Best Online Accounting Degree Programs

Your guide to accounting education options and career prospects

What is Accounting?

Accounting can be broadly defined as the practice of recording, organizing, analyzing, and reporting financial transactions and data. Accounting plays a vital role in business and finance environments by providing accurate data that facilitates informed decision-making processes.

Accounting’s primary benefit lies in its ability to keep an organization aware of their financial health through various techniques and principles. Accounting ensures that financial records are complete, accurate, compliant with laws and regulations and free of fraud or errors in the information provided. Accounting plays a key role in maintaining internal controls that help prevent fraud, errors or misstatements in information held within an organization.

Accounting provides essential tools for financial analysis and reporting. Accounting produces financial statements like balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statements which give valuable insight into a company’s profitability, liquidity, and overall performance. Not only are these essential for businesses evaluating their own finances but investors, lenders and stakeholders can use these statements to assess an organization.

Accounting forms the backbone of finance and business operations. Accounting ensures accurate, reliable, and transparent records to facilitate effective decision making within organizations and enable them to thrive in dynamic competitive environments.

Benefits of an Online Accounting Degree

When it comes to pursuing a degree in accounting, online programs offer a multitude of benefits. The convenience and flexibility of an online accounting degree program are perhaps its most significant advantages. With an online degree, students have the freedom to learn from anywhere with internet access. This means no commuting to campus, no set class times, and the ability to study at your own pace. Whether you have a full-time job, family responsibilities, or other commitments, an online program allows you to fit your education into your busy schedule.

Additionally, an online accounting degree opens up a world of opportunities in terms of earning potential. The median pay for accountants is quite attractive, with the potential for even higher salaries in industries such as finance, banking, and professional services. As businesses continue to grow and the demand for financial expertise increases, the job outlook for accountants remains strong. This means that an online accounting degree can provide not only stability but also potential for growth and advancement in the field.

What are My Options for Accounting Degrees?

Accounting has long been a crucial part of business and earning a degree in this field can open many exciting new career doors. There are various levels of accounting degrees available, ranging from associate degrees to master’s that could prove immensely rewarding for you and even doctoral options for the most dedicated. Each degree level provides its students with an individualized curriculum and knowledge base that will equip them for various roles within the accounting profession. No matter your career goals – financial, tax, or certified public accountant – earning a degree in accounting is the first step toward realizing them. Accounting is a part of a business education that can help set you apart from other potential candidates when it comes to finding your new career.

Associate Degree in Accounting

online associate accounting degreesAn associate accounting program can be completed in as little as two years and covers an extensive array of accounting topics: financial accounting, managerial accounting, and tax accounting among them. Students may also learn about accounting information systems and gain essential skills in financial statement analysis. These degrees usually have a 60-credit curriculum. However, Associate of Science focuses on technical skills while an Associate of Arts emphasizes liberal arts education rather than just accounting. These degree programs can serve students who want to get right to work or intend to earn a bachelor’s degree later.

To earn an associate’s, students must possess either a high school diploma or its equivalent. Transferred credits from other institutions may also count toward the degree. Students may be able to select concentrations such as bookkeeping, financial accounting, or tax accounting – enabling them to focus their studies in specific areas while developing in-depth knowledge and abilities for each specialty field.

Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

online bachelors accounting degreesBachelor’s accounting programs provide students with a thorough education in the field, preparing them for various career options. These four-year programs usually require around 120 credit hours to complete. Students enrolled in these programs may also have the chance to specialize in various areas of accounting such as financial accounting, managerial accounting, tax accounting, or auditing. Such specialization allows students to explore deeper into specific aspects of accounting while building expertise.

Students interested in applying to an accounting bachelor’s program typically need a high school diploma or its equivalent as admission criteria, though certain programs may have other requirements such as a minimum GPA or specific coursework prerequisites. Internships or capstone projects may also be part of this type of degree program.

Students graduating from an accounting bachelor’s program have numerous career options open to them such as public accountant, financial analyst, tax consultant, or internal auditor. Graduates may also pursue advanced degrees like a master’s in accounting or an MBA to further enhance their career prospects.

Master's Degree in Accounting

online masters accounting degreesMaster’s accounting programs provide advanced education and specialized training for those aspiring to a higher-level career in accounting. These programs typically grant degrees such as Master of Accountancy (MAcc), Master of Science in Accounting (MSA), or an MBA with an accounting concentration. These programs vary typically require between 30-36 credit hours of coursework to complete, with full-time attendance taking 1-2 years. Certain programs may also require prerequisite classes in financial accounting, managerial accounting, or auditing.

