Best Online Associate in Accounting Degrees 2021

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People who enjoy working with numbers and communicating with individuals often pursue careers in accounting. Graduates of online accounting degree programs can become certified public accountants and auditors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals earned a median income of $71,550 in 2019. Additionally, the BLS projects employment for accountants and auditors to grow 4% from 2019-2029.

Applicants to associate-level accounting programs typically need a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some programs require candidates to have a minimum GPA and sufficient ACT or SAT scores. However, many community colleges accept all applicants, regardless of their academic credentials.

Many colleges and universities offer hybrid and fully online accounting programs. This guide explores the best online accounting programs, along with the benefits of earning an accounting degree. The following sections also highlight professional organizations and scholarships for accounting students.

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Top 10 Best Online Associate in Accounting Degrees

Rank School Location
1 University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK
2 Indiana Wesleyan University Marion, IN
3 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
4 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
5 Keiser University Fort Lauderdale, FL
6 Milwaukee Area Technical College Milwaukee, WI
7 Portland Community College Portland, OR
8 Wayne Community College Goldsboro, NC
9 Chemeketa Community College Salem, OR
10 Franklin University Columbus, OH


  • How long does it take to earn an accounting degree?

    Most learners earn their bachelor’s in accounting in about four years. Full-time accounting students generally complete their master’s program in two years.

  • What can you do with an accounting degree?

    Graduates with an online accounting degree can become certified public accountants, payroll managers, auditors, and bookkeepers. Certified public accountants must earn certification to practice.

  • Is an accountant position a high-paying job?

    According to the BLS, accountants and auditors earn a median salary of $71,550 per year. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for all occupations is $39,810.

  • How do I start a career in accounting?

    Aspiring accountants should earn a bachelor’s degree and the certified public accountant credential. An associate degree in accounting provides foundational knowledge to prepare students for bachelor’s programs.

Best Online Associate in Accounting Degrees 2021

  1. University of Alaska Fairbanks

    Fairbanks, AK



    The University of Alaska-Fairbanks offers a foundation in general business management to complement its associates in accounting online degree path. The 60-credit Associate of Applied Science in Applied Accounting included embedded industry certificates in accounting technician and bookkeeping. The curriculum provides an in-depth study of theoretical principles of accounting and practical knowledge in areas of income tax preparation, databases, microcomputer accounting, and customer service. The online learning platform provides access to classes at any time, anywhere. Students typically have a week to complete readings and assignments, logging in at their convenience. All online students pay in-state tuition rates.

  2. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Marion, IN



    The online associates degree in accounting at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, provides a strong foundation in fundamental accounting principles and a Christian worldview to drive ethical decision-making. The school opened in 1920, catering to students seeking a liberal arts education or preparation for a career. That mission continues with a curriculum reflecting industry needs. The 60-credit program requires 26 months to complete. The school utilizes a cohort program, allowing students to develop strong friendships and professional networks while completing the program together. The bridge program allows students working on their associates degree to begin working requirements for a bachelor’s degree, as well.

  3. Southern New Hampshire University

    Manchester, NH



    Southern New Hampshire University prepares students in its associates in accounting online program to enter the accounting field with technical expertise and analytical skills. The 60-credit program includes courses in taxation, accounting, system analysis, and marketing, all taught by faculty members with academic credentials and professional experience. The eight-week semester allows students to focus on one or two classes each term before moving on to the next subject. SNHU welcomes transfer students, accepting up to 45 credits from regionally accredited institutions, and offers tuition discounts to military service members. Online students enjoy access support services, including dedicated academic and career advisors, an online library, and tutoring services.

  4. Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA



    Liberty University designed its online associates degree in accounting to prepare graduates for the workforce or continued study. Full-time students need two years to complete the 60-credit program, with 21 credits dedicated to accounting courses. Students also complete many of the general education courses required to complete a bachelor’s degree through Liberty or another accredited university. Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University serves more than 100,000 students online and on-campus. A pioneer in online and distance education, the school ensures all students receive personalized academic advising and the academic supports necessary to succeed. Courses meet for eight weeks, and students may attend classes asynchronously.

