By Online Accounting Degree Staff
Updated July 2016
This article considers affordable accounting degree programs, specifically examining the highest quality accounting degree programs with a net price of $23,000 per year or less – in other words, programs costing than half the typical net price of a year in college.
If you’re interested in both business and finance and have a head for numbers, you may want to consider a career in accounting. Accountants are often derided playfully for being boring, or at least having boring jobs, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The accounting profession offers a challenging environment for workers who want to apply their math and analytical skills to real-world problems. Graduates from accounting programs can work in the public or private sector, find a job with one of the “Big 4” accounting firms or with a small business, seek out a Master’s degree, or even look for a career in a unique interdisciplinary field like forensic accounting.
Hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States integrate accounting degree programs into their business schools, and we examined each and every one to come up with a list of the best, most affordable accounting degree programs available today.
We started by gathering a list of all the institutions with AACSB-accredited business schools/accounting programs, and then eliminated all but the schools with a net price (standard tuition minus average size of financial aid packages) below $23,000 average net according to College Navigator. That still left a large number of schools, so we set to work collecting information about their freshmen retention rate, 6-year graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, average high school GPA, campus organizations for accounting students, jobs and internships available for students in the immediate vicinity, and “Academic Experience” rating according to Princeton Review (read more here).
After we collected all the data, we assigned each school points based on their performance in each area, making sure to weight each category equally. This helped us to determine each school’s total points, with a maximum possible score of 987. There wasn’t a single school that came close to getting a perfect score, which just goes to show that there isn’t one university that’s perfect for everyone. One person might be more concerned about class size, while someone else might want to make sure that they will find networking opportunities through student organizations. We have included as much information below as possible, including the schools’ net prices, their quality ranking out of 30, their raw score, and a brief description of what makes their program worthwhile. Take a look, and hopefully it will help you find the right fit. Good luck!
30. University of Richmond
The Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond offers an Accounting program that teaches students to understand concepts and analyze problems rather than simply memorize financial processes. With a student to faculty ratio in the business school of 3:1 and an average undergraduate GPA of 3.3, students experience small classes and one-on-one interactions with professors and motivated, intelligent peers. The University’s freshmen retention rate is a strong 94%, and 85% percent of students graduate within six years. In addition, the School of Business was ranked 82 out of 99 for academic experience by the Princeton Review. Organizations like the Finance Society and multiple honor societies provide students with academic support as well as social and networking opportunities.
Net Price: $21,067
29. Temple University
Accounting students in the Fox School of Business at Temple University complete their degree in bustling central Philadelphia, with access to abundant internship and job opportunities. The Bachelor of Business Arts program gives students a thorough grounding in accounting and encourages a balanced education, with required courses including communications and the legal and social aspects of business. The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) are just two of the campus organizations that help students make connections in the business world. Temple’s freshmen retention rate is 89%, and was ranked 94 out of 99 for academic experience by the Princeton Review. The University also offers three-year degrees and online degrees in Accounting.
Net Price: $20,670
28. College of New Jersey
Ewing Township, New Jersey
The Accounting program at the College of New Jersey offers students a wide variety of job and internship opportunities. The College reports that 50- 75% of accounting students are recruited by public accounting firms, and that 90- 95% of accounting interns receive job offers from their employers. The program offers relatively small classes and a high freshman retention rate of 93%. In addition to ten accounting courses, the degree includes a liberal learning component of sciences, history, and reasoning courses. IMA, NABA, and Beta Alpha Si (a finance-related honors organization) all have student chapters on campus to help accounting students network and plan their future careers.
Net Price: $18,464
27. University of Connecticut
The Accounting major at the University of Connecticut is focused on giving students hands-on experience with the newest developments in the field. Students work with the IRS to conduct a mock fraud investigation, volunteer to provide free tax assistance to underprivileged individuals, and participate in national accounting competitions. Out of a class of a couple hundred students, 133 held internships in 2012, and Princeton Review gives it a stellar 89 out of 99 Academic Experience rating. Students can also take advantage of the programs and outreach of the award-winning UConn chapter of Beta Alpha Psi and the campus Accounting Society.
