Best Online Associate in Accounting Programs

by TBS Staff
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The accounting field offers a variety of lucrative career options to graduates of online accounting programs.

Students trained in advanced math, business, and economics qualify for their choice of professions, such as accounting and auditing, budget and financial analysis, and sales and commodities trading. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a promising outlook for accountants and auditors from 2016 to 2026, with an employment growth rate of 10% due to a complex tax system, expanding economy, and globalization.

Accountants and auditors earned a median annual wage of $70,500 as of May 2018, with professionals working in finance and insurance among the highest-paid in the field.

For students interested in pursuing entry-level jobs, earning an online associate degree in accounting can lead to junior positions in accounting and finance. With work experience, many who complete an associate degree in accounting online can advance to executive positions. Additionally, earning an accredited online accounting associate degree provides students with a path to a bachelor’s degree, which most jobs in the business and financial sector require.

Many online accounting graduates pursue certification to practice as certified public accountants (CPAs) or chartered financial analysts (CFAs). This enhances their job prospects in the industry.

The Best Online Accounting Programs

  1. Copiah-Lincoln Community College
    Location

    Wesson, MS

    Tuition

    $4990

    Co-Lin offers numerous degree options for students looking for two and four-year degrees. With three campuses in Mississippi, students obtain an affordable education with in-person and online options.

    Co-Lin's business division allows undergraduate students to complete an associate degree in accounting online. The program is completed in four semesters with a total of 63 credits. Students are prepared to further their education at a senior institution.

    To apply, prospective students must submit an online application, ACT scores, high school transcripts, or GED.

  2. Barton County Community College
    Location

    Great Bend, KS

    Tuition

    $8510

    Barton opened in 1969 and offers affordable learning to more than 15,000 students that attend each year. The main campus sits on 160 acres, upon a hill two miles from Great Bend, KS.

    Barton offers students an associate of science in accounting. The degree is offered in-person or online and prepares students to transfer to a four-year college or university to complete a bachelor's degree. Students complete the program with 60 credits. Graduates of the program pursue careers in accounting, communications, finance, and marketing and management.

    Barton is an open-admissions institution. Applicants must submit an online application and will receive enrollment instructions after applying. First-time college students and Kansas high school graduates may qualify for scholarships by submitting GPA and ACT scores.

  3. Trinity Valley Community College
    Location

    Athens, TX

    Tuition

    $7306

    With the main campus in Athens, TX, and three satellite locations, TVCC offers students an affordable and accessible education. Students attend TVCC to improve job skills, obtain a 2-year degree, or transfer to a four-year college.

    TVCC offers options for students seeking a career as an accountant, financial analyst or examiner, auditor, or bookkeeper. Students wishing to transfer to a four-year college or university may obtain an associate of liberal arts in accounting. Students seeking employment may enroll in the associate of applied science in accounting or the certificate of completion program. The accounting program at TVCC is offered 100 percent online. Sixty credits are required to complete the associate of liberal arts in accounting degree.

    Applicants must submit an online or paper application, testing scores, high school or GED transcripts, and bacterial meningitis shot record (for applicants less than 22 years of age). Transfer students must also submit transcripts from any previously attended colleges or universities. All new students must meet with an academic advisor prior to registration.

  4. Moraine Park Technical College
    Location

    Fond du Lac, WI

    Tuition

    $9396

    With campuses in Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac, and West Bend, MPTC allows students to choose from over 100 career options. Learning at MPTC is flexible with online and hybrid learning options, and two additional regional centers in Jackson and Ribon.

    Students at MPTC can earn an associate of applied science in accounting in-person or fully online. Online students at MPTC are not charged out-of-state fees. Students graduate with knowledge about ethical standards for accountants and the Generally Accepted Accounting Principals.

    Applicants must submit the online application with the $30 application fee, high school or GED transcripts, and college transcripts from previous institutions, if applicable. ACT or GED test scores must be submitted with a cumulative GPA of less than 3.0. Applicants who hold an associate's degree do not need to submit test scores.

  5. Iowa Lakes Community College
    Location

    Estherville, IA

    Tuition

    $10101

    Iowa Lakes makes affordable education accessible with five campuses in the Iowa Great Lakes Region. Students at Iowa Lakes obtain A.A. and A.S. degrees that prepare them for the workforce or continuing their education.

    For students who prefer to organize data and work with numbers, Iowa Lakes offers an accounting specialist associate of applied science degree. Students are familiarized with accounting basics and explore a variety of specialties within the industry such as private, public, government, and nonprofit accounting. The flexible program allows students to complete the required 70 credits and obtain their degree 100 percent online.

