10 Top Best Accounting Degree Programs Universities.
Accounting is one of those professions where your school’s reputation really matters. As you weigh your education options, you need to know which schools your future prospective employers think highly of when it comes to recruiting.
Our list of the top 10 accounting degree programs draws from national rankings, achievements and reputations to present you with everything you need to know about the best accounting schools in the United States. The list includes public schools to private schools, institutions with various religious affiliations, and schools at every price point from $5,000 to $50,000 per year. Each of these colleges and universities is accredited and highly accomplished, so the real question is, which school is right for you?
1. University of Texas–Austin
One of the largest universities in the United States holds the distinction of being the nation’s best accounting school, according to U.S. News & World Report. The University of Texas at Austin is a public institution that has repeatedly earned recognition from publications like Forbes and Kiplinger for providing a great education at a great value – especially for in-state students. It’s held the top spot on U.S. News & World Report’s undergraduate accounting programs list for seven years now.
Not only are UT’s accounting programs ranked the best in the nation at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, but its undergraduate and graduate business programs as a whole earned high marks, too. The accounting department at the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business offers degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. levels.
The typical undergraduate degree is the Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting degree. Through a minimum of 21 credits of accounting coursework, this program prepares students for work in the private sector or with government agencies. Students in this program take undergraduate accounting classes in accounting foundations and fundamentals, managerial and financial accounting, financial statement analysis, auditing, taxation and accounting career options. They can also conduct independent research and gain hands-on experience through practicum and internship opportunities. The school also offers a finance degree program that includes an emphasis in accounting, with both corporate and financial institution tracks available. Beyond the undergraduate degree, students can pursue a Master in Professional Accounting (MPA) degree or a Ph.D.
Location: Austin, TX
Enrollment: 39,523 undergraduate students
Tuition: $10,738 in-state or $38,126 out-of-state
2. University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign
University of Illinois
Another public institution, the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, takes the second-in-the-nation spot on U.S. News & World Report’s rankings, and on our top 10 list. The College of Business at the University of Illinois offers four accounting degrees at various levels of study:
The Bachelor of Science in Accountancy
The Master of Accounting Science
The Master of Science in Accountancy
The Master of Science in Tax (Chicago-based)
The Ph.D. in Accountancy
All programs offered under the University of Illinois Department of Accountancy emphasize a number of factors, such as:
Active learning methods
Accounting classes that work in conjunction with general education coursework
Broad-based introductory courses
Integrated conceptual framework
Up-to-date research findings
Soft skills like communication and interpersonal skills
The real-world experience to put all of this knowledge into practice
The four-year Bachelor of Science in Accountancy program includes coursework in subjects such as:
Accounting measurement and disclosure
Accounting control systems
Accounting institutions and regulations
Assurance and attestation
The principles of taxation
Advanced financial reporting
Advanced income tax problems.
For students who aspire to take the certified public accountant (CPA) exam, the one-year Master of Accounting Science (MAS) program provides the required fifth year of study and expands students’ foundational accounting knowledge. MAS students can choose a concentration to pursue in detail, such as finance, taxation, supply chain management, business and public policy, corporate governance and information technology.
Location: Champaign, IL
Enrollment: 32,579 undergraduate students
Tuition: $15,636 in-state or $30,796 out-of-state
3. Brigham Young University–Provo
The school that ranks third on U.S. News & World Report’s undergraduate accounting rankings list also happens to be the most affordable of the top 10 schools. Brigham Young University at Provo is a private, religious institution. The school’s affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its strict honor code mean it’s not the right fit for every student. However, an annual tuition rate of just $5,150 for members of the Mormon Church and $10,300 for non-members makes the university a great value.
The BS Accountancy program at Brigham Young University is part of the Marriott School of Management and, more narrowly, the School of Accountancy. Students in the undergraduate accounting program take courses in accounting, business, management and economics, such as:
Principles of Accounting
Cost and managerial accounting
Fundamentals of taxation
Financial statement auditing
Business and accounting information systems
Business law in the environment
Supply chain and operations
Communication in organizational settings
Management information systems
Ethics for management
Economic principles and problems
For graduate students, Brigham Young University also offers a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program. Students of this program can choose from a variety of emphasis options, including Professional Stem or Tax Stem, an Accounting Information Systems track, a Ph.D. prep program and a dual degree option that awards a Juris Doctor (law school degree) along with the MAcc.