Net Price: $18,411
26. Ohio State University
Accounting students at the Fisher School of Business at Ohio State University get a rigorous education in the fundamentals of the field. Applicants must be accepted to the School of Business and complete the Business coursework before applying to the Accounting major. Students can also choose to apply to the Fisher Honors program, which allows them to graduate with honors and develop partnerships with faculty and alumni. The hard work pays off, because 85% of students have an internship before they graduate and are often offered full-time positions – news that is especially exciting given that the average starting salary for students in 2012 was $49,878. The academic experience at the Fisher School of Business was ranked a near-perfect 97 out of 99 by the Princeton Review.
Net Price: $17,406
25. University of Wisconsin – Madison
The School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is home to multiple well-known accounting research and outreach centers. The Accounting program emphasizes the importance of research and studying abroad to help students gain hands-on knowledge and experience. With a freshman retention rate of 95% and an average GPA of 3.4, the accounting students at the University of Washington are notoriously smart and driven. The Schools of Business has a 97 Princeton Review Academic Experience rating, representing a practically unparalleled academic experience. Students interested in further advancing their career can get an Integrated Master of Accountancy degree, which combines undergraduate and graduate courses and can be completed in five years instead of the traditional six.
Net Price: $16,536
24. University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign
The Accounting program at the University of Illinois works to ensure its students are not only skilled accountants, but are also confident and capable in communications and professional situations. Required courses cover public speaking as well as the basics of many branches of business. The program also includes an internship to help prepare students to be successful in their future careers. The School of Business’ academic experience is highly ranked, with Princeton Review giving it a 95 out of 99 possible points. Most classes are a comfortable size, the university’s accomplished students to discuss multiple perspectives in an intimate environment. A word to the wise: accounting students should be sure to apply for the School of Business’ long list of scholarships and academic awards.
Net Price: $16,490
23. SUNY College at Geneseo
Geneseo, New York
Students of the Accounting program at SUNY College receive an education that emphasizes social engagement and communications skills. In order to graduate, students must attend twelve professional development events as well as pass a writing proficiency test. The School of Business’ commitment to social engagement is also visible in the large selection of student organizations available to accounting students, which includes the Accounting Society and the International Business Club. A 93% freshman retention rate and an 84% six-year graduation rate prove that the University’s academics are admirable as well. The average student’s GPA is 3.43 and Princeton Review ranked the School of Business 95 out of 97 for its academic experience.
Net Price: $15,917
22. Dominican University
River Forest, Illinois
The Brennan School of Business at Dominican University is committed to compassionate and ethical business leadership. Although Accounting majors only take one required course specifically dealing with ethics, the School of Business in general is focused on integrity in accordance with its history as a Catholic institution. The student to faculty ratio in the business school is 11:1, which ensures small classes and personal attention from the professor. Furthermore, due to the school’s proximity to Chicago, there are plenty of job and internship opportunities available for motivated students. Students can also choose to register for the University’s Mazzuchelli Honors Program, which allows them to graduate with an honors degree and take courses to prepare for graduate-level study.
Net Price: $15,882
21. University of Oregon
The Lundquist School of Business at the University of Oregon places a premium on experiential learning. Accounting students get to help manage investments through the University of Oregon Investment Group, gain real-life experience at the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, complete projects with partnered companies like Hewlett-Packard and Intel, complete a practicum, and take advantage of the resources at the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. The School of Business has a respectable freshman retention rate of 84%, and the average undergrad’s GPA is 3.6 – definite evidence of the high caliber of student that the university attracts. An extremely low student to faculty ratio of 2:1 in the Lundquist School also means students have the chance to get to know their professors and benefit from their expertise.
Net Price: $15,362
20. University of Texas – Austin
The McCombs School of Business offers students a first-rate accounting program, with the goal of not only preparing students for fantastic job opportunities post-graduation, but also helping students develop a richer awareness of themselves and the world around them in order to become ethical, contributing members of society. The strength of this program is partially demonstrated in the success of its students, with nearly four out of five students earning a Bachelor’s degree in fewer than six years. Students enjoy a very low 4-to-1 faculty-to-student ratio, which ensures quality mentoring. Learning takes place in brand new state-of-the-art active learning classrooms, which foster teamwork and innovation. Outside the classroom, student organization, leadership opportunities, and internships are plentiful, practically guaranteeing a well-rounded education.
