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Online or On-site Classes, Opportunities and Careers

Students graduating with an accounting degree deal with more than financial reporting and analysis. It is a wide-open field where men and women have equal opportunities for growth in public, private, government and non-profit careers. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of accounting has a projected growth rate of 10 percent, more than the average for all other occupations.

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Although you can get an accounting job with a certificate, diploma or associates degree, those are likely to be non-management or clerk positions. A bachelor’s degree in accounting is the gold standard for entry-level jobs in:

  • Management accounting
  • Forensic accounting
  • Internal auditing
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

The typical 4-year undergraduate accounting degree includes general education, business administration and accounting core classes. You can also specialize in a branch of accounting and ready yourself to sit for the CPA or Forensic Accounting exams.

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Accounting degrees are widely available through on-campus programs, online accounting programs, or hybrid which is both on-campus and online coursework. Here is what you can earn when attending one of the top online accounting schools:


Certificate or diploma: these generally take one year or less

Associate’s Degree

Associates: a two-year course of study

Bachelor’s Degree

Bachelors: typically, four years of undergraduate work

Master’s Degree

Master’s: usually one to two years post-bachelors

Doctoral Degree

Doctorate: requires dissertation


Depending on which top online accounting school(s) you attend, the classes you must take for an undergraduate accounting degree will include:

Year 1 (usually 12-16 semester credit hours)

During year one, you will most often enroll in nothing but core university courses, save perhaps an exploratory accounting or business administration course. Core courses will be specific to the institution you are attending. Generally, you can count on taking an English composition or communication class and a college algebra or an elementary calculus for business class.

Check Point

The main difference between financial and managerial accounting is compliance with standards and who oversees the statements.

Year 2 (usually 12-16 semester credit hours)

In year 2, you will take most introductory business courses in economics, statistics, marketing management, applied finite math and technology for business coursework. Your accounting courses may include:

  • Introduction to Financial Accounting – An introduction to financial transactions utilizing financial accounting standards. People utilizing financial accounting information are external to the organization or enterprise, such as investors and stockholders. Emphasis is on past transactions and regulations.
  • Introduction to Managerial Accounting – An introduction to the internal collection, analysis and reporting of business finance and operations, including cost accounting and budgeting. Emphasis is on future planning for internal personnel and stakeholders.


Year 3 (usually 12-16 semester credit hours)

During year 3, accounting courses are often continuations of introductory concepts learned as a sophomore. However, accounting majors are beginning to get to the meat of accounting principles and specializations. Note, year 3 courses may have prerequisites in business management or economics.

  • Intermediate Financial Accounting – A continuation of the concepts, regulations and standards learned from the introductory course. More emphasis will be on the generally accepted accounting principles that govern financial accounting.
  • Accounting Information Systems – Usually computer-based, but sometimes manual, collection, processing, distribution, and storage of financial data for reports and the decision-making processes.
  • Auditing – An examination of the financial and accounting data and practices of a company. Audits are conducted annually or quarterly by external resources. Although it is different than daily accounting, the class often falls under the accounting core curricula.

Year 4 (usually 12-16 semester credit hours)

Along with a strategic management course, you’ll engage in these type of accounting courses and electives as a year 4 accounting major:

  • Taxation Principles – Governed by the Internal Revenue Code, students learn individual, business and non-profit taxation.
  • Cost Accounting – Part of managerial accounting that focuses on the fixed and variable cost of products or services within supply chains.
  • Financial Statement Analysis – Creation and analysis of balance sheets, income statements, shareholder equity and cash flow.
  • Senior Capstone Course – Dependent on the institution where you are taking your accounting major. May be in the form of an internship or other opportunity for real-world accounting experience.

Meet with an Adviser

Please check with your academic adviser regarding your chosen career path. The accounting courses taken each year differ little between most online accounting programs, and top online accounting schools.


Possible Year 4 Electives include Profit Planning and Control, Information Quality Assurance, Healthcare Financial and Managerial Accounting, and non-profit accounting.


The difference between receiving an online accounting program or campus accounting degree can be quite subjective. The factors involved include cost and accessibility as well as personal preference.

On-campus classes offer the benefit of face-to-face interaction among professors and students while online accounting programs do not. Make no mistake, the amount of work for an online degree is not for the uninitiated. You need to be very disciplined and motivated to stay on top of course requirements. Your writing and analysis skills need to be top notch.

What else do you need to consider before making your choice on course delivery?

  • Cost of brick-and-mortar program versus an online accounting program
  • Accredited degree and school
  • Accessibility to student and career services
  • Faculty
  • Networking opportunities

Online accounting programs offer class flexibility and computer skills. You are not at the mercy of a professor’s schedule. You will research and analyze from the comfort of your home anytime of the day or night without feeling isolated from peers.


Once you’ve earned your accounting degree, what are you going to do with it? Here are some of the possible career paths after attending top online accounting schools:

  • Bookkeeping, accounting or auditing clerk: Assists in producing financial records for companies and organizations. If you’re working toward your accounting degree, clerk jobs can get your foot in the door at a business.
  • Budget, financial, management analysts: Budget analysts deal with developing, analyzing and allocating financial resources. Financial and management analysts scrutinize strategies relating to the operations, programs and long-term goals of an organization.
  • Personal financial advisers: Assist individuals in managing their personal wealth. This might include investments, retirement, educational needs, short- and long-term personal goals.
  • High School accounting teachers: This requires an education degree which specializes in accounting (or a dual degree). High school accounting teachers can teach courses in basic economics, accounting principles and spreadsheets, as well as practical consumer math.
  • Taxation specialists: Responsible for quarterly, annual and miscellaneous tax accounting. Specialists can focus on tax compliance or tax planning for small-to-medium businesses, enterprises and nonprofit organizations.
  • Corporate Auditors: Examine the financial records of a corporation for discrepancies that could lead to serious improprieties such as fund mismanagement or fraud. Auditors also ascertain whether a corporation follows general and specific laws and regulations.
  • CPAs: Must undergo certification to become a Certified Public Accountant. Duties include the budget and fiscal management of company financial records. Prepares for audits, taxes, and advises companies and organizations regarding fiscal matters.
  • Forensic accountant: Investigative auditor that looks for fraud and other illicit issues regarding disputes or lawsuits.
  • Accounting professors: Adjunct or tenured professors at a brick-and-mortar or online university. Usually requires extensive accounting experience, master’s or a doctorate degree.

Master’s in Accounting

Maybe you have decided that you want a post-bachelor’s accounting degree. Master’s degrees in accounting focus on professional positions such as corporate CPAs and auditors, while getting your PhD opens opportunities to become a professor of accounting anywhere in the world.

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