  6. University of Northwestern Ohio
    Location

    Lima, OH

    This private, entrepreneurial, nonprofit university offers its students associate, baccalaureate, and master degrees. Located in Lima, OH, UNOH sits on 200 acres on Interstate-75.

    UNOH's associate in accounting program prepares graduates for work as certified public accountants (CPA), payroll, certified fraud, certified management, certified financial accountants, certified international auditor, plant controller, and financial analysts. Students begin taking accountant courses during the first quarter, whether in-person or online. Students may expand their career options by choosing from three accounting tracks, including the CPA track and forensic accounting.

    Applicants must submit an application with the $20 application fee. Prospective students receive a decision within four weeks. Placement testing, ACT, and SAT scores will be submitted after acceptance, prior to orientation.

  7. Northcentral Technical College
    Location

    Wausau, WI

    Tuition

    $9073

    Located in Wausau, WI, NTC offers students affordable education with more than 190 programs to choose from.

    Students that meet admission requirements for the associate degree in accounting at NTC can complete the program at one of several locations. The 62-credit accounting program is offered 100 percent online and may be completed in as little as four terms. Graduates become prepared for careers as accountants, payroll accountants, bookkeepers, or general business accountants.

  8. Yavapai College
    Location

    Prescott, AZ

    Tuition

    $6697

    With six locations in Yavapai County, Arizona, YC offers dozens of degrees and certificates, and a variety of programs to choose from.

    The applied science in accounting associate degree at YC prepares students for entry-level careers in accounting. This 61-credit program, offered 100 percent online, prepares graduates for direct employment. In addition to an associate's degree in accounting, YC also offers certificates available 100 percent online. Available certificates include accounting assistant, advanced bookkeeping, advanced tax, basic tax, bookkeeping, and university transfer and general education.

    High school graduates (or equivalent) and transfer students with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 may apply. Those that do not meet these requirements may submit test scores for possible admission.

  9. Northeast Community College
    Location

    Norfolk, NE

    Tuition

    $8457

    Located in Norfolk, Nebraska, Northeast offers over 130 programs and concentrations for students to choose from, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 17 to 1.

    Northeast students may obtain an associate degree in accounting by completing the 60-credit program. The associate of arts in accounting is offered 100 percent online and prepares students to transfer to a four-year institution. Students working toward the associate of applied science in accounting gain experience through an internship.

    Applicants must submit high school transcripts, college transcripts, and test scores.

  10. Kennebec Valley Community College
    Location

    Fairfield, ME

    Tuition

    $9272

    Located in Fairfield, ME, the non-profit, post-secondary institution of KVCC operates under the Maine Community College System Board of Trustees. KVCC offers online, in-person, and hybrid learning.

    Graduates of the associate of business administration in accounting program at KVCC will display a wide range of skills and information needed for pursuing business careers. During the program, students work through an internship program and through the virtual, simulated office with other business students. The capstone review course prepares students to take the national ACAT exam for accreditation in accounting through the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation.

    Applicants must submit the online application, high school transcripts or GED, and college transcripts (if applicable).

Best Online Associate

Online Accounting Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Online Accounting Programs

The Advantages of an Accounting Education

A bachelor’s degree is the most common entry-level requirement for accounting careers, but an associate degree holder may qualify for junior-level positions, such as a bookkeeper or accounting clerk. Some employers offer associate graduates the opportunity to gain on-the-job experience while obtaining their bachelor’s degrees. Most business and finance accounting jobs favor candidates with bachelor’s degrees, and many prefer those with industry certification, as well, which requires a bachelor’s degree.

Among the highest-paid occupations in accounting, financial analysts with bachelor’s degrees and CFA certification may earn a median wage of $85,660 a year. The median annual salary of accounting clerks, a position requiring a high school diploma or associate degree, is $40,240 — less than half what the average financial analyst makes.

Accounting Degree Career and Salary Information

Upon completing an online associate in accounting degree, you may decide to transfer into a related bachelor’s program. Doing so would likely increase your earning potential, as jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree often pay more. For example, the median annual wage for a bookkeeper stands at $41,846, while that for a senior accountant — a position requiring at least a bachelor’s degree — is $66,467.

The best online associate in accounting programs hold transfer agreements with major state universities, guaranteeing graduates admission into a bachelor’s program.