  5. Keiser University

    Fort Lauderdale, FL



    Keiser University offers a career-minded associate in accounting online degree that blends entry-level accounting skills with problem-solving abilities. The 60-credit program introduces students to financial statements, accounting standards, industry software, and regulatory requirements. Students also complete a general education curriculum that develops communication and analytical skills and prepares them for continued education at the bachelor’s degree level. The school offers accelerated class schedules, allowing students to complete one class every four weeks. Keiser University works with a panel of industry experts from the Florida region who review the curriculum requirements, equipment, and facilities regularly and provide suggestions for improvement.

  6. Milwaukee Area Technical College

    Milwaukee, WI



    Students earning an online associates degree in accounting from Milwaukee Area Technical College also earn industry and software certifications with their academic degree. The degree requires 70 credits with instruction in tax, payroll, financial, and managerial accounting. Students learn to process financial transactions and analyze financial information. Students also earn an accounting assistant technical diploma and accounting bookkeeper trainee certificate as well as software certification in Quickbooks and Excel. MATC accepts transfer credits and awards academic credit for prior work experience or military training. A general education curriculum completes the degree requirements and allows students to transfer to a four-year university to complete a bachelor’s degree.

  7. Portland Community College

    Portland, OR



    Portland Community College in Oregon emphasizes practical job skills throughout its associates in accounting online degree. The Associate of Applied Science degree requires 92 credits with a curriculum that reflects current and future business skills. Students gain proficiency in the principles of accounting, business communication, and use of software and computing equipment used in the industry. The program is not intended for students wishing to transfer to a four-year college, with only 16 credits of general education courses required. However, students can work with their advisor to create a transfer plan while building the skills necessary to begin their career. The school also offers a one-year certificate option and an accelerated accounting certificate.

  8. Wayne Community College

    Goldsboro, NC



    Wayne Community College in Goldsboro, North Carolina, offers an associates in accounting online, on-campus, or both. The two-year, 64-credit degree includes business and accounting foundation courses and in-depth classes in areas of bookkeeping, tax preparation, financial management, and business ethics. Students may also earn software certifications in Quickbooks, Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, and Excel as well as an embedded accounting/bookkeeping certificate, offering a competitive edge when graduates enter the workforce. General education courses prepare students to transfer to a four-year degree, as well. The Moodle online learning platform provides convenient, flexible access to course materials and assignments. The accelerated, eight-week classes allow students to complete a course and move on to the next quickly.

  9. Chemeketa Community College

    Salem, OR



    Chemeketa Community College provides a pathway to entry-level employment through its associates in accounting online degree. Students complete 94 credits, fulfilling requirements for numerous industry certification along the way. Students earn certificates in tax preparation, payroll management, and accounting. The degree also includes the general education courses necessary to transfer to a four-year university to complete a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Located in Salem, Oregon, Chemeketa translates to “place of peace” in the local Native American language. The school offers generous financial aid packages through its Chemeketa Scholars program. The Chemeketa Press publishes textbooks at a low cost, saving students on their college costs.

  10. Franklin University

    Columbus, OH



    Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, offers a career-focused curriculum and transfer-friendly online associates in accounting degree. The school draws upon the expertise of their faculty members, who bring real-world knowledge to their students, to prepare graduates for entry-level roles in private businesses or government agencies. The 64-credit program includes a 24-credit general education curriculum that ensures students can seamlessly transfer to a four-year institution to continue their studies. Students also complete courses in accounting and tax preparation, databases and spreadsheets, and interpersonal communication. The school welcomes credits earned at other accredited schools or through standardized tests or proficiency exams. The school also offers a portfolio credit option to grant course credit for professional or military training.

What Are the Goals of an Accounting Degree?

Online accounting degree programs prepare students to pass the certified public accountant exam. Accounting curricula teach degree-seekers to compute taxes owed and uncover tax credits for individuals and businesses. Students also explore methods to reduce costs and increase profits.

