Best Online Associate in Accounting Programs
| 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.
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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.
Accounting Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:
The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.
To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):
1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]
- Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
- Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
- Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
- Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
- Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
- Considers range of electives within that discipline
- Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline
2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]
- Considers education background of the faculty
- Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
- Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
- Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
- Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources
3. Reputation [weight = 20%]
- Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
- “Freshness” of academic knowledge
- Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
- Suitability of graduates for the workplace
4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]
- Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
- Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants
5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]
- Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
- Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business
6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]
Considers the following of the online classes:
- Types of online technology used to deliver content
- Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
- Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
- Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
Considers the following of instructors:
- Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
- Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
- Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
- Ratio to number of students in a class
- Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees
Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.
To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:
- Public or private status
- Acceptance rate
- Retention rate
- Graduation rate
- ACT/SAT requirements
- Cost in-state / out of state
- Undergrad, grad, or both offered
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If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.
Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!
The Best Online Associate in Accounting Degree Programs
Founded in 1917, the University of Alaska Fairbanks today enjoys an excellent reputation in part due to its quality research schools and the institution’s commitment to a student-focused approach. UAF offers students several affordable distance learning programs, including an online associate in applied science in applied accounting.
This 60-credit degree encompasses the school’s accounting technician certificate and bookkeeping occupational endorsement and is meant to build the knowledge base of both entry-level learners and mid-level professionals for a career in accounting. Curriculum covers a variety of business-related coursework in addition to topics such as payroll accounting, fund account for nonprofits, and microcomputer spreadsheets. Students take courses in this pragmatic-minded degree via the Blackboard Learn online learning management system, usually structured around asynchronous learning methods. Some online courses come with synchronous learning components such as live video chats or are taught in partially-online hybrid formats. Online students pay the resident tuition rate.
UAF offers all students access to free tutoring resources, including telephone and online tutoring for distance learners. Additionally, UAF’s student support services provide assistance to low-income, first-generation, and disabled students. The deadline for applying to any of UAF’s numerous scholarships is February 15. Applications to any of UAF’s associate and certificate programs must be turned in by June 15 for fall semester, November 1 for spring, and May 1 for summer. Transfer students’ applications are subject to case by case consideration if they are transferring from a non-regionally-accredited institution. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in all coursework to graduate. The school expects students to achieve complete coursework for an associate within a five year time limit.
Pamlico Community College, founded in 1962, remains a particularly notable member of the North Carolina community college system largely due to the variety of affordable degrees the school tailors to transfer students, distance learners, and working professionals. PCC offers a number of fully-online associate degrees, including an online associate in applied science in accounting.
The 37 credit degree typically takes learners around a year to finish and equips students with the skills they need to pursue accounting career positions at the entry and managerial level in both the private and public sectors. The curriculum includes topics such as principles of managerial accounting, human resource management, and quantitative literacy in addition to incorporating business, law, and economics.
Additionally, the program provides students with a thorough grounding in accounting technology tools such as tax preparation and accounting software standard throughout the industry. PCC offers online courses via the Moodle learning management system and the school structures its internet-based classes around asynchronous learning strategies. Some online courses may be offered in a hybrid format that involve in-person components. PCC provides all students free access to the school’s virtual student success center tutoring service, and distance learners may connect with tutors via phone, Facetime, or Skype. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in order to graduate. PCC may require some students to complete a placement test with sections on English, computer skills, and math as part of the admissions process. Please note that at this time PCC cannot offer distance learning courses to learners in California or Massachusetts.
Since its founding in 1928, Hutchinson Community College has developed and conducted a variety of notable distance learning programs tailored to nontraditional learners with busy schedules. In fact, the school offers over 250 courses online over a wide range of online degrees, including an online associate of arts in accounting.
