Is an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting Worth It?

Is an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting Worth It?

Key Takeaways

  • An online bachelor’s in accounting offers job opportunities in a wide range of business and financial occupations.
  • Graduates with an online bachelor’s in accounting degree can seek careers as bookkeepers, accountants, financial analysts, tax examiners, and auditors.
  • Accounting is one of today’s top 5 most in-demand degrees in the job market.

High school students, adult learners, and working professionals seeking the best career paths may ask if an online accounting bachelor’s degree is worth it, and it’s a valid question, too, considering the rising costs of college education in the United States. In a nutshell, yes, an accounting degree is well worth it!

An online bachelor’s degree in accounting can open opportunities in a wide range of business and financial occupations, from bookkeepers and accountants to financial analysts, tax examiners and auditors. Graduates of online accounting programs can also pursue graduate degrees, with the most common graduate degree being a master’s degree in accounting that can lead to a career as a CPA or Certified Public Accountant.

But we must also emphasize that to make an accounting degree worth the time, effort, and money spent on earning it, you should enroll in a regionally accredited college or university, preferably in an online accounting degree program with programmatic accreditation (e.g., AACSB or ACBSP). The rest, particularly leveraging your accounting degree, gaining relevant experiences through internships and volunteer work, and maximizing your networking opportunities, is up to you!

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Traditional vs. Online Accounting Program

Accounting is one of today’s top 5 most in-demand degrees in the job market. For this reason, it makes sense that a bachelor’s degree in accounting is one of the most popular choices for those who are detail-oriented, love numbers, and solving problems.

With an accounting degree, you can either work as a corporate finance officer, a self-employed accountant, or even work for the government as an analyst or auditor. Today, there are many reputable schools offering a bachelor’s in accounting, delivered online or traditionally.

But what is the difference between an online undergraduate accounting program and an on-campus program?

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Similarities and Differences Between Traditional and Online Bachelor of Accounting Programs

The main similarity between traditional on-campus programs and online programs in accounting is that both will require students to complete the same curriculum to obtain the degree. While the courses and their titles, descriptions, and course requirements differ between on-campus and online accounting programs, the typical curriculum consists of 120 credits.

When you choose a recognized accounting program, an accredited body will require the school to have a curriculum that meets the body’s standards. These standards are set so that students can succeed in landing jobs in the accounting field.

Typical courses in an online accounting degree program include:

  • Accounting Principles
  • General Accounting
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Financial Accounting
  • Forensic accounting
  • Auditing
  • Tax Accounting and Taxation Laws
  • Information Systems

Both online and on-campus students must comply with the academic standards set by their respective accounting degree programs, from attendance in classes, submission of assignments, and completion of projects to compliance with exams and quizzes, among other requirements.

For this reason, graduates with a bachelor’s degree in accounting receive a diploma that doesn’t differentiate between online and on-campus programs (i.e., the diploma doesn’t contain the word “online”). This means accounting graduates with online accounting degrees have the same access to employment and entrepreneurial career paths as their counterparts who earned an in-person degree.

An online accounting program, however, has several significant differences from an on-campus, in-person degree program. For one thing, online learning is emphasized, meaning students can attend classes, participate in discussion forums, and collaborate with their peers from anywhere with a personal computer/smartphone and a stable Internet connection.

Most bachelor’s degree programs have an asynchronous component, too, meaning students can access their learning materials and complete online coursework at their own pace and when it is most convenient for them.. This isn’t usually possible with in-person degree programs where students must attend live classes at set times of the day.

Financial aid options are usually granted to undergraduate students regardless of their choice between an online or a traditional in-person program. However, there may be slight differences in eligibility when it comes to institutional and external scholarships and grants.

Whether you choose an on-campus or online accounting degree program, we cannot overemphasize the importance of choosing regionally accredited colleges and universities! The best accredited online bachelor’s degrees in accounting can start you on the path to a great career with excellent pay.

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Should you enroll in an online undergraduate program in accounting?

For adult re-entry students, the idea of earning an accounting degree while balancing work, family life, and your education at the same time might sound overwhelming. But online bachelor’s degree programs are designed primarily for people in such situations — who can’t find the luxury of time to go to traditional classes on campus.

Online programs are perfect for adult students who need flexibility. You no longer have to worry about attending school at a specified time, and you can even customize your schedule to work around your life and availability. You can complete an online accounting program at your own pace, although there will likely be a maximum time-to-degree, say, seven years after matriculation in classes.

But this is just one of many benefits to consider.

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Benefits of Earning an Online Accounting Degree

A career in accounting has long-term job security, which is particularly important during times of economic uncertainty!

If you’re thinking about enrolling in an online accounting program, here are some benefits to consider:

Extensive Preparation

  • Whether you’re studying for a master’s or bachelor’s degree in accounting, you can expect to gain essential knowledge from your core classes. These classes provide you with the fundamentals of tax law, tax filing, bookkeeping, accounts receivable, and many more.

Transferable Credits

  • Most online universities and colleges today not only offer carefully crafted curriculum, but also various specializations like auditing and business systems, statistics, and marketing. If you enroll in online classes from a reputable and accredited institution, you can easily transfer your credits should you decide to transfer to a different program.