Accounting Master’s programs often feature experiential learning opportunities for their students such as internships, research projects, or case studies that allow them to apply their theoretical accounting knowledge directly in real world situations. Earning a master’s degree in accounting can open doors to numerous career possibilities. Graduates usually enjoy greater job market competitiveness and may qualify for advanced roles in public accounting, corporate accounting, financial analysis, or consulting. Furthermore, this degree can satisfy educational requirements to become Certified Public Accountants (CPA) in many states – giving graduates increased earning potential and job prospects within this field.

PhD Degree in Accounting

Accounting PHD programs are tailored for individuals interested in conducting research and expanding their knowledge within accounting. These programs require a significant time investment from students who seek careers in academia or research as they typically take four or five years of full-time study to complete. They may be delivered either on campus or through online platforms, depending on which institution you choose.

Applicants to accounting PHD programs must typically hold at least a master’s degree in this or a related field and possess strong analytical and quantitative abilities, as well as having a solid background in accounting theory and research methods. Students participating in these programs usually complete rigorous coursework, conduct independent research, and work closely with faculty mentors to craft their dissertation. Graduates typically pursue careers as professors, researchers, or consultants within accounting.

What Can You Do with an Accounting Degree?

An accounting degree opens a world of diverse and fulfilling career possibilities. Individuals with accounting degrees can secure positions as bookkeepers, accounts payable specialists, assistant payroll administrators, accounting managers, auditors, investment bankers, or even chief financial officers (CFOs).

Bookkeepers maintain financial records and reconcile accounts to ensure accuracy in financial transactions. Accounts payable specialists handle payments to vendors and suppliers, while assistant payroll administrators oversee payroll processes to ensure that employees receive correct payments on time.

As your career advances, you could eventually move up to an accounting manager role and supervise a team in financial reporting and analysis. Auditor positions involve independent examination of financial statements to verify compliance and accuracy.

Gaining additional accounting certifications like Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credentials can significantly boost your career opportunities. A CPA designation allows you to offer auditing, tax planning, financial consulting, and other services, while CMA certification focuses more on management accounting and decision-making processes.

Accounting Education Concentrations and Options

Accounting degree programs offer students a range of concentrations that allow them to specialize in certain areas of accounting. Students can develop in-depth knowledge and skills in areas like financial accounting, managerial accounting, tax accounting, and auditing with these concentrations. By choosing one, they can tailor their education according to their career goals and interests and gain a competitive edge on the job market.

Actuarial Science

Actuarial Science is an interdisciplinary field within accounting that plays a vital role in assessing and mitigating risks. Utilizing mathematical and statistical techniques, actuarial scientists analyze data, assess probabilities, develop models to forecast potential threats, predict outcomes of risky situations, and manage potential threats more effectively. With their expertise in financial planning, investment analysis, and insurance policies – actuaries provide invaluable advice and insights.

An education in actuarial science offers promising career options at insurance companies, financial institutions, and consulting firms. Actuaries are in high demand within the insurance industry for their expertise in analyzing data to set premiums and assess any financial implications from potential claims. They also play important roles in finance and investment fields by evaluating risks associated with complex products and offering guidance to decision-makers. An actuarial science profession allows individuals to contribute directly to their organization’s risk management strategies while having an enjoyable and financially lucrative accounting career.


Auditing is an integral component of accounting degree programs and should not be ignored as an option. At its core, auditing involves performing an in-depth examination and evaluation of an organization’s financial records to ensure their accuracy, reliability, and compliance with accounting rules and regulations. Auditors have the responsibility of reviewing financial statements and supporting documents to ascertain if they provide an accurate representation of an organization’s financial status. This typically includes reviewing transactions, verifying existence/valuation of assets/liabilities, and evaluating overall performance.

Auditors bear both legal and ethical responsibilities when auditing financial statements. They must adhere to professional standards, maintain independence, and exercise professional skepticism in their work to provide objective and unbiased opinions about any financial statements that come before them for scrutiny. Auditors also play an essential role in planning audits, which requires understanding the organization’s business processes, identifying areas of risk, and devising an audit plan to address those risks. Communication is vital, with auditors having an obligation to inform key stakeholders of their findings and opinions as soon as they are available.