The 64 credit degree, typically completed in a two-year track, comes at an affordable price tag. HCC’s curriculum includes course topics such as general psychology, public speaking, and calculus in addition to the principles, theory, and application of accounting. Students take courses that strongly ground their skills in applications such as Quickbooks and Microsoft Excel. The school makes asynchronously-structured coursework available via the Dragonzone online portal to the HCC learning management system. Flexible start dates for courses make this degree ideal for busy working professionals juggling obligations. Online classes adhere to the same syllabus and educational standards as in-person courses. Occasionally, certain online tests or papers require students, with instructor approval, to find an appropriate individual either on or off campus who can proctor the document. HCC allows all students access to its free tutoring service, including online tutoring via chat and video conferences for distance learners.
Additionally, students benefit from access to the Career Zone job posting board, via the College Central Network. Learners must complete applications for financial aid by February 15 in order to gain priority consideration, and must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in order to graduate.
Norfolk, Nebraska’s Northeast Community College has placed an emphasis on quality distance education programs since its establishment in 1973. Among a number of online courses and programs, the school offers an affordable online associate of arts in accounting.
The 60 credit degree generally takes two years to complete and allows students to progress at a part-time pace. Course topics include principles of microeconomics, fundamentals of information technology, and principles of accounting. Additionally, the school's recommended core curriculum gives students a thorough grounding in Microsoft Excel and spreadsheet accounting applications. Students may take asynchronously-structured coursework through the Sakai and Canvas learning management systems. Some online classes at Northeast may be offered in a hybrid format with in-person components or may not be offered every semester. The school’s online courses follow the same syllabus and meet the same standards as in-person classes, as well as carrying the same tuition rate.
The school offers all students free access to its tutoring service, including tutoring via phone, video conference, and email for distance learners. Additionally, the school website’s job board provides recent graduates with access to opportunities for further career advancement. Northeast’s close partnerships with other colleges and universities in the state, as well as resources like Transfer Nebraska and the nationwide Transferology streamline the process of furthering education for graduates. Applicants who cannot furnish the school with ACT or SAT scores take the ASSET/COMPASS placement test as part of the admissions process. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in order to graduate.
Founded in 1957 in Los Altos Hills, California, Foothill College continues to serve the needs of its community and beyond through a variety of well-regarded distance learning courses and degrees. The school offers an online associate of arts in accounting at the same high academic standard as its on-campus programs.
The 90 unit degree requires students to take 53 units towards the major and usually takes two years to complete. The curriculum includes managerial accounting, tax accounting, and fraud examination, in addition to a solid grounding in computer applications such as Quickbooks and Microsoft Excel. All courses meet a unit requirement determined by the California Board of Accountancy. Students take online courses through the Canvas learning management system, a system structured around asynchronous strategies (as opposed to self-paced). All students may pursue free access to tutoring services. Theser services are accessible online to distance learners through the teaching and learning center and partnerships with NetTutor and Openstudy. Additionally, counselors work closely with students to set academic goals and exploring career paths.
Some online instructors require students to complete proctored tests. In such cases, distance learners take the test at the most convenient National College Testing Association-certified center. Satisfying unit requirements for the associate could include completion of courses only available in on-campus format. Foothill does not offer credit for prior work experience. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in order to graduate.
Since its foundation in 1920, Marion’s Indiana Wesleyan University has offered its students distance learning options since 1985. Today the Christian institution also offers a wide range of fully-online programs, including an online associate degree in accounting.
IWU's 60 credit associate of science in accounting degree typically takes learners two years to complete and school formats the program around the needs of working professionals and nontraditional learners on a budget. The curriculum encompasses a solid grounding in the humanities, including topics such as Western Civilization, general psychology, and introduction to human communication. In this program, students develop practical communication skills alongside a knowledge base of common computer applications essential to the field. As students move through the program, a cohort model structure provides a sense of support and community to the learning experience.
