How to get a bachelor’s degree in accounting – Forbes Advisor

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The ideal accounting student loves numbers and puzzles, and they have a keen eye for detail and a keen sense of organization. If that sounds like you, a bachelor’s degree in accounting could help build your strengths in an accounting career.

With this practical degree, you can pursue a variety of accounting and finance jobs or progress to a master’s degree program. A bachelor’s degree in accounting is also the first step towards becoming a certified public accountant.

If you’re wondering how to become an accountant, read on to learn more about undergraduate accounting programs and what they entail.

What is a Bachelor in Accounting?

A bachelor’s degree in accounting is a four-year degree that teaches the basic skills required for entry-level jobs in the field. This degree also lays the foundation for a master’s program in accounting or an MBA.

Undergraduate accounting students develop practical accounting skills and knowledge in a broad business context. They learn how the field of accounting intersects with other business disciplines such as finance and management.


Accounting degree programs cover industry practices such as financial accounting, cost accounting, and management accounting. Students learn to navigate accounting information systems and use industry standard software. They also explore potential areas of specialization through courses in subjects such as auditing and taxation.

Coursework for a bachelor’s degree in accounting typically includes a healthy dose of business and math. Courses in algebra, calculus, and statistics help build strong math skills to support a numbers-focused accounting career. Accounting programs may offer business law and ethics as stand-alone courses, or these topics may be integrated into other core courses.

In addition to majors and electives, bachelor’s degree programs in accounting typically involve general education courses, which may include writing courses and courses in the arts, humanities, and sciences.


Some schools offer accounting as a standalone major, while others include it as a concentration in a bachelor of business administration degree. A school may offer its Bachelor of Accounting programs in person, online, or in a hybrid format.

Bachelor’s programs usually consist of around 120 semester hours. The Chartered Accountant (CPA) license in most U.S. states requires 150 hours of training per semester, so some institutions offer combined five-year bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in accounting to meet these requirements. CPA.

Bachelor of Accounting Admission Requirements

College admission requirements for most bachelor’s degree programs, including accounting, include a high school diploma or GED certificate and transcripts showing a minimum GPA, usually between 2.5 and 3. 0.

If you have a lower high school GPA, starting at a community college can help boost your grades to meet four-year college admissions standards. Community college courses also allow you to take general education and lower level courses at a relatively low tuition rate.

Along with transcripts from high school and/or previous colleges, application materials typically include a personal essay, letters of recommendation, a list of extracurricular activities, and an application fee.

Applicants may also need to submit ACT or SAT scores, although many higher education institutions are moving to optional or blind testing admissions policies.

Common courses for a bachelor’s degree in accounting

Accounting degree programs vary by school, but here are some key courses common to most accounting programs.

Financial Accounting

A fundamental accounting subfield, financial accounting focuses on how accountants record, analyze, and report business transactions. Students in this class examine the accounting cycle and learn how to prepare financial statements and disclosures in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

Learners also explore how to communicate financial information to various stakeholders. This course may also cover business ethics and professional responsibility.

Audit principles

Auditing is an accounting discipline that deals with the review of financial records for accuracy and compliance. This course covers the procedures, standards and frameworks involved in preparing for and performing an audit. Students learn how to plan an audit, assess risks, collect evidence and communicate results.

Most people in the field of accounting and finance have to deal with audits at some point in their career, whether they are auditing or being audited. For this reason, auditing is a key skill for future accounting professionals.


Many accounting professionals prepare tax returns for individuals and businesses. This course covers tax laws, concepts, policies and strategies. The program can focus on individual taxation, or it can also cover different types of tax entities like sole proprietorships, partnerships and corporations.

Students learn about tax reporting, tax planning, and the potential tax consequences of financial decisions. They gain skills in researching complex tax issues and communicating with stakeholders. Some courses include hands-on tax preparation.

Careers for Bachelor of Accounting Graduates

So what can you do with an accounting degree? A bachelor’s degree in accounting can help you qualify for a variety of finance and accounting careers. Let’s explore some popular options.

Accountant or Auditor

Median annual salary: $77,250
Projected job growth (2021-2031): +6%
Job description: Accountants keep financial records, prepare financial statements and prepare tax returns for businesses and individuals. They work for corporations, nonprofits, government entities, and accounting firms. An accountant may specialize in an accounting subfield, such as management accounting, or in a particular industry, such as government, healthcare, or banking.

What does an auditor do? There are different types of auditors, including internal and external. Both focus on reviewing financial records and identifying discrepancies, risks, fraud and non-compliance. An internal auditor works for the organization he is auditing and external auditors work for outside organizations. Auditors may specialize in areas such as risk management and insurance.

Budget Analyst

Median annual salary: $79,940
Projected job growth (2021-2031): +3%
Job description: Budget analysts can work for public or private entities. They work with managers to analyze departmental budget plans and determine the costs and benefits of various programs and projects. Based on this information, budget analysts can help develop organizational budgets.

The duties of budget analysts include preparing budget reports, tracking expenditures and making budget recommendations. Analysts in government positions can also give their opinion on policy considerations and legislation.

Tax examiner or collector, or tax agent

Median annual salary: $56,780
Projected job growth (2021-2031): -seven%
Job description: These professionals work for federal, state and local governments ensuring that individuals and businesses pay the correct amount of taxes. Depending on the level of government in which they work, these tax experts may focus on income tax, sales tax, or property tax.

Tax examiners assess individual and small business tax returns to ensure they are accurate and complete. Revenue officers pursue a similar goal, but focus on complex tax matters involving large businesses and corporations. Finally, tax collectors investigate and settle outstanding tax payments.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Bachelors in Accounting

Which is better: BA or BS in Accounting?

It depends on your goals. A BS program usually focuses more on math and science, which can benefit aspiring accountants. A BA includes more liberal arts courses and electives, making it a good choice for students considering a double major or planning to pursue a master’s degree in accounting.

Is a bachelor’s degree in accounting worth it?

Many graduates would say yes. If you’re looking for a career in accounting, a bachelor’s degree in the field can prepare you for landing a junior job or applying for a master’s degree program. A bachelor’s degree in accounting can also help you qualify for a CPA license.

Which degree is best for accounting?

To qualify for most accounting jobs, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, either a BS or BA in accounting, or a Bachelor of Commerce with a concentration in accounting. For higher-level positions, employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree in accounting or an MBA.

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