Bookkeeping is an integral component of accounting that involves keeping and updating financial records to ensure accuracy and integrity within an organization’s transactions. Bookkeepers play an invaluable role in providing accurate reporting and decision-making capabilities through accurate records management. They document financial transactions – from entering invoices, receipts, and payments into an accounting system to reconciling accounts and verifying whether all recorded transactions match up with bank or credit card statements; through this process discrepancies or errors can be quickly identified and rectified.

Bookkeepers also help produce financial reports. These reports give an overview of an organization’s income, expenses, assets, and liabilities and are typically presented in balance sheets, income statements, or cash flow statements. Bookkeepers must accurately compile this data and present it in an understandable format to their clients.

These workers rely on various software and tools to perform their duties effectively, including accounting software such as QuickBooks or Xero for efficiently recording and organizing financial data, spreadsheets, and data analysis tools for data interpretation and to record information effectively.

Cost Accounting

Cost accounting is an area of accounting that deals with estimating project costs, allocating resources, and analyzing financial information related to production of goods and services. Cost accounting plays an integral part in helping organizations to make informed decisions that maximize profitability. They also do project cost estimation and work closely with engineers and manufacturing managers to ascertain expenses associated with producing an item or completing a project, taking into account such elements as labor, materials, equipment costs, and overhead expenses. By accurately estimating these expenses, organizations can create the best pricing strategies and budgets.

Cost accountants also use financial data to identify areas in which expenses can be reduced and efficiency enhanced, assessing the profitability of products/services and examining how price changes or production process modifications would impact overall cost structures – which provides organizations with valuable insight for making strategic decisions to enhance operations and increase competitiveness within the market.


Economics plays a central role in accounting, providing accountants with essential insight into the decisions they make. By understanding economic principles and theories, accountants gain knowledge to analyze and interpret financial data in its wider context. One of the key economic concepts relevant to accountants is supply and demand. Understanding this helps accountants assess market conditions where their organization operates and develop pricing strategies tailored specifically to them by studying trends.

Cost analysis is another key economic concept for accountants. This process evaluates the costs associated with producing goods or services and identifies the most efficient allocation of resources to do so. Through cost analysis, accountants can uncover cost-cutting opportunities, streamline operations, and enhance overall profitability. Economists have a thorough knowledge of market structures such as monopoly, oligopoly, and perfect competition as they each have unique ramifications for pricing, profitability, and financial decision-making. By studying market structures closely accountants can adjust their strategies to operate within market dynamics efficiently.

Environmental Accounting

Environmental accounting is a specialty that focuses on measuring the environmental impact of company activities, with particular attention paid to cost/benefit considerations when making sustainable business decisions. Environmental accounting plays an integral part in supporting sustainable business decisions by offering insight into environmental costs/benefits of various options.

One key concept, carbon accounting, involves measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions produced from company operations. By quantifying and tracking carbon emissions, businesses can identify areas for improvement and create strategies to decrease their carbon footprints. Life cycle analysis (LCA) is another integral aspect of environmental accounting. LCA measures the environmental impacts associated with product or service manufacturing from raw material extraction through to disposal. By evaluating inputs, outputs, and environmental impacts at each stage, businesses can identify opportunities to decrease resource consumption, limit waste generation, and maximize sustainability of their offerings.

Environmental reporting involves disclosing and communicating a company’s environmental performance and initiatives to its various stakeholders – shareholders, customers, and regulatory bodies alike. Environmental reports provide transparency and accountability, enabling interested parties to make informed decisions.


Finance is closely related to accounting in that both professions focus on effectively allocating financial resources. Finance professionals play a crucial role in helping both organizations and individuals make sound financial decisions. One area of finance worth exploring is corporate finance, which encompasses overseeing the financial activities of an organization. Professionals in this field assess financial data and create strategies for optimizing resource allocation to achieve organizational objectives. They may also evaluate investment opportunities, risks, and recommend capital structures and financing options.

Financial analysis is an integral aspect of finance. Professionals working in this area analyze financial statements such as balance sheets and income statements to evaluate the health and performance of a company using tools such as ratio analysis, discounted cash flow techniques, or other analytical methodologies to analyze investment opportunities and provide insight for decision-making purposes.

Financial studies offer graduates many exciting career prospects. Graduates specializing in finance can pursue roles such as financial analyst, investment banker, financial planner, risk manager or corporate treasurer; employment may also be available across various sectors such as banks, insurance firms, or investment firms, as well as corporate finance departments.