The school makes coursework available through the Brightspace learning management system, which implements asynchronous learning methods. Transfer students must take their final 15 credits through IWU. Associate degree students may earn up to 18 credits through a prior learning assessment. Additionally, associate degree students who have earned between 36-59 credits have the option to switch gears and starting working on their bachelor's via IWU’s bridge program. IWU offers active-duty military personnel and their families a tuition discount. Applicants for whom English is not their first language must submit a TOEFL score as a part of their application. All students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in order to graduate.
Shoreline Community College, founded ten miles from Seattle in 1964, maintains a strong commitment to serving the needs of adult and nontraditional learners. Among a number of fully-online courses and programs, the school offers an online associate in accounting degree. SCC is a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. The school welcomes distance learners from all states and the District of Columbia to its virtual campus.
The 90-92 credit program typically takes two years to complete. The practically-minded curriculum includes topics such as business English, business law, and ten-key-calculators. Students learn how to apply the theory, principles, and praxis of recording and reporting financial information and prepare for both entry and managerial level work. Additionally, students receive a foundation in utilizing industry standard computer applications such as the Microsoft Works suite and Access. Students complete coursework via the Canvas learning management system, in curricula that implement asynchronous learning methods. The school makes a number of tutorials about how to navigate Canvas available on its website.
The school offers all students free access to its tutoring services, including e-tutoring for distance learners (provided through a partnership with Western eTutoring Consortium). SCC makes tuition discounts available to Veteran students and allows applicants to receive credit for prior learning. Non-Washington students may be eligible to receive a waiver of the tuition rate difference between residents and non-residents. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in order to graduate.
Founded in 1971 in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University provides a number of affordable distance learning programs for professionals juggling busy schedules. Among them, the school offers an online associate degree in accounting. Liberty’s accounting program is voluntarily accredited by the Accredited Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Liberty's 60 credit program typically takes a year to complete, which makes it an excellent option for working professionals on a budget, and the school's transfer policy stipulates that students must complete their final 15 credits at Liberty to achieve their degree. Course topics for the major include managerial accounting, introduction to probability and statistics, and principles of marketing. Students satisfy general education requirements for courses in information literacy, critical thinking, math, science, technology, and communication to build broadly applicable skills. Additionally, a Christian institution, Liberty's general education requirements may include courses on topics such as Biblical studies.
Students complete coursework through the Blackboard learning management system, which utilizes an asynchronous approach. Regular webinars for how to navigate the Blackboard system streamline the process for beginners. Liberty offers a discount to online military students and their spouses, and all Liberty students have free access to the school’s online writing center tutoring service. The school offers online learners a number of undergraduate scholarships specific to online students, including the Liberty Advantage and the Heroes Fund scholarship. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in order to graduate.
Since its foundation between the cities of Manchester and Hooksett in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University has continued to carve out a notable reputation for providing quality instruction at an affordable tuition rate. The school's fully-online associate in accounting degree continues to serve as a fine example of that approach. This associate in accounting program holds accreditation from the Accredited Council for Business Schools and Programs.
The 60 credit degree comes at a highly affordable price tag, and with option of transferring 45 credits toward the degree, the program makes for a great fit for busy nontraditional learners on a tight budget. Course topics include business systems analysis and design, human relations in administration, and introduction to marketing.
The school administers the program to equip learners with the skills to succeed at entry-level employment in the field. The school offers access to coursework via the Blackboard and Brightspace learning management systems (SNHU delivers its curricula asynchronously). Courses run for eight weeks over six semesters. The school's success strategies for online learning course provides first-time students with a streamlined transition into these platforms. SNHU offers a discount to online active duty service members and their families, and the school ensures personalized assistance with degree and career planning from its team of academic and career advisors. Applicants may only transfer credit from courses for which they received a grade point of 2.0 or greater.
Founded in 1878 in Burlington, Vermont, Champlain College administers a variety of learning programs for nontraditional learners and working professionals, including the school's online associate degree in accounting.
