An online associate’s in accounting degree is a great start for almost any individual interested in the field. Whether you plan to pursue more advanced degrees or only need a two-year degree to secure a job in accounting, most of the degree programs we list in this ranking will be able to meet your needs. Still, some programs will be more equipped to meet your specific needs than others. Here, we will cover the basics of what you should be looking for in online associate’s accounting degree programs and common differences between programs.
- #1 – Coastline Community College
- #2 – Foothill College
- #3 – Wayne Community College
- #4 – Pamlico Community College
- #5 – Mesa Community College
- #6 – Atlanta Technical College
- #7 – Surry Community College
- #8 – Lenoir Community College
- #9 – Albany Technical College
- #10 – North Arkansas College
Accreditation of Online Associate’s in Accounting Degrees
Many people are hesitant to study online due to the misconception that online programs are scams or are not respected by universities and employers. However, this is not true of most online degree programs. The easiest way to tell the difference between legitimate online associate’s accounting degree programs and illegitimate ones is by considering accreditation.
There are two basic types of accreditation: institutional accreditation and programmatic accreditation. All reputable universities and their programs are institutionally accredited. This is a general accreditation that ensures a level of quality and is typically respected by other universities and employers when it comes to transferring credits and hiring graduates. Programmatic accreditation is more specific, and it is awarded to specific departments and programs. It involves a more thorough look at a program’s curriculum, so programmatically accredited programs are typically held to higher standards.
The best online accounting associate’s degree programs are typically programmatically accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs through their institution’s business college. Some ACBSP members even hold separate accounting accreditation. Both of these programmatic accreditations emphasize student-centered teaching and learning.
Flexibility of Best Online Accounting Associate’s Degrees
One of the major selling points for online degree programs is flexibility. However, not all online schools for accounting associate’s degrees offer the same type or amount of flexibility. There are several things to consider when deciding which program has the balance of structure and flexibility that is right for you.
One of the first things to check for is whether the program is primarily synchronous or primarily asynchronous. Coursework delivered in a synchronous format requires students to sign in at specific times for live streamed lectures and live class discussions. This formatting gives students some of the interaction and community that is often lost in online programs, but it takes away the students’ choice to complete coursework at a time that best fits into their busy schedules. Typically, asynchronous course delivery still includes deadlines, but gives students the freedom to access and complete coursework at any time as long as they meet those deadlines. This gives up some of the aforementioned interaction and structure that some students thrive on, but makes it easier for busy and working students to complete their degrees without worrying about scheduling conflicts.
Most programs are not exclusively synchronous or asynchronous, but use a combination of both delivery formats. If a program does only use one of the two formats, it is more likely that it will be purely asynchronous as opposed to purely synchronous.
Another important thing to consider is whether the program is completely online or primarily online with an in-person component. This is a bigger issue in more advanced degree programs, which include research and a dissertation. However, some undergraduate programs require visits to campus for an orientation or conference. A few online programs may actually be more like hybrid programs, requiring students to take one or more courses on campus before earning their degree. These are great opportunities to meet with peers, faculty, and industry leaders, but they can be difficult for working students or distance education students to make it to. Online associate’s accounting degree students who need the flexibility that not being tied to a physical campus offers will need to pay attention to their chosen program’s requirements to make sure they won’t be expected to make a trip to campus.
Concentrations and Other Customization Options for Online Associate Accounting Degree Programs
At the associate’s degree level, it’s rare for students to get as many specialization options as students pursuing more advanced degrees. However, a few of the best online accounting associate’s degree programs do include some ways to customize your degree to fit your needs.
The most common way for students to customize their online associate’s accounting degree is through electives. Students may be able to take one or two major electives or choose electives outside of their major that best fit their expected occupation and work environment. Another way to customize your degree is via separate concentration or certification tracks. These are uncommon, but students may be able to pursue specializations in areas such as bookkeeping and taxation.
Since it’s often difficult for students to adjust their degree plan once they’re enrolled in a program, it’s wise for them to compare programs to see which best fits their needs even without much customization. Many programs are broad enough to accommodate most students, but they do still tend to favor certain career paths over others. Some programs are more geared towards students who plan to dive right into entry-level positions in the field. Others are designed to prepare students to continue their studies and earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Associate’s in Accounting Degree Online: Transfer Credit
If you’ve previously taken any college courses, another important thing to consider before choosing between online schools for accounting associate’s degree programs is how transfer-friendly the school or program is. Most programs will allow students to count about 45 previously earned credit hours towards their degree. Some programs are specifically degree completion programs, which expect you to have several credits to transfer. There are a few schools that are very strict when it comes to transfer credits.
This is obvious to students who have not completed a degree before, but it’s surprisingly common for students who have previously earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree to not consider transferring credits as an option. Specific policies vary greatly between different schools, so it never hurts to ask if you’re not sure whether or not your credits will transfer. You may be surprised; your credits may transfer even if it’s been many years since you first earned those college credits.
