If you would like to earn your degree by completing an online accounting program, comparing the well-known options is key. With a growing demand for highly educated accountants, more and more online colleges are offering majors in accounting for undergraduate and graduate students. Since not all colleges and programs are created equal, you will need to start doing your research to find the one that is best for your budget and your future. Read this guide to understand the areas you should evaluate  as you compare schools.

Resource: Top 10 Best Online Accounting Degree Programs

Find a Program that is Accredited

Accreditation is crucial whenever you are earning a professional degree. When you are studying online, it is especially important to focus on researching the council that grants accreditation. This is true even when the school’s website shows that the school is accredited with a seal that looks authentic.

It is possible for schools to claim to be accredited but to actually hold a seal from an agency they started on their own. This is why you should stick with schools that are accredited by bodies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The most recognized council that is in charge of programmatic accreditation of business and accounting programs is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. You can easily search for programs with active accreditation credentials by visiting the AACSB search tool.

Scheduling Options and Academic Concentration

Once you have found the schools that are accredited, you will have a reliable basis to work with. You will then need to sift through this list by choosing the school that offers an academic concentration area in the branch of accounting you would like to work in. This might not be necessary if you are pursuing a general degree. After doing this, you can narrow the list down even more by checking into scheduling and flexibility. Most online coursework can be completed any time of the day, but see if part-time enrollments or taking classes over breaks is an option.

Quality of Faculty and Support Services

All too often, prospective students fail to research the faculty who teach at the institution they will be studying at. Since your performance in school is highly dependent on the faculty, it is important that you review their profiles and backgrounds. You can even visit sites that rate professors at every school in the nation to see what other students have to say. Sometimes, what you learn about the faculty or the support services offered can be enough to push you in a new direction.

Reputation and Price

While the two do not go hand-in-hand, they are equally as important to students. Students want to use their degrees when they graduate and this is why much focus is placed on the school’s reputation. They also do not want to dig themselves into loads of debt to earn a degree that they will use to make a living. This is why you need to take a look at how online degrees are perceived by hiring managers in accounting firms, and stick with programs that recruiters trust.

If you go down the list and use each of these factors as a guide, you should have no problem finding the right program to earn your certificate, Associate’s, Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Weigh the pros and cons of each online accounting program and use the knowledge you have attained to make the best decision.