With courses typically running for seven weeks in length, and transfer options of up to 45 credits toward the school's associate degree, Champlain College's 60 credit program tailors comfortably to working professionals juggling obligations on a limited budget. Topics covered by the major include cost accounting, the landscape of internet security, and managing behavior in organizations, encompassing building on communication and critical thinking skills as well. The program is structured around the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ core competency framework. Students take courses via the Canvas learning management system, guided by asynchronous learning strategies. Some courses exceed the seven week length and instead run for fifteen weeks. The program is offered in an accelerated format, but students who choose to take more than nine credits per term must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0.
Students who decide to pursue a bachelor’s in accounting have the option to directly transfer all credits toward the associate degree. Champlain offers veterans and active duty service members a discounted tuition rate, along with access to education benefits (including, for example, counseling). The school expects applicants to have maintained a minimum GPA of 2.5 for consideration, though in special cases applicants may be considered on an individual basis.
Founded in 1977, Keiser University expands beyond its flagship Fort Lauderdale campus into the realm of pragmatic-minded distance learning programs. The school offers a number of undergraduate and graduate level online degrees, including an online associate in accounting degree.
The school's flexible 60 credit degree allows learners to transfer in up to 45 credits, making it a notably attractive option for entry-level nontraditional learners juggling busy work schedules. Course topics towards the major include accounting information for business decisions, financial management, and principles of taxation. The program gives a broad overview of accounting principles, theory, and application, and prepares graduates for entry level work in the field (such as accountant assistant and bookkeeper). Students access coursework via the Blackboard learning management system, which implements asynchronous strategies.
Keiser offers all military service students and their families unlimited free access to the Tutor.com online tutoring service, and veterans have the option to transfer previous training for credit. Applicants have the option to receive credit for prior learning, provided they have documentation of the relevant training. Keiser participates in the Advanced Placement program maintained by the College Entrance Examination Board. Applicants can only transfer credit for courses for which they received a grade point of 2.0 or greater. The school offers financial aid to students with less than a full time course load. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in order to graduate.
Founded in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1967, Northampton Community College continues to distinguish itself as a nationally-recognized provider of quality instruction to nontraditional learners. The school offers an online associate in accounting degree program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
The school's 63 credit program typically takes learners a year to complete, and may be pursued either in fulltime or part-time formats, making it a great option for working learners in need of flexible scheduling. Course topics towards the major include financial accounting, introduction to computers, and business communication. Geared toward preparing learners for entry-level work in the field, the program is also great for learners pursuing Certified Public Accountant certification. Students complete courses asynchronously via the Blackboard learning management system. NCC's online school of business and technology also offers two shorter-track specialization diplomas: the accounting specialized diploma and accounting assistant specialized diploma.
NCC offers all students free access to online tutoring services, including online tutoring available through the school’s online portal. Career and academic advisors work closely with students one-on-one to set academic goals and chart out career options, in addition to hosting job fairs and other events for resident learners. The school requires students to complete at least 25% of their last credits towards their associate degree through NCC. (Applicants can only transfer credits for courses for which they earned a grade point of 2.0 or greater.) Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in order to graduate.
Since its establishment in 1954 in Warren, Michigan, Macomb Community College has developed one of the strongest reputations for quality affordable instruction in the nation among community colleges. The school offers a number of well-regarded fully-online programs, including an online associate in accounting degree.
MCC's 62 credit associate degree in business administration in accounting has the potential to save a working professional on a tight budget thousands. Common core requirements include computer and information processing principles, business enterprise, and business communications. Students pursuing the program's associate accounting concentration must complete principles of accounting I.
The school administers its courses via the Canvas learning management system and utilizes an asynchronous learning approach. (Note that some classes operate in a hybrid format with limited on-campus components.) MCC’s academic and career advisors work closely with students to set academic goals and map out career options. The school offers over 190 private and transfer scholarship opportunities and all students have free access to the school’s tutoring services.