Students in online accounting programs prepare to detect fraud, maintain financial records, administer a company’s payroll, and ensure that financial statements comply with federal and state laws and regulations.

Some online accounting degree programs offer specialization options in areas such as government accounting, public accounting, and management accounting.Other accounting programs focus on auditing.

Why Get an English Degree?

Online English degrees offer many benefits, including advanced skills in reading, writing, and analysis. Enrollees can make useful professional connections in these programs. See below for descriptions of some key English degree advantages.

Positive Projected Growth Outlook
The BLS projects employment for accountants and auditors to increase 4% from 2019-2029, which is about as fast as the average projected growth rate for all occupations.
Qualify for Promotions
While individuals with a high school diploma can work as assistants at accounting firms, candidates for the certified public accountant credential need a formal education.
Potential for Self-Employment
Many certified public accountants open their own accounting firm to serve clients. Self-employed professionals benefit from scheduling flexibility and the ability to set their own rates.
Build a Portfolio
Students earning an online accounting degree often complete coursework and experiential requirements at their convenience. Degree-seekers commonly develop their resume by completing internships with accounting firms.
Cost Savings
Many of the most affordable accounting degree programs are delivered in an online format. Distance learners often save on costs associated with room and board, commuting, tuition, and campus maintenance fees.

What Are the Requirements for an Accounting Degree?

The exact requirements for an accounting degree vary based on the school and degree type. An associate degree in accounting typically requires about 60 credits. Bachelor’s degrees in the field usually require approximately 150 credits, which most full-time learners complete in four years. Master’s programs in accounting typically comprise about 40 credits and require approximately two years to complete.

Applicants to accounting programs must generally submit official high school or college transcripts and meet minimum GPA requirements. Bachelor’s in accounting programs prepare learners to take the certified public accountant exam. Some states require students to take the exam after completing 120 credits. To receive the certification, candidates must complete 150 credits.

Accounting students typically practice filing taxes during their program. Some schools allow students to complete taxes for individuals, provided a certified professional reviews the documents prior to filing.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

Professional Organizations for Accounting Students

Many professional organizations offer discounted membership rates for students. Members of professional organizations often receive access to webinars, continuing education opportunities, and networking events such as conferences. The following organizations support accounting professionals and students.

  • American Accounting Association Student members of the AAA can access a resource library with informative articles related to accounting. Members also pay a reduced fee when submitting articles to AAA publications. This association offers discounted membership fees for students, and members can participate in regional chapter activities.

  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants The AICPA unites certified public accountants and provides networking and continuing education opportunities. Student members can network with more than 429,000 members and can apply for exclusive scholarships. The organization also provides tools and resources, including a mentorship program and job-hunting information.

  • Professional Accounting Society of America PASA connects student members with career and networking opportunities. The organization encourages students to submit their term papers to PASA's publications. Student members must attend an accredited school and possess a school email address.

Scholarships for Accounting Students

Even students in the most affordable accounting degree programs can benefit from scholarships. Scholarship applicants must often submit reference letters, an essay, and official transcripts. Learners should allow plenty of time to gather application materials. The following list highlights three scholarships reserved for accounting students. Learners can also apply for general scholarships and awards based on their geographic location.

Margit F. and Hanns Martin Schoenfeld Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The AAA awards this scholarship to support accounting students’ research efforts. Applicants must submit a summary of their academic accomplishments and a statement of purpose regarding their research. Candidates must be enrolled in a doctoral program or have earned a Ph.D. in the last five years.

Amount: $3,000

Best Paper Award

Who Can Apply: This scholarship from the AAA supports accounting students who submit a noteworthy piece to the organization’s journal. The journal’s editor selects one winner and two honorable mentions, each of whom receives an award and a plaque.

Amount: $100-$300

Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students

Who Can Apply: The AICPA awards this scholarship to undergraduate accounting students who belong to a minority group. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must have completed at least 30 credits, including six accounting credits.

Amount: $5,000

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