  • One of the best reasons to consider an online degree in accounting is the flexibility it offers. If you’re juggling work and family obligations, it’s easy to set aside your plans of pursuing a degree. The online option can help you achieve your academic goals without needing to sideline other responsibilities.

Cost Effectiveness

  • Online programs can be cheaper on average than their on-campus counterparts. When you’re in an online accounting degree program, you won’t have to spend money on transportation and other incidental expenses. Although you will still invest in some required books, more programs are beginning to offer more online textbook options.
Below, we answer some of the most common questions asked by students planning on earning an accounting degree and pursuing an accounting career.

What is a bachelor’s degree in accounting?

The bachelor’s degree in accounting is a popular four-year undergraduate degree where you’ll study financial forecasting, budget analysis, cost estimation, and more.

You will also study subjects like tax law, financial reporting, and accounting ethics. All of the best colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Admission into online accounting programs can be just as selective as in-person accounting programs! Applicants must meet minimum admission requirements to be considered for admission. The typical requirements include a high school diploma for first-year students or an associate degree for applicants to a degree completion program, official transcripts of records with satisfactory GPA, and letters of recommendation.

What is an online bachelor’s degree in accounting?

An online bachelor’s degree in accounting is a four-year undergraduate degree that you can earn through online classes. Some online bachelor’s degrees are fully online.

Other online bachelor’s degrees are hybrid. Hybrid means some classes are online and some are in person. You will study the same topics in an online bachelor’s degree program as you would in person. Online bachelor’s degrees in accounting also require the same number of credits.

You may even have the same instructors for your online degree that you would have in person. The biggest difference between the in-person and online bachelor’s degrees is the convenience and flexibility of online courses.

What can I do with an online bachelor’s degree in accounting?

You can get a job as an auditor, budget analyst, financial advisor, and more with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. You can also use an online bachelor’s degree in accounting to get into a graduate school.

Earning an advanced degree in accounting can help you become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). An online bachelor’s degree in accounting can help you get started.

Some other careers for online bachelor’s degrees in accounting include education, business management, and financial consulting. Your online bachelor’s degree in accounting can lead to all the same careers as an in-person bachelor’s degree in accounting.

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What does a job in accounting pay?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual salary for accountants and auditors was $78,000 (May 2022). Indeed, the higher-than-average annual salary makes an accounting degree worth it! Of course, the annual compensation package, including benefits, will vary depending on your geographical location, type of industry and company, and your position or title.

As a rule of thumb, professionals in the finance and insurance industries and the management of companies receive higher compensation. You may also consider employment or entrepreneurship in accounting, bookkeeping, and taxation services that pay well, too, as well as government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

While there are peak seasons that require longer working hours for accountants, financial managers, auditors, such as during the tax season and audits, these are nine-to-five jobs that allow for a good work-life balance. Indeed, an accounting career means being able to earn good money while also enjoying the good things in life!

Is it cheaper to get an accounting degree online?

It can be cheaper to get an accounting degree online if you go to a public school in your state.

Colleges and universities have tuition discounts for in-state students. Online students get these same in-state discounts. It will be cheaper to get your online bachelor’s degree in accounting from a public school in your state. Your tuition for the online degree will be the same, or slightly more, than the tuition for an in-person degree.

But you will save on expenses like housing, transportation, and certain campus fees. Your online bachelor’s degree in accounting will be cheaper if you get an in-state discount and save on these expenses.

Are online accounting degrees respected?

Online accounting degrees are respected as long as they come from good schools. Employers respect online accounting degrees from accredited colleges and universities. Accreditation is very important.

Accreditation means your degree comes from a school that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. There are two kinds of schoolwide accreditation—national accreditation and regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is better than national accreditation.

Program accreditation is also important in accounting. An online degree in accounting should be accredited by either the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

An AACSB or ACBSP accredited online accounting degree from a regionally accredited college or university will be respected by employers. Check out the best online bachelor’s degrees in accounting to make sure you are getting a respected online accounting degree.

Now that you know that an online bachelor’s degree in accounting is worth it, take a deeper dive into your career prospects as an account in our article What Jobs Can I Get With an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting?.

For a nuts and bolts look at earning a degree, check out our article How to Get an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting.

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Student Submitted Questions on if an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting is Worth It

Tim asks, “What is the average time it takes for graduates of online bachelor’s degrees in accounting to find a job in their field?”

Dr. Jed Macosko’s answer: Typically, graduates will secure employment within three to six months of graduating, but this will depend on a variety of factors such as the reputation of the school the student went to, the student’s effort in finding a job, the job market, and networking opportunities provided by the institution. I would look into the career services offered by your school to see what is available to you.

Annika asks, “How are virtual internships arranged, and what support is provided to secure them?”

Dr. James Barham’s answer: Virtual internships typically come about through a combination of university resources and partnerships with businesses. I would ask the program you are interested in what their partnerships are and how they go about putting students in contact with these businesses. There might be some institutions or programs that require students to find internship connections themselves. However, they should at least provide students with some guidance on how to go about that process.

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