Additionally, MacombCareerLink, the school’s online job database, provides recent graduates with abundant resources for career advancement. MCC awards applicants credit for prior learning. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 and take their final 15 credits through MCC in order to graduate.
Located in Anchorage, Alaska Pacific University offers an online associate degree in accounting that trains students to assume entry-level jobs, while also preparing them to pursue a bachelor’s degree. The program focuses on four key skill areas, including theory and practice, functional integration, quantitative skills, and written and oral communication.
In addition to several accounting and bookkeeping courses, students take a foundations of business class that provides them with a comprehensive view of accounting’s role in business. Covered topics include marketing, planning, and production. Students enrolled in APU’s accounting associate program must complete 64 credits to graduate, including at least 28 major-focused credits. Students can access all their coursework online and do not have to attend any classes on campus. Additionally, associate degree requirements may be applied toward a bachelor’s degree at APU.
To apply to APU’s associate in accounting degree online program, students must submit their high school transcript or official GED score report. Preference goes to individuals with a high school GPA of 2.5 or higher.
APU offers an affordable, flat-rate tuition rate; the school is one of only a few universities in the United States to reduce its tuition over the past decade, lowering rates by 34% in 2014.
Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) offers an online accounting associate degree that provides training and coursework for individuals who want to enter the accounting field or update their skills at their current job. Many graduates go on to serve as accounting trainees, junior accountants, and accounting technicians.
Additionally, for students who aim to enter a bachelor’s program after completing their associate degree, NOVA has articulation agreements with many institutions. The school’s strong partnerships mean students receive guaranteed admission when transferring, if they meet a list of requirements, which include maintaining a minimum GPA, completing a set number of courses at NOVA, and achieving a grade of “C” or higher in all core classes. This arrangement allows graduates to remain on track while pursuing a four-year degree.
Full-time students typically complete the 66-credit program in two years. Classes start with introductory courses before subsequently diving into more complex subjects related to business, accounting, management, economics, and finance.
Students should exhibit basic proficiency in mathematics and English before applying to this accounting associate degree program. NOVA students pay tuition per credit, and Virginia residents pay lower rates.
Part of the school’s business and technology career education department, Barton County Community College’s associate degree in accounting gives students real-world experience and the opportunity to connect with businesses throughout central Kansas. Many local business leaders turn to the program to find entry-level accounting professionals; recent graduates have found employment in a variety of fields, including accounting, communications, marketing and management, event coordination, and education.
Although many students pursue career opportunities right after graduation, others transfer to four-year programs across the state. Graduates can seamlessly enter bachelor’s programs in accounting, business management, finance, economics, or marketing. The associate program requires 64 total credits and includes courses on micro and macroeconomics, managerial accounting, and business. Students also complete coursework that helps improve their work ethic and leadership skills. The program boasts small class sizes, which facilitate one-on-one instruction from experienced accounting professionals.
An open-admissions school, Barton accepts most students who apply. Thus, the school represents a good option for students who have struggled academically in the past. Students at Barton pay the same tuition rate on a per-credit basis; there is no difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. The college also offers a variety of scholarship opportunities and financial aid options to distance learners.
Crowder College’s associate of applied science in accounting features a cohesive curriculum that covers the key subjects of payroll accounting, tax accounting, personal finance, financial analysis, and the use of QuickBooks software. Students also complete classes in business ethics, business communications, and business mathematics to round out their educational experience.
Through this program, Crowder teaches students how to use the appropriate software to manage business information and prepare financial data and documents, helping organizations make important business decisions. Students also learn how to prepare tax returns, evaluate various types of financial information, and communicate effectively in a business setting.
Graduates often go on to become accounting assistants, tax preparers, assistant auditors, bookkeepers, and paraprofessional accountants. The school also has an articulation agreement with Central Methodist University, allowing students to easily transfer into one of CMU’s four-year degree programs; an associate degree from Crowder represents a great step toward more advanced studies in accounting and business.