It’s always fine to decide against transferring certain credits if it’s been a long time since you’ve taken a course and you need a refresher. However, transfer credits can dramatically cut down the cost and time it takes to complete your online associate’s accounting degree.
Career Opportunities for Students with an Online Associate’s in Accounting Degree
Accounting is an undeniable part of every industry, so students who graduate from an online associate’s accounting degree program can find entry-level positions in a wide range of work environments, including corporations, nonprofits, schools, and government agencies.
Most accountants work in offices, though some work from home. It’s not uncommon for accountants to travel to meet with clients. Typically, accountants work more individually, but depending on their specific workplace or job title, they may work with a team. Accountants may also be expected to work for longer periods of time per day during certain times of year, such as tax season for example.
Common job titles for students with an associate’s in accounting include accounting clerk, financial analyst, and bookkeeper. Individuals with more work experience and/or other degrees in business or management may be able to secure higher-level positions such as accounting supervisor, payroll manager, or senior budget analyst.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is projected to increase 10% from 2016 to 2026. This is just faster than the average for all occupations, likely because accounting is so closely tied to the health of other occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows that the median annual wage for accountants is $68,150.
Online Associate Accounting Degree Programs: Certifications
Technically speaking, not all jobs in accounting require certification. However, it’s still a good decision to become a Certified Public Accountant if possible. Why? Because this certification is required for any accountant that reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and it greatly increases your job prospects. Most employers will even pay for employees to get this certification.
However, it can be impossible to obtain this certification with just an associate’s degree depending on which state you are getting certified in. Most states require candidates to complete at least 150 college credits before they can pursue certification. A few states do allow candidates to substitute a number of years working in public accounting for the college degree.
There are other popular certifications individuals working in the field should consider pursuing depending on the subfield they choose to work in. The Institute of Management Accountants offers the Certified Management Accountant. The Institute of Internal Auditors offers several certifications, including the Certified Internal Auditor, the Certified Government Auditing Professional, and the Certified in Control Self-Assessment. ISACA offers the Certified Information Systems Auditor. Even more certifications are available to accountants with a CPA.
Frequently Asked Questions for Online Schools for Accounting Associate’s Degrees
Starting any degree program requires a major commitment of time and money. It’s common for prospective students to have several questions that must be answered before they settle on a program. Below you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions that individuals interested in an online associate’s accounting degree have.
How long will it take for me to complete my online associate’s in accounting degree?
Most associate degree programs can be completed in roughly two years. However, the time can vary depending on many different factors. The biggest two factors are how many credits you transfer in and how heavy your course load is. A student with many transfer credits and a more rigorous course load can finish in half the time it takes for a first-time student taking classes at a more regular pace. Likewise, students who need a more relaxed course load will take longer.
Will employers respect my online associate’s accounting degree?
As mentioned above, online degrees awarded by accredited institutions are just as valid as their traditional counterparts, so most employers don’t care about what format your program was delivered in. Online programs typically have the same curriculum and professors as on-campus programs. That said, most online schools for accounting associate’s degrees don’t mention anywhere on the degree or transcript that the program was delivered online as opposed to in person. You don’t have to worry about a potential employer turning you away because you earned your degree online if you choose not to tell them your degree was earned online.
How much will my online associate’s accounting degree program cost?
The cost of your online associate’s in accounting degree program depends heavily on what school you choose to attend. The price can vary dramatically, with some programs being very affordable and others being pricey. Another variable that must be factored in when determining how much your degree will cost you is financial aid. Between grants and scholarships, you can bring down the price of your education significantly.
Can my online associate’s accounting degree be completed entirely online, or will I have to visit campus?
Some online associate’s accounting degree programs require students to come to campus for certain events or seminars, but most can be completed without ever attending a course at the school’s physical location. Keep in mind that while most programs can be completed without attending any in-person classes, quite a few don’t have to be completed entirely online. Several programs allow students to earn their degree through a hybrid format, which combines online and traditional course delivery. This is a great option for individuals who need some of the flexibility of online courses, but still thrive on face-to-face interaction.
What’s the difference between transferring to a bachelor’s program with an online associate’s accounting degree and transferring to a bachelor’s program with loose credits?
Even though they both technically represent the same amount of college coursework, associate’s degrees tend to transfer more smoothly than loose credits. For one, many two-year schools have transfer agreements with four-year institutions which make it easier for graduates to go on to earn their bachelor’s degree. Secondly, you don’t risk losing hard-earned credits due to transfer credit limits or a failure to properly match the courses being transferred to the courses offered at the receiving institution. If you plan to get your basics out of the way at a more affordable institution before transferring to another school to complete your upper-level major courses, an associate’s degree is the best way to do that without losing credits.
Our editors used data from College Navigator as well as from each program’s website when applying the ranking methodology below. Note that in cases of a tie, the schools with the lower tuition received the higher ranking.