Location: Provo, UT
Enrollment: 26,674 undergraduate students
Tuition: $5,150 for members of the Mormon Church or $10,300 for non-members
4. University of Notre Dame
Another private, religious institution with a top-ranked accounting program is the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. The school, tied for fourth place on U.S. News & World Report’s undergraduate accounting programs list, is known for its Catholic affiliation and “Fighting Irish” sports teams, particularly football. Bloomberg Businessweek has repeatedly ranked the University of Notre Dame’s undergraduate business program the best in the nation.
Accountancy is one of five majors offered by Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and one of 65 total undergraduate majors. Accounting students take introductory through advanced courses in accounting, including classes like:
Accounting measurement and disclosure
Audit and assurance services
Corporate financial reporting
Ethics in accounting
Strategic cost management
A unique Decision Processes in Accounting course helps students develop their problem-solving skills. Students also attain hands-on work experience preparing tax returns as part of the school’s Tax Assistance Program for low-income individuals. Besides the technical, analytical and business skills necessary for accounting success, the accountancy program at Notre Dame also emphasizes soft skills necessary for success, including communication, teamwork and professional responsibility. Despite it being a four-year program, the majority of Notre Dame undergraduate accounting students are able to strategically use “AP credits and overloads” to meet the 150 semester hours requirement to attain a CPA license without having to spend another year in school.
If you begin your education at Notre Dame, chances are good that you’ll want to stay their throughout your studies. The school has a 98 percent freshman retention rate, U.S. News reported, which means very few students transfer to another school or drop out. The University of Notre Dame also had one of the best six-year graduation rates of all schools on the list, with 96 percent of students attaining their degrees.
Location: Notre Dame, IN
Enrollment: 8,448 undergraduate students
Tuition and fees: $47,929
5. University of Pennsylvania
Tied with Notre Dame for fourth place on U.S. News & World Report’s accounting rankings list is the University of Pennsylvania. This Philadelphia-based Ivy League school known for its famous founder, Benjamin Franklin, is another institution with extraordinarily high freshman retention and six-year graduation rates – 98 and 96 percent respectively.
Accounting studies at the University of Pennsylvania fall within the territory of the Wharton School, which happens to be the first collegiate business school in the world. Students at the Wharton School graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Economics degree. Instead of “majors,” students pursue “concentrations” within that broader economics program, which they usually don’t declare until the end of their sophomore years of study. Students in the accounting concentration complete coursework in subjects such as:
Taxes and tax planning
Accounting for mergers and acquisitions
Accounting for decision-making and control
If this school sounds like the right choice for you, make sure your application shines. The University of Pennsylvania happens to be the most selective school in the top 10 accounting programs list, accepting just 10.4 percent of applicants. This selectivity allows the school to have a faculty to student ration of just five to one, which translates to personal attention and small class sizes for non-lecture hall courses.
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Enrollment: 10,406 undergraduate students
Tuition and fees: $49,536
6. University of Southern California
The University of Southern California (USC), sixth on U.S. News & World Report’s undergraduate accounting programs list, is another school with a high freshman retention rate – 97 percent. Accounting students at the private research university are part of the Leventhal School of Accounting, itself part of the Marshall School of Business. The curriculum emphasizes technical proficiency, real-world style teamwork and communication, critical-thinking and analytical skills. Students can learn about global business practices both in the classroom and, if desired, through study abroad opportunities.
For ambitious students who already know they want to go to grad school, USC’s Progressive Master’s Degree program allows undergraduate students to get a head start on earning advanced degrees. In a total of five years, they can graduate with both their bachelor’s degree in accounting and either a Master of Accounting (MAcc) degree or a Master of Business Taxation (MBT) degree.
Besides its top-notch accounting program and its status as top national university, most innovative school and best value school, USC is known for its extracurricular activities. More than 3,500 students take part in Greek life in one of the 60+ fraternity and sorority chapters. All told, the school boasts more than 700 student organizations of various kinds, so there’s something for every student and every interest.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Enrollment: 19,000 undergraduate students
7. Indiana University–Bloomington
In spite of the odds, Indiana schools actually snagged two spots on the top 10 list. The Indiana University at Bloomington placed seventh on U.S. News and World Report’s rankings. With in-state tuition at just $10,388 a year, the school is an especially great value for Indiana residents.
