A bachelor’s in accounting is a four-year undergraduate degree that prepares learners for entry-level careers in public, government, and management accounting. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for accountants to grow 4% between 2019 and 2029.
In the U.S., higher education is a major financial commitment. Some learners search for cost-effective programs to reduce out-of-pocket expenses and post-graduation debt. The cheapest online accounting degrees typically offer extensive financial aid opportunities, reduced fees, and tuition breaks for out-of-state students.
Check out the following rankings and guide to find an accounting program that fits your budget.
Why Get an Affordable Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting?
In higher education, affordability goes beyond just tuition. To find the cheapest online accounting degree, prospective students must consider factors like financial aid and post-graduation salary-to-debt ratio.
The accounting field attracts degree-seekers for a variety of reasons, including job security and earning potential. Complex taxation and regulatory environments ensure a continual demand for accounting professionals across the country. Accountants earn a median annual salary of $73,560 each year, according to the BLS.
To find the cheapest online accounting degree, prospective students must consider factors like financial aid and post-graduation salary-to-debt ratio.
Many in-person and online accounting degrees offer concentrations that prepare learners for specific career paths. These tracks include public accountancy, managerial accountancy, tax accountancy, and auditing or forensic accountancy. Specializations provide job-specific knowledge and skills that can improve career prospects after graduation.
A bachelor’s in accounting typically requires 120 credits of coursework, including general education, accounting core classes, and electives. Prospective students typically need a high school diploma or GED certificate to apply. Visit our main program rankings page to learn more about earning a bachelor’s in accounting.
Why You Should Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting Online
Online learning has grown more popular in recent years. Of the nearly 17 million undergraduates enrolled in degree-granting institutions in fall 2018, 34.5% took at least one distance education course, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Fourteen percent studied exclusively online.
Many online degree-seekers continue working full or part time as they study, so these learners may benefit from asynchronous online accounting bachelor’s degrees. Asynchronous programs allow students to complete assignments at their convenience. Some public institutions charge in-state tuition to out-of-state remote learners, which can amount to thousands of dollars in savings.
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How Much Will an Online Accounting Bachelor Degree Cost?
According to NCES, the 2017-18 cost for tuition, fees, room, and board at public four-year institutions averaged $20,050. At private four-year institutions, these expenses averaged $43,139.
An online accounting degree can reduce these figures considerably, since studying remotely can eliminate additional housing, meal plan, and campus-based fees. According to NCES data, 2018-19 tuition averaged $9,212 at four-year public institutions and $31,875 at four-year private institutions.
To help finance an online accounting bachelor’s degree, consider the following forms of financial aid:
- Loans: Federal and state governments, banks, and other private lenders all offer loans. These provide funds with certain terms and conditions attached. Loans accrue interest and require repayment after graduation.
- Work-Study: Federal and state governments fund work-study programs, which help students with financial need secure part-time jobs. Work-study participants often find qualifying work opportunities on their college campus.
- Grants: Awarded based on financial need or academic merit, grants do not require repayment. Governments, institutions, and private organizations all offer grants.
- Scholarships: Like grants, scholarships provide funds that do not need repaying. Scholarship committees often consider factors like financial need, academic merit, demographic information, or field of study. Applications regularly require essays.
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Scholarships for Accounting Students
Read on to learn about three popular scholarships for online accounting degree students. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. Searching online can reveal dozens of other scholarship opportunities.
Discover the Best Scholarships
AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students
The American Institute of CPAs chooses recipients for this renewable scholarship based on academic achievement, leadership and volunteer activity, and the applicant’s overall commitment to becoming a licensed CPA. Eligible individuals are from underrepresented ethnic groups and enrolled full time in an accounting program with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
NSA Foundation Scholarships
The National Society of Accountants offers several scholarships each year. Eligible individuals include U.S. and Canadian citizens enrolled full or part time in an undergraduate accounting program with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The selection committee considers academic achievement, leadership and community involvement, honors and awards, and applicants’ statements of goals and aspirations.
FSP Paul S. Mills Scholarship
The Foundation for Financial Service Professionals offers this scholarship, which requires a 500-word essay describing why the applicant is pursuing financial service education. Eligible individuals include any citizen or legal resident of the U.S. enrolled full or part time in a relevant undergraduate program with at least one year of credits toward their degree completed.