Accountants and Auditors
Accountants prepare financial records and taxes for clients, while auditors examine clients’ finances and taxes for consistency and compliance. Most accountants and auditors hold at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, plus CPA certification. Some enter the field with just an associate degree to gain work experience before advancing their careers.
Budget Analysts
Budget analysts provide financial organization services to private and corporate clients by monitoring their spending habits and schedules. Most budget analysts hold at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, though some employers accept extensive work experience in lieu of a degree.
Financial Analysts
Financial analysts guide clients toward sensible investment decisions, specializing in understanding the variable risks and results of stocks, bonds, and similar investments. Students who complete an associate degree in accounting can take the next step toward earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. This occupation requires a bachelor’s degree
Financial Managers
Financial managers oversee all financial aspects of a business or organization. They strategize to help clients reach financial goals over the long term by managing investments, portfolios, and budgeting concerns. Most employers require at least a bachelor’s degree for this position.
Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents
These professionals act as brokers for buyers and sellers in financial markets by connecting investors and trading securities and commodities. Employers require a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions, but aspiring securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents can gain a comprehensive introduction to the field through an associate accounting degree.

Source: PayScale

Choosing an Online Program

Many students feel anxious to start their careers, but they should take their time when choosing an online associate accounting degree. Prospective students can afford to be extremely selective, as an increasing number of universities offer accredited online accounting associate degrees to meet each learner’s individual needs. Many students face challenges in their research of potential schools and programs, considering factors such as cost, transfer policies, and residency requirements. The points below outline some of the primary benefits of online programs versus their on-campus counterparts.

Program Cost
Generally, schools charge less for in-state tuition than they do for out-of-state tuition. As online programs become more popular, many offer set tuition rates for distance learners, regardless of their state of residence. Additionally, many online programs offer accelerated program options, minimizing their per-credit tuition costs.
Transfer Policies
For potential transfer students, the best online schools for accounting associate degrees honor credit for previous experience and education. Many programs maintain transfer agreements with partnering schools, seamlessly applying high school/college credits toward an associate degree or bachelor’s bridge program. Transfer students should also factor in accreditation-based transfer policies, as many regionally accredited schools only accept credits from other institutions with regional accreditation.
School Size and Type
Students should consider each potential school’s size and type as part of the overall learning environment they envision for themselves during their college experience. For example, private schools tend to offer smaller class sizes and charge higher tuition rates than public universities. Students should consider the size and attributes of each school’s individual online associate accounting degree before choosing one.
Program Length
The length of an online associate degree in accounting varies by school. Many schools recommend a course sequence but let students choose whether to pursue their studies part-time or full-time. Especially common among online programs, others offer accelerated completion options, reducing the typical two-year program length.
On-campus Requirements
As a nonclinical field, most associate degrees in accounting online do not require intensive on-campus practicums, though some universities may include sporadic campus visits as part of their accounting curriculum. Students planning to complete their degrees fully online should consider whether a program mandates campus visits.

Accreditation for Online Accounting Degrees

Any school offering an online associate accounting degree should hold regional or national accreditation through the U.S. Department of Education (ED), a crucial distinction also upheld by the accounting industry and its employers. The law views either type of accreditation as legitimate, though most schools seek regional accreditation, which requires institutions to demonstrate commitment of the highest order to qualify.

Moreover, many regionally accredited colleges only recognize transfer credits from other schools with regional accreditation.

In addition to institutional accreditation, many schools receive program-specific accreditation for their accounting degrees. For the online accounting associate degree and other business-related programs, a college may maintain programmatic accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.

Accreditation demonstrates a school’s commitment to maintaining the highest standards of excellence throughout its accounting programs.

A division of the federal government, the ED grants accreditation to qualifying higher education institutions in the U.S. as a measure of quality assurance, in tandem with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), another accrediting oversight entity. The accreditation process ensures a school meets minimum standards for quality, efficiency, and effectiveness and upholds program expectations. Through multiple conglomerate agencies, only ED and CHEA can grant accreditation recognized by the federal government to deserving U.S. and international colleges and universities.

Check the ED or CHEA websites to confirm specific school accreditation.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Accounting?

Many factors impact the completion time of an online associate degree in accounting. Traditionally, associate degrees take two years to complete, though many distance learning programs offer alternative options to help students earn their degree in less time, often anywhere between 12 and 22 months. Generally, a student enrolled full time can expect to complete the degree in less time than a part-time student, provided the school offers students a choice.

The best online schools for accounting associate degrees enable students to enroll in more than one course at a time if they so choose, allowing them to graduate more quickly and save on tuition costs. Likewise, students seeking part-time course loads to accommodate their work schedule or family obligations can complete coursework at their own pace.

A typical online associate accounting degree encompasses 120 credits, often combining a business foundation with fundamental accounting concepts. Many online associate degrees in accounting also recommend that students participate in an internship or field experience, though few curricula require this.

What Can I Do with an Accounting Degree?

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