Net Price: $15,336
19. University of Florida
The Fisher School of Accounting at the University of Florida strives to produce Bachelor of Science graduates with a strong foundation in accounting practices that will serve them well in the ever-changing business world, as well as in continuing studies in graduate school. Taught by renowned faculty and with ample opportunities for research and internships, this preparation is clearly demonstrated in the university’s outstanding CPA first-time pass rate of 77%, which earns the university the distinction of being in the top 5% of all universities offering the exam nationwide. The University of Florida has also earned the distinction of claiming a 96% freshmen retention rate, and almost as many people (nearly 9 out of 10 students) graduate within six years.
Net Price: $15,157
18. Georgia State University
At Georgia State University’s School of Accountancy, students who earn a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting (BBA) may continue their education in the university’s one-year esteemed MPA program. There, students may specialize in a variety of areas, such as Taxation, Accounting, and Information Systems Audit and Control, after which students may take the CPA exam. The Robinson Career Management Center is available to assist students in acquiring prestigious internships and locating employment opportunities. Students are also encouraged to join on-campus fraternities such as Beta Alpha Psi and the National Association of Black Accountants. Abundant scholarships and awards are available for qualifying students.
Net Price: $15,131
17. University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland
Recently named by the Wall Street Journal’s recruiter survey as the 7th best accounting program in the nation, the Smith School of Accounting at the University of Maryland warrants strong consideration for accountant hopefuls. This program educates students in the many areas of accounting, some of which include budgeting, financial planning and reporting, taxation, and internal and external auditing. With an exceptionally high 84% six-year graduation rate, successful graduates are well prepared to begin exciting careers in management and accounting, working for private business, public accounting firms, government, non-profit agencies, or to continue in academia.
Net Price: $14,941
16. University of Arizona
The four-pronged mission of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona is to provide a high-quality accounting program centered on ethics, diversity, and critical thinking; to conduct significant scholarly research in the field; to promote an atmosphere of collegiality; and to develop mutually valuable relationships in the community. Boasting an average undergraduate GPA of 3.44, students attending this rigorous four-year program often enjoy collaborating with other high-achieving accounting majors. Students may participate in two student-led accounting clubs and have the opportunity to attend a Meet The Firms each semester – a networking event where students get to talk shop with dozens of accounting firms. This event often translates into career opportunities for qualified students and, if invited, a round of on-campus interviews.
Net Price: $14,
15. Towson University
Towson University strives for accounting excellence by offering an accessible education to students, who graduate with the skills to launch successful careers, act as leaders in their communities, and continue to learn and grow in a fast-paced global economy. Faculty members in the Business School (which houses the AACSB International accredited Accounting Department) specialize in all areas of accounting, have extensive experience in the field, and are renowned for their passion in assisting students with prestigious internships and careers post-graduation. Students may also network by participating in student organizations, such as the Towson University Society of Accountancy. Budget-conscious students should also check out the scholarships and awards that can help lower the cost of education.
Net Price: $13,945
14. Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana
The Purdue Krannert School of Management offers accounting students a well-rounded business education, with studies in topics that include marketing, business law, and human resources management. This broad-based education enhances the employability of the program’s graduates, 88% of whom obtain placement in the field within six months of graduating. The Krannert School of Management also offers a five year combined degree program where students may obtain both BS and MBA degrees and be prepared to sit for the CPA exam. Real world learning and networking are also important parts of a Krannert education, and students have plenty of opportunities to partake in internships, participate in clubs and organizations, and enjoy exciting case competitions, where students travel across the nation and abroad to work together to solve real-world business problems.