Indiana University is home to more than 550 degree programs at every level from bachelor’s to doctoral. All of the university’s five accounting programs – the B.S., M.S., M.B.A., M.P.A. and D.B.A. degrees – are part of IU’s Kelley School of Business. At the heart of a business education at Indiana University is the Integrative Core (I-Core), a group of four courses taken over the course of one semester that emphasize the interrelated aspects of business, real-world decision-making and intensive teamwork experiences. Accounting students, in particular, will take introductory through advanced classes in subjects such as:
Foundations of accounting
Management decisions and financial reporting
Tax analysis and decision making
Accounting information systems
Auditing & assurance services
Research in accounting and auditing
Communication for accountants
If the Indiana University accounting curriculum sounds like the right choice for you, there’s good news. This university had the highest acceptance rate of any school in the undergraduate accounting top 10, admitting 76.1 percent of applicants.
Location: Bloomington, IN
Enrollment: 38,364 undergraduate students
Tuition: $10,388 in-state and $33,740 out-of-state
8. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
Eighth on the U.S. News & World Report undergraduate accounting rankings is another school with an extraordinary record of retaining its freshmen students. The University of Michigan has been around since 1817. In addition to being ranked among the top public schools and the most innovative schools, the university prides itself on small class sizes, with a 15-to-1 faculty to student ration and fewer than 50 students in 84 percent of undergraduate classes.
Undergraduate accounting students at the University of Michigan will graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree from the Ross School of Business. However, core courses in accounting concepts and financial and managerial accounting provide students with a strong background. Students can then choose to use their elective courses to delve deeper into specific tracks like public accounting, consulting, finance and general management.
As if the highly-ranked academics aren’t enough of a reason to consider the University of Michigan, students are also drawn to what’s outside the classroom. The school is home to upwards of 1,000 research opportunities for students in various fields. There are also 60 sororities and fraternities and more than 1,400 total organizations on campus for students to take part in. Then there’s the location. Ann Arbor is “one of the best college towns in the country,” according to U.S. News & World Report.
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Enrollment: 27,027 undergraduate students
Tuition: $13,856 to $15,602 in-state and $43,476 to $46,528 out-of-state
9. New York University
Ninth in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s undergrad accounting list is New York University, the largest private college in the country. Located in the heart of the Manhattan, the school gives students a taste of what it’s like to live and learn in a bustling city like the Big Apple.
NYU’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business houses its undergraduate accounting program. Students in this program choose either a general accounting track or a CPA track. Students who complete the CPA track meet all education requirements necessary to sit for the CPA examination in New York.
Regardless of which track they pursue, undergrad accounting students at NYU take fundamental and advanced coursework in subjects such as:
Accounting for mergers and acquisitions
Accounting students at NYU often choose to double major or co-major in related fields like finance and information systems. Graduates of the NYU undergraduate accounting program find work in the public and private sectors, including with the “Big 4” accounting firms Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young LLP, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Location: New York, NY
Enrollment: 24,985 undergraduate students
10. University of Florida
Rounding out the top 10 undergraduate accounting programs in the nation is the University of Florida. Besides being the oldest university in the state, the school is also known for its size. The 2,000 campus houses more than 900 buildings, 170 of which contain classrooms and laboratories. With an in-state tuition of just $6,310, this school is a particularly great value for Florida residents.
Accounting is one of more than 100 undergraduate majors available to University of Florida students. The Fisher School of Accounting, which hosts the undergraduate program as well as four graduate-level options of study, is part of the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business. After four years of study, students will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting (BSAc) degree. They will take a combination of accounting, business core, general education and elective courses.
Required business core classes include coursework in subjects like:
Supply chain management
Statistics for business decisions
The legal environment of business
Classes required for the accounting major include:
Business processes and accounting information systems
Students who want to attain a graduate education can speed up the process of earning their degree with the University of Florida’s “3/2 Program.” This program allows students to begin their graduate studies early and earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in just five years. Students in the 3/2 Program can choose from auditing, taxation and generalist accounting tracks as they pursue their Master of Accounting (MAcc) degree.
Location: Gainesville, FL
Enrollment: 33,720 undergraduate students
Tuition and fees: $6,310 in-state and $28,588 out-of-state