Making Cheap Accounting Degrees Even Cheaper
Tuition is often the largest financial hurdle college students must face, but it’s not the only expense. Understandably, those seeking the cheapest online accounting degrees may want to cut costs in other areas, too. Whether studying on campus or online, students can work to reduce out-of-pocket costs through careful planning and budgeting.
Consider following these tips to make an affordable accounting degree even cheaper:
- Save on Textbooks.
- Rather than buying new textbooks at full price, consider renting. Rental services are available at many college bookstores and online from sites like Chegg and Amazon. If a book cannot be rented, pursue cheaper options like used textbooks or loose-leaf copies, and make sure to sell books back at the end of the year to recoup some expenses.
- Reduce Housing Costs.
- Housing is another major expense for college students. If studying on campus, consider lower-cost dorm rooms or splitting an apartment with roommates. Studying online can automatically reduce housing expenditure by eliminating the need to relocate.
- Take Advantage of School Resources.
- Colleges and universities can charge many fees, so take advantage of the resources they pay for. These fees often cover free or low-cost health and counseling services, IT support, and financial services.
- Load Up on Credits.
- Some schools charge a flat per-semester tuition for full-time students, which typically permits learners to enroll in 12-18 semester credits. By maximizing course loads each semester, students can save money and graduate more quickly.
- Cut Back on Personal Expenses.
- Frugality can reduce financial strain for students. Thrift shopping for outfits, meal planning, and eating out less often can all help college enrollees save money
Will an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting Pay Off?
Even the most affordable online accounting degrees come at a significant cost. Understandably, some prospective students may worry about the ultimate value of such a major investment. One method to evaluate a program’s worth is calculating its likely return on investment (ROI). ROI measures the gain from an investment relative to the amount initially invested.
A degree is an investment in personal growth and knowledge, and it can provide valuable networking and professionalization opportunities, too.
To calculate the most accurate ROI for a particular college program, look for schools’ student outcome data or research local accounting salaries. Using this information, compare expected total expenses against expected post-graduation earnings. This estimates how many years of working it would take to earn back the cost of a degree.
Also consider the value of non-financial returns. A degree is an investment in personal growth and knowledge, and it can provide valuable networking and professionalization opportunities, too.
Jobs for Accounting Graduates
An online accounting degree prepares graduates for a variety of high-paying opportunities. Below, we explore three of the most popular job titles for bachelor’s degree-holders: accountant, financial analyst, and personal financial advisor.
Professional Organizations for Accounting Students
Professional organizations and associations offer a host of benefits, including networking opportunities, scholarships, and continuing education. Consider joining one of the following organizations during school or after graduation to boost career prospects.
National Society of Accountants
Established more than 75 years ago, NSA helps enhance the careers of independent tax and accounting professionals in the United States. Young professionals under age 39 or with fewer than three years of experience can join at a reduced rate of $175 per year. Benefits include continuing education, software and technology discounts, and credentialing preparation.
National Association of Tax Professionals
More than 23,000 industry leaders make up NATP, the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to developing professional tax expertise. NATP provides tax education, federal tax research, and in-depth explanations of tax law change. Membership starts at $99 per year, with benefits like ethics webinars, online business practice courses, and access to local chapters.
American Institute of CPAs
The world's largest accounting association, AICPA boasts more than 431,000 members in 130 countries. Full- and part-time college students can join AICPA at no cost and enjoy membership benefits including scholarship opportunities, online mentoring, networking, and professional development resources.
Choosing the Right Affordable Online Accounting Degree
The cost of college matters a great deal. Finding the cheapest online accounting degree can save students thousands of dollars in tuition, fees, and associated costs. However, several other key factors can also impact school selection.
When evaluating institutions, accreditation should top the list of priorities. Attending an accredited university ensures students can obtain federal financial aid, transfer credits, and pursue advanced education, licensure, and employment opportunities. Visit this link to learn more about the importance of college accreditation.
Other factors to consider include:
School size affects student-to-faculty ratio, opportunities for networking with peers, and availability of extracurriculars.
Location, including whether the school is in state or out of state, can impact tuition cost.
Some schools offer more robust career services, tutoring support, and other resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does an online accounting degree cost?
Exact cost varies by school. However, according to NCES data, tuition, fees, room, and board at public four-year institutions averaged $20,050 for the 2017-18 school year. The same costs at private four-year institutions averaged $43,139.