Net Price: $13,541Score: 614
13. University of Georgia
Terry College of Business educators pride themselves on preparing students for a highly-evolving and competitive job market using a combination of educational and research tools. Students are fully engaged in the classroom as they don’t just discuss theory, but also practice real-world scenarios. This, no doubt, is a huge reason the school has been awarded state and national honors for being the top-ranked public institution in the nation for first-time pass rates on the CPA exam. Additionally, the Career Center boasts an 80% job placement rate within three months after graduation, as reported by its graduates. This success is due to an ideal combination of alumni mentorship activities, career fairs, networking events, and internship programs. Undergraduates also have ample opportunities for on-campus involvement by joining clubs like the Atlas Business Society and Women in Business.
Net Price: $12,862
12. Arizona State University
The many benefits offered by the AACSB-accredited W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University include a plethora of internship opportunities, study abroad programs, and student clubs and organizations. Faculty and mentors stress teamwork and diversity, which is why all first-year students enjoy a weekend at Camp Carey, where they meet their deans and professors and enjoy interactive activities in the great outdoors. Once in the classroom, a low student-to-faculty ratio ensures students work closely with faculty on supervised team projects. The university boasts an excellent job placement rate, with graduates consistently hired by leaders in the industry, such as Ernst and Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Net Price: $12,380
11. Brigham Young University
Accounting students at Brigham Young University are trained in an industry-relevant curriculum that focuses not just on accounting, but also on ethics in business. This dual approach has led companies to consistently and actively seek to employ BYU graduates. Over the last 17 years, BYU has regularly been named as one of the top three accounting programs in the nation, and in 2010 The Wall Street Journal named BYU No. 1. The university’s Honor Code helps train students as ethical, professional accountants by valuing a commitment to personal integrity, while the nationally recognized Junior Core curriculum focuses on competencies valued by accountants actively working in the industry. Lastly, BYU’s unique PhD Prep Program now places more students into accounting PhD programs than any other U.S. university.
Net Price: $12,330
10. North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
The Poole College of Management accounting program has an eye toward the future, focusing on fraud prevention, government regulations, and new accounting reporting models. Faculty stays current with industry trends and contacts in order to offer students the latest, most relevant information in the world of business and finance. Student organizations offer “meet the firm” networking programs, lectures, internships, and a women’s mentorship program so students can develop a professional network before graduation. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree may choose concentrations in Financial Analysis, Information Systems, Managerial Accounting or Internal Audit. The university also offers a Master of Accounting degree, designed to prepare students to take the CPA exam and gain employment in the field.
Net Price: $12,129
9. University of Illinois – Chicago
Students at the University of Illinois – Chicago enjoy a rigorous academic program that prepares them for work in large firms as well as organizations and government agencies worldwide. The university offers core classes in business, as well as various electives, and the required accounting courses include auditing, financial accounting, and corporate reporting. With high grades in the undergraduate accounting program, students can be guaranteed admission to the one-year Master of Science in Accounting program. Completing both degrees prepares students for the Certified Public Accountant exam, and UIC has the highest pass rate in the state. The school also offers opportunities for networking through the Accounting Club and the Beta Alpha Psi fraternity.
Net Price: $11,645
8. College of William and Mary
Accounting majors at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business may specialize in generalized accounting, federal taxation, or tax compliance after studying the fundamental areas of financial reporting and analysis, auditing and internal controls, and strategic cost management. Faculty members include Fulbright Scholars, entrepreneurs, and scholarly researchers, but above all, they are all exceptional teachers dedicated to preparing their students for rewarding, in-demand careers. Priding themselves as leaders in practical global learning, students are offered exciting opportunities to study abroad, participate in international internships, and engage in social entrepreneurship projects. Students may also exercise their leadership potential through organizations like Women in Business, the Wayne F. Gibbs Accounting Society, and the Financial Modeling Club.
Net Price: $11,534
7. Indiana University – Bloomington/Indianapolis
Accounting majors at the highly ranked Kelley School of Business learn the skills necessary to begin a lucrative career with excellent growth potential. Classes are taught by exceptional faculty who have conducted innovative research and who have extensive industry experience. More than 40 student organizations ensure students have ample opportunities to obtain work-related experience, network with professionals, and build relationships with like-minded classmates. This exceptional accounting program primes students for successful employment, with more than 90% of graduates placed within one year of graduation – often with top firms. Not only that, they earn an average salary 12% higher than the industry average!