While Crowder does charge different rates for in-state and out-of-state students, its tuition is relatively low compared to other institutions of higher learning in Missouri. Students pay tuition on a straightforward, per-credit schedule.
To apply to the associate in accounting program, prospective students must submit their COMPASS or ACT scores, along with high school transcripts or official GED scores. Crowder also employs financial aid advisors to help students who need assistance paying for college.
A two-year institution of higher learning, Minnesota West Community and Technical College has five campus locations throughout the western part of the state. The school serves nearly 4,000 students each year through a variety of associate degree and certificate programs.
Minnesota West features one of the best online associate in accounting programs in the state, preparing students for a range of entry-level career opportunities. Students take courses in a predetermined order, starting with introductory accounting, business math, and computer classes in the first semester. Later, distance learners take courses that focus on payroll accounting, spreadsheet concepts, database applications, and income tax accounting. This educational experience prepares students to either enter the job market or move on to a bachelor’s degree program immediately after graduation.
Online students can access a variety of resources, including academic advising, tutoring, career services, student services, and a digital library. A transfer services department also helps individuals who want to attend a different college or university once they earn their online associate in accounting degree.
Applicants must complete an online application, provide official high school or GED transcripts, and fill out the FAFSA. Minnesota West accepts most individuals who apply to the school and offers an affordable, flat-rate tuition. There is no difference in tuition for in-state and out-of-state residents.
The Lone Star College System, based in The Woodlands, was established in 1973. The system serves students across the country through its LSC-Online platform. Among Lone Star’s many online offerings is its AAS in accounting program, which provides distance learners with the training and experience they need to enter the field quickly; most students graduate from this program within two years. Students can take classes online or at one of six locations throughout the state.
The entire program features 60 credits. Classes cover a range of subjects, including managerial accounting, business communications, federal income taxes, internal auditing, and economics. The school also helps students who plan to eventually transfer to a different institution to earn a four-year accounting- or finance-related degree once they have finished their associate degree requirements.
The college features low tuition rates, with both resident and non-resident students paying the same amount to attend school full-time. Distance learners may qualify for a range of financial aid, including grants, book advances, loans, scholarships, and work-study programs. Additionally, Because Lone Star uses an open-enrollment policy, most individuals who apply are accepted. Once enrolled, students gain access a broad range of services, including career advising, academic advising, technology assistance, and online tutoring.
Delivering all its degree programs online, Ozarks Technical Community College offers an AAS in accounting and business management that prepares students to find entry-level employment or move into a bachelor’s program. While enrolled in this associate in accounting online program, students learn about principles of accounting, managerial accounting, and tax accounting. The curriculum also features a case study/capstone course, through which students learn about the ethical obligations of professionals in the accounting world. This experience includes the study of scandals and other issues. Students also develop self-action plans to help them avoid unethical behavior once they enter the workforce. OTCC is committed to the success of its students and provides distance learners with numerous tools and resources, including e-counseling, a digital library, online tutoring, and a speech communication center.
To apply to OTCC, applicants must fill out an online application and submit their high school transcripts or an official GED report. Students also need to fill out a FAFSA form and meet with an advisor to choose a major and develop an academic plan to ensure they take the right classes. Grants, scholarships, and other forms of financial aid are available for those who need help paying for school.
The Florida Institute of Technology’s associate degree in accounting online program prepares students for a range of careers within businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. Graduates of this program gain a sound understanding of business accounting, managerial accounting, income taxes, bookkeeping, and accounting information systems. Graduates qualify for various entry-level jobs, or they can transfer into four-year programs and pursue a more advanced degree.
This accounting program involves 64 credits of coursework, including general education and major-focused classes. Each term lasts eight weeks and most full-time students complete the program in two years.
FIT provides comprehensive support and resources to its online learners. Students can access enrollment services, student services, and technical support. A full digital library and tutoring services are also available to distance learners, and FIT’s career management services assists students with resume preparation and job searches, even after they have graduated.