Financial Accounting

Financial accounting is an essential aspect of business operations that encompasses the recording, analysis, and reporting of all financial transactions. The primary goal is to provide stakeholders with accurate and trustworthy information regarding an organization’s performance and position so that they can make well-informed decisions. Financial accounting’s primary components include financial statements, which provide comprehensive summaries of a company’s activities over a specified timeframe. Such statements often include an income statement, balance sheet, statement of cash flows, and statement of changes in shareholder equity.

Forensic Accounting

Forensic accounting plays a vital role in assessing financial crimes, auditing records, and supporting investigations. With their unique skillset and knowledge base, forensic accountants play a significant role in uncovering fraudulent activities, analyzing financial data, and providing legal evidence when necessary. When embezzlement, money laundering, or corporate fraud occurs – forensic accountants are called in to analyze financial records and transactions to detect irregularities, discover hidden assets, and track the flow of funds. Working closely with law enforcement agencies, accounting firms, and government organizations – they gather evidence and form strong cases against perpetrators of these offenses.

forensic accountants contribute to legal proceedings by providing expert testimony. Their presentation of complex financial information makes it easier for judges and juries to comprehend the financial ramifications; their expertise also helps in calculating damages caused by any monetary misconduct. Accounting firms, law offices, and government agencies rely heavily on forensic accountants’ services to detect and prosecute financial theft. By employing their expertise in auditing, investigation, and financial analysis – forensic accountants play a vital role in upholding justice by uncovering financial crimes that remain hidden.

Accounting Information Systems

Technology is rapidly revolutionizing accounting including how financial data is collected, processed, analyzed, and stored. Accounting information systems (AISs) have had an unprecedented effect on this industry by helping businesses streamline their financial processes and boost efficiency – providing real-time information that allows organizations to make strategic decisions more quickly and accurately. AISs include software and hardware solutions designed to record, process, and report financial data. Such systems can assist with tasks like statement preparation, budgeting, payroll administration, and inventory control – while providing features to ensure data security, accuracy, and regulatory requirements compliance.

Accounting software is a crucial element of business these days, enabling financial professionals to automate everyday tasks, such as data entry and reconciliation, without risk of human error. Popular packages like QuickBooks and Sage offer an array of features designed to streamline financial processes while creating accurate financial reports. Other technologies and tools commonly employed by accountants include cloud computing, data analytics software, electronic invoicing systems, and document management systems. Practical factors must be considered when implementing accounting information systems or using accounting software including data security, system compatibility, training and support needs, cost considerations, and scalability.

International Tax

International tax is an area of accounting that specializes in dealing with the complex laws and regulations surrounding taxes governing multi-national organizations. Given the increasing globalization of businesses and individuals engaging in cross-border transactions, understanding these international rules is imperative for many accounting professionals. Tax examiners and collectors ensure compliance with international tax laws and regulations by reviewing tax returns, conducting audits, resolving any cross-border transaction issues that arise, and collecting outstanding taxes owed by individuals or businesses operating across borders.

By enrolling in such a degree program, students can gain an extensive knowledge of international tax laws, regulations, and practices while furthering their career opportunities. Professionals specializing in international tax have an array of career options available to them. They may work for multinational corporations, accounting firms, government agencies, or international organizations as international tax consultants, analysts, or managers.

Management Accounting

Management accounting is an indispensable element of an organization’s decision-making process as they collect, analyze, and present financial data that helps businesses make informed business decisions. While financial accounting aims at providing external stakeholders with accurate statements that show financial performance accurately and transparently, management accounting aims at giving internal stakeholders information that assists in planning, controlling, and decision-making processes. Management accountants play an indispensable role in analyzing financial information and translating it for those who make decisions. Their insights into different business units, products, or a projects’ financial performance provide invaluable information on costs, revenues, profitability, areas for improvement, cost-cutting opportunities, and any potential risks that need addressing.

Management accountants serve a crucial function in budgeting and spending decisions, working alongside different departments to draft budgets, track actual performance against budget expectations, and recommend corrective action if necessary. By providing accurate financial information in real-time, management accountants enable managers to effectively allocate resources, reduce costs, and maximize profit. Those working in management accounting must have in-depth knowledge of cost estimation techniques, budgeting processes, financial analysis, and performance measurement techniques. Strong analytical and problem solving abilities are also a must.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) is an area within accounting that involves evaluating, negotiating, and planning business transactions such as mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures – transactions which have become more frequent in modern business. M&A transactions hold tremendous significance for the companies involved. By pooling resources, expertise, and customer bases into one company, these deals can drive value creation for both entities involved. They offer companies opportunities to penetrate new markets or diversify products/services while driving growth forward.

