Turn on CNBC or Bloomberg Television and you might think that what drives business success are fast-talking business-suited alphas or egghead visionaries inspiring people at big name technology conferences. But that is just the shiny facade of the business world. Hidden beneath that shiny exterior is the chugging V8 engine that drives the business machine: the accountants.
Accountants? Doesn’t sound too sexy, you say? Well, try to make a business work without an eagle-eyed team of accountants spotting hidden costs, preparing detailed budgets, negotiating an increasingly complex regulatory environment, and keeping things on the up and up with Uncle Sam. Get the last part wrong and you might be wearing an orange jumpsuit rather than a hand tailored Caraceni.
But maybe the fast-paced glamor of Wall Street doesn’t appeal to you. Maybe it even makes you a little suspicious. Perhaps where others see innovation, you see overseas tax havens, kickbacks, fuzzy math, and insider trading. Does that mean accounting is not for you? On the contrary! Who you gonna call to investigate fraud and graft? Forensic accountants! They are Sherlock Holmes in the world of financial malfeasance.
So take a look at our list of the most affordable online accounting degrees below. And if you’re looking for other affordable degree programs, have a look at our ranking of the most affordable online schools.
However you plan on using your accounting degree one thing is for sure: there will always be a need for qualified accountants. There is a reason that most of the world’s oldest documents are records of financial transactions: as long as there is civilization, someone needs to be watching the books. That urgency has translated into accounting being one of the most stable professions around. While there will always be faster-growing fields, many of them are based on the latest economic bubble. When the bubble bursts, the accountants will be there to tally up the damages.
The pay isn’t half bad either. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for an accountant in 2015 was $67,190, with higher-end salaries going into the hundreds of thousands. That makes it a pretty reliable way to make a living. What makes that salary go even further is earning your accounting credentials in the most affordable and convenient way- getting your accounting degree online. That’s where College Choice comes in. We’ve done the hard work of crunching the numbers for you, and these online accounting degrees offer the surest way to get you into the accounting job you desire while eating the fewest costs.
Fort Hays State University
Tuition per Credit: $207.24
Fort Hays State University is a medium sized state university governed by the Kansas Board of Regents. Fort Hays has a growing reputation for offering remarkably affordable online degrees. They do not disappoint with their 124 credit hour online Bachelor in Business Administration in Accounting, the most affordable undergraduate accounting degree College Choice was able to find.
On completion of the degree students will be prepared to fulfill all the requirements for entry level positions in governmental, financial, auditing, cost, and tax accounting. Though FHSU’s undergraduate accounting degree can put you well on the way to fulfilling the course and credit requirements for CPA examination and licensure, students should consult their state’s unique requirements to make sure Fort Hays’ program is right for them. Fort Hays has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Belhaven University (Tie)
Tuition per Credit: $240.00
Belhaven University is a small Presbyterian liberal arts college located in Jackson, Mississippi. It offers a 124 credit online Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree designed to prepare students for careers in public, tax, government, corporate, managerial, and not-for-profit accounting. Belhaven has been regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Because Belhaven is a liberal arts college in the Christian tradition, their core curriculum includes classes in the Old and New Testaments as well as classes such as The Christian Interpretation of Life. This makes Belhaven an attractive option for those hoping to prepare themselves as accounting professionals while also nurturing their Christian faith. Belhaven’s program covers all the courses required to sit for the CPA exam for the state of Mississippi, though additional credits may be necessary for licensure.
Baker College (Tie)
Tuition per Credit: $240.00
Baker College is a private, not-for-profit, career college located in Flint, Michigan. Among their many online offerings is an 183-credit online Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting degree. The degree is intended to prepare students for careers in public, managerial, and governmental accounting. Baker’s Lifetime Employment Services program helps all Baker Students find employment after the completion of their degree.
Students who complete Baker’s degree program are thereby eligible to sit for examinations as Certified Public Accountants in the state of Michigan. However, recent licensure requirements in that state stipulate that applicants complete 225 credit hours to be licenced. Therefore, while completion of the degree is sufficient to take the examination, further coursework may be required to be officially licensed as a CPA. Baker has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Western Governors University
Tuition per Credit: $241.00
Founded in 1997 at the behest of the Western Governors Association to reach out to those in need of non-traditional educational resources, WGU is an online only, private, non-profit university that has an online student population of about 70,000. They offer a 121 credit Bachelor of Science in Accounting.