Prospective students interested in attending FIT can get started by filling out a no-fee online application. Applicants submit their high school transcripts or official GED scores, along with transcripts from any previously attended colleges or universities. Based in Melbourne, FIT currently serves more than 6,000 students.
McHenry County College’s online associate accounting degree covers a range of key topics, providing students with a solid foundation and preparing them for a career in accounting. In addition to general education credits, students take a core set of classes that include income tax accounting, principles of finance, cost accounting, and managerial accounting. Students who earn this accounting associate degree online complete 62 credits; they must also maintain a GPA of 2.0 or above to graduate.
The associate programs at MCC are “stackable,” giving students multiple potential career paths by allowing them to earn different professional certificates. This can lead to higher-paying jobs and more work opportunities. For example, many students pursuing an associate accounting degree online obtain bookkeeping and tax practitioner certificates.
To apply to MCC, prospective students fill out an online application and submit their high school transcripts or official GED score report. Applicants also take placement tests in reading, math, and English, although ACT or SAT scores may serve as a replacement for some of these placement exams.
Located in Crystal Lake, Illinois, MCC charges the same per-credit rate for all online classes, regardless of student’s state of residency. MCC also offers tuition payment plans and financial aid assistance for those who need help paying for school.
Located in the Northwoods community of Shell Lake, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College offers education and training across more than 60 career areas, including accounting. The two-year online associate accounting degree features 60 credits, including classes that focus on managerial accounting, income taxes, and budgeting. Students learn how to process financial transactions, prepare payroll, analyze financial data, and conduct cost accounting and analysis. Graduates of this program also receive a tax preparer assistant certificate.
Online students gain access to a range of support services, including academic advising, a learning resource center, and an educational technology center. Learners can also join the Business Professionals of America club and participate in statewide competitions and charity projects like the Special Olympics.
Although many program graduates immediately pursue accounting careers, others leverage their associate degrees into four-year programs in accounting, finance, economics, or business administration. In fact, WITC has formal articulation agreements with the University of Wisconsin-Superior and UW-Stout for this very purpose.
WITC features a simple, three-step admissions process, in which prospective students submit an application, complete an assessment, and meet with an admissions counselor. WITC offers affordable tuition on a per-credit basis. Tuition is slightly higher for individuals who live outside of Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Michigan. Students may qualify for assistance with financial aid; roughly 75% of the school’s students receive some form of aid to help fund their studies.
Northwest Iowa Community College’s online associate degree in accounting covers all aspects of the field, providing students with the knowledge and support they need to pursue rewarding career opportunities. This four-semester, two-year program is best-suited for those who have strong deductive reasoning skills, an understanding of basic algebra, and enjoy solving problems.
Starting in their first fall semester, students take introductory accounting and computer courses. Later semesters cover more advanced topics, including computerized accounting, economics, finance, budgeting, and tax accounting. Students complete 63 credits to receive an associate degree.
NWICC serves distance learners across the country, and the school charges the same per-credit rate for all its online classes, regardless of a student’s state of residency. Online learners can also access a range of services, including academic advising, technology assistance, and veterans’ services.
For students looking to transfer into a four-year program, NWICC has articulation agreements with numerous institutions, including the University of Iowa and Iowa State University. These agreements let students seamlessly move into bachelor’s degree programs in accounting, finance, economics, or related majors. NWICC employs transfer counselors to help students plan for these transitions. The school’s main campus is in the city of Sheldon.
Consisting of 64 credits, Davenport University’s associate accounting degree online program delivers a mix of theory-based coursework and real-world experiences to prepare students for success in the accounting field. Distance learners work through a variety of core classes, including courses focused on accounting information technology, cost accounting, payroll management, and state tax preparation. Students typically complete these courses based on a predetermined schedule to ensure that they move through the program as efficiently as possible. Most full-time students graduate in two years.