Accounting professionals play a key role in these transactions by performing financial analysis and due diligence on both companies involved. This covers aspects such as revenue, profitability, cash flow, and debt levels to determine transaction values and potential risks and rewards associated with each potential deal. The goal is to make sure that any liabilities or risks associated with the transaction are known to those acquiring it.

Public Accounting

Public accounting is a subfield within accounting that presents many career options for accounting professionals. Public accountants can provide accounting and financial services to companies, government entities, or individuals; their services ensure accurate and transparent financial data for clients. Public accountants may perform audits to evaluate accuracy and compliance with laws and regulations; through this process they provide assurance to stakeholders regarding the reliability of financial information.

They can also offer their clients help with tax preparation. They assist clients in navigating complex tax regulations while helping ensure compliance and identify opportunities for savings. They may also prepare tax returns for companies, government entities, and individuals while offering planning advice that optimizes financial positions.

Public accounting careers can take many paths. While many public accountants gain experience working for large accounting firms with exposure to clients from all industries and spheres of commerce, others may choose to launch their own accounting agencies that serve clients independently.

Sports Accounting

Sports accounting is an emerging subspecialty within accounting that specializes in managing the financial affairs of sports organizations: teams, leagues, and other sports-related entities. Sports accounting plays a vital role in assuring their financial viability and success. One distinctive aspect of sports accounting lies in its handling of athlete contracts. These complex contracts may contain various elements such as base salary, signing bonuses, performance incentives, and endorsement deals; accountants help negotiate and structure them to ensure proper accounting treatment and compliance with league regulations.

Sports accounting also presents unique challenges when it comes to revenue recognition. Sports organizations generate income through various streams such as ticket sales, broadcasting rights, sponsorship deals, and merchandise sales. Therefore, sports accountants must carefully track and recognize these revenues according to industry-specific accounting standards. Sports accountants can work for professional sports teams overseeing financial operations, budgeting, and reporting; others may find employment in sports agencies providing accounting services directly to athletes as they manage their financial affairs or working at sports marketing firms.


Accounting professionals play a critical role in taxation as it involves administering and enforcing laws and policies related to taxes. Professional tax accountants specialize in this field – providing planning, preparation, and compliance services for individuals and businesses alike. Tax examiners and collectors review tax returns, conduct audits, and assure compliance with tax laws and regulations. They may also conduct their own audits, verifying financial records for accuracy before conducting further analysis to assess any discrepancies or potential errors, as well as investigating cases of tax evasion/fraud as part of an enforcement action plan.


What does an online accounting degree cost?
Pursuing an online accounting degree can be an excellent investment in your education and career. However, costs vary based on which school and tuition/fee structure is selected, so you must keep budget and goals in mind when researching schools. Aspiring accountants should also explore scholarship and resource offerings provided by professional organizations. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and state CPA societies may offer scholarships, free student memberships, and networking events which could provide invaluable support and guidance while relieving some financial pressures during your degree journey.
What should I expect from an undergraduate accounting degree?
When exploring undergraduate accounting degrees, several key considerations must be kept in mind. Most programs typically take four years and provide students with an in-depth foundation in accounting principles, financial analysis, and business management. Students pursuing an undergraduate accounting degree typically must fulfill specific credit hour requirements and may need to take prerequisite classes in math, economics, and business as part of their educational path. These requirements ensure they gain a comprehensive understanding of accounting as a field and are adequately equipped for future careers.

Undergraduate accounting degrees typically include courses in financial statement analysis, managerial accounting, and tax accounting in addition to the core curriculum. These additional classes help students gain an in-depth knowledge of industry practices while equipping them to accurately analyze and interpret financial data.

Is it worth it to earn an accounting degree?
Earning an accounting degree can open many career doors across various industries. Accountants are in demand at public accounting firms, corporate accounting departments, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. You can work as a financial analyst, auditor, budget analyst, tax accountant, or management accountant, among others! An accounting degree is necessary for nearly all accounting positions. Employers in this field tend to look for candidates with formal education to ensure that they possess all of the knowledge and skills required, so a degree will give you an edge when applying for jobs within this field, making you more marketable overall.
What are the entry requirements for accounting majors?
Most accounting degree programs have specific admissions criteria that must be fulfilled before you can start the degree, including completion of classes such as certain mathematics, a minimum GPA, and other requirements. You will have to consult the accounting program of your intended college or university for specifics regarding their requirements.