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Accelerated Accounting Programs

FAQs, Resources & Tips for Finding Best Fast-Track Programs

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Working with numbers can open the door to a wide variety of career choices. Degree seekers who want a fulfilling career providing valuable financial analysis and management will be excited to learn more about a degree in accounting. Cast away the tired image of the stiff number cruncher, and consider a career that can offer great pay, job security, and flexibility. Work with investors, managers, creditors, tax payers, and others who will rely on the valuable skills and knowledge attained through an accelerated accounting program.

FAQ's About Accelerated Accounting Programs

Q: How quickly can I obtain my degree in an accelerated accounting program?

A: It depends on the type of degree you want to attain. For a bachelor’s degree, expect most accelerated programs to require at least two years for completion. Some programs may be shorter, but those require a substantial load of transfer credits for enrollment. For a master’s degree, there are some programs that can be completed in a timeframe ranging from a year and a half to as little as eight months, depending on your coursework history. With any program, it is important to consider how much time you have available to commit to your studies. A shorter time frame usually translates into more intensive coursework, so you will need to account for factors such as a work schedule or family obligations as you search for a proper fit.

Q: What is the average cost for a program?

A: Tuition can range anywhere from $7,000 to upwards of $40,000 per year of study. For a bachelor’s degree program, the cost is typically higher because there is usually a larger credit requirement. There are some accelerated programs that offer a “BS to MS” option, where students can obtain their master’s degrees by completing just 30–32 graduate level credits above the standard 120 baccalaureate credit threshold. For each program of interest, be sure to investigate the school’s transfer credit policy, and whether there are any options to obtain credit from demonstrated knowledge through work or life experience. These features can translate into substantial savings on the financial path to a degree.

Q: Will a degree in accounting make me fully qualified to become a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA?

A: While a degree is key, each state sets its own additional requirements for licensure as a CPA. It is common practice to require at least 150 credit hours as a prerequisite to sitting for the Unified Certified Public Accountant Examination, in addition to specific credit requirements in accounting courses delineated by each state. Check this detailed list of U.S. state and territory requirements compiled by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Q: If I enroll in an accelerated online accounting program, am I still eligible for federal financial aid?

A: Yes, but only if you attend a school that is fully accredited by a recognized credentialing institution. Most programs post information about their accreditation status on their websites, but you can also search for a program at the federal government’s College Navigator website at https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/.

Q: With an accelerated program, will I have any opportunities to specialize my degree?

A: Yes, there are some programs that offer opportunities to specialize your degree, though they are more commonly offered by master’s degree programs. Examples of concentration pathways include internal auditing and risk advisory services, information systems’ audit and control, enterprise risk management, controllership, forensic accounting and fraud examination.

Q: What kind of degree can I get from an accelerated accounting program?

A: There are accelerated accounting programs that offer degrees at both the bachelor’s and the master’s level. Some programs offer a “BS to MS” pathway, where students can attain a Master of Science by completing an additional 30 credit hours of coursework above the typical 120-hour threshold required for a baccalaureate degree.

Q: How are accelerated programs able to offer a degree more quickly than others that are typically paced?

A: Accelerated programs offer a faster pace primarily by compressing the typical 16-week college course into a timeframe ranging from 12 to as little as eight weeks. Because they are online, accelerated programs can also give students the ability to start courses at a time of their choosing, without having to wait for the typical start times of fall, spring, and summer semesters in traditionally-structured schools. Lastly, accelerated programs often offer students the ability to transfer substantial amounts of credit or obtain credit through work experience, while some schools require an associate degree as a precondition for enrollment.

Q: Can I enroll in an accelerated accounting program if I don’t have a background in this field?

A: For an accelerated program, it can be difficult. Plan on an associate degree being a basic requirement, and then thoroughly research which lower division courses are required for enrollment with the program. Students with an educational background in business or management may have a better chance, but for those without any background in accounting or associated fields, expect to have a large overall course load.

Q: How much can I expect to earn in my career with a degree in accounting?

A: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for an accountant or auditor is $69,350 per year, with a faster-than-average job growth projection of 10 percent overall through the year 2026.

Q: Aside from being an accountant, are there any other careers I can pursue with a degree in accounting?

