Best Undergraduate Accounting Colleges

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While most students don’t envision accounting as the one of the more glamorous professions, a degree in accounting from a good college can lead to many career opportunities – many of which students would never imagine. Accounting is, in many regards, the language of business. Every business, organization, entity, and agency that uses or spends money (which is just about all of them) relyings on accounting. Accountants are so vital because they manage, allocate and organize the use of money – the life blood of most organizations. Accountants work in more industries, more areas and more capacities than any other profession. Consulting companies, tax firms, international firms, etc., etc., etc. are always looking for accountants who have the experience, education and credentials that show they understand accounting.

Job prospects always have been, and likely always will be, good for accountants. According to a report produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics job opportunities for accountants and auditors are predicted to grow by over 20% over the next decade. Not only a job opportunities plentiful for accounting majors, career advancement opportunities are unparalleled. Experienced accountants, who earn a degree and their CPA designation, often go on to work in upper-management positions, including consultant, countroller, CFO, partner, or even CEO.

2013 Composite Rankings for Undergraduate Accounting Schools

Rank   Name
1 Brigham Young University
2 University of Texas – Austin
3 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
4 Pennsylvania State University
5 University of Michigan
6 University of California Berkeley
7 University of Maryland
8 University of California at Los Angeles
9 New York University
10 Ohio State University

* College rankings based on editor generated composite of major ranking indices.

How to Select an Accounting School

Although accounting is a pretty objective field of study, and most accounting programs address similar topics, there are still several things to consider when selecting an accounting school to attend. These include the following:

  • Accreditation – Is the school accredited? This is the first thing you want to look for in an accounting school. The main accrediting body for accounting and business programs is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The AACSB also offers accreditation specifically for accounting programs. In order for an institution to apply for AACSB Accounting Accreditation, they must already hold business accreditation through the AACSB or apply simultaneously for both business and accounting accreditation. The Accounting Accreditation process for schools involves a rigorous peer-review process and meet several eligibility requirements.
  • Rankings – Is the program nationally ranked by major college ranking indices? While rankings should not be used as an absolute indicator of value, they are useful as a starting point when you’re trying to indentify good colleges. Most rankings incorporate a set of criteria (e.g. quality of professors, graduation rate, average starting salary, etc.) that provide a good measure of the overall quality of a program. In addition, many top accounting firms, consulting companies and corporate recruit accountants from the top ranking accounting programs. However, rankings should not be interpretted as an absolute indicator of quality. There are many high quality and reputable accounting programs that, for some reason or another, didn’t make it on the “top 10″ list you might find when searching online for top accounting programs.
  • Value – Something you’ll want to take a good look at is the overall value of the accounting programs you’re considering. You’ll want to consider how much your degree is going to cost you and what type of job prospects you can expect to have once you’ve finished your degree. Earning your accounting degree at Harvard University may seem prestigious, but you just might get a much better value earning your degree at Brigham Young University (BYU). Not only is BYU’s program much less expensive, many of the top accounting, tax, auditing and consulting firms recruit from BYU’s undergraduate accounting program.
  • Faculty – An accounting program isn’t just numbers, formulas and methodologies. It’s people teaching people. The quality of an accounting program is a reflection of the quality of its faculty and professors. A good accounting professor knows how to simplify comnplex ideas and concepts into understanding bite size pieces that student can understand, assimilate and use. And let’s not kid ourselve, accounting isn’t always the most stimulate subject to study – but an experienced professor can make studying accounting enjoyable, engaging, fun, even entertaining. If you’re going to spend four years studying accounting, having good faculty and accounting professors can make all the difference in the world when it comes to the overall quality of your educational experience.

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