Associate-level degrees at Davenport can easily transfer into the university’s four-year accounting, finance, or business programs. Thus, students benefit from a great deal of flexibility when choosing between entering the workforce right away or going on to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
All courses within the program are delivered asynchronously, which benefits learners who have numerous personal and professional obligations outside of school. Online learners can also access many support resources, including academic advising, technology assistance, and tutoring services.
Davenport University, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, holds full accreditation from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. This private, nonprofit institution was founded in 1866. Additionally, in the fall 2016, the university started offering a 33% tuition discount to new and continuing students who reside outside of Michigan.
Featured Online Schools
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.Return to the top
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.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $46,000
- Mid-Career: $49,000
- Experienced: $54,000
- Late Career: $55,000
- 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.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $48,000
- Mid-Career: $54,000
- Experienced: $63,000
- Late Career: $68,000
- 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
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $53,000
- Mid-Career: $59,000
- Experienced: $67,000
- Late Career: $70,000
- 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.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $56,000
- Mid-Career: $61,000
- Experienced: $78,000
- Late Career: $82,000
- 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.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $48,000
- Mid-Career: $58,000
- Experienced: $70,000
- Late Career: $83,000
Source: PayScaleReturn to the top
Choosing an Online Accounting Degree 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.
Courses in an Online Associate in Accounting Program
The best online schools for accounting associate degrees offer introductory programs in the subject. Associate-level courses teach students about common industry concepts, including the principles and practices of business, finance, and economics. Essential coursework also touches on the different types of accounting, distinguishing between public and government regulations and exploring corporate and personal finance management techniques.
- Principles of Accounting
- A crucial course for prospective accountants in any discipline, students exploring the principles of accounting build a foundation in payroll accounting, bookkeeping and accounting for merchants and businesses, and invoicing, including payables and receivables. Other key concepts include cash flow, financial statement assessment, acquisitions, and depreciation.
- Business Law
- Business law introduces students to the laws and legal parameters of conducting business of all kinds, including accounting practice. Course topics explore dispute resolution, employment and contract law, and U.S. court procedures. Students review and analyze case studies to supplement this research-based course.
- Some accounting programs touch on macroeconomics, but most online associate accounting degrees emphasize microeconomics, or the study of economics in relation to a business or individual. Topics include the management of supply and demand, competitive buying markets, market pricing structures, and the impact of government on microeconomics.
- Personal Finance
- Regardless of a prospective accountant’s area of specialty, a personal finance course teaches students the basics of managing their own finances before ultimately managing others’ finances. The course covers the practical application of accounting concepts, including budgeting, retirement planning, investing, and consumer strategies.
- Principles of Finance
- This course imparts a thorough understanding of capital management, including examining the typical operating costs of a business and running financial analysis. Topics explore cash flow, risk assessment, asset structure, and income and investments. Some programs offer a choice between electives in personal finance and this course, depending on a student’s desired area of expertise.
Accounting Membership Associations
- The American Accounting Association
- The AAA boasts the largest academia-oriented community of accountants in the United States. With a focus on research and education in the field of accounting, the AAA grants members exclusive access to 17 scholarly journals, discounts on meetings and continuing education courses, and opportunities to join special interest groups and volunteer for AAA committees.
- Institute of Management Accountants
- IMA encompasses more than 300 chapters of professional and student management accountants in 140 countries around the world. As the only organization to offer the official certified management accountant (CMA) credential, the organization serves more than 100,000 members in this accounting specialty. Members enjoy CMA certification with potential CSCA specialty credentials, free webinars, and access to exclusive career builder tools and job boards.
- The American Institute of CPAs
- Perhaps the industry’s best-known member organization, AICPA offers membership to individuals and firms. The organization awards CPA certification to qualifying applicants and offers members at all levels access to journals and publications, professional development opportunities, and exclusive insurance benefits and discounts on personal and professional services.
What Can I Do with an Accounting Degree?
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