general education curriculum that includes liberal arts, math, and science. While you study, you will have access to many resources through the World Campus platform and will receive the same accounting degree as on-campus students. With an online accounting degree from Penn State, you can expect a salary between $54,600-$91,100.

Online Vs Classroom Study

One way to save money is to study your accounting course online. Free courses or cheap, basic courses are often run online anyway as it’s the most cost effective method of delivery in most cases.

Once you start paying for quality Certificate IV in Accounting or Diploma of Accounting level courses, the difference between online and classroom based tuition can be significant. Taking a competitive online program can save you $100s or $1000s over face-to-face instruction. University degrees can also be cheaper when delivered online. Many people also enjoy the non-monetary benefits of online education – flexible schedules, less time spent commuting, self paced learning, among others. Online education does require you to be effective at time management and disciplined about completing your study.

Whichever option you choose, don’t forget all the little extra costs you need to add to your course expenses – textbooks, internet connections, computers, transport and/or parking fees, plus time spent travelling to-and-from from TAFE or university.

Online Accounting Degree - Bachelor's in Accounting | USNews

Career Outcomes Of Your Accounting Studies

Which course is right for you? If you want to learn accounting for your own personal finances or to run your own small business, you’ll likely be able to learn all you need with online research or a basic accounting course.

However! If you’d like to formalise your accounting skills and earn a qualification that can be put on your resume, it definitely helps to get a Certificate IV in Accounting or better and work hard to develop your practical skills.

A recent conversation with a bookkeeping services company based in Australia revealed that they require applicants for their bookkeeping and accounting roles to have a Certificate IV in Accounting or Bookkeeping as a minimum qualification. Additionally, they do their own testing of job candidates to evaluate skills, so it really pays to know your stuff.

Many companies will continue to invest in professional development for you and the rest of the team. You can also pursue more training opportunities on your own – many people start with a Certificate IV in Accounting and then continue learning while they’re also working and earning an income in the accounting profession. The Certificate IV in Accounting or Bookkeeping is the preferred entry path for the Diploma course, and students can then progress to an advanced Diploma and even university.

So choose a course that suits you and get stuck into it! You can’t finish if you never start and there is no time better than the present to get on your way to a new career.

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