WGU has two six-month terms during which students are required to enroll in 12-13 competency units (roughly equivalent to semester units). Rather than traditional examinations, courses are completed through students demonstrating mastery of certain essential skills as well as the construction of a personal portfolio. Courses include Spreadsheets, Quantitative Analysis for Business, Managerial Accounting, and Accounting Information Systems. Western Governors University has been regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Western International University (Tie)
Tuition per Credit: $250.00
Western International University is an online, private, for-profit university headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, and owned by Apollo Education Group, a corporation that also owns and operates The University of Phoenix. Western International, or West, as it is also known, offers a 120 credit Bachelor of Science in Accounting whose curriculum was designed to align with the recommendations of the National Association of State Boards of Accounting.
Unlike other universities that operate on a semester or quarter system, West offers rolling enrollment- giving students the opportunity to sign up for classes at the beginning of each month. This arrangement makes it possible for students to graduate with their BS in about 3.5 years, rather than the typical four years. Western International University has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Central Methodist University (Tie)
Tuition per Credit: $250.00
Central Methodist University is a small liberal arts college in Fayette, Missouri. They offer a 124 credit online Bachelor of Accountancy degree that is designed for application in a wide variety of fields, such as healthcare, law, actuary science, communications, and even the fine arts. Though the degree does not have the required 150 credits necessary to take the CPA examination, it can help advance students towards earning their CPA.
Beyond the CPA exams, courses on topics such as fraud review and auditing will help students prepare to become Certified Fraud Examiners (CFE). Further courses in management and operations management can assist them in becoming Certified Managerial Accountants. Finally, extensive coursework in finance can prepare students for work in financial planning and actuarial science. Central Methodist University has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Bemidji State University
Tuition per Credit: $257.35
Bemidji State University is a small public university in Bemidji, Minnesota. Their online Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree requires only 71 credits for completion and is designed for students who either have already completed an associate’s degree in accounting or (for residents of Minnesota) have completed the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC). For those who have completed the required courses in any other way, acceptance into the program is subject to review by the department. Students can complete the degree in as little as two years or, for a busy professional, they can finish it in as little as one class per semester.
The two-year completion option requires students to enroll in 12 credit hours worth of coursework in the Spring and Fall semesters and one or two classes in the Summer semester. Completion of the degree requires a senior seminar and courses cover topics as diverse as marketing, business law, auditing, and strategic management. Bemidji State has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
American Public University System (Tie)
Tuition per Credit: $270.00
The University of Northwestern Ohio is a small, private, not-for-profit school in Lima, Ohio. They offer three different bachelor-level online degrees in the field of accounting. The first is their five-year, 225 credit hour Bachelor of Science in Accounting (CPA Track). As the name suggests, this degree is designed to meet the CPA exam course requirements for the state of Ohio, which is why its credit load is higher than a typical bachelor’s degree.
The second offering is UNO’s Bachelor of Science in Forensic Accounting. As mentioned in the introduction, forensic accountants specialize in detecting and prosecuting financial crimes. This 180 credit degree will prepare students to take the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) examinations. Their final degree offering is their BS in Accounting, which prepares students for careers in the field of accounting but without the requirements to take the CPA exam. The University of Northwestern Ohio has been regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of Northwestern Ohio (Tie)
Tuition per Credit: $270.00
The American Public University System, which comprises two different schools (American Public University and American Military University), is a private, for-profit, online university system headquartered in Charles Town, West Virginia. The company which owns APUS is a publicly traded corporation listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. All of APUS’ degree programs have been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The American Public University System designs all of their curricula with input by industry experts to guarantee that course content delivers the most in-demand skills and knowledge. Also, APUS’ BS in Accounting has met the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs’ (ACBSP) requirements for Specialized Accounting Accreditation. Students in the states of Florida and Texas should be aware that course content in APUS’s bachelor in accounting degrees is not sufficient to sit for the CPA exams in those states.
Athens State University
Tuition per Credit: $274.00
Athens State University is a small public university located in Athens, Alabama. It offers two different bachelor’s of science degrees in accounting: one that includes a minor and one that does not. The degree + minor option is best for those who want to use their accounting education in the field of business or management but do not want to sit for the CPA exam since the degree lacks coursework required to sit for the exams. For instance, someone hoping to pursue a master’s degree in human resources would benefit greatly from the bachelor of accounting with a minor in human resource management, since a background in accounting makes it much easier to break into upper management positions in the field of human resources.
Athens State’s BS in Accounting without a minor is better suited to those hoping to become CPAs. To sit for the CPA exams in the state of Alabama, students need to have completed 150 credits of coursework, and since this degree only requires 124 credits, students in Alabama will either have to move on to a master’s degree or complete extra coursework. Athens State University has been regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.