A: In addition to accountant, there are many job options for people with degrees in accounting. People with bachelor’s degrees in accounting are eligible for jobs including budget analyst, cost estimator, financial analyst, and financial advisor. For people with master’s degrees and applicable work experience, potential jobs include compliance manager, internal auditor, controller, and chief financial officer, or CFO.

Example Accelerated Courses

The course of study required to attain a degree in accounting typically begins with foundational principles in accounting, covering topics such as law and ethics, revenue and expenses, inventory, assets, and the various types of business transactions. For accelerated programs, they may require incoming students to already have this coursework background as a condition for enrollment. As students enter their upper level courses, they focus in depth on areas of study including cost accounting, taxes, auditing, economics, and management. Many master’s degree programs offer courses unique to a specialization pathway, such as risk analysis, forensic accounting, certified public accountant, CPA, or with accounting as a major under a Master of Business Administration, MBA. See below for an example list of several required courses.

Intermediate Financial Accounting I

Provides an overview of the accounting conceptual framework and accounting principles. Students learn about accounting issues related to revenue, expenses, inventory, receivables, tangible and intangible assets. Supports general career paths associated with an accounting degree.

Managerial Accounting Theory and Practice

A lower division survey course in basic managerial accounting principles. Topics include cost behaviors, production cost methods, data processing, economic analysis, budgeting, and management and financial control. Supports general career paths associated with an accounting degree.

Income Tax I

Upper division course that covers principles of federal taxation as it applies to individuals and property transactions. Supports general career paths associated with an accounting degree.

Strategic Management

Upper division course covering objectives, strategy, and policies pertaining to a total organization. Students learn about problem-solving and the relationship between the functional areas of an organization. Supports career paths in business and management as associated with accounting.

Internal Auditing

Upper division course covering in detail the duties and responsibilities of the internal auditor. Students learn about topics including the organization of the internal audit department, long- and short-range audit plans, and the elements of internal auditing such as the preliminary survey, audit programs, fieldwork activities, reporting and management review. Supports a career path in auditing.

Scholarships & Resources for Accelerated Accounting Programs

Many schools offer scholarship opportunities directly. Be sure to check each program for scholarship and financial aid information. Below is a list of general scholarships available to students in the field of accounting.

AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship

Funded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, AICPA, the John L. Carey Scholarship awards $5,000 to liberal arts and non-business degree holders who are pursuing both graduate studies in accounting and the CPA licensure. Additional eligibility requirements apply.

AICPA Accountemps Student Scholarship Award

Awards $10,000 to provide financial assistance to outstanding accounting students who demonstrate potential to become leaders in the CPA profession.

AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students

Awards up to $5,000 to outstanding minority students who are planning to major in accounting or a related field. Applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.0 in addition to other eligibility criteria.

AICPA Foundation Two-Year Transfer Scholarship Award

Awards $5,000 to students looking to transfer from a two-year college to a four-year institution to complete their degree in accounting or an accounting-related field. Applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.0 in addition to other eligibility criteria.

Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance Scholarships

The Foundation of the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance, AFWA, offers annual scholarships to outstanding women scholars seeking either their undergraduate or graduate degree in accounting or finance. There are scholarships available to AFWA members only as well as the general public.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Maintained by the organization that develops, administers, and scores the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, this site provides an extensive array of resources for prospective and current students, including information on how to become a CPA, current research and publications in the field of accounting, and learning opportunities at AICPA events and conferences.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accounting & Auditor Occupational Handbook

Provides the most current statistics including annual median pay, job growth projection, and state and regional data pertaining to the occupations of accountant and auditor. Also provides information on related occupations and career fields.

American Accounting Association

Maintained by the American Accounting Association, billed as the “premier community of accountants in academia.” Like the AICPA, this site provides a range of resources including scholarly research, news in the field, and career information. Membership with the association comes with associated benefits and opportunities, open both for academics and the general public.

Accountingfly

A comprehensive resource for job seekers, Accountingfly “connects you with cloud accounting jobs, remote accounting jobs, and hybrid jobs at the best employers in the industry, not to mention traditional jobs at respected public accounting firms.” Job opportunities are open to remote, contractor/per-diem, in-office, and part-time financial staff.