Net Price: $11,361
6. California State Polytechnic University
The accounting program in the College of Business Administration at “Cal Poly” is designed to enhance student learning with research, integrity, and service. To that end, juniors and seniors who pass requisite IRS exams can volunteer to prepare individual tax returns under faculty who are Certified Public Accountants. And with several high-profile accounting scandals erupting in the past several years, Cal Poly students are held to an Honor Code regarding honesty, appropriate classroom environment, and honorable behavior, among other areas. Whether they choose a career in the public, private or nonprofit sectors, Cal Poly students graduate cognizant of the essential concepts of accounting as well as the technology employed in their field.
Net Price: $10,693
5. Boston University
Although Boston University’s standard tuition rates can be somewhat daunting, the financial aid and scholarships the school offers drives its net price down to a very manageable cost each year. This helps students on a budget afford all the benefits a school like BU provides, such as a highly marketable curriculum, numerous study abroad and internship programs, and more than a dozen accounting-related student organizations. All freshmen are required to take three core business classes, after which students branch out into study of finance, management information systems, statistics, organizational behavior, law, and more. Juniors focus on developing skills in something called the “Cross-Functional Core,” and seniors start to relate their newly acquired knowledge to strategy and policy.
Net Price: $10,575
4. University of Washington
The University of Washington represents an unmatched deal when it comes to undergraduate accounting programs – in addition to being one of the least expensive schools on the list, it is also ranked in the top 5 for quality. It scored well in practically every category we measured, including having a 93% freshmen retention rate, an 82% 6-year graduation rate, an incredibly small 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and a 91 Academic Experience rating from Princeton Review. The Foster School of Business also has some of the highest ranked faculty in the world, connects students with hundreds of coveted internships each year, and offers multiple options for those interested in graduate school, certification, or continuing education.
Net Price: $9,559
3. California State University – Long Beach
Long Beach, California
The Department of Accountancy at CSU Long Beach has dedicated substantial resources to creating a dynamic, responsive program that excels at producing successful students. The school has achieved its goal many times over, and graduates frequently go on to find satisfying careers in public accounting, federal work, NGO’s, and not-for-profits. In addition to developing accounting expertise, students at CSU Long Beach are also encouraged to build superior communication, computer, and research skills as a way to make themselves more marketable in the industry. The school attracts ambitious students, as evidenced by the 3.4 average GPA of those admitted, and nearly 90% of freshmen are so happy with their experience that they return for a second year.
Net Price: $8,169
2. University of Texas – Dallas
UT Dallas offers an attractive Accounting program to undergraduates that efficiently blends theoretical discussion with practical knowledge. Graduate earn recognition not just as accountants, but also as analysts, consultants, and information systems – and finding a job post-graduation is easy thanks to the myriad of jobs available in the business sector around Dallas. The flexible program is AACSB-accredited and provides fast-tracks options for both BS-MS and BS-MBA accelerated degrees. Princeton Review gave UT Dallas an almost unbeatable 97 Academic Experience rating, and the school has numerous student organizations available to those interested in accounting – including the Accounting Leadership Association, a student chapter of the IMA, and Ascend (focused on Pan-Asian finance).
Net Price: $8,064
1. Texas A&M International University
Texas A&M International is a popular choice for undergraduates with a long history of churning out successful graduates. In fact, the university has a freshmen retention rate of an impressive 91%, and a 6-year graduation rate of 79% – a statistic far above average. The university’s A.R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business offers a Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a major in Accounting, as well as concentrations available in areas like Finance and International Economics. Students who have chosen to pursue a degree outside of the School of Business can still benefit from the school’s comprehensive programs by getting a minor in a topic such as Economics, or a certificate in Oil and Gas Accounting. Texas A&M International allows motivated undergrads to take graduate classes and seek out one of hundreds of available internships around Laredo.
Net Price: $6,344
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