• Under $3,000—1 point
• Under $2,500—2 points
• Under $2,000—3 points
• Under $1,500—4 points
• Content Customizations (e.g. Minors, Concentrations, Specializations, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option
• Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid/Online, Full-time/Part-Time, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option
• 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us
#10 – North Arkansas College
Online Associate’s in Business Administration: Accounting
The online associate’s accounting degree from North Arkansas College is an Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting. The curriculum for this 60-credit hour program is entirely prescribed and features courses such as Introduction to Information Technology, Business Communications, Human Relations, and Business and Professional Ethics. A business administration capstone project is also required for successful completion of this online associate accounting degree program.
#9 – Albany Technical College
Online Associate’s in Accounting
Students interested in studying accounting at Albany Technical College can pursue either an online diploma in accounting or an online associate’s degree in accounting program. The degree program is comprehensive and includes occupational courses such as Business Tax Accounting, Spreadsheet Applications, Legal Environment of Business, and Document Production. Students may also take professional electives like Principles of Marketing, Word Processing Applications, and Employment Law. Full-time students can complete this online associate’s degree in accounting program within 24 months.
#8 – Lenoir Community College
Online Associate’s in Accounting
Lenoir Community College offers both a diploma and an online associate’s in accounting degree. Enrolled students will fulfill a general education requirement and take major courses such as Payroll Accounting, Business Law, Accounting Software Applications, Federal Income Taxes, and Business Math, for example. In addition to specialized skills in accounting, students will learn basic business skills such as written and verbal communication, critical thinking and problem solving, professional ethics, computer applications, and more. These foundational skills can prepare students for entry-level positions in business and accounting.
#7 – Surry Community College
Online Associate’s in Accounting
Surry Community College offers a 67-credit hour online associate’s degree in accounting program designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in the accounting field as well as for further study in accounting. The curriculum for the program is mostly prescribed and features courses such as Survey of Economics, Quantitative Literacy, Accounting Software Applications, and Personal Finance. Graduates of online associate accounting degree programs may find work in government agencies, banks, school systems, and small accounting firms. Those interested in advancing in the field can transfer this associate’s degree to a four-year university for further study.
#6 – Atlanta Technical College
Online Associate’s in Applied Science in Accounting
Atlanta Technical College offers a 67-credit hour online associate degree in accounting program designed to be completed in five semesters of study. The curriculum for the program is comprised of 15 credit hours of general education courses and 52 credit hours of occupational courses such as Spreadsheet Applications, Financial Accounting, Individual Tax Accounting, and Payroll Accounting, for instance. A capstone review of accounting principles is also required prior to graduation. Atlanta Tech’s online associate degree in accounting students may customize their degree through the selection of other occupational electives.
#5 – Mesa Community College
Online Associate’s in Accounting
Mesa Community College’s online associate’s accounting degree is offered through its Business & Information Systems Department. In addition to general education classes, students will take core courses such as Uses of Accounting Information, Managerial Accounting, Human Relations in Business and Industry, and 21st Century Public Policy and Service. Graduates of online associate accounting degree programs are qualified for entry-level positions in the field and for baccalaureate-level study in accounting. This particular degree is easily transferrable to many Arizona public universities.
#4 – Pamlico Community College
Online Associate’s in Applied Science in Accounting
The online associate’s accounting degree program from Pamlico Community College is a vocationally focused associate of applied science offering. Enrolled students will take required courses for the major such as Payroll Accounting, Business Statistics, Principles of Marketing, Accounting Software Applications, and Personal Finance. PCC’s online associate’s accounting degree graduates are prepared for work as accounting clerks, financial advisors, payroll managers, tax preparers, and more. They will also be equipped with the skills and qualifications necessary for further study in an accounting baccalaureate program.
#3 – Wayne Community College
Online Associate’s in Applied Science in Accounting
Wayne Community College offers an online associate accounting degree program that can be completed entirely online or via a hybrid format. The curriculum for the program features core courses such as Business Law, Individual Income Taxes, Business Income Taxes, and Intermediate Accounting. Students will also have the opportunity to take professional electives such as Business Ethics, Work-Based Learning, and Business Finance. An accounting/bookkeeping certificate is also available for interested students. WCC’s online associate accounting degree graduates find employment in tax firms, accounting offices, banks, and as small business owners.
#2 – Foothill College
Online Associate’s in Arts in Accounting
The 90-credit hour online associate’s accounting degree program from Foothill College is a comprehensive associate of arts offering. The curriculum for the program is prescribed and consists of core courses such as Financial Accounting, Principles of Business, Computerized Accounting and Managerial Accounting as well as support courses like Financial Statement Analysis, Auditing, Ethics in Accounting, and Tax Accounting. This online associate accounting degree offering is aligned with the standards set forth by the California State Board of Accountancy.
#1 – Coastline Community College
Associate’s in Accounting Online
Coastline Community College offers a versatile online associate’s accounting degree program with concentrations in general accounting, bookkeeping, and taxation. Required courses include Introduction to Accounting, Excel for Accounting, and Accounting with QuickBooks. Depending on the concentration they choose, students may also take classes like Introduction to Information Systems, Personal Finance, Individual Taxation, and Tax Return Preparation. CCC’s online associate’s accounting degree students may also be eligible for intermediate and advanced accounting certifications.