Are there scholarships available for accounting majors?
Yes. Accounting majors can apply for a variety of scholarship opportunities to fund their education. Students may find scholarships offered by corporations and small businesses, professional organizations, private individuals, and nonprofit organizations.
Is a bachelor's degree in accounting online worth it?
Yes. A bachelor’s in accounting can be a great career investment, as it satisfies education requirements for most entry-level opportunities in the industry. Bachelor’s graduates earn higher salaries and more advancement opportunities than those with just an associate degree or high school diploma.
What jobs can I get with an online bachelor's degree in accounting?
An online bachelor’s degree in accounting prepares graduates for rewarding careers as government accountants, public accountants, management accountants, financial analysts, and personal financial advisors. Additional certification may be required for some positions.
How much does an accountant make?
According to the BLS, accountants made a median annual salary of $73,560 each year as of May 2020. The top 10% of earners brought home salaries upwards of $128,680, while the lowest 10% earned below $45,220.
Cheapest Online Bachelor’s in Accounting Degrees 2021
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Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus
ENMU is a public university with a main campus in Portals, New Mexico. ENMU offers a fully online bachelor of business administration in accounting, preparing graduates for certification examinations or work in the field of accounting.
The 120-credit program from ENMU allows students to learn through recorded lectures and live classroom sessions. Students must complete general education courses, business foundation courses, and major courses in accounting. Notable classes include cost accounting, income tax accounting, and accounting information systems theory. The university also provides access to tutoring services, journal articles, and ebooks to help learners complete the course efficiently.
Applicants must complete an online application and submit official high school transcripts along with ACT or SAT scores. ENMU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Florida Atlantic University
A public university in Boca Raton, Florida, FAU offers an online bachelor of business administration in accounting. FAU's online program prepares students to obtain several professional certificates, including CPA licensure.
The 120-credit program prepares students to derive valuable strategic insights from large amounts of financial data. Students typically learn accounting applications of data analytics, federal taxation, and auditing and assurance services. Coursework is accessible through an online learning management system, Canvas, and most courses run asynchronously.
Prospective students seeking admission must possess a 2.5 GPA in pre-business foundation courses, pass the accounting competency exam with a minimum score of 70%, and complete all intellectual foundation courses before the declaration. FAU is accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Minnesota Crookston
UMN Crookston is a public university located in Crookston, Minnesota. UMN Crookston's business department offers an online bachelor of science in accounting program, which provides students with the right theoretical and analytical framework to work effectively in public, private, or governmental accounting.
The 120-credit curriculum is an amalgamation of core courses, liberal education, and four CPA review courses. Students can take the course entirely online, offline, or as a minor. Coursework includes subjects such as legal environment in business, advanced accounting, and managerial finance. Online students get access to tutoring resources, study groups, a writing center, the library, and academic advising.
Those seeking admission must fill an online application and submit official transcripts with short essay questions. UMN Crookston is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northern State University
NSU is a public university located in Aberdeen, South Dakota, managed by the South Dakota Board of Regents. NSU'S business school offers a bachelor of science in business administration to help students develop critical thinking and analytical skills to make real-world business decisions.
The program comprises 48 credits of core courses, 27 credits of accounting courses, and other electives, minors, and internship options. Students taking the course typically learn subjects such as business policy and strategy, management information systems, and principles of microeconomics. Students can also choose from eight options for a second major, including finance and international business.
Applicants need to fill up an online application and submit official transcripts, along with class rank. Students can opt for a waiver of ACT or SAT if they are over 22 years of age. NSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northwest Oklahoma State University
NWOSU is a public institution in Alva, Oklahoma. NWOSU offers a bachelor of business administration degree with a major in accounting alongside five other major/minor options.
The 121-credit, full-time program provides students with the skills for entry-level accounting positions. The program provides training in accounting, economics, finance, management, marketing, and management information systems.
While most classes during a regular academic semester run for 16 weeks, the university also offers some classes in an eight-week format. NWOSU uses Blackboard as the course delivery platform. Most general education classes are not available online and require students to visit the campus or transfer credits from a regionally accredited institution.
Prospective students need a minimum 2.7 GPA with composite ACT or SAT scores. In addition, those seeking admission must submit their official transcripts to the Northwest registrar's office. NWOSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.